Plant-based Eating Challenge
Starts November 2
The Wellness Institute’s plant-based eating challenge is all about trying out a newer way of eating, and thinking about our food choices. Over the next seven days you’ll be challenged to emphasize plants of all kinds at every meal and snack.
Daily activities and the recipe-of-the-day give you a chance to experience new tastes and food skills, as well as strategies to choose plant-based foods that meet your nutrition needs.
Why Consider Plant-based Eating?
People have been choosing plant-based diets for ethical reasons for many years, and now health and environmental reasons support this food pattern.
Research and health organizations like the World Health Organization endorse eating more plants as a way to prevent and manage chronic diseases. Plant-based diets are typically high in key nutrients like fibre, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which lower the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
What is plant-based eating?
The term has become popular over the last few years. Though there’s no formal definition of plant-based eating from health regulatory bodies and agencies, the core concept is making plants most prominent in meals, with at least 2/3 to 3/4 of your meal consisting of plant-based foods.
Plant-based eating patterns could include:
- Vegan diet: no animal products or by-products.
- Vegetarian diet: may include some animal products like dairy and or eggs, avoids all animal flesh.
- Pescatarian/flexitarian with limited animal product intake: fish, poultry, and meats may be consumed, typically in small amounts and/or infrequently. Many entirely plant-based meals are consumed as well.
For this challenge, the recipes provided emphasize whole foods and are either vegan or vegetarian with easy vegan swaps.
However, there’s no one way to follow plant-based eating; factors like food availability and affordability, environmental concerns, and personal health needs will help you decide what pattern is right for you.
Is Plant-based Better?
Will I be missing anything?
For this challenge, plant-based eating focuses on what we DO eat, not what we don’t. If you think of plant-based eating as meals of salads, raw veggies, and fruits, you will expect to feel deprived. While these colourful foods are important, there are many foods to consider and explore. Learn how to get what you need to thrive through a variety and balance of plant foods.
Food Quality Matters
Look out for products claiming to be “healthier” because they are “plant-based.” Potato chips and Oreos are plant-based foods, but not nutrient powerhouses. Less processed foods (foods that look more like the plant they came from) tend to have more nutrients and fibre than ultra-processed foods. This challenge will give you tools to plan a high quality diet.
How the Challenge Works
Prepare for success
Take our quick quiz to see how plant-based you are. Decide how much, if any, animal-based food you’ll include this week. Recipes provided are either vegan or vegetarian with easy vegan swaps but you may include your own snacks or recipes.
- Review the grocery list for the sample meal plan. Stock up on listed items to follow the plan, plus snack items.
- If you plan to include some of your own recipes or snacks, check the ingredients. Consider your condiments, hot beverages, and desserts – these are often not plant-based.
Challenge Week: November 2-9
Try new things and challenge your food habits. If you can't do every challenge or follow the plan perfectly, don't worry. This is about finding what works for you and exploring a new eating pattern, not perfection.
- Read the daily emails. A pre-challenge email with your sample meal plan will be sent November 1.
- Complete the daily challenge and activity.
- Make the recipe of the day. Try to make all seven by the end of the week.
- Follow the challenge page on Facebook for added daily motivation
Join the Challenge by October 31 to Get All Challenge Emails
More about the challenge ...
Is this a weight loss challenge?
No. The goal is to explore a plant-based eating style and start to build new food habits. There are no specific portions listed, let your hunger and satiety guide you. Feel free to add side dishes/snack items to meals to round them out or add additional fruits and vegetables to any meal.
Does this mean I can’t eat any meat or animal products?
You can choose how many, if any, animal products you include during the challenge. While the recipes provided don't include meat, you can opt to to add on snacks or sides.
We will not be focusing on strictly eliminating foods that contain small amounts of animal products. For example, condiments and margarine. If you’d like, you can look for entirely plant-based alternatives.
Will I have to buy new ingredients?
No, you can make swaps to use what you have. However, you’ll get the most out of the challenge if you experiment with plant-based options.
Can my family follow the plan with me?
The sample meal plan is suitable for 2-3 people. Many recipes can be scaled down or up based on your household needs. You may have leftovers from some meals. For most recipes, the leftovers freeze beautifully for quick meals another time. Feel free to substitute items to meet your needs and tastes.
Is the plan safe for anyone to follow?
Most people are safe to follow a plant-based diet, including people living with heart disease and diabetes. Suggested foods can be substituted for allergies and intolerances. If you are on a strict medically-indicated diet, or you have been told to avoid large amounts of fruits, vegetables, or legumes, talk with your health care team before increasing these foods.