Veggie Guy: Vegan 101

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While most of my friends were busy working on their costumes for this weekend's Disturbathon, I spent my Saturday night with members of Vegan 101 at their annual Halloween Potluck. My costume: a gay vegan Mormon (black flat-front chinos, pink button-down, black poly tie, sneakers, and yes...a bicycle helmet and a backpack).

Now, if you have to ask where the "vegan" and "gay" come in, just talk to any vegan about silk ties, and any gay man about those pleated Dockers Mormons wear on their Schwinns.

Vegan 101 was founded in 2006 as a small meet-up group, and now boasts over 400 regional members. Open to vegans and non-vegans alike, the "friendly, no pressure group" meets monthly to discuss all things vegan in DFW...mostly at potlucks and other food-centric gatherings.

According to their site, all potluck entries must be vegan (no meat, eggs, milk, honey, yogurt, butter, ghee, whey, lard, casein, gelatin, fish, animal broth, etc.), recipes or ingredient lists must be provided, dishes should serve at least six portions, and attendees are encouraged to supply their own plates and utensils.

The final line of the page reads, "When you arrive at the event, we will have a potluck coordinator who will check you in and help you place your dish. They will ensure the above guidelines have been met, so please come prepared."

Simple enough.

As is often the case, I was the first person to arrive--poor party etiquette, I know, but that's how I roll...punctual to a fault. Regardless, hosts Eric and Tara (in zombie and witch costumes) welcomed me into their home with open arms. My potluck submission was a set of Sweet Potato Pies from Spiral Diner's upcoming cookbook. (No release date yet, but I can tell you it'll be a good minute.) Tara's offering was a large batch of Lady Finger Tofu "Fish" Sticks from the Vegan Lunch Box Cookbook, and Eric made some roasted rosemary pumpkin and a bowl of queso from the Uncheese Cookbook.

Several guests arrived shortly after I did, each toting some unique vegan dishes. Tracy and Casey, a McKinney couple dressed-up as Scooby-Doo's Daphne and Shaggy, brought Rice Krispies Treats made with Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, Briggitte, Vegan 101 organizer, made a Caramel Apple Pie from VegWeb.com, and Daniel and Rebecca, a gluten-free vegan couple from Frisco, showed up with homemade hummus (that tasted a lot like Eatzi's) and a savory baked tofu dish with spinach. Several other vegan side dishes lined the bar, and a few bowls of vegan-friendly Dots and sample-sized Airheads were spread around the eating area.

Much of the night's discussion revolved around new vegan products (vegan S'mores, bacon-flavored seasoning, raw chocolates, etc.), veg-happenings in the city, and stories about our meat eating days. Eric even admitted to being on Adkins during his college years. We also heard some interesting commentary from the crowd. Referring to Daniel's struggle with Celiacs disease, Tracy said, "I've never met a gluten-intolerant vegan before." Then again, she also claimed she'd "not met any gay people in Dallas." To which Eric responded, "REALLY?! Well, this is like the gayest part of Dallas!"

True story--the event was held at the Mondrian in West Village.

I disclosed my obsession for chocolate and addiction to "nooch" (nutritional yeast), and former Bliss chef Johnny Raw Appleseed's pop (Can we call him Daddy Appleseed and then say enough with the names?) made a wisecrack about all the vegan junk foods they sell at Whole Foods (which I'm a big fan of!). Briggitte finished-off with a story about some guy who brought a bean dish to a previous potluck that everyone loved, but turned out to not be vegan--clearly the reason why they now have such explicit potluck guidelines.

Though attendance was rather small for this particular event (roughly 15 people), we all had a great time meeting each other and feasting on vegan foods! I definitely plan on joining these guys again--it's like getting to explore a new vegan restaurant each month.

And unlike the raw vegan meet-ups, you can actually drink at Vegan 101. Had I not been recovering from a cold, I would've totally joined Eric in vegan beer drinkage...or flasked it like Tracy and Casey did.

Yeah, these are my kinds of vegan peeps.

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