Vegan in Texas: Denton and Marshall

I’ve been slowly working on a vegan guide to Denton, similar to the one I did for Arlington, and finishing was today’s blog task. I was looking for more information about Fuzzy’s Tacos when I came upon a vegan guide to Denton written by someone from Denton. That wasn’t there a few weeks ago when I started! I’ve never been so happy to have someone scoop me. A guide written by someone actually living and eating in Denton is much better than anything I could have come up with.

If you’re looking at colleges and you’re vegan, I highly recommend you add University of North Texas to your short list. The vegan scene is growing so fast in Denton. In just the short past they’ve gotten a vegan store, a vegan coop, a vegan dining hall at UNT that made national headlines, and now there’s a guide to eating vegan in Denton. I hope this is only the beginning of a strong vegan community in Denton.

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Another smallish-town in Texas is embracing a vegan lifestyle, too. While the scene in Denton is driven by a core of young people in and just out of college, the vegan community in Marshall is the result of the recent Get Healthy, Marshall initiative, led by the Esselstyns and some other folks. The whole town has banded together to improve their health. Restaurants are adding healthy vegan options to their menus and the library has a set of healthy vegan cookbooks now. For a town of about 20,000 people, five or six restaurants with good vegan options is a huge deal. Beyond restaurants, the group is also hosting movies, grocery store tours, and cooking classes. The Get Healthy, Marshall website is a great resource for anyone in the area.

Reporting Done Right

Remember my bitter complaining about the media coverage of UNT’s all-vegan cafeteria? I wrote a whole blog post about it. Apparently complaining gets you places. Seth Cohn of the Dallas Observer took a commenter’s challenge and tried out the food at Mean Greens. And he gave it a glowing review. Remember, this is cafeteria food we’re talking about.

Thanks for having an open mind about vegan food and for ditching the tired carrot jokes, Seth. And I dare you to check out the Texas State Veggie Fair in October.

Denton Vegan Coop

Denton Vegan Coop at the Denton Community Market. Photo from the group’s Facebook page

Traditionally, colleges are a great place to be vegan. And I think that definitely holds true for University of North Texas in Denton. Besides being home to Texas’s only all-vegan store, Vegan Freak, Denton is also home to the Denton Vegan Cooperative.
The Denton Vegan Coop is a group of six people who bake at the Jupiter House Europa and sells their goods at the Denton Community Market on Saturdays, where they share a booth with Peace Kitchen, another vegan group. Typically they have nachos, ice cream, breads, muffins, and cookies. Since some of those can be hard to find at the average grocery store, I’m sure this is a huge boon to area vegans and people with milk or egg allergies. They also have a special each week, and this Saturday’s special is biscuits and gravy, a Texas specialty. Other specials have included donuts, spring rolls, and kraut rolls. I don’t know what a kraut roll is exactly, but I want one!
Denton Vegan Coop also sell their goods at both Jupiter House Coffee locations. I’m crossing my fingers that Denton changes their laws to allow food carts, because a Denton Vegan Coop food cart would be a great addition to the UNT campus.

Vegan Freak in Denton

Vegan Freak in Denton, Texas. Photo by mollyjade  

I was in Denton for a UNT graduation ceremony, so I grabbed the opportunity to head to Texas’s first all-vegan store, Vegan Freak. Yup, Denton. As you can see, the store is garishly bright, so I was surprised when I stepped inside. The place is nice. Like the inside of a high-end salon or a gift shop. I was expecting to step into Hot Topic crossed with Food Fight Grocery, but I was standing in the waiting room at Aveda.

Vegan Freak is big on personal care products, cleaning products, and healthy snacks. The owner was excited to show us some vegan icy-hot stuff that he’d recently gotten in stock. I guess there are lots of aging vegans and vegan athletes in need of some hot-cold healing. There were also some great-looking candies, flax crackers, and kale chips. Vegan Freaks carries both Texas-made vegan quesos: Nacho Mom’s and Food for Lovers. But the real magic (at least for a food lover like me) was in the refrigerator and freezer.

The cold cases are stocked with vegan cheeses like Teese (remember when everyone was really excited about Teese?) and Match mock meats. As far as I know, Match isn’t sold anywhere else in Texas. I haven’t tried anything Match yet, but the folks at Meet the Shannons put it in everything, and their food looks great.

And then the grand reveal.

Y’all, Dr. Cow aged nut cheeses are available in Texas! Well, at least in Denton. Sadly, I didn’t have a cooler with me and didn’t want to risk it in the Texas heat for hours. It’s supposed to be amazing, and the best thing ever for eating straight up with crackers. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Denton!

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!