This Is How Celebrated Vegan and Social Media Star Tabitha Brown Makes Weeknight Dinner Work
Vegan and plant-based eating has taken center stage in the last several years, and one of its biggest and brightest cheerleaders is Tabitha Brown. The actress-turned-social-media-personality-and-motivational-speaker stole our hearts and invited us to join her on her personal vegan journey by way of a now-viral video from 2017 where she gushed over a vegan BLT sandwich. Emboldened by the response the video received and after experiencing the health benefits of switching to veganism, Brown created a TikTok account to share her vegan recipes and tips, as well as her spirited motivational and inspirational messages. Today, with over two million TikTok fans, a YouTube children's show, Tab Time, her own McCormick Sunshine Seasoning, a book titled Feeding the Soul ($27.99, barnesandnoble.com), and a thriving acting career in full swing, Brown is busier and more blessed than ever. With all of these wonderful life changes, one thing that hasn't changed is her commitment to maintaining a healthy vegan diet. We asked her to share her tips for eating vegan at home on weeknights. She says the trick is to keep it simple, get creative, and be prepared.
Brown's Own Story
For Brown, who used to suffer from chronic pain and fatigue, making the decision to go vegan was one of the best decisions she's ever made in her life. "I was very sick," she says of her state of being before making the decision to be more deliberate about what she puts into her body. "I suffered from major anxiety and I had suffered from depression…and while I was sick I started having these terrible manic panic attacks," she shares. The improvements to Brown's health as a result of her dietary changes have transformed her life in many ways, but she says the most important change for her is the marked improvement in her overall health. " I sleep better and I can go straight to sleep whenever I feel like it. I go to the doctor for a routine checkup and everything is normal, you know what I'm saying? When you go vegan you gotta make sure that you are getting your supplements, but my hair, my skin… it's so many things, but you know the thing that I realized, the biggest benefit for me is it changed my mind," Brown says.
The married mother of three (Brown's daughters Choyce and Tyleah, son Queston, and husband Chance are all regularly featured in her home videos) wants to share with everyone who will listen the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, but says she never wants people to feel like she's judging them for what they eat. "It's simply… I feel [veganism] did change me in [a positive] way," shares Brown, who only cooks plant-based vegan meals at home, points out that although she encourages her family (and fans) to embrace veganism, they are free to decide for themselves what they want to consume. Brown doesn't spend loads of time prepping meals for herself and her family, which is something that may come as a surprise. "I've done a couple videos where we did meal prep, because people do desire that and need it. Your Sunday afternoon, that's when you do your meal prep for at least three days. So, the first three days of this week I'm good. I've got my meals for this week for the first three days. And if I slack off or if I have my little cheat day or whatever that day is for you, it's all right," she says.
Keep It Simple
One of Brown's top tips for making the process of preparing healthy weeknight meals easy is to keep the process simple. "I think that it has to become a way of life. The way I eat, I don't look at it like, oh, I'm a healthy eater, right? It has just become how I eat," she explains. "I am a very simple cook. I try not to overthink and I try not to do something that requires a whole lot of time." Her big takeaway? "I always tell people: Think of your favorite non-vegan items that you like. Dishes like Taco Tuesdays [are] super easy to make," she adds.
Prepare Your Favorite Meals, with a Twist
Brown says to take a recipe you know and love (and that your family loves, too!) and make simple swaps. Start by choosing a plant-based alternative to meat; for Brown, that's often sweet potatoes in place of animal protein in tacos. "I love sweet potato tacos. You can have those [sweet potatoes] chopped up, you can freeze them in a bag until you're ready to use them. You can cook them in the oven or throw 'em in your air fryer and it's quick. Add other veggies, and then you can just have a little bar with your lettuce and salsa and guacamole… you can buy those things if you want, or you can make them." Spaghetti and lasagna are two other dishes that are part of the regular weeknight meal rotation in Brown's house.
Sometimes It's All About the Salad
Even Brown admits that not every meal will be the absolute healthiest thing you've put on the table, and that's perfectly fine. To amp up the health benefits of whatever she's serving, she makes sure to include a salad at dinner. "I love fresh greens with almost every meal," says Brown. "And it's a rule of thumb that even if you're not eating the healthiest meal, if you have a little salad with it, that's gonna help break down the food. And you feel better about it."
Be Open to Experimenting with Different Foods
"I have eaten more new things that I have never eaten in the last four and a half years than I did in 40 years of my life," says Brown. "I've tried mushrooms that I never had tried before, I've eaten so many different squashes that I never had eaten before." Instead of sticking to what you know—your usual meal of meat, potatoes, and greens—Brown urges home cooks to branch out and try preparing new options. That might mean roasting a familiar vegetable, like cabbage, the same way you would a steak or trying a new vegetable entirely. You'll never know what you really enjoy until you try it.
Focus on the Cans, Not the Can'ts
Adopting a vegan diet might feel limiting at first, but Brown says that's all about perspective. "I always tell people to remember when you are plant-based or vegan, there's only a handful of things you cannot eat. You can't eat your meat, your beef, your lamb, your chicken, your pork, you can't eat fish. You can't have dairy. You can't have eggs. That's just like seven or eight things that you can't have. Everything else you can have! And now you get to be creative and figure out how to combine it and make it what you want," she says.
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