By Mariella Rudi
When Santa Monica native Amy Rebecca went vegetarian at age seven, then vegan at 15, the practice of giving up animals for food was always about animals’ rights. After all, she rescued birds with broken legs, had pet chickens, and cats and dogs were her best friends (she jokes that she’s currently in a domestic partnership with her rescue dog, Isadora). But over the years, as she grew up and became more health conscious, veganism had begun to take on an entirely different role in Rebecca life: as a career.
“At least with veganism, part of it is an ethical decision and the other part of it is more people will come once there’s a market for it,” Rebecca said inside the multi-purpose white and neon 1,600 square foot space. “There are two elements of change.”
Rebecca, the owner and founder of Vegan Scene on Main Street, caters to every circle of vegans and veg-curious for her 100 percent animal product-free and cruelty-free retail and event space, along with on-trend cooking, and fitness classes.
As the creator of the Instagram account #VegansofIG, Rebecca started facilitating meet-ups around the city as a kind of vegan networking. Then the national tour came, where she hosted gatherings from all walks of vegan life. What she found during this tour was a lack of social space for vegans to adequately party and connect. She could either go to a bar with all her friends that wasn’t vegan or vegan-friendly or throw an event at a vegan restaurant but sacrifice the vibe.
After all, vegans like to party, too – that’s how Vegan Scene was born.
“I essentially created a place that I want to hang out all the time,” Rebecca said.
Though Rebecca’s two niches have always been fashion and events, Vegan Scene incorporates so much more into their business model.
“Just for my own sanity, I don’t like doing the same thing everyday. I like mixing it up and experimenting with things,” she said.
Cooking classes are taught by SporkFoods, a gourmet vegan food company based out of L.A. (with fans like Emily and Zooey Deschanel), in Vegan Scene’s spacious open kitchen. The brand uses humor and education to drive home the idea that vegan cooking is entirely within reach, which is the driving philosophy for the shop itself.
“There are a lot of restaurants, but at the end of the day when you go home, what do you make? There’s so many plant-based options, but if people have really only known how to cook at home with meat, eggs, dairy, let’s teach them how to do it,” Rebecca said.
There are also fitness classes – high-intensity cardio, Pilates, yoga, and barre – which focus on wellness and well-being as much as it does on abs, booty, and squats. They’re small, intimate classes hosted right in the middle of the retail and kitchen space, replete with a floor-to-ceiling mirror and locker rooms.
If you need to grab a new pair of yoga pants or shirt, it’s all sold right there, too.
“We put a lot into carrying active wear that’s cute, made in the USA, sustainable, that kind of thing,” Rebecca said.
From the dresses to the hats to the handbags and Kai beauty products, it’s not just vegan or eco-friendly – it’s what Rebecca herself uses and wears. Vegan Scene has curated and handpicked a stylish retail space similar to an ultra-eco-conscious Kitson.
“I know personally that I will always go above and beyond to find things that are vegan because the alternative is not an option. But I don’t know if everyone would have that same commitment to it even though it’s a matter of lives,” Rebecca said.
The solution to tapping a vegan market that satisfies even non-vegans, was to make the fashion shop and demonstration classes accessible, cool, and fun for everyone.
“It’s about making that consumer not having to sacrifice style,” she said.
The store fancies itself “a vegan Studio 54 with more quinoa,” and having just launched the shop to the neighborhood with an at-capacity party on Friday, July 31, Vegan Scene is in Venice for the long run. Their next bash is an all-vegan “Big Lebowski” party on Aug. 29, with vegan White Russians, of course.
Rebecca has big plans for Vegan Scene, hoping to eventually expand it into a nighttime bar and daytime café. As for now, she’s busy trying to accommodate all the various groups of vegans that exist today.
“Vegans are like democrats,” Rebecca said. “We’re all different, we just have this one thing in common. But there are little groups. There’s the fitness, plant-strong ones. There are the foodies. There are the fashion-interested vegans. And then there’s just like social vegans who like to go out.
“There’s a plant-based diet, but veganism is a lifestyle.”
Vegan Scene is located at 610 Main St., Venice.
For more information about Vegan Scene or to sign-up for a cooking or fitness class, visit veganscene.com or call 310.448.2650.