One of the greatest barriers to entry when it comes to eating vegan is consumer access to affordable, fresh, plant-based foods. If you aren't able to get reasonably priced produce near your neighborhood, you'll probably be dissuaded from even trying to adopt a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables.

In many neighborhoods, particularly low-income and minority communities, healthy food options are scarce and rarely affordable. This results in what is often referred to as a "food desert", a region with a lack of well-priced, nutritious food. In Compton, California, there is an urgent need for more accessibility to healthy options, which the city's chamber of commerce website acknowledges, calling the city both a food desert and a food swamp, which refers to an area that is saturated with an overabundance of fast food and unhealthy options.

"Healthy food in the region is hard to find, quality is sub-standard and price for good food is high. Residents of the greater Compton region and work-related commuters to the area are paying with their health for cheap and easily available sub-par food. This becomes evident from the data provided by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health." This means when a restaurant or supermarket that specializes in heart-healthy, plant-based offerings opens up in the area, it's a big deal. Vegan entrepreneur Roland Jackson is set to unveil Planet Health Compton, a healthy, entirely plant-based restaurant inspired by his struggles to find fresh, good-for-you meals in the surrounding area.

Planet Health Compton's website explains, "It all started back in 2017 when founder of Planet Health Roland Jackson became vegan. That year and on out, he had to live through the difficulty of finding vegan foods in the city of Compton where he resided and in nearby neighborhoods. He knew if he experienced the hassle in finding healthy foods in his home city, so did others who were vegans or solely wanted to eat healthy foods amid their busy schedules. There was an evident demand for vegan food, but no access. The struggle of living in a food desert-inspired his process of finding a vegan restaurant to come to his city or to be the one to provide the direct resource."

While the establishment's main focus is providing affordable, healthy food and juices for Compton locals, it also looks to build business networks within the community and showcase local artists: "[Planet Health Compton visitors can] shop for natural products and local clothing brands, express themselves artistically, network within the neighborhood, drink fresh juices, and most importantly enjoy a healthy meal." Jackson's goal is not only to provide better-for-you meals to residents but to forge a community centered around healthy eating in a place where it is much needed.

In an interview with LA Style Magazine, Jackson expands on the idea of combining local art and businesses with the concept of healthy vegan eating, saying, "Planet Health Compton is born from experiences in my youth – when I was younger, there weren’t any safe places where I could study or be inspired to focus on my community, my diet or my mindset."

Planet Health Compton will be opening soon at 546 W. Compton Blvd in Compton, CA. Follow their Instagram page to stay notified with their launch. 

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