Plant Forward: A Culinary Concept and Strategy

To mark the tenth anniversary of when the Plant Forward concept was launched by founder Arlin Wasserman at a culinary competition at the James Beard House in recognition of Earth Day 2009, we have produced a study brings together two years of research by Changing Tastes and Datassential conducted to help foodservice companies and culinary professionals understand the changes in diner preferences over the past ten years and since. You can download the study here.

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.

How powerful is the Plant-Forward approach? Arlin Wasserman and Stanford University collaborated on an evaluation of the nutrition and environmental benefits of modest reductions in meat consumption, which were featured as the lead article in Nutrition Reviews(R) which you can read here.

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 by clients like Compass Group, Aramark and Stanford University as well as through the efforts by the Culinary Institute of America.