Mmm, Fried Soy Products; Who Needs Funnel Cake?

Figuring omnivores shouldn't have all the greasy fun, DallasVegan.com is hosting its own fried food contest at The Phoenix Project, 406 S. Haskell Ave.

"I would expect some of the same, off-the-wall type of foods you see at the State Fair of Texas," says James Scott, organizer of the Texas State Veggie Fair on October 16.

Minus the dead animals, of course: According to Scott, the fried foods served at the State Fair are lousy with animal products. Even treats that aren't as overtly vegan-unfriendly as last year's famed fried butter are coated in batter made with milk and eggs and dunked in boiling fats.

"The fair is very animal-centric," Scott says. "That's kind of the point."

While culinary sophistication typically calls for less fry, the availability of cruelty-free junk food signals a maturing vegan community. That's because fried tempeh holds little appeal for newly converted vegetarians and vegans who adjusted their diets for health reasons: It's a treat for eaters who consider vegetarianism a lifestyle, not a nutritional program.

"Of the current vegetarian restaurants in Dallas, they do go more toward that healthy kind of food," Scott says. "Spiral Diner doesn't even have a fryer."

But Scott's traveled to other cities where vegetarians and vegans revel in meatless indulgences.

"I went to New York, and I had fried cheese for the first time in six years," Scott recalls. "To anyone else, it seems like 'what's the big deal?', but fake cheese is getting really good now. I was just blown away."

Scott, co-founder of DallasVegan.com, says his group's "veganized version of the State Fair," which will also feature music and carnival games, should demonstrate the vibrancy of the area's growing vegan community.

"This market is really starting to gain momentum," he says. "In places like Austin, it's saturated. All the people who are going to be vegan are vegan and that's pretty much it. We're just excited."

Scott says a few fellow vegans have already approached him about frying up something vegan for the fair.

"Even though we're about compassion and cruelty-free living, we can also be about fun and enjoying life," he says.

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