Meet a Vegan Texan: LaJana

This month’s featured vegan Texan doesn’t find it easy to be vegan in a small town, but she’s sticking with it! 

First name and city/region: LaJana and Paris, Texas

Why are you vegan? To save as many animals as I can and to try to be the most compassionate person I can.

How long have you been vegan? 3 years

What’s it like to be vegan where you live? It’s horrible!! I’m the only vegan here except for the few vegans that come into town for college. There are no restaurants with vegan options and finding vegan food at grocery stores is very hard. I have to special order things from the health food store or drive two hours one way to Dallas to Whole Foods.

What’s your favorite resource for finding vegan food? Your favorite vegan restaurant dish? I have to special order things and most of the time resturants are not willing to accommodate so I eat a lot of salads. At home my favorite is chickpea tacos.

What’s your favorite vegan Texan food? Anything Tex Mex.

Do you have a secret vegan weapon? Laser vision? Kale? A larabar in your pocket? I carry roasted chickpeas and kale chips to work to snack on and have gotten people to try them. Most people didn’t even know what chickpeas were.

If you could only choose one, would it be tofu, tempeh, seitan, or beans? Beans!! Although I love seitan but hardly ever eat it since I have to buy the gluten in bulk or drive so far to get it.

What advice do you have for people in your area about being vegan? I have tried but I live in a town where hunting, fishing and bbq’ing are the most common past times. I have at least gotten people to try adding vegetables to there menu!! Strange when people don’t know what kale, leeks and butternut squash are.

If you’d like to answer the Meet a Vegan Texan questionnaire, send me an email at lonestarplate (at) gmail (dot) com.

Meet a Vegan Texan: Sergio

Here’s the second post in our Meet a Vegan Texan series. Sergio hails from DFW, and he has a pretty positive attitude about being vegan in Cow Town. I want to steal his awesome friend and a plate of veganchiladas, too.

First name and city/region: Sergio, hailing from Dallas/Fort Worth

Why are you vegan? I went vegan mainly for ethical and environmental reasons. I’ve almost always had some kind of pet (the most at once was two dogs, three guinea pigs, and a betta!) and always treated them like members of my family. As far as dogs go, I always adopt from either a shelter or a rescue association. It’s safe to say I really care for our four-legged and finned friends. And I’m a green nut as well. I’m constantly picking through the trash at my work’s break room for discarded bottles and try to walk wherever I can so it just made sense that I follow a diet that in more in line with those beliefs.

How long have you been vegan? I went vegan at some point in April 2008. I don’t remember exactly when because it was kind of a spur of the moment type thing. I was mulling going vegetarian (I went veg for a couple of years before) again and then up and decided to go straight vegan.

What’s it like to be vegan where you live? I get a lot of weird looks. A lot of people ask if it’s some type of diet or religious thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I couldn’t live without cheese!” I’m lucky in that I’ve got a handful of all-vegan restaurants in the area but comparing here and a place like Austin is night and day. I went to a wedding in Austin recently and my father-in-law went to a pizza place and told them he needed a vegan pizza and they knew exactly what to make. I got a pizza here the other day and ordered it without cheese and when I picked it out, the employee commented how that was unusual. I mean, when you live near a city that’s nicknamed “Cow Town,” everyone sort of expects everyone else to eat meat.

What’s your favorite resource for finding vegan food? Your favorite vegan restaurant dish? I go to vegweb.com a lot but I usually get my recipes from a good friend who has been vegan for nearly a decade now. He’s a much better cook than me so I usually just poach from him. As far as favorite dish, it’d have to be either the Mitch Tofu from Spiral Diner or the now discontinued Blazin’ Noodles with tofu and veggies from Pei Wei.

What’s your favorite vegan Texan food? Well, this is technically Tex-Mex I guess but I make the dopest veganchiladas. I made them from scratch one day using a recipe I found online as a loose guide and they ended up incredible. My friend who is a staunch meat-eater had them and texted me the next day and said, “Man, I could really go for some of your hippie enchiladas.”

Do you have a secret vegan weapon? Laser vision? Kale? A larabar in your pocket? I would have to say nutritional yeast. It adds so much to a wide variety of recipes, I couldn’t imagine having a kitchen with a supply of that delicious yellow powder.

If you could only choose one, would it be tofu, tempeh, seitan, or beans? Oh, man, that’s tough. Seitan is out simply because I don’t eat a lot of it to begin with. Then tempeh even though there is an excellent tempeh/Frank’s Red Hot sandwich recipe I found online that is an amazing picnic food. I’m trying to cut back on the tofu to limit my soy intake but man, I have gotten good at cooking it. But I couldn’t live without beans. Black beans are so versatile. Plus I could still eat burritos which are definitely my favorite food.

What advice do you have for people in your area about being vegan? The best advice I ever got about being vegan was from the aforementioned friend. I was a few months into it and I was craving something meaty I’m sure and called him for support. He said, “Don’t think about what you can’t eat. Think about all the awesome stuff you CAN eat.” Sage advice, really. DFW-specifically, there is Spiral Diner and Loving Hut plus a ton of awesome Thai restaurants. A little bit of legwork goes a long way in figuring out where you can eat. Of course, if you’re all thumbs in the kitchen like me, a cooking class would be a good move.

If you’d like to answer the Meet a Vegan Texan questionnaire, send me an email at lonestarplate (at) gmail (dot) com.

Meet a Vegan Texan

Part of what inspired us to start writing Lone Star Plate are the constant jokes and quips about the impossibility of being vegan in Texas. Just the other day I saw “Real people eat meat” scrawled across the wall of a restaurant in Texas. So, dear reader, clap if you believe in vegan Texans.

That’s what I thought.

In a new occasional series, we’ll introduce you to real live Texas vegans from all across the state. The first person in the series is Anna from San Antonio. Anna blogs at Carrot and Potato Time and also runs the etsy shop Analog Accessories.

Anna, San Antonio

Why are you vegan?
I’m vegan for ethical reasons. I was lacto-ovo-vegetarian (still consuming dairy and eggs) for about 8 years before I was introduced to information about dairy, eggs, and honey that made me reconsider my habits. I read Diet for a New Americaby John Robbins and I felt that a vegan diet would be more aligned with my feelings about animals and their use.

How long have you been vegan?
10 years

What’s it like to be vegan where you live?
When I became vegan I lived in Los Angeles and it is extremely easy to be vegan there. Next I lived in San Diego, which was also pretty accepting of vegans. Living here in San Antonio, I feel I need to make more effort to reach out to people who do not have negative reactions to my choices. Fortunately though, San Antonio is large enough for a certain level of diversity. We do have a Whole Foods, and Green Vegetarian Restaurant is great for getting a vegan meal. Just about a month ago, San Antonio’s first vegan restaurant, Vegeria, opened up and we are really excited about that.

I have a three year old son, so when we moved here I got involved in a couple of mom’s groups right away. One of them is focused on more natural living, and I have met a couple of other vegans in that group, however their children are not entirely vegan. One thing I would like is to find some other vegan buddies for my son because he is getting to be the age where he’s more tuned in to group dynamics. Not that I would only have him play with other vegans, but I don’t want him to be the only vegan child we know. That has been a bit difficult here. The new families we’ve met, although most are not vegan, have been very nice and often make and bring vegan foods to share when we meet for playgroups. I don’t expect them to do so but I think it is so thoughtful of them.

What’s your favorite resource for finding vegan food? Your favorite vegan restaurant dish?
We use Happy Cow to look up vegan restaurants when we travel. For local food, word of mouth has been the best resource. Through a friend I discovered a totally vegetarian Indian restaurant here that I didn’t know existed. It’s called Pavani Express. They make some super spicy and delicious vegan dishes.

Right now my favorite vegan restaurant dish is the tamale plate at Vegeria. They also make an outstanding portabello sub sandwich with a homemade cashew cheese on it.

What’s your favorite vegan Texan food?
Green Vegetarian Restaurant has some great vegan southern style items. It’s hard to pick a favorite, they are all good! I’m still new to Texan food and I probably haven’t really experienced it in its full glory yet.

Since I moved to Texas I have definitely developed a new fondness for okra. During the summer we get a lot of okra in our CSA share and I just love it.

Do you have a secret vegan weapon? Laser vision? Kale? A larabar in your pocket?
Sounds funny saying it this way, but lately my secret weapon is seaweed. In recent months I have been attempting to incorporate a lot more seaweed into my family’s diet. It’s packed with excellent nutrients and even helps the body remove radiation! Iron, vitamin C, iodine, enzymes, and most of the minerals found in the ocean are all found in seaweed. It helps regulate blood sugar, is great for cardiovascular health, and has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Fortunately I don’t have to force my family members to eat a huge pile of sea vegetable salad every day to get these plants into our diet. I add a couple of pieces of kombu to my crock pot of beans to make them easier to digest. I incorporate bits of dulse into my pasta sauces and stir fries. I use agar-agar to thicken the soy yogurt and “cheese” that I make at home. I add a bit of spirulina to our smoothies.  We each occasionally snack on toasted nori strips, and my son has become accustomed to eating his tofu cubes with bits of arame stuck to them.

If you could only choose one, would it be tofu, tempeh, seitan, or beans?
I would choose beans. I always feel great after eating beans!

What advice do you have for people in your area about being vegan?
– It can sometimes help to seek out other vegans. Here in San Antonio we have SAVS (welcomes vegetarians and vegans of all types, but is essentially a vegan group) and a vegan Meetup group.
– Take heart that the food options in San Antonio are becoming more diverse. Green Vegetarian restaurant is opening a second location soon and I’ve heard rumors of yet another vegan restaurant in the works.
– Support Vegeria, our new vegan restaurant.
– Support Sunny Day Farms, our local animal sanctuary.
– I have a vegan dining guide on my blog and I hope it’s helpful. I will continue to update it as things change, so keep your eye out for that.
– Also, a brief trip to Austin can be great if you want some dining adventures!