Chef Dad Writes “The Little Vegan Chef” to Teach Kids How to Cook Vegan
Anthony Thomas’ life changed in 2006 after being diagnosed with a rare life-threatening brain condition. After a risky, 13-hour, open brain surgery at George Washington Hospital, he began recovering and relearning how to walk and talk. After his recovery, he decided to go vegan and ditch his diet of junk food and fast-food. “After going vegan, my skin was glowing, energy levels were through the roof,” Thomas says. “Overall I felt like a different person for the better.”
After his medical ordeal, Thomas—known now as Chef Anthony—decided to become a private chef and build a catering company. Today, he’s a prominent personal chef who has also released a number of cookbooks that help impart his cooking wisdom. His latest book, "The Little Vegan Chef," was inspired by his daughter Ashlyn while the family was in COVID-19 lockdown. They used cooking to stay busy while cooped up in their apartment in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. During their at-home cooking sessions, Ashlyn fell in love with simple vegan dishes. Not only were they making tasting, nutritious food, she was also learning at the same time. Chef Anthony decided to create a children's recipe illustration cookbook, and The Little Vegan Chef was born.
The book is a compilation of super easy-to-make recipes that are not only for kids but also to be enjoyed—and made—by adults. Chef Anthony says his daughter’s favorite recipe is the Black Bean Salsa. “I’ve been making her black bean purées since she was four months old,” says Chef Anthony. “And as she’s gotten older, [I’ve been] able to incorporate the solid black bean, a little kernel corn topped with fresh Pico de Gallo, cilantro all tossed in lime juice.” She also is now a pro at the Vegan Ceaser Salas Dressing, another recipe included in the book.
The book is a simple and easy way to introduce kids to plant-based food and cooking. Most recipes can in fact be made by children, with supervision, Chef Anthony reminds. The book is available on Amazon just in time for Father’s Day.
Chef Anthony also let us in on one of his private clients’ favorite plant-based dishes: Vegan Lo Mein. “Being a vegan and a chef, my creative juices have always been flowing, so one of my staple dishes to go to is my Vegan Lo Mein,” Chef Anthony told The Beet in an interview. “I sautee little sweet peppers, sweet onion, mushrooms, carrot shavings, red cabbage, and broccoli in grapeseed oil. Add my al dente linguine pasta to the skillet, add a bit of soy sauce, and some hoisin sauce. Toss it around, a little sea salt to make the flavors pop, and it’s a hit every time.” For those in Maryland, Chef Anthony offers this and other dishes as part of his vegan meal prep services.
Today, nearly 14 years since his brain surgery, Chef Anthony doesn’t take any medication and doesn’t have recurring seizures or migraines. Chef Anthony reminds us that he is living proof that you can change your life through diet. And, instilling these values in kids at a young age can be inspired with a little fun and education in the kitchen.