Members of Plant Powered work hard to change the stigma around veganism, starting with Plattsburgh State. They spend meetings viewing presentations on pre-selected topics, such as the best places to live for vegans, followed by lively discussions and exchanging tips and tricks.
“It’s an opportunity for students to get together to bond over and educate each other on eating plant-based,” academic coach and Plant Powered adviser Lauren Gonyea said. “It was interesting the last meeting I went to I was the only person that was not vegan, and for me, that script was flipped, usually it’s the other way around where there’s only a couple vegans in a group.”
Junior Tatyana Barlow, president of the club, started Plant Powered her sophomore year after finding out there was nothing like it available for her to join.
“I thought it existed already, but it did not,” Barlow said. “I wanted to give the people that are plant-based or vegan on this campus a voice.”
In addition to fantasizing about a day when fully vegan grocery stores appear on every street corner, members said they help each other navigate dining options by recommending different substitutes for products, such as eggs, cheese and honey, and exchanging where the best vegan eats can be found on campus.
Club members all keep open communication with Campus Dining Services. They let them know when they are doing well or when they have suggestions for more options that could be available.
“We’re very big on being a resource, kind of a mediator between the campus population and the campus dining services,” Barlow said.
The club’s social media presence is used to help achieve this goal by posting frequent Instagram stories about the current vegan options on campus in Clinton Dining Hall, The Sundowner, and The Campus Express Store.
The club occasionally has meetings with some sort of activity, such as making your own lip balm or vegan ice cream taste testing.
Senior Cyndi Capurso was drawn to the club when she saw a poster for one of its do-it- yourself meetings.
“At the time, I wasn’t wearing any deodorant because I didn’t want to put any of the toxins on my body,” Capurso said. “But then I saw Plant Powered plant-based make your own deodorant.”
A new vegan at the time, Capurso found the club to be a welcoming and relateable community that shared her same concerns about issues, such as animal testing. She has now been a member for a year.
Vice President Alexis Larreategui has been a member since the club began. When she heard Barlow was starting the club, she was immediately interested and asked if there was a board position available for her to fill.
She became a vegan before her freshman year and has been redefining what it means to her ever since. She recently cut honey out of her diet, replacing it with agave nectar, a sweetener substitute from a plant found in southern Mexico.
“We cover in this club that there’s no perfect vegan,” Larreategui said.
Plant Powered meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in meeting room four of the Angell College Center.
“Vegan is not just food,” Barlow said. “That’s a mistake a lot of people make. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.”