When you live in or visit Texas, you notice right away that barbecue and Tex-Mex are a large part of the culture, both of which include a lot of meat and other animal products.
What can vegans do to find the right places? Well, the good news is that it’s not too difficult if you’re able to take the time to look beyond the prevailing food culture.
First: Why Vegan?
People choose a vegan lifestyle for many reasons, and most tend to be multifaceted instead of any one singular reason. They can range from health reasons to not wanting to consume any animal products. Some of the health benefits include more nutritious food, heart health, weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and disease prevention. For some people, their bodies are not able to process animal products. Many feel opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food, or that the food fed to the animals could be of better use to countries with poor food supplies.
Eating Vegan: How To Substitute
If you’re thinking about becoming vegan, that includes saying no to any products derived from animals. This means substitutions will have to be made.
Milk is pretty easy to replace, because you can use soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk or nut milk. There are a number of substitutes on the market for cheese, but make sure that it doesn’t have casein listed in the ingredients because that makes it non-vegan. If you’re looking for a butter replacement, there are several in the market, but make sure to read the label.
Good substitutions for eggs are tofu scrambler, applesauce, pureed soft tofu, a flax egg, or even bananas. If something is needed for a binder in a recipe, where you’d normally use an egg, you might substitute oat or soy flour, rolled oats, cooked oatmeal, bread crumbs, instant potato flakes, nut butters, tomato paste or cornstarch.
For any stock or broth, substitute vegetable broth or bouillon cubes. Substitutions for the meat itself in dishes can come from a variety of choices. You might decide to use tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, jackfruit, mushrooms, eggplant, or a number of vegan substitutes such as soy chicken patties and nuggets, and veggie meatloaf. The possibilities are endless, including using textured vegetarian protein, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and beets. The trick is finding the recipe which fits your taste buds the best.
Vegan Food in Texas
Texas is the epitome of a melting pot of food, which includes regular Southern cooking, barbecue and Tex-Mex. Eating healthy is a great choice for both your body and mind, so you’ll be surprised there are more restaurants catering to vegans than you think. There are also a multitude of websites showing the best grocery stores that cater to vegans, in addition to websites which help with giving lists of vegan friendly items to purchase. There are many recipes to be found to get you going on your grocery spree, allowing you to create food masterpieces for any time of day or occasion. With this information you get to create a great meal from grocery ingredients to keep you on track for making your life healthier.
Finding Vegan Restaurants
There are a number of websites dedicated to pointing out the locations of vegan friendly restaurants. There are sites dedicated to vegan only locations, and there are other which point out restaurants offering vegan dishes alongside their regular menu. In addition to those, there are personal blogs to be found espousing their adventures in Texas while being vegan. Veggie fajitas can be found at places, and you can always ask for the dairy products to be left off. You still get the smell and flavor of fajitas, but still enjoy what you’re eating. Barbecue can be the same thing. Items which can be substituted for meat can be created into a great grilled dish, alongside a selection of vegetables and certain fruits which end up with great flavor from the grill.
Don’t Despair If You’re Vegan
With all the information which can be found on the web and from other people, living in or traveling to Texas won’t be a total hardship. It might be time to create a new tradition within the bounds of the various cooking styles found in the state. Don’t look for those who offer vegan dishes, but instead create your own and offer it to friends, co-workers, or anyone who is willing to try the dishes.
Is it hard to be a vegan in Texas? The answer would be a resounding yes. Is being true to your lifestyle choice worth the extra effort? That is only something you can answer, however, the answer can be yes if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to find what you’re looking for. Texas is for everyone, including vegans.
Ali Holroyd spent ten years working in professional kitchens in Houston before taking a career break to start a family. She now combines her lifelong love of writing with her experience in the food and nutrition sector as a freelance writer and content editor. Alicia lives in Clearlake with her husband, two daughters and her black lab, Rosie.