Vegetarian Coco Laud and vegan YaLonda “Lala” Lolar Johnson, hosts of “Keeping up with Coco and Lala” on Facebook Live, are on a mission to spice up traditional vegan meals.
Laud and Johnson live in Minneapolis and have been friends for 20 years. After watching the Netflix documentary What the Health, they were inspired to create their own daytime cooking show. Their goal is to create and test vegan dishes that can be both healthy and delicious. Every week, they find new recipes that prove that being healthy doesn’t have to be boring.
To date, they have tested some 200 vegan and vegetarian recipes and the show has gained more than 10,000 followers.
Rolling out recently talked to the dynamic duo about transitioning to veganism and preparing healthy meals that are both attainable and affordable.
You talk about eliminating the intimidation and stigma associated with veganism. Tell us about that.
Johnson: We want to make vegan and vegetarian fun.
Laud: The stigma is that it’s boring, you only eat grass and carrots and…
Johnson: …you’re like a skeleton walking around.
Laud: Another stigma is that you can’t afford it and…
Johnson: …that there are no flavors.
Laud: The narrative is that people of color don’t care what we eat, and that’s the narrative we’re trying to knock out the park.
The holidays are coming up. How can someone who has recently become a vegan or vegetarian still enjoy healthy meals over the holidays?
Johnson: We’re going to be making a video with vegan [and] vegetarian turkey so people can have options. You can make mac and cheese. You can continue to have sweet potato pie.
Laud: We took cauliflower and put it in a blender, and it tasted like real mashed potatoes. Twenty years ago, the options weren’t there, but today they are.
What are some resources for people who want to find both healthy and delicious vegan meals?
Laud: You should be checking out our Facebook page. We are going into our pockets and taste-testing; we are not paid to do that. Our show is a very good resource. There’s also always the internet. You won’t always get a review, so I will refer you back to our show.
Johnson: Google black beans, croutons and black olives. You can literally Google a recipe for whatever you have in your pantry.
What is a good way for someone to begin their transition to veganism?
Laud: Take your time. You have to be knowledgeable before you just go into it. True veganism is a lifestyle and not a diet. Is your makeup cruelty-free? Your purse?
Johnson: If that’s too much, just say you’re following a plant-based diet if you’re not at that point. Start [with] a meatless Monday, tofu Tuesday or fish-less Friday.
For those who don’t know, what exactly is veganism, and how does it differentiate from vegetarianism?
Johnson: Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from an animal — eggs, cheese, sour cream, etcetera — and they really care about the environment and [have] compassion for animals.
Laud: A vegetarian just gives up meat. One thing about going vegan is we test products on our show. We test products, so now we can tell you what will give you a taste and flavor you would like.
One of you is vegan, while the other is vegetarian. How can someone determine which diet is best for them?
Johnson: Try it. See how you feel. Make sure you’re feeling healthy. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. If you don’t feel right, just try it and see what works.
Laud: Look at it as long-term vs. short-term so that you can make adjustments that are better for you. Make small changes that are good for you.
How do you keep your diet from becoming boring?
Johnson: On our show every week we’re trying something new. Companies are realizing that people want clean food. Aldi has a vegan cheese. It just came out a few weeks or months ago. Right now, you can try almost anything. It is a great time to be vegan or vegetarian.
Tune in to “Keeping Up with Coco & Lala” on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. CST on Facebook Live. Keep up with the hosts by following them @Realcocoandlala on Twitter and Instagram.