Vida Vegan Con Scavenger Hunt Recap

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The last Vida Vegan Con has come and gone! We ate some seriously good food, we drank all the dranks, and we hung out with scores of insanely amazing people. We took on a lot with organizing a kick-ass scavenger hunt and after-party, and may have forgotten to factor hours in the day to sleep, but it was all worth it in the end.

We put together our very first scavenger hunt, and had a ton of fun coming up with ridiculous prompts. Our tasks were a little over the top at times, and may have overwhelmed some of our shyer participants, but the few people who took it on, ran with it. Out of the 35 total tasks, here are a few of our favorites:

It’s not going to rain on my parade! Form a mini-parade with at least three umbrellas.

Jojo's Umbrella Parade
Submitted by Jojo

Amey's Umbrella Parade
Submitted by Amey

“Woman laughing alone with salad” stock photos- a vegan stereotype in a nutshell. Laugh your way to the bank while holding any delicious vegan dish (even salad counts).

Jojo's Laughing Photo
Submitted by Jojo

Amey's Laughing Photo
Submitted by Amey

Sugar crash from all the amazing vegan sweets? Snap a pic of yourself or a friend utilizing an unusual napping spot.

Ted's Naptime Photo
Submitted by Ted

Jojo's Naptime Photo
Submitted by Jojo

Amey's Naptime Photo
Submitted by Amey

Erika's Naptime Photo
Submitted by Erika

Swim in a sea of your VVC Swag.

Amey's Swag Photo
Submitted by Amey

Jojo's Swag Photo
Submitted by Jojo

Ted's Swag Photo
Submitted by Ted

So. Ridiculous. A huge thanks to everyone who participated, and particularly to Jojo (Vegan in Brighton), Amey (Vegan Eats and Treats), Ted (Wok on the Wildside), Erika (Norton’s Movie Maps) and Rachel (Veggies and Meows), who took a vast majority of the photos, and are my new favorite people. If you’re curious as to what all we made these trusting people do, you can find the complete list of scavenger hunt tasks here. We can’t believe VVC is over, but at least we have the memories. Check out our gallery below for a more complete look at our favorite hunt photos (tip: don’t forget to read the captions).

Vida Vegan Con Has Arrived:

Scavenger Hunt, Bazaar, After Parties, Oh My!

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Vida Vegan Con will have you jumping for joy! (and making stupid corny jokes)
Vida Vegan Con will have you jumping for joy! (and making stupid corny jokes)

At this point I hope you’ve heard of Vida Vegan Con, and are as excited as we are that the non-stop party that is VVC is almost upon us! Whether you hit up the Bazaar, the after-parties, or participate in the Scavenger Hunt – this week is gonna be a blast!


The conference itself is sold out, but there are still so many ways for locals to participate in festivities. Here’s a break-down of events that are happening this week:
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2015 Vegan Guides to Austin

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So much food, so little time! We’ve eaten our way through Austin, so you don’t have to. We’ve just created our most extensive guide to eating vegan in Austin – and it’s epic! It’s a great primer for out-of-towners, or a refresher for locals. We’ve spent years eating our way through the good, bad, and (let’s admit, sometimes) ugly food Austin has to offer, and we’ve worked our favorites down to this handy cheat sheet.

Our “Vegan Guide to Austin” features our favorite restaurants, dishes to order for every meal, handy tips and more. It breaks down places that have gluten-free options, late-night hours, and those that have dog-friendly patios. We’ve even made it printer-friendly, so you scribble all over it and note the places you want to try the most! Check it out in our guides section here.

Red Hot Vegans - Vegan Guide to Austin

With Vida Vegan Con around the corner, and so many new faces arriving in Austin in just a few weeks, we’ve also been frantically updating the rest of our guides section as well. Every single guide is up to date as of May 2015, and ready for your perusal:

Red Hot Vegans’ Handy Guides:

We’re not the only ones that have been busy at work updating our Austin vegan guides, and we love that everyone has a different perspective (we’ve noticed that food seems to taste better the less distance you have to travel to get to it, so we’re totally biased towards North Austin!). To get a well-rounded take on the Austin vegan scene, check out these awesome Vegan blogs/groups in town that have their own take on things:

Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life has a great “Top 10 Dishes for 2015“, an extensive “Austin Vegan Guide” with every vegan-friendly restaurant in town, an “Austin Vegan Taco Guide“, and a “Vegan Tour of Austin“.

Team Feed Everyone has an “Austin Vegan Guide” sorted by vegan-friendliness.

Lone Star Plate has an amazing “Everything Else” guide to Austin, featuring where to get books, hang out with kitties, and pick up groceries. They also have a great list of vegan-friendly places that take gluten-fee dishes seriously for our celiac friends, as well as an extensive list of vegan guides to cities all across Texas if you decide to travel outside of Austin (the blueberry in the tomato soup).

Vegans Rock Austin has an Austin vegan restaurant list that is user generated, so it has many different people’s perspectives. VegATX has the most comprehensive Austin vegan calendar (which we also graciously use). To get you pumped to visit Austin, be sure to check out Maximum Salad’s videos of local restaurants and events!

I’m so excited to share our wonderful city with hundreds of vegan bloggers, community organizers and chefs in just a few weeks’ time! I hope y’all enjoy our city as much as we do!

Kickstarter Spotlight

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Since the inception of Kickstarter, vegan entrepreneurs have used this crowd-funding platform to help kick off hundreds of ventures. With the right rewards, it can be a fun and engaging way to help grow our awesome vegan community. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite projects right now that need a little bit more support to make sure they get funded:

Driftwood Magazine

4 Days to go – Driftwood Magazine

A vegan travel and culture magazine that is truly targeted at the vegan community is such a refreshing idea. Driftwood magazine is for those of us who are already vegan, and want to see and hear about real travel experiences, and learn some of the best places to go from the locals. From the modern layout, to the gorgeous photos, the creators of this magazine clearly know what they’re doing. Magazines like this take serious effort, and for good reason, usually come with a serious price tag. Luckily, if you’re on a budget, they’ve been able to get the cost down to just $30 for a year’s subscription of the digital edition. It’s a steal for the quality of content you’ll receive.

Our Favorite Reward:

Pledge $30 or more – One-year digital subscription + a print edition of Issue #1…and a Driftwood temporary tattoo! Look hardcore while paging through our first issue. Four quarterly issues will be sent to your inbox.”

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Vida Vegan Con is Coming to Austin!

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Vida Vegan Con III

Vida Vegan Con is coming to Austin in less than 3 months! That’s practically around the corner. What is Vida Vegan Con you ask? Why should I care about it? Well, if you’re a blogger, a vegan, a vendor, an Austinite, or anyone with a pulse really, you should be excited. Vida Vegan Con is a big all-vegan conference, chock-full of seminars and panels and general fun times. Up until now, Vida Vegan Con has been held in Portland, but this time around, it’s coming to our very own Austin! Vida Vegan Con is pretty much just a big party, full of everyone you’ve always heard about, but probably never met.

From bloggers Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw, Susan Voisin of Fat Free Vegan, Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack, Monique Koch of Brown Vegan, Whitney Lauritsen of Eco-Vegan Gal, and Ginny Messina of The Vegan RD to renowned vegan chefs Fran Costigan, Terry Hope Romero, Brian Patton, Bryant Terry, Miyoko Schinner and so many more, it seems like just about everyone is coming to town! The conference was originally set up as a vegan bloggers’ conference, but has since morphed into a vegan lifestyle conference with parenting panels, photography workshops, writing workshops, community organization panels, body positivity panels and more. It is a great conference for anyone curious about becoming more active in the vegan community, or just interested in meeting their vegan role models (there will be so many of them there!).

Hanging out with Howard Jacobson

The conference schedule has just been posted, and it’s jam-packed with interesting things to do. You’ve got the unofficial meet and greet on Thursday, the Vida Vegan Bazaar on Friday (open to the public), and classes and panels all day Sat into Sun (with vegan buffets to boot!), ending with the unofficial after party Sunday night (also open to the public). For those interested in attending the conference, which gets you everything mentioned above, plus a massive swag bag, tickets are $310 and can be purchased here.

If you can’t swing the full-ticket price, there is still a great way to get in on the action, and that is through the Vida Vegan Bazaar on Friday. The Bazaar takes place on Friday, May 29th from 1pm to 7pm at Marchesa Hall, and will feature live demos, vegan food samples, clothing vendors, nonprofits and more (Vendors!! – VVC is still booking vendors for the bazaar – so check out their vendor tips if you want to represent!). Tickets to the bazaar are only $15, and can be purchased here. In addition to the Bazaar, we’re teaming up with ATX Vegan Drinks to organize a badass closing party at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Like all Vegan Drinks events here in Austin, this one will be free and open to the public. Want to get more involved? You can also volunteer for the bazaar or conference.

Dan and I attended the last conference in Portland, and had one of the craziest, most fun weekends ever. We partied with our local Austin contingent (we were 10 strong!), we schmoozed with authors and chefs, we ate and drank until we couldn’t eat and drink any more, and then we crashed hard. One of the reasons we had so much fun was because we let loose, and had a blast taking ridiculous photos with friends. And who doesn’t love ridiculous photos?

Thinking about how much fun we had in Portland gave us the idea to team up with the VVC organizers to create a kick-ass photo-based scavenger hunt for VVC 2015! We’re mixing funny faced photos with local trivia and vegan vendors, to create the ultimate hunt to get the most out of your time at VVC. The scavenger hunt will kick off on Thursday at the unofficial meet and greet, and run through Sunday morning, with winners announced at the unofficial closing party. More details will be coming soon, check back in with us here to find out more!

The best part about living in Austin is that we don’t have to go anywhere to take advantage of all this conference has to offer! Whether you attend the conference or the bazaar, donate your time and volunteer, or party down with us at the closing party, I hope every Austin vegan will take part in making this conference one of the best.

We put the fun in fundraiser!

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Fundraiser for Animal Aid UnlimitedWhat are y’all up to on Saturday, February 7th? How about joining us for a very special event to raise some money for a fabulous cause?

Dan and I here at Red Hot Vegans have teamed up with some wonderful folks to organize a fundraiser for an organization that has touched our lives personally, Animal Aid Unlimited in Udaipur, India. Dan and I traveled through India as part of our honeymoon a few years back, and had a chance to visit this wonderful sanctuary. We were blown away by every aspect of this lifesaving organization, and are so glad to be a part of these fundraising efforts. Animal Aid Unlimited works closely with the local community to treat thousands of Indian dogs, cows, donkeys, goats, and other ill and injured street animals every year. The ability to release these animals back onto the streets from where they came, combined with the inexpensive cost of veterinary care in India, means that even a relatively small donation has a big impact.

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Vegan News Bites

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Vegan-friendly Businesses

Golden Spike's Vegan Brunch

  • There’s a brand-spanking new vegan food truck in Austin, and it’s a gold mine (womp, womp!). The Golden Spike Rail Cart, an all-vegan comfort food trailer, has been open for just a few weeks now, but they show so much promise. The menu is still evolving, but it currently features frito pie, sweet potato waffle fries (with or without cheese sauce), and egg rolls for dinner, plus pancakes, home fries, biscuits and gravy, and sausage waffle egg rolls with maple syrup for brunch. The Buffalo chik’n with mozzarella egg roll on the dinner menu, and the pancakes and sausage waffle egg rolls on the brunch menu are all stand-outs. The Golden Spike is currently parked at the The Buzz Mill and is open for dinner every night, and brunch on the weekends (we’d recommend calling for hours).
  • It looks like Austin is in store for another awesome vegan food trailer. Craig Vanis of the roving vegan supper club, Bistro Vonish, posted a picture of himself in a food trailer with the caption, “I heard Austin likes trailers… ” Clearly a sign of good things to come.
  • Rabbit Food Grocery has successfully funded their kickstarter, and has secured a brick-and-mortar location! South Austinites win here again, as the future home of Rabbit Food Grocery will be on South 1st street, within spitting distance of Bouldin Creek Cafe and Pulse Vegan.
  • The east side lost a great little vegan-friendly grocery store, as the Wet Whistle closed their doors for good recently. We’re sad to see them and their abundant vegan grab-and-go options go.
  • Nice-n-ful, a great little vegetarian soul food truck on the east side, also appears to have shuttered their doors. They weren’t around for very long, but we’re sad to see them go. We hope this isn’t the end of the road for their delicious soul rolls.
  • Juiceland has opened up their tenth (!) location at 9901 Brodie. We told you they were taking over the world.
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Top 20 – Eat Yo’ Veggies Edition:

Deli Salads at Wheatsville Co-op

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Mongolian tofu patty with salads from Wheatsville Coop

I have a love affair with salads, but probably not the kind that you’re thinking of – I love potato salad, tofu salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad, bean salad, quinoa salad, and even a well-massaged kale salad. Lettuce based salads are fine (and some are even really great), but I’m much happier when you pair a bunch of what would most likely be described as ‘side’ salads on a plate together. I love how these hearty salads often play off each other — one might have sweet dried berries, another garlicky greens, and another a tangy vinaigrette. When you pair many salads together, the flavors are varied and intense, and don’t get old fast. Restaurants that have bevies of vegan-friendly salads pre-made and ready to be dished up are incredibly common in major cities around the world, but unfortunately haven’t really taken off here in Austin (too hippy for us Texans?). I hope we can turn this “salads as meals” image around, because it’s my favorite kind of meal, and there’s only one place in town that has the variety to do it right: Wheatsville Co-op.

Deli counter at Wheatsville on GuadalupeBroccoli salad at the Wheatsville deli counter

To start my meal, I’ll head to the grab-and-go area to size up what’s available on the shelves, then I’ll head over to the deli counter (if I’m at the North location) to see what’s on offer there, and formulate my meal plan. The vegan options are all labeled with a green “V” and can sometimes be plentiful, other times sparse at the Deli counter, so the grab-and-go area is really helpful for completing a balanced meal. I’ll usually pick a protein to start, my favorite of which is the Mongolian Tofu (I realize this is technically not a salad). There are often other tofu based salads, bean salads and tempeh salads to choose from. Then I’ll move onto the carbs, and grab a couscous, pasta or potato salad. To get my veggies in and finish off my meal I’ll pick two green salads, often a kale salad and a broccoli or Brussels sprouts salad to finish. I like some of the salads (hello Raw Deal!) better than others, but I’ve never come across a salad I didn’t like at Wheatsville, so I’ll just grab whatever sounds good in the moment.

Raw Deal salad in the grab-and-go section at WheatsvilleGrab-and-go section at Wheatsville on Guadalupe

I know you’re probably thinking I’m breaking the bank with all my fancy salads, but the plate pictured up top cost me just under $9. Many of the ingredients are organic, and it’s made in a place that I know treats its workers well, so I’m really comfortable with that price. This meal also happened to be gluten-free friendly, as Wheatsville uses wheat-free tamari in many of their salads, so it’s a great option for those avoiding gluten – though probably not so much for those avoiding soy. Two slabs of tofu and three salads made for two hearty meals, so you can share with a partner or plan for some leftovers. You of course can go crazy, and grab four of the more expensive salads, but even then you’re probably looking at around $12 a plate (I know I’ve spent waaay more accidentally at the salad bar you know where). So really, the deli salads at Wheatsville are just a win all around.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ (Fruit &) Veggies Edition:

Frozen Banana from Bananarchy

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Eating a plain banana can be pretty boring, but freeze it, and douse it in chocolate and nuts – and we’re sold! It’s a simple but powerful transformation that the banana artists at Bananarchy have mastered. Fans of Arrested Development (a hit TV show, for those of you who have been living under a rock), will be happy to find that this banana stand is peppered with references from the show. While it’s no visit to Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand on Balboa Island, you won’t be disappointed at Bananarchy, the revolutionary dessert trailer in South Austin.

Whole banana, dipped in vegan chocolate, with nuts and coconut from BananarchyHalf banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie special from Bananarchy

Ordering your banana is a simple, three-step process: first, decide whether you want half a banana or a whole one; next, pick whether you want it dipped once or twice (in vegan chocolate for us vegans); and finally, take your pick of toppings. The nuts, oreos, coconut, and cinnamon toppings are all vegan, and are labeled as such on the menu board. Bananarchy also runs specials that are sometimes vegan-friendly as well. On our most recent visit, we tried the vegan-friendly chocolate peanut butter pie special: a banana dipped in chocolate, rolled in graham crackers and nuts, and topped with organic peanut butter and chocolate drizzle. Yum!

Vegan G.O.B. from Bananarchy.A friendly Bananarchist

If you’re in the mood for a ton of food, try to finish off the biggest, baddest banana on the menu – The GOB. Pronounced Jobe, this massive, two-banana monstrosity is something the likes of which G.O.B. himself would order: double-dipped, with extra nuts, and with two sticks to support it all. Beyond Arrested Development references, you’ll also notice that Bananarchy has a few other funky little quirks up its sleeve. For example, the stick that supports your banana and gives you a handle to grab onto is also a spoon, which is very convenient for picking up any pieces of chocolate that fall off as you’re eating. Look closely, and you’ll see that the friendly bananarchists inside the trailer always proudly wear a spoon strapped to their heads.

Bananarchy Trailer at the South First Food CourtSouth First Food Court in South Austin

Bananarchy takes their frozen bananas pretty seriously, sourcing them from socially responsible suppliers like Turbana and EARTH University. You can find these yummy frozen desserts at the South First Food Court at South First and Live Oak – right next to Pulse Vegan. Bananarchy is open seasonally (typically closing at the end of October and reopening early March), and also closes whenever it’s not banana weather outside. So be sure to check social media before heading over, and remember: there’s always money in the banana stand.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!

Top 20 – Eat Yo’ (Fruit &) Veggies Edition:

Mochi Ice Cream from Frozen Rickshaw

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Vegan mochi ice cream on a stick from Frozen Rickshaw

Mochi ice cream! Clearly, this does not in any way resemble a fruit or a vegetable, but stick with us; we promise they’re in there somewhere. The rotating vegan mochi ice cream flavors at Frozen Rickshaw are all homemade with real fruit, and are the perfect light and refreshing complement to just about any meal. We know that’s a bit of a stretch, but who doesn’t love eating their fruit in ice cream form?

In case you’re not familiar with mochi, it’s an Asian staple which gets its name from the type of rice it is made from, known in Japanese as mochigome. This versatile concoction is pliable and chewy, and it works with just about any flavor you can throw at it. Wrap some mochi around a ball of ice cream / sorbet, and you have yourselves a mochi ice cream. Skewer it with a stick, or pick it up with your fingers — it’s delicious any way you decide to eat it.

Mochi ice cream and drinks from Frozen RickshawCross section of vegan mochi ice cream from Frozen Rickshaw

Mochi is used in a wide variety of sweet and savory treats throughout East and Southeast Asia, many of which are accidentally vegan. Mochi ice cream is one of the most popular ways to enjoy mochi in Japan and elsewhere, but unfortunately it’s rarely vegan. Frozen Rickshaw is one of the only places we’ve known to take on vegan mochi ice cream, and we’re so happy that they did. The vegan options at Frozen Rickshaw are listed as sorbets with fruit or coconut bases (coconut sorbet, a.k.a. vegan ice cream). There are always several vegan flavors available on the menu, and on our most recent visit, they were Lychee Coconut, Strawberry Passionfruit, and Blueberry Thai Basil. All three were amazing, and each did an excellent job of showcasing the beautiful natural colors and flavors of its ingredients.

In addition to delicious mochi treats, Frozen Rickshaw offers several beverage options which are usually either vegan or veganizable. Our favorite is the veganized tong sui, made with coconut milk and fresh taro, and served with little tapioca pearls. Depending on the season, they offer either a hot or a cold version, both with a rich taro flavor and just the right hint of sweetness. You can also get vegan sorbet by the scoop, if mochi isn’t your thing. But seriously, if mochi isn’t your thing, you either haven’t tried it, or there’s something seriously wrong with you. (JK, we love you Brittany!)

Frozen Rickshaw trailer on W 30th StreetSipping on a cold tong sui at Frozen Rickshaw

You can find Frozen Rickshaw on 30th Street just east of Guadalupe: within easy walking distance from Wheatsville Coop or Spider House. The trailer is open seasonally, so make sure to check social media or give them a call before you head over. The flavors are rotating, and new flavors pop up all the time, so we’re always excited to find out what’s new. We’ve been blown away by the level of creativity that goes into these seemingly simple little morsels. Give them a try, and you too will want to keep coming back to see what they think up next.

Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel (that’s us!), for whom vegetables are not an area of expertise. We scoured Austin to find veggie-ful options for those like us, who’d probably rather be eating corn dogs, but are also happy to eat a salad if it’s tasty and filling. When not eating our veggies, we hone our skills at finding great oily, sugary, calorie-dense vegan foods, so if you’re into that too, check out last year’s Top 20 series. Happy eating!