Tabitha Brown

Vegan food influencer and actress Tabitha Brown used her voice to help people cope during the COVID-19 lockdown. For some, her voice felt like a big hug, and for others, she was a mother figure (via NPR). Her short TikTok monologues have over 4 million viewers tuning in to see how Brown prepares a quick vegan dish or serves up a life lesson about staying true to who you are. Tiktok’s top creator of 2020 and PETA’s 2020 Person Of The Year seems to know something about inspiring her following. In fact, her fans are even petitioning on Change.org to "Make Tabitha Brown the voice of Siri."

Brown’s fame is a result of her newfound personality. For years, the Los Angeles-based vlogger tried to be someone else. "From covering my accent to wearing my hair straight. I was told to always be on a diet and be skinny or be a size 2; I was always trying to do what I thought that [people] wanted to see," Brown told Good Housekeeping. Until one day, she decided, "I am enough, just as I am, as God created me. I’m enough and it’s okay, I’m going to be with who I am, I decided to go with freedom."

And that she did, which is evident in two of her iconic catchphrases "that’s your business" and "like so, like that." Both are now trademarked, according to Inquisitr. Here’s all you need to know about this vegan superstar.

Even as a kid, Tabitha Brown’s dream was to pursue acting

toddler picture of Tabitha Brown

As a kid, Tabitha Brown loved little Rudy Huxtable’s character on The Cosby Show. According to an interview on Chloemcfeters.com, Brown wanted to be a friend of Rudy’s on the show. It wasn’t just a childhood fantasy, either. Brown kept the dream close through her school years, befriending the limelight, performing in plays staged at her school in Eden, North Carolina, in addition to the community theatre and church (via HuffPost).

After graduating from high school, Brown studied fashion at the International Fine Arts College in Miami upon her mother’s insistence. She ended up dropping out to pursue her true dream of becoming an actress — a dream that would take her over 2,000 miles away from home to Southern California (via The New York Times).

La-la land wasn’t particularly kind to 19-year-old Brown. She couldn’t get her foot at Hollywood’s door and ended up having no extra time to audition in between balancing two jobs. Financially exhausted, she decided to return home for a year. "That one year turned into five years, turned into a baby, a marriage, car, job, house and a forgotten dream," Brown told The New York Times. She then received an offer to co-host a late-night show in her hometown. This opportunity pushed her to take one more shot at her dream.

She flew to the West Coast again in 2004, this time with a husband and a toddler by her side.

Tabitha Brown thought stand-up comedy would lead her to Hollywood

photograph of Tabitha Brown

It’s a common truth that making it in Hollywood isn’t an easy task. But Tabitha Brown had a game plan. She decided she would get into stand-up comedy and that would land her in television someday. "I knew early on that I had a gift for humor and making people laugh. My dad and uncles always told jokes at family cookouts, and I would remember them all and tell them to my friends or other family members, and the feeling I would get in making them laugh was amazing," she told producer Chloé McFeters in an interview.

Although Brown moved to Los Angeles in 2004, she couldn’t jump into her plan immediately. Her mom’s passing in 2007, in addition to the pressure to support her family in such an expensive city, took a large volume of her mental space. She took on a managerial role at Macy’s in Century City — a job where she "was treated very negatively and different by the CEO and other executives." But she stuck with it for the money (via Chloemcfeters.com).

It had been over a decade since her move to LA, and in 2015, Brown finally did a stand-up gig. "I was so scared, but honey, it was the best feeling of my life when I finished," she told McFeters. Stand-up comedy was a form of therapy for Brown as she was coping with depression.

Tabitha Brown let her dreams take the wheel

Tabitha Brown smiling

When Tabitha Brown fell ill back in 2016, she paused her auditioning and stand-up gigs. "I wasn’t able to do my acting. I was depressed, I had anxiety," she told ET. While this was undoubtedly an extremely challenging phase of Brown’s life, it was also a life-changing one. Since none of the doctors’ prescribed drugs seemed to rid Brown of her illness, she turned to her faith. "I said, ‘God, if you heal me, I’ll do whatever you ask, please. Just heal me,’" she told Buzzfeed.

Call it an epiphany or a divine intervention, but in hindsight, the prayer seemed to have worked for Brown. "I had a dream while being sick. I saw myself on a show. I had my hair in a little afro and I was very happy and free. And I thought, ‘OK God reveal that to me, what is that?’ And in my prayer, I heard him say, ‘Start doing videos,’" she said (via ET).

Letting this dream guide her, Brown started posting short videos on similar material that she performed as a stand-up comic. "But then when I went vegan, the voice that I heard that said start doing videos whispered in my ear and said, ‘Now tell people what you’re eating,’" she recalled to ET. And thanks to that voice, we are blessed with Brown’s drool-worthy carrot bacon strips recipe.

A review of a vegan wrap brought Tabitha Brown to fame

Tabitha Brown holding vegan wrap

Tabitha Brown spent over 12 years in LA with little success as a television star — "little small victories, but never nothing really big," as she told The New York Times. Another major road block was living in chronic pain. After she recovered, however, she threw herself back into auditioning and acting — doing roles in independent flicks — while also working as an Uber driver. She hoped she would secure a big shot in the TV industry as a customer who could potentially offer her a role to play (via NYT).

While that remained a dream, success came to her in an unexpected way. In 2018 on an average December afternoon, Brown completed an Uber ride and stopped at Whole Foods to grab a TTLA sandwich. It was so good that she decided to post a review of it. The TTLA — tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, and avocado — is the vegan version of a BLT. Brown’s review basically broke the internet and transformed her life overnight. Whole Foods appointed her as their new ambassador, and soon enough, she was collaborating with vegan companies, hosting vegan festivals, and so on. "I made more money in that year than I had made in 14 years of living in Los Angeles," she told Buzzfeed.

Tabitha Brown was not always vegan

Tabitha Brown eating sandwich

Growing up, Tabitha Brown was not a picky eater. "My dad instilled in me and my sister that you eat what is there, okay? Cause this is what we have. So, honey, I ate whatever was in front of me," she said in a Goodful YouTube video. That included pork, beef, seafood, squirrel, possum, or whatever it was that her great grandfather hunted. Fast forward to 2017, and Brown’s diet included nothing but plants.

What brought on the change? A severe battle with chronic pain, fatigue, and depression. One morning, Brown woke up with what seemed to be minor neck pain. She often got cricks in her neck resulting from a car accident she experienced in high school (via Goodful). She dismissed the pain as another one of those episodes. But this time, the pain remained for over a year. "I really thought I was gonna die," she told Buzzfeed.

The doctors ran tests, but found nothing. Then, one day, her daughter Choyce put What the Health! on her radar, a documentary that reports the negative effects of consuming animal products and advocates a plant-based diet. Inspired by it, Browl took up a 30-day vegan diet challenge. Not only did her pain vanish, but she felt an overall boost in health. The experience was life-changing, and Brown turned vegan.

Tabitha Brown thought veganism was just for white people

Tabitha Brown smiling

Before Tabitha Brown became a vegan TikTok sensation, she used to think veganism was just for "white women who did yoga, or hippy women — who also did yoga" (via VICE). As she got older, she thought, "oh it’s for hard core animal activists. As I got more well-traveled, I started thinking, oh veganism, that’s actually kind of for the cool kids" (via Goodful).

Brown isn’t the only person to think so. According to Thrillist, groups such as Portland Vegans of Color and sites like Vegan Voices of Color acknowledge and support vegans of color because they are misrepresented. Brown seems to be single handedly doing something similar. Brown wants to create a platform where no one is intimidated to step in and browse (via VICE). In addition, she wants to debunk the myth that veganism is an expensive affair.

Tabitha Brown joined TikTok because of her daughter

Tabitha Brown and Choyce Brown

Tabitha Brown always thought TikTok was for the younger crowd. But it only took a little push from her daughter, Choyce, for Brown to start her own page in early 2020. "She kept saying, ’cause I think you’ll be, like, a good, like, comforting mom for the people on there. I think you just add some, like, really good energy. And I was like, I don’t know about that, girl. I really just wanted to do the renegade dance everybody was doing," Brown told NPR.

Brown did end up doing the Renegade dance, and it went viral. "Honey, that was the first video that went viral. I was like, whoa, God. Well, now let me try to do, you know, a recipe," she said. Within just two months of joining TikTok, Brown gained two million followers. Her videos received so much praise, with some saying, "Your voice — it sounds like a hug. It helps my anxiety. You know, I feel like, oh, you’re the mom I never had" (via NPR).

Tabitha Brown posts vegan twists on some of her favorite dishes

Tabitha Brown holding salad

Tabitha Brown didn’t turn vegan because she didn’t like the taste of non-vegan food. She turned vegan to save her life. Now thoroughly committed to this new lifestyle, Brown often craves some good old crab legs, lobster tails, and shrimp (via Goodful). To satisfy these cravings, she transformed her kitchen into a lab, experimenting with different seasonings, ingredients, and processes to put vegan spins on some of her favorite eats.

She discovered that raw pecans are a solid replacement for meat when making chili (via Southern Living), and lobster mushrooms, when seasoned right, can taste just like seafood (via Goodful). Brown recreates her favorite seafood boil using all vegan oyster mushrooms, Zatarain’s crab boil, and vegetables.

Seafood aside, what Brown could never imagine her life without is a good serving of creamy mac and cheese. "This is good comfort food. My granny made it, my mom made it, and when I went vegan, I still had to have it in my life," she told Southern Living. So, Brown created her version with butternut squash, dairy-free yogurt, vegan cheese, and nutritional yeast.

Growing up, Tabitha Brown didn’t like cooking

Tabitha Brown as a kid

As a kid, Brown had several creative pursuits that ranged from acting to sewing, but never cooking (via Chloemcfeters.com). "When I was little, growing up in the South, you know, my mom and my granny and my aunts — they were all really great cooks. But I was a tomboy, and I wanted to be outside playing. I ain’t care nothing about cooking and being in nobody kitchen," Brown told NPR. Brown only started cooking when she moved in with her husband.

She called her mom or grandmother for recipes and learned through trial and error. Somewhere along the way, Brown started to enjoy the process. This passion stayed with her, even after she turned vegan in 2017. "It became fun for me. And I was excited to try new recipes, and figure things out, you know, it was just discovering a new me," said Brown (via Goodful).

Brown still considers herself a "new vegan," as she’s always discovering new spices, herbs, and even mushrooms. "I ain’t a chef. But I do love to cook," she said (via Goodful).

Besides recipes, Tabitha Brown posts inspirational videos

Tabitha Brown drinking from mug

When you’re having a rough day, scrolling through Tabitha Brown’s TikTok could be exactly what you need. Brown uses her social media platform to lift her followers up and say it’s all going to be okay.

Brown has a newfound appreciation for life, and she spreads those good vibes onto social media. "Every day I wake up, that’s inspiration for me. I was sick for a long time. I had a resting headache and chronic fatigue, and many days I didn’t think I would wake up. When you’ve been to that dark place and you come out of that, every day is a gift. To be able to be in this moment, in a sound mind and a healthy body, I don’t really need anything else," she told LA Times.

None of her videos is rehearsed, either. "I don’t want to edit. I want them to get exactly what I give them," she told ET. The format appears more like a one-way conversation with a friend who genuinely cares and signs off with, "Have a good day, and even if you can’t, don’t go messing up nobody else’s."

Tabitha Brown has her own show

Tabitha Brown holding vegetable tray

Tabitha Brown’s instant popularity on TikTok during the beginning of pandemic now seems like just a teaser, given the opportunities that have come her way since then. For one, Brown signed with Creative Artists Agency — one of the most influential talent agencies in Hollywood, according to Observer, which represents A-list artists like The Weeknd — in April 2020. According to Brown’s Instagram post, it was a 15-year-old dream that came true. She was also featured in Vanity Fair‘s July 2020 issue, and later that year appeared in on Red Table Talk where she showed Jada Pinkett Smith how to make pot roast with jackfruit.

While the world was on COVID-19 lockdown, Brown launched her own show, All Love on ellentube, where, much like in her TikTok videos, she gives advice on relationships, self-care practices, and vegan recipes. Brown, who has previously played cameo roles in Switched at Birth and Will & Grace (via IMDB), also scored a role in Season 4 of Emmy winner Lena Waithe’s The Chi (via VegNews). In addition, there’s a comedy show (via LA Times) and a cookbook in the works (via Essence). If you are a Tabitha Brown fan, now might be a good time to master her air fried okra recipe for binge-watch snacks.

Tabitha Brown has a name for her hair

close-up of Tabitha Brown smiling

Tabitha Brown named her hair "Donna," and according to Brown, Donna has a "very strong personality." Brown used to press her hair to look long and straight: "I would press the life out of Donna," Brown said in a video on her YouTube channel. That is, until she did a "big chop." According to Brown, hair is energy, and a "big chop" makes room for new energy (via OWN).

Having grown up watching her aunt do hair for ladies in her community in North Carolina, Brown learned how to do presses, locks, and twist outs at a very early age. In fact, she turned her skills into a side hustle when she moved to LA back in 2004. So when Brown, who also uses her platform to support the CROWN Act that abolishes hair discrimination at school and in the workplace, found a bald spot growing at the back of her head, she knew she had to do something about it. It was while researching for natural oils and all-vegan products in the market when she realized she can come up with one herself (via Tabitha Brown’s YouTube Channel).

So, she got herself a business partner and came up with Donna’s Recipe in 2021, which is an all-vegan hair growth system that works for all types of hair.

Tabitha Brown’s family members are featured in her videos often

Tabitha Brown and family

None of Tabitha Brown’s family members are camera shy. Brown is a mother to three children: Choyce, Queston, and her husband’s daughter Tyleah (via The Netline).

According to one of Brown’s videos on her YouTube channel, she and her husband Chance have known each other since fifth grade. They attended the same middle school in Eden, North Carolina. They never got into an official committed relationship until both were in different colleges in different States — Brown was in Miami, and her husband in North Carolina. But they’ve been a couple since 1998, and married for 17 years as of 2020 (via Tabitha Brown’s Instagram).

Brown has always had the support of her husband who runs an organization called Team Chance Basketball that builds "relationships with kids ages 5-12 thru the fundamentals of basketball!" Brown and her husband host a YouTube series called Fridays with Tab and Chance, and Brown hosts another one with her kids called Very Good Mondays.

While eight-year-old Quest and a pro track athlete-aspirant Tyleah are now recognizable faces, thanks to their mom’s burgeoning popularity, Choyce has her own fan following. She’s a model and was featured in the March 2020 cover of the Dream Teen Magazine.