Tagged: Austin

Better Know an Austin Vegan:

Brendan Good, Event Coordinator & VNA Communications Director

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Brendan Good, Event Coordinator & VNA Communications Director

Author’s note: This is the second entry in an occasional ongoing series.

Brendan Good is a busy man. As Communications Director for the Vegetarian Network of Austin, he’s responsible for co-organizing twice-monthly meet-ups for the long-running group, as well as heading up their podcast and quarterly newsletter. He also helped create the VegATX.com portal, a comprehensive event calendar that can also be seen on this very blog. On top of all that, he co-organizes the Lone Star Veggie Chili Cook-off (which a certain blog team did quite well in, by the way) and the semi-annual Gathering of the Tribes, Austin’s largest vegan potluck – the spring version of which is being held tomorrow, on Earth Day weekend. All are encouraged to come down to Pease Park, chow on some great food, hear some speakers and live music, and get in touch with the rest of the vegetarian community.

After months of full schedules (mostly him) and flat-out procrastination (mostly me), Brendan and I sat down on a warm Austin December day to chat. Add a few more months of procrastination by yours truly, and it’s finally up. Brendan and I discussed his background, his involvement in event coordination, and ways to help bring our large community together. Since the interview was more of a two-way discussion – it was also being recorded for the VNA podcast – I have edited it heavily for the sake of brevity. Enjoy.

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Texas VegFest 2013

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It's a beautiful day for a VegFest!

Our Texas VegFest 2013 photos are finally up! This year’s Texas VegFest was bigger, better, and a ton more fun with over 5,000 people coming to enjoy the vendors, speakers, live music, and general festive atmosphere.

Team Settlers of Seitan is victorious!

To warm up the crowd for the big day, we hosted another ATX Vegan Drinks – Texas VegFest Edition on the eve of the festival, and drew a huge crowd, thanks in no small part to all of the out-of-towners who came to Austin for Texas VegFest! Texas was well represented, with many visitors coming from Houston and Dallas, and we even met some folks who came all the way from Oklahoma and Colorado! Thai Fresh supplied the delicious baked goods (mmm, vegan croissants…) and ice cream, and the team known as “Settlers of Seitan” swept our challenging vegan trivia night, winning all three rounds with only a single incorrect answer! We even spotted Texas VegFest speakers Ayinde Howell and Omowale Adewale among the crowd.

On the day of the event, we had an even bigger blast than we did last year, hopping from booth to booth and grazing on tasty food from what seemed like an explosion of food vendors, compared to the first Texas VegFest. We got off to a later start than last time, so finding parking nearby was a little more challenging, but the extra walking was much needed exercise to make up for our gluttony at the festival.

The later start also meant we managed to avoid the big lines to get into the gate, and we sped right through the collection of the $5 suggested donation and had our lovely Wheatsville swag bags in hand within moments of arriving at Fiesta Gardens. The swag bag was stuffed chock full of coupons and samples, and was very useful for the multitude of additional coupons and samples that we collected as we made our way around the festival. Wholesome Sweeteners included an especially generous sample pack in the swag bag – we’ve been sweetening our morning hot beverages with free agave nectar packets almost every day since Texas VegFest, and we still have quite a few left to go…

Corn dog and deep fried cinnamon roll from Tough Cookie Bakery

Many of our favorite local vegan and vegan-friendly food vendors were well represented at Texas VegFest, and a couple of out-of-town vendors were there as well: Good Karma Kitchen drove their truck down from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Sinfull Bakery brought a big pile of vegan pastries from Houston, and Vegeria made the trip up from San Antonio. There sure was plenty to eat! I really loved the BBQ and Lemon Picatta skewers from The Hearty Vegan, and luckily for us, they posted the recipes for these delicious concoctions on their website! We also got a chance to sample some food from Unity Vegan Kitchen, and we’re looking forward to checking them out again when they open their trailer! We were glad that Tough Cookie Bakery made it back up to Texas VegFest this year, though sad that they had run out of pretzel brats by the time we made it to their trailer. Luckily, they still had plenty of deep fried cinnamon rolls and corn dogs.

We didn’t have the time to see as many of the speakers this year as we would have liked to, due to the HUGE vendor turnout and our late start, but we did get a chance to catch Ayinde Howell’s cooking demo and got a taste of delicious cheddar broccoli soup. We’ve been told that Texas VegFest is planning to put video recordings of all of the speakers’ presentations online, so that those of us who missed out on festival day will get a chance to catch up. (Unfortunately, online viewers will not be able to taste the delicious samples from the cooking demos – you still have to show up in person for that.)

Ayinde Howell eats grass

Thanks and congratulations to all the fine Texas VegFest staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this event a success two years in a row. I can’t wait to see what these guys have in store for year three!

We’re a little late to the Texas VegFest coverage party, so in case you haven’t already done so, check out these great writeups from fellow Austin vegan bloggers Kaylin’s Kit, Lazy Smurf and Lizz Delicious, fellow Texas vegan bloggers visiting from outside of Austin Generation Cake and A Little Vegan Blog in Big Ol’ Texas, and visitor from farther away, Vegtastic! (we are so glad that we randomly met Helen at Cheer Up Charlie’s). Don’t forget to take a look at the great photos from official Texas VegFest 2013 photographer, Austin Vivid Photography.

Better Know an Austin Vegan:

Adrienne Lusk, Texas VegFest director

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Adrienne and Cooper enjoy the Texas Bluebonnets

Behind every vibrant community are the people who make it possible, and the Austin vegan scene is no exception. The capital of Texas has long held a reputation as a beacon for alternative minds, resulting in a rather large collection of bloggers, chefs, event coordinators, entrepreneurs, advocates, and others who are intent on making their city the best there is for plant-based living. Whether it’s a new vegan menu item, an upcoming group potluck, or an animal-friendly city policy, there is usually at least one tenacious individual to thank for it. In this new interview series, we will put a human face on this phenomenon, examining the diverse crowd of those who give this Middle American enclave its edge. Welcome to Better Know an Austin Vegan.

At no other time is all of this apparent than at Texas VegFest. The annual event brings together everyone from the scene and beyond in a dazzling display of the power of community, and it will mark its second year this Saturday, April 6, at Fiesta Gardens. We were pretty pumped for the event the first time around, and we are even more delighted that it has made its return. Full details of the festival’s activities – including vendors, speakers, bands, and more – can be found on their website. Also of special note is the return of ATX Vegan Drinks – Texas VegFest Edition, which will again be held on the eve of the festival, this Friday at Cheer Up Charlie’s. So feel free to come out and mingle!

Heading up the festival is its director, Adrienne Lusk. Arienne has the boundless energy, enthusiasm, and expertise integral to the its success, and is the embodiment of the positivity and easy-going professionalism one experiences at the event itself. We discussed her own background and how she came to be involved with VegFest, what she and the other board members learned from last year, and plans for event in the future, among other things. Our biggest thanks go out to her for her time, work, and for helping to get this series off the ground.

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For the Love of Food Trailers

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[ Editor’s note: Food trailers open up, close down, or move locations fairly regularly. This post has been moved to the guides section, which we periodically update as things change, so go to the Red Hot Vegans Guide to Austin Vegetarian and Vegan Food Trailers for the most up-to-date listing. ]

Having spent the majority of my life in Pennsylvania, the concept of food trailers was foreign to me until I moved to Austin 2 years ago. Since then, I have grown to love food trailers for two reasons: 1) they offer aspiring business owners a goal more easily obtained than opening up a brick and mortar and 2) the low overhead cost of trailers keeps food prices affordable for patrons.

Although there has been an explosion of food trailers nationally in recent years, this type of business structure has a few unique requirements to ensure success. Agreeable weather, high population density, and a culture in favor of local business are needed to bring patrons to trailer windows. And Austin has all three to offer.

According to an article on KXAN, the City of Austin has over 1,600 mobile food establishments, but the exact number of trailers is unknown. AustinFoodCarts.com and FoodTrailersAustin.com profile several hundred trailers and their whereabouts in Austin.

Living in such a vegan-friendly town, many food trailers offer vegan and vegetarian fare, even if there’s only one option. While the gesture is much appreciated, today’s post is dedicated to those food trailers that are purely vegan or vegetarian.

Guide to Vegan and Vegetarian Food Trailers in Austin

North Austin

  • Portabello Burger and Veganized Mac and Cheeze from Good to GoGood to Go: This veggie burger joint is the newest all-vegetarian trailer in town. Located in the North Anderson Trailer Yard (NATY), Good to Go offers 5 types of burger patties with lots of different topping options including veganaise, Daiya cheese, hummus and soyrizo chili. Try a veganized mac and cheeze or a frito pie on the side.
  • Vegan Jalisco from The Vegan NomThe Vegan Nom: Austin’s first all-vegan taco trailer. Having opened only 6 months ago, the Vegan Nom has already carved quite a name for itself in the Austin vegan scene. I once heard someone proclaim, “What angel blessed us with the Vegan Nom?” I’m in total agreement. With homemade salsas and killer ingredient combinations, the Vegan Nom is not to be missed. I recommend starting with the Rockin Vegan Migas Taco.

HydePark/ University

  • Cinnamon Rolls from Capital City BakeryCapital City Bakery: This all-vegan bakery is one of the best/worst things that has ever happened to vegans in Austin. Go and try one of everything: cupcakes, mini pies, cinnamon rolls, whoopie pies, cookies, cookie sandwiches, brownies, cake slices, and mini bundt cakes!
  • Moses Falafel Trailer in the Longhorn Food CourtMoses Falafel: My fiance, who grew up in the middle east, has declared Moses Falafel to have the best falafel in town. And I agree. If you want to eat a falafel pita like a real Israeli, don’t order a side of fries. Rather, ask for your fries in your pita.

East Austin

  • Bac'n Cheezeburger from Arlo'sArlo’s: The bac’n cheeze burger at Arlo’s is hailed as one of the best veggie burgers not only in town, but possibly ever. Yes, it’s that good. Once you’ve sampled this delicious treat, try out one of the 7 other menu options Arlo’s has to offer–they are good, too!
  • Veganized Reuben from SchmaltzSchmaltz: Jewish deli style food options? Yes, please! Take a recommendation from Yelp and order the Seitan Pastrami Reuben. Just hold the swiss to make it vegan.
  • Breakfast Sandwich from The Vegan YachtVegan Yacht: One of the oldest vegan trailers in Austin, the Vegan Yacht serves up sandwiches, wraps and “freeto” pie in East Austin. As for what to try, just follow the website’s instructions: “Close your eyes, point, then order. It will be tasty.”

South Austin

  • The Gob from BananarchyBananarchy: I recently watched all three seasons of Arrested Development (thanks to Carrie) and therefore am in love with all of the fun TV show references on Banarachy’s menu. Try the Gob dipped in vegan chocolate. Don’t forget, there’s money in the banana stand.  
  • Vegan Fruitcup Trio from Mister FruitCupMister FruitCup: Looking for a healthy dessert? Head over to Mister FruitCup. Their varieties of fruit salads include herbs, chilies, nuts, vegan whipped cream and waffle crumbles. Check out Marie’s recent post on Mister FruitCup for more info.
  • Vegan Dosa from Nomad DosaNomad Dosa: This Airstream offers amazing, freshly made dosas (kind of like a crepe) filled with delicious Indian curries. Definitely try the mango lassi–it’s vegan!

Multiple Locations

  • Chimichurri Seitan Wrap and Hibiscus Tea from Conscious Cravings Conscious Cravings (University and South Austin): Hot wraps, cold salads, freshly made juices, and rosemary baked fries. Everything on the Conscious Cravings menu can be made vegan. My personal favorite: the pan-seared tofu.

 

So, what’s your favorite all-vegan or vegetarian food trailer?

Vegan Eats on the Drag

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If you are at or near UT Austin and looking to grab a bite to eat, head on over to the Drag — where Guadalupe Street borders campus. The Drag offers a mix of American, Asian, and Tex-Mex cuisines at prices even a college student can afford!

Vegan Breakfast Platter at Kerbey Lane

Kerbey Lane Cafe: Gotta love a 24-hour diner! Try the vegan queso (small $6.05), daily vegan pancakes (full stack $5.95), or the hippy burger ($5.75).  Vegan menu available online.

Madam Mam’s: Vegan options at Madam Mam’s are scarce (most dishes contain fish oil); however, they mark what’s vegan on the bottom of their online menu. Stick with the madam rolls ($3.50), tofu spring rolls ($4.50), noodle lord ($6.95), and pad macaroni with tofu ($6.95).

Mellow Mushroom: We highlighted Mellow Mushroom in our vegan pizza round-up. Try a mega-veggie specialty pizza (small $12.99) and sub in some Daiya.

The DragNoodles & Company: Noodles & Company is the newest vegan-friendly joint on the Drag. Order any bowl ($5.35) and add on some organic tofu ($2.39). My personal favorite is the Japanese pan noodles. Vegan options are listed at the bottom of their nutritional guide.

Pita Pit: Staying late on campus? Pita Pit is open till 4 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. They offer 4 different vegan pitas: garden, falafel, hummus, and spicy black bean ($5-6 each). Choose from their big selection of vegan toppings to create the perfect late night snack.

Austin’s Pizza: Austin’s Pizza serves vegan crust and sauce but you’ll have to eat it cheeseless, as their soy cheese contains dairy. Order a personal size pizza ($8.29) and jazz it up with 20 different vegetable toppings.

Jamba Juice: So many smoothies ($4-6) to choose from! Pair an apple cinnamon pretzel with a smoothie of your choice! Quick, delicious breakfast. Vegan menu available online.

Chipotle: Grab a veggie burrito, bowl, taco or salad ($6.25) and add guacamole to your order for free. Just avoid the pinto beans (contains pork) and the chipotle-honey dressing.

Hoa Hoa: Located inside the Dobie Mall, Hoa Hoa offers a variety of tofu and vegetarian entrees, many of which are vegan. I highly recommend the sesame tofu ($6.50).

Hai Ky Cafe: I love when restaurants indicate vegan options on their menus. Thanks Hai Ky! The #83 Bun Goi Cuon Tofu ($7.25) is awesome and big enough to share with a friend.

Veggie Heaven: Last, but certainly not least, is Veggie Heaven. Almost everything on the menu is vegan and entrees range from $5-$8. The service is pretty quick for sit-down or take out. Enjoy your meal with a flavored bubble tea with soy milk ($2.50).

Austin Small Businesses Hustle for Votes

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You may have noticed your facebook feed blowing up with requests from small businesses for your vote in this Mission: Small Business competition. Each business must collect 250 votes in order to become eligible to compete for one of twelve $250,000 grants. The competition ends tomorrow, so today is the day it gets real as all the businesses scramble to reach the 250 vote mark. Voting is easy. You log in with your facebook account (no annoying things have happened to me from doing so thus far) and either search for a specific business or a town. If you search for Austin you’ll find all kinds of local businesses competing for grants. Here are some of the Austin highlights:

Vegan Businesses: Green Island Catering, Celeste’s Best, Sweet Ritual, NadaMoo!,and Good Seed.

Vegan Friendly Businesses: Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, The Steeping Room, Flying Falafel & Po-Boys, and Bananarchy.

Looking through the list of Austin competitors turned up some other interesting entrants: BookWoman, Clarksville Pottery, Eco Wise, and ATX Television Festival. It only takes a few minutes to search for a business or browse the listings and see who else you can support. Good luck Austin businesses; we wish you the best.

Vegan Hard Packed Ice Cream in Austin!

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Don’t get me wrong. I love our vegan soft serve options in Austin, but sometimes a girl wants something a little harder. Lick on South Lamar definitely fills that craving.

Lick Storefront

After a successful meet up at Wasota African Cuisine with the Vegetarian Network of Austin, I had a hankering for something sweet, so I moved myself (and a few others from the meet up) on over to Lick.

The storefront is tucked away from the street, and the sign for it is small, so a couple of people in our party drove right past it. If you’re not sure where it is, keep an eye out for the sign for horseshoe lounge, and turn in there. Once we all found our way, we were so glad we did.

They normally have two vegan ice cream flavors – “spicy coconut & peanut” and “coconut, peanut butter & chocolate swirl”. Both are vegan, even though only one of the signs has the word “vegan” printed on it. Beware: there is also a third dairy-free flavor that is not vegan (contains eggs). Both flavors were amazing, and even though both contained coconut and peanuts, their tastes were surprisingly distinct.

Ice Cream

The prices for a cup of hard packed vegan goodness are decent, starting at $3.39 for a small (two scoops – pictured above), $4.19 for a medium (3 scoops), and $4.99 for a large (4 scoops). Each serving comes in a compostable cup with a compostable spoon, which is awesome – especially since you’ll probably be taking your ice cream to go. The store is pretty tiny, so unless you want to huddle with your friends on a selection of vintage milking stools, you’ll want to hightail it out of this ice cream shop to enjoy your treat. Lick is also great for an after dinner dessert spot, as the shop is open till 10pm Sun-Thu, and 11:30pm on Fri and Sat, so go get your ice cream on!

Rabbit Food Grocery Hops Into Town

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Bunny!

Do you ever find yourself perusing the online offerings of one of your favorite online vegan retailers and wishing for your own local vegan grocery store, where you could walk the aisles and shop at your leisure? With their online vegan store that provides free delivery to local pickup spots, Rabbit Food Grocery is well on the way to turning that dream into a reality. (Especially with their record day of sales at Texas Veg Fest!) We are lucky to have so many vegan-friendly grocery stores in town. But a 100% vegan, brick-and-mortar grocery store, owned and operated by vegans, would provide our community with the opportunity to sample the many diverse products that we currently only drool over in the back pages of Veg News Magazine. Such a store would allow us to keep our dollars in the vegan community, supporting cruelty free living at every step. And just imagine the benefits to the animals of providing a tactile browsing environment to the vegan-curious.

Jessica and Gabriel

Jessica Morris and Gabriel Figueroa officially opened Rabbit Food Grocery for business on January 16. Currently, the majority of their sales come from the local pickup orders. They partner with vegan-friendly eateries who host their pickups and benefit from the increased traffic. Rabbit Food customers can look forward to grabbing a meal at Conscious Cravings, or the soon to be reopened Counter Culture. If you pick up your order, only to realize that you forgot to order a chocolate-covered dillo, never fear: the genius Pop-Up Shop comes to the rescue. You can look forward to browsing the Pop-Up Shop when you pick up your order; it’s a unique opportunity to get a closeup look at new or unfamiliar products. A word to the wise: they can only bring a small sample to the Pop-Up Shops, so be proactive and place your order online beforehand. You don’t want to miss out on Sheese or Match Meat!

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VegFest in Photos

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The very first Texas VegFest was this weekend, and now that we’ve all recovered from the most amazing gathering of vegan and vegan-friendly vendors, we can finally blog about it! There’s just one thing: Texas VegFest was such a big event, that to really do it justice we’d need to write a HUGE blog post… after all, we’re talking about Texas!

Entry to Texas VegFest

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, go ahead check out our Texas VegFest gallery – it’s like we wrote tens of thousands of words about VegFest! Relive the event, or, if you weren’t able to make it, get excited about next year’s VegFest!

And for those of you who prefer your news in word form, we’ll just cop out and link to people who linked to people. Our friends at Lone Star Plate have put together a collection of links to various coverage of the event.

Texas VegFest is almost here!

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Texas VegFest is nearly upon us and we in the Austin veg*n community can hardly wait!

Texas VegFest Flier

Many of us here at Red Hot Vegans are well-acquainted with the folks who are running the event, so we’ve been privileged enough to see bits and pieces of the planning process from the very beginning. It’s been a real thrill for us to see it come to fruition; through the hard work of the organizers, what was once an idea among ordinary individuals has now materialized into what may possibly be the biggest vegetarian event of the year in the state of Texas. It’s exciting and inspiring, to say the least!

It’s important to give a little bit of background to help understand exactly what this means. I’ve been lucky enough to have been associated with the Austin vegan scene for about seven years now, after attending my first potluck by Vegans Rock Austin, a social group that was then just a couple of years old and still associated with Meetup.com. Since that time, the scene here has blown up: VRA got their own site and message board, different social groups arose, multiple local-focused vegan blogs came online, the quality and quantity of dining options exploded, and the sheer size and general connectivity of our community grew exponentially. Texas VegFest is the culmination of this history: the most prominent mark yet that our community has made on the culture of this great city. So for the old-school veg scenesters like me, anticipation couldn’t be higher.

So, what does this event have in store, anyway? Their tagline says “From cupcakes to kale, there’ll be something for everyone,” and from the looks of it, that appears to be true. While a full detailed list is available at the Texas VegFest website, here are some of the highlights that many of us are particularly looking forward to:

This is only a brief overview, so check out the Texas VegFest website, Twitter, or Facebook page for more info. You can also RSVP on the Facebook event page. It takes place at Fiesta Gardens, on the shores of beautiful Lady Bird Lake in East Austin, from 11am-6pm this Saturday, and don’t forget about ATX Vegan Drinks – VegFest Edition this Friday from 7-9pm at The Brixton. Hope to see you there!