Veggie Truckin'

Bay Area Food Trucks from a Vegetarian Perspective

The Veggie Part of Veggie Truckin’ November 24, 2011

Filed under: vegetarianism — Laura @ 10:51 am
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Happy Thanksgiving to all my Veggie Truckin’ readers! I’m thankful for all of you as well as all of the trucks that sell me great food and give me great material to write about as a result 🙂 As I mentioned in my last post, I’d like to take this opportunity to write a little bit (ok, more than a little bit) about being a vegetarian.

I wish I had someone to credit for this, but I stole it from the internet 🙂

This is my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian, and I, of course, am looking at it in a different way than I have before. The holiday still means I get to spend time with my family, reflect on what I’m thankful for, and pig out, but what I eat while pigging out will be a tad different. I’m not exaggerating with that statement; most of the food traditionally eaten on Thanksgiving is vegetarian, with the one big exception of the turkey. Yes, there’s also gravy, but I’ve never been a huge fan of it. And if you have understanding family like I do, the stuffing doesn’t have to be stuffed into the turkey while it’s cooking. I momentarily considered being one of the vegetarians I’ve heard of that still eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but the thought only passed my mind briefly. It’s true that a new bird wouldn’t die if I had some of the turkey the rest of my family was eating, but knowing what I know about the factory farm industry and going five months without eating meat, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I would be filled with guilt and disgust if I did. Plus, I would be afraid it would ruin the changes I’ve seen in my health since I became a vegetarian.

In the last five months I have noticed weight loss, which is to be expected when meat is eliminated from your diet. I have noticed that my immune system, which is one of the weakest immune systems ever, has gotten a tiny bit stronger. Usually I would average about one cold a month during the school year (working with kids doesn’t mix well with my weak immune system, but I love it too much to stop), but I’ve only had two so far this year, and they didn’t last as long as they usually do. Finally, I have noticed an extreme change in the amount of acne on my face. Aside from certain times in my cycle, my face has been significantly clearer since I became a vegetarian. At first I didn’t even see the connection, but my mom brought it up about three months after I changed my diet, and it totally made sense. These changes are small, but I’m happy with them and don’t want to go back to the way it used to be.

As a vegetarian, I am asked a lot of the same questions often. Do I eat fish? No, that would be a pescetarian. Do I eat dairy and eggs? Yes, otherwise I’d be a vegan. I’m lucky that I live in a liberal area where vegetarianism is common and people know more about it. I’m mostly met with respect and understanding, although there is the occasional meat lover who takes my vegetarianism as a personal affront. As a friend of mine once said, I found that more meat eaters cared about me becoming a vegetarian than anyone else did. When I was reading the book that made me become a vegetarian, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, a lot of meat eating friends and family joked around saying things like, “don’t get that book anymore near me!” or, “I don’t want to read that one!” In the book, Jonathan Safran Foer mentions that while he was writing the book, whenever he told someone he was writing a book about eating animals they would react in much the same way. The fact of the matter is that people know the factory farm industry is wrong. They know what they’re eating is tainted. They don’t want to be exposed to that knowledge any more than they have to because then they would have to change the way they eat too. It’s one of the only areas in our culture where I find people are happily, willfully ignorant. I can’t tell you the number of times while talking to people about the factory farm industry they’ve responded with “ignorance is bliss”. In what other part of our society is being uninformed acceptable and joked about repeatedly? People have been eating meat their whole lives; it’s a huge part of our society, and they don’t want to let go of it. Instead they joke about it when faced with someone who has let go of it.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the factory farm industry and why it deserves more attention. If you want more information, read the book. (Please do!) But my reasons for not eating meat can be broken down into three categories.

health: This is number one. I don’t think I need to go into much detail about why eating less meat is healthier, but the treatment of animals in factory farms adds greatly to the obvious reasons for vegetarianism being healthy. The fact that animals are injected with antibiotics and hormones that find their way into the meat you eat is enough to make me stop eating meat alone. Add to that the poor treatment of the animals, the small spaces they live in, how they’re piled on top of each other and covered in each other’s blood, feces, and vomit? That’s not something I want to be putting in my body. Foer also states in his book that scientists predict the next big epidemic virus will undoubtedly be spread to humans via their meat because of the way meat is being produced in factory farms. I’d like to distance myself from that as much as possible.

environmental: The statistic that affected me most in the book was the one that stated that global warming is caused more by the factory farm industry than all forms of transportation combined. Of course, this argument has no pull at all to a crazy person who doesn’t believe in global warming, but for those of us who, y’know, know science is fact, it is impossible to say you care about the environment and still eat factory farmed meat. One of my favorite quotes from Eating Animals is: “The factory farm will come to an end because of its absurd economics someday. It is radically unsustainable. The earth will eventually shake off factory farming like a dog shakes off fleas; the only question is whether we will get shaken off along with it.”

the animals: Before I became a vegetarian, I thought it was silly to put the well being of animals in front of the well being of humans when we have enough people facing cruelty and starvation on the planet. When I realized that the health and environmental factors made the factory farm industry a human problem as well, that was what made me become a vegetarian. However, I still feel for the millions of animals that are killed in horrible ways. They are tortured repeatedly before they even reach slaughter. What disgusts me even more is the lengths the factory farm industry goes to to tap in to human sympathy when it comes to treatment of animals by creating terms like “organic”, “free range”, and “grass fed” to make people think the meat they’re eating is somehow better than the rest of the meat. The truth is that 99% of meat comes from factory farms. There are a few family farms that still exist, but most of the meat you eat, regardless of the label given to it, is tortured. When I first became a vegetarian, I considered seeking out some of the rare family farms that actually treat their animals well and only eating meat from them. In the end, I decided it was easier to just not eat meat at all, and at this point I don’t crave it enough to seek it out. I’ve considered eating meat from some of the food trucks who use meat from family farms, but overall I’d rather just keep my diet the way it is. Just because an animal isn’t tortured, that doesn’t mean my face won’t break out again the second I start eating it 🙂

When it comes to vegetarianism, I try not to be preachy unless someone specifically asks me about my choice. I don’t pretend to know everything about the subject after reading one book, and I don’t think I’m a perfect vegetarian. Defensive meat eaters are always trying to find flaws in my arguments for being a vegetarian, and I think that’s more for themselves than it is for me. It took me two years to read Eating Animals after I knew it existed because I knew I would become a vegetarian, and I was afraid to. I can’t blame other people for feeling the same way, but I can encourage them to stop holding on to the “ignorance is bliss” cliche. I have been asked why I’m not a vegan if I care so much about the factory farm industry, and I honestly don’t have a very good reason. Becoming a vegetarian wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, but I’ve found I rely more on dairy for protein now. I’m a picky eater with little skill when it comes to cooking, and I don’t see a vegan diet being possible for me right now. I still have the utmost respect for vegans, and I hope to one day suck it up and become one. Right now I’m taking it one change in diet at a time.

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful that I have a family that has been understanding of my vegetarianism for the most part. My immediate family has been fantastic, especially my mom who always makes sure she cooks something I can eat when I spend the night at my parents’ house. I’m thankful for a boyfriend who became a vegetarian three years before me and has shared lots of his expert vegetarian knowledge with me (and cooked me a yummy Tofurky feast last weekend). And of course, I’m thankful for all the food trucks who serve vegetarian options, even if it’s just one of them.

I will leave you with two of my favorite quotations from Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer:

“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?”

“We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, what did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?”

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Last Week’s Highlights November 22, 2011

The weekend before last, my boyfriend and I ventured to the farmer’s market in Campbell with two goals in mind: 1) to buy veggies for a Tofurky feast the boyfriend was planning to cook, and 2) to try the food at the Oaxacan Kitchen booth. The Oaxacan Kitchen truck wasn’t there, but they did have a booth serving the same food the truck does. I ordered an empanada, which was unlike other empanadas I’ve had before.

Veggie empanada from Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile

It was tasty but had more cheese than I anticipated, and since I only had one Lactaid on me I had to stop before I was finished.

The following weekend, we went to another Moveable Feast at Garden City. This time I came with a can of food in hand.

You might be wondering what would motivate me to bring canned food to a food truck gathering, but if you’re someone who follows local food trucks you probably already know that several of them are currently collecting canned food and giving people who bring a can a dollar off of their order. I knew one of those trucks was MoBowl, and I was craving an old favorite, their umami tofu.

Umami tofu from MoBowl

My next stop was Butterscotch on the Go, which I feel like I haven’t been eating nearly enough now that Edgewood Eats is only once a month. I was happy to see them in San Jose, the first time I had, and was also happy to try another new item on their menu, the nutella and milk chocolate panna.

Nutella and milk chocolate panna from Butterscotch on the Go

This new treat tasted similar to their chocolate pudding and had the same crispy topping (which I love!), but the Nutella added an extra hint of hazelnut that I enjoyed. When the owner saw me waiting for my food, she was also kind enough to give me a free piece of their poundcake.

Poundcake from Butterscotch on the Go

I had to take most of the poundcake to go because I had gotten full on everything else, but it was as delicious as was to be expected.

This week I’m off work because the school district where I work doesn’t have school. I’m enjoying this opportunity to check out some food trucks in the afternoon on their lunch runs, something I don’t get to do often with my schedule. Today I visited two and hope to visit another two tomorrow, so you can look forward to a post about those adventures soon. Additionally, I hope to write a post about the veggie part of Veggie Truckin’ in honor of the upcoming holiday that glorifies eating meat. I haven’t touched too much on my vegetarianism here aside from writing about how easy or not easy it is to choose dishes at food trucks because of it, and I think my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian is as good a time as any to go into a little bit of depth about why I’ve made this choice.

 

A New Era of Veggie Truckin’ November 15, 2011

If you follow Veggie Truckin’ on twitter, you probably already know that some changes have happened around here. First, I registered the domain veggietruckin.com, so that url automatically forwards you to my blog. Secondly, I created a fan page on facebook for the blog. There’s a cute little widget on the side menu for it, or you can just follow this link. On a personal note, I got an iPhone 4S, and what that means for the blog is my photos will be much clearer. Granted, it’s still a camera phone, but at least it knows how to focus. No more out of focus photos just because there’s some foil in the background, yay! Finally, I was interviewed on the latest Food Truck Nerd podcast with my boyfriend. Check it out! This time I think I managed to laugh a little less, but only by a little 🙂

This post isn’t just to tell you what’s new though. I have a couple new trucks to write about too! Last week, for the first time, I ate food from a truck I hadn’t visited in person. My boyfriend saw that Twister Truck would be parked near where he lives, so he picked some up for us on his way home from work. It was a little weird not getting the full food truck experience, but the yummy food made up for it.

Twister burrito cone from Twister Truck

The photo of the twister burrito cone on the website intrigued me, so that’s what I ordered. I was still a little confused as to how to eat it, but it got easier once I decided to just use a fork. I also tore pieces of tortilla off the cone and used them to scoop up the insides. I thought a side of tortilla chips might help, but then the extra food might be too much because the burrito cone itself was the perfect amount for a meal. I also got a side of churro fries but wasn’t able to finish them all.

Churro fries from Twister truck

My boyfriend didn’t receive the chocolate or cajeta sauce mentioned on the Twister website with them, so they lacked a little bit in flavor. Additionally, all the grease collected at the bottom of the cup making the bottoms of the fries especially gross to a not-so-yummy degree. With a little less oil and a little more dipping sauce, I think these could really hit the spot.

On Saturday, we ventured to the Moveable Feast at the Garden City location. I miss the old ones at San Pedro Square that I could walk to from where I live, but I don’t mind driving a little bit for my food truck fix. I decided to try a truck I had been to before but only for some cookies, Sanguchon.

The Sanguchon truck

My boyfriend had been raving about their vegetable curry wrap which he had gotten at one of their lunch time stops. Never having had Peruvian curry before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Vegetales al Curry wrap from Sanguchon

What I found was an amazing amount of flavor that filled me up for hours. Every bite included a new vegetable I hadn’t tried before. I found myself taking a new photo every few minutes because I’d look down and see more and more colors. It was an amazingly photogenic as well as delicious wrap!

There was also a new truck at the event, Project Cupcake.

The Project Cupcake Truck

Aside from a clever name and truck design to go with it, this cupcake truck has a different concept than most. They allow their customers to build their own cupcakes, starting by choosing a cake, then choosing a frosting, and then you can put whatever toppings you want on top (similar to a frozen yogurt place). Another cute component is the fact that when you visit them you’re greeted by staff in lab coats.

A Project Cupcake employee dressed in a lab coat outside the truck

When I got to the truck, they only had six cupcakes left, so I didn’t get to choose my cupcake as specifically as most. I got the mocha flavored cake with cream cheese frosting. Then I visited their toppings bar and took full advantage of it.

The Project Cupcake toppings bar

I loaded on some butterfinger bits, oreo pieces, and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top. The result was a super tasty cupcake. I can’t wait to try them again when I can choose my cake and frosting more specifically too!

My Project Cupcake creation

Those are all the new trucks for this time. Don’t forget to like Veggie Truckin’ on facebook!

 

Scoops and Edgewood Eats November 6, 2011

I’m sad to say I haven’t been to many new trucks lately. Not as many new ones seem to be popping up now that the summer has ended and the cold weather is rolling in. I did get a chance to recently try a new truck that’s been on the scene for about a month now, Scoops. Unfortunately, when I tried their truck it was at a nighttime event, and I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the truck. I did snag a photo of the ice cream I got at the truck though. I had the Cookies and Dough flavor, which I assumed meant a mixture of cookies and cream and cookie dough, two of my favorite kinds of ice cream. My assumption was correct, and I couldn’t be happier when I discovered that.

Cookies and dough ice cream from Scoops

On Tuesday, November first, I went to the first Edgewood Eats since the beginning of October. It felt like I hadn’t been there in forever since they had turned into a monthly event, and before that I hadn’t been to the last couple weekly ones. (I had chosen Newark Street Eats instead because they’re closer to my work.) Needless to say, it felt good to be back.

Edgewood Eats, November 1st

I managed to snag quite the photo of an innocent bystander enjoying his food 🙂

I was determined to try something new despite none of the trucks being new to me, so I had a rice bowl at Tikka Bytes with tofu and tikka masala. It was much larger than I expected and very filling. I had to actually stop myself from eating the whole thing so I could have room for the other food I desired at the gathering! I was surprised by the amount of food for a mere $6.

Rice bowl from Tikka Bytes

Next I craved an old favorite, sweet potato tater tots from Little Green Cyclo (whose name I recently found out from, Food Truck Nerd, I’ve been pronouncing incorrectly). I got the black sesame sauce with them to try something different, but I didn’t feel it measured up to the mango ketchup I usually get.

Sweet potato tater tots from Little Green Cyclo

My final stop was a truck I hadn’t been to in far too long, Butterscotch on the Go. They were serving a menu item I hadn’t seen before, the chocolate pots de creme. I got two, one for my mom and one for me, and decided to “try” some of mine on the drive home. The reason I put try in quotation marks is because I ended up eating the whole thing despite how full I was. It was so good I couldn’t stop eating. The peanut butter crunch they put on top of the pudding was definitely the best part, and the next day when I shared with my mom she concurred.

Chocolate pots de creme from Butterscotch on the Go

It was the fullest I’d been in awhile, and it made me realize how much I had truly missed Edgewood Eats. Here’s hoping next month’s feels like it comes sooner!