Plant-based eating more than a trend

With 2019 almost upon us, many people will be crafting new year's resolutions centred on diet and lifestyle. For some this will mean a focus on veganism or vegetarianism, but plant-based is now becoming a more popular option for many.

Although a plant-based diet has not been well-defined, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has come-up with a generally well-accepted definition. DGAC defines plant-based as a diet that "emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds" and limits animal food sources. Keep in mind that diet only refers to the food an individual eats in a day and does not refer to a weight loss plan.

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Sarah Anstey is a tegistered dietitian with an interest in plant-based eating. Sarah has an Instagram account (@plantbasedpg) with a growing following who are interested in plant-based options at Prince George restaurants. Sarah sat down to answer a few of my questions on her interest in plant-based eating and what plant-based means to her.

1. What made you decide to create Plant-Based PG?

- A few years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet, I realized options were limited at most of my favourite restaurants. The Prince George restaurant scene tends to be very meat-focussed and I saw this reflected in most menus. The vegetarian options that were available were lacking in the flavour, variety, and innovation that I was seeing offered at restaurants in bigger cities like Vancouver. I created Plant-Based PG as a resource to highlight some of the best plant-based meals in Prince George.

2. What does plant-based mean to you?

- To me, a plant-based diet is one that features mostly plants, most of the time. Typical meals feature a combination of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. I like the term plant-based rather than vegan because it takes away some of the all-or-nothing thinking that most people associate with a vegan diet. Telling someone that you eat a plant-based diet can remove some of the shame, judgment, and questioning that a person might experience when they stray from the typical rules of veganism.

3. What sources of protein would you recommend for an individual on a plant-based diet?

There is sometimes an assumption that it is difficult to consume enough protein on a plant-based diet, but this is not true! The main sources of plant-based proteins are nuts and seeds, legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, and lentils, and soy-based proteins like tofu or tempeh. All of these items are widely available in Prince George. The trick is learning how to cook with them.

4. What are the benefits of plant-based eating?

There is a lot of evidence to suggest eating plant-based is better for your health and the health of the environment. However, in order to reap these benefits, it's important to focus on a diet rich in whole foods, like those mentioned above. It's very easy to swap out burgers, chicken nuggets and ground beef for vegan versions from the frozen food section of the store that may be higher in salt and other additives.

5. Are there any negative aspects to a plant-based diet?

I think the transition can sometimes be difficult if a person has been eating a certain way their whole life and is trying to make some changes. It can be difficult to know what types of recipes to make and how to cook with new ingredients. My advice is to start with one or two meals per week and go from there. There are plenty of plant-based cookbooks at the Prince George Public Library. Some popular books at the moment are Vegan comfort classics: 101 recipes to feed your face, the Thug Kitchen series, and Vegan for everybody: foolproof plant-based recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between. Also, the internet is full of delicious recipes and it's a great way to get inspiration for free.

6. Are there any restaurants in Prince George you would recommend for their plant-based options?

Unfortunately, in Prince George we don't have any vegetarian restaurants. Most restaurants only offer a few plant-based options on their menu, but I think this is slowly changing. Make sure you check out @plantbasedpg on Instagram to see some of the items available and tag #plantbasedpg to show us what you've tried!

Kelsey Leckovic is a registered dietitian with Northern Health working in chronic disease management.

Avocado, Toasted Squash and Black Bean Tacos

Serves 4

These tacos are high in protein and fibre and will help keep you fuller for longer. Black beans are also a good source of potassium and iron and an excellent replacement for ground beef.


- 1 butternut squash, approx. 1.3kg

- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided

- tsp salt

- Fresh ground pepper

- 2 tsp sumac (or paprika)

- 1 garlic clove, finely minced

- 1 can (540ml) black beans, rinsed and drained

- 1 tsp ground cumin

- 1.2 tsp chili powder

- 8-10 corn tortillas

- 1 avocado, diced

- cup feta cheese, crumbled

- Fresh cilantro, hot sauce and lime quarters, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Peel the squash and cut it in two. Remove the seeds and stringy fibres, and dice the squash.

2. Arrange the squash pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, add salt and pepper, and sprinkle with sumac or paprika. Roast for 25 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan, sauté tbsp. olive oil and the minced garlic over low to medium heat. Add the black beans, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until the beans are well heated and soft (but not dry).

4. In a hot pan, heat the tortillas for a few minutes, or microwave them for 20 seconds. Cover with a clean cloth to prevent them from drying out.

5. Top the tortillas with roasted squash, black beans, avocado and feta. Serve with fresh cilantro, hot sauce and lime quarters.

Nutrition Facts:

Per serving

578 Calories, 23.2g Fat, 6g Saturated Fat, 17mg Cholesterol, 79g Carbohydrates, 16.6g Fibre, 18.6g Protein, 1058mg Sodium

This recipe can be found on , a free app from Dietitians of Canada, and was provided by Avocados from Mexico.

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