May 29, 2011

In Dallas, our host was Jamey Scott, who organizes the annual Texas State Veggie Fair and DallasVegan.com. Here, we were treated to mouthwatering pineapple cornbread muffins and a green smoothie made by Chef Christy Morgon. Like other effective activists we’ve met, Jamey and Christy are reaching people in a positive way and making vegan cuisine fun and accessible to people living in and around Dallas.

Next stop: the Spiral Diner with the Just Eats crew for a hearty all-vegan brunch (they even offer all-you-can-eat pancakes!). We had the Viva las Migas, an incredible breakfast quesadilla and a few offerings a-la-carte (biscuits & gravy and pancakes). Our dining experience was made even more enjoyable as we ran into several recent friends from Tulsa! They were also enjoying the great vegan food and atmosphere at The Spiral Diner, which obviously has a strong and loyal following.

Next on the itinerary was a walk/bikeathon organized by the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas followed by a vegan picnic in the park co-hosted with Mercy for Animals, and DallasVegan.com. It was wonderful to see several former Farm Sanctuary interns there along with other people who had visited Farm Sanctuary and been changed by their experience. How awesome to see the  far-reaching impact that our animal ambassadors have had on people across the U.S.!

After the picnic, we drove to a catfish farm outside of Dallas that had been exposed for egregious cruelty: skinning fish alive. The number of land animals (chickens, cattle and pigs) slaughtered for food in the U.S. finally appears to be decreasing, though slightly, but the number of fish being killed has been increasing. It’s important to realize that fish, like other “food” animals, have complex nervous systems and cognitive abilities, and they experience pain and suffering. It is not necessary to eat them (or any other animals’ flesh) to nourish ourselves.

Finally, we ended the day at Sol’s Nieto, a Tex Mex eatery that has a sign near the front door prominently announcing that they have vegan cheese and soyrizo (a vegan version of chorizo sausage) available. We enjoyed chimichangas and enchiladas and the camaraderie of other vegan advocates to end our day in Dallas. Now it’s on to Austin, the state capitol and home of the University of Texas.

Cattle Country

May 28, 2011

We bid a fond farewell to our gracious host in Tulsa (who incidentally also had a great old VW van similar to ours), and headed down the road for Dallas. Driving through Oklahoma and Texas, we passed several stockyards, a beef processing plant, and a massive cattle feedlot. These were poignant reminders of how living, feeling animals are seen as commodities (i.e. “live stock”) by the livestock industry.

We arrived in Dallas in the late afternoon and met up with friends who took us to Spiral Diner, an excellent vegan restaurant and bakery. Their menu is impressive. First, all of the coffee and teas are organic AND fair trade; the bottomless and interesting sodas (watermelon, etc.) are sweetened with agave syrup and the menu concludes with a glossary of terms including, "Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions by raising awareness and by campaigning. We purchase fairly traded products such as coffee, sugar, chocolate, bananas, tea, and many other items when they are available.

Along with some shared nachos (great cashew-based cheese), the taco salad, "The Mitch" tofu club, a Spiral Burger and Brayan’s Brutal Tacos, we enjoyed out-of-this-world vegan shakes: vanilla cookie, straight-up vanilla, and the peanut butter. The rest of the bakery’s desserts looked amazing but our hunger had been abated before we could seriously consider them. The day ended with a visit to a movie theater that is showing Forks Over Knives, a film promoting plant-based eating, and features an interview at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter. It is promising to see this issue reaching a mainstream audience!