SXSW Interactive Panels You Should Vote For

Meatless Monday Unicorn

Meatless Monday Unicorn from Vegansaurus

It’s SXSW panel voting time, and there are a number of vegan-related panels you should support.

First up, Austin’s own Lazy Smurf is teaming up with Laura Beck of Vegansaurus and Jezebel to talk about stereotype-smashing vegan activism like Thug Kitchen, the LA Vegan Beer Fest, and Vegansaurus’s Meatless Monday Unicorn in a panel called Activism on the Internet: You’re Doing it Wrong. The team will explore how social media plays a role in both forming and challenging these positive and fun forms of activism.

Next up is a panel called How Tech Saves Us from Junk Science and Animal Abuse. The name is a bit clunky. This panel is about the government’s role in animal experimentation. You’ll hear from a watchdog, a doctor, a former animal experimenter, and an attorney and animal rights advocate—not to mention getting to meet a few Beagles rescued from laboratory experiments. The panel looks at technological alternatives to animal experimentation from the points of view of both animal rights and scientific rigor.

I’m not going to tell you to vote for this last one, but it is of interest to a vegan audience despite being decidedly unvegan. Hacking Meat: Why Insects Are the Future of Food. Again, eating insects, not vegan. But it’s an interesting idea to explore in order to reduce consumption of animals that have more of a capacity for pain and emotion. Personally, I think it’s much easier to get people to eat beans and grains than to eat bugs, but I like exploring ideas that address the problem that we’re consuming an unsustainable amount of meat.

Vegan MoFo 2013

Vegan MoFo will be in September this year, which is just six days away. I wasn’t sure if I would participate this year, but I’ve decided to go for. You should, too. Sign up here by August 28 to participate.

For the month of September, vegans from all over the world will blog daily about vegan food—anything whatsoever to do with vegan food. Here’s a list of ideas if you considering joining us.

I’m embarking on a taco cleanse with a group of guinea pigs here in Austin. Hopefully by the end of September we’ll have glowing skin and super powers. Keep reading to find out.

Follow the fun with the #tacocleanse tag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and see our taco cleanse Pinterest board for inspiration.

Happy MoFoing everyone!

Feedlots and Waste Lagoons

Recently a Google Maps image of a cattle feedlot in Texas has been making the news. The photo of Coronado Feeders shows a beige grid dotted with cows near a bright red waste lagoon. It’s both horrifying and mesmerizing. And not all that unusual. You can find feedlots like this all across Texas.

Google Maps image of E6 Cattle Co

Google Maps image of E6 Cattle Co (Click on any photo to see a larger image)

For instance, here is the Google Maps image of E6 Cattle Co, which made the news in 2011 when a Mercy for Animals video (contains graphic images and sounds) highlighted abuses there.

Unnamed feedlot near the Texas-New Mexico border

Unnamed feedlot near the Texas-New Mexico border

Or this one near the New Mexico border.

Feedlot northeast of Amarillo

Feedlot northeast of Amarillo

Or this one near Amarillo.

In fact, it’s easy to spot feedlots in Google Maps pretty much anywhere in the Texas Panhandle. Pick a spot and search for the familiar grid and red pond in the pattern of circles (crops).

Texas is one of the largest cattle producers in the United States. These industrial feedlots are part of modern meat production, and they’re unsustainable. Animal waste can pollute rivers and underground drinking water, and according to the EPA, one dairy cow produces waste equivalent to 20 to 40 humans. Multiplied by the number of cattle in the above photos, that’s a lot of waste. The current scale of meat production is just too much for our environment to handle. In fact, the UN has urged the world to move toward a vegan diet in order to ward off the impending climate change disaster.

So why is this news? Because we don’t often see how our food is produced. If you’re eating a hamburger at most restaurants in the U.S., this is where it came from.

One Lucky Duck Opening in San Antonio

Raw vegan One Lucky Duck Juice Bar recently opened a location in San Antonio. The restaurant is associated with Pure Food and Wine in New York City. The San Antonio location serve juices, salads, and snacks as well as carrying a small selection of raw food groceries, cosmetics, clothing, household goods, and pet supplies. The San Antonio juice bar is located at 303 Pearl Parkway.

Austin: New Vegan Breakfast Options

Red Rabbit donuts

Red Rabbit Bakery coffee donuts

There are two great new vegan breakfast options in North Central Austin. Red Rabbit Bakery opened a food cart at 53rd (aka North Loop) and Martin Ave, just down the street from the Vegan Nom taco cart. The Red Rabbit cart serves their signature donuts, as well as the harder-to-find filled donuts, fritters, muffins, and donut holes. Coffee is available with either soy or almond milk. Red Rabbit shares the lot with just-opened Taco ‘Bout It and the soon-to-reopen Yoko Ono Miyaki. The Red Rabbit cart is open Monday through Saturday from 8 AM until they sell out (or 1 PM).

Maoz Austin breakfast menu

Maoz Austin breakfast menu

Nearby at the Triangle, Maoz just released a new breakfast menu. Vegan options include a pita with tofu scramble, sauteed onion, and tempeh bacon or a play on a BLT, a pita with tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, and vegenaise. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 11 PM.

Vegan Hot Dog at Ballpark in Arlington

Vegan hot dog at Ballpark in Arlington. Photo by mollyjade

Be prepared for a long walk if you want to try the vegan (and gluten-free) hot dog at the Ballpark in Arlington. The dogs are sold at the Centerfield Marketplace. A lot of online sources say it’s located in section 131, but this isn’t true. The nice usher at section 131 sounded like he was used to the question. The Centerfield Marketplace is in restaurant location 131, which doesn’t mean anything to customers. It’s a numbering system used by Ballpark facilities management. The important thing to listen to is “Centerfield” Marketplace. It’s located near, ta da!, centerfield on the ground level.

Vegan hot dogs at Ballpark in Arlington. Photo by mollyjade

The Centerfield Marketplace is a small convenience store with healthier and gluten-free food. On one side are refrigerated cases with prepared foods and beverages. On the other side is a rolling hot dog warmer filled with smart dogs. Isn’t America a wonderful place? We snagged a fruit cup from the refrigerated case along with our hot dog.

Fruit cup at Ballpark in Arlington. Photo by mollyjade

Unless you have seats on the ground level, grab your food before you find your seats. The elevators only go up for the first innings, and it’s a lot of work to get back to ground level once you’ve gone up. Back at our seats, I bit into my hot dog loaded with ketchup and mustard and watched the Rangers hit a grand slam. It felt just like watching a game in the nosebleed seats as a kid. I loved it.

New Vegan Restaurants Opening in Texas

Veggie Grill

Veggie Grill: Fried (Gardein) chick'n, mashed potatoes, gravy, kale, or as I like to call it, the Wannabe Luann Platter

Fast casual vegan chain Veggie Grill plans to open at least two Texas locations in 2014. According to an article in the Los Angeles Business Journal, Veggie Grill is looking for appropriate locations in Houston and Austin.

I was lucky enough to try Veggie Grill in Portland while I was there for Vida Vegan Con. The menu strikes a great balance between hearty comfort food and health food. Who doesn’t love a plate of food that has both kale and gravy?

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Buffalo Chick'n Sandwich from Green Vegetarian

As I announced recently on Facebook, Green Vegetarian of San Antonio is expanding to Houston. The food at Green is somewhat similar to Veggie Grill, except that Green has table service. I think both restaurants will find an audience that’s hungry for comforting, healthy food in Houston, seeing how few vegan restaurants Houston has for it’s large population. In the future, Green plans to franchise their restaurant.

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Gluten-free vegan oatmeal cream pies from Reverie Bakeshop. Photo from Reverie Bakeshop Facebook

In Dallas, two friends are opening a vegan bakery, Reverie Bakeshop. The duo is currently hosting a Kickstarter fundraiser to help cover the costs of build-out and inventory. The grand opening is planned for September of this year.

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Locali (perhaps a pun on local and low cal and California?), another Los Angeles-based fast casual healthy chain, is planning an Austin location according to Eater-Los Angeles. At first glance the menu isn’t that exciting. Sandwiches mostly. That is, until you notice almost every sandwich is vegan or can be made vegan, including a list of hearty breakfast sandwiches. Look out breakfast tacos, you’re going to have some competition.

The Wet Whistle, One Year In

The Wet Whistle is having a one year anniversary party this weekend, which means it’s time for a follow up to my preview a year ago. I almost don’t want to write this. Right now, it feels like the Wet Whistle is my own private food paradise. But it’s not right to keep such a great place a secret.

If you don’t spend much time near Chicon and MLK in Austin, you may not even know what Wet Whistle is. It’s a small convenience store that’s been stripped of all the corporatization and sameness of your neighborhood 7/11. Instead, you’ll find local and alternative specialty foods in an arty, DIY setting that fits right in with the East Austin vibe.

Paint can lid art outside the Wet Whistle

Looking at the range of goods on their shelves, it’s obvious the folks at Wet Whistle have gone out of their way to accommodate vegans. The small convenience store has two cases of prepared food, and they’re stuffed with vegan options, including

  • Vegan Nom tacos
  • Counter Culture kale salad and macaroni and cheese
  • Happy Vegan Baker macaroni and cheese and shepherd’s pie
  • Tom’s Tabooley salads and wraps
  • Grandma’s hummus
  • Green Cart wraps
  • Tam’s Deli veggie bahn mi (usually vegan, but ask about mayo)
  • various bean curries and dips
You won’t find all of these there at once, as they arrive fresh a few times a week and eventually sell out. But a large percentage of their options are vegan at any given time.
The bakery counter is also stocked with vegan baked goods from Red Rabbit Cooperative, Sugar Circus (Sugar Tooth Bakery), Sugar Mama Bake Shop, and others. You’ll find cupcakes, cookies, donuts, muffins, and loaves of bread. Many of the baked goods are gluten free as well.
If you’re looking for a beverages, they have kombucha; beer and wine; natural colas; fresh iced teas, coffees, and fruit beverages; and coconut waters. What you won’t find is the usual Coke and Pepsi that crowd most convenience stores.
They also stock staples like fresh produce, soy milk, vegan cheese, tofu, tempeh, pasta, and crackers.
Beyond the food, the service is excellent. Like much of Austin service, it’s not effusive. They won’t shout “hello” at you when you come in the store. But I always have great interactions at the checkout, and they’ve stocked numerous things I suggested.
Wet Whistle One Year Anniversary
Wet Whistle is celebrating their one year anniversary with a big party on Sunday, July 28, from 3 to 9 PM. There will be music, a raffle, wine and hummus, a whistling contest, and a vegan taco eating contest. That’s right! Test yourself against competitors to see who can eat a set number of tacos the fastest. I eat a lot of Vegan Nom tacos, and finally all that practice will do me some good.

San Antonio Vegan-Friendly Map

Sign outside Green Vegetarian in San Antonio

Sign outside Green Vegetarian in San Antonio

There’s a new San Antonio vegan blog called Veggie Angie. Angie just posted a terrific map of all the vegan-friendly restaurants in San Antonio. It’s incredibly thorough, with fifty-six restaurants currently listed. I’m pleased to add it to my list of Texas vegan restaurant guides. Besides the map, you’ll also find reviews of many of the restaurant on the blog.

Do you know of another Texas city guide I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments.

Vegan Pizza in Austin

Vegan Pizza Day is this Saturday. If you’re having trouble picking a slice in Austin, here’s a guide to the best vegan pizzas in Austin. (Not in Austin? Check out this post about vegan pizza in Texas.)

Austin’s Pizza
Vegan cheese: Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese
Recommended pie: Mediterranean (minus the feta) because kalamata olives
Tip: Avoid the online ordering system. For whatever reason, calling gets more accurate results

Brick Oven on 35th 
Vegan cheese: chipotle pesto, no extra charge
Recommended pie: Spicy Vegan, a personal sized pizza with chipotle pesto, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, and jalapenos
Tip: Be aware, this is an entirely different restaurant than Brick Oven. (Bonus tip, you can get the chipotle pesto on pasta as well. Just ask for no cream.)

Spicy Vegan from Brick Oven on 35th

Spicy Vegan from Brick Oven on 35th

Conan’s Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, counts as double topping
Recommended pie: Don’t Choke Art, spinach, sliced tomato, artichoke heart, garlic
Tip: Both the deep dish and thin-style crusts are vegan now

Hoboken Pie
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $3 extra for any size
Recommended pie: Brown sugar pineapple and serano pepper (or jalapeno)
Tip: Monthly specials are sometimes vegan. (Bonus tip:The garlic knots can be made vegan.)

Mellow Mushroom
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1.49-3.29, based on pizza size
Recommended pie: Tempeh (because where else can you get tempeh on a pizza?), onions, and bell peppers.
Tip: Remind your waiter, “No butter or parmesan on the crust.”

Mi Pizza
Vegan cheese: 
unknown for an additional charge
Recommended pie: build your own personal pie with as many toppings as you like for only $6.99.

North Door Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $3 extra
Recommended pie: Green and black olives (in honor of Lazy Smurf, who recommended this place and loves olives)
Tip: North Door Pizza only serves pizza during events at North Door.

The Parlor
Vegan cheese: Follow Your Heart, $3.50-5.50 extra, depending on the pizza size
Recommended pie: Any pie with their homemade vegan meats (pepperoni, sausage, chicken). The meats aren’t always available. If they have all three and you can get a vegan meat lover’s pie, it’s like you’ve won the lottery.
Tip: If there’s no vegan meat, try a vegan French bread pizza with broccoli. Trust me.

Promise  Pizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, no extra charge
Recommended pie: Nature’s Choice, a pizza loaded up with all the veggies
Tip: Stretch the definition of pizza and try a Vegan’s Choice calzone

Sagra
Vegan cheese: Homemade pistachio cheese, no extra charge
Recommended pie: Calabrese vesuvio. Named after Mount Vesuvius, the pizza comes flopped over on itself.
Tip: Walk your waiter through the definition of vegan when you order. They’re really flexible about adapting many of their dishes, but it means they get a bit confused sometimes.

Sauced
Vegan cheese: A blend of mozzarella and cheddar Daiya
Recommended pie: Veggie meat and basil
Tip: Wednesday and Saturday you can order vegan pizza by the slice. The rest of the week, you’ll have to order an entire pizza.

Spartan Pizza
Vegan cheese: Galaxy Foods vegan rice cheese
Recommended pie: The Athena, with roasted garlic olive oil, fresh spinach, red onion, mushroom, whole roasted garlic cloves
Tip: The tomato sauce, the roasted garlic spread, and roasted garlic olive oil sauce are all vegan.

Via 313 vegan pizza

Via 313 vegan pizza

Via 313
Vegan cheese:  Follow Your Heart, $2 extra
Recommended pie: They serve Detroit-style pizza, which mean deep dish, cooked in a square cast iron, with a strip of tomato sauce on top rather than under the toppings.
Tip: Try a Vernor’s Ginger Ale, a Michigan classic. The ginger is so spicy, the first sip makes you cough.

Wheatsville Coop
Vegan cheese: Daiya, cheese price incorporated into the price of the pizza
Recommended pie: Popcorn tofu pizza. They’ve added everyone’s favorite sandwich topping to their pizza. Pick up a ready-made pizza in the refrigerated case and cook it yourself at home.
Tip: Occasionally, pizza-by-the-slice is offered at the deli counter.

Whole Foods
Vegan cheese: Cheddar or mozzarella Daiya, $1 extra/pie. As far as I know, this is the only place in town that offers cheddar (or as the last employee I talked to called it, yellow) vegan cheese.
Recommended pie: Red, green, and yellow bell peppers for a really colorful pie
Tip: Thursday is $10 pizza night, the best deal in town

ZPizza
Vegan cheese: Daiya, $1.35-2.25 extra/pie, depending on size
Recommended pie: The Berkley Vegan, with (Gardein) veggie crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onion, bell pepper
Tip: Their gluten-free crust is vegan. See the FAQ section for a vegan menu.

Updated 2/11/14