AUSTIN – Vegan diet trends have surged over the last several years, and Austin has welcomed the new food culture with open arms, making PETA’s top 10 list of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world last year and in 2013. Now, we’re home to the first and only vegan gastropub, The Beer Plant.
For many, vegan meals have taken over our plates, and for some, taking over their social media feeds.
“Like Instagram, the whole food blog thing. I love looking through that seeing what places I want to try out,” Austinite Amulya Gobburu said.
The concept isn’t new, whether it’s for religious reasons, environmental, or simply health, you can’t ignore the spike in popularity.
“I think there is definitely a shift in the thought process behind buying food,” Gobburu added.
She and her parents have lived meat-free since day one, an important part of their culture. Gobburu says with more accessibility of fresh foods and food education, people invest more time and money, magnifying the lifestyle.
“I feel like we have a lot of places here in Austin and they are very open about our dietary restrictions,” she said.
According to Vegan Food and Living, over the last three years, vegetarian menus had a “66 percent growth at restaurants,” prompting places like The Beer Plant to craft foods that cater to the booming new population, specifically with veganism.
“I think we are at a really unprecedented, exciting time for veganism right now,” Beer Plant owner and manager Sarah McMackin said.
The 15-year vegan said the growing interest comes from new culinary spins on dishes, more substitutions and increased food literature, such as Netflix’s ‘What the Health’ which investigates chronic diseases related to eating meat. Although, the documentary has mixed reviews, McMackin says people have more accessibility to learn about the foods on the market.
The Beer Plant is the first and only gastropub in Austin, according to McMackin and her husband Ray, who recently celebrated their one year business anniversary.
“Really when we saw a void, not only in Austin but nationally, we couldn’t really find a place where you could go out and have fun, let your hair down, have a drink and know that everything you’re going to eat is 100 percent plant based,” she said.
That’s right, even their drinks are plant-based inspired.
“A proper whiskey sour uses egg whites in the sour — this would be a drink you would get in Europe — so you would whisk that up. It’s a frothy nature,” McMackin said.
Instead, The Beer Plant uses Hefeweizen beer, which has the same amino acid properties as an egg. McMackin says there are other drinks that also use animal based products in the process, some you can find here.
Google trends reported when it comes to healthy eating in Austin, vegan related searches are the highest at 62 percent, followed by gluten- and sugar-free diets.
“The vegan and vegetarian diet have shown to decrease cardiovascular disease, there’s also been an increase in awareness in nutrition,” Dietitian Nutritionist Katherine Hall said.
Despite the benefits, Hall says there are some nutrient deficiencies to be aware of. Health professionals recommend consulting a doctor before undergoing any drastic changes.
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