‘Blackfish’ Documentary | My Personal Thoughts + UTA Students Weigh In

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If you haven’t seen Blackfish yet, you need to check it out. The documentary about SeaWorld has been making waves, and not just among animal activist groups. I got to interview some UT Arlington students about the film for work.

An excerpt from my article, originally published on The Shorthorn, UT Arlington’s student news website, on October 23, 2013:

A killer whale named Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, one of the most experienced trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2010. This was the third time the whale was involved in an incident resulting in a human death.

“Why is SeaWorld surprised that a wild animal did this?” university studies senior Tania Rodriguez said. “You isolate them from their natural environment and put them in a tub, and then you wonder why this happened?”

Rodriguez, who is a member of the Mavs Marine Biology club, says she recently viewed an online trailer for the documentary Blackfish. It spiked her interest, because she recalled Brancheau’s incident from 2010.

The film made its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in January and has been well received by critics, receiving a 98 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It has also made an impact on pop culture — after seeing the documentary, the directors of Finding Dory made the decision to modify their animated movie’s depiction of a marine animal park. CNN will broadcast Blackfish 8 p.m. Thursday.

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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

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.

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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.

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Tasty Highlights of the Texas Veggie Fair 2012

The line for the vegan corn dogs was the longest food line.

I have never had a funnel cake in my life. On Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with some friends at the third annual Texas Veggie State Fair. I was determined to find a vendor with vegan funnel cakes so I could sample some (they ran out quickly last year).

I ran into my friend Camille Suttles, an entertainment reporter from The Shorthorn, and together we sampled some (alas, not all) of the delicious vegan fare. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any funnel cakes, but we found plenty of other things to try. Continue reading