Pulses at Planta Vegan Restaurant: In Honour of World Food Day

Three weeks ago Chef David Lee’s new vegan restaurant-Planta, opened on Bay Street, and last night, we attended a reception for Pulses: In Honour of World Food Day. Planta is a plant-based restaurant featuring healthy sustainable ingredients from Canadian farms. Pulses, a broad family of plants which include peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are grown in astonishing quantities in Canada. So much so that the countries from all over the world who make them pillars of their ancient diets are clamoring for our pulse bounty. Canadian farms are renowned for their quality and sustainability internationally when it comes to growing these increasingly popular and vital crops.

Dr. Joyce Boye from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada(AAFC) spoke at length about pulses which was fascinating in that most of us in the room knew of the existence of peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils, but few had been made aware of their importance in the future of sustainability and food security, both here at home, and internationally.

Her acrostic PULSES can be used to illustrate the crucial role these plants will have in the future of feeding a world whose population is predicted to soar to over nine and a half billion in the coming years…

  • Protein – Pulses are an excellent source of protein for a growing global population.
    Diverse Use- Pulses are wonderfully diverse. They are grown in most regions of the world and can be consumed in many fascinating ways.
  • Healthy Living – Pulses are packed with nutrition and are good for health. Including just ½ cup of pulses daily increases the nutrition of the diet.
  • Sustainable – When included in crop rotations, pulses improve soil health by fixing nitrogen in soils.
  • Environment – Pulses are good for the environment. They require less water than other crops.
  • Security – Pulses are dried seeds that can be easily stored, reduce food waste and loss and enhance food security.

Following Boye’s remarks, Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres Canada spoke about the undeniable link between food security and climate change and the essentially political nature of food security not only in Canada but globally as well. Dr. David Jenkins, M.D. Ph.D. Sc., Canadian Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism and founder of the Glycemic Index spoke next about the role pulses can play in reducing and combating diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Since fifty cents of every dollar the provinces spend goes towards health care, reducing preventable diseases through cultivating plant-based diets with pulses as their cornerstone seems not only logical, but economically essential. Lee Moats, a bona fide pulse farmer from snowy Saskatchewan, spoke next about the great satisfaction he feels during harvest season when he and his family see the results of all their hard work the rest of the year. Soil scientist and Agricologist Denis Tremorin spoke finally about the importance of pulses to the environment and their beneficial effects on the soil in which they are grown, including reduced water footprint.

That is not to say that the evening was all facts and figures. We were also treated to a variety of delicious and innovative plant-based hors d’oeuvres from the spanking new Planta kitchen. Starting with split-pea fritters, tortilla chips with black beans, smashed avocado and cashew crema, carrot cake smoothies with white beans sweetened with dates, lentil and cauliflower tots and delicious chickpea fries. One of the event organizers also raved about Planta’s 14 Karat Hot Dog and Crab Cakes served before the event began to the speakers,which were all made from plant-based ingredients. TAWSE Wines served included a 2014 Limestone Ridge Riesling and 2013 Chardonnay and an Argentine 2015 Canale Black River Malbec.


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