Paul talks with the energetic and passionate Diana Edelman about veganism and creating running a business that serves vegans around the world.
Diana runs Vegans, Baby, a business dedicated to making vegan life easier and vegan dining more approachable. At the core of the business is its online guide to vegan dining in Las Vegas and other cities around the world.
Over the years, the company has expanded to include a vegan dining month in Las Vegas, Portland and San Diego; vegan events; curated, chef-driven dinners at the James Beard House and in Las Vegas; local and international food tours; restaurant consulting; and the Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide.
In 2019, Travel + Leisure named Vegans, Baby’s Las Vegas tour as one of the top nine vegan tours in the world. Vegans, Baby not only offers tours in Las Vegas, but also curates and hosts tours in Thailand and Europe (Lisbon – Madrid – Paris) with more cities and countries launching in 2020.
Vegans, Baby is a proud partner with the James Beard Foundation and Life is Beautiful.
To find out more about Diana and her work, check out the following links:
Here is the full transcript:
Hey there, Paul here and welcome to Episode 38 of the freelancers and entrepreneurs podcast, I hope you’re doing fantastically well. Got a really amazing interview coming up for you in just a second with Diana Edelman really, really good stuff. Very, very interesting, inspiring. And lots of lots of nuggets of business information in there as well. So really, really, really good story. Just one second. First of all, I just like to talk about you and your situation. Where are you at right now, as a freelancer? Where are you at right now as an entrepreneur? So where are you right now? And where are you going? What is what is your journey all about? Where are you? Where are you planning to be in the future? Well, I might be able to help you on that journey. There’s three ways I’m going to give you now in which I can potentially help. The first one is to go get on over and join the Facebook group if you haven’t joined that already. The link of course, is on the website. The second one is to sign up For a completely free training that will that will help you there will introduce you to the basics of mindset content networks and sales funnels So, so things that will really help you get your business up and running. And the third one is to book a call with me that’s freelancers and entrepreneurs.com slash call, you can book a completely free, no obligation call and I’ll talk to you about your business about your freelancing operation about where you are now, and about where you can go in the future. So that’s, that’s a couple of ways in which I can help I particularly work with, with freelancers who are really looking to make the transition to to having more of a business or having a business that works for them, to eliminating some of those income fluctuations that come with being a freelancer to establishing marketing systems that are really going to drive drive sales and help them sort of achieve levels of of independence and have a have a real business that Going to work that is going to work for them. I know many freelancers are completely happy being being freelancers and the lifestyle that that brings. And that’s, that’s absolutely fine, of course, and that works for many people. But I like to work with with those of you who are looking to make a little bit of a little bit of a leap to actually running a company. And I can certainly help you to do that. So that’s one of the Facebook group to sign up for the free training and three, book a call with me. You’ll find all of those options on the website. That’s www dot freelancers, and entrepreneurs.com right, let’s get cracking with today’s interview. Diana Adelman is the founder of vegans baby a business dedicated to making vegan life easier and vegan dining more approachable. A resident of Las Vegas for the better part of the last two decades. Diana is a leader in the plant based movement and an influential figure in the culinary scene. Her expertise has led to an ongoing partnership with the renowned James Beard Foundation, where she’s responsible for curating chef driven plant based dinners at the Famous James Beard house. Diana created the city’s annual vegan dining month in partnership with January and launched its expansion into the San Diego and Portland markets in 2020. She’s a regular on the news and has been featured in the LA Times, among many other publications. Diana, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
Now it’s really great to have you here and I know we’ve got a lot to talk about today. But let’s um, let’s let’s start from the beginning and tell us a little bit about your your journey, how you got to setting up your company and just a little bit about where you are today and then we’ll then we’ll dive in.
Okay, so I run vegans baby, and my goal is to make finding vegan food easier and to make vegan life more accessible and approachable. And that started about I launched vegans baby may 2016. And I went vegan a few months before that, and it all started a few years earlier when I lived in Thailand and worked in elephant rescue and saw the realities of These animals retreated and learned a lot about animal rights and got involved in animal activism. And when I left Thailand, I still wanted to be involved in animal activism, but in a more positive, approachable way to make vegan life more about the the beautiful things you can find with being vegan versus the horrible way animals are treated.
Okay, brilliant. So sort of life events really that that led that led you to this point, and I can certainly understand how you got to that point. In terms of you actually setting up a business though that’s, that’s quite incredible. How did you make the leap to obviously being being very, very interested, a complete advocate, completely involved in in, in, in veganism, but how did you then make the make the leap to actually running a business that’s something completely different.
So I never actually really expected to be running a business with this. I was moving back to the states and started vegans maybe just to kind of document the vegan options in Las Vegas because I always swore I could never go vegan. I couldn’t give up eggs, I couldn’t give up cheese. I couldn’t give a pizza. And when I looked at the options in Las Vegas, there weren’t that many. So I decided I was going to go ahead and do that. And then it kind of just evolved into a business where people started asking me restaurants started coming up to me and approaching me and asking for help. And then I had these different ideas to kind of get more people into vegan life. And it just kind of grew from there. And I’m fortunate because my background is actually public relations, journalism and blogging. And so all of those things together kind of made it, I think, a smoother transition for me. Yeah, to kind of take it from just something fun I was doing into a business.
Oh, okay. So you started thinking in terms of content creation, what, what kinds of messages you were putting out there? How you going to share those messages? How are you going to share them on social media or wherever it might be to really Build start to build your brand effectively.
Okay, brilliant. And then how did you? So obviously started out in that way? And then and then how did you start to monetize your your business? Because it sounds to me and this is I don’t mean to sound disrespectful in any way at all This is how many of us sort of start if this is the case, but it sounds to me You started out almost as a sort of interest almost as a hobby then kind of developed. And it seems to me that you might not have had it clear at the beginning, how are you going to make money out of this?
Nope, I had no idea. Um, you know, like with travel blogging, which is what I used to do, I knew that eventually when doing that I could make money but vegans maybe started and it wasn’t really the idea. I knew at some point, I wanted to make money from it, but I didn’t know how. And then these opportunities started to happen where I realized restaurants wanted to have events and I could charge for the events and make some money by getting the audience that I created to come to these events and then it came to I had an idea to do too. tours in Vegas. And so then I realized that I could make money from doing the tours. And so it kind of evolved into more of a business than I ever imagined it would be. And now it obviously is, it’s what I do. But I kind of just, piece by piece, just things started to fall together.
Brilliant. Well, I like that idea that you’ve that you created an audience. And then you realized that you had value in that audience. And I think many people do do create a network to create an audience and sometimes don’t realize that they have something sort of right on their fingertips that has, has a great deal of value. So you obviously knows that and as I started to started to take advantage of it or to tap into it. And
it It actually took me a minute to do that. My first event, an Indian restaurant reached out to me and they had a vegan buffet. And they asked me if I could promote it and do an event with them. And I did and I did it for free at 150 people showed up and that’s when I realized that oh, you know, they just made thousands of dollars off of this event and I took all of my time and I did all the things for them. And I did it completely for free. So that was kind of the moment where I realized I have something here and and I can be making money from it.
Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant. And tell us a little bit more about the tours. I’m quite interested in that.
Sure. So the first tours I launched for walking tours of downtown Las Vegas, because Vegas is not a city like New York, where you can walk everywhere. So it’s really difficult to take people to all of these different vegan restaurants. But downtown is compact. And so through my working with different restaurants, I decided that I would reach out to a few of them. And I approached them and said, Hey, I want to do a walking tour. Can we put together like a little tasting at your restaurant. And so that’s kind of how I did it. I picked five restaurants that I liked in Las Vegas, or in downtown Las Vegas that I thought had very good cuisine. And were a nice introduction to people who maybe aren’t plant based but wanted to try it or who are and just wanted a food tour dining experience in Las Vegas. So that’s what I did with that and Maybe about a year into it, Travel and Leisure or no two years into it. Travel and Leisure actually named my downtown tour one of the top nine vegan tours in the world, which was really, really cool. Yeah, so that was my first one. And then it kind of just grew from there to doing international tours. I partner with someone last year, and we did a sold out tour of Thailand. And then before the pandemic, I had tours planned for Madrid, and then another for Madrid and Paris. And then in 2021, Morocco and India, which obviously all we’re just kind of sitting in waiting to see when it’s safe to actually travel again before we had those on sale. Yeah,
yeah, absolutely. But that’s Yes. Amazing. And in terms of in terms of audience, so obviously, you have a global audience, but not everyone is going to be in in Las Vegas at any given time. Do you do do you get the numbers for these tours? You obviously do.
Yeah, I will part of what I do. I’m very, I’m very upfront with people. And I’m very much I, especially on social media, I very much want to engage with people. And so with the tours, I reach out to people that I have within my network, but they have so many friends that are vegan or want to go vegan. And then because my travel blogging experience, I have that whole audience as well, which makes it pretty, pretty all encompassing, to some degree. And then on my site, I also focus on other cities, dining guides, and things like that. And then when I travel, I share all the food I’m eating, so I kind of want people to come in, maybe they’re looking at me for Vegas, maybe they’re looking at me for another city or country, but I really want to just kind of showcase everything and that makes it a little bit more easy to get people interested in the tours.
brilliant, brilliant. And in terms of in terms of social media. What’s your What’s your favorite platform, Diana?
Oh, well, there are so many and honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed with social media these days, but Instagram would have to be my favorite Instagram. Yeah.
Yeah. You’re showing sort of pictures of food and the tools and everything else are very visually appealing. Yeah, that sort of on Instagram obviously. Mm hmm. brilliant, brilliant. And tell us a little bit about about veganism in general. Is it something that is that is growing presumably.
Tell us a little bit about, about about Sure.
So veganism, particularly when it comes to plant based dining is one of the fastest growing trends in the world. And so right now you see a lot of people that are going vegan for a few different reasons either. they’ve watched documentaries like what the health and they see what they’re putting into their body that’s not vegan is very bad for them and that going plant based or vegan, can help reverse a lot of those health issues they have. There’s people that are going vegan for the environment because they see human encroachment on animals on animals like land they see all the methane being produced, they see all of the damage being done from animal agriculture. And then there are people that are going vegan for the animals who see documentaries like dominion, or they take the time to learn about what’s going on with factory farming. And especially right now with factory farming and the meat, meat industry. There’s widespread outbreak of COVID through all this, so there’s a lot of different reasons people go vegan. But it is one of the fastest growing trends in the world. And it just it thrills me that it took a long time to get there. But especially now when we’re in this kind of mindset of oh my gosh, we’re destroying our environment. Our health is terrible. We really want to boost our immune system and look at what’s going on with these animals and the people that are impacted from farming. People are really trying to turn things around for themselves for the world’s for the animals.
Yeah, very good. Very good. Yeah, I mean, I think I think, I suppose I mean, I know we’re supposed to be sort of getting into some of the business business issues of you. running your business. But it is certainly interesting to to find out, you know, it’s not something that I personally know a lot about. It’s and I imagine as well that some people, it can be sort of a double edged sword in some ways can you there can be perhaps potentially lots of health benefits, but there can also be some health issues if if people, for example, don’t get the same, the same sort of nutrients that they would get from from from meat products. Is that is that a concern that people have or?
No, I the biggest question people ask is where do you get your protein? And the answer is, you look at elephants and elephants are the largest land mammal and where do they get their protein from the fruits and vegetables they eat from the plants? Yeah. And so I actually had a plant based doctor and he and we were talking when I got my bloodwork done, he said Diana, I have never drawn blood from any single vegan that is protein deficient. And the reality is when people talk about where do you get your protein and the different nutrients you need in your body. All of that nearly all of that a, b 12. And a couple other nutrients can be found in plants. So for the few things that you can’t necessarily get, you can supplement it very, very easily. For people that might have health issues going vegan, I always tell them go see a nutritionist or something that you’re not doing right that your body needs that maybe you’re just not aware of.
Okay, fantastic. Fantastic. Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing that. It was interesting to find out more things. And well back to back to sort of your your business line. So you’ve got the events, you’ve got the tours, is there anything else that is? Do you have any other income streams in your business?
Yeah, so I have a guidebook. It’s in its third edition, and it’s a guide to the best vegan dining in Las Vegas because I get asked all the time about that. I’ve also started a podcast that has sponsorships and I recently started a show called the good four bytes and so there’s partnership opportunities there. And then obviously collaborations with brands.
Wow. Okay, do you find that you’re sort of extremely busy and ever at any given any given day any given week with all these different things going on does that
you know it’s so funny because the pandemic obviously changed a lot in terms of spending and and income coming in. But I actually I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked and making the least amount of money ever right now. But I know that once this is over, and an income starts coming in again to these businesses, things will change. But you know, I, I’m busy and I’m it’s mostly I’m creating work versus things coming at me like I’m reaching out to brands and saying, Hey, would you like to partner let’s do this, I have this great idea. Let’s put a show together, or working with smaller businesses that are just coming that are actually launching in the middle of the pandemic, and working with them to kind of get the word out, particularly as it relates to Las Vegas, about their business and reaching that audience that really can be valuable to them.
Brilliant. Well, you’re very, very energetic. So I imagine you get a very good, a very good reception when you reach out to people. Your Enthusiasm has rubbed off on them, and then they sort of interested in talking to you. Do you find that?
I hope so. I mean, I, I love what I do so much. And I stand behind this so much. I think it’s so important because people, I was one of those people that thought I could never go vegan, it’s too hard. And I want to show people that you can. And I really want to make it easy for people by highlighting all these different things. So for me, it’s it’s my passion to be able to do this. And you know, I hope I hope that does rub off on people. And they see that because maybe they’ll get excited. And a restaurant that maybe had three options will decide to put five on the menu or something like that. Yeah,
yeah. Yeah. But it certainly shows that you have that you have that passion. I think that I think that helps. That helps enormously. I mean, in terms of plans, do you do you have let’s put it this way. Do you have a sort of a business plan? Do you know where you want to be in Three years or five years, anything like that? How do you how do you?
Well, I never had a business.
That’s refreshing to be honest. Because I mean, I think one of the one of the things that a lot of people are told first is right, you need to get a business plan is your 10 page document. So no, that’s, you know, we know that that’s not necessarily true. So yeah, yeah, no, tell me tell me what How are you?
Um, so my, a three to five years is I want a TV show. That’s my plan. That’s what I’m working towards is getting a show. And I’m making showing people how they can find vegan food and different vegan food. So that’s kind of my my long term goal. And then within that, I also want to really once it’s safe to travel again, I want to travel and put together and curate more tours for people that want to kind of see they want to see the world but are afraid that it’s hard to eat vegan or afraid that if they’re by themselves, they won’t be able to find vegan food. So that’s really important to me as well. And then obviously, growing vegans, babies And continuing to promote vegan dining and making it approachable and accessible. And my chef driven events. So it’s a lot of different things. But my biggest right now is focusing on what’s going to get me that TV show. Okay,
fantastic. And when you say you’ve got a show right now, is that sort of online show or on YouTube?
Yeah, it’s very, it’s a quick it’s just a little show. It’s about like three minutes and it just highlights different restaurants. It’s called the good pork bites. So that’s what I’m doing right now to kind of build that up and start kind of getting more hosting experience, if you will.
Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. And just a question on the recording that of that. Yes. I’m so quite interested in that in that area. And I know a lot of our listeners are starting to make their own producer and podcast they’re making videos and so what do you do just do you record yourself in a studio? Do you record with a webcam on your phone out and about in your in in your house? How do you how do you do that? So
for the for the show, the ones that the show focuses on through the podcast I use, I just use, I go online and use anchor or use anchor to edit and zoom to record. But the show I actually work with immediate team jump media. And so they film and edit and put it all together for me. So he typically shoots with his iPhone and got a program on there. And then they put it together. And it’s just my concept we get together we talk about what I want to do, and then they make magic. Brilliant. Yeah,
well, I’m waiting for time. I haven’t I haven’t seen any of the episodes, but I’m certainly going to look them up. I’ll, I’ll include the links in the show notes. To check them out. Of course, I’m interested, you know, I’m interested enough for a number of different angles if you like. I’d like to obviously like to hear what you have to say. But I’m also interested in the production side and how you put things together. And so yeah, that’s all that’s all good stuff.
If it helps I also because I do things by myself as well because obviously setting up filming Everything takes a little bit more coordination. So when I by myself and I’m at a tasting or something, I’ll film and I film it on my iPhone. I don’t have a mic. It’s very, very basic. And I just use iMovie to edit it. Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant. That’s it.
Yeah. Now that said, some really simple tools. There’s some simple ways of getting content out there. And sometimes the, the produced the produced version looks great. And sometimes it’s worth going for that. And sometimes it’s Yes, just something simple. I mean, I’ve I’ve both produced and watched videos where someone’s just holding up their phone and just doing a selfie video, and it’s very short and simple, but the message is there. You know, if you’ve got the content, if you’ve got the message, then I think I think you’re good most of the time.
100% of people will care about what you’re saying and they’re interested. They’ll watch it even if it’s crappy quality. Yeah, absolutely. At the end of the day, just put it out there is what I always tell people just get it out and you know, people people will pay attention.
brilliant, brilliant. Okay, well, a couple more questions for you for Well, first of all, what’s what’s what’s been the most difficult part in this? In this journey, let’s say since since 2016. I mean, you might be going through it right now, obviously, a lot of us are affected with this. Yeah, I was what’s been the toughest part of your business?
The pandemic. Honestly, right before this all started, I had a huge partnership with a company, we were putting together a really amazing event in Chicago. I had my third James beer dinner scheduled in New York and I had all my chefs together, we were two months out from that. Things were just really starting to roll for me and then everything stopped. And so kind of coming to terms with that was really, really hard because you I’ve worked so long and so hard to get to this point. And it’s you can see all of these amazing things on the horizon that are really gonna kind of just catapult my business and catapult me and what I’m doing into more of a more global audience and then it just stopped And if it stops through no fault of your own, and so that was really, really hard to come to terms with. And then obviously, kind of taking the time within this pandemic, when people don’t want to spend money and you can’t do events and you can’t do tours to figure out, Okay, well, I’m here, I’m in my house. What can I do that we’ll keep things going and keep the momentum going? Maybe I’m not gonna make money off of it right now. But what can I do? And so that was, um, this this entire time has been challenging. I’m not gonna lie. It’s been hard. Oh, sure.
So would you say you’ve, you’ve gone through different different phases, it sounds like from the sort of shark an initial perhaps even a, you know, feeling feeling down about the situation to then thinking positively about what you can do. And that’s, and that’s where you are now, is that is that about? Right?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I went through the stages of mourning, you know, where I would wake up in the morning and eat marshmallows for breakfast and ice cream for lunch and cry my eyes out and then you Get to the point where it’s like, well, this isn’t productive, and I’m really upset, but I need to move past it. So you know, I think I just kind of you have a choice where you can sit and be miserable and feel like you’re a victim and the world is falling apart, or you can take that and turn it into something and control it. And so that’s, that’s what I did.
Fantastic. Brilliant. Excellent stuff. Okay, and the other the other. The other question Diana is about, because you obviously have quite a lot of expertise in this area, putting together a blog putting together a website, you’ve got a very nicely designed website, that’s vegannow.com. So tell us a little bit about tell us a little bit about about what goes into that and what you do on your site and, and how you put together content and that kind of that kind of good stuff.
Well, I have a very amazing web person who helps me all along the way. But in terms of content, a big chunk of the content I write is about dining in Las Vegas. And so that’s it’s me going onto a restaurant and taking photos, putting together the content, writing about it, posting it and sharing it. There’s the guides that I have, which obviously, I’m either writing because they’ve been there or I have someone on the ground in that city, creating that content and writing it. I have a directory that we just put in there so any vegan or vegan friendly restaurant in the nation of the world can put their information in there. So Pete it’s more of a resource. There’s a lot of different things that go into it. But the thing that I focus the most on is creating the dining content or creating the roundups and like the little guides to like the best vegan brunches in Vegas and things like that. That’s where my energy goes, because I know that’s where the people where the traffic is and where people want to learn more.
Okay, brilliant. And do you stick to a certain routine or do you just put put things out when you feel? It’s
No, no, there’s no routine. I love this. I love this.You know, but it’s like when you put all that pressure to have like, Okay, well, Monday I’m going to do this post and Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Monday. Especially right now like I’m not gonna, it’s it’s a lot to have content right now when I’m not going out necessarily to eat. I don’t I personally don’t feel comfortable going to a restaurant right now. So it’s, it’s a little bit different, but I’ve never really had like a schedule, I just kind of do what I do when I do it. It’s, I don’t necessarily advise for people, but for me, it works.
Well what’s interesting to me, Diana, is that there’s different ways of doing things. So I mean, yeah, I talk to people about about content creation, and sometimes, you know, we recommend a schedule and sticking to a plan, and all those things. But you know, it doesn’t always need to work like that, if you can, if you can get the content out, I would say over the course of a year and you can get the right things out, then it doesn’t necessarily it doesn’t necessarily need to be one a week or one a fortnight or anything like that. So yeah, so yeah, I totally hear and understand where you’re coming from. And, and I think it’s so sort of refreshing as well that you’ve just kind of you do lots of things, you do lots of good things. You don’t necessarily have everything planned out meticulously. But if you’ve got the passion, and you’re you’re doing the right things, you’re not doing random things, then it all kind of comes together at the end. I think that’s what what I see in in your situation.
Yeah. And then just to add to that, the website is just one part of me. And so for me, I focus a lot on social media and things like that are getting involved in conversations on Twitter. So I’m always present. It doesn’t I’m just not necessarily putting something on my website. But I’m driving people back to it to see old articles or I’m engaging in conversation Online.
Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, it’s been. It’s been wonderful talking to you, Dan. I’ve really, really enjoyed you. So yeah, it’s been brilliant. It’s been very interesting and educational and entertaining at the same time. So yeah, brilliant. Okay. Okay, so So yeah, well, let’s, let’s wrap it up. Now. I’ll give you a couple of minutes just to sort of, just to sort of share, obviously, share your your website, share any details, share. Any particular thing you want to add or um? Oh yeah, basically that’s it. So So yeah, it’s up to you. Go Go Go for it.
Okay, great. So if you’re interested in vegan dining in Las Vegas or destinations around the world, go to vegans baby calm. I have so so much social media it’s all at beacons, baby Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. You can see behind the scenes of my show and things like that on Instagram, it’s Diana underscore Edelman. YouTube, it’s bit.li slash YouTube vegans maybe try to make it really easy for people. And the podcast is the good for podcast and you can find that on vegans baby’s homepage. Brilliant. And then oh, vegan world tours calm provide for my tours when they decide to when the world gets better. Yeah, okay.
Brilliant. Well, yeah, so many things going on. If you didn’t get a chance to write all of that down. It’s it’s on its own. It’ll all be in the show notes. So so check out www.freelancersandentrepreneurs.com and you will find the podcast there you find all the information about Diana and about vegans, baby. And yeah, well worth taking a look. So Diana, thank you just a big, big thank you. Thank you so much. As I said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I like the way that you’ve, you’ve talked about your situation you shared some tips has been really, really good. And yeah, I mean, I just I just wish you all the best in this time. And in the future when things start picking up again as they inevitably will. So I wish you all the very best with everything with the events with the tours with the guide book with the podcast and of course with that TV show
Thanks so much.
well, all the very best and until we speak again.
Awesome. Thank you so much. Okay, take care. Bye. Bye.
You too. Bye.
What a great interview. I really, really enjoyed talking to Diana and I hope you did too. So you can find out a lot more information about her at vegans baby.com. If you want to check out the other links that she mentioned, then they are all on the website, www.freelancersandentrepreneurs.com and while you’re on the website, don’t forget to check out the ways in which I can help you one join the Facebook group to sign up for our free training and three book a call with me. Thanks so much for listening all the very best. Have a fantastic week and until next time, bye