Celebrity Chef Lauren Von Der Pool on How Veganism and Spirituality Connect
Lauren Von Der Pool is a healer, vegan chef to the stars, and a medicine woman, preparing nutritious plant-based meals that are artistically plated to world-famous actors and singers including Cardi B, Stevie Wonder, and Common. She’s also an author, and her vegan cookbook Eat Yourself Sexy! The Goddess Edition is a vessel of the wisdom she’s acquired since she became vegan in her teenage years. Von Der Pool is one of The Beet’s favorite Black vegan influencers to follow for inspiration.
Here, in an exclusive interview with The Beet, Von Der Pool talks about how a near-death experience led to her finding veganism, her advice for switching to a plant-forward lifestyle, and stories of how she always prepares meals with love. She leads by example and shows that food is medicine and we can nurture and heal ourselves through plants. We think her advice will inspire you to nurture your body and try adding a few raw meals to your repertoire.
TB: You are the queen of green, what made you decide to go vegan?
LVDP: I became vegan at sixteen years old. I got stabbed in my head and almost died. I was living life on a low vibrational frequency, and I was deep in it. Getting stabbed was actually the best thing that happened to me because it woke me up. It made me realize, not only do I have a great purpose on the planet, but that I’m amazing and I’m beautiful. All the things I didn’t really see in myself, I began to see. So, the turning point was after I was stabbed. I’m a medicine woman, I’m a healer.
TB: Who inspired you to go plant-based?
LVDP: After I got stabbed in the head, my intuition just turned on. I got the inclination to get on the bus and went to a store. The first book I saw was Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity by Queen Afua who is now not only my spiritual mother and my mentor but also my roommate here in LA. Isn’t that deep? Such a blessing.
I read the book in a day, and let me just tell you, at that point in my life, I was not reading a book in a day. The book gave several different levels of being a vegan. Vegetarian, then vegan, then raw foods, then fruitarian, and pescatarian.
I decided that I was going to go raw vegan. So I was a raw vegan for the next four years straight.
I went from eating hot Cheetos, snickers, chicken wings, bonbons the day before to full-fledged raw vegan. I was looking at food as medicine, so I wanted to tap into not only the foods, but the herbs and what they did for you, and how to make my own medicine. I started my own business months later selling raw foods in front of Howard University.
TB: I'm so sorry you went through that. Thank you for sharing your story with us. What exactly do you eat in a day?
LVDP: I don’t eat in the mornings. When you wake up in the mornings you’re breaking your fast. I like to drink water and lime with a little cayenne pepper. Depending on what country I’m coming from, I source different herbs and things like that, I always have herbal tea in the morning. I love dandelions and burdock roots. I love anything in the mint family. After, I do sea moss smoothie, but it's all about drinking. I’m all about getting all the nutrients in the morning so that anything you eat after is just extra.
After I do my meditation and I also do not eat, because I also believe that you do not need to be putting things in your body every second. You can also give yourself a rest. I give myself a couple of hours to just not consume anything other than water.
Then I’ll have a big salad with kale, arugula, cilantro, sage, macadamia nuts, grapes, red onion, bell pepper. I make my own dressing with avocado, tomato, grapeseed oil and coconut aminos. It’s super simple but super delicious. Usually, in the evening I’ll eat another big salad. I eat 80% raw. I make a lot of raw food, like raw bread, raw bagels, raw cakes, raw pies.
TB: What is your go-to juice recipe?
LVDP: I drink my green juice in the morning. My green juice is usually cold-pressed. I like the earthy, not so sweet green juices, so lots of dandelion, cucumber, kale, ginger, and lemon. Sometimes I do mango, avocado, coconut milk, spirulina, and dates, and just blend it up.
TB: Do you have a favorite vegan restaurant?
LVDP: Yeah, my house! Honestly, my favorite vegan restaurant depends on where I am. I like my food the best, but I really like Au Lac here in LA. Chef Ito has taken a vow of silence for about thirty years. I really like that energy.
TB: What’s your favorite vegan meal to prepare at home?
LVDP: I don’t have a favorite meal, I’m an artist. I ask whoever I’m feeding what their favorite ingredients are. That way I can create something they’ve never had using the ingredients that they love. People are always amazed at the vegan meals that you can have.
TB: Is there one particular ingredient you could not live without?
LVDP: Yes, onions. Onions are my life.
TB: What advice would you have for someone who is interested in going vegan?
LVDP: Just do it. That's the way you did it. You don’t have to transition. You just have to want it enough. You know I always ask people their 'why', why are you doing it? The 'why' should carry you through.
I became vegan overnight. There are some people that need to do steps and changes. I’m not that person. I say go for it. I say, get excited about the benefits that you’re going to get, not only for your body, but the environment and the entire planet.
TB: Your book is called Eat Yourself Sexy. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind that phrase?
LVDP: The inspiration just came to me. I was writing my book and thinking about what I was going to call it. I wanted to keep it light enough, and not intimidating to people.
TB: If you had just thirty minutes to work out, what kind of exercise would you do?
LVDP: Dance. I’m Caribbean. I like Afro-Caribbean dance. I’m Guyanese, so calypso is number one.
My favorite calypso song is the classic, Dollar Wine. It reminds me of being a little girl, and dancing with my mother, with my aunts, and everybody. I don’t care how old I get, I will always love that song.
Q: Do you have a favorite mantra?
LVDP: Everything and everyone prospers me, and I prosper everything and everyone.