Septuagenarian Vegan

Midwestern-born Wendell Covalt credits his stellar health to his SoCal, plant-based diet.

Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton  |  Photographed by Shane O’Donnell

The Midwest is known as “America’s breadbasket” for abundant grain and dairy production as well as beef and poultry stockyard processing centers. It’s as renowned for meat-and-potatoes as it is for the straightforward people who produce it. Although Redondo Beach resident Wendell Covalt rejected the former, his personality is rooted in the latter.

Wendell became a vegetarian out of convenience during his first marriage. “It was simpler for me to become a vegetarian so she didn’t have to cook two meals, but once I began learning about the slaughtering process, I subscribed to vegetarianism,” he says.

However, Wendell experienced a drastic improvement when he made a second dietary change. “For years I got allergy shots, but once I cut all dairy and focused on a vegetarian-based diet, my allergies completely abated.”

In 1988 he relocated to the South Bay for his career as a founding partner of IMA, Inc.–a software company. “I found it much easier to be a vegan in California because of the abundance of fresh food and a less judgmental approach to alternative diets,” says Wendell. By the late ‘80s he had cut all meat, dairy and sugar from his diet—long before vegans were common.

Today Wendell incorporates numerous facets into his healthy lifestyle. He and his wife, Ginger, begin each day by meditating at 4 a.m. Their mornings then include some form of exercise on alternating days–either spending two hours at the gym for cardio and weights or walking on the beach.

Although Wendell is retired, he devotes time to educating others about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and smart nutrition. Wendell is a certified instructor of Food Over Medicine–a program started by naturopath Pam Popper. “We want people to understand the options and benefits of a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle,” says Wendell.

Wendell is also a guest speaker for both Princess Cruises and at Cal State Long Beach on health issues including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and how those illnesses are affected by fats and sugars.

Wendell has been very impactful in several Southern California environmental causes including the Blue Zones Project, the Rainforest Action Network and as a board trustee for the South Coast Botanic Garden. However, Wendell’s most visible contribution is himself. At 75 this septuagenarian continues to fill his proverbial plate with educational opportunities and physical activities.



Wendell’s Year in Health

Food Mantra

We don’t eat anything that has a face or that came from something with a face–including eggs, fish and cheese.

Favorite Restaurants

We love the Mediterranean at Chicken Maison; the exotic salads at The Cheesecake Factory; and The Green Temple and Happy Veggie in Redondo.

Travel Spots

We like Southeast Asia for the religions, architecture and food, and we enjoy hiking in Colorado.