As agricultural technology and processes advance, allowing for new sources of protein, it seems that society’s appetite for plant based food is on the rise.
In fact, Food Drive reports that plant-based food retail sales were worth $7 billion in 2020, showing a 27% growth rate overall for products that specifically replace animal-derived options, according to SPINS data released by the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA).
To explore this societal change to our diets, and the potential impact it might have on our psychology, we spoke with Dr. Uma Naidoo, Faculty Member at Harvard Medical School, an author, a Professional Chef, Culinary Instructor and Nutrition Specialist.
We kick off the show by hearing from Dr. Naidoo about how witnessing her grandmother cooking homemade meals using ingredients grown in her back garden influenced her career in psychology and nutrition.
We also discuss the philosophy around food, and how our diets reflect different beliefs, and why it is important to respect others’ beliefs and dietary choices. Dr. Naidoo explains that as a chef she was taught to respect food, and not demonize it, regardless of your own personal beliefs and choices.
She also highlights some impressive companies working in this space such as The Very Good Butchers who refer to themselves as “bean butchers.” Alongside other companies innovating new methods to produce protein sources for plant based meats, such as seaweed and algae via cellular agriculture.
Dr. Naidoo also explains the need for more research around the potential psychological benefits that plant based meats can offer.
She draws on the example that we know a plant rich diet leaning on lentils, beans, nuts and seeds can be very beneficial to mental health, but suggests it is still too early to assume that plant based meats might have the same effect.
Moreover, Dr. Naidoo also states that, even if you consume plant based meats from fast food chains, it is better to make them at home as these chains often use processed vegetable oils that are very inflammatory for the gut and can negatively affect mental health.