There is a trend afoot that is threatening to become a movement, the roots of which, if you will pardon the pun, can be found emanating from the noncommercial segment of foodservice. I’m talking about the quiet and inexorable move toward a more plant-based diet.
At the NACUFS (National Association of College and University Foodservice) Showcase, which took place during the organization’s annual conference July 11-14 in Providence, R.I., I was struck by the number of new plant-based food products being introduced by the manufacturers on hand. The July issue of FE&S focused extensively on the college and university segment and is full of examples of how the demand for more plant-based food options from the student body drives innovation and adoption. The students see plant-based food options as generally healthier, more sustainable and greener than the traditional American diet dominated by meat as the primary protein source.
In the healthcare segment, highlighted in this issue of FE&S, the trend toward a more plant-based diet is also evident, but for slightly different reasons. By middle age and later, when we are statistically more likely to need the healthcare system, it seems that Americans are all trying to lower something; either weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, the list goes on and on. So, the motivation to try to modify one’s diet in order to live a healthier lifestyle is strong and hospital foodservice is responding.
At the upcoming Association of Healthcare Foodservice annual conference, which will take place August 21-24 in Minneapolis, plant-based food options will certainly be a blossoming topic. To take just one example from the many in this current issue of FE&S, read the story regarding the mobile educational training center at Ohio State University. This program started as a pilot project in 2017 and expanded due to overwhelming demand. The menus demonstrated from this mobile kitchen focus on plant-based foods that have cancer-fighting properties and foods that individuals can prepare at home.
This seems to me a prime example of the direction that healthcare professionals are taking us, to a future with healthier food options and better fact-based choices on what we choose to eat.