4th Annual Texas Veggie Fair | A Yummy Roundup

I despise and try to avoid crowds most of the time, but you can bet I always make an exception for the Texas Veggie Fair. I would choose this one-day event over the regular Texas State Fair any day, and that’s not just because admission to the veggie fair is free. I go for the awesome food, and to support the wonderful vegan community of activists, businesses, educators, and more.The event organizers do an awesome job.

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I’m always amazed at how crowded it gets, and it seems to just keep getting bigger every year. The lines are INSANE (especially the line for the vegan corn dogs), but it’s very exciting to see how many people are interested in the veggie trend, especially in a place like Texas. This year’s event was said to be the biggest yet, with over 7,000 attendees. That’s wonderful news to me! Continue reading

My Weekend | Geocaching + The Texas State Fair

This weekend, I went to a geocaching event and the Texas State Fair (for the first time)!

I first went geocaching a couple of months ago when I was assigned a story about it for The Shorthorn.

Geocaching is a global activity that can take place anywhere at any time. Participants of this outdoor hobby follow GPS coordinates to find destinations that hold geocaches, also known as caches, which are found all over the world.

Geocaching is a unique adventure because it often directs the searcher to places they would not have known about otherwise. Students who want to know the campus better can go on a geocache hunt to find out what they could be missing.

Originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on October 16, 2013. 

This Saturday, I had the chance to go geocaching again, while helping the environment. A few Environmental Society members and I volunteered with the Southwest Arlington Geocachers group at their “Cache In, Trash Out” event. Participants of event cleaned up litter along two miles of Cooper street, with geocaching as a bonus activity.

My friends and I did some geocaching, while being attacked by giant mosquitoes, but we were more focused on picking up trash. After the event, my friend Jenny and I went thrifting and relaxed with lunch at Loving Hut. They brought back the nachos from their old menu! I’m so excited. They’re actually bringing back a lot of old menu items lately.

The Cache In, Trash Out event was productive, and The Environmental Society is definitely considering volunteering more at these kinds of activities in the future. Join their Facebook to stay updated!

VEGAN STATE FAIR FOOD (6)On Sunday, I went to the Texas State Fair with my friend Camille and her dad. Normally I wouldn’t go to the State Fair, but we wanted to check out the vegan options–we were pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I tried a corn dog and a burger, among other things. I’m working on a more detailed blog post about that, so come back on Tuesday to read more about it!

What did you do this weekend? Vegans, would you go to the State Fair if you knew there were good quality vegan options?

This week is going to be busy for me, with work, projects and a midterm. I hope it all
goes by quickly so we can get to the weekend–I’m particularly excited about going to the Veggie State Fair! The Vegan Club is carpooling to the event, so if any UTA students are interested in joining us, please contact us on Facebook.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Vegan Options at GRIP Mediterranean Grill + Beirut Cafe

I love Mediterranean food because it includes a great variety of vegan dishes. My favorite Mediterranean place is Beirut Cafe, down the street from UT Arlington. It is a great place for vegans, because all of the vegetarian dishes on the menu are vegan-friendly (except for those that obviously contain dairy, such as cheese pies or the yogurt dipping sauce). When I go with friends, we often like to share the vegetarian mezzeh, which has an amazing number of dishes to choose from. I am obsessed with the spinach pies (as pictured below).

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As a Beirut Cafe regular, I have been very curious to see how College Park’s new GRIP location compares to my favorite hummus and falafel joint. About a week ago, I finally got the chance to go check out GRIP’s vegan options.

Update (10/8/13): GRIP’s vegan items are now clearly indicated with a “V”. For those sensitive to gluten, gluten-free items are clearly marked “GF”. I LOVE them for this–it makes things so much easier! 

Unfortunately, GRIP’s vegan offerings were not as abundant as I would have guessed, but they had a decent amount. The first thing I found out was that both their hummus and baba ganoush contain dairy. I was both saddened and surprised. From my personal experience, these dishes are usually vegan by default, because their creaminess comes from the use of tahini. I really appreciated the staff informing me, because I never would have guessed it. I’ll just stick to getting my hummus and baba ganoush fix at Beirut Cafe.

Falafel!

The falafel wrap is the only vegan entree, but it’s pretty excellent! For those of you who have not tried it, falafel is a deep-fried patty made with chickpeas and/or fava beans. Beirut’s falafel wrap is similar, as both places use tabouli and tahini, but GRIP’s wrap is different, with its inclusion of mint and pickled turnips. In trying their wrap, I especially enjoyed the addition of fresh mint leaves. GRIP’s falafel is crunchy on the outside, with a soft, savory interior. Beirut’s falafel is well-flavored, but sometimes it’s a little too crunchy for me.

Besides falafel, GRIP’s menu also has fries, fried cauliflower (comes with tahini for dipping), pita chips, tabouli and dolmas. Tabouli is a colorful salad made with parsley, tomatoes, bulgar, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Dolmas are stuffed grapeleaves that usually contain rice, but they sometimes have ground beef. The dolmas at GRIP are vegan-friendly, but I found that I much prefer Beirut’s veggie dolmas, because I think their rice is better seasoned. GRIP also has a Mediterranean salad that is very filling.

Fried CauliflowerIt’s pretty obvious that Beirut Cafe will always have my heart, as long as they keep up with their vegan variety and continue to carry my favorite spinach pies and fattoush. However, I will still visit GRIP once in a while for their falafel wraps!

If you get the chance to go to GRIP, try the falafel wrap and bring a friend! Their wrap is pretty big, so I split it with my sister. Please let me know your thoughts about GRIP in the comments!

Update, 12/10/13: GRIP’s Arlington location is now closed! Students will have to get their Mediterranean fixes at Beirut Cafe, Prince Lebanese Grill, or Narah Cafe.

Vegans Digg In

IMG_0305I think I can say with confidence that I frequent Digg’s Tacos more than any other place in College Park. The place offers several vegan options, but I always end up ordering my favorite: a veggie burrito bowl with no cheese. I don’t think I could ever get tired of it, and I personally think it is a better value than Chipotle or Freebird’s.  Continue reading

Vegan Lunar New Year Traditions

lucky fruit platterYesterday marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the year of the snake. This holiday is celebrated by the Aulacese (Vietnamese), Korean and Chinese.

My family celebrated with essential dishes such as longevity noodles  and a lucky fruit platter.

Our fruit platter had dried coconut pieces, papaya, and mangoes. All that was missing was custard apples (mãng cầu). In Aulacese, the names of these fruits create a pun, “Cầu Dừa Đủ Xoài (Cầu Vừa Đủ Xài).” This phrase means “[Let’s] pray for just enough [resources/money/food, etc.] to use”–a wise wish for the new year. Continue reading

Vegan options at PhoXpress are available and expanding

6/10/13: Dear readers, the vegan options at PhoXpress are somewhat limited now, as of late Spring 2013–please scroll all the way down for the detailed update!

I must say that I am extremely picky about my phở, and most Vietnamese dishes in general. I blame the fact that I grew up in a Aulacese (Vietnamese) household full of food enthusiasts. 

I have heard horror stories about vegan phở at non-vegan establishments. The worst case scenarios recounted to me often resembled the following description, more or less: a bowl of rice noodles in salty broth, laden with MSG and some lettuce. To call that sad scene “phở” is a culinary crime and an insult to the taste-buds. I can’t even process the lack of effort–a complex, aromatic broth is the key to any phở, vegan or not.

PhoXpress set up

Phở condiments!

Based on such descriptions alone, let alone my Viet foodie background, I decided long ago that I would avoid eating phở outside my own home altogether. However, in the past month, I have tiptoed, quite warily, might I add, into giving a couple of places a chance.

Continue reading

Pie Five Pizza Crust Controversy Resolved!

When Pie Five Pizza opened at College Park last semester, all the crust varieties were vegan–meaning vegan students (and lactose-intolerant students) could order the specialty Treehugger pie, or any custom veggie pizza sans cheese. However, this semester, there has been some discussion that the company has changed their crust recipes to include dairy.

Saddened by the sudden cutoff from my only source of vegan pizza on campus, I immediately contacted the company in hopes of hearing otherwise. They were quite helpful in their response and I was reassured to learn that vegan students can still go to Pie Five for all their pizza needs on campus. Continue reading

The Hacienda’s new vegan menu features sopapillas and more

I recently sampled the new vegan menu at The Hacienda on Henderson and I would like to report that the sopapillas changed my life. Typically served with honey, sopapillas are fried pastries topped with cinnamon and sugar. Naturally, the vegan version is served with agave nectar instead.

I am quite tempted to dedicate this post solely to the glory of those heavenly pastries. However, I will try my best to contain myself and at least briefly describe the other dishes I tried at the menu’s launch party this past weekend.

Continue reading

Don’t miss these Vegan Club Events at UT Arlington

What are you up to this week?

Halloween is tomorrow and World Vegan Day is coming up, so naturally there are several Vegan Club events happening at UT Arlington this week. Check them out below and mark your calendars!

Chocolate-covered wands! Here’s the recipe!

Bake Sale | October 31st
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Central Library Mall
RSVP here

Halloween calls for tasty treats! Vegan Club is hosting a bake sale to raise funds for our upcoming Food Not Bombs speaker event.

Treats will include chocolate-covered wands (attention, Harry Potter fans!), pumpkin cupcakes, peanut butter cookies and more! All goodies are homemade with love by our members and of course, everything is totally vegan.

Ask a Vegan | November 1st
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Central Library Mall
RSVP here

November 1st is World Vegan Day (and November is World Vegan Month)! Once again, Vegan Club is teaming up with Animal Rights and Rescue of North TX (ARRNT) and Mercy for Animals to do some interactive vegan outreach at UTA! We have hosted several successful “Ask a Vegan” events before–they usually feature free vegan food samples (including my mini cupcakes) and Q&A.

This year’s Ask a Vegan will also include a Pay Per View, in which participants are offered a dollar to watch a 4 minute video about factory farming. I will provide comforting hugs upon request. Additionally, we’ll be handing out local vegan business cards and free vegan starter kits, featuring tons of recipes and useful information.

This pumpkin spice cake was from last year’s Thanksgiving potluck! The recipe can be found here. I plan on making it again, this time with better pictures!

Potluck Celebration | November 2nd
5:00 p.m. to whenever at Upper UC–San Jacinto/Neches 
RSVP here

We’re having a belated potluck to celebrate World Vegan Day! We decided to host this on Friday instead because more people can make it that way. Our potlucks are the best, and we will be sharing recipes!

I’m particularly excited about this event because we’ll get a chance to catch up with Vegan Club members we usually don’t get to see, since everyone is so busy.

Please write what you are bringing on the event wall. If you have trouble deciding what to bring, just comment below and I will try to help you think of something!

Please bring some canned veggies to the Central Library or the UC Starbuck’s!

FNB Food Drive | Through November 15th
Bulletin boards at the UC and the Central Library
RSVP here

We’re collecting cans for Food Not Bombs, a wonderful activist organization that makes vegan food for the homeless and anyone who needs it. We have invited the founder, Keith McHenry to come speak at UT Arlington in November, so keep your eyes open for that.

Check out the local Food Not Bombs group, and please bring some canned veggies for the cause! We have set up stations at the bulletin boards near the Starbuck’s in the UC and the Central Library (check near the elevators). We’ve been working on getting a station set up near Einstein Bagels in the Fine Arts Building–I will let you know when that goes through.

What events sound interesting to you? Please let me know in the comments below!
There are a couple of other great events I will be attending this week–please check out my events page for more details.