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Plant Powered

Members of the Providence Health Care Environmental Stewardship Team Food Working Group at the Holy Family Hospital event

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Providence’s Food Working Group whets appetites for plant-rich meals.

Lately, plant-based foods are getting a lot of attention — and for good reason. They’re linked to a host of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. Plus, plant-based options aren’t just healthy; they have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to meat.

Promoting plant-based nutrition is one goal for Providence Health Care’s (PHC) Environmental Stewardship Team’s Food Working Group. Through advocacy and collaboration with PHC’s Food Services, the group aims to raise awareness about the benefits of plant-based food.

As someone passionate about food and sustainability, I see every meal as a chance to heal both patients and the planet,” says Sisi Tian, a dedicated member of the working group and food service manager at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. “For that reason, a diet rich in veggies is the future of how we eat.”

In 2023, with support from a Health Quality BC Student Intern, Celia Zhou, the Food Working Group partnered with Food Services, and Nutritional Services to organize “Plant Powered” food events at Vancouver’s Holy Family Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital. The working group took a coordinated approach and wrote nine articles on topics such as the complexity of food services in health care, tips for sustainable eating and health benefits of a plant-based diet, which they published on the PHC intranet to increase awareness and promote the upcoming events to staff.

The initial events engaged over 100 staff, medical staff and residents, offering information and delicious plant-based food samples such as fresh hummus, vegan cheese sticks and hemp hearts to encourage staff and rehab residents to learn about the impact of food choices on their health and the planet.

During the event at Holy Family Hospital Rehab, the working group set up in the main dining room, sharing information resources and inviting visitors to share their favorite plant-powered meals through drawing and writing. Their submissions became a source of sustainable meal ideas and inspiration. To wrap up the event, staff at Holy Family Hospital participated in a vegetarian potluck, highlighting a variety of plant-centric cooking, such as shiitake mushroom noodles, veggie samosas, and apple chips with cinnamon for dessert.


On October 16, World Food Day, the working group held a second event at St. Paul’s Hospital. Attendees engaged with informational displays, exploring the connections between dietary choices and environmental sustainability. Visitors were also encouraged to participate in a survey that aimed to capture their perspectives and attitudes on food choices after visiting the booth. Armed with new information, attendees reported increased awareness about the benefits of plant-powered meals as well as increased motivation to incorporate more plants into their diet.

Looking ahead, the Food Working Group successfully applied for funding from the St. Paul’s Foundation and plans to expand the Plant Powered events to six more long-term care and assisted living sites in the next year. Through these initiatives, they’re inspiring individuals to care for the planet so that they can continue to savour the bounty of its harvest.