The 2nd NYC Vegetarian Food Festival took place this past weekend at the spacious Metropolitan Pavilion. I had been keeping up with the organizers over the months as they planned the festival, expanding it to a two-day event and bringing together even more exhibitors. It was definitely exciting to see the festival grow and everyone’s enthusiasm around it. I was there nice and early Saturday morning joining a number of volunteers and the organizers, Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda, with set up and preparations for the festival.
The doors opened at 10am as hungry attendees started to trickle in, anxious to check out the offerings from all the vegetarian/vegan and animal-friendly vendors present at the festival. At the door, Whole Foods gave out small tote bags with a bag of PopChips and shared information about their Wellness Club.
Nearby, Craig from Jackson Jordan J. Fox offered screen-printing services and displayed his various screen-printed t-shirts and totes, which were available for purchase. If you brought your own t-shirt, he’d screen-print it with the 2012 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival logo for just $10 and you can pick it up once it dries.
Take a few more steps and there were tables and tables of vegan food companies, cruelty-free fashion vendors, animal organizations, and more. There were three stages set up for presentations and entertainment throughout the day. In one area, there were cooking demos by chefs from the Natural Gourmet Institute where you get to sample the dishes afterwards too. On the other stage, guest speakers, like Yummy Plants community founder Rebecca Gilbert, vegan athlete, author and creator of Vega Brendan Brazier, and the No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier, shared their thoughts and experiences in transitioning to a vegan diet and answered questions about adopting a vegan or raw food lifestyle. Ellen Jaffe Jones shared her tips on how to maintain a vegan diet with just $4 a day. On the main stage, various live performances took place from belly dancing to musical acts. Terry Hope Romero, author of Vegan Pie in the Sky, Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Viva Vegan! showed us how to make a delicious, creamy vegan cheesecake, with a simple and versatile recipe.
This year, they introduced live photo blogging and encouraged attendees to share their pictures through a gallery on the One Green Planet website, allowing attendees to instantly share what they were eating and any cool finds they came across at the festival.
There were compost and trash stations set up at various spots in the exhibition area, as an initiative to promote composting. There was a separate container for compost, trash, and recyclables. How sure what goes into compost? Volunteers stood by each station to help assist attendees with where to throw that paper cup or that toothpick they used to eat those marshmallows.
It was nice to see familiar names at the festival like Honest Tea, Sweet and Sara, Loving Hut, and The V-Spot. In addition to the returning vendors from last year, there were also a large number of new food companies and distributors at the event, like Cavi-art from Plant Based Food Inc, Bagel Spice condiments, Sacha Vida‘s sacha inchi oil and seeds, allergy friendly snacks from Home Free Treats, and sunflower beverage from Sunsational Non Dairy. It’s intriguing to meet new food producers and always a pleasure to hear the visions and story behind them. Perelandra Natural Food Center in Brooklyn Heights shared samples of items from their kitchen menu. Park Slope’s Sun In Bloom shared items from their bakery and also told me with their weekend brunch offerings. The Vegan Bodega, soon to open in the LES, introduced to us honey made from apples and locally made delicious seitan.
For non-edible finds, I found out about the vegan shopping deals site, Vegan Cuts. Think Groupon but vegan – from vegan foods to clothing to household goods. I also came across the all-natural body care products from Nubian Heritage. Their soaps and lotions smelled so wonderful and felt very moisturizing. Really liked their raw infused shea butter and their olive butter and green tea bar soap.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on my food finds from the festival. For now, here’s some pictures from the festival. Also, check out the online gallery on One Green Planet as well.