He’s the face of electronic music, a fine-art photographer and architecture blogger. But Moby’s latest hit is a vegan restaurant that he “can never make a penny from.”
And he’s OK with that.
Two months after opening Little Pine in the vibrant Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the artist born Richard Melville Hall announced he was donating 100 percent of the profits to various animal welfare organizations when the restaurant started to break even. Recipients include the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Farm Sanctuary.
Q Why do this?
A I was raised by progressive hippies and (maybe I shouldn’t admit this) but going out shopping on Rodeo Drive or driving a $200,000 car to Nobu just simply doesn’t do anything for me. I’m much happier spending my time here working on music or working on causes that are important to me. If you look at the history of philanthropy and activism, a lot of us activists, the reason we do this is because it makes us happy.
Q What inspired the restaurant?
A I used to own a couple of restaurants in New York; they were more like little cafes. I found them to be stressful and time consuming and expensive but emotionally rewarding. It’s really satisfying to walk into a space that looks beautiful, that has nice music, that’s filled with people who are enjoying themselves and eating food that is good for them and good for animals. It’s especially satisfying when the majority of people are not vegetarian. I would say at least 60 percent or more of the people who come into Little Pine are not vegetarian or vegan. They just like the space and the food.
Q And the fact that you own it is good PR, right?
A Compared to the Brad Pitts of the world, my public figure status barely exists, so I don’t know how big a deal my involvement with the restaurant is. There’s nothing in the restaurant that advertises that I’m involved, my music doesn’t get played, my name doesn’t appear anywhere.
Q Tell me how you came up with the name Little Pine?
A When I first moved to L.A., I was talking to a friend of mine in New York. I said that, broadly speaking, there are two Los Angeleses: There’s the L.A. of palm trees and the L.A. of pine trees. Generally, I identify more with the L.A. of pine trees. So it’s that, and also I just like the word “little.” The moment you put the word “little” in front of something, it just seems humble and unassuming.
Q Is Little Pine an extension of you as an artist?
A For me, Little Pine is a bunch of different things. There’s a big creative component, but there’s also a community component. New York is really good for that in that it has tons of parks, it has tons of cafes and restaurants, and the community hangs out in these places. L.A. can sort of be a little bit lonely just because it’s missing some of these community meeting places. Another reason is to advance the way people perceive veganism and organic farming. Traditionally, people think of sprouted lentils and mashed yeast, and the world of veganism and organic farming has changed so much. I like the idea of representing those two things in a new and positive way
Q So what’s the most surprising thing people will find on the menu?
A We have a vegan cassoulet. I lived in France a long time ago, and I found this tiny vegetarian restaurant on the Left Bank (I know this sounds very pretentious, but it’s true) near Notre Dame. I’ve always been obsessed with this idea of trying to re-create a vegan cassoulet because traditionally cassoulet is one of the meatiest, heaviest of French dishes. Ours is lighter and more vibrant.
Q How can veganism change the way people think about animals?
A Everybody apart from sociopaths already loves animals. My job as an animal activist is trying to get people to make the synaptic, neurological connection and to realize that if you love your dog and you wouldn’t want your dog to suffer, it’s unfortunately inconsistent to then contribute to the suffering of other animals. I don’t know a single person who would be capable of killing a baby cow, or strangling a chicken, or disemboweling a rabbit, or bludgeoning a sheep to death. Every person I know is horrified of thought of these things happening. But they all eat meat and wear fur. It’s getting people in a nonjudgmental, nondidactic way to live more consistently with the beliefs they already have.
Story by Sandra Barrera, email@example.com