In case you haven’t noticed, veganism has moved to the forefront in the past few years. More people are becoming vegan whether for health reasons, for the animals or the environment. Influencers like Tabitha Brown and chef brothers Derek Sarno and Chad Sarno are catching the mainstream’s attention. Social media has been swarmed with unique dairy and meat-free recipes and vegans are finally enjoying the spotlight.

Visit for more information

One celebrity chef/author who has raised the stakes on innovative and delicious vegan recipes is Chef Joya. Arguably creating the most interesting and delectable dishes, this North Carolina beauty is set to become a household name. Her cookbook From My Ancestors Table: African & Caribbean Vegan Food For The Soul has broken the boundaries of vegan soul food. From her infamous jerk ribz to her vegan pernil—you won’t believe it’s vegan. Today Chef Joya has a huge following as she caters to the celebs while showcasing her recipes on her YouTube Channel Say What! It’s Vegan?

AfricanStewCookbook 162
From My Ancestors Table: African & Caribbean Vegan Food For The Soul

Can you tell us a little about your background before becoming a vegan influencer and vegan chef to the stars?


I was a professional makeup artist (16 years now) and promotional model. I’ve worked with several major networks and on corporate videos.

When did you first go vegan, and why?

I was raised vegan but decided to explore other ways of eating in my twenties. I returned to veganism in May 2018 when I challenged my clients to try a vegan lifestyle, so I said that I would do it with them. It was the best decision ever!

Do you remember the first few dishes you had in the rotation when you first went vegan?

Not really. I’ve always cooked vegan meals because my family grew up vegan. Jackfruit was starting to get popular, so I remember cooking a Buffalo chicken dish made with jackfruit.

How do you think the urban community could benefit from a vegan diet?

They can benefit from a vegan diet depending on how they choose to eat. Vegan doesn’t always mean healthy if you are only eating processed or junk food. However, overall, a vegan lifestyle is excellent because you’re eliminating fatty meats, which have been known to cause high cholesterol. Also, the risk for diabetes can possibly decrease as well because sugar consumption is usually lower on a vegan diet.

What are your must-have pantry staples?

Aside from lots of different seasonings, I keep nutritional yeast, vegan Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, legumes, rice, flour, sweeteners, canned tomatoes, pasta, and flax meal in my pantry on rotation.

What has been your most viral video?

On YouTube, the video I created for Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel that featured my Mac and Cheez. Of my own videos, it would be my Chik’n Wangz on Tiktok.

What can we expect from Chef Joya in the future?

I have so much happening right now that I don’t even know where to begin. I’m looking forward to being on even bigger platforms to reach more people. For me, it’s all about spreading the message of great vegan food and teaching others how to enjoy this lifestyle.

Check out some of Chef Joya’s creations below.

BrunchRecipes 71
Wild Eggz Benedict
CookbookImages 122 1
Southern Fried Chik’n
Jerk Ribz
2Q9A5217 ChefJoya October2021
Chef Joya’s Seasonings

CLICK HERE for more on Chef Joya and follow her on Instagram for quick tasty and easy to follow vegan recipes!

Photo Credit: Jonathan Cooper

Featured Photo Credit: Kristen Stegall/Novice Studios)