You don’t have to be vegan to know Tabitha Brown. In fact, it’s safe to say that this vegan influencer has more non-vegan followers than vegan followers. At the time of penning this article, Brown had accrued 2.9 million followers on Facebook, another 4.1 million on Instagram, and over 259,000 more on Twitter, all of which are shadowed by her prolific presence on TikTok which attracts 4.9 million to her feed. This social media stardom has served as a catapult for her influence. Brown’s name is now attached to a medley of vegan ads and entertainment, from Dunkin’ Donuts’ debut of oat milk to her own show on the Ellen Digital Network (Ellen DeGeneres, that is), plus her own collection with Target. What makes this vivacious woman so captivating? Here is what we call the Tabitha Brown Effect.
The making of Tabitha Brown
In 2004, Brown moved to Los Angeles to perform stand-up comedy. In interviews she’s done with other outlets, she notes that she was hoping to land a role on a TV series, but when that didn’t pan out, she sought work elsewhere. Brown became an Uber driver, and it was during one of her driving shifts in December 2017 that she stopped at Whole Foods and recorded the now-famous video that kicked off her wildly successful career as a vegan influencer.
In the video, which she posted on Facebook, she unapologetically and authentically raves about the sandwich she just purchased—a TTLA (tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, avocado) sandwich (with a pickle) from Whole Foods. “Y’all, Lord have mercy, I know I can’t sing, but this made me sing, Whole Foods,” she says while sitting in the driver’s seat of her car, her video rolling for over three minutes. “When I think of the goodness—my soul cries out.” As a result of this viral video, the TTLA is now a permanent fixture on the Whole Foods sandwich board nationwide.
“Have a good day, and even if you can’t, don’t go messing up nobody else’s.” — Tabitha Brown
Brown transitioned to a vegan diet in 2017. She had been battling depression, chronic head and neck pain, and anxiety prior to making the switch. The hit documentary What the Health set her on a 30-day vegan challenge, and she never looked back. She started making real-time videos to share what she was eating as a vegan, and her enthusiasm captured hundreds of thousands of viewers. The famed TTLA video hit 50,000 views the first day and shot up to over 100,000 the next morning. Brown had finally found her place on the screen.
The unofficial vegan food spokeswoman
In the scant four years that have passed since that video, Brown has used her voice, charisma, and personality to turn the world onto vegan food. Often accompanied by her husband, daughter, and son, the Browns are a dynamic force that make vegan living oh-so-appealing.
Dozens of food companies have latched onto the Tabitha Brown Effect. Not surprisingly, she serves as a brand ambassador for Whole Foods and starred in a 2018 marketing campaign for the grocer. She also struck a deal with Dunkin’ in 2020 to announce the chain’s nationwide rollout of Planet Oat oat milk. Sabra sought out Brown’s endorsement for its hummus, and she appeared in a ‘Snack to School’ kid-friendly video series which included her own hummus-inspired recipes. The whole Brown clan was involved in the marketing of The Pizza Plant—the first plant-based and organic frozen pizza to debut at Whole Foods. Not to be outdone, Brown secured her own spice blend under the McCormick’s label. The Sunshine All Purpose Seasoning—a unique blend of garlic, allspice, thyme, turmeric, cayenne pepper, mango, and pineapple—is a salt-free blend that adds a punch of Caribbean flavor to any plant-based dish.
All this isn’t to say that Brown only eats out or relies on convenience foods. She can definitely cook. Her TikTok videos show off her culinary skills, and many of them are captivating enough to set off viral food trends (hello, carrot bacon). If you’re wondering “what’s for dinner?” a quick scroll through Brown’s feed should answer your question.
Tabitha Brown in the spotlight
For a woman who once dreamed of having audiences to entertain, she’s found plenty of avenues to showcase her dynamic personality outside of promotional campaigns. In 2020, she snagged her own web series titled All Love with Tabitha Brown on Ellen DeGeneres’ network. Brown also makes regular appearances on Vogue’s Instagram account where she cooks up vegan dishes as a part of the outlet’s cooking series.
Brown’s influence has earned her more than just followers and commercial gigs. This year, she won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for her cookbook, Feeding the Soul [Because It’s My Business]. In 2021, she was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Social Media Personality, and she was named Tiktok’s top creator of 2020 and PETA’s 2020 Person of the Year. Her fans are now petitioning for her to become the voice of Siri. (If you feel like adding your name, here’s the petition.)
We’ll leave you with one of Brown’s frequent sayings: “Have a good day, and even if you can’t, don’t go messing up nobody else’s.”
For more on Tabitha Brown, read:
Why Tabitha Brown Never Loses Sight of Her Faith, Family, or Why She’s Vegan
Black Wellness Matters: How Tabitha Brown Is Healing Her Community
Tabitha Brown Is Now a NYT Bestselling Author