Monday, October 22, 2012
Texas State Veggie Fair opens the minds of meat eaters
You don't have to be vegan to eat vegan food.
DALLAS Thousands of vegheads gathered at Reverchon Park in Uptown Sunday to celebrate a lifestyle devoid of meat and animal products. The Third Annual Texas State Veggie Fair invited more than 50 restaurants, advocacy groups, and wellness specialists to educate Dallas residents about vegetarianism and veganism through demonstrations and free samples.
Sure, there were treats like vegetarian corndogs, but strict herbivores were not the only people in line to try vegan cheesecake from Be Raw Food and Juice or organic fermented tea from Holy Kombucha. The reason for much of the Veggie Fair’s success in 2012 was its ability to attract eaters outside the vegan niche.
“People have become more open to the idea of [veganism],” said Fred Hoang-Davis, founder of Zombie’s Food Truck and a vegan since 2001. “People who aren’t vegetarians or vegans are pleasantly surprised at how good the food is.”
Zombies took to the streets in January providing a solely vegan option to the food truck scene. The term "vegan" refers to the fact the chefs do not include meat in their recipes nor do they include any animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese, or honey. Hoang-Davis believes he appeals to a wide group of people because the dishes are full of flavor. The Alpha Dog, for example, would have any meateater fooled: It's served on a soft hoagie roll and smothered with vegan chili, guacamole, Fritos, onions, and jalapenos.
Commonplace perception is that a vegan food truck or restaurant might discourage carnivores from eating there. Chris Oller of Denton Vegan Cooperative sees that landscape changing, however. His community group bakes vegan goods out of the Jupiter House coffee shop in Denton to make readily available those options to residents and students. Oller said he sees a lot of people making more conscious decisions about the way they eat and the way they consume household products.
“A lot of people are starting to understand that eating vegan is not only good for their health, but also for the environment,” Oller said.
The livestock industry in general is a huge consumer of resources such as water, land and grain, he said. Plus the way in which animals are farmed in mass ultimately destroys land and is unhealthy. Many of the animal rescue groups at Texas State Veggie Fest agree, saying the way in which animals are slaughtered produces fear hormones in the meat and often paralyzes the animals.
Jackie Gan and Jeff Glatz of North Dallas made these conscious realizations more than 10 years ago when each decided to go vegan. At that time, Gan said it was very difficult to eat out and stay motivated to make healthy decisions. Widespread knowledge of her dietary restrictions was practically nonexistent, she said. But that has changed.
“It has gotten so much better,” Gan said. Glatz concurs.
“In the last five years, there’s been a big increase in awareness,” Glatz said. “You can now go out and say, ‘I’m vegan’ and servers know what that means and help you to find options that fit your diet.”
The couple was amazed at the diversity and shear amount of people that showed up for 2012’s Texas State Veggie Fair and considered it a positive sign that people are open to trying new things. Hoang-Davis too feels encouraged by the attitude of those who attended Sunday’s event.
“You don’t have to be Mexican to eat Mexican food. And you don’t have to be Indian to eat Indian food,” Hoang-Davis said. “In that same way, you don’t have to be vegan to eat vegan food.”
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