VegFest 2011

Seriously, best VegFest yet. I volunteered at the welcome table at the first-ever VegFest way back when, found myself flipping tempeh bacon for sampling at the second, and years later, having volunteered, attended and exhibited, I can easily say that 2011′s event was simply the biggest & bestest yet. Way to go, Northwest Veg! Like hundreds, if not thousasands, of other vegfolk, I was sad to see a few demos suddenly cancelled, but that was out of the hands of Northwest Veg, and as anyone who plans events can tell you, whether they’re planning grand festivals or tea parties for ferrets, stuff happens! Anyhow, while the attendance was through the roof – over six thousand throughout the weekend – people weren’t just stopping by to load up on samples, they were visited with a purpose: education. The classrooms were packed! No joke, I went to a demo 35 minutes early to grab a decent seat, and it was so worth it.

I spent most of the weekend behind the Vegan Iron Chef table (so if you saw a dorky gal in a dress with two black braids, yadda, yours truly), spreading the word about our plans for round 3 in Fall 2012, potential Pacific Northwest regionals (and beyond), and begging for volunteers with my awesome cohorts, but I did make a point to free up some time for a talk, a demo and a few strolls around ye olde VegFest, or shall I say, the new and improved VegFest. Aw, yeah.

Some highlights:

  • The people! I saw smiling vegans and the veg-curious every time I looked up from my biting my nails and chatting with my cohorts. I saw what seemed like every single vegan and vegetarian I knew from the state of Oregon! There were plenty of hugs, high fives & VVCers, galore.
  • Meeting the sweet folks at EcoVegan.
  • Even though I forgot to to pose with a mustache, yet again, it’s always fun seeing Nicole & Dan from Upton’s Naturals: the honorary Portlanders!
  • The coconut creamer. There’s no turning back.
  • Chicago Soy Dairy’s kick-ass prices on Teese and Dandies.  The next step to creating my dream Smores pie is merely buying a blowtorch…
  • Likewise with Earthly Gourmet: Holy, Soy Curls deal!
  • Taking a break from sampling and deciding on a Veggie Combo from Sengetara for lunch on Sunday. It has been far too long since I’ve visited the restaurant, and this was a spicy reminder.
  • Two words: GARLIC WHIP.

Some goods:

Simply a portion of the goodies I went home with on the first day.

The view from the Vegan Iron Chef table.

Behold, festin'

Behold, Flavavegan & Steffers!

Can I be Julie Hasson when I grow up?

More festin'

Samplin' the new line of Tempt ice cream bars.

Thinking about samplin' at the Supreme Master table.

Greetin' the friendly ladies at EcoVegan.

Listening to the honest and charming words of Grant Butler. Bonus points for Mama Pea's hair, right?

Bonnie, reppin' for all raw food folks in attendance, right?

Wowwin' at the Vitamix table.

Learnin' with Steffers

And watching kids inspire, on their way to the circus protest.

My monster friend and I were so damn intrigued by this gift from Steffers - this stuff is unreal! Go try it!

And finally, lunchin' on a complete meal - and purchasing the new Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian minutes later from Kittee herself. Aw, yeah!

In conclusion, it’s been the most vegan summer ever!

I went to Seattle VegFest and returned with a lot of tea

It’s true! One would think it would be locally roasted coffee, but I have a whole lot of random tea bags waiting for me at home. I picked up a few coupons and sampled most of the new vegan items amongst the vegetarian (more on this below), got my Field Roast on, did several shots of coconut water, casually spread the word about Vida Vegan Con with the Voyager, but most importantly, I saw friends and took a much-needed mini vacation!  Here’s a quick run down and photos…

Best in Show: Prometheus Springs Capsaicin Elixirs. Invigorating, spicy beverages with exotic, stimulating flavor combinations such as Lychee Wasabi, Citrus Cayenne and Pomegranate Black Pepper. I only hope I can find these in Portland!

Saddest in Show: The Burgerville cow ad at the Chez Gourmet table.

I wish this was in Portland: Small Planet Tofu. My mysterious day job has taken me to Spokane on more than one occasion, and Huckleberry’s Market, along with its bulk, seasoned tofu, spreads and tofu scrambles is always something I look forward to. It’s cool, keep it local – I’ll pick more up on a road trip one day…

Note: Seattle Vegfest organizers, your mass of volunteers was an impressive sight, and certainly friendly – but maybe a briefing on vegetarian vs. vegan next time around? Postings would be helpful. I was warned in advance that VegFest is is more of a ‘vegetarian fest’, which is funny for a city that’s been such a ground-breaker in the vegan community, and sure enough, there were many product samples that weren’t vegan, which is fine, but in addition, there were quite a few volunteers who weren’t sure of the difference. I found myself reading more labels than I’ve done in years. Yikes! It was an odd feeling to feel like a left out vegan….at a VegFest.

Onwards to the photo tour…

Tea & Coupons

The crowd - can you spot Vegan Moxie?

Prometheus Springs’ magic elixirs

Finally clarified which Chez Gourmet Burgers are actually vegan!

Team Wayfare, promoting their new sour cream, chocolate pudding, and my favorite, the hickory cheese spread

Creepiest in show - but remarkable!

This vegan seafood is damn impressive and based on a root - I wasn't a fan of the cioppino, but below...

Yeah, the breaded vegan calamari was crazy fascinating. I would buy this in the future.

Looking for serious vegetarian guidance? Consulting & mentoring opportunities are all around.

White Mountain's tamales had a dulled spice factor. Oh, frozen food.

I want this.

The mime works the coconut creamer.

BREATHE.

YES, I TRIED THIS BEFORE YOU. YES, IT WAS PEPPERY. YES, IT WAS SPICY. Alas, not my jam.I swear, there were people passing around around this station.

Some popcorn sampling?

THIS

MIGHTY-O! How can you resist?

Chez Gourmet

I have no idea what's happening here, but I had to document it. My guess is chili.

Hard-working volunteer action.

And yes, it looked like this the whole time. I lived in my cowgirl rain boots.

Of course, a stop was made at Sidecar.

Where I sensibly picked up a couple fresh Mighty-Os to bring home.

Shockingly, there was no time for coffee?! And yet, I even stayed next door to the downtown Trabant.

I may still be digesting this killer Chicken fried steak plate from Wayward, but it was worth it.

My friend KJ, ready to devour her veggie omelette - within mere minutes!

One day, I will actually make it here.

More food! My friend Anika (you read VeganScore, right? Right!) took a break from the VegFest madness for lunch at Bamboo Garden. Pictured above is the Tofu Skin Hot Pot with Szechwan sauce. Possibly the best Chinese dish I've tried in Seattle yet.

Sweet & Sour orange glazed Chicken Ballz. Exactly.

Seattle, I'll see ya again at May's Vegan Chili Cook-off!