Food for Thought: vegan catering

Vegan Cookies.jpg

No animals were harmed in the making of this fudge.

By Jessica Pasko

Vegans have been able to get their pizza fix at Albany's Little Anthony's for the past five years. But if you had a large group to feed in the Capital District, and you wanted to go vegan with more than pizza, well...that was a little tougher.

Now Little Anthony's owner Pat Battuello owner is expanding his vegan repertoire. Battuello has joined forces with local vegan blogger Nicole Arciello Berhaupt and the two are working to start an all-vegan catering service called Food For Thought.

So if you ever need a tray of vegan baked ziti (with "ricotta" made from tofu and cashews) to feed a large group, well, now you're in luck.

See, Battuello, whose father started Little Anthony's in the early '80s, has been vegan for about seven years. He says a book of writings by philosopher and "Animal Liberation" author Peter Singer helped inspire the decision to go animal product-free. He even has a T.U. blog about animal rights.. Back in 2007 he tried opening a Vegan Cafe next to The Lion Heart on Madison Avenue. The Cafe didn't last, but Pat thinks he may have given up too soon.

He met Nicole through his blog and back in August they started kicking around ideas for another vegan business. Nicole's only been a vegan since February, but was vegetarian for four years before that, and her enthusiasm for "veganizing" foods is almost infectious. She says she's a foodie at heart and believes this is a great way to show people that being vegan doesn't have to mean subsisting solely on rice and vegetables.

Vegan Cookie Bars.jpg

They've gotten together an entire catering menu and are also working to get some of their products (mainly baked goods) sold around the area. You can already get some of their desserts at Schenectady's Moon and River Cafe and at Zero Gravity Laser Tag in Albany. Maybe it's just me, but there's something about being able to get vegan snacks while you play laser tag that's just kind of cool.

vegan manicotti.jpg

So what's the menu like? It's heavily Italian, owing to the FFT team's backgrounds, and includes things like baked ziti with vegan meatballs, soy chicken parm with ziti, and vegan lasagna (all are $35 for a tray serving 8 people.) There's also quinoa-black bean stuffed peppers, pasta fagioli and a wide array of desserts, among other things. (I tried some of the fudge - it's rich and almost brownie-like. )

Food for Thought will begin hawking their wares this Sunday at the Schenectady Greenmarket and they're also on the waiting list for the Troy Winter Farmers' Market. And they'll be doing their first official catering order this week.

If it all works out, another vegan cafe might not be far behind.

Find It

Little Anthony's/Food for Thought
1095 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12205



And this is why you're not fat.

Hate to break it to you Mrs M, but if you eat enough vegan fudge, you'll still get fat.

Yeah, that's true. I've been surprised recently at the number of people I meet who are vegan and not super slender. I assumed a diet of tofu & lettuce meant you'd be rail thin. Not so. Default to carbs? Too much vegan fudge? Who knows.

Mrs. M - I think you're right on the carbs. I've met many vegans who rely almost solely on pasta and pbjs. It doesn't have to be that way! Veggies are your friends, vegans!

I think part of the problem too as is that many prepared vegan/vegetarian foods are also full of sugar and salt. Too many vegans I know sort of live on french fries and beer. Which isn't to say that I, as a vegetarian, don't also like some fried potatoes, but I also mix it up with beans and such.

I'm not a lightweight, but any thinner and I'd look unhealthy. Of course, I also have an unhealthy love of lo mien and pizza, so that helps keep the weight on. Oh, and ice cream.

AOA should totally let me be a judge in a chinese food take out tournament!

I don't know any vegans who rely on pasta and peanut butter sandwiches for their food. They cook an array of wonderful meals that incorporate a wide variety of vegatables, grains, legumes, analogues, you name it. Just like non-vegans do cook different things (and byt the way prepared non vegan food also has sugar and salt!) Sure they (we) eat junk food too but to suggest that being a vegan/vegetarian means you live on french fries alone is short sighted and gives credence to the false impression that we eat grass, leaves or potato chips and therefore it's too difficult to do.

@Marcus - I wasn't attempting to denigrate veganism by any means. I've had lots of amazing vegan food and know some great vegan cooks. (Angelica Kitchen is awesome! )

That was exactly my point - I've met some vegans who subsist only on carbs and I think that's totally silly *because* there are so many great vegan options out there. That's also what Food for Thought is attempting to show.

I'm a vegetarian and I'd would say that vegans are probably better than us vegetarians at eating healthy because the dietary restrictions inherent in veganism means they need to consciously choose an array of healthy ingredients to get all their nutrients.
Even the magazine Vegetarian Times had a big article (last year I think) on "Putting Vegetables Back into Vegetarianism" that acknowledged that a fair number of vegetarians eat a diet of potato chips and ice cream.
Regrettably I weigh more after 5 years of being a vegetarian than I did when I was a meat eater. But I don't blame vegetarianism, just some poor food choices. But if I became vegan, I think I'd be thinner because my downfalls (full fat dairy--ice cream, cheese) would not be available to me.

An innocent fudge cake is great, we need more food like this. The taste is not all that different and it is still delicious. I think they should make everything like this and everyone would be healthier.

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