This year Northwest Veg sure made it easy to stop by their annual Veg Fest by offering coupons for $1 off entrance fee of $5 on their website, in the local papers, at the entrace to the Convention Center and even at the registration table! And if you're wondering can a omnivore eat $4 worth of tofu, hemp products and raw chocolates? Hell Yes We Can!
I made plans to meet up with my vegan friends for the annual two day event infront of the ballroom entrance. I was a bit late because the weather couldn't decide to downpour, sprinkle or just rain. Normally even in downpours the short ride to the Convention Center isn't a big deal, but I had planned to bike further away to pick up concert tickets for later that weekend. We met up underneath the slightly scary and pointy swaying art installation in the rotunda.
Like any event at the Convention Center you find out which ballroom or conference room your particular event is held in and make your way up or down the convention levels and enter into a large square room with aisle after aisle of booths. Unlike any other event at the Convention Center participants are greeted with a free reuseable grocery bag from Whole Foods and table after table of free food! Plus people don't care if you take photos, no ideas here to steal.
Products made from hemp was big this year. It really is a miracle plant. You can eat it, drink it, wear it and I'm sure someone out there is trying to figure out how to build a house of hemp. We enjoyed spreads, breads and milk all made from hemp.
Another very visible vegetarian product was chocolate. Gourmet chocolate is becoming as ubiquitous as coffee and beer are in the Pacific NW. Inquiring about the organic cocoa ratios of a chocolate bar or drink is commonplace now and many of the chocolatiers were extremely creative pairing fruit and nuts in their chocolates.
I was very lucky to be with veteran VegFest goers, as I simply followed their lead and stuck out my hand as samples were passed back to me. Amazingly enough everything we tried, and we tried everything, was vegan as well as vegetarian.
There was even a kitchen supply company selling vegetable refresh bags, innovative kichen gadgets and the best wooden clothes hang dry rack I have ever seen, although a clothes drying rack of its size would be great, couldn't muster up the $60. It immediately did go on my housewares for upgrading wish list.
We did stop by the natural material clothing and accessories vendor selling vegetarian clothing, shoes and these fun bags made out of film strips. Although technically gelatin is used in processing film making traditional film photography not "veg friendly". Still, I thought these bags were fun.
There were even vegetarian dog food vendors. Only dog food, I can't imagine a cat anywhere who could survive without animal protein, it's just not natural. I grabbed a bag of the veggie dog treats to test on our family dogs, but honestly you can put peanut butter on an old shoe and our dogs would probably love it.
The two day weekend festival had more than just vendors and exhibitors, there were also speakers ranging from doctors and nutritionist speaking about health, disease and the importance of the food we consume to cooking demonstrations and even a guest speaker with a Ph.D in economics speaking about the impacts of global economics, international trade and climate change on household consumption in the US and around the world.
More than anything VegFest is about education. Educate yourself on health, meat alternatives and alternative ways of eating. I was standing behind one VegFest goer who commented that "there aren't very many overweight people here."
VegFest was totally delicious and yes, I definitely ate $4 worth of food. I got to try totally vegan cheeses that were delicious, a new line of vegan and gluten free pizzas from Tofurkey, coconut milk ice cream bars, several meat alternatives (most delicious and one just nasty) and more bean spreads than you can shake a stick at.
VegFest - Totally Vegetarian/Vegan, Totally Fun.