10 Questions for a Vegan – Agnes Muljadi

I recently sat down with the lovely and inspirational Agnes Muljadi at Au Lac restaurant in Los Angeles to discuss why she became a vegan and much more.  To say Agnes wears many hats is an understatement.  She is a ballerina, vegan influencer, financial adviser, certified holistic nutritionist, speaker, writer, and coach, amongst other things.  But what comes through most in speaking with Agnes is her genuine desire to help others and to make a difference in the world.

Agnes recently created a fundraiser to help provide housing for the LGBTQ homeless youth in LA.  And she just launched a vegan shoe – Ease Sneakers – in collaboration with TASTEMAKER SUPPLY vegan shoes.  100% of all proceeds from her shoe line go towards her LGBTQ fundraiser and her pointe shoe and scholarship fund for underprivileged dancers.

Originally a ballet dancer, having danced professionally for International Ballet Theatre in Washington State, Agnes realized after a few years that her whole life was dedicated solely to dancing and she wanted to do more.  Interested in continuously challenging herself and growing as a person, Agnes immersed herself in a variety of different career paths which has led to her current wellness coaching practice.  

Agnes coaches people one on one on how to reverse their chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and auto immune diseases with a plant-based diet and sustainable lifestyle. She also does one on one life coaching, and she oversees a Self Mastery Mastermind group, dedicated to creating and preserving wealth so people can give back to their communities.  Link to Agnes’ wellness coaching practice – https://www.artsyagnes.com/wellness.

In addition, Agnes collaborates with vegan and sustainable brands and products that share her commitment to people, animals and the planet.

Photo credit – Ballet Zaida

Please read below for my q&a with Agnes.

What inspired you to become a Vegan?

Short answer – I first became vegan for my health after a major health scare.  Once I made the change, I met so many amazing people and began making the connection between veganism and sustainability and what we subject the animals to when we eat meat, dairy and so on.

A little background – In 2013, I moved to Los Angeles and began doing ballet again, not professionally, but for myself and to get back into shape.  I was in my best physical shape when I discovered a lump in my breast, which was very confusing for me.  The lump turned out to be fast growing, with my doctor recommending surgery.

Instead, I wanted to find real and lasting solutions and deal with my health more holistically.  I found a naturopath who focused on cancer patients.  This naturopath told me that I needed to go vegan (like yesterday). 

And so began my journey.  I started a 21-day green juice cleanse.  And then a raw vegan diet for six months after that.  Although I had been vegetarian for 7 years prior, I got very serious about making change in my life, removing everything from my refrigerator that wasn’t vegan and donating it to a food bank.  I then went to Whole Foods and bought only plant based foods and juices.  

After six months, my tumor had shrunk to half its original size.  I eventually had surgery to remove the lump, but chose not to do any radiation as the doctors had recommended.  While in the hospital, I was appalled to see they were serving sugary drinks and meat that looked like spam, foods that are completely unhealthy and known to be cancer causing.  I did not touch the food they served me.  I realized there was a huge disconnect in Western medicine.  People need to be so mindful of what they’re actually eating, and to ask questions.

I’ve been tumor free since 2017.  Going through this health challenge has led me to veganism and to coach others about wellness and living a plant based lifestyle.

How has Veganism impacted your life? 

Going vegan has changed my life in every way – my health, my circle of friends, my lifestyle, how I choose to spend my time.  It has been very transformative.  I felt healthier right away.  My ballet teacher could not believe how much weight came off after my original juice cleanse.  My skin cleared up from the cystic acne I used to get.  Veganism has given me more energy and more constancy throughout the day.  And it’s changed me physically, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.  

What does a typical day look like – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert? 

I recently went back to eating a raw vegan diet which has helped me reduce bloating and lose weight.  I am also doing intermittent fasting where I eat only during a 6 hour window (from 2pm – 8pm) and fast the other 18 hours.  The body burns more fat cells after 18 hours of fasting.  

For me, going raw vegan has been even more transformative than going vegan.  I have a very sensitive stomach with allergies to soy, gluten and wheat.  I will only eat grains such as quinoa or hemp seed rice once a month.  I generally don’t like to bombard my system with a lot of food, otherwise I feel lethargic.

Breakfast – I do not eat breakfast, but I do drink fresh pressed juices.  I will typically make a kale, spinach, collard green, cucumber and raw garlic juice as soon as I wake up.  It’s great for killing bacteria in the gut.  An hour later, I will drink a carrot, orange and turmeric fresh juice.

Lunch (at 2pm) – I like simple meals.  I’ll typically have a huge salad bowl with kale, collard greens (these are both staples for me), spinach, bell peppers, a few raw cashew nuts, dressed with lemon, apple cider vinegar, and a tiny bit of organic olive oil with maybe some curry seasoning.

Dinner (at 7pm) – I will often have a shake for dinner with fruit and greens.  I like blueberries, banana, strawberries, a lot of coconut water (no plant based milks), plus wheatgrass and spirulina. Sometimes, I will add beans to my shakes to help thicken them and for added protein and texture.

I will also go to Au Lac restaurant for dinner quite a bit.  I like to eat off their Raw Living Food  Menu.

Raw crimini pesto; raw herb salad; and raw butterscotch pie from Au Lac restaurant.

Snacks – For a snack, I cut a banana in half and then make my own peanut butter blend.  I soak peanuts and then blend the peanuts with some vegan butter and cacao powder.  I’ll put this mixture in between the banana halves and then top with a tablespoon of nuts and shredded coconut. 

Sometimes, I will treat myself to these amazing raw vegan cheesecakes from Solar Return in Echo Park.

Dessert – I don’t typically eat dessert after dinner.  I used to have a big sweet tooth, but realized that sugar is my enemy.  The last few months I’ve been training myself to get rid of sugar cravings.

What do you typically eat when you’re on the go or traveling?

When I’m traveling, it’s really hard to be completely raw vegan.  I will usually stick with salads wherever I am.  Dressings on salads can be problematic, so I’ll sometimes just squeeze an orange on my salad.  When I travel to a foreign country, such as Dubai, it is almost impossible to find vegan food.  I have to be creative.  I’ll usually stick to fresh juices, smoothies and salads….and lots of fruit from the market while I’m abroad.

Can you recommend any favorite Vegan (food /fashion /beauty) brands?

I only use products (whether food, clothing or cosmetics) that are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainably made, ethically made and fair trade (meaning fair wages and sustainable working conditions). 

A word on vegan fashion – Early on, it wasn’t until someone confronted me about my leather bag at a vegan event that propelled me to research the horrors of the leather industry.  I realized how destructive the leather industry and fast fashion are on the planet.  I have since gotten rid of all animal products and have turned my closet into a “zen closet”.  I have whittled down my clothing to a capsule of just 36 pieces – all are vegan, sustainably made and ethically made.

Fashion – some favorites are:

Miakoda NY – ethically made, vegan fashion and accessory brand

Bhava – vegan, ethical shoe brand

Matt & Nat – vegan accessory and footwear brand

Vegan Club – a vegan fashion and art brand designed by LA-based artist, Le Fou

Agnes wearing Vegan Club jacket and hat

Beauty – 

100% Pure – an online organic cosmetics and natural beauty products and skincare brand.  It’s pretty much all I use.  Purchases help feed homeless dogs taken out of the Yulin Dog Meat festival.

Naturally Lindy – a skin care brand that is made from 100% aloe vera – cruelty-free and environmentally friendly.

Favorite stores to shop Vegan (online / brick & mortar)?

Solar Return in Echo Park, CA – It’s this wonderful, spiritual store that sells vintage and sustainable vegan clothing, books and gifts.  But what they’re most known for is their delicious raw vegan baked goods that are literally works of art.

Food as art! Raw vegan cheesecakes from Solar Return – they’re gluten free, soy free and packed with superfoods. And absolutely beautiful!

Miakoda New York – Online store that carries their own brand of sustainable, ethically made and vegan clothing and accessories.  Everything is made locally.

Bead & Reel – An online ‘mindful living’ community that sells vegan fashion.

Do you have a favorite Vegan restaurant?

Au Lac – in downtown LA and Fountain Valley, CA (the latter has a more authentic Vietnamese menu).

Sun Cafe – in Studio City

Wild Living Foods – in downtown LA.  They serve 100% raw vegan food.

What gives you inspiration? (documentaries, books, websites, activists, etc?)

I’m a very visual person and so I draw a lot of inspiration from art.  I love going to The Broad and The Getty museums by myself.  Seeing beautiful art motivates my activism.

Documentaries – I’ve watched many documentaries.  I find it very hard to watch the more graphic documentaries, as I’m very sensitive to the suffering of the animals. I instead prefer to watch documentaries about plant based living, health and our bodies’ healing power.  I recently saw Heal on Netflix which I thought was very good – it’s all about healing the body from within.

Books – I read a lot of spiritual-based books as they get to the source of what’s really important.  I loved The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.  His interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday series was life changing for me.  Other authors and teachers that I gravitate towards are Esther Hicks and Elizabeth Gilbert.

A note on activism – I tend to gravitate to the vegan activists that focus on showing people the beauty of veganism…..showing that you can live your best and healthiest life by choosing a vegan lifestyle.  There is already so much negativity in the world.  I prefer a positive spin on things.

Favorite charities, animal sanctuaries or animal rights / environmental organizations?

Every year I donate money on my birthday.  And while there are many great groups and charities, I like to make a direct impact.  So, this year, after learning about the horrifying statistics on LGBTQ homeless youth, I created my own Go Fund Me fundraiser to help these youth.  All proceeds go towards providing temporary and permanent housing for the LGBTQ homeless youth through the Tiny House Project, which builds tiny houses for the homeless in the LA metro area.  We also provide care packages for the homeless.  Donations from my fundraiser also go towards my pointe shoe and scholarship funds for underprivileged dancers.

I’m always questioning how I can do more.  So I just launched a ‘limited edition’ vegan shoe – ‘Ease Sneakers’ in two colorways in collaboration with TASTEMAKER SUPPLY vegan shoes.  We raised $2,000 at the launch party, with 100% of the proceeds going towards my tiny house project for LGBTQ homeless youth.  Here’s the link to purchase my vegan shoes: https://tastemakersupply.com/collections/artsyagnes-tastemaker

Images from Agne’s launch party to introduce her new limited edition vegan sneaker, Ease Sneakers.

What is your best advice for those thinking about going Vegan?

Don’t aim for perfection.  People sometimes try to change all at once and may have a bad experience when trying out veganism for the first time.  And they may not return to it if they’ve been unsuccessful.  Make changes in stages….it’s easier this way.  Try reducing meat at first.  Maybe eat meat 3 times per week instead of 5 times per week.  Then try to continue to reduce your meat intake.  Find plant based foods that you enjoy eating.  From here, you can try eliminating dairy, and then seafood….it’s a process.  But be kind to yourself in the process.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making change for the better.

“Veganism for me is a spiritual path.” ~ Agnes Muljadi

Header photo by Brienne Michelle Photography