Living as a vegan is one thing; living as a vegan in Texas is something else altogether. There are myths about vegans: we are skinny, undernourished hippies; we are extremists; we are domestic terrorists. Then there are the myths about Texans: we all wear cowboy boots, live on ranches, and raise cattle. But this podcast is going to present a different view of both vegans and Texans. We are going to dispel some of those myths about both and take a look at what is going on in the movement towards animal rights and plant-based eating.
First up is Ken Botts of Denton, Texas, home of the only all-vegan cafeteria in the nation. Denton also boasts a vegetarian society, a vegan store, and a vegan restaurant or two. Ken and his wife, Lori, also run an animal-based service business and are two of the nicest people I have met in Texas. They epitomize the best: gracious, kind-hearted, and working for a better world. Here is Ken Botts.
Tape of Ken Botts
Then there is Nora Kramer, the innovative developer of the Youth Empowerment Action Camp – an all vegan camp that helps kids find their voice and learn how to get active for things in which they believe. I first heard of Nora through her innovative camp and was impressed with the bios of her camp counselors. I lamented I was not a teen for the first time in decades — I would have loved to attend a camp specifically for young activists. Following an interview with Nora for the Veganacious blog, I began following the success of her YEA camp, which has grown from a single location to now taking place in three states.
Tape of Nora Kramer
Ann Mai and a host of enthusiastic young activists comprise The Vegan Club at the University of Texas at Arlington. Ann and company partnered with Animal Rights & Rescue or North Texas recently at a vegan advocacy and food sampling event on campus. It was great to see the enthusiasm and energy of The Vegan Club.
Chat with Ann Mai of The Vegan Club
Ann also mentioned to me that UTA offers an Animal Studies course, which allows students to consider alternative views about the human-nonhuman alliance through discussion of literature.
Another strong activist changing hearts and minds in Texas is the cookbook author Christy Morgan, known as The Blissful Chef. Christy actually came back to Texas for culinary school and can be seen at local vegan events such as The Texas State Veggie Fair. I reviewed her excellent cookbook, Blissful Bites, on the Veganacious blog.
Christy Morgan of Blissful Bites
While it might seem that all the vegan advocacy is coming from transplants like me, that is not the case. One of the people who worked at the UTA outreach event in March is Margaret Strebeck, a local woman who came to animal rights through the raw food movement. Margaret is a native of Texas and came to veganism later in life, just like me.
Tape of Margaret Strebeck
Thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us, Margaret.
Now on to a couple of Texas natives, Claire Osborne and Adam Little, who best know — as Margaret does — both the challenges and the delights of being vegan in Texas.
Tape of Adam Little and Claire Osborne
Whether one is a transplant or a native of Texas, we are all now Texans. We face different challenges, but we all face them together. It is encouraging to hear a recently arrived Texan like Nora and a lifetime Texan like Margaret have both found Texas people to be receptive, gracious and open to the vegan message. There are now several vegan meetup groups in the DFW area, and many more in the rest of Texas. Austin is a center for progressive thinking and is home to many vegan enterprises, but there are also vegan groups starting up in San Antonio, Houston, El Paso, Denton, Ft. Worth, San Angelo, and Lubbock. Our local markets now carry many vegan products, and there are a number of local vegan and vegan-friendly options available for those going out to eat.
The work is far from over, but it gets better year by year. With folks like Ann Mai and Ken Botts making university campuses more vegan friendly, with enterprising individuals like Nora Kramer and Christy Morgan reaching thousands of people through their respective camps and classes, and local activists like Margaret and many others trying to reach people throughout the area and beyond, Texas is slowly becoming veganized. If this is happening in Texas, heart of cattle country and animal agriculture, this can happen anywhere! Why not make it happen where you live?
Willie Nelson and Waylen Jennings, Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
The Shorthorn (Broccoli Bulletin)