School has often been a place where individuals explore new and different cultures and experiences. Communities, friendships, habits, and practices are developed in these spaces that essentially become the superstructure of an individual’s values and belief systems. This has resulted in many social movements being born out of such communities of learning and growth. Historically, movements against oppressive social structures and social liberties have emerged from such shared belief systems. More recently, as sapiens face more impending issues today, yet again these communities of culture are taking the lead in the conversation around climate change.
Students and young professionals have taken a step further to ameliorate the climate crisis and combined planetary health with human health in their attempt to transform food systems. According to a 2019 college pulse survey, 14% of schoolgoers are vegetarian and/or vegan as compared to 4% of U.S. adults. The conversation now has reached such a stage where institutions are taking active steps towards the shift to a plant-centric food system. There are instances of schools starting an all-vegan dining hall, making alternative milk the default milk, and even offering courses on alternative ingredients, plant-centric nutrition, or transforming food systems.
The Plant Futures Initiative was also born out of a similar community of shared beliefs and a mission-driven purpose to transform food systems. The Challenge Lab offered by PFI in both the Spring and Fall semesters is a one-of-a-kind course that brings mission-driven individuals and innovative companies in the plant-based food space together to create a space and platform for relevant upskilling, peer learning as well as networking in the sector. Many individuals who attended previous editions of Challenge Lab are now working with leading organizations such as Beeflow, Plant Based Food Association, Environmental Defense Fund, etc.
The annual Plant Futures Symposium is another unique resource for Berkeley students and beyond. With more than 50 speakers who are experts in their respective fields related to food and climate change giving a systems perspective, the symposium is the perfect space for individuals who have been thinking about a career in food systems or folks who have been wanting to adopt a plant-centric diet.
Plant Futures envisions building a community of Plant Futurists and providing resources such as the Challenge Lab and the Symposium. We want Plant Futurists to assume positions in the plant-based food space where they can create measurable impact towards healthier and greener food systems. Again, to enable that, PFI is also an opportunity hub for individuals seeking jobs in this space.
Interested in plants? Interested in transforming food systems into a more just, equitable, and sustainable institution? Interested in saving the planet? Get involved with the Plant Futures Initiative. Check out our website. Subscribe to our newsletter. Reach out to us!