Reflections on Canada’s New Food Guide (2018)
Last year, the nice folks in Ottawa released a brand-new version of Canada’s Food Guide. This was the latest revision since… get this: 1992! They had gone a loooong time without updating it.
Gone is the old “rainbow” model, to be replaced by a plate divided into sectors.
The first thing that stands out is that there is literally zero mention of diary in this food guide. Previously, “milk products” took up quite a large chunk of the foods you were supposed to eat every day, and in this version, they are basically not represented at all.
There is also very little meat pictured on the plate. A good 80% of the food pictured is plant-based.
When it was released last year, there was a collective cheer from the vegan/vegetarian community, especially here in Vancouver. We have a large vegan/veg population, so looking at this plate feels reflective of how we eat here.
The other thing I really like about the new food guide is that it doesn’t just focus on food, it also focuses on food-related behaviours. So, for example, it encourages people to cook and eat more at home, to eat together, to slow down and enjoy your foods, to learn to read labels, and to be aware of food advertising.
The question is, how realistic is it for people to eat this way?
I was recently interviewed for an article in The Province, and one of the things we discussed was how much people are eating out these days. For many people, drive-through, going to a restaurant, or ordering delivery is part of their daily lives. While I do eat out a fair amount (as part of my job as a food blogger), I pretty much never order delivery. Even if we do go get burgers or sushi, we usually walk there, order takeout, and then come home to eat it. I always have frozen pizzas in my freezer, so we very seldom order that. I know, however, that I am likely the exception and not the rule.
Preparing food at home takes planning and thought. I think about what I’m going to make this week, then I go out and shop for it. I do trips to Costco every month or 6 weeks, and trips to a larger grocery store about once a month for staples, then I go to my local produce market once a week or so for perishables. I spend a certain amount of time every week doing meal prep and making sure I always have healthy food on hand to grab. That’s the only way I can do it, because I otherwise would exist on peanut butter sandwiches and sushi.
And for folks who don’t live in a big city, or who live, say, in the middle of Alberta… they aren’t giving up their meat.
It’s great that Canada’s Food Guide is encouraging people to include more plant-based options in their diet, but this is not a change that is going to happen overnight. But every little bit counts…
Read the full article here, and comment below with your thoughts!