I’m trying to learn the Latin names of plants for my plant identification class–a confusing and difficult process, to say the least. Pictured above is portulaca oleracea, an edible succulent commonly known as Purslane, found at Potager Cafe after my adventures at Ecofest this weekend. Continue reading
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).
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.
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.
It’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!
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.
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.
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
Before the new vegan line came into effect, I never gave the Connection Cafe a second glance. From my lackluster experience at my freshman orientation, I knew the options would be too limited to be worth my time or money. Luckily, things have changed immensely since I first came to UT Arlington. Continue reading
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!
Bake Sale | October 31st
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Central Library Mall
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
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.
Potluck Celebration | November 2nd
5:00 p.m. to whenever at Upper UC–San Jacinto/Neches
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!
FNB Food Drive | Through November 15th
Bulletin boards at the UC and the Central Library
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.
The cold front is on its way out–just in time for the debut of Cool Berry at College Park, which includes vegan flavors!
I found the staff to be both enthusiastic and accommodating. “There are many lactose-intolerant customers, so we always feature at least one or two dairy-free flavors.” said Vanessa Solis, one of the owners. The establishment offers over 90 flavors of frozen yogurt (41 cents per ounce) that will rotate weekly.
This week, the vegan options were mango and pomegranate raspberry.
I tried both flavors and found the pomegranate raspberry to be a bit on the sour side, while the mango was a bit on the sweet side. The two flavors complimented each other well.
The frozen yogurt also came with a wide array of customize-able toppings, including many fruits and nuts.
I loaded up on all the berries, because berries are my favorite! I also got sliced almonds, kiwi and pineapple chunks. I’m a bit of a fruit fanatic.
In addition to froyo, Cool Berry also plans to sell bagels, coffee, smoothies and boba tea. Solis informed me that a veggie bagel sandwich will be on the future menu. I look forward to checking out these options once they are available, and I’ll keep you all posted.
If you’re interested in trying this place out, here’s a 20% off coupon for your froyo fix. The cash register was broken when I went, so it was cash-only, but the staff says they are trying to fix it as soon as possible. Bring cash, just in case.
In a previous post, I assessed the vegan potential of a few of the upcoming College Park businesses. Please check back for my vegan reviews of the businesses as they open!
The new vegan line at Connections Cafe has been vastly appreciated by students on campus.
Education junior Andrea Fleeman has been eating at the vegan line every day, and she has been very satisfied with the changes. She has even been taking pictures of her vegan meals at the cafe to show how great the options have been lately. However, today there were some complications with the food offered.
Read Fleeman’s guest post below to find out the recent problems with the line: Continue reading
Yesterday, the Vegan Club hosted a collaborative event with Animal Rights and Rescue of North Texas (ARRNT) and Mercy for Animals (MFA). In honor of World Farm Animals Day, the event featured Pay Per View video outreach, free vegan food samples, informational leafleting and Q&A.The event left volunteers absolutely exhausted (we reached an estimated 2000 students total), but the following things made the whole event worthwhile.
- Cooperation from (some of) UT Arlington’s staff:
One of the problems we were having was getting the electrical outlets on site to work, but thankfully the Office of Facilities Management was very helpful in responding to my phone call–they sent someone over to do some re-wiring. They really made the video outreach part of the event possible, so I am extremely grateful to them.
It’s always great to see people to go above and beyond their jobs to help people.
- Compassionate gestures:
During our Pay Per View outreach, we paid participants a dollar to watch a four-minute video about factory farming, to raise awareness about where our food really comes from. The point of this activity is not to scare participants or traumatize them–the goal is to expose the industry and hopefully empower consumers to make different choices.
While most participants were initially attracted by the dollar offer, several people decided to donate their dollars back to us for the cause.
Business junior Eric Floyd donated his dollar back, with these comments:”Now I feel so bad for just wanting the dollar, at first. I had no idea what kind of profound event you guys were hosting. Thank you so much for doing this to open my eyes to these things.”
- Collaboration of volunteers
The event would never have been possible without the help of ARRNT and MFA. All of the Vegan Club members had class during the event (though a couple were able to help for a few minutes). Without volunteers from these groups, we could not have pulled off the event in the least.
Barbara DeGrande of ARRNT provided food samples, vegan literature, a small tables, and a great canopy to protect our event from the sun.
Nora Kramer, from Mercy for Animals, even went to the trouble of purchasing a table for the event, because there were complications with our table requests at UTA. Halfway through the event, we also got another small table from Millie Hunt Fain (ARRNT).
While I was taking care of the Pay Per View, ARRNT volunteers handed out food samples, and Mercy for Animals leafleted.
All these people worked their hardest to make the event come together so that we could reach as many people as possible. I cannot fully express my gratitude to them.
- Receptive audience
One of the things I love best about these events is seeing the participants’ reactions.
Activists rarely receive negative responses from college campuses, because most students are open-minded.
Notably, several students from a junior high field trip were very interested in the Pay Per View. I was initially hesitant…I wasn’t sure what the rules were about engaging young audiences in discussions about such heavy topics.
However, the kids told me they were more than willing to learn and knew what they were getting into, so I had no qualms about letting them participate. Their responses were inspiring. Some kids had known about the issues, some didn’t, but most of them eagerly accepted the vegan starter kits and told me they were going to show their mothers the recipes in the back.
All other participants I interacted with expressed their concern for the issues and wanted to find out more about the vegan lifestyle.
- Delicious food
Okay, let’s be honest–food is probably my favorite part of any event.
We got countless compliments about the free food samples at our event. Participants sampled whole wheat chocolate chip muffins, vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache, and Field Roast vegan sausage samples (Mexican Chipotle and Smoked Apple Sage–available at Kroger and Whole Foods).
Everyone asked for the recipes, and I will do my best to post them soon, so keep checking back!
Vegan Club’s next event will be a film screening–please come out and say hi! I will also be making free cupcakes for this event.
Last semester, Student Congress passed Resolution 11-19, a resolution aimed at making healthy, plant-based meals more accessible in the Connection Cafe. The resolution, inspired by the all-vegan dining hall at the University of North Texas, called for increased vegan options and ingredient labels on all foods served in the cafe.
After the resolution was passed, it was sent to President Spaniolo’s office for review. Nursing senior Zak Murphy, a student senator on the resolution’s research committee, has kept me updated with the progress of the resolution. While it is well-known that resolutions can take time to implement, Spaniolo’s course of action came as a disappointment to both of us–as we had both worked very hard to get the resolution on the table. Continue reading