Actor, entrepreneur, and vegan advocate Daniella Monet - who has written for Plant Based News - recently turned 30, and decided to celebrate by sharing her thoughts on animal activism and veganism in this insightful interview.
You have been advocating for veganism for years! When did you go vegan and what inspired you to embrace a plant-based lifestyle?
I went vegetarian at about five-years-old when I visited a Dude Ranch with my family and saw a rodeo. It was traumatizing and I made a conscious decision at that age to never eat animals again. When I started middle school, I read a book that exposed a lot of the truth about the food industry and encouraged a healthful lifestyle through a guide to living vegan. It was a mostly simple transition that made me feel so much better about myself, inside and out.
In the last few years, we’ve seen a surge in the vegan product marketplace. How exciting has this growth been to witness and be a part of?
It’s been thrilling. Here’s an example: When I was working on a show at 14, my mom and I would commute from my hometown of West Hills to Century City. In order to make the drive a little less cumbersome we would stop at our neighborhood Pavilions’ Starbucks. Coffee shops didn’t carry plant-based milks at the time so I would buy the milk at the grocery store and Starbucks would store it in the fridge for me with my name on it. Spoiled, but what were my options?! I didn’t have many. So, it’s been beyond exciting to see the surge in veganism. We’ve truly have come a LONG way.
You have numerous vegan business ventures in the works. Can you tell us about them?
Sure - in between actings gigs, I got a job working at a vegan restaurant in Tarzana called, Madeleine Bistro. Our Chef was Dave Anderson, and our sous chef was Tal Ronnen (who now owns Crossroads). I was only about 16 at the time, but I knew I was in the presence of greatness. Due to personal family matters, Dave had to close the restaurant, but I remained close friends with him and his family.
About three years ago, Dave called me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering with him and Bill Glaser to open another restaurant – I jumped at the opportunity! As we got into the nitty-gritty of the business, we decided that with Dave’s skills we could think way bigger than a restaurant. We could develop a product that could reach the masses. So we did just that. With Chef Dave and Bill, and a tremendous amount of support from high profile strategic investors, Outstanding Foods – a now-viral brand – was born.
After I invested in my very first business I realized how strong my passion is for building conscious companies so I began making this more of a goal of mine. Being able to bring monetary value to a start-up is key, but even more invaluable is the exposure we’re now able to offer via social media. Having grown up acting, I organically grew a pretty dedicated following, and I love being 100 percent myself with them, which means I include them on the journey of building these companies.
Shortly after setting the intentions to invest in more plant-based models, Sugar Taco came my way. Although restaurants can be very a tricky business to profit from, I had this gut feeling that said 'do it'. Our team is a powerhouse and we believe we can turn Sugar Taco into a chain of accessible plant-based taquerias with a vibe that’ll hook ya!
I also partnered with actress Evanna Lynch to curate a very BEAUTIFUL company that has managed to take up the majority of my time these days, and that is Kinder Beauty. Kinder Beauty is an ethically made, all vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil free subscription beauty box. With a portion of our sales going towards our favorite animal rights and environmental causes, I just know we’ll be able to make an impact.
That’s my goal. For as long I can remember, Acting and animal activism have made me feel alive and purposeful, and for years I’ve brought some form of joy to others. I want to use these companies to do just that, for all living beings!
What advice would you give to the vegan-curious, who aren’t really sure where to start?
I always suggest starting with giving “Meatless Monday” a try, but for others “conscious eating” is an easier way to ease into a plant-based lifestyle. Either way, start with something, whether that be going completely cruelty-free (beauty products, personal hygiene, clothing, etc) or giving up dairy. Start somewhere and slowly I believe everyone will feel more inclined to go vegan.
If you could debunk a myth about veganism, what would that be?
That it’s expensive. I value a dollar so much, but I also value myself and the lives of others. Eating vegan, buying vegan and cruelty-free products is not more expensive. Some studies have shown it’s actually significantly cheaper to live this way.
Who are some notable vegans you follow for inspiration?
I follow several organizations like Animal Equality, Mercy For Animals, Humane Society, PETA, Alicia Silverstone (I've been a fan hers since I was a kid!), Vegan Community, VegNews, and LiveKindly are some that I like.
What do you hope to see more of in the animal protection community?
I would love to see more organizations coming together. Sometimes it’s tricky to understand everyone’s opinions. We all have so many of the same intentions, it’d be awesome to see more support for one another amongst the community. Intimidation just doesn’t work for everyone – haha!
PBN has partnered Kinder Beauty to offer three readers a Kinder Beauty Boxes. You can enter the giveaway here
This article was originally published by Love Veg.