1)How did you first get into veganism, and what were the reasons behind it?

I went vegan at 16years old. I didn't even know what veganism was or anyone who was vegan when I decided to go vegetarian. I had been in the punk
scene since I was about 13 years old. I started out in really into street punk, some oi and 77 then fell deep and head over heals in love with anarcho, peace
punk, and crust.  I was 15 when I read Crass's book Last of the Hippies. There was a quote in that book that changed the very fiber of my being and it
reads, "This is our world. It is ours and it has been stolen from us. We have to set out and demand for it back, only this time they won't call us hippies, they'll
call us punks. " Although this quote may have meant nothing to anyone else, this made me question everything I had been hearing in these songs and
reading in these zines, We needed to learn from the mistakes of the hippies. Become sober, stop holding up signs and getting militant to save lives and
save our world. I began to do research and became very interested in earth, human, and animal rights and even started switching my focus in poetry and
writing to political work. I had acquired a handful of animal righs VHS tapes and got the gist of what was going on. I was so destroyed after watching these
that even though I was a very Cuban meat and potatoes aspiring chef kind of girl, who hated veggies, I had to stop eating flesh. I think I lived off of
mushrooms and toast for the first few weeks, haha. I was only vegetarian for about a month and a half before a went strictly vegan and I never went back.
I have a crass tattoo in honor of what Penny wrote in that book. I am forever grateful to you  my friend, Penny Rimbaud.

2)You played in a vegan straight edge band, and there were a few times that you spoke at Anarcho Punk shows. What was the difference between the
straight edge scene and the Anarcho Punk scene?

Yes, I was a political speaker for about 8 years in both scenes but I let it take a back seat when I joined Tears of Gaia. I was in Tears of Gaia for a few years
and I love my boys Eric and Hector very much. It was an odd transition for me though. I grew up going to both hardcore and punk shows however I was, and
will always be, a punk. The style of music I was writing at the time was more of a crusty, dbeat, grindcore, street punk, black metal mash up kind of thing,
haha. Hardcore, although I dug the music, didn't have my heart. Both had great pits and amazing enthused fans who were very supportive of my/our
message and had some wonderfully intellectual minds. If I must sum up the differences in the two, it would be this: It really came down to the negatives in
both scenes. For every amazing brilliant militant political punk activist at my side, there was some other ridiculous american womanizing drunk punk
screaming anarchy in the UK and trying to start a fight with a fire hydrant, haha. We fought and drank too much which always ended in our venues shutting
down or not playing punk anymore. We destroy our own scene with our recklessness. In the hardcore scene, same thing, brilliant minds with massive
potential... yet on the other side were these elitists who would shut people out for thinking for themselves. They would rip bibles in half on stage and just
vomit up these words so passionately with such vigor… than off the stage I would see first hand how it was such a farce. A penis contest that had the most
childish hatful sexist close-minded buffoons I had ever met. How ridiculous, to continue to buy or steal same thing for a good ol' fashioned primitive book
burning??? Arn't we supposed to be better than that? Some of these people ran this scene and I couldn't believe how in both of these scenes, how blindly
some of our people would follow. Luckly, the followers, usually within a years time, were out and had moved on to something more suitable, like hair metal,
haha.  Over all, I have love for both but there is still just such a need for community and education. I felt like we did that and I'm proud to have been a
member. Know that TOG isn't over, and probably never will be. We had amazing fans and I love them all and still keep in touch with a lot of them. I had the
pleasure of touring with some amazing people, made great friends in both scenes, and I'm grateful for all of it.

3)What did you have to go through to become a Massage Therapist and a vegan chef?

I went to fullerton college for massage school. At the time, it was one of the best in the country. Sadly, the woman who made it the best fell on hard times in
life and no longer runs the program. It was a 3year program where we were trained like doctors. Not only studying massage techniques from the east and
west but then also taking classes like pathophysiology, pathology, anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, body mechanics, exercise physiology,
nutrition, body mind connection, and the list goes on and on and on. Just my massage classes alone were 5 hours long with one 15minute break and so
much homework you wouldn't even believe. It was amazing though and I'm glad I did it. What started out with a passion for massage opened my mind to
everything else I ended up studying and becoming in those years to come: a personal trainer, a nutritionist, an athletic trainer, a yoga instructor, a Jr
olympic swim team coach, an lastly a vegan chef.  I worked in those fields for 6 years then I had an opportunity to go to a raw vegan culinary school so I did.
I went to Living Light Culinary institute in Fort Bragg, Ca. After graduating the entire program I was hired on at head chef of the culinary schools restaurant
and taught demos for the school from time to time. After about 8 months I moved back to orange county where I worked with the #1 chef in OC as his line
cook and assisted in harvesting beautiful organic produce every morning from his aquaponic farm. It was an amazing experience, however not vegan so I
left after a few months to open Seabirds Kitchen in costa mesa with the owners. I was initially hired on as prep, but quickly worked my way up to kitchen
manager and sous chef where I made a good 90% of the food for them on my own. I was with them for 15months and then I had an opportunity to open
another vegan restaurant in Downtown LA, The Springs. I was head kitchen manager and Executive sous chef there as well and I worked until a week
before my daughter was born and returned to work 2 months later. It is an amazing place to go. Not only do we have raw vegan organic  gourmet whole
foods, but also serve local beers, wines, sake, cold brew coffee, house made cold press organic juices, we have live music, pop up shops, a yoga studio,
and a wellness center where you can get anything from a session in an infrared sauna to hot stone massage to colonics. It was kind of an oasis. The
kitchen now is under renovations for a few weeks so I'm coaching swim and working for a vegan meal delivery company called Floret in Glendale.

4)Tell us about your job, like what you do on the job?

As a chef I am constantly creating, tasting new things, helping build menus, putting out specials, adjusting recipes for whats in season and we can not get
organic, finding the best quality foods at the best costs, I maintain a very efficient well run strict kitchen, I hire and fire, take inventory, order, meet with
farmers and food reps, I teach, try to inspire, order for the kitchen, hop on line, do payroll, and anything needed to make it a great day making people
palettes dance keeping guests, staff, and bosses happy. I am the person that cracks the whip and I'm also momma bear and I take care of my people.

I've taken a break in personal training, athletic training, and massage therapy. It was my primary dream to be a chef and I'm not going to lie, every time I put
on my chef coat it's as if I'm a little kid putting on my cape. It's still surreal.

As far as coaching, I still dabble. I love working with kids and I'm also teaching my 7 month old daughter to swim as well.  I love the water and will probably
never stray too far.






















5)Let's say someone is a high school drop out or has no college degree, and does not know what to do with their life, what suggestions would you give?

That's rough. I suppose my first step would be to reassure them that its okay to be uncertain, uncomfortable, and  let them know that is possible to
overcome fear, procrastination and distractions. I would ask them what they like to do for fun, what they have passion for, what are the things or type of
people they like to surround themes;yes with, observe what catches their attention, and what comes naturally to them. Advise them go to a junior college or
a community center and just try things out. It's cheap enough and there are JC"s everywhere and it's day to hop in a class that catches your eye, it doesn't
have to take a lot of your time and you can still work full time. I was taking 19+ units a semester for 7 years and still worked 2 jobs. It is possible but you
have to real want to learn and br open to grow. If still nothing catches your eye, it may even help to take an aptitude test and see what that tells you.

6)Since you are a parent now, how has your life changed?

It's been a whirlwind. I was told I could never have children when I was 19 years old. For some reason, In July of 2014, I had a gut feeling I might be with my,
at the time, fiancé. I had blood work done at kaiser and they told me it was negative. I saw other doctors, took other tests, including 4 at home tests, and
they all said negative or were inconclusive. It was the 4th test that said I was. I went to the doctor the next day and turned out I was 13weeks along. I saw her
and she had all ten fingers and ten toes. I Couldn't wrap my mind around it. The tests had all been wrong. She was born on May 7th, 2015 c-section 6pound
13oz 19.5 inches and very healthy.

My daughter has been the greatest gift in my life. She is 7 months old now and I can tell you, I got really lucky with her. She was sleeping through the night
at 2months, she only cries when she is hungry, and as soon as you give her the breast milk, she's good. My life has changed in a few ways, but nothing
drastic. My sleep patterns are a bit off now but  never really slept much to start. I hate shopping but I love buying her things ex. books, educational toys,
anything she could ever possibly need unit she is 2yrs old because I tend to over prepare as I feel all of us single parents should do to the best of our
abilities. I think before I spend money on anything now. She is amazing and I love that I get to see things through new eyes. I get to appreciate things more
because kids see everything and it makes me see. I've never smiled and laughed so much in my life.

7)About how much should a couple save up if they are planning to have a kid? And what suggestions would you give?

I can tell you right now, the numbers can be scary. Don't look at them, haha. first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant was take out a half million dollar
30yr life insurance policy on myself incase something happened during labor. I know it's dark to think like that but worst case situation, there is money for
her college, a wedding, car, emergencies, and my funeral so that no one has to worry about that. Moving on, college money. I started putting away $50-100
every 2 weeks into an account for her since I was 3 months pregnant. It doesn't sound like a lot but over 18 years. it will grow quickly. I put half into a IRA
account for college and the other half in in a CD at my local credit union (I don't do banks) which are both great because they have higher intrest rates than
a savings account. As far as baby food I plan on growing my produce again so I can make it all but for now, besides breast milk, she eats earths best
organics. For diapers and almost everything else I use Babyganics, I trust the product and it's not very pricy AT ALL compared to Honest diapers.

Preschools: shop early. They are all expensive but the thing to remember is that this is the time they absorb the most. This is not the time to cheap out. I
think high school, go public or whatever you want. The school I chose for my daughter, Ellie, is a nationally recognized blue ribbon school and was named
best private school in orange county by parenting magazine 2014. That sounds intense, I know but this is where their brains develop the most and if they're
all 500-1000 a month , pick a good one, take a tour, learn about it's history and know the kid to teacher ratio. Know everything including the teachers
history. This is going to be their second home for the next 2-10 years depending on what kind of school. Do your research.

8)Name 10 things you are grateful for?

- Not in this order but here we go -
- My daughter
- my family
- my education/ intellect
- punk rock/music in general
- my Cuban culture
- nature
- Hurraw chapstick
- My bass
- my passion for everything in life
- my freedom
- the crazy story of my life

9)Best vegan restaurant in Los Angeles?

- LA is too hard so I'll give you a top 5
- The Springs (cause I work there, lol)
- Green Leaves
- Bulan
- Lotus Vegan
- shojin

10)Best vegan restaurant in Orange County?

- I'm not trying to be bias, but as a chef, I'm only going to work for the best restaurants so I'm going to go with my old job, Seabirds Kitchen.
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ELYSE
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