Monthly Archives: March 2013

Texas VegFest is coming April 6!

I still haven’t caught up with sleep and chores from South by Southwest last week and now, here we are gearing up for another festival Texas VegFest! We just never stop celebrating in Austin Texas. I think it will be a little bit more chill than last week but a great time with all sorts of food and speakers to entertain and educate us. I am so excited that I caught up with my pal, board member and fellow blogger Molly of the Lonestar Plate to learn some details. 

So Molly, can you tell me a little about your role in the festival this year?

This year, in addition to my role as a board member of Texas Veg Foundation (the group that organizes the festival), I’m in charge of social media. As a board member I have a really macro view of the festival, looking at the overall schedule, content, reach, advertising strategy, and so on. But I’m also the person tweeting at everyone to come volunteer. (Really, sign up to volunteer. It will be fun!)http://www.texasvegfest.com/volunteer/

What are some of the differences between this year’s festival and last one, (besides that I will get to go to this one?)

This one is bigger, in terms of expected attendees, number of vendors, and the kinds of activities we can provide. We have almost a hundred vendors, six bands, and a ton more kids’ activities (tennis! yoga! cooking demos!).  This year’s festival is more local. Due to some logistical issues last year, many of Austin’s vegan and vegetarian restaurants and food carts couldn’t attend. This year just about all of our food vendors are small, local businesses. And of course, our Premier Sponsor is Wheatsville Co-op. I also think this year’s group of speakers is a bit more diverse, which was a big goal for us this year. The vegan demographic is white, female, and young-to-middle age. And that’s not because that’s what it takes to be vegan; it’s because we’re not doing a good enough job reaching out to other demographics.

 So tell me about the speakers that I as a white, young-to-middle age female might not know about.

We have six fantastic speakers this year. Omowale Adewale is a champion vegetarian boxer from NYC.  In his free time, he works with kids who might be struggling, both bullies and the bullied. He teaches them how to work through their emotions with boxing, exercise, and other healthy habits. His presentation will be really interactive.

Ayinde Howell is an actor, entrepreneur, and executive chef. He started his first restaurant, Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop when he was only 20 years old. He blasted hip hop music and made food that *he* wanted to eat. And that turned out to be really successful. His sandwich shop became a gathering spot for artists and traveling musicians like Erykah Badu and Common. The shop eventually turned into a local group of restaurants (Plum Bistro et al.) that his sister now runs.  He’ll be cooking comfort food, including Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan, and Mini Sloppy Joes.

Dr. Baxter Montomgery is a cardiologist from Houston who works with chronically ill patients, showing them how to improve their health through a healthy diet. There are some big names in the healthy vegan community, but one of the people who has been working at this for more than ten years is right here in Texas.

Christy Morgan, The Blissful Chef, is an Austinite who trained in macrobiotic cooking at the Natural Epicurean. She’s made a reputation for herself cooking healthy food that doesn’t taste “healthy.” Christy has teamed up with PlantFusion to show us how to make healthy, protein-packed snacks that everyone will love.

Vegan superstar Isa Chandra Moskowitz (you might have heard of her!) was kind enough to come back for a second year. She’ll be making cashew-based cheesecake. And, yes, there will be samples!

And finally, we’re really excited to have Colleen Patrick-Goudreau come this year to give a presentation she calls “From Excuse-itarian to Vegan.” If you think you could be vegan, except for cheese! Or that it’s too expensive/hard/limiting to be vegan, Colleen will guide you through whatever’s keeping you back. She’s that wise, funny friend you wish you had.

Omowale Adewale is a boxer and his presentation is going to be interactive? Does that mean he is going to hit me? 

Are you going to insult his mother?

I do make a lot of “your mom” jokes so I’m kind of worried. How do I force people to attend Colleen’s lecture? 

>>see below

Will there be tacos?

Arlo’s is serving tacos. And there will be also be nachos, donuts, funnel cake (from two vendors!), cannolis, and lots of ice cream.

Are there going to bands and other entertainment, like maybe interpretive dance? I’d love to express my rutabaga love.

We’ll have six bands:

·       Edison Chair

·       Ray Prim

·       Mighty Mountain

·       Silver Ships

·       The Asteroid Shop

·       Technicolor Hearts

There will be guided mediation by the lake. We should have the schedule for the bands, speakers, cooking demos, kids’ activities, and mediation up within the next few days.

What logistical info do I need to know, is there parking? Will I need cash? Can I bring my dogs? Are you annoyed that I’m not just looking at the FAQ section of your website?

There are a few parking lots near Fiesta Gardens and street parking to the west of the park. But everyone knows that biking, car pooling, and taking public transportation are way cooler than driving a car all by yourself, so we recommend people do that. In theory, you could even canoe up to the event, though I don’t think I know anyone *that* cool.

Bringing cash is a pretty good idea. A lot of our vendors will have Four Square or other ways to take credit cards out in the world now, but cash is a lot more dependable. You never know when you’ll need to buy a Vitamix or a shirt from Herbivore Clothing. (Psst. Someone buy me a Vitamix!) We will have an ATM though if you’re like me and can’t ever remember to carry cash.

Please leave your dogs at home. We love animals, but with all the crowds and food, it’s just not a dog-friendly environment. To be clear: dogs will not be admitted into the park.

Canoeing to the event sure sounds like a challenge…hmm. OK, last question, what do you think people will be most to eat and do at the fest? Predictions?

I think funnel cake will be popular, because, well, it’s funnel cake. Unity Vegan Kitchen will be busy since this is their first appearance. They’re a new Austin food truck that serves comfort food. And everybody loves something new. Good Karma Kitchen should be popular, too, since they’re from out of town and serve gluten-free food. I’m hoping the Atkinson candy booth will draw a crowd, mostly because I love Chick-O-Stick, and they make it. And it’ll be a crying shame if there’s not a swarm of families at the kids’ area because there are some really great kids’ activities this year. (Don’t worry, Lazy Smurf, you can easily avoid that area.)

Ouch! I like kids, my street is full of them happily screaming their lungs out 24 hours a day.

 

Thanks for answering my questions Molly!

SXSW VEGAN HAPS

It’s all happening.
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There are a billion people here and it’s about to get even crazier when the music fest starts tomorrow.

Here’s what you need to know:

Vegan food can be found in every part of the city, I have a comprehensive list of every option I know of in Austin, a vegan Austin tour if you want to explore our many food options, a sxsw guide and a brand new late night guide in case you don’t want to be bothered and just need to eat now (or later). Don’t try and subsist on free beer you are bound to regret it.

Counter Culture will be open until midnight during the music fest, it’s an all vegan full service restaurant on the Eastside on Caesar Chavez. They are going to have music on friday and a St. Patricks day party Sunday.

Cheer Up Charlie’s is going to have day parties every day, this vegan bar also on the Eastside is home of Arlo’s which has the best veggie burger and tons of other treats at their adjoining trailer park.

Music Promoter Brooklyn Vegan will also have day parties every day with free vegan breakfast tacos from Pink Avocado Catering Company and free food for lover’s nachos!! and on Friday Mr. Natural will be giving away Food for Lovers Queso as well!

If you can’t make it out of downtown you can now try Sweet Ritual‘s ice cream at Counter Culture and in milkshakes at the Hideout right on congress. But if you are in Hyde Park they are going to have caramelized banana splits on special!

Most exciting to me is the Beagle Freedom Project’s benefit showcase. This is a cause that is very close to my heart because I live with two beagles and learned that they are the most common dog used in animal testing because they are so sweet. If that doesn’t break your heart I don’t know what will! The BFP rescues dogs that would have otherwise been killed when the experiment was over and finds them homes to live out the rest of their lives instead. Seeing these videos of beagles seeing the grass for the first time will make you want adopt beagles and give the project all of your money, and you should! They are going to have free parties every day at the Free Now Showcase so go and have fun!

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I have been having a blast at the interactive and film conference so far. Highlights have included being inspired by the 100 year starship project, seeing Marcon Maron ask James Franco about General Hospital and then later seeing my friend chase the latter down an ally at 4am yelling “MR. FRANCO”, #tacos, getting my picture with LeVar Burton, and seeing a gigantic decal of grumpy cat glaring over the 6th street revelers. I learned that smiling almost instantly makes you happier physiologically from a scientist and that we don’t tell our children “the future can be better” anymore from an astronaut. I went to a panel about universal love where we were all instructed to concentrate on loving the person next to us and while i was doing that the person next to me left! Harsh! Right now I’m sucking down a free sweet tea vodka and writing this post on my phone (so south by) so i hope you were able to bear with me.

Dumpling Happiness – vegan friendly love for your tummy

If “wrapped in dough” is a food group, it’s probably my favorite one; empanadas, ravioli, zelijanitza, shoot, even the sandwich and the almighty taco fits the definition. Wrapping some tasty morsels in a blanket of carby goodness is the gastronomic version of cuddling with your favorite beagle on a rainy day. When I heard Dumpling Happiness was opening in Austin and that they would have some vegan options it was pushed pretty far into my “must try” queue.

At sxsw so far I haven’t been too impressed with any food, lines for free food aren’t usually worth it for me and the hardcore buzzed Paul Qui trailer park was pretty limp in the vegan department. I decided to venture all the way down to south IH-35 & almost the river to a trailer park I had never even been too on a beautiful spring day. It seemed so far I almost gave up but actually if you were on Rainey street or traveling by motor car, or even on the hike and bike trail in that area, it would be quite convenient. I ordered the scallion pancake and the kale & sweet potato dumplings and waited for my dumplings to be made to order. The pancakes came out first. They were perfectly crispy and delicious without being greasy and they had a few condiments to top them with. I kind of loved the peanut chili oil and sriracha and put a lot more on after this photo.
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When my dumplings came out I was very excited, they were served on a bed of stir fried vegetables and came with a cup of coconut curry sauce for dipping. The combination of sweet potato and coconut is always a winner and in this case seemed to explode with flavor but the real highlight was the dumpling wrapper. It was so silky and beautiful. I’ve never had such a well made dumpling in my life and I’ve certainly not come close to that level in my own attempts! The only minor criticism is that I would have liked a little more kale, I am a vegan after all.

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All in all a wonderful experience, go now before it gets super popular.

Amplify Austin – Nonprofits need your help!

For 24 hours in Central Texas (and everywhere else) you can donate to the charity of your choice through Amplify Austin. Different Austin sponsors are matching donations left and right! It’s super easy and tax deductible. Many animal welfare organizations that have done a lot to make Austin a no-kill city are on the list.

Emancipet works to provide low and no cost spay and neuter services along with preventative veterinary care from the mobile units deployed in Austin’s underprivileged neighborhoods. Just  $25 helps cover lifesaving vaccinations for one pet and $65 helps cover the cost of a spay/neuter surgery.

Austin Pets Alive! takes in animals and works to foster and adopt them all to homes at events all over towns. They were critical in helping all the pets displaced from the Bastrop wildfires last year and they have really done amazing things to make Austin no-kill.

These babies need your help!

There are tons of other shelters on the list including Animal Trustees of AustinAustin Humane Society so check out the whole list.

Also, seeing as this is Texas, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is constantly losing funding from the government, The Texas Legislature eliminated funding for women’s health–including cancer screenings, HIV tests, and birth control at Planned Parenthood’s E. 7th St. health center.  Planned Parenthood has done so much to help nearly every woman that I know with low cost women’s reproductive services that I can’t help but mention them as well.

Please donate! Every little bit helps!