Why Certified Carnivore Chef Dale Talde Is Digging in on Plant-Based Eating

Eating plant-based is really growing on the Filipino-American chef

June 16, 2022 7:10 am
Chef Dale Talde is embracing a plant-based diet
Dale Talde is a meateater who is starting to chow down on plants.
Gary He

The last time we caught up with Tastemade’s All Up In My Grill star Dale Talde, the ChoppedIron Chef America , Knife Fight and Top Chef cheftestant was singing the praises of Cantonese-style char siu BBQ ribs.

Though he’s still grilling, Talde has at least partially turned over a new leaf since then — a green one.

Now a father of two, the 43-year-old has become much more conscious about what he puts into his body. That raised level of awareness has led to Talde incorporating more plant-based food items into his diet, including Nasoya’s new Plantspired Steak.

“I’m a carnivore and I’ll always eat meat. At the end of the day, I don’t think you’re trying to replace meat. It’s more about including plant-based foods in your diet,” Talde tells InsideHook. “What does that mean? If you’re making dumplings, use half pork and another half soy protein. You’re gonna get a great texture and great mouthfeel. You just reduced your calories and reduced your animal protein consumption.”

As other meat-loving chefs have previously mentioned, many of the plant-based products that are on the market today are not your father’s tofu dogs. For Talde, it all comes down to major advances in the texture department.

A plate of Plantspired steak skewers
Plantspired steak looks, and tastes, like the real thing.
Gary He

“A lot of times, the mouthfeel is wrong,” he says. “With soy protein, the biggest thing it brings to the table, besides the flavor and the fact that you’re eating a vegetable, is texture. That’s the most important thing because I can make it taste good. It can be marinated. It can be stir-fried. You don’t have to change your cooking style. Treat it like a normal protein and you’ll get great results. Make it taste delicious and work your way back from there.”

Not that Talde, who has also incorporated working out a few times per week as well as intermittent fasting into his wellness routine, is advocating for people to switch to a 100% plant-based diet. Far from it. What he’s pushing for is for carnivores to incorporate some herbivore tendencies into their monthly meal plan.

“Everyone’s so gung-ho when they start a plant-based diet. After week one, they’re like, ‘I need a cheeseburger,’” he says. “It’s hard because you want to go so hard when you start to make these decisions about your health and what you’re eating. You go to the store and you got $200 worth of vegetables. Then there’s no way you can eat that many vegetables and they go bad. That’s not sustainable. It’s all about balance. That’s when I think you find the most success. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I think that’s a misconception.”

Talde also thinks that a small change like going plant-based a few times a week can end up having a big impact.

“Ask your actual gut if it appreciates your willingness to eat more plant-based. Immediately you just feel lighter,” he says. “Don’t eat plant-based for a week and then eat plant-based for a week and see which one makes you feel better. You already know the answer. Take a step back, go to the doctor and ask what they think. They’ll tell you the same thing. People don’t realize it’s a really fast, easy and delicious way to get food on the table. Food has to start with delicious and then everything else falls into place.”


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