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We never knew when we started this journey where it would go. There are so many in the food industry that we look up to and help shape our journey, and they don’t even know it. We started our vegan and vegetarian Facebook cooking show, Keeping Up with Coco & Lala, because we knew that our family and friends needed to learn how to eat better — our community needed to learn how to eat better. We thought, what better way to teach those we love how to eat better than to be the taste testers ourselves.

President Barack Obama said that we need to be the change that we wanted to see, so we started our Facebook cooking show and taste tested viral vegan and vegetarian recipes, new vegan and vegetarian products, and went to restaurants to try out their vegan and vegetarian menus. What we knew was that we wanted to keep it real and be honest about the flavor, texture and price, because our family members wouldn’t try new foods if they didn’t taste good or weren’t affordable.

Some recipes, products and menu items were bomb — and some were not. Trust and believe, Coco had no problem walking off camera if something wasn’t what it promised to be. On the other hand, Lala is known by her family members to eat anything, so our tastes were really different. But this difference helped our audience decide whose taste matched up with theirs, allowing them to go with the review of that person.

In each review, we also like to mention the price and where we bought the item because some people believe that eating vegan or vegetarian is not something they can afford. We believe that health is true wealth, and it starts on your plate. With that in mind, we try to find ways to use what you have already if you come across a recipe with an ingredient that you don’t normally use and don’t see yourself using outside of that recipe.

What makes our show unique is that Coco is vegetarian and Lala is vegan. We’ve seen some people make it seem that vegans and vegetarians can’t be friends because of different food preferences. Clearly, we don’t agree. Another thing is, we don’t bash people for eating meat. We believe in people learning how to eat better. And if they need to take baby steps, then take baby steps. We realize that everybody is not going to go vegetarian or vegan, but if they see recipes we make and they like them, they will start eating more vegetables — which is a win.

Coco & Lala / Desiree L. Wells

Heart disease is a problem in our community, and our goal is to help people eat better by adding more vegetables to their meals. We were blown away when Beyoncé had a contest to win tickets to her concerts for those who went vegan, so we interviewed her vegan chef on our show to talk more about the contest.

About a year into our Facebook cooking show, we were asked to host a radio show, Healthin’ It up with Coco & Lala, on 89.9 KMOJ The Ice. It is the hottest vegan and vegetarian radio show in the country, and we have celebrity interviews and the latest info on all vegan and vegetarian news.

When George Floyd was murdered in our city, and we saw the protests and outsiders come into our community, we knew we had to speak up and do something. We went down to a donation center where community organizers had thousands of donations of everything the affected community would need: food, diapers, hygiene products and more. We used our platforms to let people know where to go to get the things they needed, as well as tell people who wanted to help or donate where they could do that. This donation center was right across the street from burned down buildings. But we had people from all over the world watching our live videos because we were showing positive images of our community coming together — something that they were not seeing on their local news.

Since then, we continue to use our platforms to bring awareness to important topics in our community. Right now, we are using it to educate people on early voting and myths about voting. This is where our affection for Michelle Obama comes in. Not only is Michelle into healthy eating, but she is leading the initiative, “When We All Vote.” Our initiative was close to Michelle’s — except we said that we wanted to rent a party bus and do a “Party to the Polls” initiative. As you can tell, we like to have a good time.

Recently, Tyler Perry almost broke the internet by posting a picture of himself after working out. That’s because our community needs to see and hear about health and wellness. In 2018 we went to ATL to do a vegan food tour, and of course, we had to stop and see Madea’s house and go to the visitor’s center at Tyler Perry’s new studios. From that point forward we have been speaking into existence to have a cooking show out of Tyler’s studios. Also, back in January, we went to Oprah’s Vision 2020 Tour here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She talked about mental wellness, so we brought a mental health expert on our show to talk about the importance of mental health and how food can affect your mental health.

We have been blessed thus far in our journey. We have had opportunities that we never thought were an option. We’ve interviewed celebrities that we used to watch on TV. We have been on multiple TV cooking segments, featured in magazines and even been in a few Buzzfeed/Tasty videos. What we know is that God has a purpose for everyone, and when the time is right, you will shine bright like the diamond he made you to be!

Our purpose is to educate our community about how to eat healthy foods, seasoned to taste good and that are affordable. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other life altering conditions do not have to be passed down from generation to generation in our community. We can be the change that we want for our families. As we look forward to the future, we love the fact that we have been able to bring health and culture together through food.


Visit Coco & Lala at realcocoandlala.com