While definitions of sustainable diets are still evolving, increasing plant-based protein consumption is a common theme among recommendations, including Canada’s Dietary Guidelines and the EAT-Lancet Report.
Plant-based proteins are protein-containing foods that come from plants instead of animals. Common plant-based proteins include foods such as beans, nuts, seeds and tofu.
Despite this increased global and national focus on sustainability, not very many of us are eating a sustainable diet — only five per cent of Canadians have indicated that they follow a plant-based diet and just 14 per cent of Canadians reported eating legumes on any particular day.
Benefits of eating more plant proteins
Adding more plant-based proteins to your diet can provide multiple benefits. Key among these include:
- Improving your health. Canada’s Dietary Guidelines recommend eating plant-based proteins, which tend to contain higher quantities of fibre and lower amounts of unhealthy fats compared to animal-based foods. Research shows that plant-based protein intake is associated with a reduced risk of death from cancer, heart disease and all causes.
- Improving the health of the planet. Eating more plant-based proteins can also help protect the environment. For example, in high-income countries like Canada, consuming a balanced, low-meat diet can reduce the environmental impacts of the food system by lowering emissions of greenhouse gases, use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers, and use of land and water.
- Reducing your grocery bill. According to the Canada Food Price Report 2022, the cost of food is predicted to rise by five to seven per cent this year. Although food prices vary across Canada, plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu are typically more cost-effective compared to animal-based proteins like red meat. By purchasing plant-based proteins more often, you may reduce your grocery bill despite the rising costs of food.