Inspiring Youth Project: Plant-Based Potluck 


The beginning of the year is a chance to reset, define what you want to accomplish, who you want to be, and how you want to make a difference. As some use January as the catalyst for self-change – with campaigns like #Veganuary, for example – JGI is taking this approach year-round! This includes our 🔗 #EATMEATLESS campaign and cookbook of the same name, which emphasizes that eating plant-based doesn’t have to be completely revolutionary for it to have a big impact for people, other animals, and the planet we share. Making any change can seem overwhelming, but new experiences can also be fun! This is what one Roots & Shoots group in Tucson, Arizona wanted to emphasize with their project in the spirit of #EATMEATLESS: 🔗 Vegetarian/Vegan Potluck. 

The first step in the Roots & Shoots 🔗 4-Step Formula for creating an impactful community project is getting inspired! These young changemakers learned about the overconsumption of animal products in the U.S., and the effects of our current food systems on people, other animals, and the environment. When they each saw how many people were going plant-based—including Dr. Jane Goodall who stopped eating animal products over 50 years ago —they were Step 1: Inspired to come together as a group and join the movement! 

However, as excited as they were, they Step 2: Observed a few barriers to going plant-based, including a lack of information on tasty recipes to make and a fear of changing one’s diet to all-new foods. As one group member put it, many people thought that the only option for vegans and vegetarians was salad (not that we have anything against a good salad)! The plan they came up with to Step 3: Take Action was simple and effective—a potluck! What better way to bring together their community, try new recipes, and disprove the assumption many people have that there is no tasty plant-based food? They really wanted to emphasize that this was not just for current vegans and vegetarians, but was open to anyone who wanted to participate. 

At the potluck, each group member brought a different dish or snack—some homemade, and some store-bought, to allow people with less time to still participate. Their tables were filled with a variety of tasty treats, including avocado ice cream, black bean cupcakes, spanakopita, seaweed, and all kinds of veggies and nuts! Everyone got to try a bit of whatever they liked, and as they did so, they were learning more about the foods they were consuming. In addition to learning more about the benefits of eating plant-based, one thing that group members realized by comparing recipes and food labels was how much sugar is hidden in many of the foods we buy; perhaps this observation will turn into another Roots & Shoots project! 

The final step of the 4-Step Formula is Step 4: Celebrate, and happily this was already built into this Roots & Shoots project. The event was such a success that they have repeated it many times! The group had a lot of fun trying new foods, and noted that one way to make the project even better would be to invite more people, who could then be invited to join their Roots & Shoots group!  

Going plant-based can be incredibly impactful, but it doesn’t have to be an overhaul, and making any life changes is easier with the support of a community. By making this change as a community effort, and celebrating it together in a way that was both fun and informative, these changemakers are making it much easier for a one-time experiment to become a life-long practice shining a light on the larger issues! As Jane has shared, we can make a difference one bite at a time – consumer decisions matter! 


Once you’ve signed up as a member and use our resources to come up with a project, be sure to register it on our website for a chance to be featured in a future project of the month! Not a Roots & Shoots member yet? You’re only a few clicks away! 

Not sure how to start a project? Use the Roots & Shoots 🔗 4-Step Formula to find ways to make an impact in YOUR community!

Create or Join a Roots & Shoots Group

Remember to invite your friends to help out, because even when we take small actions, they’re multiplied by collaboration. You can even create a Roots & Shoots group at your school or join one already in your area! 

Looking for a simple way to help out? Take our 1-Click Actions to fight unsustainable food systems and improve food habits in your home and community! 

🔗 #EATMEATLESS:  Take our #EATMEATLESS pledge to join the community of changemakers creating a plant-based movement for people, other animals, and the planet! 

🔗 Spread the Hope: Help support members of your community in need by finding your nearest food bank or free pantry. 

🔗 Food Waste Warrior: Ensure that no food is wasted with this helpful tool that lets you calculate how much you need to prepare for a large group! 

About Author

Kira is the communications coordinator for JGI programs at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she supports the team in advancing public engagement with JGI's holistic programs. Kira graduated from Smith College in 2021, majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history, and during her time there she developed a deep interest in the field of anthrozoology. Her interests within this field are broad, and have led her to study elephant iconography in the U.S. and wildlife management in Tanzania. JGI's values and mission as well as the mindset of anthrozoology guide her work, exploring the interactions between humans and other animals in order to promote a healthier coexistence on this shared planet.