A growing network of community members is powering Rooted Santa Barbara – let’s meet the team! Each month we’re highlighting a new member of our Rooted community to introduce who they are, why they are passionate about plant-based nutrition, and how they’re helping us to fuel our work to optimize our communities’ health through the power of plants.

Layne Howard - Rooted team memberMeet Layne Howard! She joined the Rooted team as our Communications Intern in June of 2021. She helps us share important educational content and the latest nutrition information with our Santa Barbara County neighbors.

Layne is a third-year Environmental Studies major at UC Santa Barbara. Her focus is plant-based education among elementary schoolers in Santa Barbara and the impact nutrition has on one’s health and the environment.

What inspired your passion for plant-based nutrition?

I used to be a very picky eater until the end of high school. When I first started eating more vegetables I realized how much more energy I had. Another reason I made the shift – I learned how what I eat impacts the environment.

What do you wish more people knew about a plant-based diet?

I wish more people knew that protein is in everything from whole grains to beans! Being an athlete, whenever I tell someone I am plant-based they look at me like I am depriving my body. But in reality, I eat a variety of different protein sources throughout the day.
I also have more energy than ever, and I attribute that to my diet. One other thing I wish people knew is that it is not expensive. Easy sources of protein like beans and tofu are under $2 per meal. I think that there is this huge negative stigma around plant-based eating, when in reality it’s great for our health and the environment.

What are some of the most compelling aspects of plant-based eating for you?

I think all of the options are really exciting! I love experimenting with different sources of protein. I also think it’s amazing how satisfied you can feel after a meal that is made entirely out of plants.

What was one of the challenges of making the shift, and how did you overcome it?

To be completely honest I never had a challenge shifting to being plant-based. Since I don’t crave animal products, I don’t have a hard time staying away from them. Also, since I started the switch during quarantine, I was able to have the time to cook all of my own meals.

What benefits have you noticed since shifting to a plant-based diet?

One of the biggest benefits I have noticed is that I rarely get bloated. Growing up I used to get bloated and have stomachaches regularly. Now that I eat mostly whole foods, I find that my digestion and stomach have a lot less problems. I also think I have more energy, I never have a tired feeling after eating a meal.

What advice would you give someone looking to be more plant-forward? 

One of my favorite things is something I learned from Rooted’s Plant-Based Pro Emma Malina – she taught me to get started by adding instead of subtracting. Add beans to a meal or add more vegetables because it is easier to add something than take it away. Another helpful tip is to start simple. A few days a week or a month try a quick plant based recipe!

For a full list of our Rooted team, please visit our Collaborators page!

Supporting Our Work – We’re currently an all-volunteer organization and we see incredible room and need to grow over the coming year. We understand that this time has enormous challenges for everyone, so while we’ll be seeking support to help roll our vision forward, we’re also thinking creatively to keep our costs low to efficiently build resources and deliver programming at low to no cost to our community. If you’d like to support our work, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to one of our giving programs through our community partner, the Santa Barbara Foundation!