This Saturday, March 31, the ABQ Vegan Taco Takeover brings a cooking throwdown to Effex. Chefs from all over New Mexico will be bringing their A-game to the event, making vegan tacos for celebrity judges and guests to sample. There will also be plenty of other vegan treats available to try, as well as live music and merch. If you’ve ever been curious about going vegan or want some info and support as you start a new vegan diet, visit veganoutreach.org and check out their 10 weeks to vegan program. They’re pleasantly non-patronizing in their approach to helping folks learn more about veganism and vegan food.
I talked with Victor Flores, the Greater New Mexico Community Events Coordinator of Vegan Outreach, about the event and about veganism in general. Although the ABQ Vegan Taco Takeover is now sold out, there’s another similar event: the Santa Fe Vegan BBQ Battle on June 16. Find more details at: VeganBBQBattle.eventbrite.com
Alibi: Tell us some about Vegan Outreach. What does your organization do?
Victor Flores: We travel to colleges in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and India to distribute information on vegan living to students. We provide support to anyone interested in becoming vegan through a vegan mentor program, a 10-weeks-to-vegan email series of helpful tips, a recipe blog, nutrition recommendations and different kinds of community events. We also work with restaurants to add vegan options to their menus. I also concentrate on different projects that include talks, community meals and working together with other local organizations to inform people about veganism.
Give us the elevator pitch—what are some good reasons for people to go vegan?
People decide to go vegan for a variety of reasons, including health. Vegans tend to have a third the rate of diabetes, half the rates of high blood pressure, and 15 to 20 percent lower risk of cancer. Also plant-based foods are typically lower in fat, have no cholesterol and are high in fiber. Some people go vegan after becoming aware of the violence toward both the workers and the animals in our food system, especially in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Others become vegan for environmental reasons, due to the vast amount of resources used in animal agriculture. It is also a major polluter of land, air and water, and one of the leading drivers of deforestation and species extinction.
Going vegan doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor—virtually any recipe can be made vegan. Vegan food is delicious, and through our work with Vegan Outreach, we really enjoy organizing events to introduce people to a variety of great-tasting dishes. Comfort foods are always a big hit!
What do you hope people will learn at the Vegan Taco Takeover?
The ABQ Vegan Taco Takeover brings people together to sample some amazing food with not only vegan tacos, but also bbq sausage, corn dogs, ice cream floats, cheese and a variety of other free items and giveaways. This will also be a great opportunity to get free information about adopting a vegan lifestyle. We want people to know that they can make better choices that are healthier for us, our children, the planet and the animals who don't need to suffer at our expense. It is a more compassionate way of living.
Tell us some about the chefs cooking at this event. Where will Burqueños know them from?
There will be 9 chefs making a total of 10 tacos for all attendees to sample. Among them, there will be local restaurants and other individual participants who will be sharing their recipes. We have Blue Agave Republic, Casa Taco, El Cotorro Taqueria and Juicy Foods of Santa Fe competing, along with Shay Ramos, Paul Roybal and Audrey Chavez. Joy Maes and Noel Reid Matthew are also teaming up. Dave Unumb will be competing with Guard Your Grill. There will be al pastor, kung fu jerk, BBQ, papita, jackfruit barbacoa, hongo y nopal and many more tacos!
Do some of these restaurants/chefs already have vegan tacos on their menus?
Casa Taco already has a calabacitas taco and recently added the black bean taco that they will be competing with. Blue Agave Republic offers a variety of vegan options including al pastor, barbacoa and carne asada tacos among other items. El Cotorro Taqueria has a vegan asado taco and a nopal taco that can easily be veganized. They have also added vegan chorizo to their brunch menu on the weekends. These are just a few of the businesses in town who are keeping up with the demand of vegan options. You can go to happycow.net or download the app to see all the options available in our area including some who are exclusively vegan, but cater to everyone because the food is so good!