Health and Medicine People and Community

Club provides plant-based food paired with camaraderie

Plant Based Canes offers students—who are vegans, vegetarians, or curious about trying a meal that is free of animal ingredients—a chance for fellowship while dining on healthful fare.
Plant Based Canes

Glowing sunsets, mouthwatering aromas, and a sense of community are all too familiar for a unique student organization on campus. Utilizing the Mahoney Pearson Dining Hall as a hub for general meetings, members of Plant Based Canes indulge in unique creations made by the Chartwells dining hall team. 

The club meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. and presents a new plant-based creation for students to sample, rate, and re-create—provided they can source the right ingredients. Plant-based meals are often portrayed as inferior to their meat and dairy counterparts, but the special dishes that Chef Alfonso Mendoza and the Chartwells team assemble, satisfy a gathering of regular attendees. In lieu of a menu, a new dish is prepared by Chartwells each week to create a unique culinary experience. 

“We try to foster a family or community dynamic. There are all different kinds of students who attend—including vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters who just want to try some plant-based foods,” said Kasey McPherson, president of Plant Based Canes, who is majoring in ecosystem science. 

Members of the organization invite anyone who is skeptical about trying new foods to be adventurous. In addition to taste-testing, they get to partake in fellowship and dialogue with students who display different dietary preferences. Standout meals showcased at a recent meeting included fried yucca, dragon fruit sushi, and vegan chocolate-covered strawberries. 

Any dish prepared with fresh ingredients and topped off with a high level of detail has pleased the palates of the members of Plant Based Canes—a standard the Chartwells team strives to achieve with each plant-based presentation. (And at both dining halls, a plant-based menu is part of the team’s daily offerings.) Each week, club members’ empty plates are a testament to the end of another fulfilling meeting. 

The group has been active on campus for about five years and has seen tremendous growth in club membership and participation with more than 30 regular members. Past excursions have included trips to Love Life Cafe in Wynwood, which gave students an opportunity to explore downtown Miami. A collaboration with the University’s Hillel student group is being planned for an upcoming event. 

Stella Kiniyalocts, a first-year student and marketing major, heard about the club during Canefest and immediately signed up. 

“If I’m being honest, the flavors don’t even taste plant based, which I love,” she said. “They actually put a lot of effort into turning these plant-based meals into something that tastes incredible.” 

Students interested in joining Plant Based Canes can attend a general meeting on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the Mahoney-Pearson Dining Hall.