Vegan or Not Vegan? Lazy Smurf investigates Whole Foods and Ramen Tatsu-ya

Lately there has been a lot of chatter about the Whole Foods on 6th and Lamar as they have been going through renovations and lots of changes. Grain/Beans/Greens has been replaced by a much easier to understand “Eat Well” stand. The taco stand has been moved to where GBG used to be and you now have to go through a very complicated ordering process involving touch screens. Coffee has moved to where the juice stand used to be and the drip coffee is right in front of it. There is no longer coconut creamer on the drip bar but you can ask for it at the coffee bar. The baked goods case that’s usually filled with vegan doughnuts, big john cookies, and bagels has moved over by the drip bar too.  An expanded juice bar is in the old taco spot. For some reason, they also chose to put a restaurant in the middle of all of this. I’m not sure why they restructured this whole area. Maybe people were moving too fast and efficiently? It used to take me 10 minutes to pop in for coffee and tacos and now it can turn into a half hour affair. It’s hard to say if these changes will all stick around but damn if Whole Foods doesn’t seem busier than ever.

As readers may recall a while back I was stunned upon finding out that their potatoes for breakfast tacos weren’t necessarily vegan. It turned out to be a shared deep fryer situation which vegans can go either way on (I personally don’t care I just didn’t want my potatoes cooked in bacon grease which is what I was led to believe from a conversation with an employee). I know for some vegans shared fryers are pretty gross and then others don’t consume oil at all and for you all I have exciting news thanks to a tip from Mark. Now, when you order the potatoes, you can order them without being cooked in oil at all as part of their “Health Starts Here” campaign. The other good news, for those that, despite everything, still go to Whole Foods for tacos, is that you can now get the breakfast taco menu all day.

Another question everyone seems to have is about the doughnuts. In the past all doughnuts were labeled vegan. But, during the renovations, the doughnuts seemed to change and now are not always labeled vegan.

I spoke with a couple of people at Whole Foods who seemed certain that all the doughnuts are still, in fact, vegan and that it’s a problem with the labeling. Right in front of the bakery case there is a little book that contains all ingredients in all of the food and no dairy products are listed in any doughnut, but then not every doughnut is listed.

Of course, if you want to be ABSOLUTELY sure just go to Wheatsville where you can always find Red Rabbit Doughnuts which are better anyway and 100% vegan.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on all of my favorite soups in Austin and was dismayed by a comment from Kim that said

“I hate to do this to you, but Ramen Tatsu-Ya is only VEGAN if you order it WITHOUT the tofu and the brussels sprouts. I found out that they cook the tofu in the same stove that they cook the meat and the brussels sprouts are cooked with animal grease or something. It’s totally fucked up. I only found out, because one of the cashiers told me! This was after eating it like 3 times and she was the only person who mentioned that it’s only vegan without those two items.”

I was super annoyed with this information because Ramen Tatsu-ya had specifically promoted their special as vegan and I contacted them on twitter. The reply a few days later was a little unclear, but it did seem that, they themselves, do not believe their special ramen is vegan.

So it looks like Ramen Tatsu-ya can at least still be a lunchtime destination and there are a number of other places doing vegan Ramen. Additionally, Counter Culture has pho on special all this week which I guarantee is vegan.

I also guarantee everything from this lady at the new Capital City Bakery storefront is vegan. 

And now Cap City is also carrying Ham & Cheese and Sausage Kolaches on special which are so good I couldn’t even take a pic before I wolfed them down.

So now I’m adding investigative blogging to my Linked In skills.

12 thoughts on “Vegan or Not Vegan? Lazy Smurf investigates Whole Foods and Ramen Tatsu-ya

  1. Ross

    Red Hot Vegans recently reported that Tatsuya has a dedicated fryer now for their tofu and brussels sprouts, which leaves me confused:

    “In other Tatsu-Ya news, the deep fried Brussels sprouts and tofu toppings on their Sunday special vegan ramen bowl are now fried in a new dedicated fryer that Ramen Tatsu-Ya added to their kitchen last month! – See more at: http://www.redhotvegans.com/#sthash.avyNPNra.dpuf

    1. lazysmurf Post author

      That’s so weird since I asked them about it January 7 and they confirmed on the 9th. These things are always hard to track down.

  2. Marie

    Yeah, I might check again on the Ramen Tatsu-ya issue. They used to be very open about the fact that the tofu and Brussels sprouts were cooked in a shared deep fryer (which I also don’t care about, but I know other people do). They started to tell people to just order it without those things to make it vegan because so many vegans were angry about it. Then when we went there a few months back, the cashier was excited to tell us about a new fryer they put in, so they could have a dedicated veg fryer. My guess is that either the person on twitter didn’t know about the new fryer, or something happened to the fryer and they went back to the old cooking method.

  3. Abby Bean

    You might be adding investigative blogging to your skills, but let’s face it: much of our eating life is an investigative quest. Trust no one! LOL Although, I gotta say that in all seriousness: I’m coming to Austin and Tatsuya is NOT on my list. I have no patience for shops not knowing/caring what they’re serving/saying.

    PS NY Whole Foods employees will flat out yell at you if you try to take a picture.

  4. kendy

    that sucks. i wish the WF here labeled their salad/bar hot case items vegan. Only a handful of stuff is labeled so. When I went to WF in Sacramento last week, I saw the usual vegan doughnuts & doughnut holes, new packaging on the later though. I also noticed new packaging for the vegan bakery cookies.

    1. lazysmurf Post author

      I think a lot of Whole Foods contract out for their baked goods which would explain the changes. I know here in Austin we even have differences between locations.

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  6. Marie

    Hey, so I went to Ramen Tatsu-Ya last night, and was given what seems to be the full story. They switched their oil rotation, so that there is fresh oil in the fryer on Sunday morning when they fry all the tofu/brussels sprouts for the veggie ramen that night. They also added a small counter top fryer that is a dedicated veg-fryer, in case they need to fry up any more tofu/brussels sprouts later in the day. They seem to be really committed to the dedicated veg-fryer thing, and were very apologetic that some people may not have realized there was a shared fryer situation in the past. They also apologized that their social media person may not have been the most informed person about what goes on in the kitchen. Hope that clears things up, but definitely feel free to email them/or stop by yourself to confirm this information.

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