A few years ago if I asked if there were any vegan options on the menu, I was met with The Look.
You know, the look that says, “Oh, you’re one of those.” The puckered face was paired with a once-over like they were picturing me with green alien skin and antennas (or a mermaid tail in lieu of legs.) If it was a good day, I might find a chef willing enough to whip me up a family sized salad, and if it was a great day I might get spaghetti and grilled asparagus. If it was neither, I ate french fries.
I ate a lot of french fries.
Today, I’m surprised if I can’t find at least one vegan option on the menu, whether it be fast-food or a 5-star restaurant. Maybe America’s grown more health-conscious, admitting to themselves that pizza sauce doesn’t really belong in their 3-5 servings of vegetables. Or, maybe people are accidentally watching Earthlings, assuming by the cover it’s a story about an adorable cow and his human pal.
Whatever it is, keep it coming America.
In that spirit, here’s some of the most exciting recent vegan news around:
1. Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg
It’s vegan. It’s an egg. It should be in my stomach!
Apparently the VeganEgg has been in development for more than 10 years and mimics the texture, flavor, and nutrients of a normal egg minus the yucky stuff. However, you can be guaranteed this one didn’t come out of a chicken’s butt. The VeganEgg will be available for about $7 on Amazon later this month and in retail stores in the early year to follow (VegNews).
2. Vegan Sliders at White Castle
I’m torn on these baby burgers because they look delicious, but they can’t be found in Tampa. Anyone in a different state looking for a pen pal? Is it costly to send veggie burgers via mail?
“For a limited run” veggie sliders (confirmed vegan by Peta,) will be available for 99 cents each at White Castle. The burgers are Dr. Praeger’s brand, which I just happen to live off of during my busy school week. If you live in Tampa like I do, you can’t try one of these White Castle creations. However, you can find Dr. Praeger’s California Burgers at your local Publix, Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods.
3. Vegan options testing at Starbucks?
I hope this news isn’t rumor. The crew over at Latest Vegan News claim that Starbucks said they’re testing some new food products that would qualify as vegan. Many of their caffeinated brews can be ordered vegan with soy or coconut milk. Hungry? Too bad. Close to zero of the food Starbucks sells is vegan. (Kind Bars are almost vegan, but they do contain honey.) This is especially annoying because snacks like the “hummus-edamame wrap” look and sound vegan but contain animal ingredients.
Want vegan products available at your Starbucks? Pester them here so they know.
4. Rise Pies — Vegan pizza in the mall
Rise Pies has a shop in Ohio, Illinois, and two in Florida. One of the Florida stores is in Sarasota, and the other is nestled in the Tampa International Mall’s food court. Apparently the pizza chain lets your pick your own toppings (kind of like Chipotle-gone-pizza) for personal pies. The Tampa store opened back in June. The fact that I just discovered it is both embarrassing and a sign that it isn’t receiving enough spotlight in the vegan community.
The vegan cheese on their pizza isn’t shredded like most vegan pizzas you’ll find; It tastes like pieces from a block of Follow Your Heart mozzarella, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Whatever it is, it’s ooey-gooey and pairs perfectly with pineapple topping. The regular dough is vegan, but the others contain honey. All of the toppings you’d assume are vegan are, except for the grilled onions which are made in butter.
5. Taco Bell launches vegetarian menu
Now inhaling Taco Bell in a drunken stupor at 2 a.m. isn’t just for omnivores!
Okay, so the new menu isn’t inherently vegan. Some also debate whether Taco Bell is really food. But the new menu is a step in the right direction.
Plus, their new vegetarian menu has a few items that are easily made vegan by holding the cheese, sour cream, and cilantro dressing. Try the Bean Burrito without cheese, the Veggie Cantina Burrito without Cilantro Dressing, or build your own Taco Bell masterpiece with their list of veg-friendly ingredients.
6. Tampa Creative Loafing posts “The V Word”
110 120 percent excited Tampa’s Creative Loafing paper has a new blog feature, “The V Word.” So maybe I’m biased — I got to author its first post. That’s really exciting, but what’s even more exciting to is that there was enough interest surrounding veganism for someone on the CL team to think the plant-based diet deserved a spotlight. Go Tampa!
It feels like there’s an explosion of vegan awareness and options throughout the United States, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.
What are some of your favorite new (or newly discovered) vegan products, foods, or restaurants?