SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — The California Plant Based Alliance, a new political advocacy organization, will lobby for legislative representation for the plant-based industry. The alliance will sponsor legislative change intended to give California consumers access to plant-based products and to provide equal access and fair opportunities for companies that make plant-based products.
“What we found when advancing and passing plant-based bills in the Capitol is that the plant-based industry does not have a voice such as the various segments of the animal agriculture industry,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of the California Plant Based Alliance. “We will amplify the burgeoning plant-based industry’s voice in the Capitol to gain equal access to the market.”
She said the idea of creating the alliance occurred while she pushed for a bill introduced by Nancy Skinner, a state senator in California, that requires hospitals, health care facilities and prisons to offer plant-based meals to people in those institutions. The bill was passed into law in 2018.
“My lobbyist commented, ‘Judie, there’s really a big hole here; there’s definitely a niche that needs to be filled,’” Ms. Mancuso said.
Giving public schools incentives to offer plant-based options for children that want them is one area of focus for the California Plant Based Alliance. Working on labeling issues, such as whether plant-based companies may use “milk” and “meat” on product labels, is another focus.
“When you put almonds with water and let them soak, what do you get?” Ms. Mancuso said. “You get almond milk. When you open up a coconut, what’s inside? Oh, it’s called coconut meat.”
Ms. Mancuso also is the founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, a political advocacy organization that works on bills concerning animal rights, protection and welfare.
The California Plant Based Alliance is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization and not membership-based, she said. The alliance receives donations instead.
“There are a whole bunch of people that give $10, $25, $50, $100, and then a handful of people that might give $5,000, $10,000, even a couple that give $100,000 because we’re like-minded and they want to help,” Ms. Mancuso said.
The alliance is not associated with the Plant Based Foods Association, which is based in Sacramento and active nationally. A 501(c)(6) membership trade association, the Plant Based Foods Association has more than 170 member companies, 100 affiliate members and a board of directors made up entirely of plant-based food company executives. Forty-one company members, including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are based in California.
The Plant Based Foods Association recently hired a lobbyist for California: Jennifer Fearing, president of Fearless Advocacy. She will work with Michele Simon, executive director of the P.B.F.A., and Dan Colegrove, who leads state-level lobbying for the P.B.F.A. nationwide.