In a funny scene in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main character, Toula, tells her family that her non-Greek boyfriend, Ian, is a vegetarian. “What do you mean, he don’t eat no meat?” an aunt yells in disbelief and a crowded room goes silent. Then she thinks she’s found a solution: “That’s OK, I make lamb.”

The movie came out in 2002. I had been a vegetarian for a couple of years at that point. Over the past two decades, I have seen firsthand how much things have changed: from vegetarianism being considered a bit weird by many Canadians, to becoming totally mainstream in Canada. Today, you can find a vegetarian — or vegan — version of virtually anything. Take “milk,” for example. Would you like oat, almond, sesame, cashew, hazelnut or walnut “milk?” They’re all in the dairy aisle of my neighbourhood grocery store in Toronto.

This weekend in The Conversation Canada, I’ve rounded up articles about the advances in vegetarian and vegan foods, including how scientists make “plant-based” foods taste and look more like meat.

We’ll see if My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 also updates the vegetarian joke when it comes out in September. The aunt might be able to make “lamb” for Ian after all.

Lisa Varano

Deputy Editor

Weekend reads

How scientists make plant-based foods taste and look more like meat

Mariana Lamas, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Appearance, texture and flavour are the three main challenges food scientists face when developing a convincing plant-based meat.

The future of meat is shifting to plant-based products

Lisa Kramer, University of Toronto

Plant-based proteins are in hot demand. That’s why Canadian grocery stores and restaurant chains are racing to give consumers what they want.

Diet resolutions: 6 things to know about eating less meat and more plant-based foods

Mariana Lamas, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Plant-based diets can be healthy but ingredients matter. Heavily processed meat substitutes can be high in saturated fats and sodium.

How restaurants are wooing ‘flexitarians’

Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University

Almost one in five Canadians are going meatless or eating far less meat. But most establishments aren’t actually targeting vegetarians or vegans; they’re chasing “flexitarians.” Here’s why.

At the centre of controversies: Why do we love to hate and hate to love meat?

Zeynep Arsel, Concordia University; Aya Aboelenien, HEC Montréal

Meat has been a marker of class and gender divides, sparked scientific revolutions and has been at the centre of wars.

Meat consumption is changing but it’s not because of vegans

Michael von Massow, University of Guelph; Alfons Weersink, University of Guelph; Molly Gallant, University of Guelph

There are clearly changes happening in meat consumption. But it’s not being fuelled by an increase in veganism and vegetarianism.