Category Archives: Events

Snapshots from Texas VegFest 2014

I got to attend another marvelous Texas Vegfest and I tried to take some pictures, I was so distracted by all the food and people it was hard to stay focused!

The line for BBQ revolution was so long I would have needed a wider lens to capture it. Or at least, you know, stood farther away.

I really wanted to try Red Rabbit’Yellowbird Sauce Donuts, but alas they were sold out before I got there. Red Rabbit is only for people that get their act together early and that means I never get to have it.

Follow Your Heart was sampling grilled cheese with their pesto mayo, and man oh man, I’m glad I waited for a batch to come up because it was one of my favorite things I tried. 

I was excited to see Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant there, and so was Dan, he couldn’t resist their combo plate.

Counter Culture had a bunch of salads for sale, and they looked super fresh and tasty. 

I learned that Vegan Toonah is going to be available nationwide soon, in a little can just like fishy tuna. I tried it and thought it was very interesting. It didn’t really remind me of tuna but it wasn’t bad, just like seitan in a can.

I thought Tecolote Farm deserved the cutest booth award. I love their owl! I should have bought a shirt. I did get a Herbivore shirt that I love.

I waited in line FOREVER for Capital City’s Ham & Cheese Kolaches and then they sold out when I  was just about to the front. It was torture. I love those kolaches so much. 

I was stoked to try Hearty Vegan‘s fajitas and tuna salad. Dang, it was the best vegan tuna salad I’ve ever had! I loved it. The fajitas were good too! They were so popular that it looks like Hearty Vegan might start selling meal kits.

I was excited to see all my friends in booths, like the VRA gang!

I think I should have a booth next year called “Kiss the Puppy” and for a donation to charity you can kiss a puppy. I wonder if they would let me since it’s no dogs allowed. That’s even more reason there needs to be puppy love, though. Mostly during veg fest I missed our foster puppy.

I waited in another long line for Good Karma Kitchen, they are a food truck from Dallas and I loved their tacos last year so I knew it would be worth it. At the last minute I decided to get a deconstructed tamale with black-eyed pea relish and bloody mary salsa instead. It’s really a great idea for a home-cooked meal, maybe I’ll make my own version since god knows, I’m not going to Dallas.

I saw Teese selling vegan nachos and had to wonder why this isn’t a thing everywhere. Especially at the movie theater.

After that I saw the Happy Vegan Baker and I wanted to try her mac & cheese which everyone raves about and then decided to try the lentil shepherd’s pie too.

I loved the mac & cheese but that was when I definitely hit the upper limit of my stomach’s capacity, no Sweet Ritual for me! There were a million other food vendors, activist groups, charities, and businesses that I’m not even mentioning. If you haven’t been, you should definitive make it out next year. The music was really good too! Texas VegFest is just incredible, hats off to the organizers for pulling together another amazing fest. 

It’s Texas Vegfest Weekend

TxVegFestAustin- This is the weekend to go to Fiesta Gardens for Texas Vegfest and try all the best of what the vegan world has to offer. There are going to be people speaking about health, activism, professional fighting, and cooking plant based food including allergen free & even an instructor from the professional culinary arts program at The Natural Epicurean Academy.

There will be food vendors from all the different facets of the Austin vegan scene including, Indian, Ethiopian, Barbecue, Japanese, Tacos, Doughnuts, and cupcakes. Pretty much everything you could ever want to eat.

They will also have craft beer, live music, kids activities, and all sort of other stuff to do and see. And by the way, it’s free! (although there is a suggested donation.) Plus since it’s right on town lake you can ride your bike or even kayak there. And you can win stuff! And buy cool shit! And then eat more.

If you can’t wait, Friday night there is going to be a huge Austin Vegan Drinks pre-party at the Buzzmill complete with Vegan Nom Tacos, a hooping contest, ice cream, and vegan croissants!

So get your act together, find your best straw hat, and get ready to get ready to make this the best fest ever. If you want to read about last year’s event here’s my wrap up.

Making the world more awesome through tortoise cozies & bake sales.

At our SXSW conversation a few weeks ago one thing we talked about a lot was that, for us, the best way to stay vegan & help animals is by doing things that make you happy. Protests and political actions are so important but it’s really easy to get burned out and they just aren’t for everybody. For me, I found that I like writing about awesome vegan food, rescuing dogs, and having bake sales.

But there is a million other things you can do if you can just think of them. I saw this story this morning on The Mary Sue and I had to share. A woman named Katie Bradley got involved with tortoise rescue and rehabilitation and then realized she had the talent to crochet tortoise cozies and sell them on the Etsy to raise funds for International Reptile Rescue. So inspiring and so fun. I love it.

Also, we need more bakers for the Austin World Wide Vegan Bake Sale coming up April 27, if you haven’t signed up yet, get to it!

Vida Vegan meet-up at the Liberty tonight (2/6) & a review of the newest Eastside King

Eastside King trailer behind the Liberty on the Eastside

I’ve long been a fan of the Eastside King, I mean anyone who has brussels sprouts in a Vietnamese stir-fry and beet fries is going to rank pretty high on my list. It’s been fun to watch the expansion as new trailers and a couple brick and mortars opened up around town as the word spread and Paul Qui became super famous. I love that a place that’s so trendy and popular has awesome vegan dishes because the number one reason people give up on veganism is that it’s inconvenient when eating out. So thank you Eastside King! Tonight the crew from Vida Vegan are going to have a meet-up at the original Liberty Location from 5-7. And if you aren’t feeling that trailer, there are tons of others nearby like Via 313.

I got to check out the new South Lamar Eastside King location a couple weeks ago and I was pretty stoked that they had the same offerings from the liberty location that I already love.

They also added tacos to the menu at the new location! I guess they had to since it’s smack dab in South Austin. The Mochi taco is “mochi in a steamed moo shu wrap topped with bico, , yuzu kosho salsa, avocado, basil, cilantro, mint and it’s delicious.

I was worried when I bit into it that they forgot and added cheese but we decided it was the mochi. I was with my friend and most amazing cookbook author Isa and I kicked her (not at all discreetly) when Paul Qui walked by so they could say hi. I’m the worst! It was fun though. The new location also has a giant Tanuki.

I was very happy with the experience overall (except parking can kind of be a bitch we parked at Chipotle which is probably a bad idea) they were super friendly about the vegan thing and everything was delicious.

So hopefully I’ll see some of y’all tonight! I wonder if we will get another snowday tomorrow!

GIVEAWAY- Try Mr. Natural’s new Brunch menu for free!

Mr. Natural contacted me the other day to help get the word out about their new menu items. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Natural and I love Mexican Breakfast so I was happy to help, especially when they said they would throw in two free brunches for y’all! The menu for this Sunday at the Caesar Chavez location is all vegan and it looks super friendly for gluten free folks as well. I already love their tofu migas but they will also have tofu scramble, rice with their fantastic refried beans, a variety of salads and, oh yeah, vegan fried chicken and waffles!

photo by Mr. Natural

fried chicken and waffles photo by Mr. Natural

They’ll also have a tamale casserole, toasted cauliflower curried quinoa with tofu , tofu and veggie quiche, spinach and daiya cheese filled puffs, and traditional biscuits and gravy!

photo by Mr. Natural

biscuits and gravy photo by Mr. Natural

You can finish it off with desserts like gluten free cheesecake bites,
marble chocolate bread, kombucha mimosas or even a vegan bloody mary.

photo by Mr. Natural

bloody mary photo by Mr. Natural

They have also added a lot of American style food to the regular menu like cheeseburgers, deluxe hot dogs, and chili cheese fries.

chili cheese fries

chili cheese fries photo by Mr. Natural

Since it is a vegetarian place make sure that you specify vegan when ordering off the regular menu and they will take care of you. Since this weekend is their first vegan brunch buffet they’d also love your feedback, if you feel weird about it, you can let me know on this post what you liked and I’ll get back with them.

TO WIN A FREE BRUNCH just comment below, you can tell me what your favorite thing is to eat for brunch, or what you are most excited about at Mr. Natural. Make sure you leave your name and a real email in the form so I can let you know if you won!

The giveaway is now closed (Congrats Lorena & Cady!) but stay tuned, there will be another one soon!

The Austin Vegan Riot to celebrate Austin’s Most Vegan Friendly Trailer Yard

austinveganriot

Last week the little trailer park next to Capital City Bakery closed up (probably to make way for condos) and Unity Vegan Kitchen, one of my favorite new spots in Austin, moved to North Loop to join forces with BBQ Revolution, Red Rabbit Bakery, and Taco ‘Bout It to form the most vegan friendly trailer park around at Northloop House & Yard. The only trailer that’s not vegan is the Taco Truck and even they have some vegan options so it’s, like, the opposite of all the other trailer parks in town. To celebrate they are going to have party down. Here are the details from the press release:

We are proud to announce the arrival of Austin’s first all vegan-friendly trailer space at the NorthLoop House and Yard, a trailer space and micro-business haus at 701 E. 53rd St in Austin’s NorthLoop neighborhood. To celebrate this momentous occasion the creative minds behind the NLHY are excited to kick off Austin Vegan Riot, a twice monthly party showcasing the unique offerings of this most-Austin locale. Currently at the NorthLoop trailer yard you’ll find Red Rabbit Co-operative Bakery, BBQ Revolution, Vegan Unity, and Taco ‘Bout It. Red Rabbit serves award winning donuts and other sweet things, produced by their worker owned co-op to organic standards. BBQ Revolution is the country’s only all vegan BBQ joint, creating a truly distinct take on Central Texas fare. Vegan Unity offers locally sourced favorites made from scratch. And Taco ‘Bout It brings tastes from south of the border serving several vegan and traditional options. With Austin recently named as PETA’s top vegan-friendly city it only makes sense that a trailer space would come about as the city’s first vegan-friendly destination. Be sure to stop by every 2nd and last Thursday for the Austin Vegan Riot, starting Thursday January 30th, 6-9pm at the NorthLoop House & Yard, 701 E. 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751.

Lasagna with cashew cream, vegan barbecue, and amazing doughnuts can all be had at once! And then you can dance it all off. In a Riot-like fashion. It’ll be great.

Austin Bakes for Austin this Saturday November 30th


Our bake sales for Natural Disaster relief started with Austin Bakes for Japan where we couldn’t believe it when we raised $11,540. Next, after the wildfires in Bastrop we got together and raised $12,500. Then after the plant explosion in West Texas, and incredibly, we raised $18,251.92. The team behind the bake sales is really amazing at organizing and having simultaneous events all over town and having sponsors do donation matching and really just having an entire community come out to support humanitarian aid. It’s really sad that this time it’s for people in our own backyard who have been devastated by the October floods. I know I’ll never forget that picture of the horses being led through the water or the raging waters at Barton Springs. Overnight I got 12 inches in my backyard and all of the creeks around me were sweeping over the roads. Over four hundred of my neighbors lost their houses completely. 

Is it weird that now whenever there is a disaster I start planning on what I can bake? Maybe it is, but I hope that you think this way too because we need lots of vegan bakers to participate. Actually, we always need vegans, sugar free people, gluten free, and nut free people to bring in their best treats because it is terrible turning people away. Think of the children! Plus, the next time someone tells you it’s wrong that you only care about animals you can say, “actually I recently donated to this huge effort for humanitarian aid right here in town”. The team always picks excellent charities and all the money for our Austin sale will go to Austin Disaster Relief Network a super local organization.  This time I’ll be heading up the table at Sugar Circus with my bake sale buddy Nelly but there will be locations all over town where you can drop off baked goods or buy and donate.

If you’d like to lend a hand, please sign up here!

We would also love your help spreading the word, here are some ways to help from the Austin Bakes site 

Visit our fundraising page on FirstGiving to make a donation to Austin Disaster Relief Network.

If you are thinking about what to bake check out some of my other posts here and here remember to list your ingredients and wrap things up. Here are some more tips on the Austin Bakes site.  People love savory things! For the worldwide vegan bakesale I made these pretzel dogs and they were the first thing to sell out. And remember to come out and support the sale & tell all your friends and co-workers.

Thanksgiving for the Turkeys

For years I have had my office rally around the cause of adopting turkeys and the adoption certificates are now hanging up all over the place. It leads to a lot of interesting discussion. Most of the time people crack a joke about how the turkeys deserve to be eaten or something but, as time has gone on, I’ve learned to always say “well these turkeys were abused” and it changes the conversation. When people first hear about food animals being saved they picture a healthy robust animal on it’s way to get processed for the super market getting stolen off the assembly line by some rouge vegans who want to rob people of their holiday bird.

I think this is the story folks really want to believe. They choose the Utopian farmer story so they don’t have to think about factory farms and monstrous slaughterhouses. When you tell them the reality of these turkey’s lives, well people don’t joke about it again after that. Maybe these turkeys were abused or fell off the truck. Maybe it was too sick to be taken into the slaughterhouse so it was abandoned in a dumpster outside to die slowly. I usually mention how all turkeys are confined to tiny spaces and their beaks are cut off.  It really makes people think and sometimes they throw in a couple dollars to our adopt a turkey fund or at least they think it’s a pretty great thing to do. It can be tough to have these conversations though. It took me a long time to be able to realize that arguing the “meat is murder” point will never get you anywhere but nobody wants to see animals tortured and abused. It’s a much easier starting point.

I do love telling people, after that, about how Farm Sanctuary has a Thanksgiving party *for* the turkeys. Once people feel bad for a turkey’s tough life they love hearing about little kids feeding turkeys sweet potatoes and apples to celebrate the holiday. It’s a great program.

I encourage you to adopt a turkey too, and to tell all of your friends about it. It’s a great way to honor the holiday in my experience. If you live in Austin Capital City bakery is going to be having our own little party for the turkeys. Kristen is cooking up tons of stuff, both sweet and savory and she is going to be sampling all of her Thanksgiving pies. 10% of all sales are going to Farm Sanctuary and if you pledge TODAY to sponsor a turkey you will get a totally free 4″ turkey cake. You have to order today though at orders@capitalcitybakery.com or 512.666.7437.

You also have to get your orders in today for Thanksgiving pies from Capital City Bakery and also Thanksgiving Dinners from Happy Vegan Bakery or Counter Culture. Check out the Thanksgiving roundup for more info.

Lonestar Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off Sign-up Happening Now!

I love Chili, Texas style, Yankee style, Verde, Tons of Beans, No Beans, Tempeh, Barley, whatever it is as long as it’s vegan (and not burned) I’ll probably like it. That’s why the Lonestar Vegetarian Chili cook-off is always one of the best events of the year. Last year I got to judge and my friend Cassandra with the Red Hot Vegans took the trophy for best traditional and then members of the Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance got the best all around! It was pretty rad to see other bloggers win, I promise I didn’t cheat! Another year Molly of the Lonestar Plate won and her amazing recipe (which is pictured above in frito pie form)  is in our Sunny Days in Texas Zine and she has it rounded up with some other great chili recipes online.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to win the cash prizes the time to sign up is now! Even though people come in from all over the state to play AND it’s the longest running vegetarian chili cook-off in the world Austin almost always wins and it sure would be sad if we lost to someone from Round Rock or Dallas so get your teams together and sign up. The event is going to be tons of fun, with all sorts of live music and different vendors.

SXSW eco misses the most important thing we can do to save the world

This year organizers of South By Southwest Eco were nice enough to give me a free pass to attend the conference. Although I’ve been to the interactive, music, and film conferences quite a bit over the last few years this was my first time attending the new-ish eco. I went full throttle into attending as many panels as possible on everything that I am interested in. I loved learning about the potentials of 3D printing, technology that’s helping wildlife, the importance of storytelling in the movement, and how the first refugees and victims of climate change are trying to save their own lives.  The eco conference is supposed to combine scientists with technologists and industry leaders to create solutions to climate based problems. In the past, people have asked me to do a panel on veganism and the environment but I didn’t feel like I was enough of an expert on the topic…until I went to sxsweco.

At first I was surprised by the lack of programming on the topic of veganism, especially since there was a whole theme of food and agriculture. I was even more surprised that the v word hardly came up! Only one panel I went to mentioned eating vegan to help the environment, and that was the panel about in-vitro meat, beyond meat, eating crickets for protein and 3D printing. I guess one of the best parts about the whole experience was learning how naive I am about what people actually know about meat production in our world and that there are so many opportunities for education. At one panel they showed just one image of the pollution caused by one factory farm and the entire room gasped. I wanted to just print out articles, studiesstatistics, and infographics and start handing them to people.  I heard over and over again about urban farming and vertical farming and plans to not over fish the sea, and plans to detox the sea, and that there is so much plastic in the sea, and that throwing out a half of a pound of ground beef is the same as taking a 90 minute shower, and how the tides are rising are displacing so many people, and weather uncertainty, and what can we do to make a difference. And then I heard the chatter from out-of-towners about how much they loved Texas barbecue and which place would they try next. I saw them lining up at the cheap hamburger stand across the street. I expect that at interactive and the rest but I really thought people traveling to a conference on the environment knew about the impact of cheap beef.

I didn’t know it was a secret that the easiest way anyone in the world can make a difference is to give up eating animals, at least most of the time. Livestock production accounts for over 50 percent of greenhouse gases on the planet! People are losing their homes because we can’t give up hamburgers.

I was reminded the population is growing at a staggering rate. We have to make as much food in the next 40 years as we did in the last thousand. Urban farming will never solve this problem, there are too many people and not resources in urban areas. At one panel I went to an engineer said that vertical farming was a pipe dream, an idea that is perpetuated by cool graphics. I learned that the poorest people in the world are farmers and that 50 percent of them go hungry while the urban farm movement here in the US encourages this as the only possible direction. I’m not saying urban farming doesn’t have a place, I love going to the farmer’s market and I grow kale in my backyard but it will never be enough to make a global difference.  Especially when it comes to animal “farming”. Raising animals for food takes infinitely more resources. If people could happily live on subsistence farming those same people wouldn’t be cutting down the rainforrest to make way for cash crops that feed animals. The model of grass fed cows will never work to feed our growing population. As long as people are eating meat at the rate we do there will be factory farms and ag sprawl which is much worse for the environment than urban sprawl.

The only way we have a chance to continue life as we know it is eat a lot less meat. Most people on the planet have to go vegan most of the time. The sooner we stop being so selfish about our traditions and tastes the sooner we will be able actually start saving the planet instead of just deluding ourselves that someone else will come and save us.

The biggest threat to the planet is business as usual.