It’s not surprising there are a lot of vegans in California.
There’s a lot of money there, too, enabling a high percentage of Californians to enjoy delicious vegan meals and healthy lifestyles. This is especially true in Los Angeles, which boasts not only Hollywood but also more than 150 vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants.
But for successful actor, recording artist, and vegan Jaden Smith (the 21-year-old son of Will and Jada Smith), discovering and benefiting from veganism himself wasn’t enough. (Note: For personal health reasons, he is now a vegetarian.) Looking beyond his own comfortable life in the City of Angels, he witnessed the desperate conditions of the inhabitants of LA’s Skid Row neighborhood, one of the largest homeless populations in the nation.
And decided he had to help.
He says, “Seeing it in real life, that’s what made me decide to create the I LOVE YOU food truck … to give back to the community.”
Last July, he received many gifts for his 21st birthday (July 8), but the one he took most to heart was the satisfaction of providing vegan meals to the estimated 8,000 people living in Skid Row. After founding a company called the “I Love You Restaurant” and just after releasing his new album, “Erys,” he took his food truck to the neighborhood and spent the day handing out hundreds of free vegan meals to the homeless. (A nearby second truck promoted the new album.)
On Instagram, Smith wrote that the truck was the first of such food trucks to come, “a movement that is all about giving people what they deserve, healthy, vegan food for free.”
This wasn’t his first philanthropic venture, either. In March, the Jaden Smith Foundation helped bring clean water to Flint, MI, with a new water filtration system.
Most recently, Smith collaborated with vegan LA restaurant Café Gratitude to give away 10,000 vegan meals on Skid Row. The “I LOVE YOU” meal will consist of black rice and quinoa topped with chili, roasted yams, maple Brussels sprouts, pickled onions, and carrots, with garlic tahini and smashed avocado. After 10,000 I LOVE YOU bowls have been sold at the restaurant, next year Smith’s I LOVE YOU food truck will hand out of the 10,000 bowls in Skid Row.
Gratitude Café’s co-owner and Chief Inspiration Officer says of the plan, “Feeding your body with love but then also feeding another person who’s less fortunate with love as well … I feel like that’s the way the world should work.”