Participants were not required to assist in the preparation, but staff discussed the benefits of some of these ingredients and encouraged participants to look for these items in their own food pantry. However, no additional nutrition or food information was provided.
All cooking class participants were provided with a bag of groceries that contained most of the ingredients to make three of the provided recipes for their family members during the six weeks of the cooking classes. Grocery receipts were collected throughout the study and researchers observed significant decreases in purchases of meat, carbonated beverages, desserts and snacks, even though staff never instructed participants not to purchase these items. At the same time, there was an increase in the total number of different vegetables and fruits consumed per month.
"Not only did study participants cut their food spending by more than half, saving nearly $40 per week, we also found that the reliance on a food pantry decreased as well, from 68 percent at the start of the study to 54 percent, demonstrating a clear decline in food insecurity," Flynn says.
Following a plant-based diet also yielded some unexpected health benefits, Flynn adds. Approximately half of all participants lost weight, which was not a study objective, and there was an overall decrease in body mass index, or BMI.
"Our results also suggest that including a few plant-based meals per week is an attainable goal that will not only improve their health and diet, but also lower their food costs," Flynn says.
Flynn is also an associate professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
|Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes|