Agnes Muljadi is busy. When she’s not practicing ballet for approximately four hours a day five days a week, the Los Angeles-based dancer also hosts a podcast and works as a photographer, actress, and social media influencer. Since going vegan more than two years ago, Muljadi has used her influence as a ballerina (and her Instagram page) to promote a whole-foods, plant-based diet, which she says makes her “more mindful of what I put into my body.” We sat down with Muljadi to discuss food, dancing, and the power of positive influence within the plant-based movement.
Although Muljadi is talented in many aspects of life, she is most comfortable in a pair of pointe shoes (or ballet flats). “I’m a dancer first,” Muljadi says. “I’ve been practicing ballet since childhood. It’s my identity in life. It keeps me motivated, focused, and inspired. And, of course, it keeps me healthy.” In addition to this rigorous routine, she also incorporates a lunchtime pilates or gyrotonics class. Gyrotonics is a fitness method that utilizes specialized equipment with light resistance bands and body weight (like a reformer) in order to increase range of motion, strength, and agility. Muljadi finds that it helps her maintain her dancer’s physique.
Her vegan story
Muljadi did not take baby steps toward a vegan diet—she leaped in. After a health scare, she sought a naturopathic doctor who recommended a plant-based diet. She left the office and went straight to Whole Foods Market. Muljadi was already a devoted vegetarian, but she had severe doubts about veganism. “I thought it was going to be very hard,” she said. “I called my friends and started panicking!” Thankfully, Muljadi was surprised to discover how easy it is to be vegan, especially in Los Angeles. This was more than two years ago. Now, her perspective has shifted completely. “I don’t understand when other people say they’re struggling to become vegan, and it took them months. I literally became vegan in less than 20 hours, and I’ve loved it. It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.”
What a vegan ballerina eats
Muljadi maintains a relatively raw, whole-foods diet to maintain her dance routine and to avoid her allergens (and their uncomfortable symptoms). She begins her day with a green juice made from kale, celery, broccoli, parsley, and lemon. She follows her beverage with a raw salad that usually consists of kale, mixed vegetables, and raw kimchi. For lunch, Muljadi keeps it light: “lots of fruit, and maybe a bowl of nuts like cashews, almonds, or pistachios.” At dinner, she says, “I actually eat a lot. Most of the time I’m so tired I don’t want to prepare something, so I typically do takeout.” Her favorite is Au Lạc in downtown Los Angeles. Chef Ito knows her and makes a special raw vegan paella. “I really like eating living food because I think it is very healing for my body.” Of course, she doesn’t deny herself the occasional indulgence, as she also loves the Au Lạc Yucca Root Friend Fries.
On social media and activism
Muljadi has catapulted into the social media scene with her dance-inspired posts. Of her 246,000 Instagram followers, many are young female dancers. She expressed a need to lead by example and promote the vegan lifestyle in a positive, no-pressure way. “I don’t want to focus on the problem; I want to focus on what’s good,” Muljadi says. “Like, look at how delicious vegan food is. Look at how stylish and chic vegan fashion is!” This philosophy transfers into her brand work as well. She loves promoting vegan business but always ensures that all the companies’ products and practices align with her values in regards to health, ethics, and sustainability. For example, with her fashion posts, Muljadi maintains that “sustainable fashion has to be vegan fashion.” One recent post features Muljadi in a first position ballet pose wearing “Vegan” white sneakers made by Veag.Co. “I received over two hundred DMs within a three-day span after that post, asking about those shoes.” By collaborating with and highlighting these sustainable and ethical brands, Muljadi hopes to spur startups into thriving businesses and introduce compassionate practices into the mainstream.