The Millennial and Gen Z generations are sometimes derided as entitled, slothful, and social media addicts. The successes of Greta Thunberg, Haile Thomas, or Tabay Atkins put an end to that broad generalization. Gen Z is motivated and prepared to act to improve the world for themselves and future generations. We had the pleasure of interviewing with Tabay Atkins, the youngest yoga instructor in the US, on his journey to vegan advocacy and business success. Atkins, who is only 16 years old, is the face of Nike Yoga and is familiar with Deepak Chopra and the Kardashians. He also holds certifications in Reiki and plant-based nutrition, and he teaches yoga and workshops in plant-based cookery all over the world. Atkins is expanding on his use of his culinary abilities this summer by starting a vegan food truck in Orange County, California, where he resides. We spoke with him to learn more about how he came to adopt a yogi lifestyle and what to anticipate from Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen.
Beginning with Cancer
Atkins’ viewpoint was set early on when his mother Sahel was given a cancer diagnosis. Her intense chemotherapy treatment left her frail and badly physically disabled, yet she overcame the illness. Sahel enrolled in a 200-hour yoga certification course when Atkins was just six years old and had been cancer-free for two weeks. Atkins was a good observer. As a little child, he witnessed how the technique aided her recovery.
“By seeing her journey through cancer, I learned that health is not just one thing. Health is a lot of things brought together to keep us well. I learned the importance of mental and emotional health as well as physical health when it comes to staying healthy and well. I learned that we must maintain a balanced system and that focusing on one part of the system is not enough and quite ineffective,” Atkins said.
Atkins devoted himself to his yoga practice after learning from his mother’s battle with illness. He finished his 200-hour Vinyasa certification before the age of ten. He added 500 hours of Vinyasa training to his resume at the age of 14, and he also earned a perfect 4.0 GPA upon completing high school. He and Sahel became vegans while he was training.
“Veganism and yoga have the same values. [Both are] trying to improve health, increase compassion, promote non-violence, decrease environmental damage, and facilitate objective awareness … I think that veganism is a method that allows us to fully and truly live a yoga life, and yoga is a way to amplify the benefits of the vegan lifestyle. You can be a vegan without practicing yoga, but to be a yogi without practicing veganism, something’s missing,” Atkins explained.
Although Sahel has been cancer-free for eleven years, Atkins still remembers that tumultuous period in both of their lives. He contributes all of his earnings to charities such as NEGU, Saving Sophie, and Teen Cancer America that support young people with cancer.
There is no questioning Atkins’ passion to yoga, but he also appears to be quite interested in diet and nutrition. A whole-food, plant-based diet, in his opinion, is an underutilized method of cancer prevention. “When we are filling ourselves up with processed, animal-based junk food, we are hindering our body’s natural ability to combat disease. As Ann Wigmore once said, ‘Food can be the greatest form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.’”
Because of this, Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen isn’t an entirely whole-food, plant-based food truck. Atkins intended to draw people in with some well-known favorites like Beyond and Impossible burgers and brats for his first venture into the food industry. The menu does, however, include a variety of healthful selections for each category. There is no sugar, oil, or other processed components in these “mindful” products.
Atkins revealed his love of Iranian food when we inquired about his particular dietary habits. He likes preparing plant-based versions of traditional Iranian cuisines like kabobs, khoresht e karafs, ghormeh sabzi, and loobia polo because it is a part of his culture.
The Mindful Menu
Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen offers a wide variety of bowls, salads, handholds, and sides. Although Atkins indicated that there is a lot of ingredient overlap between the alternatives, we couldn’t believe the number of menu items he hopes to make from a single food truck kitchen. We requested Atkins to assist everyone in making a choice because new clients can become overwhelmed by options. His top recommendations for first-timers are pho, the Big Stac, and kabob wrap. He said that the tuna wrap is an underappreciated hero.
“The tuna wrap might seem underrated, because there are a lot of people who don’t like tuna, and because ‘Really? Vegan tuna?’ The great thing about my tuna wrap is that the people who like tuna will love it, because it tastes just like tuna, and the people who don’t like it will love it because it is not tuna!” Atkins explained.
Additionally, the wrap is made of plant-based complete foods, so Atkins may consume it. Impossible and Beyond Burgers are not an option for him because he follows a whole-food, plant-based diet. He didn’t want to push anybody into the deep end immediately away, though.
“The menu items are based on classics that everyone loves… I want people to learn that you can be vegan and still have all the foods that you love and are familiar with. I also offer my homemade burger for those who want to take it to the next level of being whole food, plant-based,” Atkins said.
Although Atkins doesn’t have a five-year strategy for this specific business, he is aware that he wants to seek additional chances in the food industry. He is already at work on a cookbook, and his long-term goals include opening a restaurant that only serves plant-based, complete cuisine. “I’m sure that this is just the first of many new culinary adventures for me … Who knows where this will all lead, though. I’m just going to enjoy the process.”
Source: “AMERICA’S YOUNGEST YOGI JUST OPENED A FOOD TRUCK—AND IT’S VEGAN” by VegNews
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