Photographer Ben Cope
Stylist - Anna Schilling
Congratulations on being America's youngest "YOGI". What exactly does this title mean?
Thanks! I became the youngest certified yoga teacher by getting my 200-Hour yoga certificate at age 10. Actually, I was not trying to be the youngest yoga teacher. I just happened to be the youngest when I decided to start teaching. I didn’t know I was the youngest until after I was certified. My mission was (and still is) to keep people healthy and well through yoga, and now also through reiki, nutrition, and plant-based eating. I discovered yoga and its healing properties when I was 7 years old, and that is when I decided that I want to start teaching this healing practice. It wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I got 200 hour certified and started teaching my own classes.
How do you become a reiki certified?
You can be certified in Reiki Level 1, Level 2, and Master Level 3. I am certified in all 3 levels. To be a certified Reiki Master, you have to be attuned and certified by another Reiki Master Teacher. That Reiki Master was certified from another Reiki Master, and the lineage just keeps going until you come to the source. I am pretty close to the top of the lineage, being 6 masters away from Usui Sensei, the founder of the Reiki healing system.
Being a Reiki Master, I can practice Reiki on myself, give Reiki treatments to others in person, give Reiki treatments to others non-locally, train and certify people to be Reiki level 1, 2, and 3, and teach people how to certify people in Reiki 1, 2, and 3.
So you are a vegan chef? This is exciting! So name your top 3 dishes that you love to prepare.
I love making vegan versions of Iranian food. Some of my favorites are Loobia polo, Khoresht-e karafs, and sabzi polo ba mahi.
You recently opened up your own food truck "Tabay's Mindful Kitchen". How is that going? Do you see yourself opening up a brick and mortar restaurant someday or where are you going with your chef career?
So far, Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen is doing great! With my new food truck, I am accomplishing exactly what I hoped to do when opening up a food truck; open people's minds to vegan food. In order to open people's minds, you have to open their mouths! When they take a bite of my vegan food, I am not joking, they do not know that they are eating vegan food. When I tell them that what they just ate was vegan, they do not believe it. The reason that some people are not wanting to go vegan is because they think that vegan food is bland, basic, and missing the flavors they love. They see vegan food as it was in the 90s. It has come a long way since then, though! Not only are people surprised that my vegan food tastes like their favorite non-vegan food, they are surprised that they like it better than what I am trying to mimic. 90% of our customers are not vegan (yet) but they are our repeat customers. They come to my food truck because they like our versions of their fast food favorites and comfort food classics more than the originals.
I am not sure about a brick and mortar yet, but franchising is what I am leaning more towards.
How did you get so involved in this healthy lifestyle?
After seeing how yoga helped heal my mom from the effects of chemotherapy and cancer, I was inspired to teach people yoga, so they can heal and stay healthy. Along the way, I learned reiki, nutrition, and veganism, and used all of these tools to help people live a healthy, happy, and compassionate life.
How can someone start to become a vegan?
Being vegan is very easy. You don’t have to stop eating anything, you just have to replace what you normally eat with vegan alternatives. Vegan alternatives today are a lot more tasty, authentic, and accessible than they used to be. If you don’t want to cook food for yourself, just use the HappyCow app or website and find a vegan restaurant around you. If you don’t want to go to a restaurant, have the restaurant deliver the vegan food to you. Sounds pretty easy to me!
I have a lot of respect for Deepak Chopra and was honored to teach at his seminar. It was such a great experience. I was also happy to share the practice of yoga to the Kardashians. I love teaching for anyone and everyone. My students are all the same to me, I have love for everyone and want to teach and inspire as many people as I can.
What projects are you working on that you like to mention?
I am working on writing a book with my mom. I’m also planning a yoga/cooking retreat and a yoga tour. I am working towards getting my food truck, Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen, at more events, and perhaps franchising Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen so that people everywhere can enjoy my delicious vegan food!
Where can fans find you on social media?
On Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, I am @TabayAtkins and my food truck is @TabaysMindfulKitchen