As a fellow traveler who did time in the religious life, Vegeria Vegan Tex-Mex co-owner Fred Anthony Garza almost certainly knows this already. But it’s probably worth reminding the rest of you: the Original Diet was a meat-free one. Check those shared origin myths informing the three chief monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; they suggest the divinely ordained human diet in that mythical garden was one of fruit ’n’ herb.
However, those hundreds of thousands of years of lived experience post Eviction Notice show that we’ve lived a very different experience. Everything we’ve been able to dissect and swallow — including each other, from time to time — have become a part of our culinary Circle of Life. Yet rarely has there come a radical reform agenda about how humans should live that hasn’t included at least a postscript as to how we should eat. Food matters.
With the full cost and consequences of today’s industrialized Standard American Diet mostly out of sight and out of mind (it truly is SAD: a rainforest burning for our fast-food beef patties; industrial fumes and over-fishing killing the seas; fear of antibiotic-resistant pathogens mobilizing in the sludgy pools of swine factories), it’s taken a few decades for food politics to go mainstream.
Supporting the more radical end of that conversation comes Vegeria (Spanish pronunciation improves the name only slightly), child of Garza and David Lee Trevino (8407 Broadway) now leasing space at the Viva Books building. While an effort to lose weight is what put the two on the path to veganism (the hardcore vegetarianism eschewing all animal products, including honey), they’ve evolved into full-fledged animal-rights activists.
Vegetarianisms inspired by a desire to lessen animal cruelty in our modern factory farms (or just plain dismantle the suckers), lead inevitably to cheese matters. After all, the milk cows must be continually impregnated to keep the baby formula flowing: the stream of squirming calves repurposed for more milk, or veal, or beef. Dairy and meat become inseparable. “Part of cooking and part of doing this and part of bringing this to the table is really an activist movement,” Garza said.
Then there are the mechanics of kitchen life.
In few weeks since Vegeria opened, I’ve found three Vegerias.
I met the first one around dinnertime. The 410 Diner was kickin’, next door’s Taco Garage was lively, but at 6:30 p.m. Vegeria’s lights were off. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure where in the wooden playland of a complex the restaurant was sited.
My second encounter was closer to the ideal. I settled into a corner of copied Frida Kahlo paintings in the clean and unpretentious setting. Service was friendly; the food, good. I received more than I expected in portion from the cup of posole soup. The sliced red cabbage and tostadas on the side made for great additions to an uncomplicated chili-powder broth solid in hominy. And a plate of flautas, multi-grain tortillas filled with potato and peas and pan-fried, were better than average fare, especially with a dab of decent guacamole or roasted salsa.
The third visit, however, caught the team with its apron strings untied. Devastated by a lunch rush, they were sold out of empanadas (while the menu encourages you to ask about the empanada flavor of the day, there really only is one type, I was told), and the enchiladas with “seasonal veggies” arrived nearly 30 minutes later stuffed solely with garlicky potatoes. If that’s as bad as it gets … No sweat. The cruelty-free oatmeal, chocolate, and cherry cookie kills.
For an enterprise born of conviction and service (“We want to serve those who are not served well,” Garza said of SA’s veggies, gluten intolerants, and those of special needs), and a mere six grand, the operation is going gangbusters. And when the Current returns for a serious food review in a couple months (maybe when the dinner menu launches, and hopefully that’s well before the planned January date), I suspect the boys and girls at Vegeria will be more than ready. •
8407 Broadway, Ste. 1
Decent-to-good animal-product-free food served in a clean, friendly environment.
Posole, flautas, tamales
10:30am-3:30pm Mon-Fri, 9:30am-5pm Sat