This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the 4th annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and a food festival it was! I sampled, tasted tested, and ate my way through two floors of all vegan fare. Man oh man…a vegan eater’s dream world. The festival is a celebration of healthy, sustainable, and 100% cruelty-free food and living. Local, regional and international food companies, vegetarian restaurants, wellness and lifestyle vendors, entertainment, innovative cooking demos and work of environmental and animal welfare groups are also a big part of the event. Today, I’m focusing all on the food.
Let’s start by me apologizing to the fact that I have absolutely NO pictures of all the bites that were consumed. The event is held indoors and thank goodness since February in New York is bitter cold outside. Luckily I had my Vaute Couture (www.vautecouture.com) cruelty-free coat to keep me super cozy and looking like a real New Yorker. For the size of this event and the number of people that attend, the event venue is very small. Vendors, stages, people packed in, all which made it very hard to navigate around to take photos along with snatching up all the freebie food samples.
Not all of the food companies and their products were new to me, but about half of them I’d never seen or tasted. Here are some standouts and my favorites from the day. First up was the fried “chicken” leg from Soulkofa, (www.soulkofa.co.) What, are you freaking kidding me? This former fried chicken lickin girl (not proud I admit) had to try and at $ 3.50 a leg I was willing to pay. Well.worth.it.girlfriend. The low-down country crust was super crispy and flavorful and the soy-based meat inside really resembled the texture of chicken. I loved it and had no regrets, by far the best thing I tried all day. Soulkofa needs to mass-produce and market. Choose bean not bird.
I’m all about making my own dressings and condiments and with a little time and effort you can easily whip up a great “Ranch”, “Caesar” and even “Blue Cheese” with no preservatives, lower sugar, salt, oil, etc. but sometimes…there is NO time. When I saw the company “We Vegans” presenting their Chipotle Ranch and Original Ranch I stopped dead in my tracks. Vegan, gluten free with no preservatives, I had to try and try and try. The chipotle ranch was smoky, spicy and savory. The original ranch, zesty and creamy, who could decide? Unfortunately, since I was traveling and these babies would need refrigeration I would have to wait. Luckily they can be found online at Square Marketplace at: http://mkt.com/we-vegans. In the mail as I type.
There is no way I can possibly cover all the wonderful dessert products (think cupcakes, macaroons, cakes, cookies, ice cream, OH MY!) offered at this massive event but another big standout was a sure favorite of mine if not for the name alone, Badass Power Cookie. Love it! These are small batched artisan baked with spirulina; talk about protein packed. No guilt in this healthy snack option or meal replacement. These made the trip home.
Not all of the vendors offered up vegan “junk” food. There were plenty of healthier options to be had and I found myself enjoying and experiencing all five senses as I went from table to table. From naturally delicious, fruit and nut treats, mico-soupery that contained up to two servings of vegetables, healthy tea blends, sprouted cereal, raw nut butter, to broccoli sprouts infused skin food. What? Yes, what we put ON our body is just as important as what we put IN it. I was thrilled to see the sweet Main Street Vegan alumni Amanda and her mom Kathie who together run Fanciful Fox, a handmade soaperie. Their products use organic and fair- trade ingredients that are paraben, chemical, and petroleum free. No synthetic fragrances are used, check them out at: www.fancifulfox.com. I especially love all their different lip balm flavors and soaps.
It was a great experience overall and inspiring to see the innovation, enthusiasm and commitment in keeping our food healthier, cruelty-free, while also protecting our plant. This is the future, you can choose to believe it or not. We cannot keep destroying the wellness of people and animals by the way that food is produced today. Even Bill Gates has taken a proactive stand to help support the development of food products in an effort to stop animal suffering and to help feed the billions of starving people occupying the earth today. I’m excited about the future, and though I believe food labels are for tin cans, being VEGAN is really cool.