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Guest Editor: Halle Jacobs – Our Summer Intern!

Our summer intern – Halle Jacobs has been a vegan advocate since she was a little girl! It would be hard not to be when her mom is the owner and founder of Real Food Daily! Read on to find out what it’s like growing up vegan and why it’s so much more than a “hipster fad”…

While sharing lunch with a friend one third grade afternoon, she offered me a bite of a small, circular shaped potato-type food. After popping it in my mouth, I exclaimed, “wow, this is really chewy! What is it?”.

Her response that “it’s chicken” prompted me to immediately spit the bite out onto the grass and reminded her, “I’m vegan!”.

“Oops, sorry, I forgot”, she responded.

“I’ve never eaten meat”, I said.

She raised her eyebrows, her eyes widen, and she craned her neck forward with her jaw dropped – a look of astonishment on her face. Baffled, she ask, “but how? It tastes so good!”.

I responded with, “it’s just how my parents raised me”.

Born into a vegan family, I’ve grown up with the smell of home-baked granola wafting from the kitchen instead of cheerios drenched in frothy white milk; on family road trips, we always make sure find the local natural foods store rather than drive(ing) ‘thru’ Burger King for a quick meal. The first time I ate (or rather, picked at the ‘vegetables’ that rested on the crinkly romaine lettuce of my salad) at McDonald’s on a school trip was also the first time I was exposed to the the opposite end of the vast array of foods in the public spectrum. Until stepping outside the comfortable world within my vegan upbringing, I was naîve to what lay beyond its borders. However, in recent years, I’ve come to realize that it’s more significant than a diet I’ve passively assumed because of my alternative childhood, but rather a lifestyle I’ve chosen in order to best represent my personal values and worldview. My vegan mindset has opened its borders to a flood of influences outside of food, with immigrants including sustainable household products, an eco-friendly and cruelty-free beauty regime, and overall informed and conscious consumer practices.

Some believe that veganism is a restrictive diet for those lose trying to lose weight or young, ‘hipster’ college students. Au contraire, being vegan provides the opportunity to grow as a ‘foodie’ and, most significantly, a conscious consumer. Veganism goes far beyond the parameters of just a plant-based diet. It’s a lifestyle that finds its way into every action you take and every purchase you make. As a high-school student, I found this especially applicable to my experience growing up in the consumer-driven mindset of Los Angeles.  

While broadening my vegan diet to an all encompassing lifestyle, I’ve grown hyper-aware of the products I buy, their ingredients, and the environmental implications. It’s easy to spend hours at the grocery store, cross-examining labels and double-checking ingredients or scouring a restaurant menu for the right meal choice as the waiter painfully attempts to aid in your quest to find the right option that can be prepared vegan. The ingredients that blend the increasingly popular organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free (and, of course, vegan!) smoothies from one of the many popular juiceries found in Los Angeles are often colorfully displayed on a chalkboard above the array of blenders visible to all customers: you can literally see your smoothie being made. However, beauty products are quite different. The components of your favorite grapefruit body soap, coconut hand lotion, or peachy-pink blush are not displayed right before the buyer, considering that not many purchase their beauty products directly from the laboratory they’re made in.

I’ve become a strong advocate for cruelty-free beauty products, however the harmful chemicals and the ensuing environmental impacts of the beauty industry had yet to draw my attention until my first makeup purchase. Since I attended an all-girls school, my interest in makeup was delayed until my 16th birthday, whereupon I entered Nordstrom’s beauty section, pacing the aisles, frantically searching each brand name on my iPhone to decide whether to consider purchasing their makeup products based on their environmental philosophy. Afterwards, I immediately rushed home to clear out my assortment of hair products and body washes that failed to meet sustainable standards.

[Is your mouth watering yet?! Real Food Daily is Southern California’s premier organic plant-based restaurant (and my family’s restaurant!) that serves a quality, authentic, creative, and nutritionally balanced menu. Since 1993, RFD has been a cherished destination where community happens around education, connection and hospitality, over delicious, accessible food that’s real.]

Nevertheless, it proved difficult to easily find products that fit all of the key search words: non-toxic, cruelty-free, organic, sustainable, and vegan. The beauty of Love Goodly allows the conscious consumer to take a break and, while scrolling through their website, find products they love without hours of scrutinizing tiny labels with unpronounceable words. In turn, by opening my mind’s borders to a lifestyle rich in challenges and growth, I’ve found an ally in Love Goodly.