Big Brands Are Embracing the Plant-Based Movement
As you know, if you follow me on Instagram, I recently traveled to Washington, DC for the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo – the annual gathering of more than 10,000 dietitians to connect, learn about the latest in nutritional science, and discover tons of tasty new products.
As it turns out, our nation’s capital is also home to the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé. While in town, I was invited to Nestlé’s headquarters in Arlington, which was overlooking the city with a spectacular view of the Washington monument, to experience the latest plant-based offerings from a few of their popular brands – COFFEE-MATE natural bliss, Häagen-Dazs, Sweet Earth and Lean Cuisine. This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nestlé.
As an ice cream loving, coffee-addict, predominantly plant-based, former college student, I was obviously already familiar with all of these brands.
I hadn’t had Lean Cuisine since back in my undergrad days, however, so it was great to see how far the brand has come in upgrading their convenient meals to address consumer desires for more meatless options and organic foods.
Sweet Earth on the other hand, a relatively new company, has become a staple in my home. Their vegan burritos are a go-to for the hubs and I on busy work nights and one of the few plant-based products he actually requests on the regular.
As you may be aware just from scrolling through your social media feeds, plant-based eating is on the rise. Here are a just a few facts about the growing trend:
- More than a third of Americans say they are actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet. *Nielsen, 2017
- Nearly half of Amazon’s top diet books are plant-based themed *Mintel, 2017
- Each year there are 76 million new vegetarians *Euromonitor International, 2018
- Plant-based dairy alternatives have grown by 20% and meat alternatives by 6% *Nielsen, 2017
And with the UN’s latest report on global warming stating that we as a society need to move to a more plant-based diet (and fast) or we’re going to face serious, devastating effects, there is both a need and a desire for more plant-based products. So it makes me very happy that big name brands are doing their part to meet this demand.
The Nestlé More Ways to Love Plant-Based Choices event was quite fun. In addition to getting to sample all of their delicious new products, we also got to get in on the action in the kitchen with their award-winning chefs, and learn how brands people know and love offer access to simple and delicious plant-based options.
One of Nestlé’s big initiatives is to spread the word about their #BalanceYourPlate education program. Similar to MyPlate and my predominantly plant-based recommendations, the goal is to fill half of your plate with produce. They do this by guiding consumers on fresh, nutrient-dense sides to complement their frozen and refrigerated entrées.
At the event, I was assigned the task of making an Apple Cider Kombucha Vinaigrette to go over grilled kabocha squash and pistachios. It turned out fantastic and was a scrumptious accompaniment to the Sweet Earth Veggie Lover’s Vegan Pizza that we had for lunch.
This was my first time trying the pizza and will definitely not be the last. Sweet Earth considers themselves a “flavor-forward” company, and I would have to agree. I was blown away by how good this vegan pizza is. It’s made with 70% organic, non-GMO ingredients including a cornmeal, chia and carrot crust and a ton of veggies.
We also enjoyed the Lean Cuisine Origins Ricotta & Spinach Meatless Meatballs and Butternut Squash Lasagna, and Sweet Earth’s Curry Tiger Burrito and Sweet Earth BBQ Savory Grounds, which were used to make wonton tacos and BBQ sweet potato nacho bites.
Everything was fantastic and it was cool to see how these frozen entrees could be paired with fresh sides to boost fruit and veggie intake and cut time in the kitchen.
After lunch, we were treated to a drool-worthy coffee and dessert bar.
Naturally, I gravitated toward the Häagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Non-Dairy Bar, because peanut butter, obviously. What’s neat about their non-dairy products is that instead of simply swapping the milk for a dairy alternative, Häagen-Dazs leverages the star ingredient, peanut butter in this case, to create an incredibly creamy texture.
I enjoyed my bar with a cup of hot coffee mixed with COFFEE-MATE natural bliss Sweet Crème Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer. What I like about this creamer is that it’s made with just six, simple, all-natural ingredients: Coconut Milk, Cane Sugar, Coconut Oil, Pea Protein, Baking Soda, and Gellan Gum.
It was an extremely tasty afternoon and a great educational experience for me to learn about where companies are coming from when trying to address the global need for more plant-based foods.
While I am a major advocate for whole food and home cooking, I completely recognize that made-from-scratch meals are not a realistic option for most families every night and I’m all for finding ways to make convenient, delicious packaged food more nutritious. As I said before, the hubs and I eat at least two-three meals a week from a box/package – often Sweet Earth! I’m looking forward to hunting down their veggie pizza on my next grocery run…and probably a pint of Häagen-Dazs as well.
Weigh in: Have you tried any of these new products? What are your thoughts on big brands breaking into the plant-based space?
*This post is sponsored by Nestle but all opinions are my own. I thank you for your support of Whitney E. RD-approved partnerships that make this website possible.