San Antonio’s growing vegan scene

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Rogelio and Michael Sanchez founded Hash (Heal and Spread Healing) Vegan Eats out of their own desire to live healthier. Rogelio says he decided to sober up with his brother after battling addiction, and veganism was a next step.

“I started riding my bike and while I was riding I found myself sluggish when I ate a big old burger,” he says.

Like Sanchez, some eat vegan for health reasons, others for environmental and animal reasons, and still others out of curiosity as to whether things like vegan fried “chikn” can taste like the original. Whatever the reason, a growing number of locals looking for plant-based options has resulted in an explosion of vegan menus.

San Antonio is not alone. Nationwide, the plant-based food market grew nearly twice as fast as the entire U.S. retail grocery market in 2020, according to the Plant Based Foods Association.

At Hash, the menu is 100 percent plant-based and alcohol-free and includes buffalo chikn hash, “phish” tacos, mixed berry waffles, CBD-infused teas and more. “We don’t want you to think you’re eating a boring salad or block of tofu,” says Sanchez. “We want to offer you something better than you ever expected.”

Jackfruit Barbacoa Tacos from Plantaqueria. Photo by Marty Morris.

Chef Sofia Maria Renteria is pursuing the same goal with her Plantaqueria pop-up, which was launched in 2020 and sells vegan tamales, carne asada and jackfruit-barbacoa tacos that are supposed to taste just as good as traditional Mexican dishes.

Even Thanksgiving can be enjoyed vegan, says Urban Soul owner Tia Rodriguez, who offers vegan holiday meals. Many of her customers tell her that, like her, they seek plant-based foods for health reasons.

Lucas Bradbury, founder of Project Pollo, says while health and sustainability lead some to a completely vegan diet, a survey they conducted found that 79 percent of customers are neither vegan nor vegetarian and simply want to eat plant-based foods. The San Antonio-based vegan chicken restaurant opened a little over a year ago and has since grown to include nine restaurants in Texas. Bradbury hopes to have 100 Project Pollos by 2024, which offer a vegan alternative to Chick-fil-A. “The future of fast food consumption is plant-based. Period, ”he says.

A grilled Chik’n Caesar wrap from Project Pollo. Photo by Marty Morris.

Nevertheless, Adrian Messina and Gene Liguori know that there are many vegan skeptics. That’s why they hired a non-vegan chef to help curate the menu for their new Verve Pie in Cibolo. They say that they “save animals one piece at a time” but also only serve really good pizza.

Glamaris Cakes founder Amaris Garcia admits that even she had doubts about making delicious vegan baked goods, but with a little creativity she found that the vegan alternative can taste just as good – or better.

Glamaris Cakes vegan apple-spice cake with vanilla buttercream, caramel drip and fresh figs. Photo by Marty Morris.


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