Growing up in a Puerto Rican household in the Bronx, Justina Adorno knew going vegan would be difficult. But now, after dabbling in a vegetarian diet on and off since the age of 15, the 30-year-old star of FX’s Mayans M.C. and the CW’s Roswell, New Mexico has fully committed to the meat-free lifestyle—and she’s never looking back.
“Veganism first helped me have a better relationship with food, and then I brought it over to my career. I started making sure my makeup and hair products used on set were all fully vegan,” Adorno says. “It’s a proud journey that I’m always excited to share because it’s helpful to let people know that it doesn’t necessarily happen from one day to another.”
We sat down with the bicoastal Hollywood up-and-comer to find out how her journey toward wellness has led her to success and, most importantly, inner peace.
VegNews: You seem to have a special bond with animals. When did you notice that?
Justina Adorno: Everyone in my family will probably say that “Justina loves animals more than people.” I always felt so much more connected to animals, always had that awareness from a very young age that everyone around me kind of tucked out of. Animals are so pure and almost defenseless, and I think [animal abuse] is one of the most wicked things. I’m grateful I get to bring awareness to what’s happening to animals and bring it into my industry and stay strong. If I’m the outcast in the cast because I’m standing up for the animals, so be it. I’ve found a good balance.
VN: How can people make the connection between the animals they love and the food they’re eating?
JA: We all deserve freedom, and we all deserve to live. It shouldn’t matter what we look like. And that means the same for animals. In America, we freak out—as we should—when we hear about dogs and cats being treated inhumanely, but we should also be freaking out about the cows, the pigs, and the fish. If you don’t want your dog Lizzie to be killed for someone to just have a meal when they could easily have a bean burger, then you should also be just as upset for this poor cow that was named 0453 to be killed. You should care about that.
VN: How do you handle the pressure placed on women in Hollywood to look a certain way?
JA: I always struggled with body image, because when you’re in Hollywood, you think you have to be perfect. As a Latina, most of the time you have to either be ridiculously sexy or super unsexy. There’s no middle ground. I struggled with that until I went vegan, and started standing up for myself and the animals. I don’t feel that pressure anymore like I did before I started my career. [The change] helped me along with my own self-image of what beauty is and what health is. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is the one we have with ourselves. And I can honestly say I’ve crossed it.
VN: What’s your best self-care advice?
JA: I feel my best self when I take time for myself. If that means canceling all my plans or the obligations others have put on me, I don’t care anymore. If I need to do three face masks, jump rope for 30 minutes, dance around in front of the mirror, and make my matcha latte—and all that takes me four hours—then so be it. I care about myself. That’s wellness.
VN: What’s your best fitness advice?
JA: I try to move my body as much as possible, but when I am exhausted and my energy is focused elsewhere, I don’t beat myself up for it anymore. We’re going to have times when we’re super active and times when we’re not. And it’s okay that we’re not always consistent.
VN: Tell us your nighttime wellness routine.
JA: At night, I put on some chakra-opening music, turn off all my lights, light some candles, massage my face with oils, and look at myself in the mirror and take myself in. Sometimes we [need to] stop and look at ourselves and be like, “This is who I am right now, and I love her.”
“I feel my best self when I take time for myself. If that means canceling all my plans or the obligations others have put on me, I don’t care anymore.” —Justina Adorno
VN: Spirituality and gratitude seem to be key for you. How did you find that inner peace?
JA: We all want the same thing, which is just to be happy, live abundantly, and have as much peace as possible. I try to find inner peace because my job requires me to jump into different people’s shoes, and it’s not always the easiest situation. I’ve learned to appreciate every day that I do have regardless of the minor mishaps. I take them but am also grateful for them because I’m like, “How amazing is it to feel?” To live life is one of the biggest adventures. My rescued cats also remind me of that. Their purity brings so much peace and influences me to be my best self.
VN: Since you’re bi-coastal, you get to try the best vegan foods from each coast. First, what are your go-to vegan spots in New York City?
JA: Ladybird’s menu is fantastic, plus the interior is super cute. The best burger I’ve ever had is at Jerrell’s BETR BRGR—my friends who aren’t vegan at all have been going there without me. For upscale, I love Hangawi. All their food is super thought-out and delicate. During the winter, you just want to stay there forever. Spicy Moon is also another favorite—the Dan Dan Noodles are so good.
VN: What about your favorite vegan spots in Los Angeles?
JA: I love Âu Lac. The chef is just amazing: he’s taken a vow of silence for the animals, and who doesn’t want to support a business like that? Their octopus dish is amazing. Pura Vita also blew me away—their carbonara is fantastic. I’m also a Lettuce Feast fiend—their mushroom sandwich is addictive.
VN: When you’re not eating out, what do you stock your kitchen with?
JA: I just feel comfortable when there’s matcha in the house. Also, coconut water. And I always keep at least some form of mango at my house, whether that’s fresh, frozen, or dried. And celery. I need mango and celery in my life at all times.
Just So You Know
VN: What’s next for you?
JA: After I spoke at The National Animal Rights Day in New York, a podcast opportunity fell into my lap following a series of very fortunate events. I now have a podcast with PETA called Just So You Know with my friend and fellow actress Jamie Logan. It’s been a wild five years for me to say the least, and this year I’m also focusing on healing and slowing down because that is so important.