Painting for the future: Thrive on Plants MT

Thrive on Plants MT, a student organization founded on exploring the possibilities of plant-based cooking, recently held what they referred to as a “paint and sip” fundraiser; this event was the organization’s first event of its kind. The fundraiser, which took place on Wednesday, Nov. 29, focused on educating the participating audience through interaction.


The fundraiser centered around the plight of Pygmy Sloths living in Brazil. “We chose to make Pygmy Sloths the star of the evening in the first paint and sip because they are currently one of the most endangered species of mammals on Earth,” Uma Graham, the president of Thrive on Plants MT, stated. The event was held next to Roberts Hall within the Office of Health Advancement’s cozy interior, donated by MSU’s Nutrition Office through Julie Goyette. It also featured art instruction by Elise Perpignano, the president of MSU’s Painting and Drawing Guild. Snacks were purchased exclusively for their use of plant-based ingredients and for their deliciousness. The foods featured alongside the artwork included “Wayfare Jalapeno Cheddar Dip” and “So Delicious Holiday Nog.”


The art lesson consisted of a short how-to lesson led by Perpignano, and then guided painting session during which participants were instructed through painting their own sloths on disks of local birch and cedar harvested by Graham from her family’s ranch. The participants were also aided by the efforts of Skyler Martinell, another member of the Painting and Drawing Guild. Graham stated that Thrive on Plants MTs’ “portion of the funds raised at this event are going into a fund to bring the author and senior editor of Vegnews, Jasmin Singer, to campus for a Keynote Speech on self-love and animal activism.”

The idea for an artwork themed fundraiser had formed initially during Thrive on Plants MTs’ creation during the beginning of this semester. “I wanted to create an event that would build comradery in our community as we connect over our joy of artistic expression and fascination with wild animals “Graham stated. The roots of a paint and sip lie within Graham’s own experiences of painting with her family. Graham described how she had taken a painting class with her aunts in order to spend time together and how it had impacted her relationship with them afterwards stating, “It was a truly fantastic experience.” Graham’s desire was to bring this experience into a teaching setting in the hopes that the audience would grow closer to one another and to the cause they were helping to advocate for.


Holding a “paint and sip” event held other benefits as well. Graham was very interested in attracting a wider audience to Thrive on Plants MT. The creative nature of this event allowed the preexisting members of Thrive on Plants MT to interact with people that they might not meet during their day-to-day activities.

Thrive on Plants MT meets weekly to share vegan food, watch documentaries and work on campaigns to improve living conditions for animals in the U.S. food supply chain. Currently they are collaborating with MSU’s Culinary Services to offer more vegan choices on campus.   

Illustration by Samuel Klusmeyer