Plant Forward: A Culinary Concept and Strategy

In 2009, Changing Tastes founder Arlin Wasserman created the Plant-Forward culinary strategy in response to two simple realizations: changing the portions and proportions of plant- and animal-based ingredients served is the most significant way the culinary profession and foodservice industry can address climate change, water scarcity and other environmental concerns. That same shift is also the key to profitably using more humanely raised meat and poultry and sustainable seafood in America’s restaurants.

The simple culinary instruction “Plant-Forward” embodies that shift, moving plants from the edge to the center of the plate while continuing to keep meat, fish and seafood on the menu and providing flavor. And, even modest reductions in the amount of red meat American’s eat each day can make a meaningful contribution to greenhouse gas reduction goals and improve the financial performance.

Plant-Forward culinary strategies were the focus of the first Better Tomorrow culinary competition at the James Beard house held in 2011 and sponsored by Sodexo. The approach now informs the development of the millions of meals served by Changing Tastes’ clients like Aramark and Compass Group.

Now a decade on, plant-forward dining has been a platform for culinary innovation and meaningful change on American menus. And our plant-forward dining strategy also has been popularized in the foodservice industry through the efforts by the Culinary Institute of America’ and Harvard School of Public Health’s Menus of Change initiative.