What PlantEd Taught Me and Why I'm Giving Back

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Allegra shares how she first got interested in the idea of sustainability and why she's keen to make this a lifelong journey.

By Allegra Pearl

My name’s Allegra Pearl and I’m PlantEd Project’s newest Ambassador! First and foremost I want to say how excited I am to be a part of such an amazing project that unites two of my favourite things; sustainability and food. I first met PlantEd co-founder Jackie Bastianon not at a climate march or the launch of a vegan restaurant where she is now commonly spotted, but at a karate dojo way back in 2010. 

We quickly bonded over our mutual loathing of burpees and sparring and developed a strong friendship that continues to this today. As the years went by, Jackie’s interest in martial arts took a backseat to environmental activism and all things sustainability. I was there for the earliest iterations of the business, which started with meetings in her house in the Glebe. I loved getting together with like minded people and discussing interesting topics over an amazing meal. As “Cooking with Jackie B” morphed into PlantEd, now run by both Jackie and Georgia, the logistics may have changed but the delicious food, sustainability focus and inclusive atmosphere remains the same.

As I embark on my final year of my Biology and Psychology degree from the University of Guelph, I can finally put forth a somewhat confident answer to the dreaded “what do you plan on doing with the rest of your life?” inquiry. The answer given to that anxiety inducing question lies in the same reason you’re hanging out on this website - environmental sustainability.

My goal for years has been to work towards a sustainable future in any way shape or form. I’ve attended pipeline protests, joined the club Guelph Students for Environmental Change and started a sustainability initiative called “Mug Mondays” at the UofG campus. This initiative consisted of organizing and hosting a mug drive where students donated mugs that were then given to the on campus coffee shop and restaurant called The Bullring. Prior to the mugdrive, The Bullring did not have any reusable mugs and were wasting hundreds of disposable single use coffee cups per day. These coffee cups are a major pollution hazard as approximately one million end up in landfill in Toronto each day with each one taking more than 20 years to decompose. I'm proud to say that Bullring customers now have an option to enjoy a yummy cup of coffee in a sustainable manner.

I’ve also been vegetarian for three years now and absolutely love it! Some of my favourite vegetarian restaurants include The Green Door and The Wild Oat! As well, even though I'm far from the greatest chef I can make a mean portobello mushroom steak. I can confidently say I would not lead my current lifestyle if not for the information, resources and support provided by PlantEd every step of the way.

With the climate crisis looking ever so daunting and eco-anxiety on the rise, it’s crucial to remember that although institutional change is needed, an individual’s action is not lost. PlantEd helps plant the seeds about all these important intertwining issues regarding food, sustainability and food justice, and even provides you with some delicious and healthy recipes along the way! I’m excited to help share this education and support that I received towards others in the PlantEd community and one day turn my passion for the environment into a career.

In the upcoming months, Allegra will be creating regular content for the PlantEd Project blog and contributing to our social media.

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