Prestigious cooking school Culinary Institute of America (CIA) recently released The Protein Flip and The Protein Play—two evidence-based documents that challenge chefs and foodservice professionals to reconsider the use of animal-based proteins on their menus. Both documents urge chefs to “rethink their protein portfolios” by steering away from the use of meat—for health and environmental reasons—and instead focusing on “elevating the role of legumes, nuts, and plant-forward flavors in general.” Developed in part with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health under the Menus of Change initiative, these new culinary resources include sections that debunk myths around the positive benefits of consuming meat and dairy, infographics about the greenhouse gas emissions of various protein sources, and techniques to create dishes with vegetables as the centerpiece—all while urging chefs to “leave behind the habit of using ‘protein’ as a synonym for ‘meat.’” CIA spokesperson Greg Drescher said that “So often in our industry we unnecessarily limit options for our customers, narrowing choices to ‘regular’ (e.g., a steak, half a chicken, etc.) and ‘unleaded’(e.g., vegetarian pasta),” and revealed that the school’s new toolkit will, “challenge us to adopt next-generation approaches that simultaneously embrace and integrate indulgence, deliciousness, health, and sustainability—all on the same menu, and often in the same dish.”
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