Creating Change One Plant-Based Meal at a Time

NEWS // February 6, 2019

Creating Change One Plant-Based Meal at a Time

Shura Hammond, Education Manager, Lean and Green Kids

Plant-based proteins are taking over the shelves and millennials are supporting the movement. The Economist is predicting that plant-based protein diets will be one of the most popular trends of 2019. Ahead of the curve, Lean and Green Kids has been leading the way in promoting plant-based protein diets in San Diego and California for close to ten years. Dedicated to educating youth about the health and environmental impacts of their food choices, Lean and Green Kids has recently expanded its high school education program, and is reaching thousands of students in San Diego with engaging and interactive classroom presentations.

A 2019 global nutrition study reported that a global shift to a primarily plant-based diet would help us avoid the worst impacts of climate change, while providing optimal nutrition to the world’s growing population. This follows an important 2018 analysis which found that a plant-based diet is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the Earth.

“Students are excited and motivated to create positive change in the world,” says Lean and Green Kids’ Education Manager and lead high school educator, Shura Hammond. “It’s a win-win, making choices that not only improve personal health, but help save animals and the planet.”


"This presentation changed how I look at the food industry and how I am going to eat," said one student participant. "I loved how we were able to try the plant-based food so we know it actually tastes really good!"



Empowering students with actionable information about the benefits of plant-based meals, Lean and Green Kids’ in-depth and interactive high school presentations encourage students to think critically about daily actions, in order to make informed and conscientious food choices. Complete with a plant-protein taste testing—featuring a bean and plant-based meat combo— students learn that choosing more plant-based meals does not mean sacrificing the tastes they enjoy. Since the beginning of 2019, Lean and Green kids have reached more than 1,300 students in five schools across San Diego County.

Results from over 1,000 student surveys indicate the presentations are making an impact, with 75% of students reporting that they intend to reduce their meat consumption by 50% or more.

Lean and Green Kids’ founding director and former teacher, Barbara Cole Gates, started her work in children’s health advocacy close to two decades ago when she delivered the first “Eating Lean and Green” cooking classes in her own children’s classrooms. In 2003, she formed a California coalition to pass the first state legislation calling for daily, plant-based school lunches (ACR 16). She founded Lean and Green Kids in 2009 and has since taught thousands of students in grades K-12 about the power of “Eating Lean and Green.”

“Choosing plant-based meals is an easy, economical and empowering decision that each of us can make” said Gates. “Every meal can be a vote for a healthier future and more sustainable planet.”