Vegan restaurants and their hokey names

The title of this post kind of explains it all….

Straight up hokey vegan restaurant names include:

Beets Cafe 

Beet's Cafe is a raw food restaurant on West 5th.

Mr. Natural 

Two locations - one on East Cesar Chavez and the other on South Lamar

Veggie Heaven

Veggie Heaven is near UT campus

Borderline hokey name restaurants:

Conscious Cravings 

Food Trailer near UT campus

 Mother’s Cafe and Garden

Mother's is North of UT campus in Hyde Park.

The only cool vegan restaurant name that is edgy, fun and to the point is…

Counter Culture

This is a food trailer in Hyde Park

Note: This in no way takes into consideration the quality of the food of any of these restaurants. As a guy’s guy and former meat-eater turned vegan, it is just hard to take these places serious based on the name alone. I can tell you from eating at all of these fine establishments, their food is no joking matter–it is all very delicious and healthy!

Real Men… join a CSA.

What is a CSA, you ask?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

It is basically a partnership between the consumer and the farmer. We, the consumer, pay in advance for a share of the farmer’s harvest. Twice a month we receive a box of veggies. In turn, the farmer is able to cover their overhead or start a special project.

Our favorite part is that they deliver the box of veggies to a pick up spot just down the street from our home. Since becoming vegan, we go through a ton of veggies and this helps us stay local, organic and seasonal. We mix that with what we pick up at the grocery store and tah-dah, we are healthy!

There are a few different grocery delivery services out there. There are also other CSA’s out there as well. We decided to partner with Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

First, these guys are always out in force at the farmer’s market. They have a ton of variety and they are trying to continue to grow. That’s where we come in…

By joining their CSA, they are able to move quicker towards their goal of building out their facilities. Plus, it’s just cool to buy our organic veggies straight from the source.

Checkout their website. Go meet them at the farmer’s market. And support your health and your local farmer by purchasing their produce–total win-win!

We got our first box today and it is badass. Or at least as badass as a box of vegetables can be.

Take a look at the box and all the great veggies we got below:

JBG CSA Box November 1st. 2011

JBG Share - Side of the box.

JBG - bottom of the box.

JBG's Stash this week. Click here to see their pic of the spread.

This box contains… drum roll please…

Radishes
Broccoli Raab
Salad Mix
Tomatillos
Green Beans
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Okra
Beets
Rainbow Chard
Onions

If you are going to consider joining a CSA near you, I highly recommend getting to know your farmer before getting involved. The up front cost means you are locked in for the year. Not all CSAs work this way, many offer a variety of options to make it easy for you to join. We chose the year long commitment because of the cost effectiveness. Each box costs us around $28 each.

We are going to go check out Johnson’s Backyard Garden’s operation soon and maybe even help plant and harvest the crops. Real men are definitely planters and harvesters.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you have any tips for joining a CSA, please share in the comments.

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Coming soon to a blog near you… a price by price comparison of the cost of buying the same organic veggies we got from our local farmer, from our local grocer.

Recovering Carnivore Step #3 – Be the change you want to see in the world

Step #3:

We have made a decision to turn our will over to the produce section. We have shut down our deep fryers, put away our steak knives and started going to a Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.

This is a 12-part series delving deep into each one of these steps.

Everyone has read the infamous words spoken by an even more infamous person…

Be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Ghandi

The point I am trying to make with the 3rd step of a recovering carnivore is very simple: Love your diet like you love yourself. There is no better way  to influence your friends and family, than living the life you love. They will recognize the changes for the better and start questioning their own eating habits.

There is no need to preach about “being vegan”. Practice what you preach and you won’t have to. The extra energy, focus and natural glow cannot be ignored.

There are also some other mental shifts you should consider. Like…

Changing your vocabulary from, “I can’t eat that because I’m vegan” to “I CHOOSE not to eat that because I’m vegan”.

And…

  • I don’t want to have a triple by-pass at age 50
  • I don’t want to have high cholesterol
  • I don’t want to have type-2 diabetes
  • I don’t want to die from cancer.

If you just want to keep it simple… I just want to look good naked.

How difficult of a concept is that?

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Essentials books, movies and websites to help your cause:

Essential reads for vegans:

Essential movies for vegans:

Essential websites for vegans:

If you have any suggestions to add to these lists, please share in the comments!


Eating out vegan… Z Tejas – Austin, Texas

Z Tejas has vegan options on their menu. I bet they are so proud of themselves for this. How simple… remove the chicken from the chicken salad and call it vegan… brilliant! Throw some random grilled veggies on a plate, drizzle some sause on it and call it vegan… brilliant!

Unfortunately this is the general attitude of chefs and “high cuisine” folks in the culinary world. Take away their butter, eggs and prime cut steaks and suddenly their brilliance goes out the window.

I think this is why I am so disappointed in Z Tejas. They have such a creative, fun and well executed menu–except when it comes down to their vegan and vegetarian options.

I am well aware that it is your restaurant, Mr. Chef. And since it is your restaurant you can put whatever you like on your menu, Mr. Chef. But if you are going to add vegan options, why half-ass it? Why not learn a few tricks and blow us vegans away too? It just doesn’t make any sense.

I digress… This is supposed to just be a review of Z Tejas and their vegan-friendly menu options. I just can’t help but address the ignorance of the entire culinary world when it comes to my diet.

Check out my review of Z Tejas on Yelp.com. 

What to Order: If you must… Wild Mushroom Enchiladas, minus all the non-vegan stuffs.

Best time to go is definitely for Sunday brunch. Make sure to arrive early to beat the church crowd.

Z Tejas - Front Porch - 6th Street location

If you don’t want to miss out on any of my reviews, checkout my “Veganese Please” list and become a fan on Yelp!

What vegans eat… Coconut.

Coconut is everywhere. Until I became vegan, I had no idea. My only real experience with it as a carnivore was in my cocktails. Can anyone say, Pina Colada?? There is just so much more to the coconut than a fruity drink with an umbrella.

Coconut has many redeeming qualities besides it’s delicious taste. Fresh coconut juice is a great source of electrolytes. Forget gatorade and grab a coconut water the next time you are feeling parched.

Coconut Water

Amy and Brian's Coconut Water - Our favorite, next to cracking a young coconut ourselves!

Other redeeming qualities of consuming coconut as listed by CookyCoconuts.com includes:

  • Help you lose weight, or maintain your already good weight
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Improve conditions in those with diabetes and chronic fatigue
  • Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders
  • Prevent other disease and routine illness with its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal agents
  • Increase metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function
  • Boost your daily energy
  • Rejuvenate your skin and prevent wrinkles

We consume coconut through all of these other sources as well:

Coconut milk

Coconut Ice Cream

Nada Moo is the best--made here in Austin, Texas

Coconut Oil

Coconut flavored mineral water 

La Croix Coconut Sparkling Water is very hard to find. Whole Foods has it on occasion. It's not even listed on the La Croix's website

For a complete and much better review of the benefits of coconut water, check out a post by The Nutrition Diva; Is Coconut Water good for you?

And yes, real men read great blog entries on girly websites.

Disclaimer: I am very particular about my coconut water. I have tried them all and I only like two brands–Amy and Brian’s and O.N.E. DO NOT buy Zico coconut water. It tastes horrible and is made from concentrate, thus loosing all it’s nutritional value. Everything else is pretty much crap too. (If you are reading this and make coconut water and disagree with my opinion, kindly send me a case of your product and I will reconsider–this does not go for Zico).

Eating out vegan… 24 Diner – Austin, Texas

The wife and I eat out on a regular basis We do our best to prepare food at home and then life catches up with you.

One would think that being vegan would severly limit your ability to eat out. Luckily, we live in Austin, Texas–where vegans are very well served. In the land of bar-b-que, chili and chicken fried steak, there are plenty of options for these city slickers.

One of our favorites spots is 24 Diner at the corner of 6th and Lamar, directly across the street from our undisputed favorite place on earth–Whole Foods (this is a little extreme, I will admit. But we go there enough to capture the moniker for now).

Check out my review of 24 Diner on Yelp.com.

What to Order: The Veggie Burger without Goat Cheese and fries. I like to add gaucamole and mushrooms.

If you are feeling frisky, definitely go for their made from scratch, Bloody Mary.

24 Diner: Chef-inspired comfort food.

I will continue to review restaurants on Yelp.com and then link them from here. I’m not sure what the etiquette is on re-posting my reviews. Honestly, I don’t really care what the etiquette is. If you don’t want to miss out on any of my reviews, checkout my “Veganese Please” list and become a fan on Yelp!

On another note, I decided to start my restaurant reviews with 24 Diner, because Head Chef for 24 Diner, Andrew Curren, will be competing in my favorite tv show, Top Chef, starting on November 2nd. This season they will be featuring Texas and all that we have to offer. I cannot wait to see where they go and what type of challenges they come up with.

Recovering Carnivore Step #2 – Sanity and The Plant Based Diet

Step #2:

We believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore our sanity—FRESH, HEALTHY, LOCAL FOOD!

This is a 12-part series delving deep into each one of these steps.

This step requires a break down of parts. The first part is restoring sanity into our lives. The second part is how to do it. Let’s look at the parts individually than come full circle at the end. (This is starting to sound like one of my mid-term papers for 11th grade English—boring! I promise it’s not.)

Part 1 – SANITY.

Ever feel your world is spinning out of control? Ever feel like wherever you look there are three sources supporting your life decisions and then five more disputing them? Well, I have always felt this way about FOOD.

They just make it so damn complicated to get it right. Just the other day, Melody asked me if the fruit I grabbed at the grocery store was organic. I went back and looked and it wasn’t. But it was local, grown just a few miles up the road.

Now what do we do?

Do we buy the organic fruit because it’s better for you? Or do we buy the local produce because we are supporting our local economy and reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.

Also, the non-organic fruit is cheaper. Melody says it’s okay to buy, but only if we don’t eat the skin (The skin retains the pest control sprays or something). So now I’m thinking about how long it will take to peal the fruit to eat it and I’m back to thinking I want the organic fruit…. AHHHHHH!!!!

This is exactly the type of over-complicated headaches that I am trying to avoid. Now think about it in terms of the meat you buy.  9 out of 10 times, you will have no idea where the meat comes from. You will never know if they inject the meat with hormones—giving you cancer. You will never know if they give it heavy doses of antibiotics—giving you cancer. Forget about the preservatives to ship it to the store and have it last longer on the shelves—giving you cancer.

Let’s say it’s pre-made sausages. (I used to eat them ALL the time).  After asking ourselves where the meat is from and what they injected and dosed it with, let’s ask ourselves what part of the animal the meat comes from? What did they spray it with? How was it treated? What did they do to preserve it? Who handled it? What type of fat to meat ratio did they use? Is it fat from the same animal?

Am I even asking the right questions about this meat?

This is all before I start to ask myself what the meat will do to my body…

  • Like make my ass fat, or worse…
  • Give me a heart attack.
  • Or, give me cancer.

With the fruit, I am deciding between eating healthy and eating healthier. And that is SANITY!

Part 2 – Fresh, healthy, local food.

This is the fun part… the adventure… the beautiful, life-giving part.

Remember…

  • No one ever died from eating their veggies.
  • No one has ever gotten salmonella poisoning from farmer’s market potatoes.
  • No one has ever gotten fat from bingeing on salads.

Now…

  • Go out there and learn about Super Foods like spinach and kale.
  • Wake up early on a Saturday morning and chat up your local farmer about what’s coming into season.
  • Get a nice “raw glow” going from eating your veggies without grilling all the life out of them.

Embrace life and life will embrace you.