Y’all. I had the chance to try Native Foods Café this evening. Chicago folks, waste no time – go find the nearest Native Foods and order yourself an incredible vegan meal. I had been looking forward to trying Native Foods for such a long time, and it did not disappoint.

Last Friday evening, my boss called to let me know that we were going on a business trip to Chicago for a few days. My first thought was “There’s a Native Foods in Chicago.” I first read about Native Foods on the vegan subreddit and was so bummed to find out that they weren’t in Austin yet. They describe themselves as “the premier chef-crafted vegan restaurant concept serving homemade, fresh, fun food.” A quick look at their menu confirmed what I already knew in my heart to be true: no matter what, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I had to eat there.

Luck (or perhaps destiny) intervened, and a Native Foods just happened to be less than a mile away from the hotel that where we’re staying. My boss is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but he could see the dreamy wonder that clouded my eyes when I talked about Native Foods Café, so he kindly agreed to go.

Oh my gosh, I ordered way too much food. But how could I not? I’d been waiting for months to try it, and I certainly planned to stuff myself as much as I possibly could. Mission accomplished. We started out with some chips, salsa, and guacamole. Then came the real star of the show: the chicken wings. Before going vegan, I was a huge boneless wings girl. I know, I know – boneless wings girl was definitely not as cool as actual wings girl, but the veins and the bones found in regular wings always really grossed me out. They made it impossible for me to ignore that I was eating an animal, and that fact always made me extremely uncomfortable. Boneless wings don’t have that problem. For all I knew, I could have been eating anything. They definitely don’t make you confront their origin, and I could happily munch away without having to sit in the emotional guilt-cloud that comes along with knowingly eating animals. After I went vegan, I figured buffalo wings were out for good. I’ve found plenty of clever ways to keep Frank’s hot sauce in my life (Vegan Yack Attack!’s buffalo chickpea mac ‘n’ cheese has been patiently waiting for me to make it), but the crispy, fried goodness of wings were seemingly lost forever. I was wrong. So wrong. Native Food’s wings tasted just like my old favorites from Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m surprised that I didn’t break down into tears at the table after taking that first bite.

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For my entree, I ordered the “Chicken Run Ranch Burger,” since it was on the list of Native Classics and was self-descried as the “most popular item.” I felt like I was eating an actual chicken sandwich. My boss ordered the “Chicken, Bacon, & Avo Club” sandwich, and I’m happy to report that he also thought it was awesome! I don’t think he’ll be making the conversion any time soon, but it was really cool to be able to share a vegan meal with someone who was a little skeptical about it and watch them enjoy the whole thing. Places like Native Foods Café not only prove that vegan food can taste incredible, they also prove that extremely convincing alternatives exist. If I can eat something that tastes just like chicken and no chicken had to die for it, why would I choose to consume the actual animal? People are much more willing to go vegan when they feel like they don’t have to give things up. A meal like the one below does not leave anyone wanting for animal products.

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I have a peanut butter parfait waiting for me in the hotel fridge. I am so stuffed right now, but there was no way that I was leaving without a dessert in hand. I’ll probably eat it for breakfast tomorrow. Calories don’t exist when you’re on a business trip, right?

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So, yes, thank you Native Foods for the incredible experience! Please open a location in Austin. <3

I apologize for the lack of updates these past few days. I am happy to announce that while I have not been blogging every day, I have been keeping up with my 750 words exercise! These past few days were jam-packed. On Friday evening, I went to the 3rd Friday Vegan Social. This month’s event was held at Arlo’s/Cheer Up Charlies, and the beneficiary of the raffle was SARA Sanctuary! Since I volunteer there, the director, Tracy, asked me to go in her stead. At one point, I had to stand up and say a few words, and I was so nervous. I am so bad at public speaking, but I think I pulled it together and was able to not sound completely ridiculous. It was really fun to be in an all vegetarian/vegan environment. Going through my day to day life can make me feel like I’m crazy for caring about where my food comes from, but as soon as I sync up with other vegans, everything gets pulled back into focus and I realize I’m doing the right thing for both myself and millions of sentient beings that deserve better.

Saturday was mostly just a prep day, since I flew out of Austin on Sunday evening, but JB and I did get a chance to sneak away to Biscuits + Groovy for breakfast. Austin folks, did you know they can make a vegan version of anything on their menu? Needless to say, I’ve been extremely indulgent the past few days, and once I get back home it will be time to lock it up again. But until then, I think I have some deep dish pizza in my future. I hear that Lou Malnati’s is vegan if you order it without cheese… 🙂

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xoxo,
sb