Tabitha Brown Says This Trick Is the Key To Giving up Meat

When Tabitha Brown first broke onto the vegan scene in 2017— after her hilarious gone-viral review of a Whole Foods vegan BLT—she turned thousands of people into instant fans with her upbeat attitude, charming Southern lilt, and special brand of wholesome humor. Now, she’s fallen into the limelight again, and this time, for good. The North Carolina-born, Los Angeles-based influencer became the name on everyone’s lips this year thanks to her quick vegan recipe videos (using no recipes—she just cooks “by the spirit”), infectiously positive attitude, and feel-good wisdom the world can’t get enough of. So we tasked the “America’s Mom” with becoming our special advice columnist to help answer all your plant-based questions. Take it away, Tab.

Hannah Kaminsky

Q: I want to go vegan but feel like I’ll really miss my traditional Southern favorites. Do you think I can still do it?

A: Honey, I don’t think anyone is more Southern and traditional than I am, and take it from me: you absolutely can do it! I still eat mac and cheese, greens, potato salad, yams, cornbread, dressing, pies, and cakes—all of it can be vegan. There’s plenty to grill for a cookout, too, now that summer’s here. Just find some vegan substitutes you like for burgers, sausages, cheese, milk, and mayonnaise, and check out VegNews’ recipes and start searching for recipes. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

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Q: I used to be such a picky eater, but since going vegan, my world of food has completely opened up. What would you say are your top three favorite new food discoveries that people shouldn’t miss? P.S. I love seeing you try new things like “enoki nem”!

A: OMG, mushrooms are like a new world to me, honey. There are thousands of them, but enoki and lion’s mane? Those are something special. Jackfruit is another one that changed my life. But I’d tell people to keep an open mind with it, because the first time I had it, I was not happy. But baby, after I cooked it myself, it was a wrap—Jack and I been cool ever since. And lastly, I would have to say carrot bacon! Thin-sliced carrots in some smoky, sweet, garlicky marinade and air-fried for some crunch— honey, yes! Put it in a BLT wrap, and you’ll get your entire day together. And actually, I’ll give you a fourth (because that’s my business): pecan meat! I really love that I can eat it raw or cooked. I can use it to make tacos, lasagna, or burgers. I mean, does it get any better than that? If you love food as much as I do, I promise discovering new ways to prepare things you’ve eaten one way for years will be so much fun.

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Q: My teenage daughter went vegan a couple of years ago, and I’ve been eating plant-based myself since earlier this year—and really loving it. My other daughter is gluten-free and both she and my husband aren’t interested in vegan food. I’m getting a little tired of cooking so many different meals. What’s the best way to deal with my blended-diet family?

A: First, we have to remember each choice is personal—I know it gets frustrating to feel like people don’t understand this new side of you, but don’t take it to heart. Now side note, I don’t know how old your gluten-free daughter is, but if you’re tired of making meals, it may be time for her to get in the kitchen! But in the meantime, what worked for me the two years before my family went vegan was making all of our side dishes plant-based; that way, they start to get familiar with what you’ve got going on while still eating what they want.

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Q: I’m a Latino in my 50s, have been vegan for just about a year now, and still get told I don’t “look like a vegan.” It’s really irritating … what are you supposed to say to something like that?

Tell them “thank you!” That means you look human, just like you are supposed to look! Don’t pay any attention to that, and remember, there is no “look” for vegans. I mean, cows are vegan, so should we look like cows? You are perfect as you are, honey.

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Q: How do you stay so positive? The world has been so tough lately. Your videos are always a great pick-me-up, but do you ever feel sad or run down? How do you deal?

A: I’m human, honey, so I absolutely have my sad days … we all do. I have lived through some really dark times and luckily have made it out of that darkness, so I always remind myself that when things feel not so great, it’s temporary, and it will pass. I choose to focus on the light ahead. We’ll all make it through to the other side—don’t give up, and just keep on pushing forward!

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Q: My seven-year-old is always asking questions. And now that he sees me eating more plant-based food, he’s getting curious about that, too. I want him to make up his own mind about what he eats, but I don’t mind gently nudging him, either. Do you have any tips on making vegan food seem fun and interesting when all he wants is chicken nuggets and pizza?

A: I am the exact same way with my son, Quest—I will never force him to eat anything, and I want him to make his own decisions, too. And, like any kid, he loves pizza and nuggets as well. All you need to do is show them they can have all their favorites while explaining how everything is plant-based and good for them. I make pizza bagels with Quest, and that gets him excited (just use shredded vegan cheese and pizza sauce, and your daughter will have so much fun). Magical things happen in kids’ minds when you let them cook for themselves! And there are so many vegan nugget options out there now, so maybe let her pick them out at the store or have her get creative with dipping sauces—whatever you can do to involve her and help her make her own vegan choices. Take it day by day and keep teaching while not forcing, and she will be fine. You are doing a great job, honey!

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