Canada's first-ever plant-based nutrition conference has wrapped up in Toronto after selling out to audience of over 300 people.
The Canadian conference on Plant-based Nutrition and Health featured an all-star roster of prominent Canadian doctors who use evidence-based education to promote a whole foods plant-based diet as a means of preventing and reversing chronic disease.
The event was organized by Dr. Zahra Kassam, in collaboration with the Canadian Academy ofLifestyle Medicine (CALM) and Dr. Shireen Kassam, founder and director ofPlant-Based Health Professionals UK, a member organization of the True HealthInitiative.
Professionals and the public
The conference was aimed at both health care and medical professionals, and members of the public.Speakers highlighted the role diet plays in some of the top health issues facing North America, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, and mental health. Health professionals also busted common myths of a plant-based diet and delved into the far-reaching impact our food choices have on the environment.
Feel Good Guru, a Toronto-based organic vegan catering company, provided a gourmet lunch bursting with colourful and tasty dishes. Award-winning vegan cheese company Stokes Cheese also provided the event with some of its artisanal plant-based cheeses.
The keynote speaker was Dr. David Jenkins, professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, whose research team created the well-known glycemic index, a ranking of foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
He has nearly 40 years of research behind him and served on committees in Canada and the U.S. that formed nutritional guidelines and recommendations for the treatment of diabetes. Dr. Jenkins also helped initiate healthy options for Canada’s largest food retailer, Loblaw, including the 'Too Good to be True' and 'Blue Menu' products. His presentation centered on the link between human health and planetary health.
Dr.Jenkins presented alongside other medical doctors, registered dietitians, and health care professionals well-versed in the latest nutrition science. They included Dr. W. Shane Williams on cardiovascular disease and nutrition, Dr. Subhas Ganguli on food as prevention for diabetes, Dr. Shireen Kassam on plant-based diets and their role in the prevention of certain cancers, and Dr. Linda Plowright on the importance of nutrition and mental health.*
New dietary guidelines
This conference comes shortly after the Canadian government updated its dietary guidelines to reflect a more plant-based diet.
Meantime, study after study over the last few years has demonstrated that moving in this direction can have huge health benefits (EAT-Lancet, Biomarkers, Bad Diets, AHA, Diabetes, All-Cause Mortality).
Additionally, studies have found that a more plant-centric diet is better for the environment, and animal agriculture has contributed to the loss of biodiversity and the acceleration of climate change (United Nations, LANCET Planetary health, FAO, Fish 2050, Biomass, WWF).
The U.S. has had a popular annual conference on this topic for seven years called the International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference.
This marks the first year a conference featured Canadian expertise in this field. The organizers of the conference hope the popularity of this year’s conference will generate enough interest to get the ball rolling and make it an annual event.
*You can watch their talks here