Canada’s Food Guide: Why a Plant-Based Diet is Good for You & the Planet

A group of friends eating a light, plant-based lunch around a circular dining table.A group of friends eating a light, plant-based lunch around a circular dining table.


In January 2019, Health Canada published the latest edition of Canada’s Food Guide – the first update since 2007.

The guide promotes healthy eating and overall nutritional well-being within Canada. One of the principal recommendations within the guide advises Canadians to eat more plant-based foods:

“Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.1

Living with heart means eating better, staying active, and making the most of every day. At Becel, we believe living with heart also includes eating plant-based foods as much as possible. After all, it’s how Becel® is made.

That’s right: Becel® margarine is plant-based. The spread you know and love starts with a blend of plant-based oils derived from canola and sunflower seeds.2 That’s particularly good news considering plant-based diets can offer you and the environment many benefits – some of which might surprise you.

First things first: is plant-based eating right for you?

Like it sounds, plant-based eating means choosing foods derived from plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (dried peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils), nuts and seeds, as well as opting for animal-based foods less often. Plant-based foods also include vegetable and plant-based oils as well as products made mostly from these oils – you guessed it: products like Becel® margarine. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there’s more…

What are the benefits of eating a plant-based diet?

Most plant-based foods are a wise choice; eating them offers many benefits for you and the planet:3,4

  • Vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, and legumes contain a number of nutrients including fibre and carbohydrates, as well as important vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and more. But don’t let that long list intimidate you. In short, these plant-based foods typically contain little to no saturated fat and no trans fats, which is exactly what a healthy diet needs.
  • The latest Food Guide recommends consumers “choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat. ” Many vegetable and plant-based oils (including canola, sunflower, avocado and olive) are important sources of these healthy fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A number of products made from a blend of plant oils contain these healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, but what does that mean? Simply put, replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from plant-based oils helps lower cholesterol.

Environmental benefits:
Plant-based eating offers the potential of multiple benefits: it can provide your body with important nutrients while helping you do good for the planet at the same time. Here’s how:

  • A plant-based diet often uses less energy, land, and water than an animal-based diet.4,5,6
  • Soft, non-hydrogenated margarine (e.g. Becel®) uses canola grown right here in Canada. So, it helps support Canadian farmers.

How can I start to consume a more plant-based diet?

Many people choose to adopt plant-based eating by adhering to a vegetarian or vegan diet, while others opt to simply eat fewer meat or animal products. How you adopt a plant-based diet is really up to you – but here are some easy ways to help you get started:

  1. At every meal and snack, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Try one of our many delicious vegetable-based side dishes.
  2. Enjoy smaller portions of lean meat and skinless poultry at mealtimes. Try the age-old trick of comparing your portion sizes to your hands – a recommended serving size roughly matches the size of your palm.
  3. Try going meat-free on Mondays and opt for a vegetarian or vegan meal at least once a week – from Chana Masala, to Lemon-Herb Grilled Tofu & Vegetable Kabobs and Quinoa Bowls with Golden Turmeric Cauliflower, the options are endless at
  4. Visit your local farmer’s market to pick up local, seasonal foods like fruits, veggies and whole grain breads. Let what’s in season inspire you to try new recipes.
  5. Swap animal-based butter for plant-based Becel® margarine in all aspects of your cooking – you can use it for sautéing, baking, roasting, frying, or spreading.

So, there you have it: a plant-based diet is good for you and often better for the planet and gradually making the switch to one can be easy. And remember: we’re always there for you with good-for-you plant-based recipes.


1. Canada’s Dietary Guidelines, published by Health Canada. Appendix A Healthy Eating Recommendations
2. Olive oil is used instead of sunflower oil in Becel® Olive Oil margarine. Avocado oil is used instead of sunflower oil in Becel® Avocado Oil margarine.
3. Canada’s Dietary Guidelines, published by Health Canada. Appendix A Healthy Eating Recommendations
4. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Part D. Chapter 5: Food Sustainability and Safety. Sourced Oct 10, 2016.
5. Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation, Chapter 2. Sourced Oct 10, 2016.
6. Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment. Sourced Oct 1, 2016.

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