The Plant Protein Institute

Increasing awareness and engagement with plant-based meat through targeted community initiatives

Photo of Justin Liu
1 3

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

September 16, 1997

Where are you located:

California: Berkeley (94704)
California: Oakland (94577)
California: San Francisco (94104)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://scet.berkeley.edu/alternative-meats-lab/

Date Started

November / 23 / 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In 2018, Americans will consume more meat than ever before. Not only does red meat cause many negative health effects, but producing meat holds a massive 7.1 Gigaton footprint. While plant-based meat exists already, many people are either unwilling to try it or are not aware that such products even exist! We seek to address the problem of awareness and consideration for plant-based meat, a healthier and more resource-efficient alternative.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our goal is to raise awareness on both a local and global scale. At the local level, we want to provide educational opportunities for people to learn more about the growing field of plant-based meat and its positive environmental/nutritional impacts. At the global level, we plan to produce engaging content across social media to facilitate discussion on new updates in the field.

We are also working with universities, starting with UC Berkeley, to introduce bright students to the field of plant-based meat. We are working with representatives from plant-based meat companies and research organizations to host case competitions and hackathons, allowing students to tackle problems across plant-based meat including research, marketing, and product innovations.

Finally, we plan on engaging local communities, organizing career panels to educate students about how they can get involved with plant-based meat across research, business, food, etc. We also plan to showcase local chefs on our social media who currently serve plant-based meat in their restaurants. We have been drafting content with UC Berkeley dining halls and cafes, many of which are early adopters of plant-based meat!

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

One of our members, Byron Lo, is a huge foodie and is looking to make a career in the food industry. However, it wasn’t until we had an on-campus event featuring Impossible Food burgers that he learned the benefits plant-based meat. The event helped facilitate conversation and education about the positive environmental impacts plant-based meat could have. Byron found that he wanted to get involved in helping tackle wide-scale issues across the current meat production industry via plant-based meat. He got involved in our organization, enrolling in UC Berkeley’s new plant-based meat course and is now leading efforts to organize student hackathons and pitch competitions to foster student-led innovation in the field! We hope to offer that same spark of inspiration and education on the plant-based meat field for people not just at UC Berkeley, but across all communities in the Bay Area.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

What makes The Plant Protein Institute distinctive is our unique array of community engagement initiatives and focus on plant-based meat. Other organizations like the Good Food Institute focus on other foods, and they mainly work on helping new companies in the space grow. With our connections to UC Berkeley and leading companies in the field, we are focusing our initiatives on plant-based meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) because the negative health implications and the carbon footprint of excessive meat consumption/production are extremely important issues that are begging to be addressed.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

At this point, we’ve already established partnerships with UC Berkeley’s Alternative Meats Lab, its plant-based meat course sponsors (Givaudon, Roquette, Hampton Creek, and IndieBio), and several local chefs and high schools. In addition, we have laid out our comprehensive roadmap for the 2018-2019 school year for events including a career panel, plant-based meat hackathons and pitch competitions, chef feature videos, and popup tastings - all to help raise awareness and engagement across the campus. We plan to survey the population of Berkeley before and after events, gathering data to track progress on awareness levels and familiarity with plant-based meat. Ultimately, through these efforts, we hope to make a difference in bringing a spotlight to plant-based meats for UC Berkeley’s 41,000+ students, driving conversation and involvement in the field both across the campus and beyond.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Next steps for The Plant Protein Institute include formative action and implementing our initiatives. For awareness, we look to create further partnerships with representatives from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and the Good Food Institute to host our series of podcasts, blog posts, and YouTube videos to share among the Bay Area community. We will be finalizing details (date, location, judging panel, prizes, advertising) of our pitch competitions, hackathons, and career panels. Lastly, over the next 4-5 months, we will be reaching out to more local chefs who serve plant-based meat products in order to film segments with them.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We have worked with Professor Ricardo San Martin to establish conversations with the sponsors of UC Berkeley’s plant-based meat course. While we have established a presence on campus, we are looking to expand beyond Berkeley to universities and high schools across the Bay Area and California. In doing this, we require additional funding and are looking to build out our official website for our media content. As we expand our team across the UC Berkeley campus and beyond, we will have greater capacity to produce content for our weekly blog and social media accounts, regularly hosting events and organizing new chapters across universities (e.g. Stanford University, Santa Clara University, etc.) in the Bay Area and, one day, across the world.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Our prior engagement was with Professor Ricardo San Martin, who initiated the first plant-based meat course at UC Berkeley. After personally participating in the course and getting more involved in the plant-based meat movement and the food tech space, we decided that an institute focused on building this movement could truly create a robust ripple effect and send a message that plant-based meat is the next big thing. Following the class, we reached out to local high schools within the Bay Area, local chefs and restaurants, on-campus Berkeley cafes, and companies like Givaudon, Roquette, Hampton Creek, and IndieBio to support the movement. Partnering with other changemakers, including the leaders of the field - Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat - would make huge strides in assisting us for our multitude of events including our career panel, competitions, and video series that we are working on. We are optimistic that working with other changemakers in the space during this execution process will truly create the herd effect in gaining traction for awareness and consideration. We see The Plant Protein Institute becoming a leading innovative and nationally-recognized organization.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

n/a

1 comment

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Photo of Leah Graves
Team

Justin and Niles,


I really think your passion about plant based meat is inspiring. I know you guys did not necessarily mention ending world starvation, but I can see it! I do not know what the price point would be to afford these products, but the impact globally will be amazing. People not interested in animal based protein due to dietary choices or access need this research! Great job guys this could be an answer to environmental and humanitarian problems!