Courtney Garza is a bona-fide DFW local, who was born in Irving, and grew up in Grapevine. The first time this UNT communications graduate officially moved to Dallas was this past summer, and there’s been no looking back.
While she and her boyfriend Zak both went to UNT, they didn’t actually meet at university. In fact, it was their common love for the vegan lifestyle that helped their paths first collide. They met over a social post, and have been together since.
Zak, a teacher at a last-chance school Dallas Can Academy, in Oak Cliff, spends his days helping at-risk kids learn how to read. His journey to Dallas was by way of Corsicana, Texas, where he was born and raised on a farm. He studied linguistics at UNT and post-graduation decided to move into the teaching space. But on the side, like Courtney – who was then interning at D Magazine, he was fascinated by the potential of the growing communities of vegans around the country.
Courtney (@DallasCGar) and Zak (@plantbasedzak) are Dallas based vegan lifestyle ambassadors who own the Harvest Hands Texas brand.
Today, Zak and Courtney’s foray into being vegan lifestyle ambassadors has grown from an informal pursuit (such as taking friends to initiation meals at Spiral Diner), to a formal effort to promote their small business, Harvest Hands Texas, and their personal brands as travelers, teachers and friends to those who are considering the benefits of conscious eating.
“We always individually and together excited to show new people how to eat vegan, to take non-vegans down this new journey,” the couple says. Choosing to make the broader downtown Dallas area home was a natural choice for them. Says Zak, “I grew up visiting Dallas but living here is incredible. I work six blocks from where I live. Everything I need to live a fulfilled life is here in Dallas.”
Courtney’s Guidrr guide to the city focuses on healthy breakfast and brunch options, and she’s updated it for Thanksgiving (see Step 8). “I’m thankful for all lives, period,” she says. “I’m happy there’s options to enjoy Thanksgiving in Dallas vegan-style.”
Adds Zak, “Oftentimes, people few our lifestyle as very difficult and restrictive or think it will hold them back from what they love to do. We have tons of fun everywhere we go. We eat delicious food and we enjoy travel. We share because we care.”
When she’s not working as a media development manager at D Magazine, Courtney also promotes coffee in her city and around the country as she travels for vegan events. Her @CoffeewithCourtney brand is all about showcasing baristas and coffee options at mom and pop businesses around the country. . (Ps: Her go-to drink is an almond milk cappuccino). “Coffee shops are the original coworking spaces,” says Courtney. “I meet some of the coolest people at coffee shops.”
For a moment, the couple get serious about why they chose to promote Dallas wherever they go (here, they are pictured while traveling to Santa Barbara, California. Zak wears his Dallas sweatshirt when he travels). “We focus on Dallas for the same reason we created Harvest Hands. We want to help our city lose it’s negative perception. Like other cities, it can be a hub of innovation and newness. I think that Dallas should be in that conversation along with cities like New York, Chicago, Las Vegas. “ Zak – “We love the layout of the city. Love the people. And, it’s the best city in Texas.”
Don’t miss Courtney’s free guide to vegan breakfast and brunching around DFW, available for free on the Guidrr app (iPhone only) with a Thanksgiving update. Download it here
While you’re in the Guidrr app, check out @PlantBasedZak’s guides to vegan neighborhoods and travel.
Thanks for being a Live Like a Local entrant, Courtney and we look forward to more #mydtd experiences hitting the app