Aramark, the largest food services provider in the United States, has teamed up with the American Heart Association (AHA), the nation’s largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, in order to improve American heart health within the next couple of years.
The organizations have set a goal of improving heart health with vegan food by 20 percent by 2020. In order to grow awareness about how consumers can incorporate vegan food into their everyday lives, Aramark tapped into its network of over 1000 chefs while AHA leveraged its network of experts to create a list of tips for seasonal plant-based eating, starting with summer. The initiative suggests options for vegan summer grilling, easy swaps for meat, and how to use summer flavors in plant-based cooking.
“Summer is the perfect season to start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet,” said Dan Wainfan, Aramark’s health and wellness lead. “Our dietitians and chefs have collected their favorite tips and tricks to help put a new twist on summer favorites, and offer a fresh and healthy way to enjoy the best of the season.”
“We all have our go-to summer dishes, but challenge yourself to experiment with new flavor combinations or cooking techniques. You might just find a new seasonal favorite,” added Jo Ann Carson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.
Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as certain forms of cancer, in some cases. One study even linked the meat consumption of 18-35-year-olds with the growing number of instances of heart disease in that age group. As more consumers grow aware of how various chronic health issues are linked to meat and dairy-heavy diets, people are turning to the vegan lifestyle for the health benefits.
A recent survey conducted by Aramark found that more than 60 percent of respondents believe that vegan, vegetarian, and plant-forward (diets that feature vegetables as the center of the plate with smaller portions of meat) options are important to have. The majority of those surveyed also said that they believe these options are healthier and more environmentally-friendly than a diet heavy in animal products.
Aramark and the AHA have already spearheaded the healthy eating initiative with the launch of the Healthy for Life 20 by 20 initiative, a program that helps get more vegan food options in facilities managed by Aramark. According to recent data, 30 percent of main dishes served by Aramark are vegan or vegetarian. Presently, the company is working with vegan seafood company Ocean Hugger Foods to include its plant-based “Ahimi” tuna on menus.