Vegan influencer Tabitha Brown taught actress and LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox—of Orange Is the New Black fame—how to cook a plant-based meal in a video sponsored by Target. The duo created the video cooking lesson using items sent to each of them by Target, which included cooking utensils and groceries. Cox admitted that she has not cooked a meal in 10 years and, after living for two years in her current apartment, had yet to turn on the stove. Brown’s mission was to convince Cox that cooking vegan food was easy and led her through the process. “You gotta make it fun and not take yourself so serious in the kitchen,” Brown said.
The duo prepared garlic and herb-seasoned okra (kicked up with Everything But the Bagel seasoning) in their respective air fryers, along with a one-skillet meal of Beyond Sausage, cabbage, red peppers, and onions. Brown shared ingenious cooking tips during the video such as holding a piece of bread in your mouth while slicing onions to create a shield between the tear-causing veggie and your eyes.
Throughout the mostly light-hearted cooking lesson, the women discussed more serious issues, including the untimely death of Brown’s mother at age 51 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The women also discussed how Black people tend to have higher instances of diet-related diseases. “I feel like with Black folks, we have high blood pressure and diabetes and like these things tend to be [bigger] issues for us,” Cox said. “In the Black culture, you know, people don’t like to think of it this way but it’s the slave diet … that continued generation after generation,” Brown responded. “It was introduced to us … our ancestors had to make do with whatever they had left. So that’s how they discovered [that they can] eat any part of the pig. Survival, right? I mean, if we go back and really think, ‘What did our ancestors eat before they ever were enslaved?’ They lived off the land, mostly … eating fruits and vegetables and things like that.”
Cox went vegan for four months in 2017 and then resumed eating fish, citing that she needed B12 and iron. After Cox and Brown finished cooking, the women sat down to eat the meals they prepared, with Cox exclaiming that she was proud of herself for following through with the cooking challenge. “I still can’t believe I actually cooked in my kitchen,” Cox said. “It actually felt really good. I think I’ve set up this story around cooking being laborious and being like not fun and I was completely wrong. This was a lot of fun.”