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Plant Futurist Feature: Miyoko's x Plant Futures Pop-Up with Haley Hughes

On September 17th, 2022, Haley organized a pop-up at Corner Bar in Oxford, Ohio. Haley noticed its menu lacked vegan cheese options and decided to test new plant-based offerings and supplied vegan mozzarella from Miyoko's Creamery. Through this event, the Plant Futures Miami University Chapter gained over 40 new members, and many requested that Corner and all Oxford bars and restaurants add vegan cheese to the menu.


Plant Futurist Feature #01

Haley Hughes Chapter Leader at PF Miami University Chapter

Haley Hughes

Master's in Entrepreneurship & Emerging Technology in Business

Chapter Leader at PF Miami University Chapter

I grew up in California, but had midwest roots in Ohio and Michigan. I wanted to move away from home and experience something different for my college experience. I ultimately decided on Miami University because of its community. Miami is a place that holds a special spot in my parent's heart. It is where they met, which makes it super nostalgic when they visit and walk around campus. I have had a complicated university experience, to say the least.

I began in the nursing program, switched to public health, and then added a nutrition minor. I was able to complete this in three years and am now in my senior year and am in the first Masters Program cohort for Entrepreneurship and Emerging Technology and Business. I will graduate with both degrees in May. I enjoy hiking, yoga, running, biking - any activity really that is active.

What led you to becoming interested in plant-based food and food systems work?

It was no one touch event but rather a combination of events and people that led me to my interest in plant-based food and food systems. During my high school years I watched many videos that influenced me greatly - Cowspiracy, The China Study and Mark Hyman.I became vegan when I was 16, and 85 lbs.and working through an eating disorder. Veganism allowed me to view food as nourishment and love for my body, not punishment and hatred. I began to dive into recipes and fall in love with the beauty and joy in whole foods that I had never seen before.The kind and passionate community people in the space I have met has been impactful. The Vegan Women’s Summit led me to learn and connect to entrepreneurs outside the US. I was having the most organic conversations virtually with people I had never met but somehow felt like I had known forever.

This led me to a global network of plant futurists and optimists around the world.

I joined more groups, and learned so much! My experience working at Miyoko's Creamery was impactful. This was the first time I was in an environment surrounded by people with a common goal. I recently had an amazing experience that allowed me to see the food system through a different lense. I worked on a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii. I experienced the work and love that goes into food on a smaller scale. The combination of these experiences has led me to where I am today.

What part of the plant-based sector are you most interested in?

I truly believe the future starts on our plate. There are so many layers to addressing this climate crisis caused by our food system. I am fascinated by so many emerging technologies in plant-based foods and cell agriculture, carbon capture, and more. After spending time in Hawaii, it was clear to me that I wanted to be a part of the solution. There are so many amazing plant-based foods that are not only tasty, but drive the wave of veganism. These companies are essential to innovating our world. However, there are also many other sustainable methods and techniques in growing crops that are also interesting, such as regenerative agriculture, agroecology, vertical farming, organic growing, and other related business practices. Labels of ‘organic’ non-GMO’ are dominated by favoring quantity over quality, and profits over sustainability. I am excited about the emerging technologies that address the unsustainable commercial Big Ad industry and demand change.

What are you looking forward to with your chapter and this upcoming year?

I am looking forward to connecting with plant-centric individuals and inspiring others who are curious. I want to engage, include, and empower others to choose alternative options, and become optimists in our food system. Veganism is not common at Miami University and I think there is a stereotype behind it, especially here. By hosting potlucks, social outings, cooking nights, and speaker events, I hope to bring together like-minded individuals and just have fun together! My goal is to cultivate a movement to leave behind at Miami University! I am also excited about another opportunity to create a marketing deliverable for the Oxford Farmers market by interviewing local farmers. Throughout the year, I will be recording over 30 regenerative farms and their experiences in farming methods, policy, technology, and communication. Paralleling the capitalistic motives of commercial agriculture, I think this will give good insight on what life is like for a regenerative farmer in our food system. I am excited to learn about my Oxford Community through the students and the farmers who keep it alive!

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