Despite the constant jokes, it can be pretty easy to be vegan in Texas. At least if you live in a city. There are tons of vegan-friendly restaurants and grocery stores with specialty foods. But what about the rest of the state? I talked with Kori, who lives in a small town about an hour from Austin to find out what it’s like to be a small town vegan.
So for those of us who have never lived in a small town, tell me what that’s like. What grocery stores and restaurants are available to you? Do you have to drive far to find good food?
I live in a town of 18,600 people in central Texas. We have four BBQ restaurants, five Mexican restaurants, and four pizza places. We have many burger places and fast food, but the only place to get a good vegan or vegetarian meal is the movie theater which only serves lunch from 11-2 Monday-Friday Or a salad bar at the pizza place. And when i say a good vegan meal I mean a salad with more than just shredded lettuce and tomatoes.
As for grocery stores we finally got a Super HEB last year which has made things much easier. They sell tofu and some vegan alternatives as well as some frozen meals and breads that are vegan. I have found one restaurant within 30 miles from me that will make a dinner with tofu, and also I go to Austin, which is a little over an hour away, when I can because most restaurants have at least an option or two available to vegans.
So it sounds like you probably cook a lot of your meals at home. Is it challenging to find all of the ingredients you want? Is there something you’d really love to get your hands on that you just can’t find?
I cook a lot more meals at home now, but due to my schedule recently I haven’t been able to. We do have a natural foods store that opened last year as well about 20 miles from me, so I can get pretty much all I need. I do wish I could have more ready-to-eat options because I’m always on the go and have found these options closer to Austin.
I have realized that preparing foods a week or so in advance and putting in containers to carry makes life much easier. I think the largest obstacle I face is the attitudes of the people around me. They are mostly hunters and ALL meat eaters, and they can’t grasp why I won’t eat meat, especially what they kill.
A big help to me when I first went vegan was finding a community of vegans. It helps so much to feel normal for a bit. Have you found other people who think like you, either locally or online?
Online only. And a friend in Austin. My parents still will not recognize that I will not eat meat, even after four years. I have some friends that are more aware of vegetarianism and veganism, and they try their best to understand, but it would be amazing to be a part of a community that is more understandable.
What advice would you give to other people from small towns who want to go vegetarian or vegan?
Investigate your food when going out to a restaurant. You may order green beans or mashed potatoes, but they usually are made with bacon or ham. Southern cooks hide their meat and do it well. You have to ask, and they are usually very honest!! Also, find a way to talk with people who are like-minded. There are many benefits to these ways of life and hopefully one day people will see them but for now stick to your guns (haha no southern pun intended).