Did y’all hear that Ellen came out again? Not the gay, thing — that’s old news. No, this time she said, "Yep, I’m a vegan." We’re bettin’ Portia’s beside herself! (You know the saying: "Vegans taste better.")
Without a doubt, Ellen’s second coming-out last year tickled the vegan community pink … especially after PETA named her Woman of the Year. But we had a lot to celebrate on the local front, too. Here, then, are our Top 5 Vegan Stories of 2009.
1. In 2009, gay-founded Mercy For Animals made its Dallas debut at the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade shortly after releasing undercover footage of baby male chicks ground-up alive at Hi-Line International, the world’s largest egg-laying breed hatchery. The shocking video received national media attention, and MFA support has more than tripled locally since.
2. Dallas’ Nessel Development earned PETA’s 2009 "compassionate company Proggy Award for promoting a cruelty-free diet at its gay-, earth-, and animal-friendly apartment communities. Property grilling areas feature large metal signs listing "Top 10 Reasons to Go Veg," and welcome packages for new tenants include PETA Vegetarian Starter Kits, MFA pamphlets and copies of the film Meet Your Meat.
3. Spiral Diner & Bakery made VegNews Magazine’s short list of nominees for Restaurant of the Year, and the Dallas locale was honored by PETA for its faux meatball dishes. Additionally, Spiral founders Amy McNutt and James Johnston started groundwork on a Southern-style vegan cookbook. We’re stoked!
4. Lesbian-owned Bliss Raw CafÃ© garnered rave reviews from local food critics in 2009, and Bliss chef Miranda Martinez preformed the first-ever vegan food demo at the Texas State Fair. A second location of Bliss opens this month in Preston Center, and plans for further expansion are under way.
5. Dallas Vegan blogger and LGBT supporter James Scott spearheaded Texas’ first chapter of NYC-based VeganDrinks.org. (Vegan Drinks Dallas meets monthly at Idle Rich Pub to network, socialize … and, yeah, get a little tanked. Booze is totally vegan-friendly.)
Vegans also saw an upswing in food options in 2009, as scores of not-necessarily-veg digs went out of their way to accommodate the growing number of local vegans. Our top finds of 2009:
1. Good 2 Go Taco — Partners Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare serve up hella-good vegan tacos at their taquerÃa inside the Green Spot Market. The girls advocate local, organic and sustainable farming, with a veg’n following makes up nearly half of their clientele.
2. Naan — Located at the Shops of Legacy in Plano, Naan dishes out fabulous vegan-friendly Korean cuisine, and exquisitely crafted vegan sushi rolls. Naan’s new Dallas vegan roll is a sweet and savory roll wrapped in soy paper and thinly sliced avocado then filled with cucumber, avocado, yamagobo, pickled daikon, tempura asparagus, tempura onions and sweet potato.
3. Thai 2 Go — Forget teriyaki tofu — Thai 2 Go raised the bar for Asian delivery by offering faux meat protein options. T2G’s pad woon sen with soy "duck" really hits the spot during happy hour at The Grapevine.
4. Tough Cookie Bakery — Gay-friendly Tough Cookie Bakery spiced up the indie coffee shop scene with its off-the-chain vegan baked goods. Its vegan cinnamon rolls, gluten-free vegan cookies and Bavarian-style pretzels can be found at the Green Spot Market, Crooked Tree Coffeehouse and Pearl Cup.
5. Z Pizza — We just about peed ourselves when we learned this SoCal-based chain was baking vegan cheese pizzas at its Flower Mound outpost. Z’s Berkley Vegan is made with vegan "beef" crumbles, fresh veggies and Daiya cheese, the most talked-about cheese alternative in 2009.
Food writer and contributor Eddie Garza is the founder of DallasVegan.com and the former "Veggie Guy" with the Dallas Observer’s City of Ate blog.