Earlier this month, we served at the Boston GreenFest, a three-day event with a goal of educating and empowering people to create a more sustainable, healthier world. We were slinging our signature seitan there, alongside the many other awesome vendors in the Food Truck Emporium.
You may be familiar with Bartleby’s three-part mission: to empower people to do good for themselves, the animals, and the planet―one meal at a time. While at GreenFest, we had some time to reflect upon that planet piece of our mission and make estimates on our actual impact on the environment since we began operation in April. And by “we,” I mean Evan Kodra, our Co-Founder, resident smartypants, data expert, and climate change scholar.
Using the references noted below, we can present the following calculations:
TLDR: In four months of operation, Bartleby’s Seitan Stand saved more than 500,000 gallons of water, saved about 7,600 pounds of CO2, and used approximately 58% less land as compared to a food truck or restaurant selling the equivalent volume of chicken. [Ed: We ran these numbers at the end of July, so suffice it to say we’ve saved more chickens and more land since then.]
There’s another part of our business that impacts the environment, and that’s the materials we’ve chosen for packaging. Everything we use is 100% biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable (depending on the item). While we can't control where our sandwich boxes and fry boats land after they leave the truck. we feel good that we're sending planet-friendly packaging out into the streets, rather than versions made with plastics or styrofoam.
I love taking my parents out to eat whenever they come up from Florida to see me. During their last visit at beginning of July, we took an entirely vegan food tour. For this sweet couple, who only recently learned how to pronounce “vegan” correctly, it was quite the experience. They had questions for each of the restaurants and shops we visited. “Wait, there’s no butter? What about eggs? What about…” They just couldn’t believe that all the food we tried was made without any animals being involved!
Their last day in town was also a special service day for Bartleby’s. I had been hired to cater a birthday party, and decided to put my parents to work. They pulled on official Bartleby’s hats and shirts, joined me for grocery shopping, did prep work at the Food Revolution commissary, and helped me serve partygoers on site. My dad gravitated toward the fryer, and my mom assembled the sandwiches. All in all, the Kirkpatricks make a good team! I was really happy my parents could be a part of my food truck experience, and I’m grateful for such a supportive family.
Thanks to all these amazing establishments! You can see some of delicious things we ate in our “Food tour!” Instagram Story.
Taste of Cambridge has been filling bellies for sixteen years, and we were glad to make Bartleby’s part of its vibrant scene on July 10. Large community events like ToC are a great opportunity to introduce seitan to people who have never heard of it. One of the responsibilities of being in a niche market is education. Most people these days have heard of tofu and tempeh as meat-alternatives, but seitan is completely unknown to many folks in this country (though the hungry devils in the Buddhist communities of China, Japan, and Vietnam have been eating it for about 1500 years). I think seitan is delicious and it’s an amazing source of protein, so it was super fun to describe the cooking process to the friendly Cantabrigians and watching their eyes light up when they tried a sample (and then asked for another).
The event itself was big, bustling, and tons of fun. There were loads of veggie options available! I took a little break to snag a yummy green bean salad from Whole Heart Provisions, and some truly incredible vegan mac & cheese from Veggie Galaxy. There were lots of other vendors sharing veggie tastes, but I had to scurry back to my big blue and orange truck before I could try them all. Hope to see you next year, ToC!
On Wednesday, July 20th, we served at the Taste of Somerville in the historic Nathan Tufts Park. And devils, we served the best nuggets we’ve ever made. They should rename the space Nugget Nugs Park. We've been perfecting our batter and frying methods for weeks, so this was the perfect moment to hit our stride.
What a crazy fun evening! We handed out nugget samples with our house-made dipping sauces to everyone, from loyal Bartleby’s devils, to local Villens who had never before heard of seitan. It was so great to see each and every person get excited about our truck, our food, and then seek out our service schedule. What really struck me during ToS was just how unique the Bartleby offerings are―our signature seitan stood out! Seitan is not something you come across often, which is surprising when you know what a great source of protein it is, and how versatile of an ingredient it is. You can bake it, steam it, grill it, marinate it, or—like Bartleby’s does—fry it up Southern style. Watching people try our nuggets and seeing their faces light up confirmed for me that there should be more seitan on these streets.
There were tons of other amazing vendors there, too, including one my favorite places, Whole Heart Provisions (have you been to their new location in Cambridge yet?). I also had the pleasure of meeting the owners of Veggie Galaxy, one of the best restaurants around! Near the end of the night, I was able to sneak away from the truck for a few minutes and take in the entire scene. I had so much fun connecting with each person who came to the truck.
I live right around the corner from Tufts Park, so it was an honor to be parked and serving the devils in my own neighborhood for a change!
We’ve been been able to serve at a lot of community events lately! In June we celebrated at the Cambridge Arts River Festival on the 2nd and at the Feast of the East in Arlington on June 16th.
Cambridge Arts River Festival
Joyce, who coordinated the vendors for the World of Food, was wonderful to work with, and the entire festival was very, very well organized. There were dozens and dozen of vendors serving food, and displaying their art, wearables, and decorative items. I found a beautiful blanket scarf made from bamboo and had to splurge on it! All proceeds from the sale went to help empower women, so you know I was glad to support that cause.
We traded tasty eats with our food truck neighbors, including Zaaki, which serves Mediterranean delights. I was so excited to learn they had delicious vegan options available. I’ll be visiting Zaaki again soon as hungry customer, and not just as food truck pal.
We had visits from my roommate and many other loyal devils who don’t always have the chance to eat with us during our normal service days. I loved being on the Cambridge side of the Charles River for a change. We’d love to provide more regular service days in Cambridge or Somerville, but are wicked happy to be enjoying these special community events in the meanwhile.
Feast of the East
The devils of Arlington are so, so nice. Seriously. So nice. The Feast of the East was held on a beautiful summer day. From our truck window, we saw lots of puppies, gaggles of children in face-paint, heaps of nuggets―and oceans of lemonade. We had such a great time meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends around the wheat-meats. Plus, I was doing my favorite thing: serving people food! Many of the folks lining both sides of Mass Ave were already friendly fans of seitan, and, if not, they were willing to try a free sample (and then immediately buy a 13-piece order as new and enthusiastic converts).
We loved seeing so many kids with wild face-paint, and I’d highly recommend this event for families. I hope we can participate again next year!