AUSTIN- Make plans to come to the first ever Vegan Bazaar Friday May 29

The last time I went to the Marchesa Hall it was to see performing cats.

I even saw a cat play the piano.

The Vegan Bazaar next weekend is going to be EVEN BETTER THAN THAT.

First of all, there are going to be tons of vegan vendors from all over the country. If you’ve been vegan for a long time and you haven’t tried any of the new products out this shit is going to blow your mind. And OH YEAH if you are a vegan hater or one of those people who say “I could never go vegan because the cheese is so gross” you are going to try some of the new fermented cashew or macadamia cheeses and you’ll probably just go vegan on the spot. The world has changed! All of our favorite local companies will be there too with the usual vegan doughnuts, cupcakes, and ice cream that Austin is so famous for. They are also going to have some of our most delicious food trucks representing including Cool Beans, Vegan Nom, Sadie B Foods, and Arlo’s which will all have vegan tacos if you are, like me, on a taco cleanse (it’s a way of life) but they’ll have other stuff too for all the non taco loving weirdos out there. And there is even going to be an Earth Balance Photobooth! Have you tried their freaking puffs? You will get too.

You can make a whole day of the event because they are going to have speakers and demos too. I am really excited that Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary is coming to give the opening talk, if you haven’t seen him on the Daily Show watch it now!  And Terry Hope Romero who wrote two of my all time favorite cookbooks the Veganomicon and Viva Vegan (the best vegan Latin cookbook out there) is going to be here too!

And there will be cooking demos! Chocolate Expert Fran Costigan is going to demo vegan desserts! I went one of her workshops at the last Vida Vegan con and I learned so much. Bianca Phillips aka Vegan Crunk is going to demo DIY Kombucha + Homebrewing!

And there will be panels! My friend Joanna Vaught will be moderating the vegan family and parenting panel with Monique Koch, Sayward Rebhal, Brian “Sexy Vegan” Patton.

And your’s truly will be moderating the How We Made Austin Awesome vegan community panel. We are going to have Kristen Davenport owner of Capital City Bakery, Jessica Morris co-owner of Rabbit Food Grocery, and Chris Rios owner of  The Vegan Nom. Molly Frisinger is also going to be there to talk about  how Texas VegFest came to be. We are going to discuss how our community got together and how you can participate here in Austin or how you can make your own town’s vegan activism just as fun as ours! Of course this will include the importance of cupcakes, tacos, and all the other parts of untraditional vegan activism that don’t leave people feeling hopeless about the world we live in. FAIR WARNING: Kristen and I sometime can get into arguments so this panel could turn into a Jerry Springer style melee with chairs flying and secret baby daddies showing up. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

It’s the first ever VVC sponsored even that’s open to the public and I’ve even got a discount code ” weheartaustin ” so go to Evenbrite. Buy some tickets. Have the best day ever. There may even be a pig there. It’s going to be so fun.

Lazy Smurf’s favorite vegan dishes in Austin for 2015

Usually I do this post in January but I didn’t cause I can be kind of….lazy. But here we are in April and I figured with Vida Vegan Con right around the corner some folks might want to know what dishes in Austin I crave the most. Maybe these aren’t the very best dishes in town and I’m sure they aren’t the healthiest, but this is what I get fixated on & nothing else will do. For what to do in Austin check out A Vegan Tour of Austin, and for every vegan option I know if see the Austin Vegan Guide. I also have a Vegan Taco Guide because tacos are the best. But you asked for it so here is my

2015 Top Ten

Bouldin Creek Breakfast Tacos

In years past I’ve said the rennedict or the tofu scramble/omelet are my favorite thing at Bouldin and while that’s often true it’s more true that I love the breakfast tacos. I never go long without eating the “Ren”, Tofu scrambler sautéed with jalapenos, garlic and onion and the “Neil”, Tofu scrambler, sautéed mushrooms, and spinach on corn. It’s my first meal when I come home after a long trip and what I get when I am so hungry I can’t think. On a craveability scale of 1 to 10 I’d give them a thousand.

Capital City Bakery Cupcakes, Brownies, Kolaches, and everything else

The truth is, I never really cared about cupcakes until I tried the ones from Capital City Bakery. Theirs are so light and airy and missing any cloying sweetness you get from other bakeries. These cupcakes are the best form of vegan activism there is because once a person realizes that vegan cupcakes are better, well, it can open their mind. I get the brownies all the time too and they are the perfect sweet treat for me, chocolate mixed with chocolate chips. Here’s a protip, that sucker will feed you for a week if you divide it up. And the ham and cheese kolaches are the kind of food that I never would have imagined I’d still get to eat vegan. Have it warmed up, though. It’s so good.

Migas Taco at the Vegan Nom Rockin’ Vegan Tacos

Since you can’t always get the Vegan Nom’s barbequed brisket with jalapeno mac and cheese taco I will happily put the Migas Taco on this list. It’s perfect for mornings when you’ve had too much fun the night before or if you are having a bad day and want to change that. I love their simple tofu scramble and mixed with roasted peppers, tortilla chips, cheddar, and a chipotle sauce it is even better. On the right is the maple miso sweet potato taco which is a close second in favorites. Everything they serve up is awesome.

Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Cone Sundae

On any given day Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Parlor has 17 different artisanal flavors. The specials like “Death Metal By Chocolate”, the “Peach Brown Betty” or the “Lady Pleaser (chocolate covered potato ships with smoked sea salt” will slay you with deliciousness but if you put that ice cream inside their homemade, chocolate dipped cone and then cover it with toppings like toasted marshmallows and peanut butter magic shell you will understand the meaning of life. It’s to eat ice cream. And they have different varieties from hemp to coconut and GF cones so I promise there is something for everyone.

The Tofu Vermicelli Bowl with Vegetarian Sauce at Lulu B’s

I’ve probably had Vietnamese Bun over a hundred times and the one from Lulu B’s is my favorite, I don’t know if it’s their chewy lemongrass tofu, the always super fresh vegetables, the mint and basil, the wonderfully excessive amount of peanuts, the sweet spicy sauce that everything is drenched in or just the perfect combination of all of the above but it’s the best version there is. They moved to a little restaurant on South Congress but it’s still cash only so beware!

Pizza from Via 313

If there was ever going to be a pizza that I would refer to as “The Love of My Life” this would be the one. VIA 313’s Detroit style pizza is truly something to get obsessed about. Their pizzas are baked in individual oiled steel pans that make the crusts taste almost deep fried on the bottom. The Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese is cooked right on top of the crust which works much better on a vegan pie. You pick your toppings and the sauce goes on top and tastes fresh and herby. I love that they don’t skimp on my olives. They have a couple of locations, one at Craft Pride on Rainy Street which is fun because the only serve Texas craft beer and one on East 6th outside of The Violet Crown Social Club but soon, like really soon, they are opening a full on restaurant in Oak Hill. I can’t wait.

Smoothies and Salads at Juiceland

I honestly don’t think I’ve had a better smoothie in my life than the ones at Juiceland. Pictured above is “The Love Below” which has Cherries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cacao, Coconut Oil, and Rice Milk. But I love the Originator just as much. Maybe it’s the Fresh Apple Juice but it also has Bananas, Blueberries, Cherries, Peanut Butter, Brown Rice Protein, Spirulina, and Flax Oil. I’ve tried to make these suckers at home but it’s just not the same. And their salads are off the hook too! It’s my summer ritual to go swimming at Barton Springs and then get a smoothie and a Double Rainbow Salad or the Quinoa Ranchero Bowl. The perfect meal when it’s 5,000 degrees out. And here’s a protip, they sell some of their juices by the gallon to make cocktails out of! The Kale Cucumber Margarita is the best thing ever to take with you on a river trip with a bottle of vodka, so healthy!

Bac’n Cheeze Burger with Tots at Arlo’s 

I often say that the one thing I’ve ever seen all Austin vegans agree on it’s the love of the Arlo’s Bac’n Cheeze Burger. Now that I’ve written it down someone is sure to disagree but most of us adore their handmade lentil based patties topped with cheddar daiya and vegan bacon. For me it’s always a late night downtown meal but now that they are open for lunch and have opened a second location on South Lamar I will get even more Arlo’s in my life.

The Specials at Unity Vegan Kitchen

Lately Unity Vegan Kitchen, a trailer off Barton Springs Road, has been killing it with their weekly specials. It’s always exactly the food I didn’t even know I wanted and then suddenly couldn’t live without. Last week it was breakfast mac and cheese, which was mac topped with tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, avocado, and all kinds of other good stuff. A few weeks ago it was chicken chimmichangas. And then she brings back the chicken and waffle special with white gravy. It’s all irresistable. I also love the muffaletta sandwich which is always on the menu, her homemade bread makes all the difference,  and the quinoa spring rolls are light and yet filling enough for a while meal. Don’t miss it!

The Buddha Bowl at the Steeping Room

I remember when I used to travel all the way up to the domain shopping center in the northiest section of North Austin to get a delicious bowl from The Steeping Room, so glad they opened one a bit more central on north lamar. I love that the beans, grains, and greens change all the time for variety at the Steeping Room. But, you can always get tofu, cashew sauce, peanut sauce, or even tamari which I’ve never tried because they have cashew sauce and peanut sauce. I also love their B.A.T. sandwich, tempeh bacon, tomato, and arugula with their hot soup like cream of mushroom. Of course the most fun part is picking out a tea from their 7,000 varieties and they always have dessert too!

So that’s what are my personal favorites but their are a ton of other things that could have been on this list like the barbecued soy curls at BBQ Revolution, the corn tamales at Cool Beans, the AMAZING homemade Cheeze plates at Counter Culture, the Vegan Platter at Wasota African Cuisine, the Veggie Meshi and Beet Fries at the East Side King Brunch at Bistro Vonish or “elevated stoner cuisine” at the Golden Spike Rail Cart. The Green Curry at Sway or the pastries at Thai Fresh. The sausage empanadas at the Fair Bean or the frozen bananas with toppings at Bananarchy the Freeto Burrito at The Vegan Yacht or the Tofu Po’Boy at Wheatsville or the Seitan Reuben at Schmaltz. The Mexican Pancake at Mr. Natural. Vegan Jambalaya on a stick at Baton Creole or the breakfast tacos with shoestring potatoes at Cherrywood Coffeehouse or the Sunday night vegan ramen special at Ramen Tatsu-ya.

Let us know what your favorites are!

Austin Area Freebirds Burritos now carries Tempeh Calabacitas!!!

OK, I know. Some of you are going to be freaked the hell out that I’m writing about burritos and not tacos so I felt like I have to address that right up front. Tacos will always be my true love, those delicious bites on a freshly made tortilla are all about fun and happiness. You eat tacos will enjoying sunshine and margaritas.

There is still a place in my life for burritos though. When you just can’t with life burritos are there to deliver a large amount of food through a tortilla tube directly into your mouth. You don’t even have to turn your head or bother with a plate. They are the ideal food for when you want to marathon Buffy or any other show that takes place in California, where they say the burrito was first invented. Burritos are for comfort and Freebirds has long been my favorite of the chain restaurants to get them. I love that at Freebirds you don’t have to remember any vegan details, if it isn’t overtly non-vegan than it will be fine to eat. I read that in Mexico the burrito is usually just meat and refried beans but in the US we like to put as many different fillings as we can possibly fit in a burrito and that’s why I love Freebirds, they have so many more options than the other burrito chains. Generally I go for refried beans, Spanish rice, verde salsa, jalapenos, pico de gallo, corn salsa, cilantro, tortilla strips, roasted garlic, and, if I’m feeling extravagant, guacamole. Now, for the same price as the veggie burrito you can now order Tempeh Calabicitas! And they are using locally made Hearty Vegan Tempeh in the recipe.

I love tempeh and stuffing it into tacos is something I do on the regular but I wish they just served up a nice marinated grilled tempeh instead of the calabicitas with summer squash and bell peppers because those just aren’t my favorite vegetables. But, I know most of y’all will dig them tremendously because what kind of vegan doesn’t like vegetables (that’s me, I don’t do lettuce either). So get down there and let them know what you think so they can roll out this option beyond just Austin! You can even order online so that your burrito is ready when you get there and then you don’t have to deal with any ordering pressure.

Kickstarter for a second Bananarchy stand north of the river

Last week, after I filled up on Venezuelan food at Four Brothers and did some shopping at Rabbit Food Vegan Grocery, I enjoyed the special at Bananarchy, “The Peanut Butter Pie Banana is hand-dipped in vegan chocolate, half topped in graham crackers, then drizzled with organic peanut butter and more chocolate” and thinking how lucky I was to live so close to a vegan friendly banana stand. If you are sad ’cause you live in Austin and can’t say the same thing help may be on the way. Bananarchy has a kickstarter going on to open a second banana stand in Austin. So go support it and add some banana love to your life. 

Four Brothers Venezuelan Trailer serves up Vegan Arepas in South Austin

I was cruising up South First a few weeks ago and almost stopped short when I saw that there was a new Venezuelan trailer setting up. When I wrote to Four Brothers on twitter and found out they were going to have vegan arepas stuffed with black beans, fried sweet plantains, tomato, and avocado I knew I’d be happy since that is one of my most favorite combinations. They also said the Mandocas (fried sweet corn fritters) would be vegan without the cheese and I could make a vegan patacone sandwich with the same arepa fillings. When I got to the trailer and saw that Arepa Vegana was on the menu and I wouldn’t have to make any substitutions I was thrilled.

When I got my arepa I was even more thrilled! I had never had Mandocas before, they were sweet and delicious and I could eat them every day. The arepa was just as good as I hoped. I wanted another one immediately but I knew that was a bad idea and sure enough, after the food hit my belly I didn’t need to eat again any time soon. But I’m going back soon. It’s the perfect place to stop since it’s right across the street from Rabbit Food Grocery and Bananarchy. You can do your shopping, pick up some CDs at End of an Ear, eat some tasty Venezuelan food, and then pick up a frozen banana on a stick. The perfect South First dinner! Note that they open at 5 pm and are closed Wednesdays.

Come to Texas VegFest this Saturday April 4th!

The other day I was at Unity Vegan Kitchen eating the most amazing chimichangas and chatting with owner Leslie about Texas Vegfest where she will be vending along with many of our other favorite vegan food trailers. She talked about how at her first Vegfest she was so blown away by how many other people out there care about animals  just like us and what a fabulous community we have. She told me that Vegfest actually inspired the name Unity Vegan Kitchen which I thought was just beautiful. Sometimes as a vegetarian you can really start to feel alone when the default at any meal is always meat so it can be really heartening to be surrounded by other people who celebrate your lifestyle and are stoked on vegan food. Suddenly we get live in a world where the vegan barbeque has the longest line.

It’s also a world where you don’t need pants. 

Although I think that only applies to the very young, I’m looking into it.

You can find out about so many awesome companies, local vegan friendly businesses, activists, and community groups that you are sure to find something to be a part of. Here is a list of who is going to be there.

And then there are food demonstrations and talks about vegan health and fitness going on all day. I’m especially excited to see Jason Wyrick talk tacos and Mo from Mo Betta Vegan cook up easy spring dishes deviled cukes and blackened chickpea salad.

I’ll admit sampling food is my favorite part.

But there will also be live music, kids activities, and other goings on throughout the day. So come hungry and leave happy (wait is that the mcdonalds slogan? I watch too much tv!). It’s going to be a beautiful weekend.

Pre-order THE TACO CLEANSE cookbook and CHANGE YOUR LIFE

It wasn’t long ago that I was feeling really down. I didn’t know where my life was going or what I was even doing. Some friends and I started experimenting with a new way of life, eating tacos for every meal for a whole month. It was dramatic how much our lives changed for the better. We started selling a zine to document our findings and the word spread all the way to New York City where The Experiment Publishing heard our message and decided to help spread it to the masses. We’ve worked long and hard on expanding the original zine into a full cookbook and now you can pre-order the book and fill your life with eternal joy and never ending splendor. cropped-taco-cleanse-cover

Check out The Taco Cleanse blog for more information, recipes, stories, and other inspiration coming soon.

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And Pre-Order the Book! It’s sure to sell out!