Daisy Fuentes is many things –  television host, comedian, model, philanthropist – and is no stranger to breaking barriers, such as becoming MTV’s first Latina VJ. She is also a passionate animal activist and vegan lifestyle advocate, ever-willing to speak her mind on the issues she cares most about. Recently we had the great fortune of sitting down with her to get her thoughts on veganism, working for animal rights with husband Richard Marx and her brand, Daisy Fuentes Style.

When did you go vegan and what (or who) inspired you to embrace a plant-based lifestyle?

About 4 years ago. Richard and I were on a quest to find life hacks and ways to be healthier. With that mindset, it’s impossible to ignore the many documentaries on health and nutrition. After watching Forks Over Knives, the blinders were off. Over the next couple of weeks we binge-watched at least 10 others including Blackfish, Vegucated, What the Health, Fed Up, Earthlings, and Supersize Me. I believe with knowledge comes responsibility. I knew I wanted to change for the better. I immediately stopped eating all meat, fish and milk; eventually cutting out all dairy. So I eased into it but I changed my lifestyle and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

How has a plant-based lifestyle benefitted you?

I never thought I’d call myself vegan. Mostly because I didn’t understand what that really meant. I love knowing that I’m capable of changing my life. I feel like my soul is lighter. I’m living according to my values, not according to what I was taught. I love the learning process. I learned how to cook my favorite recipes without animal products but with all the flavors. The food is truly more delicious. Mostly I like feeling like I’m part of the solution not part of the problem.

What is your advice to those who are interested in exploring a plant-based lifestyle but aren’t really sure where to start?

Just start. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Watch documentaries, research for yourself, follow accounts on social media like Mercy for Animals, Forks over Knives, Vegan Community, Farm Sanctuary, James Aspey, nutritionfacts.org … and food blogs like Minimalist Baker, Vegan Richa, Oh She Glows, and Thug Kitchen. Every bit helps your health, the planet, and the animals!

Your husband is also an animal activist and dedicated vegan. How awesome is it to fight for the same righteous causes together?

It’s the best! He was vegetarian when we met; occasionally pescatarian and he had been since he was 19. We support each other. We want to learn as much as we can about everything. It’s brought us closer knowing we’re on a similar journey to improve our lives, save animals and help the planet and we love being a part of such a beautiful and important movement.

What do you hope to see more of in the animal protection community?

I’d like to see more and stricter laws in place for animal cruelty, abuse and neglect. Would like to see more people taking the blinders off and making the connection. I’d like to see less cruelty and suffering. Would love to see society evolve. Definitely more compassion.

Over the past few years, the marketplace for exceptional vegan products has skyrocketed in the food, fashion, and home and beauty businesses. What are some of your favorites?

Impossible Foods is amazing and helps me indulge in some familiar flavors and foods. So many good plant-based cheeses have definitely made the transition easy. I love Veggie Grill for a healthier fast food treat.

In addition to being an incredible animal activist and vegan advocate, you are also a pioneer in the fashion industry with Daisy Fuentes Style. How did you transform your business to reflect your values?

I’m much more conscious about what and how we produce our products. We use no animal products in my brand. My shoe collection is gorgeous and cruelty-free. I’m proud to offer and wear all of it!

You were born in Cuba, spent some of your childhood in Spain, and have been globe-trotting your whole life. What are some of your favorite international cuisines?

Indian food is definitely in my top 3. I love Cuban food. I’ve picked up some good cooking tips from Señoreata. I love Mediterranean food as it’s mostly plant-based so there are always great choices.

Who are Bronx and Bette Davis and how did they become a part of your family?

They are the sweetest, cutest rescue pitties ever! Foster failures. They were found as strays and ended up in high kill shelters. We fostered them(and a few others) from Ace of Hearts (my friend’s rescue) at different times. We found homes for some but fell in love with Bronx and Bette Davis and they fell in love with each other. We weren’t aware of the discrimination and mistreatment involved with dogs that look “a certain way”. We knew we had to help change public perception.

Photo c/o Daisy Fuentes via her Instagram