By Robert Traverso
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in PULSE, which is published by the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication’s Magazine Production class for Hofstra University students and residents of surrounding communities.
Pamela Kambanis and her partner Alex co-founded Plantwise to make going plant-based less overwhelming for Long Islanders”
How much water? How much food? How much land?
Questions about the environmental cost of raising animals for food raced through the mind of Pamela Kambanis, co-founder of the Dix Hills-based vegan eatery Plant Wise, while watching a documentary 9 years ago.
“When I watched these documentaries, it was like the blinders had been taken off… I said to myself, ‘I don’t feel comfortable eating this way,” Kambanis said, referring to eating meat and dairy products.
Kambanis’s experience is not uncommon: Documentaries that focus on the environmental consequences of animal agriculture inspire many to go plant-based, adopting a diet that is growing popular in the US.
Pamela and her partner Alex, who co-founded Plant Wise with her, decided to go vegan for health reasons. Only later did they discover the benefits for the environment brought about by plant-based eating. “That’s what made it a lasting change,” Pamela said.
She stressed that her journey to veganism is part of a larger change in consciousness: “People are starting to understand how their choices — how they eat, how they live their lives — how that affects so many other things in the world,” Kambanis said.
“The major thing you can do for the planet and for the environment is to change to a plant-based diet” — Pamela Kambanis
Pamela and Alex opened Plant Wise to make it easier for Long Islanders to get healthy food daily and make going vegan less overwhelming.
Plant-based eating was less popular on Long Island when Plant Wise opened, but the eatery’s popularity has grown over the years. In fact, Plant Wise’s success was at an all-time high before Covid-19, Kambanis said.
Because of the rising popularity of plant-based eating, Plant Wise is planning the creation of a franchise program, expanding on the Island and beyond, to continue helping others adjust to adopting a plant-based diet.
Kambanis acknowledged that this change is challenging for many people but said this drives Plant Wise’s mission: to encourage people to eat one plant-based meal per day.
“It can be overwhelming to try to change a whole lifestyle, and it can be difficult for people based on where you live and things that like that to change everything you eat overnight,” Kambanis said. “But focusing on something simple as one plant-based meal… it can have a positive effect on so many different aspects of your life and the world as a whole — especially the climate.”
“The major thing you can do for the planet and for the environment is to change to a plant-based diet,” Kambanis said. “And we’re hoping Plant Wise can help in that way.”