As the founder of vegan hotspot, Jackfruit Cafe, Angela Means Kaaya is someone who passionately practices what they preach. Kaaya, best known for her “Bye Felicia” role in Friday, has come a long way since the 1995 cult classic. After several health scares and overall dissatisfaction with her appearance, Kaaya changed her ways to pursue a plant-based lifestyle. Kaaya’s love for cooking and all things vegan lead her to open Jackfruit Cafe in September 2017. The vegan soul food cafe was initially housed at in Crenshaw but closed in February. They are set to reopen within the next month at 705 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. Kaaya experienced great success at her Crenshaw location and said she is looking forward to what the new location will bring. The cook, cafe owner and activist chatted with 2bites about her path to veganism and what dating looks like in a world of different diets and lifestyle choices.
2bites: What made you get into vegan eating?
Kaaya: As a kid I always questioned eating animals. My son was going off to college on the other side of the country and that year leading up to him leaving I think I was trying to eat my way into I don’t know what…I landed at 227 pounds. In the morning I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom. Sometimes I had to crawl I had so much irritation.
2bites: How did you get started with your new lifestyle?
Kaaya: I started by juicing… and fell in love with it like it was my new man. That’s one of the reasons I live so out loud with it because people came and gave me so much advice and so much encouragement… I found my place in the world.
2bites: What is your opinion on dating between vegan and non vegan or meat eaters?
Kaaya: It’s going to be difficult…Vegans are passionate and the more you go into this community and the less meat you meet on the plate, the more fanatical you become about this animal’s life. I cannot sit at a table and watch someone suck on a rib bone. I can’t do it. I am for animal rights… I’m never going to get into a relationship with a carnivore I don’t give a f*** if Brad Pitt beats my door down. I might hit it but that’s going to be it.
2bites: How can a relationship between two people of different eating styles work?
Kaaya: I watch it every day and I see couples every day with this challenge… Initially, I mean hey, love is love.… There has to be compromise. We’ve got two people on two separate agendas who want to cohabitate…It’s going to wear slowly on the relationship… There are some people who are vegans not for the animals and those are the vegans that are going to be able to make it.
2bites: Why did you start Jackfruit Cafe?
Kaaya: The mission of Jackfruit Cafe is to help people transition off of meat or just reduce it. I have a huge patron base number that are carnivores… Jackfruit was the ideal meat substitute for me to create dishes to offer the community. Fruit cleans the body. It scrubs up all your major organs… So we took to unripened jackfruit and flavor, flavor, flavor.
2bites: What do you hope for the future of Jackfruit Cafe?
Kaaya: I want to be a dutiful human being and if I can wake up every morning and serve, I just want to continue serving… What I want to do with Jackfruit is keep the doors open and just keep being there for people as they continue waking up, with foods that will help them transition or reduce meat. … I would love to see a Jackfruit Cafe in every city. I would love to see two or three Jackfruits in every city. I opened in a donut shop in Crenshaw, that is folklore.
Elizabeth is a longtime writer and current documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles California. Knowing the greater story of all who cross her path is her inspiration. She’s deeply passionate about food and health and enjoys cooking, exercise and being active in nature whenever possible. You’ll likely find her on a hike, in a documentary screening or at the local Farmer’s Market.