Follow Your Heart
A Vegan Company that Lives Up to its Name
Condiments are often a cause for concern for those on a gluten-free diet. Not just that, but those who are vegan or vegetarian can often have difficulty finding condiments that suit their dietary preferences. Companies like Follow Your Heart not only keep customer needs in mind, but also take them to heart. A thoughtful, sustainable, and passionate company, Follow Your Heart provides high-quality vegan condiments for those with special dietary restrictions, all while maintaining the values the company was built upon.
Back in 1970, four friends opened a health food store and café called Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park, California. Over the years, the meat-free store gained a loyal following of vegans, vegetarians, and other health-conscious customers who adored the food offered at the café – especially the condiments. One condiment in particular, an eggless mayonnaise known as Vegenaise, was the subject of much attention and praise. Being the first product of its kind, customers would drive from near and far just to get a few cups of Vegenaise. People would ask the owners of Follow Your Heart to ship them Vegenaise and would always ask where they could purchase the product.
Nearly 25 years after the café opened, the owners of Follow Your Heart decided to shift their focus towards launching a line of vegan products, while continuing to run the original Follow Your Heart café.
The decision to launch a product line versus opening new locations of the café came about as “a natural progression,” said Bob Goldberg, CEO of Follow Your Heart. “We always thought opening more stores would lose the specialness that the original Follow Your Heart has.”
So the company chose to follow its heart and lead with its instincts – traits that are still present today and are demonstrated in nearly everything the company does.
For example, in deciding what ingredients to use for its products, Follow Your Heart chose entirely plant-based, non-GMO, preservative-free ingredients that are mostly all organic. In addition, some products use palm oil, which is rainforest certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Thousands of acres of land in Borneo and Sumatra are deforested for palm oil farms, endangering orangutan habitats in the process. The palm oil used in Follow Your Heart’s products comes from South America, which is not an orangutan habitat.
Both of Follow Your Heart’s manufacturing facilities are powered by solar energy. This generates more than enough energy for the company’s own use, with the excess energy being sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for other customers to use. In addition, their facilities use recycled carpeting, energy efficient lighting systems, and environmentally-friendly refrigeration among other earth-friendly features.
The company’s good deeds don’t stop there. Follow Your Heart is currently forging an alliance with EARTH University, a school that trains students in advanced techniques for sustainable farming in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The company has also worked with homeless assistance groups in the Los Angeles area, is deeply involved in the local community, and even provides electric charging stations and new car incentives for employees who choose to drive electric vehicles.
As seen by the company’s environmental and economical practices, it’s certain that sustainability, conservation, and employee well-being top the list of important values for Follow Your Heart.
“What is important to us is that we grow as a company in ways that make this a place where people want to work,” Goldberg said. “We want to deliver the best value to the consumer, but at the end of the day we don’t want to do that on the backs of the people who work here, so we continue to try to become more effective and efficient in the way we make the product so the people who work here can benefit.”
The company is so dedicated to its employees’ happiness, it even held a reunion for all past and present employees of the company and will soon hold another celebration for its anniversary next year. Celebrating 45 years since the opening of the café and 20 years since the launch of Vegenaise are accomplishments that can undoubtedly be attributed to Follow Your Heart’s dedication to staying true to its values and living up to its name.
By Malory Speir