Last month when I was planning my trip to Austin, Texas, I was doing lots of googling to find vegan restaurants in Austin. I was lucky to stumble across the Austin Vegan Guide and Vegan Tour of Austin by Lazy Smurf, otherwise known as Stephanie Bogdanich. Let me just say, she has put together one AWESOME resource. Once I found her site, I didn’t need google anymore! Almost every place we ended up visiting was recommended on her guide and they were all amazing!
I reached out to Stephanie and thanked her for putting together such a helpful guide (it has a map and everything!). I was curious about her background, how/why she started her blog and to find out her favorite vegan meal in Austin! Read on to here more about the Lazy Smurf…
There are many reasons people could choose a vegan lifestyle including compassion for animals, health and the environment. What were your primary reasons for going vegan and why?
I think all three kind of led me to veganism but it’s the animals that always keep me vegan. Once I tried eating only vegan food it opened me up to reading more about animal cruelty and ethical veganism and that solidified my choice since I didn’t have to internally defend my animal based habits. I think my personal “moment” was getting my Thanksgiving turkey prepared and looking at my dog Dinger sitting there and having the realization that they are very similar and I would do anything for him.
Did you go vegan all at once or was there a series of changes that you made?
I decided to follow a vegan diet for a month pretty much on a whim. But after the month was over I didn’t want to quit, I was enjoying cooking vegan so much and learning a lot from the online vegan community. And then after a while I couldn’t quit. I wanted to go on family vacations where I didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle but I just couldn’t do it. The change in lifestyle took a bit longer, at first I didn’t see the point in vegan products and clothes but now that I know about the cruelty involved I don’t really consider nonvegan options as a choice.
When you made the decision to go vegan, what kind of reactions did you encounter from your friends and family? Did you already know anyone who was vegan or have any kind of support?
It’s really hard to remember. I knew vegans in college that I didn’t take very seriously. Then later there was a girl who I worked with that was vegan and just really nice and non judgemental. She was really excited that we had gotten a cookbook from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and told me I should check it out, that’s what led to my 30 day “experiment”. I think most people just thought it was a phase that seemed annoying but now they have all come around. My mom especially couldn’t grasp the vay-gun thing for the longest time but as time’s gone on she has become really supportive and actually proud. If it hadn’t been for my online community of blogs and the ppk, podcasts, and cookbooks I can’t imagine I would have kept with it. It was the constant learning that kept me engaged. Then later I made friends IRL that are vegan and we all have lots of fun with it.
What has been the most difficult part of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle? What has been the most rewarding?
The most difficult part is travel. It’s no problem eating vegan here in Austin and major cities but I love going to the beach and restaurants around the beach are always seafood. Breakfasts are always eggs. But you learn to plan ahead and every now and then bite the bullet and have french fries and a margarita for dinner. It’s not that bad! The most rewarding is my relationship with animals. It feels good being with them and knowing I’m on their side, even if they don’t know it.
When and why did you start your blog?
I started the blog because I wanted to write about all sorts of different things but then one year for VeganMofo I decided it would be fun to turn it into a vegan blog and talk about food for a month. After that I just kept going.
How long did it take you to put your vegan guide to Austin together?
It took many years to put the vegan guide together and it’s still going on. It started because people kept asking me what they could eat during south by southwest which is a festival that I’ve been a part of for 11 years. I made a list of all the vegan friendly places by the convention center. And then I expanded it to include the places I like. Then it expanded to places that other places that other people like too. Then it expanded to places that I felt should be covered and it turned into the behemoth that it is. I think it’s such a great resource and I personally use it all the time when I’m wondering what to eat or in another part of town. I wish I could make every vegan in Austin know about it!
If you had to choose, what would be your absolute favorite vegan meal in Austin?
If I had to choose I’d have to say Bouldin Creek. I’ve been loving their tofu scramble since before I was vegan and I crave it to this day. Their tofu breakfast tacos are one of my favorite things about life in South Austin.
It seems like there are quite a few vegan events in Austin – have you been to any? If so, which one is your favorite?
There are a lot of events and more groups pop up all the time! I used to go to more in my younger days. The best is probably Texas VegFest. It’s such a huge and fabulous festival. I’m still in awe every year that people just like me (but way less lazy) put it together and run the whole thing. I’ve had so many friends involved and it’s just lovely to see the whole community represent and then open up their arms to embrace the larger Austin.