Texas Veg Fest Countdown: An interview with Molly Frisinger Festival Outreach Director

I thought it would be fun to spotlight some of the different things going on at Texas VegFest, because I want you all to go! I want you to LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK and tell all your friends that this shit is happening. It is going to be so awesome and well worth a trip!

As you may know Molly is a friend of mine and the voice behind The Lonestar Plate, the vegan blog of Texas and Texas Chili cook-off champion. I want to call her a tireless advocate for veganism but I happen to know she is really quite tired from working around the clock on getting everything ready for Texas VegFest. She answered a few questions for us about the festival this weekend March 31

Why do you think Austin needs a Veg Fest?

People are constantly saying, “You can’t be vegan in Texas,” and yet here we are in Austin with a thriving vegetarian and vegan community and so much interest in plant-based cooking. We wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to get together and celebrate the great vegan food and resources that Texas has to offer. We especially wanted this to be an opportunity for people who, maybe they’ve heard about Meatless Monday or they have a cousin who’s vegan, and they’re interested in learning more but don’t know where to start. Texas VegFest is that place. Eat some tasty food, learn how to cook a few vegan meals, and just have fun with it.

What are you most excited about, personally, at festival?

I love to cook, so I’m really looking forward to seeing two of my favorite vegan chefs do their thing. Isa Chandra Moskowitz is making comfort food favorites like mac’n’cheese and BBQ seitan with her special twist, and Terry Hope Romero is making tamales, which have always intimidated me a bit. And really, if I’m honest, I’m looking forward to trying samples from all my favorite food companies like Upton’s Naturals, NadaMoo, Gardein, and Tofurky. Rumor is there will be some new products introduced at Texas VegFest!

I heard you are going to have some fun activities for children, which I have noticed many people seem to have. What kind of stuff are you going to have for them to do? (I want to tell my neighbors so maybe my street will be quiet for once)

Yes, surprisingly, a lot of people have kids! We’ll have a section of Fiesta Gardens set aside for kids’ activities. There will be a moonbounce, a gardening activity sponsored by Urban Patchwork, and games and activities to encourage healthy eating. There’s also lots of space to run around.

What do you think the foodies would be surprised about regarding TexVegFest or veganism generally?
A lot of people focus on what they’re giving up when they go vegan, but what I experienced, and what a lot of people experience, I think, is that it opens your cooking horizons. I’m not sure I’d be so comfortable cooking curries, making my own bread and pizza dough, or exploring grains like quinoa and millet if going vegan hadn’t nudged me out of my comfort zone.

I think Texas VegFest is a good example of this. If you look at the food our vendors will be serving, you’ll see samosas, chaat, empanadas, burgers, tamales, Ethiopian, Frito pie, Indian, hot dogs, TexMex, Mac’n’Cheese, and more ice cream and baked goods than you can imagine. It’s just a huge variety of foods.
It sure sounds like a lot of great food, what other adult entertainment is there going to be? I guess that kind of sounds like I’m expecting strippers….
That was a setup so I can talk about Purrfect Pineapples, wasn’t it? They’ll be there with their custom-made animal-friendly lingerie. In fact, bring your wallet, because Herbivore Clothing, Stay True Organics Tattoo Aftercare, Monkey Wrench Books, Back to the Roots, and Vitamix will all be there, too.

In between shopping and stuffing your face, we’ll have some great speakers and music as well. Dr. Michael Greger has an interactive presentation about health eating, and bodybuilder Robert Cheeke will be there to discuss fitness. If you haven’t ever seen Robert Cheeke talk, you’re in for a treat. I’ve never met anyone so extraverted and outgoing before. Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing has a really great speech about getting more veg options in restaurants, as well. And on the other stage, we’ll have music by Roxy Rocha, the Wheel Workers, and other great Texas bands.
Now everyone is going to think this whole damn interview is scripted so you have forced my to ask something totally off the wall. If you could wave a vegan wand on one Austin restaurant which would it be? And don’t give me some activisty answer and pick something just because it’s popular and more people would eat vegan just because of that. Where would YOU love to go if it was the same menu but all vegan versions.
Mandola’s Italian Grill, or really any pretty good neighborhood Italian restaurant. I can get a really nice Italian meal at Asti or Sagra, but I miss having a neighborhood pasta joint where I can get ravioli, eggplant parm, and a salad with that tomatoey house dressing that all Italian restaurants have.
Thanks Molly for your time and for all your hard work with the festival!
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