From Plant-based to Plant-forward: Our Menu Evolution
Creating a more inclusive menu
Throughout the summer of 2020, I found myself re-imagining how I could provide nutrition to my community. At that point I had been running juice cafes for six years which gave me the opportunity to have thousands of conversations about food, nutrition, and all things well-being. The commonality between these conversations being the desire to introduce more plants into every day diets. When I launched Nook in late October that year, I launched with a 100% plant-based menu with the sole mission to get people eating more plants.
Which brings me to today. The list of learned experiences over the last twenty-three months seems endless. The facts are clear, what we eat impacts every aspect of our life, and how we perceive food has a direct effect on our mental health. I’ve learned that our emotional relationship to food is one of the greatest predictors of our overall health. The list is extensive, but the greatest lesson I’ve learned is the need to let go of titles.
In a world obsessed with titles, I’ve found myself wanting to distance myself from them as much as possible simply because my clients have taught me that in order to be inclusive, we have to let go of titles. There have been thousands of debates over which is the best diet. Is it keto? Is it paleo? Is it eating a 100% carnivore diet? It is eating a 100% vegan diet? What about lectins, are they good for you or terrible for you? What about the data on blue zones and the Mediterranean diet? Raw diets? The lists are endless and, to confuse matters even more, there is evidence to back every single one of these diets which makes it feel impossible to make the right decision.
Since day one my goal has been to get more people to eat more plants, this will never change. However, my approach to accomplishing this has evolved after listening and learning from my clients. I’ve realized that by offering a 100% plant-based menu that it has excluded those who don’t follow a 100% plant-based, therefore vegan, diet. By taking a step back, I’ve realized that I can greater serve my community by evolving our menu at Nook.
So I’m here to introduce our new “Omnivore” menu. Meals that are predominantly plants paired with animal proteins. We are offering both a regular option and a “low-carb” option. By evolving from a “plant-based” menu to a “plant-forward” menu, and having an inclusive menu with both vegan and omnivore options, I am able to enhance my mission of getting more people to eat more plants.
Our core menu has not, and will not, change. Our produce comes from a certified organic local farmer. Our meals are free from gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. We only use high quality oils such as organic extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil and we make all of our dressings, sauces, and marinades in house from scratch. All meat is sourced from local farmers raised without antibiotics or hormones.
Each week our menu will change with rotating plant-based and omnivore options for lunches and dinners while our favourite breakfast items will remain unchanged (Morning Glory loaves will now be available every week!). A new offering that comes with this expansion is our new “Fundamental” menu. This menu will have some of our favourite meals available each week at a lower cost with no change to the meals themselves.
These changes will allow us to offer a wider variety of options to our community and further our mission. That being said, I understand that change can be jarring at times which is why I welcome any and all conversations regarding these new directions. If you would like to discuss these changes with me further, please reach out to me. We can talk over email or book a video call.
In my life I have learned many things about my body through the nutrition I consume. I have been 100% vegan, I have been on a high-protein diet, I have gone on and off of elimination diets, and I have had periods where I did not give a damn about my nutrition and just ate whatever was in sight. Through all of these different eating-habits, this is what I’ve learned to be true:
1. Everyone’s food journey is unique to them. So much of our relationship to food is attached to how we were raised and what we have had access to. If we wish to improve our relationship with food, we need to dig into our past and learn why we have the attachments that we have.
2. It doesn’t matter what the title of the diet is. Any diet or lifestyle can benefit from more whole-food plants.
3. The only rule I follow is the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, my plate is 80% plants. 80% of the time, I eat for health. 20% of the time, I eat for joy because it is a nutrient in it’s own way. This ratio can be different for everyone, I’ve simply learned that this ratio is what works for my body and my lifestyle.
4. Regardless of plan - What matters is the quality of ingredients and the intentions we consume them with. Supporting our local growers is our highest priority.
We are what we eat. We make a choice with each bite of food that we take. I feel privileged to provide nutritious meals and thank my community for the opportunity to continue to do so while evolving and growing.