The Food Network might want to reach out to Coco Laud and YaLonda “Lala” Lolar Johnson.
Believe it our not, the popular network dedicated to all things food does not have a cooking show dedicated to vegan and vegetarian cooking. And the cable network could certainly use a boost in melanin. For those reasons alone, execs might want to take a strong look at Laud and Lolar Johnson – or as their fans know them, Coco and Lala. But beyond fulfilling a programming void, Coco and Lala are just darn delightful to watch.
Launched on Facebook this past September by the Twin Cities residents, “Keeping Up with Coco & Lala” has amassed nearly 10,000 followers for their weekly chat about vegan and vegetarian cooking and living. The support has translated into the two launching two websites, www.shopcocoandlala.com and www.realcocoandlala.com. For Laud and Lolar Johnson, their enterprise is about spreading the word on living a healthy lifestyle.
“I lost a family member to obesity and we both want our family members to live long and productive lives, so that’s what it’s really all about,” said Lolar Johnson. “If what we do is increasing a person’s life by 10 percent or 20 percent … whatever … if we can get someone to change just one meal out of their day, that means we’re doing some good.”
Laud and Lolar Johnson are at different stages of the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Laud is in her eighth month of converting to vegetarianism, while Lolar Johnson is in her ninth month of veganism after living most of her life as a vegetarian. Both say they were inspired to alter their diets after watching a popular Netflix documentary.
“We watched ‘What the Health’ and a lot of it was eye opening,” said Laud. “We said, ‘You know, let’s give this (changing their eating habits) a try.”
“What the Health” examines the impact of meat consumption has on the human body.
For Laud, changing her dietary habits wasn’t easy.
“I’m not going to lie, it was hard at first. I was eating meat all my life and giving it up was very difficult because I didn’t have the information I have now,” said Laud. “It was definitely a learning curve.”
“What’s difficult for me is eating out at restaurants. It’s just not easy to (eat vegan) at most restaurants,” said Lolar Johnson.
What makes “Keeping Up with Coco and Lala” so interesting is their lively personalities and their audience interactions. While recording live via Facebook (Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.), the pair regularly interacts with viewers who post back and forth in the comment section of the livestream. With a growing audience, “Keeping Up with Coco & Lala” may soon jump off the computers and mobile devices and onto a much larger platform. That’s if certain television executives can recognize a good thing staring them in the face.