I recently got to meet Bob Goldberg, one of the founders of Follow Your Heart (FYH), which began in 1970 simply as a food concession with seven seats in a health food store. Coincidentally I was born the same year, also in Canoga Park. Along with Michael Besancon, Paul Lewin, and Spencer Windbiel, Goldberg created one of the first all-vegetarian natural food markets and restaurants still popular today in the Los Angeles area. All the founders remain vegetarians and virtually everything on the menu can be made vegan.
Today, Goldberg and Lewin own FYH. They also run Earth Island, a global company, which manufactures and distributes their beloved vegan products like delicious Vegenaise and Vegan Gourmet (one of the first tasty cheeses making it possible for vegans to have pizza).
In 40 years of business, the company has vastly exceeded their expectations.
“We believed that we were pioneers in a movement which would ultimately fundamentally transform the way people eat. Today, it is difficult to imagine what a different world we lived in at that time . . .whole grain breads were viewed with skepticism, and organic food was very difficult to find. Vegetarianism was uncommon, and generally viewed as extreme,” Goldberg said.
Besides FYH — a warm, friendly place to enjoy great vegetarian food — they now have a gluten-free retail and wholesale bakery called The Sensitive Baker which proves they are still following their hearts.
The bakery has been very well-received. They are baking vegan products wherever possible, and appealing to customers with gluten intolerance related to Celiac disease and Autism.
This Labor Day weekend, Follow Your Heart is celebrating a big 40 year reunion. Many items are on display in the restaurant including menus from throughout their history. Let’s celebrate this important part of Southern California veggie history!