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Tabay Atkins on veganism, yoga, and making delicious food

Tabay Atkins on veganism, yoga, and making delicious food

If you’re hungry and in Orange County, California, you might want to hit up 17-year-old Tabay Atkin’s gas station pickup truck.

From the outside it might look like your typical roadside restaurant, but there is so much more to offer Tabay’s conscious cuisine than it seems.

For starters, the burgers, tacos, wraps and nuggets offered all have one thing in common: they are 100% plant-based.

Atkins doesn’t advertise its offerings as vegan, but everything you order from the menu appears to be free of meat, dairy, and animal products.

While it may not be what you expect from a roadside dining experience, Atkins has many satisfied customers who appreciate the taste and benefits of its vegan cuisine.

Atkins was only 12 years old when he decided he wanted to go vegan. However, the story begins when he was even younger.

Atkins’ mother, Sahel, had recently fought a battle with cancer. She underwent intensive chemotherapy with debilitating side effects and joined a yoga teacher training program when she had been cancer-free for just two weeks.

At just six years old, her son was by her side every step of the way.

As Atkins watched her mother grow stronger and more resilient as she practiced, she knew yoga was her calling.

“I started doing yoga after my mother beat cancer,” Atkins says. “After practicing yoga, she was able to recover from the effects of chemotherapy and cancer, and this inspired me to start teaching yoga.”

Since then, Tabay has completed a variety of yoga teacher training courses, healing certifications, and specialty modalities.

After being immersed in the yoga community at age six, it was a logical step for Tabay to finally go vegan six years later.

“If yoga is a big part of your life, you’ll start hearing about veganism whether you like it or not,” shares Atkins.

Atkins and his mother explored veganism, encouraged by their newfound community and commitment to health. What finally pushed them to make the switch turned out to be dinner on the plane.

“We were in New York and flying back to California,” Atkins says. “I had a chicken pasta and cheese plate, and after eating I felt like I had a stone in my stomach. I felt really bad. I said, “ok, that’s enough.” Now I’m going to go vegan.’”

Back home, Atkins and his mother watched the documentary “How healthy,” which helped solidify their decision. From there, Atkins did more research and ultimately settled on a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet.

“You still don’t eat animal products,” Atkins says. “You don’t eat meat, dairy and eggs, but you also eliminate processed sugar and refined oils, so you have no processed foods of any kind.”

While Atkins prefers the WFPB lifestyle, he still offers other options at his food truck.

“Some people don’t even know what vegan is, or have the wrong idea of ​​what the plant-based diet is,” says Atkins. “I wanted to give people the first step of the plant-based diet, but I also have a lot of whole plant-based options on the menu. This way people have options.”

He likes to call his food truck offerings vegan. Instead of being labeled plant-based, the menu features items like “f’sh tacos,” “buffalo chik’n wrap” and “beaf burger.”

“It doesn’t look like a vegan food truck,” Atkins says. “I tell them it was vegan and they had no idea. And it kind of opens people’s minds to the plant-based diet.”

As for the business, Atkins says the idea has been on the table for him and his mother for a long time. They saved up to make their food truck vision a reality.

“We always knew we wanted to have our own restaurant at some point,” he says. “We were very close to buying a restaurant probably in 2013 or 2014, but everything worked out for the best when we moved back to California and finally built a truck.”

The custom-designed 36-foot truck lives in a Dana Point gas station. Atkins and his mother run together.

“This is something we really wanted to do,” he says. “I’ve been in the food business for a while. He teaches cooking classes, creates culinary content, and even hosts small private events, but nothing on this scale. So it’s very exciting for us.”

As Atkins learned more and more about the vegan lifestyle, she began to make connections with her yoga training.

“I started learning even more about how much better the plant-based diet is in relation to animal rights and not harming animals,” she says.

Atkins notes that the yogic philosophy of ahimsa, or non-violence towards all living beings, played an important role in his decision-making process.

“I started learning more about animals and became more and more of an advocate for fighting animal cruelty,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is good for more than just my health. It is also good for animals and the environment. Helps reduce carbon emissions. Help reduce deforestation and water consumption.’”

It turns out Atkins has done his research.

Environmental sustainability

According to 2016 revision Out of 63 studies, switching from a typical Western diet composed of mass-produced animal products to a plant-based diet focused on local ingredients could result in a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and land use and a 50% reduction less than the use of water.

Benefits for human health

When it comes to human health, a whole foods, plant-based diet also offers numerous benefits.

These can include:

A 2017 study of more than 200,000 people found that those who ate a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts and avoided processed and sugary foods had a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease than those who ate a non-processed diet. plant-based. diets.

A 2013 study of more than 63,000 people found an association between a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet and a significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer.

Another 2015 study of 77,000 people found that vegetarian diets carried a 22% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to non-vegetarian diets.

If you want to try a plant-based diet for yourself, Atkins has lots of helpful advice.

Step by step

First of all, he suggests reducing overwhelm and taking it one step at a time.

“The best way to describe the transition to a plant-based diet is: It’s a journey,” says Atkins. “You’re not the one doing this. And then you’re there.”

Instead of throwing everything at once, tackle the changes one at a time.

Home cooking

He also suggests getting comfortable with cooking at home. This can reduce the expense of dining out and purchasing vegetarian specialties in the store, which are often processed.

Use an app

If you’re looking for local places to eat vegan fare, Tabay suggests the Happy cow app. Simply enter your zip code or city and the app will show vegan options near you.

Stay sweet

When it comes to keeping things sweet on a WFPB diet, Atkins has two favorite sweeteners that she uses in place of sugar: dates and jaggery.

Dates, the fruit of the palm tree, are rich in fiber and antioxidants, making them an excellent sugar substitute. To replace sugar dates, follow these simple steps:

  1. Blend 2 cups (480 grams) pitted dates with 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) water to make a paste.
  2. Add pasta to recipes in place of sugar at a 1:1 ratio.

Atkins’ other favorite is jaggery, a sweetener often found in Asian and African dishes. Jaggery is made from sugarcane or dates but is not spun during processing. This leaves behind more nutrients.

Jaggery might to contain significant quantities of:

  • iron
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • manganese
  • B vitamins
  • minerals such as zinc, copper, calcium and phosphorus

However, it is important to keep in mind that jaggery is still sugar. It is a good substitute for added nutrients, but does not reduce the calories, fructose, or sucrose associated with regular sugar.

Ultimately, Atkins’ commitment to sharing plant-based nutrition with the world is a reflection of the intention she shares at the end of each yoga class: “Think good thoughts, speak kind words, feel love, be love and give love.”


Crystal Hoshaw is a mother, writer, and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms and one-on-one settings in Los Angeles, Thailand and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares mindful strategies for self-care through online courses at Simple wild free. You can find it on Instagram.

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