In case you hadn’t heard: I host a vegan food show. Wait, what? I know what you are thinking, “Dana, you eat blocks of cheese and love rare (extra rare) steaks. You aren’t vegan.” True. I am not vegan, but I am definitely vegan friendly. I have friends that are vegan. I enjoy avocado and almond cheese sandwiches (seriously, so good). Also, I am food friendly and besides, isn’t vegan food JUST food?
We just released our 10th episode (!) and our season finale on YouTube. Subscribe and never miss an episode right here. Back in August my friend, Mehul, asked me if I wanted to create this show with him (He’s the vegan in this pairing) and I promptly said yes. Because eating.
Basically, it’s two friends sitting and sharing a meal. It’s a fun, casual exploration of food and we give honest opinions from the perspective of a vegan and non-vegan.
One of the benefits of hosting this show is that I have gotten to explore more of Austin (#ATX) by going to all these vegan eateries. I mean, it IS called ExploreVeganATX. I am just a few months shy of living in the Lone Star State for two years. And in case you didn’t know, Texas is a big A$$ state. Even just getting to know Central Texas is a feat in itself. But when I think of weird Austin (#keepAustinweird), I would never think of it as a vegan hub. I mean, I have discovered it is THE place for brisket and queso, but vegan?? I thought, “how many vegan spots could there be?” Well, my friends, there are a TON of places to chow down on meat substitutes and non-dairy options.
In our first season alone we went to 10 different vegan spots: Cool Beans, Sweet Ritual, Bruja Brew, Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food, Dolce Bacio, Counter Culture, Nissi Vegmex, Milky Way Shakes, Fat Cats, and Citizen Eatery.
What I love about hosting a food show (besides the eating...that’s a given, duh) is that I get to sit down with the owners and talk about how, why, when they started. We get to hear their stories. I have always loved how people come into the food industry. It’s not for the faint hearted. Coming from a background in family-owned restaurant, I know that. I am instantly drawn to people and their stories of running a restaurant. I love finding out what they are trying to say through their food. I have found out that our owners have come to the vegan lifestyle for a myriad of reasons and want to share great food that happens to be vegan to prove that VEGAN FOOD IS JUST FOOD.
Ok, let’s talk about the food. What I find amazing is the amount of vegan products on the market nowadays. I remember back in my youth (sigh) I would experiment with vegan cooking or baking and it was hard to find substitutes for things. If you are thinking that vegans just sit around eating raw cabbage all day - you are wrong. Vegan cuisine has grown at an astonishing pace and most of these products are available to the “regular” person at almost any grocery store. I mean just think about the varieties of milk on the shelf! I still haven’t tried oat milk, but it’s Mehul’s fave.
So many of the things I have gotten to eat for this show have blown my food mind: egg substitute that actually made me think I was eating chicken eggs; the best fake bacon that I have ever put in my mouth; the most delicious ice cream; and a bean burger that haunts my dreams because it was so good. Seriously. Watch for yourself by clicking on the button below and don't forget click that SUBSCRIBE button.
But the thing that really astounds me most of all is the vegan baking. What?! As an avid homebaker, I know how hard baking can be. It’s so easy to have a bad bake day and you have no idea what happened. Was the oven set at the wrong temperature? Did salt make it into the bowl instead of sugar (ala a couple of the bakers from GBBO)? Were the baking gods angry for some reason? It can really be very frustrating to be a baker. And of course we want things to taste and LOOK good. So when I meet people who are making their bakes look and taste good despite not using dairy, eggs, gluten, or sometimes anything processed (ie. food colorings or soy products), I want to learn everything I can from them. My baking brain seriously goes into overload.
I can’t talk about any food scene in ATX (vegan or not) without talking about the food trucks. The food truck game is strong here. Again, I had no idea! There are food truck parks throughout the city (and the surrounding metropolitan area) and you can easily find some new favorite eating spots there. It’s been so fun to roll up to a place and find out that it’s a food park. Not only are there food truck parks but there are VEGAN ONLY food truck parks! How does that story go? A non-vegan walks into a vegan truck park...
So now I know where to get my vegan treats including, kombucha, “chicken” flautas, and cupcakes. I hope when you visit #ATX you will use the videos as a guide to find all these good eats. Season 2 is going to be filled with more food, more eating, and laughing as we do. Join us on IG & FB @exploreveganatx and subscribe on YouTube. We have enough episodes and bonus content to keep you hungry until we release Season 2 (coming in early spring 2020).
Stay tuned for more things I do. Until then, Happy Baking, Happy Eating, Happy Repeating.
And enjoy a video of me eating (and then almost choking)