Amanda Chantal Bacon: Being Health-Shamed Was “the Greatest Thing to Ever Happen”
Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon is indisputably one of the most fascinating women in wellness. When she launched her brand with a tiny Venice shop in 2011, Bacon was one of the first in Los Angeles to give the concept of cold-pressed juice a modern spin; since then, the former fine-dining chef has garnered a near-religious following for her decadent medicinal drinks, superfood snacks, and adaptogenic Moon Dusts. (The libido-boosting Sex Dust and complexion-enhancing Beauty Dust are particularly sought-after.)
But Bacon’s journey hasn’t been all rainbows and moonstone. Like many wellness pioneers in the social media age, she’s had to deal with some crazy backlash from people confounded by her outspoken obsession with bee pollen and Chinese herbs. (The worst of it came earlier this year, in response to a food diary she kept for Elle—and parodies like this one ensued.) In honor of her first book, The Moon Juice Cookbook, Bacon sat down with Well+Good to tell her inspiring story: how a health crisis led her down her current path, what it was like launching Moon Juice as a single mother of a newborn, and why she feels her haters are a sign she’s doing things right.
Before Moon Juice, I had a lifetime of health issues. It started very early on, around the age of four— not being able to breathe, having a constant cough, and not being able to play or sleep well. That was really my first lens of life: the feeling of not living to full capacity.
As I got older, I had really intense seasonal allergies, really intense food allergies, and anxiety. I didn’t have great sleep. I just didn’t feel 100 percent like I was in my right skin. I grew up in a culture where there were psychologists and doctors and a pill for everything, but no one ever really asked me what I was eating, or how I was feeling emotionally or spiritually.
Then, about 11 years ago, I got heavily into juicing. At the same time, I was diving deeper into meditation, pranayama, and asana, I was voraciously reading alternative health books, and I was spending all of my free time and money going to see healers, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, and shamans.
I grew up in a culture where there were psychologists and doctors and a pill for everything, but no one ever really asked me what I was eating, or how I was feeling emotionally or spiritually.
I kept asking myself, do I need to have this much anxiety? Do I have to feel this addicted to sugar? Do I really need coffee this badly? I probably drink a little bit too much and I don’t want to, but I don’t know what else to do. And then I decided this was not going to be my life story.
I put everything I had behind [getting healthy]. But simultaneously, I was also working in a fine-dining kitchen [Lucques in LA]. I had a really rigorous schedule—I wasn’t just lying around, meditating and drinking green juice. I was working 12- to 14-hour days, 6 days a week. But I was determined to get myself to a place [of wellness] and then help everybody else get to that place.
It seems so simple—like, try a green juice, have an adaptogen, maybe don’t drink that alcohol, do a little meditation. In the moment, all these little things don't have that wham-bam, powerful effect we’re used to in the West. There's a real subtlety to this lifestyle. But if you just keep at it, eventually you'll see that everything changes.
I started going full-force into Moon Juice almost seven years ago. I was working catering gigs and other jobs as I was getting the doors open. When I opened the Venice shop, nobody understood what cold-pressed juice was. It was not the same world we’re living in now—there was no Well+Good! I was so in over my head; I had an infant, I was a single mom, there was no store manager, I was trying to train someone how to use a juicer at night.
I was told no one would want a $9 green juice.
I don’t understand how it all came together, but it did. That first day we opened, it was a Tuesday and it was raining and I didn’t tell anyone we were opening. But there was a line out the door. And then there was this group of Japanese tourists taking pictures, and I was like, "Wait, what is happening?" I was told no one would want a $9 green juice.
Since then, we’ve had three brick-and-mortar [shops], a book, we’ve had global recognition for our products, we’ve had some pretty incredible celebrity endorsements and nobody can figure out how we get it, but it’s all real. We’ve never paid for anything, we don’t have a marketing team—it’s like, me, my son, and Instagram.
The Moon Dust juggernaut
The Moon Dusts came from reaching a point within my own practice of having a clean diet and really taking care of myself, and then saying, “Okay, now I want to get high.”
I love a good mood alteration and I love rituals, but I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs. And I’m also such a purpose-built machine that every time I drink water or tea or a smoothie, I need to figure out how to make it the most potent thing it can be. Why would I just drink water if I could supercharge it with herbs?
So I started working with herbalists and playing with different blends—I’d say, "I need one blend because I just want to get sexed up." And then there was a formula for those days where my brain [wasn’t working]. I had a million bags of unmarked powders in my kitchen with Sharpie-written words on them that would rub off, and then I’d be traveling around with these unmarked baggies with random herbs inside.
I love when I see a woman with a baby and she’ll full-on tell me, “This is a Sex Dust baby.”
So through seeing people’s fascination with my herbs and how different life was when I [consumed them], it was like, wow, I have to put these blends into jars, name them, and bring some pop, easy appeal to it.
And people have genuine experiences, which is why the Moon Dusts have such a cult following—they actually work. I love when I see a woman with a baby and she’ll full-on tell me, “This is a Sex Dust baby.” I get text messages and emails and selfies; people stop me all over the world. It’s like, how do you know who I am in Paris? [The dusts] make a huge difference in people's lives, and going forward, I feel called to lead with them.
The dark side
The greatest thing to ever happen was the health-shaming that went down—you wouldn’t believe all the hits we got on our website. If even 2 percent of that traffic made a difference in someone’s life, if they learned just one thing, I’ll take it. Health shame me all day long!
I actually think it’s quite a good sign that it is happening. It means there are parts of the collective consciousness that are being triggered by this, and I think that’s actually a sign of massive change to come. There are going to be people who aren’t happy or healthy right now and [my lifestyle] is confronting for them. I don’t take anyone’s reactions to be anything other than great news that we’re reaching people who aren’t looking for us.
There are going to be people who aren’t happy or healthy right now and [my lifestyle] is confronting for them.
What’s hardest for me is that there’s a lot to do, and in my brain it’s not moving fast enough. I have real urgency about healing and empowering people. I’m an Aries, Pitta dosha; I am very, very passionate and fiery.
Another big challenge for me is I never really thought about a partner or marriage—that was just not a high priority. I’ve been throwing myself behind the mission, which is awesome. But I’m 33 now and have a kid and a great house and a successful business. It’s not really an issue, but there’s an excitement in me, like, let’s see who comes to the table. I actually don’t need anything from anybody.... That can be daunting for someone who’s not the right person. Maybe I need to take an ad out in the newspaper and get my assistant to start screening!
Moon Juice’s next phase
I need to start on book two, probably after Christmas. I don’t know what it’s going to be about—it’s just going to pour out of me. And I want to continue teaching and speaking and reaching as many people as I can.
I’m currently looking at some platforms that could really enable that, which would be exciting. The company’s got a series B [funding round] coming up, and there’s going to be an exciting world of Moon Dust and new products coming down the pipeline within that vein.
I feel like I’m a messenger to give an example of how powerful and seductive and delicious and magical all of this is...and then you can go have your own adventure. I was so blessed to be able to change my life, and I also see how easy it is to do. I know how to teach people how to do that and keep them rolling. This is my life’s mission.
This account has been edited and condensed.
Want more from Amanda Chantal Bacon? Check out her favorite green juice recipe, her five beauty obsessions, and her enviable morning routine.
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