by Lorena Mucke
When we look around we often see things we want to change. After all, it is very hard to ignore that the world is facing unprecedented challenges – the current pandemic, climate change, increasing rates of preventable diseases, environmental devastation, food insecurity, social injustice, and the unnecessary killing and abuse of non-human animals, among many others.
Most of us recognize these are all big problems and that we cannot change the whole world all by ourselves. But experience and science have taught us that making small improvements in our own lives and inspiring other people to do so creates a snowball effect that can positively -and many times rapidly- affect the present and the future. Even seemingly insignificant changes can have sweeping consequences.
So, how can we bring positive change to the world? One of the most important aspects is education. After all, the purpose of education is to impart knowledge and teach the skills necessary to make informed and responsible decisions. Education also promotes the critical thinking needed to discern what is true and what is false -ostensibly a lost art in our society- and it teaches problem-solving and creativity. More importantly, it inspires people to work together to build a better world for all.
With the tagline “Educating For A Better World”, the Educated Choices Program confronts society’s problems and challenges with science-based knowledge, ingenuity, and compassion. The benefits of education are uncontested and transmitted intergenerationally – solidifying their long-term positive effects. And because many of the most urgent problems we currently face could be significantly addressed by making better food choices, it makes sense to take a deeper look at our food system and its flaws in order to create a better one.
This is why, for the last 5 years, the Educated Choices Program has been educating more than 1.5 million teenagers and young adults throughout the US and Canada about the impact of their food choices on their health and the rest of the planet, inspiring them to make decisions that are consistent with their own values, encouraging discussion and promoting solutions.
This plant-forward, fact-based program introduces teenagers and young adults to the most up-to-date information from mainstream scientific sources coupled with practical tools applicable to their daily lives. Most importantly, participants are empowered to be active, responsible world citizens.
After all, this rising generation is pivotal in creating much-needed change. They are the future leaders, decision-makers, and consumers, who become aware of and more literate about the impact of their food choices. This drives the demand for plant-based foods at an ever-increasing rate, helping societies urgently move away from the anachronistic system of animal agriculture to a healthier, more sustainable, and more compassionate way to produce food.
Food education must be all-encompassing. Food choices go well beyond the health benefits, and people receive information differently according to their interests, beliefs, background, social and economic circumstances, etc. The ECP program offers presentations on a variety of subjects, including the effects of our food choices on individual and public health, on the use of natural resources and their impact on the environment, on the exploitation of workers in animal agribusiness, on the inhumane standard practices that farmed animals are subjected to routinely, and on the emerging new plant-based and cell-based food technologies.
The presentations are professionally delivered by highly-trained educators who recognize and are invested in their communities’ unique characteristics and challenges. Beyond the presentations, we make sure participants have the necessary resources and tools to make changes or simply explore a plant-powered diet. And the program infrastructure and model allows for a comparatively low per-student cost.
The academic program also quantifies its impact, efficacy, and effectiveness, measuring the long-term effects of presentations through the Living Lab – a project that collects information from participants not only about the effectiveness of information but about the motivations and considerations that students, teachers, and faculty contemplate post-presentation. Using control groups and follow-up behavioral studies, we measure impact and also modify content for maximum impact.
An educated society is more engaged in the challenges it faces and is better prepared to deploy solutions. We believe that education about food choices is a vital human right, designed to facilitate people eating food that contributes to their well-being and the future of the planet.
We, at the Educated Choices Program, are committed to educating for a better world.
Lorena Mucke is the Founder and CEO of the Educated Choices Program.