Fresh, organic produce is something many of us strive to have on our dinner tables but may be hard to acquire at times; especially in this quarantine season. And there’s nothing better than fresh, organic produce that’s FREE! So, if you’re looking to get some local, organic goodies for your next round of meals, IDEA Parmer Park is providing this opportunity for any Austin families who want to snag some fresh fruits and veggies!

IDEA Public Schools has an unwavering commitment to provide a high-quality, college-prep education to all children no matter their background or circumstances. Currently, IDEA Public Schools is offering:

  • Curbside breakfast, lunch, and supper at IDEA Parmer Park (1438 E Yager Ln) every Monday from 7am-10am
  • Children do not need to be an IDEA student, nor must they be in vehicles when picking up meals from school sites. You just need to have your child’s student ID, report card, or class schedule
  • IDEA Parmer Park is also partnering with The Black Vegan Company to bring free, local, organic produce to families in Austin.

This partnership with IDEA Parmer Park and The Black Vegan Company is a way to branch out and support our Austin families and community. I was able to sit down with the founder of The Black Vegan Company, Robin Beltran who is also a proud IDEA Parmer Park parent, to discuss her passion for starting this company, partnering with IDEA and our Austin community, and also providing tips for our Austin Mamas!

What made you decide to create The Black Vegan Company?

The Black Vegan Company was born because of gun violence. A few years ago, my husband was shot in a random robbery that destroyed his intestines; leaving his body unable to process the diet we’d always enjoyed. Every meal caused pain for him and doctors couldn’t give us a solution. So, in a last ditch effort we adjusted our diet by cutting out heavy things like meat, pork and chicken. As his symptoms were alleviated, we realized that a completely plant-based diet was healthiest for him. Both of us went vegan and began healing our bodies with food in unbelievable ways that medicine never could. My hair began to grow. My cystic acne went away. Old body aches and inflammation disappeared. We felt so much healthier and happier. 

My friends and extended family became fascinated with our transformation and as their interest in veganism grew, I became the go-to resource for them. I knew, based on my experience of going vegan, that communities of color didn’t have a guide for exploring this lifestyle.

The food we grew up with holds close ties to our family and our culture. As a southern Black woman, I grew up eating tons of meat, so I understood the unique challenges my Black and Latino friends and family were facing when cutting out these animal products. It’s not easy to give up the customs and traditions we hold dear to our hearts. But that’s just it – we don’t have to. I discovered the possibilities of vegan cooking and how we can still keep ties to our culture while eating foods that taste great and are better for our bodies.

I made it my personal mission to help guide my close circle to the healthier lives they craved. I felt a responsibility to then bring that support to the masses. That’s the genesis and guiding light of our company – to save lives, starting with food.

How has your experience at IDEA Public Schools fueled your desire to partner with our campus and Austin community?

The IDEA Public School at Parmer Park has been a godsend to my family. My son has benefited tremendously from the supportive, diverse and inclusive environment there – from the staff to the fellow students and parents.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I saw that our little community, like so many others, was in need. I hated seeing the long line for free meals,  because it meant so many families were struggling financially and parents should never have to worry about whether or not they can feed their kids. At the same time, I was inspired that our school was providing support where nobody else was. My company wanted to get in this fight. So, we teamed up to donate fresh, organic produce to families of this amazing school and also for our Austin community every Monday.

Check out some tips from Robin on how Austin mamas can begin to bring healthy recipes to their families: 

  1. Mushrooms and spices are your best friends in the kitchen when you’re exploring vegan cooking! Be liberal with seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and unsalted adobo. Incorporate others you may not have considered using before, like turmeric, which is great for reducing inflammation. Play with different spices and combinations to create your own, unique recipes.
  2. Consider also the different ways you can re-purpose mushrooms in dishes that typically require animal protein. For example, you can make spaghetti with sauce that has mushrooms instead of ground beef.  On “taco Tuesday,” sub meat for mushrooms and season them the same way you’d season your meat. Squash, carrots and sweet potatoes are other great meat substitutes if you’re not a mushroom lover.
  3. Lastly, go for the low hanging fruit! Switch out animal-based products that your family won’t really miss. Swap dairy milk for oat milk. Switch out regular mayonnaise for a vegan mayo. Instead of dairy cheese slices, try a non-dairy option like Chao cheese. Buy bread that is egg and dairy free. There’s a lot of little wins you can gradually incorporate into your family’s diet.

To get recipe ideas, free organic produce, and more, stop by IDEA Parmer Park on Mondays from 7am-10am. The Black Vegan Company and IDEA Parmer Park is excited to serve our Austin Community!

About The Black Vegan Company: The Black Vegan Company is a local Austin business that guides people who want to adopt a vegan diet but don’t know where to start. We show clients how to eat and live healthier without sacrificing flavor and the foods they love. Learn about our services at www.theblackvegancompany.com or submit a question to [email protected].

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