Walk down your grocery store aisle today and a host of new culinary choices confront the aspiring vegetarian or vegan. From plant-based meat loaf, sausages and roasts to the Beyond Meat burgers that have taken fast-food chains like A&W by storm.
Diets have changed — spurred on by growing concern for the environment, animal welfare and personal health — and with that has emerged a whole new generation of Canadians increasingly willing to consider a meatless future.
In a recent Angus Reid poll, four in 10 Canadians said they’ve now tried plant-based meat alternatives. And while 45% say they feel it’s a fad that will eventually wane, that sentiment drops off among younger Canadians who appear to be embracing mock meat: 58% of 18- to 35-year-olds have tried plant-based protein, 48% say they plan to over the next three months and 70% say the mock meat movement is here to stay.
As a group, young Canadians between 18 and 35-years-old appear to embrace a move to a meatless future more than any other group. In another recent poll by Insights West, 38% said they would consider taking up a vegetarian diet and another 17% said they would ponder the switch to veganism.
And while B.C. residents are most likely to take up a more plant-based diet, that trend starts to fade as you move away from city centres, according one local food purveyor.
About a year ago, Dan Lovric and Stephanie Cowie opened up a Port Coquitlam café and meal preparation service to offer a variety of vegan, vegetarian and other healthy meals.
“I just wanted to surround myself with good food. And I wanted to bring it out in the community too because I saw a lack of it,” said Lovric.
Where Cowie spent more than 15 years in fine dining and is a certified yoga instructor (the cafe is called Yoga Chef), her husband Lovric used to work as a contractor and spent his days driving around, smoking cigarettes and eating fast-food. Eventually, that lifestyle took a big toll on his health and caused inflammation and pain in his joints.
“I got to the point where I was completely immobilized. I mean, I couldn’t get out of bed to go to the washroom and the funny thing is, it was as simple as cutting certain things out of the my diet,” Lovric said.
Lovric says health concerns also tend to be what keeps most of their customers coming back. But while he’s banking on a long-term trend in healthy eating, he sees a big difference between the café’s success in Port Coquitlam and similar businesses in Vancouver, where healthy dining is more established.
“They’re all doing a lot better. They’re a lot busier than we are out here,” he said. “But it’s only a matter of time.”