Plant-Based Eating

By : Danielle Bertiger Intern & Adrian Jordan executive Sous Chef Brookdale University Hospital Medical center

Plant-based eating, once eschewed by many an omnivore, has recently gained popularity as a solution to many of today’s environmental and public health concerns. The Food and Nutrition Services department at Brookdale Hospital has been investigating best practices for providing more meatless meals to both patients and staff. Upcoming initiatives at Brookdale include a meatless day in the cafeteria (as recently trialed) and an improved menu of plant-based options.

To aid in the quest for plant-based solutions, Brookdale invited representatives from the organization, Meatless Monday to join us for a plant-based product tasting. Meatless Monday is a consulting organization that aims to promote plant-based eating by creating a middle ground between omnivorous and vegan diets. Their mission is to demonstrate to the public the significant environmental and personal health benefits of simply forgoing animal products one day per week. Meatless Monday has been adopted by the New York City public school system and many other schools and hospitals across the country. The demonstration was run by Ken Botts, the Head of Programs and Partnerships at Hungry Planet. Hungry Planet is based in the Midwest and makes premium plant-based meat to help culinary professionals create healthier options that mimic their animal meat-based counterparts. Members of the Food and Nutrition Services department tasted various preparations of the plant-based meats, such as chorizo tacos, buffalo chicken, chili, Philly cheesesteak, and crab cakes.

Meat analogues such as those offered by Hungry Planet have great potential to help meat lovers feel satisfied with plant-based options that are better for human and planetary health. While participants in the tasting found that many of the dishes had a similar flavor profile, using foods that resemble animal meats like; pork, beef, chicken and crab, may facilitate Brookdale’s ability to sell meat eaters on new plant-based offerings.

Per the nutrition information provided, the products were low in sodium and contained no saturated fat, which is a bonus for heart health, however, they all contained soy and many included wheat, making them unsuitable for those with these common food allergies but a healthier alternative to animal protein. As Brookdale transitions toward increasing our plant-based offerings, inviting in organizations such as Hungry Planet is an important step in the direction of implementation. Innovative plant-forward options are the future and as leaders in the healthcare space, it is exciting to be at the forefront of the plant-based movement. 60% of chronic preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, is related to diets high in animal protein.

As health-care foodservice professionals, we have a responsibility to make better food options available to the communities we serve. Our director Patrick LaMont who is the driving force behind this initiative is, committed to making plant based eating an option at Brookdale for the employees as well as the patient and Residents. The intent is to provide delicious plant-based options to the hospital staff, visitors and patients that will help improve human and planetary health one plate at a time.

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