10 Questions for a Vegan – Andrea Hopf 

For my latest q&a, I sat down with Andrea Hopf, the very enterprising chocolatier, creator and owner of LA-based Hopf Chocolate.  I can honestly say Andrea has created some of the best chocolate out there, my favorite chocolate hands down! 

Besides being melt-in-your-mouth delicious, Hopf Chocolate is good for you!  It’s raw, organic, vegan and sweetened with only low glycemic, nutrient-rich coconut nectar.  Hand made with only the purest and cleanest ingredients such as raw, cold pressed cacao butter and powder, Hopf Chocolate comes in a variety of amazing flavors such as Rose Cardamom Truffle and Smoky Nutmeg Fudge.  It’s truly a nutritious and delicious superfood treat. 

Originally from Ergoldsbach, Germany, Andrea first went vegan in 2010.  Being passionate about healthy food, she began trying different recipes and making raw, vegan chocolate treats for her friends while still in Germany.  She even created a small chocolate line with a friend while still in Germany, where she honed her chocolate-making skills. 

Andrea eventually moved to Los Angeles about five years ago with the idea of pursuing a career in music.  But plans sometimes change, and what had begun in Germany with her chocolate making continued in LA.  Before officially creating Hopf Chocolate, Andrea worked with two vegan businesses in LA, one of them being the wonderful Blode Kuh, the plant based cheese and yogurt brand.  The owners of Blode Kuh encouraged Andrea to create her own business and shared with her their warehouse space and booth space at farmers markets to help her get started.

In July of 2017, Andrea officially created her chocolate business, Hopf Chocolate.  She currently sells her product in several farmer’s markets throughout Los Angeles as well as online and in a few stores including Grass Roots in South Pasadena and Erewhon Market.  Her product is made fresh every week.  And her packaging is as waste-free as possible.  The chocolate wrappers are biodegradeable, with no plastic packaging. 

Andrea selling her chocolate at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market

Andrea takes a holistic approach to creating her chocolate and has a few tenets that she lives by.  Her chocolate has to  “taste good, be good for you, something people can connect with and bond over, something people like and demand, and that allows her to be creative.”  Andrea loves sharing what she creates and she gets to do what she loves, and this makes her happy!

What inspired you to become a Vegan?

Short answer – the animals are my number one motivation for going vegan.  Second reason is for the environment..  And of course the health aspect has always been important to me.

Back story – I was a raw food baby.  My mother went on a raw food, vegan diet when I was a baby.  I was also nursed for four years, and never had any issues as a kid.  I was never sick.  My mother never fed me animal products growing up, but I would sometimes eat animal products at friend’s houses.  As a kid, you want what you can’t have!

Growing up, I have always been concerned about health and eating whole foods.  I did not eat processed foods or refined sugars.  

However we lived in the country where my dad had goats.  I loved these goats, but I knew they would eventually be slaughtered.  I wasn’t there when the goats were slaughtered, but I could energetically feel their pain.  Once I had this awareness, I could no longer eat any meat.  This was in 2009. 

At this time, I discovered that Alicia Silverstone (who I was a fan of) was a vegan.  I began watching her talks and I bought her book on veganism.  She was a huge inspiration for me.  I was also exposed to various documentaries that opened my eyes while on vacation in San Francisco, staying with some vegans.

I soon began exploring recipes and looking up raw food cake recipes.  I didn’t put any pressure on myself in the beginning.  But I still made the vegan thing work even though it was very hard in 2009 to find vegan cheese or ice cream in Germany.  There weren’t many stores even carrying vegan products.  So it took a little while for me to wean off the cheese. 

Another point I want to make…. Early on in my vegan journey, I became quite militant but found this to be really draining.  I realized preaching was not the best approach for me.  So I decided to live by example.

Because of this realization, I was inspired to make a product that I believe in and put something out into the world that people will enjoy.  When people try my chocolate, they don’t realize it’s vegan, and this sparks curiosity in them.  This is my way of spreading awareness about veganism…. through my chocolate business.

How has Veganism impacted your life?

When you make a change in your life like going vegan, you don’t notice the changes right away.  The first two years of my transition, I would a couple times a year still eat organic cheese, but when I did, I would get very sick, and my whole body would be affected.  I realized that dairy is not healthy for me, that I’m super sensitive to it.  So from that point on, I stopped eating all dairy and I’ve felt much better for it.

In the past, I always struggled with my weight.  Now, I can eat whenever I want and exercise whenever I want.  I don’t need to worry about weight.  Veganism is an easy fix for weight management.  But also my health is very good.  I rarely get sick, and if I do, it’s usually connected to my emotional life, not from what I’m eating.  

I’ve also come to realize how much our diet impacts our environment.  While driving our cars less or showering less helps, changing our diets has a much larger impact on the planet.  Animal agriculture uses so many resources and is a major contributor to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion, deforestation, and much more.  Everyone who cares about the planet should go vegan, if not for ourselves, then for our children’s future. 

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

These days I don’t eat very much or I eat sporadically throughout the day as I don’t have a lot of time.

Breakfast – I will have fruit for breakfast, mostly fruit that’s in season from the farmer’s market.

Snacks –  Throughout the day, I will grab a bar of my chocolate which sustains me until I can eat something else.

Great any time of day

Being German, I like a lot of bread, especially sourdough bread, with avocado and cultured cashew cheese, like Blode Kuh.  I will eat this any time of day. 

I often go through phases where I eat the same thing for days in a row.

And other times, I go raw, eating a high fruit raw diet such as banana smoothies, or lots of fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market.  I love a big salad with lots of veggies, avocado, lemon, good oil, dulse seaweed, pepper and himalayan sea salt. 

Just a note about cooked and refined oils – I try to stay away from them as they are not good for the body.

Dinner – I will make a classic rice and veggie bowl, which is simple and easy.  I will throw the veggies in a pan to steam them, add some cold pressed olive oil, himalayan salt and Bragg’s aminos or soy sauce and serve over rice.

Sometimes I will go all out and make homemade pizza or lasagne for dinner.

Or I get together with friends and we make delicious vegan food.

We made beer battered squash tempura – recipe by my friend Krissi of @homemade_and_happiness

Dessert – I love sweets!  I try to stay away from refined sugars, but I will eat my own chocolate that is sugar free.  My favorite is our Maca crunch chocolate and our butter cups.  I also really love our velvet truffle cream on sourdough bread with Miyoko’s vegan butter.

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

Well, I eat my chocolate throughout the day and while on the go. I’ll also eat energy bars, such as a Clif bar or I’ll have some fruit.

If I’m traveling and there are no vegan restaurants, I’ll order potatoes with some lemon juice & olive oil with a side of veggies.  Or I’ll have a salad with oil and vinegar dressing.

Pizzerias are usually safe as I can get pizza without the cheese or order pasta with veggies.  I also find Thai restaurants have lots of vegan options …. you just need to check that there’s no fish sauce in the dish.  Also Indian restaurants, I can usually find curries that are vegan.

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

Fashion – 

I have been thrift shopping pretty much exclusively for the past 5 years. LA has such great thrift shops everywhere.  I tend to use my clothes for a long time, mixing and matching old and new.  I have a hard time throwing clothes out….it seems wasteful to me.  There are some good eco-friendly brands out there, but I haven’t bought new fashion in a long time.

Andrea wearing one of her cute thrift store finds

When I do buy new items, I make sure not to buy any leather, wool, down, or fur.  Even the ‘faux fur’, you have to be careful as it can still be real.  Many times, the cheap fur is made from dogs, cats, coyotes, etc.  I just don’t buy anything that could come from an animal.

Beauty – 

I buy most of my makeup in Germany, brands that are really clean.  Some brands that I use:

  • Dr Hauschka – I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I like this brand for makeup.
  • Weleda – I love their lotions and their rose deodorant – vegan and environmentally friendly brand
  • Lavera – A beauty and skin care brand based only in Germany – they sell vegan makeup, shampoos and skin products.
  • Giovanni shampoo – cruelty free and vegan hair products that I get at Whole Foods
  • Manic Panic  – cruelty free hair dyes and bleach for hair
  • Aveda  – l go to the Aveda salon too.  I love their natural products that are vegan & chemical free.
  • Earthpaste – a clay-based toothpaste that has no glycerin and no fluoride.  It’s important for teeth to remain mineralized, to keep cavities away.
  • I also use pure coconut oil & cacao butter (from my chocolate line)

Food 

  • Hopf Chocolate – of course!
  • Blode Kuh – delicious plant based, raw cheeses and yogurts
  • Follow Your Heart – locally made and delicious vegan products
  • Coconut Bliss – vegan ice cream
  • Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food – available at various farmer’s markets – all vegan and soy free – they carry pickled veggies, lotus root, faux meats made from plant beans and more.
  • And always fresh produce and products at farmer’s markets.

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

I buy locally as much as I can.  I rarely shop online.  After almost 10 years of being vegan, it’s easy to know what to look for. In LA, I mainly shop at farmer’s markets, Sprouts, Lassens, Grass Roots in Pasadena and Whole Foods.

Gaia Herbs – I do buy online from Gaia.  I buy the Vitex Berry which is great for balancing women’s hormone levels as well as Maca (also very good for women…and men).

Other vitamins that I take are a raw B complex for stress management and Ultimate Flora probiotics for gut and immune health.

Do you have a favorite Vegan restaurant?

I tend to eat out a lot, so here are some of my favorites in and around LA – 

  • My Vegan Restaurant in Pasadena- really good vegan thai food (I love thai food!)
  • Bulan Thai Vegetarian Kitchen in Silverlake – also thai with lots of delicious curries
  • Thai Vegan– there are two locations in Santa Monica
  • Kitchen Mouse– vegan / vegetarian restaurant in Highland Park serving yummy, organic food
  • Sage Vegan Bistro in Old Town Pasadena (two other locations in Echo Park & Culver City)
  • Masa of Echo Park – delicious vegan deep dish pizza 
  • Ramenhood– the best vegan ramen you will ever taste, located at the Grand Central Market in downtown LA 
  • Little Pine – I love their desserts…they are out of this world good, especially the s’mores ganache.

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

I am drawn to the health aspect of veganism.  There are a couple of people who stand out.

Kris Carr – I am very inspired by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor, plant based wellness activist and author of the “Crazy Sexy” health books.  I have read some of her books and saw her speak in Fairfield, CT at Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe, a raw vegan cafe.  Even with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis, Kris has stabilized her cancer and has been thriving for over a decade by adopting a plant based, alkaline diet and healthy lifestyle practices.  Everyone should read her books!

Dr Neal Barnard, founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – He is also an amazing inspiration for me.  I’ve watched many of his speeches. He’s a huge advocate for the health benefits of plant based, vegan eating.

From an animal aspect, I was really moved by the film, Peaceable Kingdom – The Journey Home.  It’s a beautiful film about a former cattle farmer who befriends a steer and other stories of personal transformations.  Seeing this film made me give up dairy for good.

Favorite animal sanctuaries or animal rights / environmental organizations?

I really appreciate all of the farm sanctuaries that do such amazing work rescuing farm animals that are destined for slaughter.  I think Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary is very inspirational.  I saw him speak in San Francisco and then a week later ran into him in Woodstock, NY at a vegan cafe.  I have since visited his Farm Sanctuary which is wonderful.

I have given money to organizations in the past, but I am now investing in my business as a way of giving back.  I am investing in a better world through my chocolate business.  Most of my customers are not vegan, so I help them to understand that you can eat really well on a vegan diet.

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

Find plant based foods that you like and start incorporating them into your diet. Take it one step at a time.  Go at your own pace, and don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon.  Just keep going, and give yourself credit for all the good changes you’re making.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  

Many people think being vegan is expensive, but even if money is limited, you can make rice and beans with veggies and make it taste great with the right spices.  Plus, it’s your health, and by eating plant based, you can keep expenses down by keeping the doctor away.

Do your research.  The goal is to create long-term change.  You will feel better once you make the change.  Besides the physical changes, going vegan makes you feel more peaceful and connected to the world at large.  You see the bigger picture.

Also, everyone is on their own path and at different stages of understanding.  We are so brainwashed from a young age….it’s really hard to change one’s perception.  So, embrace everyone, whether they’re vegan or not, or just becoming vegan.  There is no point in creating further separation.  We still have to appreciate those who are at different points along the road.  Everyone is on their own journey and we shouldn’t judge. 

We are all here on this planet, incarnated as souls to experience what we signed up for.  This thought helps me to continue living in this world, even though there are so many terrible things that happen daily.  We need to make peace with the world and do our best.  We each have our own talents and gifts that we can use to better our world and to help each other.

You can check out Hopf Chocolate online at www.hopfchocolate.com.

Or you can find Hopf Chocolate in Los Angeles at the following markets –

  • All 5 Erewhon Markets carry the Velvet Truffle Cream and the Maca Chocolate Chip.
  • Grassroots in South Pasadena carries my whole line. 
  • Plus Farmers Markets:
          TUESDAYS:
Manhattan Beach 11-4 
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA  90266

THURSDAYS:
South Pasadena 4-7
913 Meridian Ave
South Pasadena, CA  91030

SUNDAYS:
Hollywood 8-1
Cahuenga Blvd/Selma

Mar Vista 9-2
Venice Blvd / Grandveiw

Malibu 10-3
By the Malibu Library

Andrea’s favorite smoothie: Velvet Horchata 

  • 1 young Thai coconut (water & meat)
  • 3 pitted medjool dates
  • 1 or 2 TBSP Hopf Chocolate Velvet Truffle Cream 
  • 3 dashes of cinnamon 

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth! Enjoy!

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