Foodspotting Challenge

Dallas Vegan has thrown down a challenge to vegans in DFW to take photos of their great restaurant meals and post them to Foodspotting with the tag “vegan”. They’re hoping it creates a gallery of all the exciting food options in Dallas, something that one or two people can’t do alone.

Much like the initiative to post about vegan food on food forums like All Recipces started by Gary of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, this is a great way to share vegan food with the wider world. Really, check out this shot of the buffet at New Start Veggie Garden. Doesn’t it make you want to be vegan? As an incentive, everyone who follows Dallas Vegan on Foodspotting will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs. The drawing takes place September 15, so get photographing!

Recipe Round-Up: Texas Chili

Photo by dasroofless. Licensed under creative commons

It’s a bit repetitive to include “Texas” in the title there. Of course any chili on a blog about Texas will be Texas chili. But Texas chili, real Texas chili, poses special problems for vegans. Traditionally, Texas chili contains no beans, and beans are the basis for most vegetarian chilis. But vegans are creative, and we don’t let a pesky problem like this bother us. Here are the best beanless vegan chilis from around the web, each purist in its own way.

But first the rules. Besides no beans, Texas chili can’t have any vegetables. So no recipes that include corn or zucchini. We’ll let onions and tomatoes slide, but the veg meat should be the star of the show.

First up is this chili from the crew at Radical Eats in Houston. This recipe is an ode to Texas chili. It’s about the ingredients and the journey, and not about following directions. The chili features ground crumbles like Boca or Gimme Lean, though Staci says that tvp will work in a pinch. But really, you can’t go wrong with a recipe that begins with “Well you have to start with a really good veggie stock and lots and tons of onions,” and includes the option of cooking the chili “forever” or “half of forever” depending on your tomato choice.

Texas chili made with bulgur. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The next recipe is mine (you knew that was coming!) I feel strongly about my Texas chili. Don’t even think about adding beans. I use bulgur, though I’ve also subbed tvp or a combo of tvp and bulgur for a lower carb version. My recipe was born out of a longing for real Texas chili despite the fact that several of my family members make great with bean chilis (my sister-in-law’s has hominy, it’s fantastic). Those other chilis just weren’t what I think of as chili. This cooks up fast and makes a mean Frito pie.

Texas chili made with Gardein beefless tips. Photo posted with permission from Vegan Chronicle

And the final Texas chili comes to us from Starr at The Vegan Chronicle. This recipe uses Gardein beefless tips and a Dutch oven for a recipe that probably comes closest to the slow stewed chuck wagon chili made with tough cuts of meat on Texas cattle drives. For extra authenticity, use a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Three beanless vegan chilis made with three different kinds of veg meat. We still need a good seitan chili that stews in the pot to round things out.

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I can’t write a post about Texas chili without mentioning the Texas Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, now coming up on its 23rd year! This annual festival inspires all kinds of creative dishes, with every vegan ingredient known to man. Last year there was even a raw chili. They’re not all authentic, but they’re a great picture of the creativity and pride inherent to Texas vegan cooking.

Sigh. Well, Um..

When I started writing for Lone Star Plate, I vowed I would never mention a certain famous and flashy vegan group. No matter how demeaning or obnoxious they were. But, well, one of their demeaning, obnoxious protests has a very good point behind it that I think is getting lost.

So, if you got here by googling “Why the hell are naked women showering outside my office building and what does meat have to do with the drought in Texas,” here is the connection between meat and water usage.

  • First, as I’m sure you know, Texas is in the midst of a huge drought. Many places are 20 inches below their average rain fall. Average rain falls aren’t a whole lot more than 20 inches to start with in much of Texas. (LCRA and National Atlas)
  • Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from crops grown to feed food animals gets into waterways and creates dead zones where no animal life can survive. (Read about the Chesapeake Bay, for instance.)(Environmental Working Group, which is not a vegetarian organization)
  • Slaughterhouses produce a huge amount of pollution in our waterways. In fact, eight slaughterhouses consistently number among the top twenty polluters of surface water. (EWG)
  • And quoting directly from the EWG: “A California Water Education Foundation study found that one gallon of tofu requires 219 gallons of water per pound, compared to 477 gallons for eggs, 896 gallons for cheese and 2,463 gallons for beef. A frequently cited global study estimates that it takes 1,857 gallons to produce a pound of beef, and 469 gallons for a pound of chicken (not including processing).”
  • Texas is the largest beef producing state, producing about 16% of the U.S. beef supply. (USDA and EPA)
So what does this mean? Well, obviously livestock production isn’t causing the drought in Texas. The drought is happening because it isn’t raining. But how livestock production factors in is our water use and the availability of clean water. 
Growing livestock for consumption uses up a lot of water. Think about it. That cow you’re eating had to eat a lot of grain (or possibly grass or hay) to get to the size it did. And if it’s eating grass, it had to eat even more since it takes longer for grass-fed animals to reach full size. The water used for all that animal feed could be put to much better use.
Beyond this, water is polluted at every stage of the process. Fertilzers and pesticides pollute waterways and cause dead zones, grazing pollutes streams with manure, feedlots concentrate water pollution into a small area, slaughter produces toxic waste which is dumped into our waterways, and in the end, 20 percent of the meat produced ends up wasted in landfills.
Eating meat is unnecessary. You can get all the calories and nutrients you need from plants. And you’ll likely improve your health if you replace meat with beans, whole grains, vegetables, and beans. And trust me, vegan food really can taste good
In the end, it isn’t necessary to eat meat, and we need to take our food production and consumption into account when we talk about ways to converse water. Not getting a glass of water when you sit down at a restaurant is piddling when we talk about the amount of water used in growing animals for food.

Houston Brunch Update

Remember I mentioned a bunch of new brunch options in Houston recently. Remember? Well, it looks like one of them turned out to be even more amazing than I expected. Check out this Houston Culture Map write-up of the first Radical Eats brunch buffet. Tamales, chiles rellenos, fried okra. And, bonus, it’s all gluten-free. The next brunch is this Sunday starting at 11 AM.

Thumbs Up: Guero’s Taco Bar

Photo by sash5000. Licensed under creative commons

A big thumbs up to Guero’s Taco Bar in Austin for incorporating their fantastic vegan menu into their standard menu. All your favorite vegan options from the formerly secret vegan menu can now be ordered off the standard menu. And beyond that, they added the Food for Lovers queso and veganized their salad dressings by replacing honey with agave nectar. These are such small changes, but they make vegan dining so much more accessible. The menu should be online soon, but for now you can view it here. Thanks for being awesome, Guero’s.

Austin Business Opportunities

Two Austin businesses have opportunities for vegan entrepreneurs. Cheer Up Charlie’s is looking for a vegan food cart to replace (sniff) Iggi’s Texatarian. It’s a great location for snacky food since it’s so close to the bar. Contact cheerupcharlies (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested in the space.

A vegan pedicabber in Austin is looking for a vegan business who would like to advertise on her pedicab. The cab is in downtown Austin upwards of thirty hours a week, so this is a great environmentally friendly way to get out the word about your vegan business. Rates can be found here, but the pedicabber is willing to negotiate a trade or discount for the right vegan business. Contact Rachel at rachelalay (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested.

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

Sunny Day Farms Fundraisers

Photo from Sunny Day Farms Facebook page

When the drought and heat start affecting our animals friends, what do we do? Roll up our sleeves and bake!

A bake sale benefiting the animals at Sunny Day Farms will be Saturday, August 27, from noon to 6PM at Monkey Wrench Books at 110 E North Loop. You can sign up to bake something vegan or volunteer to table on this google spreadsheet. At the same time, Sue at Counter Culture, just a few doors down from Monkey Wrench books, will be donating 10% of the day’s sales to Sunny Day. So grab a salad or sandwich before heading to Monkey Wrench for dessert. Not a baker? Come buy some goodies and spread the word about the bake sale on Facebook.

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Lots of other efforts to raise money for Sunny Day are in the works, too. There’s a group running in the San Antonio marathon in November (respect) looking for sponsors and runners.

And a group of people who will be out of town for the bake sale are putting together a zine of Texas recipes. More on this soon.

The bar has been raised. What are YOU doing to help feed the animals at Sunny Day?

Brunch in Houston

Vegan pancakes and coffee at Seward Cafe in Minneapolis. I just got back from Minneapolis where it was so hard to choose from all the vegan brunch options. Photo by Transguyjay. Licensed under creative commons

Things are looking up for vegan brunch in Houston. Before, the only choices were Field of Green or Whole Foods, and Whole Foods doesn’t really offer a “brunch experience”. But the number of brunch options has doubled recently.

Radical Eats will be serving a Sunday brunch buffet, complete with mimosa, starting August 14. Brunch will be $11 and is served from 11AM to 7PM. Perfect for lie-a-beds.

Green Seed Vegan is getting in on brunch service as well. They just announced their brunch cryptically on Facebook and Twitter: “two words: vegan brunch“. Having tasted their wonderful sandwiches, I can only imagine it’ll be great. No word yet when brunch will be served.

Field of Green is a pescetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options, and they’re open for brunch on Sunday from 11AM to 3PM. I haven’t had their brunch yet, and they don’t say much about it online. Anyone ever been?

I’m throwing Whole Foods in here, too. You can get a nice vegan latte and some baked goods from Sinfull bakery, which makes a pretty nice brunch. But it’s lacking that atmosphere that encourages you to sit back and tackle the Sunday crossword.

Dallas: August Beer Dinner

Vegan beer in London. Photo by Rain Rabbit. Licensed under creative commons

It’s time for another five course vegan beer dinner at Libertine Bar in Dallas. Previous beer dinners have sold out. The theme for this one is spicy and will include roasted jalapeno stuffed with mushroom duxelles and ghost pepper soup. Each course comes with a beer pairing. The dinner will be at 7PM Wednesday, August 24. More details about the meals and making reservations on Facebook.