Vegan Menu at Kona Grill

I’ve met a lot of new vegans in San Antonio lately, most lamenting the lack of restaurant options there. So I get excited when I find vegan food in San Antonio. Dallas Vegan tells us that there’s a secret vegan menu at Kona Grill in North Park Center Mall. I did some sleuthing, and it looks like every location has this menu. As of this writing, it’s not available to look at online.

So that’s one more place for folks to find vegan food if in San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Houston, and Sugar Land.

Fried Pickles at Black Star Coop

Fried pickles at Black Star Coop. Photo by mollyjade

Austin loves its coops. One of my favorites (I’m lying, they’re all my favorite!) is Black Star Coop. It’s a beer and pub coop. They have lots of vegan options on their menu (including all the beer!). [Edit: apparently some of the beer is made with honey. Ask! And ask them to make all their beer vegan.] The online menu doesn’t show which items are vegan, but the printed menus at the restaurant are well marked. I love the fried portobellos, which are an homage to fish and chips. Be sure to eat them with lots of malt vinegar!

Last night one of their specials was fried pickles. I have a special place in my heart for fried pickles. These were unlike any others I’ve ever had. First, they’re huge. Second, they’re beer battered rather than battered in bread crumbs. And the pickles inside are flat and tart. So good! They have a plate of fried vegetables and pickles on their regular menu, but I haven’t tried that yet. One of these days, I’ll branch out of the fried foods at Black Star Coop. But, not yet!

Edit. As of September 2012, all of their beers are refined with isinglass, which is made from fish.

Austin Humane Society Rescues 150 Dogs

One of the many dogs rescued by Austin Humane Society this week. Photo from Austin Humane Society

This is a heartbreaking story of more than 150 dogs who were kept in a Bastrop County home without spaying, neutering, adequate medical care, grooming, or clean living space. The couple keeping the dogs voluntarily gave them up to the Humane Society because they couldn’t care for them. Obviously.

Animal hoarding stories are so sad. It’s obviously a sickness on the part of the humans, and I know I feel helpless thinking about all the care needed for such a large number of animals. But, we can help. You can help. Donate money to provide for all these animals. Donate items such as dog crates, animal carriers, towels, or any of the items on the Austin Humane Society wish list. Donate your time. The Humane Society needs dog groomers, and, I imagine, vet care for all of these animals. And above all, always get your pets from a rescue and never from a pet store breeder. If you’ve been considering adopting a dog, now is the time.

UPDATE: Check out photos of the dogs on the Humane Society’s Facebook page.

Gene Baur Traveling in Texas

In celebration of Farm Sanctuary’s 25th anniversary, Gene Baur is traveling across the U.S. in the same VW van he rode around in 25 years ago, selling veggie hot dogs to raise the money that would give Farm Sanctuary its start. Baur is planning to explore vegan culture across the nation, from the food to the people.

Baur’s travels will take him through Texas. He’ll be in Dallas on May 28 and in Austin on May 30. You can follow his journey on the Just Eats Tour website. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say about the Texas vegan movement!

While Baur is in Dallas, the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas is holding a walk-athon/bike-athon and potluck where Baur will speak about his work with Farm Sanctuary. Entry is $15. For more details, see the BVST Facebook page.

The Just Eats Tour is also collecting great vegan recipes and pledges to go vegan for the duration of the 21 day journey.

New Vegan Option at Pita Pit

Black bean patty wrap. Image from Pita Pit

Someone on Vegans Rock Austin linked to this article about Pita Pit in the Washington, D.C. Examiner. The article, which reads like a barely rewritten press release, announces a vegan black bean patty at all Pita Pit locations. Besides the awesome news about new vegan options, the article makes a great point that vegan food is becoming available at more and more mainstream restaurants, including Chipotle, zpizza, PF Changes, and Denny’s (Anyone know what’s vegan at Denny’s?).

I know fast food and chain restaurants aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t think they’ll be completely disappearing anytime soon. So it’s great news that there are healthier and animal cruelty-free options at more and more of these fast food and fast casual restaurants. And it’s good to have another vegan option when traveling in unfamiliar places, too.

Locally, Pita Pit has locations in Houston, Austin, College Station, and Denton.

EDIT: Reading comprehension failure. I totally missed that this was a Compassion Over Killing project. Major kudos COK!

Forks Over Knives Showing in Texas

Only Kale Can Save Us Now t-shirt from Herbivore Clothing. WANT!
I think you might have to live under a rock (or in a mansion in Abbottabad without internet connection) not to have heard about the new documentary film Forks Over Knives. But maybe not everyone obsessively reads healthy vegan cooking blogs like I do?
In case you don’t know the deal, Forks Over Knives explores the stories of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell. Both men grew up on farms and then later in life began to notice a pattern of unhealthy diets high in animal products and processed foods and an increase in many chronic diseases. The film posits that a lot so-called diseases of affluence (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke) can be avoided by eating an oil-free vegan diet. This theory is then tested by following the stories of real-life patients who change their diets and regain health.
Austinite Rip Esselstyn, creator of the Engine Two Diet, and honorary Texan Natala Constantine of Vegan Hope are two big proponents of an oil-free vegan diet for health. And if you’ve stepped into a Texas Whole Foods lately you’ve probably seen the explosion of Health Starts Here products, which are inspired by the oil-free vegan movement. In other words, Texas may well be the new face of healthy veganism. Who woulda thought?
Forks Over Knives will be showing in Austin, Dallas, and Houston on May 13. (Showtimes here.) Lots of tickets are being given away for free (follow me on twitter to find out about ticket give aways in Texas). Grab your friends and prepare to be inspired to eat more kale!
*As a person with a chronic disease that isn’t going to be cured by any change in diet, I have reservations about the language some people use to talk about health and vegan diets. But I think you should see this movie anyway because it still has a lot of good info to share. Just pretend I’m sitting next to you snarking about any overpromising.

Follow-up: Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale 2011

All five Texas Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales took place this weekend. Don’t they look fabulous?

El Paso raised $400 for Animal Rescue League! Among the other goodies were these tasty-looking pumpkin spice cupcakes. Photo by El Paso Veg Snob
Box of goodies at the Dallas bake sale. Rumor is the kolaches were a big hit. Dallas raised over $2500 for Direct Relief International in Japan. Photo by sunnybear
Donuts and chocolate cookies flew off the table at the Austin sale. Austin raised over $1000 for Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary. That’s enough money to pay for half a month’s food for the over 300 animals at the farm. Photo by Come and Fake It
The Vegan Society of Peace bake sale raised $811 for VegFest Houston, Food for Life Global, and Kinship Circle. Way to go Houston! I haven’t heard back from San Antonio yet. Green, how’d y’all do?

In total, Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales in Texas raised nearly $5000 for seven charities. This is the most successful year yet!

UPDATE: Green sold 163 desserts and donated $1 from each dessert sale to SARA. News is their desserts were just voted 3rd best in all of San Antonio by San Antonio Current readers. Awesome!

Printed Vegetarian Guide to Austin

VegAustin and Compassion Over Killing have brought out a print edition of their great Austin Vegetarian Restaurant Guide. This guide is perfect for anyone visiting Austin or just beginning to explore the great veg options in Austin. I know most of my favorites are in there (Titayas! Conscious Cravings!) The guide clearly points out vegan options. And it’s pretty, too!

Order a free guide here, check out a pdf, or explore the more extensive online guide here.

5 Texas Vegan Bake Sales THIS WEEKEND

NYC vegan bake sale in 2010. Photo by wools. Licensed under creative commons

There’s a fantastic write up of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in CNN’s Eatocracy today. Be sure to check out the slide show with great vegan recipes and photos.

And visit your local vegan bake sale this weekend! Eat yummy food, spread the vegan word, and raise some money for some great organizations.
Saturday, April 30
Sunday, May 1

2011 Austin Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

Do you live in Austin? Do you like to bake cookies? Do you like to eat cookies? Do you like photos of cute rescued farm animals?

Donkeys at Sunny Day Farm Animal Sanctuary. Photo by Ross Abel

Austin is throwing a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale to raise funds for these adorable animals at Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary in LaCoste, Texas. The sale will be May 1, from noon to 6 PM at Monkey Wrench Books on North Loop, near Counter Culture. Thank you to the folks at Monkey Wrench for letting our community use the space. Monkey Wrench is a cooperatively run bookstore, and their animal rights and vegan cookbook sections have a lot of great books you won’t find anywhere else.

Austinites, we need your help! Sign up to bake something. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers about the bake sale. Send them photos of adorable mud-covered pigs and say you won’t stop until they are passed out in a sugary coma.

This pig is not passed out in a sugary coma. You can visit him and the other animals at Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary in LaCoste, Texas, just outside San Antonio. Photo by Ross Abel

Sign up to attend or bake for the Austin sale on the Facebook page. There are now five Worldwide Vegan Bake Sales in Texas, in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio. Sign up to help at any of them, or start your own.