Last weekend (March 23-24) marked my favorite annual festival in Seattle: VegFest. Held at the Seattle Center by the Vegetarians of Washington, VegFest attracts huge crowds of vegetarians and curious food enthusiasts. I have two theories as for why: 1. There are hundreds of samples and items to take home 2. These samples are all for the very reasonable price of $8. Though it may seem small, I love that the event is so prepared, they give everyone PCC paper grocery bags as they enter.
VegFest is a celebration of vegetables, natural foods and healthy eating…sort of. I’ll explain:
There were several trends featured throughout the show:
There were the usual faux-meats: Tofurky, Morningstar Farms and a local favorite: Field Roast Grain amongst others. I have always loved all three. Tofurky has great deli slices, Morningstar Farms make my favorite breakfast sausage patties and veggie burgers and Field Roast Grain makes sausages in a variety of flavors from Eggplant to Mexican Chipotle to Smoked Apple Sage. I had a chance to try their Frankfurter sausages which were quite yum.
I’m a huge tea aficionado and was excited to see all the different tea brands there including Numi, Traditional Medicinals and Dilmah. There was also a lot of chai. They were good but I still like —don’t laugh— Trader Joe’s best. I enjoyed chatting with Dilmah because I have a huge tin of Harrod’s Ceylon tea at home and wasn’t too familiar with it. Dilmah gave me tons of samples of Ceylon Supreme, Earl Grey and Ceylon Green tea that I’m looking forward to trying. Numi really piqued my interest because they gave out samples of vegetable based savory tea including Spinach Chive and Carrot Curry. Unfortunately, I just brewed the Broccoli Cilantro and well…I can’t finish this. It seemed like it would be a cool tea that tasted like soup but this isn’t for me. Luckily they gave me a Mint Morrocan tea as well so that should go better.
There are a lot of drinks there from Silk soy milk to cane sugar sodas and fruit and vegetable juices. I enjoyed the RAAW juices. I’m not normally a fan of vegetable juices but the Strawberry Purple Carrot didn’t taste like carrot at all. The vendor also told me it’s one of the only juices with Purple Carrot. The Very Berry Wheatgrass was all berry-no wheatgrass in taste.
There is always a ton of snack foods- chips, granola bars, dips, doughnuts and the such. I’m not really into snack foods but I liked the Plentils lentil chips. I also received samples from Food Should Taste Good, Raw Revolution, Harbor Creek Farms, Better Bean, Mighty O Doughnuts and other generous vendors.
Indian food is always a popular vegetarian choice. Photographed above was my mom’s favorite vendor Indian Life. They carried a variety of products including a bean mix my mom liked. Tasty Bite gave us a full-size package of Bombay Potatoes which I’ve had before. It’s a good quick basic meal.
My biggest takeaway was probably the sugar substitutes including honey, syrup and stevia products. Hey Shuga had an organic cane syrup and a syrup-stevia blend that piqued my interest in stevia. I have always been hesitant to try weird trendy sugar things since those fake sugars are horrible, but I do need to cut down on sugar products and this event has me researching sugar alternatives (for a whole other blog post).
VegFest is a lot of fun. They have talks about health and cooking and a book fair as well. I attended a talk about using diet to prevent cancer which emphasized eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This brings me to my only criticism about the event: VegFest isn’t really about fresh vegetables. I understand that it isn’t a farmer’s market, but it’s too bad because fresh produce really does make up the majority of my diet. I did receive one organic apple from Tiny’s Organic. VegFest is more about plant-based processed foods. Some of these items are delicious, a great meat substitute and good source of protein and iron but as with everything, it’s important to eat it in moderation as they are often high in sodium, carbohydrates and cholestrol.
One of the best parts about Veg Fest (aside from the samples I already waxed poetic about) is that it raises interest and awareness on vegetarianism and it welcomes all types of diets including mine. Getting people interested in eating maybe even a little better is a win in my book and I know I’ll continue attending.