Who’s sexy and fit at 66? None other than Chef Babette Davis, vegan chef extraordinaire, animal activist and owner of the Stuff I Eat restaurant located in the heart of Inglewood. The Sentinel recently spoke with Davis in an exclusive interview to chat about everything from her thoughts on veganism and her fitness routine to the land’s depletion of topsoil and how education is vital to leading a healthy lifestyle, inside out.
The East L.A. native, who’s been vegan since 1990, says she balances her diet with an adventurous fitness routine, which during the summer months include running the hills in Griffith Park, walking the steps in Santa Monica, coupled with her indoor workouts at least 3 times per week.
While the 66 year-old is often complimented about her youthfulness and fit body, Babette says she believes it’s exactly how any person her age should look, provided the right diet and exercise that is. “We’re not supposed to be sick, we’re not supposed to be taking 15 different meds, that is not the quality of life meant for us,” Davis said. “People my age, you’ve got to move,” she added.
Dubbed “The Chemist in the Kitchen”, Davis says she gave herself the name after mastering her self-taught ability to create tasty vegan meals. “I decided, I’m going to learn how to prepare food without the use of a lot of fat and animal products, refined sugar, dyes, preservatives – I want to be able to prepare the kind of food that I grew up with, without all that extra stuff. So at that point, I pretty much got in the kitchen and stayed,” Davis said.
But how exactly did Davis reach this life altering change in the way she consumed food? Davis says her decision to go vegan surprisingly occurred overnight after her husband Ronald Davis treated her to her first vegan meal. “I was intrigued after eating that meal and feeling the way that I felt after I ate the meal because I had a lot of digestive issues,” Davis said. “I often mis-combined my food, and I just had a rough time digesting,” she continued.
When asked about the practical steps people can take to gradually change their eating habits, Davis says it’s not just a matter of Googling the importance of live enzymes or watching food culture documentaries, but believing in your ability to make the change.
“It’s going to be a lot easier if you change your mind and you believe that you need to make some changes. If you’re not ready, you’re not going to make any changes,” Davis said. “It is easy once you change your mind, and it was overnight for me, because I changed my mind”.
In terms of food consumption in America, Davis noted our fixation on things that taste good, like the frozen apple pie in the dessert section with tons of preservatives, opposed to the apple itself.
“There are people that are challenged with two and three and four-hundred pounds, and all they’re doing is eating food out of a box, somebody’s manufactured, somebody’s processed in a laboratory, that’s not the way we used to eat,” Davis said. “We’re very hooked on what tastes good, we used to go to the garden and pick fresh fruits,” she continued.
Davis also dropped some biological knowledge, declaring her belief in a “species based” diet. “Even though we’re of the human species, we’re still just one of over 800 million species, so I believe that there is a specific diet for every species on this planet,” Davis professed. “I believe that healing, the diet for us, includes the intake of a lot of life and we eat way too much death.”
In an example of her sentiments, Davis spoke about human consumption of cow’s milk. “We are weaned from our mother’s breasts as we grow teeth and are able to tear and chew, but we still want to drink the milk of another species. The milk that we drink most of the time is the milk that fills the udder of this huge cow for its babies,” she said.
“We throw the baby away and we impregnate the cow to take its milk. We don’t digest it well, we wind up with eczema, like I had, we wind up with asthma like I had, we’re filled with mucus and inflammation,” Davis continued.
The chef also says it’s important to be sympathetic and show a little more empathy for other species and their right to live on this planet without being slaughtered and tortured.
“I think that our current diet here on the planet, especially here in America is pretty unsustainable. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing now and feel like it’s going to be okay, because it’s not okay. We don’t have enough landmass, and its too many people eating animal flesh,” she stated.
While Davis says her goal isn’t to preach or persuade anyone to choose a side, the goal is to share her journey with anyone open to receive it. “I cannot speak for every person on the planet, although I have my personal beliefs, I can only share the lifestyle that has worked for me and my husband over the last 20 some odd years, it’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey,” Davis said.
“Yes I’m opinionated about it and I’m a proud vegan and I’d like to scream it in the mountaintop, but I am only one of us,” she said. “Once people transition because they understand the necessity to transition, then it works,” she added.
We also asked Davis to share with us her favorite vegan recipe, which she says is a Portabella Mushroom Chipotle Casserole. The dish includes a savory combination of mushroom caps, green onion, Tempeh, bell pepper, and red onions, layered with a silky Chipotle sauce and topped with vegan cheese before heading into the oven.
Lastly, Chef Babette says as humans, we should honor our short time on earth, and make it the best experience possible.
“It’s so amazing to be able to walk this walk and walk it upright and feel good, and we are able to do that. We have everything we need to be able to do that. Get on a journey that’s going to help you grow and give, instead of take,” she said.
As for the future, Davis said she plans to take on more speaking engagements, cooking show appearances and the use of social media to reach more people. “It’s my truth that I want to share with everyone,” she concluded.