Oshane Denton Warren, commonly known as Chef Vita, is a 27-year old Jamaican vegan and plant-based chef. Vita is currently based in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and for the last 5 years, has been preparing vegan meals for locals and people all over the world.
Over the years, Vita has been featured in many lifestyle and fitness magazines in Jamaica. From time to time, he leads vegan workshops, retreats and demonstrations, showcasing his culinary skills. Most notably, Vita has been featured twice in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper for his big influence as the next big thing in vegan cuisine. Additionally, Vita was apart of Grammy-nominated recording artist Protoje Like This video series. Watch video here.
Vita uses his platform to influence his audience known as the V-gangs through the creation of great moments to inspire them to always put positive energy into everything they do. When Vita is not creating wholesome meals, you can always find him recharging in nature, which he refers to as “his playground”, or running a marathon.
I had the chance to converse with Vita about his passion for cooking, veganism and what inspires him. Here’s our conversation below.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Crystal Anokam for One Tribe: What initially inspired you to become a chef?
Chef Vita: Growing up in the country part of Jamaica, I remember watching the big cruise ships pass by and hoping that one day, I would be a chef on the ship cooking and seeing the world. With that dream in mind, I would always watch the food network. I also began to observe the chef in my own home. I paid special attention to how he spiced the meals up and then later during dinner watch the awe reaction on people’s faces from the delicious food.
When did you transition to a vegan diet and what encouraged you to change your diet?
I began my vegan journey at the age of 13. At that time, I was a student to my Rasta friend, Jah Vita. Jah Vita made a very vital impact on my life as a young rasta youth, especially through my spiritual journey. He was like a grandfather to me. I looked up to him and I was inspired by his way of life and style of cooking. Jah Vita was one of the main motivators who encouraged me to move to Kingston to seek a better life at the time. He would always say: “Believe in yourself, because you can make the change. You just have to put your mind to it and work smart.” This gave me the confidence to start my own journey and that was the breaking point for me. Before his passing, his last words to me was: “I will always be with you. Don’t worry. Things will work out just keep doing what you’re doing.” I know he would be proud, that’s why his name lives on with me as Chef Vita.
What has been your favorite experience being a vegan chef?
Truthfully, it is a joy to see the great reaction on people’s faces when they eat my meals, most especially, the non-vegans.
What is your creative process like for generating meal ideas?
My creative process comes very easy to me, simply because as a chef, I am always around food. I put a lot of energy into my craft. When it comes to my meal ideas, it just flows. Some of the times, though, I will see a non vegan meal and wonder how I can remake this meal? And then go for it.
How important is it for you to incorporate your Jamaican heritage in the meals you create?
It’s very important! Especially, sticking to the Caribbean spices and herbs. With that combination the meal will be leveled up to the maximum potential with more flavors.
What advice do you have for individuals who may be starting their vegan journey?
Self discipline is key. No matter when you start the journey and in everything you do, you need self discipline. In the beginning, things may seem to be very dark. Especially, because your family and friends will not understand why you chose to be vegan and may not support you. You just have to keep in mind why you are doing it: you’re doing it for you and the betterment of your health and future.
What does it mean to be V-gang?
V-gang is a movement and a lifestyle. I am using my platform to show people, especially the younger generation, that vegan food and lifestyle is not at all boring.
What is the impact you want to have on the world?
I want to continue to use my platform to inspire the next generation while traveling the world and ultimately, become one of the leaders championing the healthy way of life using veganism and fitness.
Keep up with Chef Vita on Instagram.