Los Angeles Vegan Chef Babette
Wants to Take You Higher
In the heart of the hood in downtown Inglewood, California, a quiet revolution is happening. It’s non-violent, but radical. The weapon of choice: a fork. The revolution may not be televised, but if Chef Babette Davis has her way — and we’re sure that no force on earth can stop her — the revolution will be vegan.
Since 2010, Chef Babette and her team have been dishing it up free of animal products on LA’s North Market Street at her vegan eatery, Stuff I Eat. On the menu: matchless, meatless soul food with a spring salad side. Think carrot “un-tuna,” jerk tofu, “Mock” (vegan, dairy-free cheese replacement) ‘n cheese, grits, greens (kale simmered with cumin, garlic, red onion, and Bragg-brand Liquid Aminos), guacamole, and beet lemonade. She began with a food truck, offering delicious vegan burritos to exiting church-goers. “Hey, a good service works up an appetite,” she says. “Everybody told me that vegan food wouldn’t fly in the hood, with Black people especially. Well, everybody was wrong.”
“We have been bamboozled when it comes to our health in general, and our food in particular,” she says. She does use the word “evil.” She says, “The meat and dairy lobbies, the ranchers and big agriculture, are powerful, to say the least. The money that’s on the table is not to be believed. These are the people who convinced our parents and our grandparents that we all need three meat-based meals a day, bacon and eggs in the morning, burger for lunch, and a big steak and baked potato for dinner. This terrible lie has made generations of food industrialists wealthy beyond measure, and it’s made us, the public, sick. Literally sick to death.”
For her 72nd birthday in December, 2022, Chef Babette dropped to the floor of her restaurant and did 100 pushups. (Yes — one hundred.) Through a combination of openness and will, she has carved out a life as sharply defined as her astonishingly sculpted body. The higher evolution that began with going vegan at age 40 now has taken Chef Babette to a life as a raw foodist, although cooked foods are offered on the restaurant menu. “I am gratefully alive, therefore I want what I eat to be full of life” — the life-energy that is called prana in Sanskrit. “My goal is to live a long life, so why would I choose to eat death?”
She reveals that she doesn’t take a single prescription medication, a blessing and accomplishment that she attributes to her lifestyle choices, including attitude, and plenty of raw green veggies. “Many of my dearest friends, classmates of mine, are jacked,” she says. “They can’t get out of the bathtub. They can’t move easily, even with a walker. This is not the natural aging process. Meaning, this is not how it has to be. We do not have to accept terrible ailments like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and dementia as inevitable just because we grow older. We can do better, we deserve better.”
She engages in regular fasting and juice cleanses to prevent illness and to keep her temple sparkling both inside and out. “Whenever I feel a cold coming on, which isn’t often, or if I don’t feel 100 percent, I know that I’m dirty, and it’s time for a cleanse.”
The child of North Carolina sharecroppers, the way has not always been easy. She shares that when she met her husband and business partner, Ron, in 1990, her digestion was off. She was bloated, belching, had gas, eczema and acne on her face and back. “Honey,” she says, “I was a hot mess.”
“When I met Ron,” she says, “I was a chicken-eating woman. Chicken was my flesh. Then he cooked me a tofu dinner, and I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t my favorite bird, really. Ron taught me to slow-cook with love. And on our first date, when I watched him run the hills and trails in Griffith Park around the Observatory, backwards– he ran them backwards, so he could look at me as I struggled along behind him — well, that really was it for me. Done.”
She sees how we choose to treat our bodies, including how we eat, as a reflection of how well we understand our divine origins. “The intelligence that created us and this cosmos created a perfect way of eating for every being on this planet. The human body already knows what it wants, not because an ad on the TV is showing us melted cheese running down the side of a triple stack of fat beef patties. Our body wisdom knows what we need, and my life is about brushing away all of that debris and junk piled up on top of that knowledge, obscuring and distorting it. Changing your life in terms of how you eat and treat your body is like sweeping the dust off a window, or a camera lens. Eating what I eat gives me a clarity. When we see an apple, or mango, we naturally start to salivate. Looking at a package of raw chicken wrapped in plastic in the market, we don’t salivate. And if we see a live chicken, pecking and picking around the yard, we definitely don’t salivate.”
Another turning point: discovering the 1985 health book, Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, where she learned about food-combining for optimum digestion. The book and its subsequent editions maintain that dead foods (meat, dairy, and processed vegetable foods like French fries) clog the body and cause disease, while living foods cleanse it.
She points out that human saliva doesn’t contain the proper enzymes to break down animal muscle tissue, i.e., meat. “Meat is basically inedible for humans. To digest meat at all, we have to cover it with chemicals and hit it with a hammer and blast it under high heat, so we can cut it into chunks and swallow it. What does that tell you?” For years, Babette, long before she was Chef Babette, always carried two items in her handbag: Accent (the meat tenderizer, MSG), and TUMS antacid. “Two NASTY ol’ poisons,” she laughs, so loud and long that even though she’s speaking from her home, her laughter rattles the dishes and cups all to way to her eatery in Inglewood.
Check out Some tips from the vibrantly vegan 72-year-old, self-made powerhouse entrepreneur CHEF BABETTE on living healthy, happy, and long. She says, “Love your vessel!” by clicking HERE.