We are delighted to bring you a summer update from the Plant Futures team, where we will share the exciting progress we've made in our mission to accelerate the transition to a plant-centric world. Your incredible support and dedication have played a vital role in our success, and we couldn't be more grateful. So, without further ado, let's dive into the highlights of our journey so far:
Launch of our Membership Community
This initiative brings together students, professionals, and academics from diverse backgrounds and interests, united in our common purpose: to accelerate the transition to a plant-centric world for the sake of the planet, people, and animals. If you happen to know any organizations or companies within your network that may find our membership program of interest, we value your referrals immensely. Referrals from our dedicated supporters have been instrumental in expanding our professional network, and we sincerely appreciate your ongoing support.
Successful Spring Semester and Challenge Lab Projects
We wrapped up a highly successful Spring semester at Berkeley and Harvard! Our cohort's Challenge Lab projects showcased incredible innovation and dedication. We highly recommend checking out the full recap of some remarkable projects, including Beyond Meat, Transfarmation, and Sunworld, as well as a summary of our Chapter semester wrap-up call here.
Curriculum Expansion Underway
Thanks to a grant received by the UC Office of the President, we are launching a new cross-campus course: Introduction to Plant-Centric Food Systems in 2024. The modular course will be available to students at all 9 UC campuses, covering a variety of topics— including Climate & the Environment, Health & Nutrition, Animal Welfare, Social Impacts, Innovation, Policy & Law, Behavioral Change, Media, and Plant-Based Cooking.
The curriculum development is currently underway, and will feature original video content from experts in each given field, including Michael Greger, Ayesha & Dean Sherzai, Matthew Hayek, and many more—as well as engaging guided discussions, activities, and assignments that further students’ understanding of current issues in the food system—and the pathways available to them for creating positive change personally and systemically.
Chapter Developments: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
The spring semester exhibited strong momentum for the chapter network. From screening the film "The Smell of Money" at Fort Valley State to hosting Earth Week events at the University of Maryland and Ohio State, our chapter students were actively engaged in educating and fostering change on their respective campuses. With our existing chapters now having a year of programming experience, we anticipate a more impactful campus presence and continued growth. Furthermore, we successfully launched chapters at the University of Michigan, City University of New York, New York University, University of Maryland, Duke, Yale, and relaunched at UC Berkeley this spring. We are proud to share that 59% of our student leaders identify as Female or Non-Binary and 52% identify as BIPOC.
As the majority of our students are rising sophomores and juniors, we are enthusiastic about expanding our influence with these young leaders and eagerly look forward to recruiting new students this fall. In addition to their academic pursuits, our chapter students have excelled in securing internships with companies such as Meati, Quorn, Good Food Purchasing Program, and have even been invited to serve on the Gen Z Board with Aleph Farms. We take great pride in their achievements thus far.
Industry Events & Speaking Engagements
Our team has had the privilege of participating in and networking at numerous industry events, expanding our knowledge and connections. Notable among these are Expo West, Vegan Women Summit, and LEAD training, where we had the chance to connect with several promising leads and establish meaningful relationships. Looking ahead, we are excited to announce that Sam will be speaking at AVA Summit, the FAO World Food Forum, and the Reducetarian Summit, addressing the topic of empowering the next generation of food system leaders and activists.
Mexico Expansion In Progress
We’ve officially initiated our expansion of Plant Futures into Mexico. We plan to launch in the Fall, and have hired a capable team of two—Emmanuel Márquez and Darleen Martinez—to steward this significant development. Emmanuel has extensive experience in the plant-based advocacy space, working with brands and entrepreneurs. And, as an educator, Darleen has worked with a diverse range of students and universities. As a result, they constitute a strong, complementary team with a plethora of skills needed for the project. In addition to building a student community of Plant Futurists in Mexico, we are creating a short film highlighting the voices of the leaders who are spearheading the plant-based movement in Mexico. We will share more as the project progresses, and are looking forward to the growth to come.
Plant Futures Events
The first half of 2023 has been marked by a series of highly successful events, both in person and virtually, specifically designed for our student community and beyond. To get an overview of the events we have hosted so far, discover what is in store for the second half of the year, and get a sneak peek into our plans for 2024 and beyond, explore our comprehensive events overview here.