I don’t even know where to start! Last year, Twin Cities Veg Fest was pretty much all about the food for me but this year it was a lot about the people as well. As a social media ambassador, I made some great connections which led to a whole show about Veg Fest which is probably one of my favorite shows ever. And the day of, I ran into many people that I was already twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook friends with but had never met.
I volunteered to help set up from 8-10am and it felt like five hours but also ten minutes all at the same time. Maybe it was just me, but a ripple of excitement went through Coffman Memorial Union when the lovely Glam Doll Donuts ladies arrived with their incredible pile of vegan donuts (and some topped by vegan bacon from The Herbivorous Butcher!). Starting out the day by seeing the smiling faces of my friends at Comfort Candy and The HB was also pretty awesome. Just before the doors opened, another gal and I were able to snag the first Glam Doll purchase of the day. Nicky from CC and I ended the day by grabbing the last four packages that The HB had, and everything that happened in between was so much fun.
On my way to find my friend Sarah, I was flagged down by Helen and Blaine who jointly run the Twin Cities Vegan Facebook page and twitter account. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I was happy to run into them several times throughout the day. Sarah and I bee-lined it to The HB so Sarah could buy bacon and a t-shirt, then we went back to the natural “start” of the line which meant Way Better Snacks. I might have a little addiction to their sweet chili chips which started at last year’s Veg Fest. We sampled their pita chips which are also delicious (great texture!), and I love that they’re based in Minneapolis. Kakookies also made a return, a cookie company from Plymouth – “No wheat. No Dairy. No Egg. No bad stuff.” I nabbed a Cashew Blondie which quickly disappeared – yum! We filled up on Almond Dream Lil’ Dreamers, mini Tofurky bologna sandwiches, three kinds of Tofurky sausages (the andouille was my fave over chicken apple and their new spinach pesto), and Punk Rawk Labs cheese (so, so good). And last but certainly not least, vegan cheesecake from Muddy Paws! I sampled the pumpkin and purchased a slice of pistachio – both cool and creamy.
Exit Sarah, enter Jess for another lap around and then onto speaker Erica Meier who presented Veg Eating 101: Building a Kinder, Cleaner, and Healthier World One Meal at a Time. I appreciate that one purpose of Veg Fest is to celebrate compassion which therefore creates an incredibly non-threatening environment for people who eat meat. It’s about encouraging people to be more conscious of where their food comes from and making more compassionate food choices little by little. She shared stories about campaigns that resulted in MorningStar Farms vastly reducing the number of eggs they use in their products and in Boca going egg-free. Erica also encouraged people to contact restaurants about offering more veg-friendly options.
Ok, so wait… there was stuff not involving food? Oh yeah, now I remember. One reason many people go veg is because it’s better for the environment, so HourCar was a repeat exhibitor. One new exhibitor was Urban Compost, and Sean has made it easy for us apartment-dwellers. He offers an airtight resealable bucket with Bokashi bran which helps break down the matter and prevent strong odors. The bucket I purchased should get me through the winter which is perfect since I don’t have a yard. Ethique Nouveau is a store run by the Animal Rights Coalition and they carry many animal- and environmentally-friendly products and I picked up a cute t-shirt at their table. My friend Mark volunteered at the table for the Sierra Club, “America’s oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.”
At Mistress Ginger’s cooking demo, I met up with Chris who runs the website Everyday Tastiness. Chris and I started following each other on twitter at last year’s Veg Fest but didn’t actually meet until this year’s Fest. I think we both equally enjoyed Mistress Ginger. She is charming and funny, and the food was delicious. We got to sample her Goddess Greens, Down & Dirty Jambalaya and Tie-The-Knot Peanut Butter Pie, and they all seem pretty easy to make. Her book is available on Amazon here. I may have dreams about the Peanut Butter Pie.
Veg Fest was packed right up until the end and I want to congratulate Compassionate Action for Animals for an incredible third year. CAA hosts many events throughout the year so keep an eye on the website or follow them on Facebook. If you missed Veg Fest, I encourage you to attend next year (new location TBD!) because I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience this warm, friendly, educational environment.