Eleven years ago, Lauren Vacula hit rock bottom. From mistreating her body and partying, to feeling depressed and lost, she knew she had to make some major changes to get back her control.
That’s when she turned to a plant-based lifestyle—infused with meditation, yoga, and self-reflection—to help her find her happiness. From then on, Lauren began to take care of herself, ultimately finding her passion for health and wellness.
And, since then, she hasn’t looked back.
After quitting her job in the pharmaceutical industry, Lauren is now a full-time plant-based holistic health and wellness blogger, Instagrammer, and YouTuber, using her platforms to inspire others to make major changes in their lives, while giving the resources—and recipes (like her delicious Banana Bread Green Smoothie)—to welcome a little veganism into their day-to-day.
And, we got a chance to talk to Lauren about her healing journey, her haircare routine, and the advice she has for those looking to make a life-altering change.
What inspired you to go plant based?
I started to care about what I put into my body, where it came it came from, and how it was made. I began watching documentaries about the food system (Food Inc. was so powerful) and knew that I only wanted to put things in it that brought me life, rather than took something away from my health or caused harm to another being. It allowed me to strip away so much toxicity and finally regain a connection to my mind, body, soul, and the world around me.
For years throughout college and my early 20s, I struggled with an eating disorder. I even went to college for nutrition and that actually contributed to my unhealthy relationship with food. I was counting every calorie I ate. For a job in college, I actually worked at a research center interviewing people about what they ate and calculating the nutrition information of their day. We had assignments in classes that were about tracking and calculating our daily diets. I should also mention my first year of college was spent at fashion school in New York City, where I was volunteering at fashion week and surrounded by models. At the age I was, all of these things were a perfect storm that led me to have major issues with food.
When I hit that rock bottom moment—I knew I had to evaluate everything I was doing: and that led me to find plant-based living.
When I finally found the whole food plant-based way of living, it was like a lightbulb went off for me. I never counted anything. Instead, it was about eating these beautiful foods that made me feel incredible and gave me so much brightness, vitality, and energy. It was about nourishing myself from the inside out. The depression faded, the need for external good feelings through substances faded, and I began to find the light within. And I realized that the world was even more beautiful than I could ever imagine.
This is also when I feel truly fell in love with cooking, baking, and creating magic recipes with plants.
What is your advice for someone that is about to make a life changing decision?
If it's in your heart that you don't want to be doing what you're doing, and you can look at your boss, or others within the company or industry and know very soundly that you do not want their job, you know that it's time for you to make some changes. And this can be scary—I get it. I was so scared when I left my job. I'd lie awake at night with anxiety about the lack of stability. But at some point—when I started being proactive and taking action—that anxiety started to go away.
If you want to create the life of your dreams—you absolutely can! It's so important to get quiet and really figure out what you want. If you want to leave your job, create a plan and start taking action on that plan before you leave. Start creating the blog, Instagram, YouTube videos, TikTok—do it at night when you have free time. Start doing some work for free in the area that you want to freelance in. And really kill it. This will not only give you experience, but it will also give you references and leverage when you leave your job.
And there are so many tools out there to succeed if you are going the freelance or content creator direction: blog posts, articles, Facebook support groups, YouTube videos, there are so many people out there to learn from!
Just whatever you do, get real with yourself and pay attention to your gut feelings. Drown out the noise around you. You will be so deeply rewarded if you listen to your heart.
What has been your most memorable learning experience?
That I was responsible for my happiness and no one else could figure that out for me.
For so long, I thought the things around me—the city, the job, the apartment, the weather—were the things that would make me happy. I moved to a place that was basically my ideal spot and I was hit in the face with the feeling of being sad when I was out there. I was shocked. I thought uprooting and changing everything was the answer to my problems. Turns out it wasn't.
It was then that I realized that external things are not the key to our happiness.
Happiness is really an inside job and it takes daily connection with yourself to find that happiness, safety, and sense of fulfillment. When I started getting quiet, going inward, and feeling gratitude, I started naturally feeling good. The weather started to bother me less, and my external surroundings didn't determine how I would feel that day. And that is the most powerful lesson to me: that we at any time can choose to connect within, focus on gratitude, and be happy.
What does sustainability mean to you?
I'm grateful that eating plant-based doesn't contribute to animal suffering and carbon emissions from factory farms, but I still think there's so much more that I can do in this area.
My goal this year is to focus on really becoming a creator in every sense of the word rather than a consumer: to create value in this world rather than shop to make myself feel better (I still have clothes I'm reselling from my pharma days when I would shop to fill a void). And when I do want to buy something (like incredible non-toxic hair products), it's important I choose companies who have integrity and focus on the quality of what they're offering.
What's your favorite your go-to hairstyle?
It's got to be beach waves! I know that's basic, but I just always go back to them. I feel good when I style my hair with a little beachy wave, so if it makes you feel good, why not stick with it? Really though, I'm rocking a topknot most days while I'm sitting at my computer working or shooting recipes. The comfort always wins. My hairstylist said that wearing your hair up constantly is not great for the hair and can cause breakage, so I try to not to always have it up. It's a struggle though. Topknots just mean business, you know?
What are any of your current favorite or least favorite hair products/trends?
Most of my favorite hair products are from Love Hair! I did a major overhaul of my skin, hair, and beauty products at the beginning of 2020 when I realized I was using a lot of toxic stuff. That is what led me to find Love Hair. The way they care for their quality of ingredients and packaging matched with the effectiveness of the products has had me make permanent space on my shower shelf for their products.
What does your hair care routine look like?
Most days, working from home, I'm just washing my hair everything other or third day. I'll use the Revitalizing Shampoo and Nourishing Conditioner when I wash. Then, I let my hair dry after the shower before I go to bed so I'm not using too much heat on it. In between wash days, I make sure to brush it. Brushing helps to stimulate the scalp (which is so important for a healthy scalp!) and distribute oils so I try to remember to do this when I wake up and before bed.
I found this awesome vegan boar bristle paddle brush (so the bristles are not actually from boar) so I use that and try to make it an experience. It makes the whole thing more fun and something I look forward to before my skincare routine.
On days between washing, if my hair seems a little oily, I'll use the Love Hair Volumizing Dry Shampoo. It's quick, easy and clean, which I love! I part my hair, then flip some hair over the part, shake on some dry shampoo and let it sit for 5 minutes before I gently rub it in.
Whenever I feel like my hair is getting a little dry on the ends, I apply the Nourishing Hair Oil to give it some moisture and care. I usually use just a few drops (about 3 to 4), rub it between my palms, and apply it to my ends.
What is your favorite quote to live by?
"No one is coming to save you."
I know this can seem a little abrupt, but I've found it to be one of the most powerful thoughts to live by. Whatever you want to create in life—you can—but you've got to figure it out: you've got to take the action and run after it. No one is going to do it for you, and if they do, it will never feel as good as if you run after it yourself.
That and "the best is yet to come," because the best really is yet to come.