My whole life has been about getting it — getting the grade, getting the job, getting the pose, getting the tumbling trick. I’ve been “doing” yoga for years, but more as a fitness outlet. I didn’t like slow styles; I thought they were a waste of time if they weren’t burning major calories. The mind-body connection, mindfulness and spirituality side were not something that inherently came to me, at least not at first. A Yoga Nidra class finally changed my outlook and after that day, I was dedicated to trying as many styles of yoga as I could until I found my absolute favorites. While I love a good Hatha flow as much as the next gal, it was Ashtanga that really changed my personal practice and outlook on life.
I wouldn’t call myself a food festival frequenter. I love them, and will go if the opportunity arises, but I don’t really seek them out as I usually would rather spend the money on a concert or music festival. However Southwest VegFest was different. Being newly vegan, I am always seeking out vegan restaurants, recipes, and substitutes to replace things that I loved from my former omnivorous diet. When I heard about SW VegFest, I knew I wanted to go to try different vegan fares from several places all in one outing, plus learn more about local vegan restaurants, brands and companies.
When I arrived I dropped in for the last half of a panel about protein. The speakers were nutritionist Lisa Schmidt, plant-based Dr. Benjamin Benulis, vegan bodybuilder Doug Tice, and vegan bodybuilder, author and speaker, Robert Cheeke. While I never really have worries about meeting my own protein intake, it was really interesting to get the perspectives of two body-builders about getting adequate protein on a plant-based diet, plus options for alternative protein sources. Namely they mentioned plants, seeds, nuts and beans, which are staples in my diet, as should be as part of any balanced vegan diet. Honestly after doing the protein calculations for my weight, compared to what I was eating before, I almost would say I now consume MORE protein than I did as an omnivore because I am more conscious of it and sneak in protein wherever possible (seeds on avocado toast, in sauces, smoothies, protein powders, plus through protein-rich vegetables and legumes.)
Next I went in search of the main reason I came — food. I made my rounds around the whole festival probably at least two full times. Salivating because of so many delicious options, and for once, ALL VEGAN!
I decided upon a chickpea chorizo quesadilla from Dilla Libre. Pretty much all through high school and college, namely when I was vegetarian, quesadillas were an unhealthy favorite in my diet and to be honest, sometimes I miss them. So I thought that I would try my luck and the vegan-ified version of my once-favorite food. (Sadly I got no photo —it really did not photograph well.) The chickpea “chorizo” was seasoned to be spicy but not too spicy, and served with salsa, just how I liked it. It was delicious.
While I was eating I wandered over to catch a bit of the cooking demo that was finishing up. While I did not arrive in time to taste their delicious date-based caramel sauce with apples for dipping, I was able to snag the recipe by Jamila Mendoza and am looking forward to whipping this up myself.
After seeing their delicious caramel dip, I was hungry for some sweets. I had spotted raw, vegan, unicorn cheesecake bites from the Coconut Hut’s stand; pair that with their “Majik Pitaya Limeade,” and I was sold.
How I went from the French-food-loving gal who would neeeevvveeerrr give up cheese to a passionate vegan.
I was “vegetarian” from about my junior year of high school through my sophomore year of college. I say “vegetarian” because I was a pescatarian - meaning I ate fish, and I did not eat a very balanced diet through most of that time period. At all. You may as well have called me a carbatarian.
I ditched the vegetarian thing a few months before I was set to study abroad in France, to get my body “re-adjusted” to eating meat, and prepare to eat and drink my way through all of le cuisine, du fromage et du vin that Paris had to offer. I also was going to be living with a host mom in Paris, and didn’t want to add a layer of difficulty to my dietary preferences for her anyway.
Fast forward a few years later, I’m out of college, working in a job largely tied to the food and beverage industry, and I’m addicted to meat, cheese and burgers. Plus - eating out was part of my job, amirite??