Where Do You Get Your Protein?

"Where do you get your protein?" shirt by San Antonio Vegans

If you’ve been vegan for any amount of time, you’re probably sick of hearing “Where do you get your protein?” In the U.S., and much of the rest of the world, we equate protein with meat. Food writers do it. Fast food commericals do it. Even the USDA does it. And it doesn’t make much sense. There’s protein in almost every food, and it’s not something vegans have to worry about. Protein is a macronutrient, not a food group.

Head off the pesky question with this shirt, made as a fundraiser by the new San Antonio Vegans group. Part of the money from the sale of each shirt will fund the fledgling group and help them set up fundraisers for local animal organizations.

Primarily Primates

Deeter the Leader. Image from Primarily Primates website.

Did you know that Texas is home to one of the largest primate rescue sanctuaries in the United States? Primarily Primates is home to hundred of animals, many of them abandoned pets or former lab animals. Primarily Primates was recently featured in the San Antonio Express as part of their Grace of Giving series. The Express thinks Primarily Primates is pretty awesome, and I agree.

Check out the feature story here. And be sure to take a look at the photo of the cage the sanctuary’s first chimpanzee arrived in.

News Bites from around Vegan Texas

Counter Culture's new Cesar Chavez space

Take a sneak peek at the photos of Counter Culture’s new space in East Austin. There’s so much to work with there.

My friends Crystal and Chris at Food for Lovers have teamed up with vegan crafters to make some unique holiday gifts. I’m not a holiday person, but I never turn down queso.

Dallas Vegan has a review of the Fort Worth Food Park. A year ago, DFW didn’t really have much of a food truck scene to speak of. Now there’s an entire area of vegan-friendly spots.

A possible new location near Llano for Sunny Day Farms

Sunny Day Farms is moving to a location closer to Austin! Don’t worry San Antonio, they’ll still be close to you, too. Brooke is looking at a location in Blanco. This will make it easier for the farm to reach people in both Austin and San Antonio. Sunny Day will need tons of help to relocate all the animals, both physically and monetarily.

The latest rumor is that Sweet Ritual will be opening in January. Crossing my fingers for ice cream in the new year.

Houston can look forward to some new vegan grub in 2012. Ripe Cuisine will be selling vegan food at Urban Harvest Farmers Markets early next year. Ripe Cuisine has been tweeting about Green Chili Burgers, Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Cream Frosting, and a mushroom French dip. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

And dessert for last! After years of hard work, Celeste of Celeste’s Best is selling ready-to-bake (or eat with a spoon, no judgement!) vegan cookie dough at Wheatsville Coop. Right now there’s traditional chocolate chip, but Celeste is planning to branch out into other flavors and other stores in the future.

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!

Veggie Garden and Vegeria Grand Openings

Two all-vegan restaurants will have their official grand openings today and tomorrow. Vegeria in San Antonio, which has been open since August, will have their official grand opening celebration today and tomorrow. The event will feature door prizes, music, free cupcakes on Friday, and a tamale eating contest on Saturday.

Veggie Garden in Richardson (near Dallas) is reopening under new owners. Come by on Saturday between 11:30 and 2:30 to try the revamped menu. The food is traditional Chinese-American, except everything is vegan. I have my eye on the fried ice cream! Afterwards, there will be a showing of Forks Over Knives.

Ann Gentry at Central Market

Image from Ann Gentry’s blog at Real Food Daily 

Ann Gentry of Real Food Daily will be teaching vegan cooking classes at Central Markets in Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio this month. The class will include four courses and a copy of Gentry’s new cookbook Vegan Family Meals for $55. Gentry will incorporate Hatch chili peppers into several of the courses, including a Jalapeno-Hatch cornbread with scallion butter. You can’t cook at Central Market in August without Hatch peppers, after all. The description of the event is a little fuzzy about whether it’s completely vegan or not (I think it’s just cutesy writing), so it’s best to ask when you register. Considering you get to meet a famous restaurateur and cookbook author, eat a four course meal, and come home with a $25 book, this class is a great deal.

  • Dallas, Monday, August 22
  • Fort Worth, Tuesday, August 23
  • San Antonio, Wednesday, August 24

Others’ reviews: Vegeria

Check out what Carrot and Potato Time, a San Antonio vegan blog, has to say about Vegeria

I’ll tell you right off the bat that I have expectations when it comes to Mexican food. Growing up and having spent most of my life in San Diego, I have learned how to make vegan Mexican meals at home and if a restaurant dish isn’t at least equal to what I can prepare, I’d rather make it myself.

Read the glowing review here.

Vegeria Menu Now Up!

Just a quick note to say that Vegeria have posted their menu. They’re still slated to open in August.

Highlights include posole, broccoli queso, and a huge variety of tamales. They’ll have two or three kinds of tamales each day, but check out the great combinations:

Traditional veggie, sweet potato ginger chipotle, soyrizo and frijoles, veggie mole, vegan cheese and jalapeno, black bean and vegan cheese, pumpkin spice, pumpkin curry, vegan cream cheese and jalpeno, vegan cream cheese and spinach, broccoli and vegan queso, and corn and poblano.

Greenling + Engine 2 Diet = Happy Lazy Healthy People

All you folks in San Antonio and Austin thinking of improving your diet after seeing Forks Over Knives, it just got a little easier. Organic delivery service Greenling has teamed up with the Engine 2 Diet folks to offer a recipe basket with all the ingredients needed for five recipes from Rip’s book. Most of the stuff is even pre-measured. How easy is it that?*

The recipes are for one of the two baskets are Sweet Potato Lasagna, Black Beans and Rice with Vegetable Relish, Confetti Couscous with Seasonal Mixed Vegetables, Two Bean Chili, and Jammin’ Burritos. It should feed 2 people for each meal. I’m guessing you’d have some leftovers to take for lunches as well.

If you haven’t explored Greenling before, they deliver groceries to your door, and there’s no delivery fee. A minimum order is $25. They focus on organic and local products, and they have lots of “baskets” set up to help you shop quickly, like the Engine 2 basket above. Ordering their local produce box is like joining a CSA, but without the commitment. And there’s a “vegan” filter when you shop so you don’t have to wade through photos of meat and dairy when you’re looking for your locally-made tofu. In other words, they’re pretty neat.**

*I’m channeling Ina Garten today! Dinner will be served in the garden with matching napkins and just-clipped flowers.

**Obligatory disclaimer. I have an account with Greenling, but have never ordered from them. And this blog post was in no way solicited from Greenling nor will I be compensated for it.