Published by Bridget Dillon.

Tabay Atkins is one teen who’s in the business of helping animals. This 16-year-old turned compassion into action by opening his very own vegan food truck, Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen.

With a passion for vegan activism, yoga, and serving his community, Tabay saw a need for more delicious vegan comfort food where he grew up in Orange County, California. He says, “My food truck is not only vegan, but it also has a great selection of whole food, plant-based options.”

When asked why opening a vegan food truck was important to him, he said, “Every vegan meal that [someone eats] at my food truck is one nonvegan meal that they are not eating somewhere else. Each meal makes a difference for our health, our environment, and the animals.”

With its tagline—“Food for mind, body, and planet”—Tabay’s Mindful Kitchen reminds its community how we can change the world through the everyday choices that we make. When asked what advice he would give other young people who want to get active for animals in their community, Tabay told us, “[Y]ou can be an animal hero by eating plant-based foods instead of animal-based foods, wear animal-friendly clothing, and use products that don’t harm animals (whether that is through [animal] testing, or its environmental impact).”

“Besides leading through your example alone, you can use your individual talents and strengths to create a brighter future for the animals. For example, I teach cooking classes to show people how to make their favorite foods without harming animals. I also opened a food truck that does the same! You can do what makes you uniquely you to create that sustainable and moral change that is need[ed] in our lifestyle and the lifestyle of others.”

For Tabay’s dedication to teaching compassion for all sentient beings, PETA is presenting him with our Hero to Animals Award.

“No matter what size, shape, or form, every living creature is a living creature, and they deserve to be alive. In reality, life is life. It doesn’t matter what vessel the life is in. Life can be found in some[one] as small as a fly, to some[one] as large as an elephant,” Atkins explained.

He encourages other teens to figure out how they can take action by considering their talents and passions:

We all have a natural desire within us to leave the world better than how we found it, especially young people. When we see the unethical treatment of animals, unsustainable environmental practices, or anything else that leads to a less happy planet, we must use our voice to inspire change. Change is needed, but change won’t happen unless you speak up for what you know is right. The only way to find what you are passionate about is to open your eyes to the suffering of the world. Only then will you know what your purpose on this Earth is.

Tabay is a true hero to animals, and he’s working to end speciesism—the belief that other species are inferior to humans. You can learn more about his work on his website.

Here’s How You Can Be a Hero to Animals, Too

If you’re a young activist (between the ages of 13 and 24) inspired by Tabay’s story, join Students Opposing Speciesism (SOS). You can help PETA inform others about speciesism and win more victories for animals everywhere!

Join SOS

How to Organize Your Own Protest

Are you a student who wants to make a direct change for animals? Take it to the streets by holding a protest! We will help you every step of the way.

Organize A Protest