History was made in New York City on Sunday! We had our first vegetarian food festival. There are many cities and smaller towns around the country who have annual veg fests, but strangely New York City hasn’t had one. Until now.
The event was organized by Sarah Gross of Rescue Chocolate and Nira Paliwoda and was chocked full of incredible guest speakers and delicious food vendors. Thousands of people showed up, proving that a vegetarian food festival is a much needed thing in NYC. Unfortunately the space was too small for the amount of people that showed up and not everyone made it inside. I have friends that waited for over three hours to get inside! Fortunately Dennis, some friends and I showed up early and we didn’t have to wait too long to get in.
We started out by walking around and sampling some of the wonderful food offerings. There was Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss ice cream, Gnosis raw chocolate, Sweet and Sara marshmallows, Teese vegan cheese, Liz Lovely gluten-free cookies and Rescue Chocolate to name a few. I had a delicious kale and tofu salad from Sacred Chow, an amazing Philly “cheese steak” empanada from V Spot and super yummy mac n’ yease from I Eat Grass while I was walking around. (Yes, those were my snacks.) Sadly, it was so crowded that I couldn’t get any good photos of the tables or the food.
I spotted quite a few vegan celebrities! I saw Meat is for Pussies author John Joseph, photographer Linda Long of Great Chefs Cook Vegan fame, The Discerning Brute‘s Joshua Katcher and Bizzaro‘s Dan Piraro. At one point the woman standing next to me looked really familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure out how I knew her. Then I realized that it was actress Marin Ireland who was in the play The Three Sisters, which I saw in February, and A Lie of the Mind, which I saw last year. I usually don’t say anything to actors when I see them, but I was feeling high on the vegan love that was in the room, so I told her how much I liked both plays. She seemed to be surprised to be recognized. I also ran into a few of my lovely colleagues from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which was a really nice surprise.
The main room got too crowded for us, so I went downstairs to the lecture room with Dennis and our friends Deana and Venkat. First up we listened to Cindi Avila talk about veganism and media.
Then Our Hen House‘s Jasmin Singer gave a great talk on winning people over to veganism through delicious food. That’s the type of activism I practice the most!
Kathy Stevens of The Catskills Animal Sanctuary talked about rescued farm animals and their emotional lives. I liked her talk so much that I bought her book Where the Blind Horse Sings. It’s going to be a Montclair Vegans reading club book in the future.
Unfortunately Terry Hope Romero’s food demonstration was at the same time as Kathy Stevens’ talk, so I missed it. But fortunately, she stuck around to introduce Victoria Moran I was able to see her anyway.
I first saw Victoria Moran speak at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and she’s really wonderful, so I was excited to see her name on the list of guest speakers for the veg fest. I have to admit I was a little star struck when I saw her standing on line for the ladies room line behind me. She spoke about veganism and self care. Afterward I had the opportunity to tell her how much I loved her talk, and she autograph her book The Love Powered Diet for me.
Deana and I then headed back upstairs in search of lunch. (Because all of that other food didn’t fill me up quite enough.) We bought sushi boxes from Beyond Sushi. We had to wait a little while to get our food, but it was well worth it. This is by far the best sushi I’ve ever had. Ever. And also the prettiest.
After lunch we watched Fran Costigan’s dessert demo and we got to sample some of her amazing chocolate cake and chocolate truffles. Fran and I got to chat for a few minutes, and she signed a copy of her book More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally for me. I liked Fran so much that I signed up for one classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute!
Unfortunately, Fran’s demo was at the same time as key note speaker Neal Barnard’s talk. Deana and I both saw Dr. Barnard talk when were were studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is why we opted for the dessert demo instead. We tried to peak in on the talk afterward, but it was too crowded. I was able to snap this really blurry photo of him from the doorway though!