Do you want an all vegan ice cream parlor in Austin?

Anytime someone asks me what they should try in Austin one of the first things out of my mouth is “the ice cream at toy joy”. Everybody who tries it quickly falls in love and it is easy for ANYONE to try it because it is gluten free and vegan! Amelia has been cranking out the magical flavors of her soy coconut soft serve for a couple of years now and has finally decided that she, with her buisness partner Valerie, are going to branch off and form an all vegan vintage inspired ice cream parlor next year. I have heard some of their plans and the place is going to be so fantastic!

The most exciting part, maybe, is that they are getting some of their start up money from the vegan community- not just in Austin- but from anyone that wants to help. They are almost to their goal so please head over there and donate some money. If you donate 25 dollars you get a Sweet Ritual t-shirt and an invitation to opening party, for 50 you get that plus a voucher for 5 shakes, if you donate 100 you get all that plus you get to create a shake or sundae and get it named after you! How exciting is that? Mine would have olives in it, except that the flavors are (smartly) subject to their approval so it probably wouldn’t fly. Things get even better as you climb up the donation ladder and if you donate RIGHT NOW, the ladies will even do a dance for you that you can watch on the site.

cross posted from Lazy Smurf

Internet Activism: Vegan Bloggers Take Over the World

Please take a minute and a vegan panel idea at SXSW if you haven’t had a chance yet! I want to bring some of the best vegan bloggers to Austin!

Here is the description: A surge of vegan bloggers has been using the internet to make change in the way people think about animals through new forms of activism. VeganMoFo (the vegan month of food) and worldwide Vegan Bakesales to raise money for causes and promote veganism are just some of the ways that we are breaking out of the stereotypes of the past and creating a revolution. Learn creative ways to promote your message and engage your community on & off the web and more about food activism and using your culinary skills to promote compassion.

Austin Vegan Trailer Appreciation Weekend!

On Saturday Counter Culture (aka the best trailer in Austin) is having a huge celebration for their one year anniversary! Sue will be cookin up a bunch of vegan corndogs and sundaes along with the usual menu. This weeks special, by the way, is Philly Quesadillas, Chipotle Quinoa and Raw Cherry Chili Brownies! They are going to have bands playing from 4-8 AND Monkey Wrench books next door is going to have all their animal rights books and vegan cookbooks on sale, may I recommend Viva Vegan if you haven’t picked it up yet.

Vegan Trailers: Reading labels so you don’t have to.

Fête Accompli – the best way to eat your vegetables downtown

If you haven’t checked out Fête Accompli for lunch downtown, I suggest you get your act together and head over there as soon as possible. I am so glad that I caught on to this place. Never again will I put up with the crowds and spend the household budget of people in “developing” nations at the Whole Foods salad bar when I am craving vegetables but feeling indecisive in west downtown. This place is a vegetable lovers dream come true. Fête Accompli is right on 12th street one block east of Lamar by the Thundercloud. They really have something for everyone, the owner’s mother is a dietician so she has a lot of knowledge about creating food for people with special dietary needs, not just vegans. But the vegan selection is incredible! The place is pretty tiny and mostly serves portions for take out and they do catering. They also have a couple tables and chairs inside and outside. When you first walk in you are greeted by a large deli case and a menu that has soups and sandwiches and usually a friendly person as well. There is also delicious fresh baked vegan bread. The deli case is filled with different kinds of salads. The first time I went the whole top level had different vegan items to choose from, maybe 7 in all. There are also different dessert items and lots of stuff packaged to go in the coolers on the side.

I think this would be a terrific place to stop in and get food for a meeting or to pick up dinner for the evening while you stop for lunch. Everyone who works there is really friendly and they all seem to be knowledgeable about what is and isn’t vegan (although watch out for honey). What I usually do is get the box lunch. For nine dollars you get to choose four items and you get a cookie. It is a lot of food. Last Friday I got a cranberry and wild rice salad, a freaking delicious Kale tahini salad, some roasted cauliflower that was some of the best cauliflower I can remember and a creamy noodle salad. Everything had so much flavor and texture that I was kind of overwhelmed. These people know there vegetables. I can’t even really compare it to other salad bars because the flavors are just on another level.

The best part, if you are vegan, they will give you a chocolate peanut butter truffle since the cookie in the special has animal products. There aren’t many places that would give you an extra because of your restriction and that is why Fête Accompli has become one of my favorite lunch destinations in town. I mean chocolate + peanut butter = happiness for me even when it is only so-so. These truffles at Fête make me feel transcendent for hours after eating them.

What can I say, I love food and Fete Accompli does it exactly right for me.

Austin Vegan Drinks

Share a few drinks (alcoholic and non) with like-minded folks, meet new friends, and even do a little networking while you’re at it. Bring your business cards, pamphlets, fliers, recipes or anything else you would like to share. There will also be prizes to win and plenty of free stuff to take away.

Oh, and there’s a great Vegan Drinks Special: $3 specialty bottled beers!

Hope to see you there for the premiere event!

First event: Thurs., Jan 7, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m
Where: Ginger Man at 301 Lavaca St. in Austin

Feel free to contact Daniela at with questions or if your organization or business is interested in teaming up with us to sponsor future events.

The Locavore Myth

I read this article on Forbes today for the second time. Someone on twitter linked to it and I thought I would post it here because there has been a lot of discussion lately about eating locally vs eating vegan. In my opinion it is pretty easy to do both. Unlike our Northern neighbors we can grow food outside all year. Texas is one of the biggest producers of cabbage, onions, pecans, and peanuts in the country. We grow almost every kind of vegetable and lots of fruit too. Our grapefruit is famous but we have grapes and make our own wine as well.

In Austin local company White Mountain makes all sorts of vegan products like the tofu that you can buy in bulk at the co-op and no-egg salad and bbq tofu.

Just outside of Austin in Wimberley Texas they are growing olive trees and making olive oil. It is actually really good. The Texas Olive Ranch makes local oil and balsamic vinegar too.

Another great source of local protein are black-eyed peas which are grown throughout the state because they are so drought tolerant.

Our rice is famous all over the world too, in fact, the local company got into a big argument with India a while back when they tried to trademark basmati rice and so we have texamati now since the people in India called us on our bull shit. Lately the farmer’s market has even started carrying whole wheat which you could easily make your own seitan from.

Of course soy beans and corn grow in Texas as well but they say the average vegan who eats whole foods gets less soy and corn in their diet than the average omnivore if you consider all the corn and soy that the average farm animals eat and all that is put in processed food.

One of the best parts about being vegan is knowing where your food comes from. Lately we have picking our own vegetables at local farm Johnson’s Backyard Garden doing a co-op workshare. They are expanding their farm’s offerings and if you are interested in local food and in Austin I highly recommend going or joining their CSA.Joining a CSA, though, and eating local produce isn’t enough to save the world. The worst environmental damage is caused by people eating meat and I don’t mean people in other countries . I am talking about Americans. We created this problem with industrialized farming and until that comes to an end you can’t eat animal products and say you are doing everything you can to help the environment.

Here is the article from Texas State Professor James E. McWilliams

Why buying from nearby farmers won’t save the planet.


Buy local, shrink the distance food travels, save the planet. The locavore movement has captured a lot of fans. To their credit, they are highlighting the problems with industrialized food. But a lot of them are making a big mistake. By focusing on transportation, they overlook other energy-hogging factors in food production.

Take lamb. A 2006 academic study (funded by the New Zealand government) discovered that it made more environmental sense for a Londoner to buy lamb shipped from New Zealand than to buy lamb raised in the U.K. This finding is counterintuitive–if you’re only counting food miles. But New Zealand lamb is raised on pastures with a small carbon footprint, whereas most English lamb is produced under intensive factory-like conditions with a big carbon footprint. This disparity overwhelms domestic lamb’s advantage in transportation energy.

New Zealand lamb is not exceptional. Take a close look at water usage, fertilizer types, processing methods and packaging techniques and you discover that factors other than shipping far outweigh the energy it takes to transport food. One analysis, by Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, showed that transportation accounts for only 11% of food’s carbon footprint. A fourth of the energy required to produce food is expended in the consumer’s kitchen. Still more energy is consumed per meal in a restaurant, since restaurants throw away most of their leftovers.

Locavores argue that buying local food supports an area’s farmers and, in turn, strengthens the community. Fair enough. Left unacknowledged, however, is the fact that it also hurts farmers in other parts of the world. The U.K. buys most of its green beans from Kenya. While it’s true that the beans almost always arrive in airplanes–the form of transportation that consumes the most energy–it’s also true that a campaign to shame English consumers with small airplane stickers affixed to flown-in produce threatens the livelihood of 1.5 million sub-Saharan farmers.

Another chink in the locavores‘ armor involves the way food miles are calculated. To choose a locally grown apple over an apple trucked in from across the country might seem easy. But this decision ignores economies of scale. To take an extreme example, a shipper sending a truck with 2,000 apples over 2,000 miles would consume the same amount of fuel per apple as a local farmer who takes a pickup 50 miles to sell 50 apples at his stall at the green market. The critical measure here is not food miles but apples per gallon.

The one big problem with thinking beyond food miles is that it’s hard to get the information you need. Ethically concerned consumers know very little about processing practices, water availability, packaging waste and fertilizer application. This is an opportunity for watchdog groups. They should make life-cycle carbon counts available to shoppers.

Until our food system becomes more transparent, there is one thing you can do to shrink the carbon footprint of your dinner: Take the meat off your plate. No matter how you slice it, it takes more energy to bring meat, as opposed to plants, to the table. It takes 6 pounds of grain to make a pound of chicken and 10 to 16 pounds to make a pound of beef. That difference translates into big differences in inputs. It requires 2,400 liters of water to make a burger and only 13 liters to grow a tomato. A majority of the water in the American West goes toward the production of pigs, chickens and cattle.

The average American eats 273 pounds of meat a year. Give up red meat once a week and you’ll save as much energy as if the only food miles in your diet were the distance to the nearest truck farmer.

If you want to make a statement, ride your bike to the farmer’s market. If you want to reduce greenhouse gases, become a vegetarian.

Promise Pizza; Vegan Pizza in Round Rock

Before I was vegan the lure of free food enticed me at every turn. In my line of work there are always a lot of events with free food and I always helped myself to whatever looked best. Mostly it is really nice to be vegan and have an iron clad excuse to not eat a bunch of junk food but every now and then it is a little sad to pass up on homemade cookies or holiday party food. My inner need for free food is so strong that on a dark and stormy night we drove all the way from South Austin to Round Rock, a northern suburb of Austin, to try a newer restaurant Promise Pizza. Full Disclosure, it was an Austin blogger event so all of my food was free. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try another vegan friendly restaurant that promised organic and locally sourced vegetables and daiya cheese.

We got there a little late and everyone was eating. I was so happy that the tiny place was so bright and warm and it was filled with people. The staff was really friendly. There was one vegan pizza out there already but they made a special pizza with no peppers (I don’t like them on pizza!) just for me.

My only quibble with the pizza was that it didn’t have enough olives but that is my personal obsession and a normal person would be quite happy with the “sane” amount of olives on the pizza, they were good olives too. Red onions, Portabello mushrooms, tomatoes, and basil were all present on the pizza along with the vegan cheese and red sauce. The crust was good and all the toppings seemed right on. The cheese wasn’t all I had hoped but I am pretty used to that now with vegan dairy food. It was really fun to watch all the other food bloggers poke at the vegan cheese but it seemed like for the most part they liked it enough. The owner talked for a while about how hard they are trying to source everything locally. They make the dough at the shop and he promised me that everything was truly vegan and that there is no chance of cross contamination. When they do the vegan and gluten free crusts they use separate cutting boards and even run them through the oven separately. It was really nice to hear someone being so thoughtful of people with special requests. Everything at the place was organic and they even had soda sans high fructose corn syrup. The rest of the table was raving about the pepperoni pizza and the owner said he was working on finding a vegan sausage that he liked as much as the meat version so that he could start offering that as well and they also had vegan gluten fee cookies.

All in all it was shocking (to me) that such a place exists in Round Rock. I think vegans are going to be really happy to have a place that they can go where someone really understands how important it is to know where our food comes from. It gives me hope that places like this are popping up more and more around the country. He said that people in town were nervous to try the pizza because it was organic and they didn’t think that hippie shit would taste as good (my words not his) so they would go to the Dunkin Donuts next door and ask them what they thought of the pizza! That reminded me of my home town where every local business failed because people preferred to go to chains because they were deemed more trustworthy. What a world. I think these types of people are going to be pleasantly surprised by how much better something local and organic is than Pizza Hut.

cross posted at Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life

Snack Bar Austin – open for business

I am so excited to report that I finally got to try Snack Bar for brunch over the weekend. I have been watching the progress on the building for months and my friend Judy has been giving me updates on their progress and telling tales of a vegan friendly menu for so long that I was beginning to think it was all a big joke and that they would have a vegan entree like “mixed vegetables” . Kind of like when I read that the Black Sheep Lodge had the best veggie burger in town but it turned out that it was a garden burger. I am happy to say that Snack Bar is everything it was hyped to be. They must have a vegan in the kitchen, or at least know one that is into food! The owner, an artist names Bethany Andree, has been beset with structural problems with the building since acquiring the place last year but has done a great job, with help from her friends, turning it around. They have done such an amazing job with the place! The outdoor patio looks really nice, it is right on South Congress but nicely shielded from the traffic with plants and the inside is bigger than I would have thought it would be and really nice. I love the casual modern style. The concept is to have a place where guests at the hotel behind it can pick up things that they forgot and also get drinks, food, and coffee but the location is going to also get lots of foot traffic and vegan traffic as well.

I went with Alin and Molly, who are both vegan food lovers in Austin and we were all happy with the overall experience. In fact, we talked about coming back separately the next day! There are several places in Austin where a vegan can find some brunch, notably Bouldin Creek and Somnios but Snack Bar is the first place in Austin to really make an effort at vegan diner food rather than ovo-lacto vegetarian food minus the cheese or tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I love tacos and scrambles but when I go to other towns I am always so excited to have things like biscuits and bacon-style tempeh. When I checked out the snack bar menu I was thrilled. We were spoiled for choice and had a hard time making decisions. The first thing I ordered was coffee, I was a first let down that they didn’t have vegan creamer but then thrilled when they brought me a glass of steamed soy milk, there was enough for the multiple cups that the wait staff kept bringing which was a really nice treat. The coffee itself was surprisingly good.
Alin got the “Freedom Benny” which was griddled tofu, smoked tomatoes on petite waffles and topped with vegan Hollandaise. It looked really good and I can’t wait to try it. Molly got the waffles with apple chutney and maple tempeh strips. I tried the latter and I thought that they were super, tempeh can be tricky to prepare correctly and they did it just right. I really wanted to get the seitan sausages or the tofu scramble that is made with leeks crimini mushrooms and carrots but I couldn’t stop myself from ordering the biscuits with tempeh gravy because I was so excited that they were on the menu.

The biscuits were really good, the gravy needs a little work but I am confident that they will get it together, the place did just open. It was cold the first time they brought it out but the waitstaff rectified the situation very quickly and handled the incident very well. I thought it needed a little more spice and that is was under-seasoned but I was a still a happy smurf and ate every bit. Alin and I both got the potato hash cake and that was definitely my favorite thing that I tried. The potatoes in this baby are mixed with cabbage, leeks, and onions and then pan seared. It was just perfect and only a dollar fifty. In fact, my whole meal was less than ten dollars with tip which means that I can go back any time and I certainly will!

The lunch menu looks really good too, the have an avocado stuffed veggie burger and a seitan BBQ sandwich in addition to quite a few salads, including a raw offering. The only real problem is that pretty soon they are going to have a long waiting line. Snack Bar os definitely be worth the wait.

cross posted at Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life

October Engine 2 Potluck – TONIGHT at Whole Foods Market

From the Engine 2 Blog

Join us this Wednesday, October 28 @ 6:30 PM

We have accepted the generous invitation of Whole Food’s CEO John Mackey to host this month’s potluck on the 2nd floor outdoor plaza of Whole Foods Global HQ (on 5th & Lamar), to coincide with a food science seminar that Whole Foods is hosting that day. We have invited some of the nation’s great plant-strong leaders to join us for dinner, thoughts, and to meet the Austin plant-strong community. Featured potential guests will include Colin Campbell (author of The China Study), John Robbins (author of The Food Revolution), John McDougall, Antonia Demas, Caldwell & Ann Esselstyn and Neal Barnard.

Wednesday, October 28th, 6:30pm at WFM 2nd floor outdoor patio. Bring your best dishes – the world will be there eating your masterpieces! Your children are welcome, and there is an incredible outdoor playground immediately next to the Potluck.

In addition, Rip will be showcasing his powerful & compelling Engine 2 “Plant-Strong” presentation at 5:30 in the Southwest Conference Room (accessible off of the upstairs plaza) inside of Whole Foods. If you have never seen what America is seeing from Rip each and every time he hits the road, come and find out what YOU are already a part of.

Join us!

The Engine 2 Team