New Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Offers Insight into a Growing Industry

Posted on Tuesday December 07, 2021

If you have recently been to a grocery store, you may have noticed there are more food options than ever before—many of which are plant-based alternatives to common products. 

With the recent growth of plant-based alternatives hitting the shelves, there is notably more research on the positive impacts of adopting a plant-based diet—including health benefits, environmental awareness, and animal welfare practices. 

This January, OpenEd, in partnership with the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, is launching a brand new Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate. Comprised of seven fully online courses, the program provides participants with a deeper understanding of nutrition, ways to reduce chronic disease through plant-based nutrition, and the positive environmental impact of plant-based diets. 

“For most people, it’s a good idea to gradually shift to a plant-based diet; it’s important to take your time to get used to different food intake while making sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs,” says Dr. Pamela Fergusson, course developer and instructor. “These courses allow anyone to examine the nutritional composition of plant-based diets, whether that’s for personal or professional use.” 

As people become more aware of plant-based health benefits, there is also an understanding of the impact food systems have on the planet, particularly when measured against animal products. Plant-based alternatives have even made their way onto Canada’s Food Guide, which encourages Canadians to choose plant-based sources of protein more often for both health and environmental benefits. 

“There tend to be three major factors that we look at when measuring food production and the environment,” says Fergusson. “One is greenhouse gas emissions, the second is water use, and the third is land use. In all three of these areas, plants are far exceeding animal products in terms of success in these metrics.” 

Courses in the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate are four weeks in length, with a new course beginning every six weeks. 

“This method of course delivery is practical for busy industry professionals who want to enhance their learning, or someone who is interested in the subject for personal reasons,” says Fergusson. “With a four-week course format, students are able to get a lot of value in a short period of time; in just a month, they’re going to really increase their knowledge and capacity of plant-based diets.” 

Courses in the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate begin January 31, 2022.

Dr. Pamela Fergusson is a registered dietitian with a PhD in nutrition and 20 years of experience. She works in private practice in British Columbia, and has worked as a dietitian in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.