Meat de­feat: ‘As­ton­ish­ing’ num­bers in B.C. go veg­gie

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY SHORE

Bri­tish Columbia ap­pears to be lead­ing a di­etary rev­o­lu­tion as nearly four in 10 Bri­tish Columbians 35 and un­der say they fol­low a ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian diet, ac­cord­ing to na­tional sur­vey data. That’s more than three times higher than the av­er­age for all Cana­di­ans.

“It’s quite as­ton­ish­ing,” said Syl­vain Charlebois, dean of the fac­ulty of man­age­ment at Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax. “These num­bers are the high­est in the coun­try.”

Among Cana­di­ans of all ages, 7.1 per cent iden­tify as veg­e­tar­ian and 2.3 per cent as ve­gan, Charlebois said.

Those rates show no signs of growth, he said.

In B.C., about 8.6 per cent are veg­e­tar­ian and 3.9 per cent ve­gan, ac­cord­ing to the poll of 1,049 Cana­di­ans. That makes us about 35 per cent more likely to go meat-free than the av­er­age Cana­dian.

But the num­bers for young Bri­tish Columbians stunned Charlebois. More than 28 per cent of Bri­tish Columbians 35 and un­der are veg­e­tar­ian and 9.2 per cent are ve­gan.

“Bri­tish Columbians are the ve­gan and veg­e­tar­ian cham­pi­ons of Canada,” he said.

Vege­tar­i­ans ex­clude meat from their diet, while ve­gans also ab­stain from any an­i­mal or an­i­malderived prod­ucts in­clud­ing dairy, eggs and honey.

Meat-free eat­ing is strongly as­so­ci­ated with higher ed­u­ca­tion: “Peo­ple with a univer­sity de­gree are three times more likely to con­sider them­selves vege­tar­i­ans or ve­gans than those with a high school diploma.”

Also, peo­ple who earn more than $150,000 per year are twice as likely to con­sider them­selves vege­tar­i­ans or ve­gans than con­sumers earn­ing less than $80,000.

“I’m not sur­prised by (B.C.’s) re­sults,” said Erin Ire­land, a food re­porter who has emerged as a lo­cal evan­ge­list for plant-based eat­ing. “Van­cou­ver in par­tic­u­lar is known for hav­ing great plant­based restau­rants. It’s be­com­ing a real des­ti­na­tion for trav­ellers who want to eat plant-based food.”

Ire­land was a grad­ual con­vert to ve­g­an­ism. She grew up as a daily meat-eater and an an­i­mal lover un­til the dis­so­nance be­tween her diet and her beliefs grew too loud to be ig­nored.

“I re­al­ized that I couldn’t be an an­i­mal lover and still eat an­i­mals,” she said.

She said she feels a strong obli­ga­tion to her read­ers and the down­stream im­pacts of her work.

“As a food re­porter, what I rec­om­mend to peo­ple has a neg­a­tive or pos­i­tive ef­fect,” she said. “What I tell peo­ple through so­cial me­dia is like word of mouth on steroids, so I couldn’t imag­ine sup­port­ing the meat in­dus­try when it’s hurt­ing an­i­mals and our health.”

Ire­land’s In­sta­gram and Twit­ter ac­counts are awash in recipes and pic­tures of ve­gan cui­sine.

She ad­vises would-be ve­gans to go slowly, and to be­gin by throw­ing away the tra­di­tional din­ner plate with a pro­tein, a carb and veg­gie.

“It’s no longer a three-com­po­nent dish. It’s more of a bowl with a base like grain, then veg­eta­bles, top­pers and sauce,” she said. “I like to share what I eat in a day so that peo­ple can see how easy it is. It’s just reg­u­lar food — stuff they are al­ready eat­ing.”

About 40 per cent of Ju­niper’s re­cently re­vamped menu is ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian, ac­cord­ing to War­ren Chow, ex­ec­u­tive chef of the Chi­na­town hot spot.

“Our best­seller is roasted cauliflower with brus­sels sprouts gratin with cashew cheese sauce, which is com­pletely ve­gan,” he said. “Hav­ing a menu that caters to a meat­free ve­gan crowd is ex­tremely im­por­tant.

“Es­pe­cially when they look at a menu and have more than one ap­pe­tizer or just one main course to choose from.”

BRIAN VAN WYK

Among vege­tar­i­ans and ve­gans, Van­cou­ver is well-known “for hav­ing great plant-based restau­rants,” food re­porter Erin Ire­land says.

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