I am super intrigued by the idea of adopting a plant-based lifestyle someday. I would call myself an on and off again Vegan, I’ll do it for a month get bored and go back to eating animal products. But for the month I am vegan I feel great – energy is up and I feel less sluggish throughout my day!
Actually, a fun fact the whole Hood Digest team is either vegetarian or vegan full time, except for me, haha.
However, in my attempt to continue exploring adopting a Vegan lifestyle I stumbled upon Healthy Hyna a.k.a Lorena Ramirez a young Latina woman who is adapting traditional Mexican dishes to plant-based and is out in the community hosting workshops encouraging the hood to adopt a plant-based lifestyle!
So I reached out to learn more about her and her journey,
1. Tell me about yourself and your upbringing?
My name is Lorena Ramirez. I’m the founder of a plant-based food and lifestyle brand called Healthy Hyna. I inspire people to eat plant-based food by providing recipes. I represent my Latino community in an industry that is predominantly white. I love the West Coast, rap music, and my culture! My upbringing consisted of being raised by immigrant parents with traditional values and aspirations for their first-generation children to succeed in the U.S. However, pivotal events occurred in my life that completely transformed my way of being that in which was parenthood at a young age. I became a mother at 19 and had two kids by 23. I made a conscious decision and effort to strive to be the healthiest version of myself, starting with my food palette.
2. What has your journey to a vegan lifestyle been like?
I initially was vegetarian and decided to go vegan after having my first child. So subtracting meat from my way of eating was not a problem for me. I’m Mexican and our cultural food consists of a lot of cheese, sour cream, and eggs so it was very difficult to resist those ingredients but I had to retrain my tongue to the taste of more natural, whole foods in order to not crave those addictive ingredients. Educating myself on the process of how these foods were made was also key in helping me stick to my decision. At the beginning of becoming vegan I was eating a lot of vegan processed food and now going on almost 6 years vegan I barely started eating more whole foods, basically, more food that grows from the ground that doesn’t require engineering or chemicals.
3. How was Healthy Hyna born?
When I first became vegan and was looking for resources and recipes online I didn’t come across any platform that veganized Mexican food let alone see anyone who was a representation of myself. I didn’t resonate with any of the vegan influencers because I feel like they didn’t have my type of swag or style and/or interests. Either that or they were too pushy about veganism as if it were a cult and it was a huge turn off for me because a lot of my friends and family eat meat and I would never judge them for not adopting a plant-based diet because everyone has their own journey and their own pace. I would often post what I would eat throughout my day on Instagram and a lot of people would ask me for recipes and that’s how Healthy Hyna was born. What I love about my audience is that most of them are meat-eaters! So just to have them intrigued by this way of eating is already a huge achievement for me.
4. From my own personal interactions in the Latinx community I’ve noticed that explaining vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is difficult. Have you had issues with the Latinx community explaining your lifestyle? How has Healthy Hyna helped contribute to the conversation?
No. I really haven’t had to explain my lifestyle unless someone asks so I don’t go around preaching it or let someone know I’m vegan right away. If I do get a question I keep it simple – I don’t eat anything with eyeballs or any ingredients that come from an animal. If they ask why I share my story. It often resonates with people because we have all experienced or still experience health complications. Usually, people are more intrigued than wanting to get into a debate and I don’t bother to explain myself further if I sense their motive is to imply their own personal thoughts and opinions that are contrary to my beliefs in the way I eat. I’ll listen but I won’t say anything. As my homegirl Lala Romero says “First they laugh, then they copy.”
5. How have you and your platform made veganism more accessible in the Latinx community? But most importantly how are helping make it accessible to P.O.C in the hood?!
I’ve made my community aware of a plant-based diet by creating an online presence that can reach and inspire many on a national/global scale just by sharing recipes and ingredients that can be purchased in regular grocery stores that are usually in the hood. Like Food 4 Less, Northgate Market, Superior, El Super, etc. You don’t need to buy vegetables at Whole Foods to eat vegan. The disadvantage of being vegan and living in the hood and not having a Whole Foods or any other type of health-food specialty store is that you don’t have the luxury of having the pre-packaged vegan alternatives however, you can still make those alternatives by making them from scratch and usually the grocery stores that are in the hood have those ingredients so it’s just a matter of sharing the knowledge on how to use the resources that you got – turning nothing into something.
6. Usually, Plant-based lifestyle brands are dominated by white folks how have you managed to create your own space and stand out from other platforms?
Just by being myself. I am a culture. I’m brown and proud. People of color: black and brown folks are the majority and we have the buying power, these white-owned brands NEED us so their brands can thrive for generations to come.
7. Any big plans for Healthy Hyna in the near future?
Yes, but I can’t share it yet!
8. Lastly, How do you manage all of your responsibilities on top of creating content for Healthy Hyna? What keeps you motivated?
I reflect on my goals and affirmations often and try to maintain structure in my day – it’s the only way I can stay motivated. And also listening to a lot of Nip Hussle!
Keep up with Lorena and download her plant-based recipe e-book,
Plant Based Recipe E-book: https://www.healthyhyna.com/freegift
Upcoming events: Please visit @HealthyHyna to confirm dates and locations
October 19 – SUPRFEST Wellness Festival, Los Angeles, CA
October 26 – Healthy Hyna Cooking Workshop
November 23 – Healthy Hyna Cooking Workshop