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Sustainably Yours: Plant-based menus good for business

It’s that time again for New Year’s resolutions, promises that we make ourselves to change the way we live our lives. According to a survey from 2021, the number one resolution is to exercise more, number two was to lose weight, and number four was to eat healthier.

EnvironmentDining
By Palmer Owyoung

Sunday 16 January 2022, 02:00PM


Unfortunately, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology tells us that only about 46% of people who make resolutions are successful in keeping them. 

Blue Zones

With that statistic in mind, instead of jumping onto the latest fad diet, why not try a proven lifestyle makeover that will not only help you to lose weight and get healthy, but could also help you to live longer?

The Blue Zones are five areas in the world that have a disproportionately large number of centenarians (people who live 100 years or more). However, not only do they live longer lives, but they live healthier ones as well, staying active well into their later years. The Blue Zones are Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria Greece; and Loma Linda, California. 

The diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Like the Mediterranean diet, it prescribes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, spices, and olive oil is preferable to butter. 

In addition to eating healthy, people from the Blue Zones have a good social network, have a clear purpose in life, and exercise regularly. While they don’t take supplements, read food labels or even eat the same foods, there are a few other things they have in common that we can learn from them:

1. Eat a 95% plant-based diet. They eat very little meat, on average just 50 grammes twice per week. To put that into perspective, an average burger weighs about 200g, and an average steak served in a US restaurant is 400g. 

2. Eat whole foods. Blue Zoners avoid processed foods, especially processed meats like bacon, salami and sausage, which the World Health Organization considers to be a type-1 carcinogen. 

3. Reduce dairy consumption. They generally eat little dairy which can be laden with fat, and sugar and is hard to digest for most people.

4. Eat a half-cup of beans daily. Beans are high in fibre and act as a probiotic helping the bacteria in your gut to flourish. People in the Blue Zones eat on average four times as many beans as the rest of the world.

5. Drink moderately. Since maintaining a good social network is prescribed in the Blue Zones lifestyle, drinking one or two glasses of wine is allowed and even encouraged. The trick is to drink with food and friends. So, binge drinking alone is not allowed.

6. Snack on nuts. They avoid processed foods and eat a wide assortment of nuts, which are rich in nutrients, provide fibre and good fats.

7. Slash sugar. They eat on average about 7 teaspoons, or about 28g, of added sugar a day.

Phuket Property

8. Stop eating when you are 80% full. The Japanese call this hari hacha bu, the practice of not eating until you are full helps to prevent weight gain. 

9. Eat fewer eggs. On average people in Blue Zones eat only about three eggs per week, and they come from free-range chickens that aren’t injected with hormones or antibiotics.

Flexitarians 

While the number of people who are going vegan or vegetarian has increased exponentially, going from an estimated 1.3 million to 2.6 million in just the past four years, the total percentage of people remains relatively low at about 3% of the global population for vegans and 5% for vegetarians. 

However, the number of people who are becoming flexitarian (people who occasionally eat meat or fish, but mainly eat plants) is growing even quicker, which means that plant-based diets are not just a fad and are here to stay.

In fact, 47% of Americans consider themselves to be flexitarian, pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian, and two-thirds are cutting down on meat consumption.

Likewise, almost one-third of Europeans no longer consider themselves to be full meat-eaters anymore. The most commonly cited reasons people are eating less meat are for health, weight loss, animal welfare and the environment.

Plant-Based is Good for Business

A plant-based menu is not just good for the environment and your health, if you are a restaurant owner it’s also good for business. On average if you have a table of four Americans, two will likely want plant-based dishes. If you have a table of four Europeans it’s likely that at least one will. So, offering plant-based options, even if your restaurant primarily serves meat, just makes good business sense as it allows friends who have different dietary requirements to dine together.

Many of the top restaurants in the world are beginning to offer plant-based cuisine. For example, Daniel Humm the owner of 3 Michelin Starred Eleven Madison Park in New York reopened with a vegan menu last year saying, “The current food system is simply not sustainable.” Likewise, Geranium in Denmark which is rated number two by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has removed meat from the menu. 

Phuket has also seen a surge of plant-based restaurants including the recently opened Soul located in Karon, owned by French restaurateur Adelaide Castano. Adelaide says, “80% of our guests are not vegan, but come just because they are curious about what plant-based cuisine tastes like.”


Palmer Owyoung is an environmental activist working with the Kamala Green Club and the Global Sustainability Hub.

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