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Plant-Forward Diet or Plant-Based Diet? 

When customers ask, it’s important to know what they are thinking.

Plant-forward diets are gaining popularity. According to The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey, nearly 75% of consumers say they have heard of plant-based diets and half are interested in learning more. 

The IFIC also reports 24% of people surveyed say they are eating more plant-based protein now versus 12 months ago. 

Plant-forward or plant-based? Is there a difference and is it important? The answer to both is yes. As foodservice operators, it’s helpful to understand what consumers are thinking when they ask for menu offerings to meet this need. The IFIC survey points to consumer confusion about terms like plant-forward. Some think it describes a vegan diet. Others believe it emphasizes minimally processed foods that come from plants, along with limited consumption of animal proteins.
 
The Culinary Institute of America and President and Fellows of Harvard College, as published in the Menus of Change Annual Report 2019, encourage the industry to adopt the following naming protocols.
 
Plant-forward: A style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to, plant-based foods—including fruits and vegetables (produce); whole grains; beans, other legumes (pulses), and soy foods; nuts and seeds; plant oils; and herbs and spices—and that reflects evidence-based principles of health and sustainability.
 
Plant-based: Used to refer to ingredients and foods themselves; i.e., fruits and vegetables (produce); whole grains; beans, other legumes (pulses), and soy foods; nuts and seeds; plant oils; and herbs and spices. Different from “plant-forward,” which refers to the style of cooking and eating.

Ask your Gordon Food Service Sales Representative for ideas to help in each of these areas.