So excited to have interviewed my friend Yvonne! She's my favorite LA Vegan Chef and I'm obsessed with her food, especially her Goat "Cheese"! Even my non-vegan family LOVES it. Her food is healthy, vegan, gluten-free and tasty. She puts her heart and soul when creating her food, and you can feel her passion in every bite. She's as beautiful inside as she is externally, which is why she's joining us here! We find out more about her Vegan lifestyle, how she found freedom through her struggles and how she achieves this healthy, glowing skin. Because whole beauty always starts on the inside. This is her's- raw, honest, sometimes challenging but always finding beauty in her story. She tells us #thisismybeauty...
Share a funny/wierd fact about yourself?
1) When my parents settled in San Diego, my dad was in the US Navy and supplemented his income doing real estate. After 20 something years of serving, my dad retired and focused on real estate full-time to support his family of 8. In that time, we had rental property and my dad was managing other properties. My sisters and I would help out a lot. I painted inside and outside of homes, pulled huge weeds, sanded wooden floors, and moved a lot of furniture. There were many instances where instead of using moving trucks, my dad would put something on top of our car, lower all the windows, and have me and my sisters hold the ropes with one hand and hold up the furniture with our other hand. While my dad drove slowly, I’d smile at my sisters nervously thinking, “I hope we don’t drop it!”
2) My mom immigrated to the US from Panngasinan Philippines and she cooked with coconut a lot! Growing up when stores didn’t sell shredded coconut, my mom would buy a lot of fresh whole coconuts from the Commissary. She’d cut them in half with a huge knife and on Saturday mornings while watching cartoon I would take turns with my sisters, sit on a grator scrape, and shred coconut.
3) I sometimes carry kale in my handbag in case I get hungry and need to munch on something.
Take us back, why did you choose to become a Vegan and what were some impactful resources that helped guide you through that journey?
I initially became vegan for my health. My dad and my entire paternal side suffered from diabetes and heart disease. While I was in college, my dad suddenly passed from a massive heart attack at the young age of 61. So the fact that I am predisposed to diabetes and heart disease, and have hypothyroidism has led me to this path of health and wellness.
A friend of mine who I considered a health nut was reading The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder and it inspired me to do the same. This book and The China Study sparked many “aha!” moments. After learning about how our bodies are designed, where humans belong in nature as we relate to gorillas and tigers, then reading about the negative effects of animal protein and dairy consumption in the human body, it all started making sense. A light bulb switched on and like that I went cold turkey and fully embraced the vegan lifestyle. I started drinking at least 16 ounces of a green smoothie every morning. I noticed positive results within 3 days. I started following Kimberly Snyder’s principles and felt better as I made other changes in my diet.
I enjoyed how the vegan diet made me feel and started researching more and watching documentaries. To name a few, I watched Forks over Knives, Food Matters, Vegucated, Hungry for Change, and then environmental documentaries. All of the films broadened my perspective and led me to be more of an ethical vegan. I am now vegan for longevity, the protection and welfare of animals, and the betterment of our environment and our world.
When was that pivotal moment you said YES, I'm starting a business!
I am my father’s daughter. My father owned a real estate company, which I worked for at a very young age. I always knew that I'd own a business. I just wasn't sure what it would be right away, but I knew that I wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives in some way. It wasn't until after I graduated from culinary school, worked in restaurants, and became vegan and creating recipes that I found my true passion Creating healthier alternatives to delicious foods is something I'm very passionate about and feel aligned with mind, body, and soul.
What are 3 things you would say to anyone reading with a dream to start a business in the food in industry?
1) Get experience. Work in the food industry first. You won't really know what you get yourself into until you actually get your feet wet.
2) Know your numbers. Do your due diligence - find lowest prices on ingredients and price accordingly so you pay yourself and actually make a profit.
3) Prepare to work long hours.
I see your hustle, you work VERY hard at your business, your up in the early morning whipping up delicious recipees for customers, AND your'e always on top of the IG /Social Media game - what fuels your fire, what helps you stay focused?
I set short-term and long term goals and have a vision of how my I’d like my life to be. how I'd like to eat, how I'd like to exercise, how I'd like to be financially, how I'd like to have my relationships with myself, with friends and family, clients, etc. My main goal in life is to feel joy in life in every way possible. By getting clear about what I really want, I create maps to get to where I am to where I'd like to be. Once I reach every destination, I feel more fulfilled and experience joy and I feel I am really living. That is what motivates and drives me!
Can we just talk about your famous, delicious, and my ALL-TIME favoirte ( you know my love for this runs deep, I'm soaking the cashews as we speak lol ) - VEGAN CHEESE! (Gina, I don't share this recipe with anyone because I sell it now :))
How was this vegan-cheese/ game-changer born?
My vegan cheese was born during the holidays. I've always been an entertainer--I've always hosted parties of all sorts. In my previous omnivorous life, I used to serve cheese platters and the most popular of cheeses served was a soft cheese with cranberry and dill. Having used cashews to make creamy vegan cheesecakes, it only made sense to attempt using cashews into a delicious vegan goatless cheese. After a few attempts, my vegan goatless cheese cake to life.
Was there ever a time in your career or maybe even in life, when you felt like your burden was getting too heavy?
What got you through those trials?
As the youngest of 5 over-achieving/highly successful/very opinionated sisters, it was definitely not easy. I was always compared to them, pressure to take a similar path and perform at their level, and I felt judged all the time. I spent most of my years in the self-help section of the bookstore, going to church, trying to figure myself out, and find peace within myself. It wasn't until recently that I had a spiritual awakening and change the way I see the world and myself in it. It is so free-ing and I am so much happier. I read The Untethered Soul. It's a non-self-help self-help book, and it helped to start thinking about life so much differently.
You just celebrated another year of life here on Earth- Happy Birthday! Looking back, reflecting on the past year, trials, struggles, heartache, triumph, celebrations, what are you most thankful for?
Thank you! Looking back, I am most thankful to God and the universe for allowing me to acknowledge and be grateful for all blessings in my life, and for giving me the strength to overcome all my trials, heart ache, and to learn from every pitfall. I've grown stronger and wiser as a result.
Are you starting your new year with a new mindset or new goals? What do you feel is your biggest purpose in life? Why do you think you have been placed on earth and gifted another year of life?
New goals? Just to always do my best. I think my biggest purpose in life is to spread positivity and love. Love for oneself, for each other, the animals, for our environment, and the planet, for God and the universe. When we love and show appreciation for all of these things, I feel closer to God. I guess I'm here for the human experience, to do the things that light my fire, and if people get inspired along the way, I don't feel bad about it. Loving is a win-win-win-win-win!
Some of your favoirte Vegan spots in L.A?
I actually just wrote an article on VegNews highlighting my top picks in LA. Check it out here,
If you were told today that you could do anything you wanted in life, and not fail, what would that be?
I would live an adventurous, passionate life with my life-partner, traveling the world, building a life together--all while my business ran itself and I was able to to create recipes and products that are beneficial to our health, the animals, and our planet. Still want to create healthier alternatives for people to enjoy while still pleasing their palates. If I can help make that happen, life would be gooood!
Was there a dark time in your life where you found beauty in the end of it all?
Yes, recently actually. I'm in the process of getting a divorce. We were together for 14 years. The whole process has been painful, but we both know it is for the best. We have irreconcilable differences and want the best for each other and are supportive of each other's life decisions.
When your last breathe come upon you, and your story here on earth comes to an end. What 3 words do you want ot be written on your tombstone?
Love is living.
Thanks for being a part of this, Yvonne! I'm so grateful for our friendship and I'm glad you joined, stripping it all down, unmasked...to serve as encouragement for somone reading. Thank you for sharing YOUR BEAUTY.
Thank you so much for taking the time and for doing what you do, enhancing natural beauty with non-toxic facial products. Love you, Gina