Plantasang Pinoy: Mesa ni Misis’ plant-based meal guide

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels.

by Juana Manahan Yupangco

Here’s to a healthier, greener dining this 2021

Editor’s note: A food security champion and advocate for local produce and farmers, Juana Manahan Yupangco envisons for the Philippine agricultural industry to be sufficiently appreciated as truly integral to Filipino life and culture. She recently authored a cookbook titled “Mesa ni Misis Cookbook: A Guide to Cooking & Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables,” featuring plant-based recipes that highlight local crops. Today, Juana joins Manila Bulletin as a food columnist, providing healthy, local meal options for the whole household to enjoy and cherish.

After four years of building Mesa ni Misis, a non-profit that I founded to promote eating local vegetables for better, affordable nutrition, I can finally go back to my first love—writing. I was fortunate enough to be able to mirror different stages in life in my writing. First as a single girl who got to travel for press junkets for fashion and beauty brands, next as a mother of two as the editor-in-chief of a parenting magazine, and now, writing about food, health, and wellness on my journey of building Mesa ni Misis. I am honored to be part of the Manila Bulletin family, and hope that I can be of help on your own journeys to health and wellness.

This past January, Mesa ni Misis launched our very own plant based power plate, the Plantlasang Pinoy Plate, which features our local native vegetables. For too long, images of power plates and food pyramids have featured items that are hard to find, or expensive in the Philippines, which makes the thought of eating healthy unreachable. By using local vegetables, Mesa ni Misis highlights the local vegetables and shows that they are just as nutritious as produce found in other countries.

The steady rise in plant-based eating over the last few years has been remarkable globally, with more people now claiming to be following a plant-based lifestyle. We at Mesa ni Misis wanted to make the plant-based way of eating easy and affordable for all Filipinos.

The Plantlasang Pinoy Plate provides a visual representation of a balanced and nutritionally accurate plant-based meal created for Filipinos. The guide shows a plethora of endemic and locally-sourced options categorized into the four divisions: Grains and Starchy Vegetables; Beans, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds; Fruits and Vegetables; and Water.

Grains and Starchy Vegetables are energy-giving foods such as carbohydrates. These foods translate into energy to regulate bodily functions and fuel physical activity. Whole grains are recommended over refined grains as they contain more fiber and nutrients. Starchy vegetables such as kamote, potato, cassava, gabi, and squash are suitable replacements for grains as they are complex carbohydrates that will keep the body fueled for longer.

Beans, Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds are body-building food rich with proteins. These food are responsible for the growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues. Example of these are mung beans, sitaw, bataw, patani, mani, kasoy, kadyos. Through Plantlasang Pinoy, you will discover the many local varieties of protein food that we have.

Fruits and Vegetables are body-regulating food. The World Health Organization recommends more than 400 grams of fruits and vegetables a day to prevent non-communicable diseases. Our very own alugbati, mustasa, pechay, kangkong, kundol, patola, saluyot, kulitis are the building blocks to a strong immune system.

Water, water, water! Put down the iced tea and soda! Pinoys love overly sweet drinks and the majority don’t drink enough water. Water is included as it is healthy and essential for proper bodily functions.

Plant-based diets have been proven to lower the risk for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. The plate is accompanied by a chart available on and provides the macronutrient content of 100 grams of some of the most common plant-based foods in Filipino diets. Building a nutrient-dense plant-based meal has never been easier!

For more information, visit our website or follow us on Instagram @mesanimisis and Facebook @MesanimisisPH.

This article first appeared in Manila Bulletin’s Lifestyle section.

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