With all the innovation happening out there in the vegan world of packaged foods I was so glad to meet Rachel who is the mastermind behind these bite size cruelty-free treats! They really do take you back to your childhood days of eating pizza bagels and scuffing up your knees with the neighborhood kids. Speaking of, we did both grow up in the same state! Small world. If you are in the LA area be sure to get your hands on these babies and hopefully they will be on grocery store shelves across the US before we know it! Congrats to Rachel on her endeavor, we wish her much success in the future!
When did you start learning how to cook?
My interest in cooking started when I took a cooking class at my college in Virginia freshman year. At the time, I was still eating sea animals (mostly sushi), dairy, and eggs. My class cooked recipes from around the world, and I was thrilled that many were already vegetarian! That was a great opportunity to learn the basics of cooking, and realize that people have been making veg meals for as long as humans have been around.
When I did finally go vegan a few years later, I explored vegan cooking. I bought vegan cookbooks, looked at recipes online, and attended lots of vegan cooking and nutrition classes.
Cooking is a big part of my life now. It's very relaxing, therapeutic, and gives me a chance to create something new every day!
What's the inspiration behind your pizza bagels, what made you get it started?
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2011, I worked at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I was hired with their youth division where I corresponded with hundreds of students across the country. I helped them start animal rights groups at their schools, tabled at various public events, wrote blogs, organized and attended protests, and inspired students to use their voices for animals. It was cool to work for this huge movement, but I wanted to start something new, and help animals in my own way.
I knew I wanted to create something where I could share delicious food, inspire people to go vegan, and help animals. I used to love pizza bagels as a kid and didn't see any vegan pizza bagels on grocery store shelves. I made a few test batches with friends and we agreed this was a great product.
I struck out on my own and launched Rachel's Cosmic Cuisine at VegFest, (WorldFest) Los Angeles in May 2014. It was a success, and pushed me to grow my business and get my pizza bagels in grocery stores, at events, festivals, and even bars and cafes.
How cosmic are these bagels?
Rachel's Pizza Bagels are truly out of this world! My dad has been a huge inspiration in my life, and he and I believe that through little actions, we can change the world and beyond. He helped me brainstorm possible business names. We both love looking up at the stars and sky, and we're big fans of the T.V. show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Rachel's Cosmic Cuisine had a nice ring to it, felt inspiring, and it's something people always remember when they talk with me.
Can you share your vegan story with us? How long have you been vegan and what was the thing that brought you into this lifestyle?
I have been vegan for six years. When I was twelve years old, I remember sitting next to my dad in the kitchen while I ate a burger. I asked him why he wasn't eaten a burger. He said he didn't eat cows or pigs because his teacher took his class to a slaughterhouse for a field trip in high school. His story opened my eyes, and I knew I had to make a change. That very day, I stopped eating cows and pigs.
In the summer of 2009, I interned at Farm Sanctuary's Animal Acres and decided to go vegan when my friend there told me that by continuing to eat fish, I was contributing to the death of our oceans. I couldn't argue with that. Who could?! I went vegan that day and I've never looked back!
Can you tell us any plans you have in the future for RCC? Any thoughts about offering additional kinds of pizza bagels?
One of the biggest goals of my company is to be a support system for my customers, and my website is where this happens. My website has information on plant-based nutrition, blogs with simple vegan recipes, a monthly feature called Share Your Story about people's vegan transitions, printable coloring pages for kids, and more!
As for the pizza bagels, I'm creating new flavors and expanding to more grocery stores. I have lots of ideas for future products. But, shh... it's a secret!
Any events coming up that you will be participating in?
Definitely! In addition to catering events and parties in the LA area, I attend a variety of festivals. I recently teamed up with LA Vegan Drinks where I sold my vegan pizza bagels. You can find my pizza bagels at this year's Vegan Oktoberfest in Los Angeles!
How does it feel being a vegan in LA versus somewhere like GA where you are from?
OK, so I'm definitely spoiled in LA. We have countless incredible vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants to choose from, but when I visit my family in Georgia, I'm not worried about what I'm going to eat. Like most grocery stores in the country, Augusta has lots of vegan options at supermarkets and speciality stores. I love to cook for my family, but we also go out to eat at veg-friendly places, like pizzerias, and Mexican, Indian, and Japanese restaurants.
Who is the most influential vegan to you?
One of the first books I read about veganism was Skinny Bitch, written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Skinny Bitch is well written, easy to follow, very educational, and funny! It's a book anyone can pick up and start reading, and that's what makes it such a great learning tool!
I met Rory at an animal rights event in West Hollywood and had lunch with her and a few friends. She is very kind, outgoing, and a great voice for animals.
I'd have to include the staff at Mercy for Animals, too! MFA is an amazing organization that exposes the abuse and exploitation of farmed animals through undercover investigations. Footage is released to mainstream media to both educate the public of the horrors behind closed doors and also to prosecute those individuals for their mistreatment of animals. They also campaign large corporations to end some of the cruelest practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses. I'm constantly impressed with their achievements and determination. It pushes me to be stronger and continue working hard to make a positive impact on the world — and beyond!
Check out Rachel's website: