At age 70, Babette Davis is a vegan restaurant owner, a fitness enthusiast, a passionate advocate for animal welfare, co-founder of the “Love Ur Age” project, and a coveted motivational speaker.
Her successful restaurant “Stuff I Eat” in Inglewood, Calif., serves vegan, organic, and eco-friendly food and is a result of decades of hard work through both soul-searching and joyful adventures in the kitchen.
Chef Babette was in her 40s when she met her husband Ron, who introduced her to fitness and healthy eating. As she transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, she noticed her health ailments — including, eczema, asthma and indigestion — disappear.
She looked and felt great. She became a “chemist in the kitchen,” concocting new and delightful vegan treats that she and Ron sold from a spiritual center’s parking lot. They stayed Sunday food vendors for six years before chance brought them to the building that would become “Stuff I Eat.”
The location on Market Street was considered to be, at the time, in the “hood.” Chef Babette classified it as a “food desert” — an area where residents don’t have easy access to healthy, fresh food.
That injustice solidified Chef Babette’s resolve to own and operate a vegan restaurant there. Her transformation had inspired her to share the benefits of a healthy, fit lifestyle with others.
In the beginning, she had to chase some of her customers down.
“There would be times they would come to the door and not see any animal flesh on the menu and turn around and walk out,” she said. “I would just go right around behind them and say ‘Come on in, let me treat you to a taco,’ and some of those same people became very, very good customers.”
“I had to get them back in there, because if they didn’t see meat, they’d be like ‘vegan, what is this?’” she quipped. “But once they had the taco, and it tasted so good, they’d come back.”
At 70, Chef Babette is loving her life. She wakes up around 2:30 a.m., sneaks in a 30 minute to 40 minute workout, arrives at her restaurant around 5 a.m. and stays until noon. Then she retires to her apartment, to work on a new recipe or just “to chill,” she said.
“I am healthier now than I was when I was thirty, and my lifestyle is conducive to maintaining health. My heart is filled with love and appreciation for LIFE,” she wrote in an Instagram birthday post, in which she also modeled a black swimsuit to celebrate her health.
Her motto for living is: “Life is not complete unless you move. Our journeys are constant, and our transitions infinite. Our health is merely a vehicle to enjoy all that’s in between.” She shared more about that philosophy — and her life — with Lady Freethinker.
Tell us more about your journey to becoming vegan and fit?
My issues were I couldn’t digest my food. I was miserable after I ate. My journey started after I met my husband Ron. He shared a couple books with me, and I always share these books because they literally changed my whole perspective on food: It’s Fit for Life 1 and 2, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, and the Mucusless Diet Healing System by Professor Arnold Ehret. I just got real serious about what I decided to ingest. After I transitioned, I wasn’t having any issues with anything at all.
How did you evolve into a restaurant owner?
My husband got involved, and we started selling our food in a parking lot at the Agape Spiritual Center. We built ourselves a 15-foot cart. We were able to use a griddle in the cart, we had ice chips so we could do smoothies, everything that we needed to do we could do with that one cart. We spent six years in that parking lot.
Later, we were walking down Market Street in Inglewood, and the doors to our building were open. We met the landlord, and he was like, “No, I am not interested in a restaurant. I think I am going to turn this into a Nike’s kid store.” We traveled, and soon after that we went to Jamaica. When we got back from Jamaica, the landlord was calling us, and he had changed his mind.
We opened the doors in 2008. When we first moved over there, people were like, “Are you sure you want to put a vegan restaurant here?” It was pretty much a food desert. It was almost like, “Are we crazy?” I kind of thought that we were. We don’t have any money, we have this big raggedy building, what are we doing? But I lived in the neighborhood, and it just didn’t seem right to me that every time if I wanted to eat out, dine out, I had to go across town to the west side. That’s what happened in our community forever… it’s the forgotten community.
So I thought I live in this community, I am vegan, and I am certain that there are thousands of more vegans that live in this community just like I do, and I don’t need to go and pay somebody an astronomical amount of rent to just go over to the west side when I have a building right here that I can fix up on my own and nurture it and fill my customers.
What have you learned about yourself, and life, over the years?
I have learned so much about who and what I am. Once I understood my connection with the intelligence that created all things, then I understood my place in it. I am one with all of this. I’m just about life. That is why I don’t want to slaughter anyone to eat, because I don’t have to. I am not getting ready to destroy life to try to nourish myself. It doesn’t work out that way, because the very food that you slaughter to eat in turn clogs your arteries, and then you wind up with issues.
Tell us more about your emphasis on “loving your age” and self care?
Loving your age is massive. People think longevity is everything — but not quite. Because I think quality is really everything. If I get in the tub at 85 years old, I want to be able to get out of the tub. If I want to bend over and put a shoe on at 90, may I please just bend over and put my shoe on? The only requirement to be able to do that is to nourish yourself properly and move. That’s all we have to do.
Any final words of wisdom or advice for our readers?
My thing for everybody is… My mother used to always say this: The darkest hours are just before dawn. We need to hang out in the moment more often. We actually ruin our moments being stressed out over something that happened last week, or something that may happen next month. So I just think that we need to embrace our moments and just be the best self you can possibly be. Just love you and it’s a little bit easier to love others. And I think that’s it.