Finding a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, California is an easy task for anyone. One of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, Los Angeles hosts vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants on almost every corner, with new ones opening up on a regular basis.
Finding a vegan restaurant that serves as a model for the world, however, is a bit tougher. Our pick this month is one such restaurant. And we consider it to be the best in L.A. for many reasons. But what makes Stuff I Eat truly special – and a model restaurant to be emulated around the globe – can be found in its 3 “secret ingredients.”
Secret Ingredient No. 1: Serve Your Community, And Do it Deliciously Well
Stuff I Eat is located in Inglewood, California, a low-income, predominantly African-American community with unhealthy, deep-fried, soul and fast food restaurants crowding every street. Stuff I Eat was established as an example to the community of an alternative way to eat, and eat well.
Stuff I Eat has a completely vegan menu, with an increasing number of delicious raw vegan options. But what makes its vegan menu especially remarkable is that the majority of Stuff I Eat’s customers are non-vegans. “We have a low percentage of vegan customers,” says co-owner Babette Davis (who likes to go by the name Miss B). “I need everybody to like this food, and I love that they do, because it’s vegan. I hate saying it like this, but it’s true – it just tastes like regular food.”
In keeping true to the African-American community it serves, Stuff I Eat serves up dishes like a Southern-inspired organic soul food platter (yams, vegan macaroni and cheese, BBQ tofu, kale, black-eyed pea soup, cornbread muffin and potato salad or coleslaw with a mixed green salad). People come for the taste of the food, and leave with an appreciation for the greater health they achieve from eating vegan. And, once its repeat customers get the knack of eating healthy, Stuff I Eat offers an array of incredibly fresh and colorful salads, including its signature Carrot Un-Tuna. The owners of Stuff I Eat are dedicated to spreading the plant-based message in a community where truth about nutrition may be hard to find. “We have an opportunity to share and to teach,” Miss B says. “What I desire more than anything is the op- portunity to turn as many people on to this lifestyle as I possibly can, and I’m in the perfect place to do that.”
Aside from turning the community on to vegan food, Stuff I Eat is also improving the status of this down-trodden city. “I like that you can come here and see that Inglewood is not such a bad place,” says Miss B. “I don’t see people walking down the street with their pants sagging down, carrying rifles, ready to hurt people.” Stuff I Eat has a mission: To improve the community it serves in more ways than one. It executes that mission flawlessly.
Secret Ingredient No. 2: Put an Emphasis on the Health and Well-Being of Your Customers
Health is a priority at Stuff I Eat. Virtually everything served at the restaurant is organic and local, and the owners are vocal supporters of, and educators on many health-centered initiatives.
Stuff I Eat also promotes and sells books designed to teach its community customers about natural health – information that is not readily-available in Inglewood – and provides customers with access to homeopathic remedies.
Stuff I Eat holds lectures and classes on these topics, as well, in a space they own next door to the restaurant. The owners and staff of Stuff I Eat don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. Co-owner Babette Davis (Miss B), who’ll turn 62 in December, does not look not a day over 40 and is a model of vegan health. Her vegan husband, co-owner Ron Davis, also looks decades younger than his chronological age. In fact, most (if not all of the staff members are vegan and look radiantly healthy and full of life. Stuff I Eat staff are modelling for their community the change they wish to see in the world.
Secret Ingredient No. 3: Infuse Your Food with Love
Every dish at stuff I Eat contains something more than vital nutrients and good flavor – it contains love. Customers entering the restaurant are greeted with genuine smiles and affection, and many are hugged by Miss B by the time they leave. Once a customer becomes a regular, she is treated like part of the family. It is abundantly clear that Miss B and her staff love what they do and love sharing that joy with their customers. Somehow, that love is transferred into the food, and you feel better than you have in a long time when you’re done.
VegWorld Magazine staff frequent Stuff I Eat a few times a week. One visit and you’ll know why. Next time you’re in California, be sure to drop by Stuff I Eat for an experience you are not soon to forget. And if you own a restaurant, or are thinking about doing so, consider sprinkling in Stuff I Eat’s three secret ingredients for guaranteed success.