Omnivores tend to think of veganism as a highly restrictive, complicated way to live. Considering vegans have cut out meat, dairy, eggs, and all other animal products from their diets, they're sorta right--especially here in the land of beef.
So imagine what it's like for vegans with an intolerance to gluten. Now that's gotta be rough!
Local vegan Alise St. Germain doesn't have to imagine it. Her severe gluten intolerance and ethical choice to follow a vegan diet makes dining out in Dallas quite a challenge.
"As long as [a restaurant] has corn tortillas and vegan beans, I'm good," says St. Germain jokingly. But she is a little pickier than that.
"The problem is," states St. Germain, "most vegan foods [are made with] wheat gluten, and most gluten-free foods aren't vegan...so I basically have like five places where I can eat."
So where can gluten-intolerant vegans eat in DFW?
Bliss Raw Café & Elixir Bar (6855 Greenville Ave.) is one of St. Germain's favorite spots for gluten-free vegan eats. When we got our first look at the place back in April, Bliss used kamut (not recommended on a gluten-free diet) as the primary ingredient in their "bread" creations. Since then, they've revamped their recipes to make virtually everything gluten-free. St. Germain loves Bliss' Blueberry Sheezecake and Bliss Burger (now served on a bun of puréed and dehydrated apples, flax seeds, onions, and red bell peppers), and she's way stoked about Bliss' new location opening soon at Preston Center that will also serve breakfast! Bliss launches their new menu next week.
Spiral Diner is up for this year's "Veggie Award" for "Best Vegetarian Restaurant in America" by VegNews Magazine, and St. Germain's got the scoop on their gluten-free offerings! Her favorite dish is Ramsey's Perfect Protein Platter, a hot plate composed of black beans, quinoa (a complete-protein grain), chipotle salsa, and olive oil. Other popular gluten-free items at Spiral are the Red Coconut Curry Noodles (brown rice noodles, tofu, broccoli, red bells, black olives, bamboo shoots, and carrot shavings in a red coconut curry sauce), Viva Las Migas (tofu scramble with black beans, corn, black olives, bacun bits, red bell peppers, Yukon gold potatoes, and salsa topped with avocado, soy-based sour cream, and served with corn chips or corn tortillas), and the Taco Salad, made with "taco meat" (texturized soy protein), black beans, corn, quinoa, black olives, avocado, carrots, and peas, served on a bed of greens with sides of salsa, sour cream, and choice of corn chips or corn tortillas. Locations in Dallas (1101 N. Beckley Ave.) and Fort Worth (1314 W. Magnolia Ave.) make Spiral Diner the top choice for DFW gluten-free vegans to get some grub!
The Green Spot Market (702 N. Buckner Blvd.) is St. Germain's number one stop for a quick bite. Good 2 Go Taco, located in the far back corner of the shop, serves-up kick ass vegan tacos daily, all of which can be modified to accommodate a gluten-free diet. Before paying for her tacos at the register, St. Germain picks up a bag of Tough Cookie Bakery's new line of gluten-free vegan cookies. Her faves: Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Mint Chip. And she never forgets to grab a bottle of GT's Kombucha (a cultured Chinese tea) from the cold case.
Asian restaurants seem like a safe bet for gluten-free vegan dining, but St. Germain begs to differ. "I've only found a couple of [vegan-friendly] places that use wheat-free soy sauce." When visiting friends in the Fort Worth, St. Germain makes it a point to hit-up Tokyo Café (5121 Pershing Ave., Fort Worth), where she can get a Cucumber Roll, Avocado Roll, or a Vegetable Roll filled with cucumber, avocado, and carrot. All rolls are sprinkled with sesame seeds and wheat-free soy sauce is available upon request.
In Dallas, St. Germain frequents Mai's (4812 Bryan St.) for a rice-filled bowl of gluten-free vegan Lemongrass Tofu. But she likes to swing by Newflower Market (1800 N. Henderson Ave.) first for a couple of Green's gluten-free vegan beers to take advantage of Mai's BYOB policy. Ain't no shame in that!
St. Germain also suggests checking out Whole Foods for some interesting gluten-free vegan products like Tempt (a hemp-based frozen dessert), Amy's Non-Dairy Rice Crust Cheese Pizza, and Hail Merry's Raw Macadamia Dip. And she points out that you can save some cash by stocking-up on nuts and beans in the bulk aisle.
Um, we'll stick to the hemp ice cream, thanks.
While she admits life as a gluten-free vegan would be easier in Portland or Austin, St. Germain is happy she's found a few accommodating digs here in Dallas. And she's counting the days 'til Bliss opens-up their second location far, far away from bikini-clad beer wenches.
Yeah, so are we.