Sunday, March 4, 2012

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival 2012

On Saturday, I went to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival.  I had heard last year was very popular, so I purchased a Living Social deal for VIP guaranteed entry.  As it turns out, this really means a guaranteed 45 minute wait in line in the pouring rain. 
This was the VIP line.  There was a separate super-long line for general admission.  I feel bad for anyone on that line...I doubt they even got in at all!
Of course, just as the rain started clearing up, I made it inside! There were a ton of vendors...lots of well-known vegetarian and vegan brands and some newer up-and-coming products! I sample almost everything, just to share with you all! I'm tellin ya, it was tough work! 
First, I started with a sandwich made with "deli meats" from Yves Veggie Cuisine.  I believe it had "salami", "ham" and "turkey".  It tasted pretty good, but I personally am not into the fake meat products and don't plan on buying them anytime soon.
Of course there were a lot of animal rights groups and animal sanctuary tables throughout the venue.  I do have opinions on animal rights (especially in the U.S. food industry) and it is a big part of why I am a vegetarian, but for the purposes of this blog I won't go into that. 

Let's just focus on food!  Next, I came across the Cedar's display.  I love all things hummus, so of course I grabbed samples of their hummus dip and hummus chips.  Yum.

Next I stopped at "The Regal Vegan" to try their Faux Gras, a toasted walnut lentil pate.  Let me tell you, it was delicious.  As far as nutrition, it is only 50 calories per serving with lots of protein, fiber and healthy fats.   It's a little bit pricey at $7.99 for the 8oz. tub, but I'd argue it's worth it.

And for dessert, Sweet & Sara Vegan Marshmallows! And by marshmallows, I mean Rocky Road brownies, Smores, Peanut Butter Smores and Rice Krispie treats! Dangerously delicious.


Since I was already starting to fill up on vegetarian and vegan snacks, I was excited to come across Wired Up Creations. A friend of mine had been given one of these bracelets made of beets, and I have been longing for one ever since.  My pictures definitely don't do them justice, but the jewelry is so cool and completely vegan.  

The bracelets are a little too pricey for my dietetic intern budget, so I just bought a ring! It's made from dragon fruit and it super colorful and fun!

As if I wasn't already enjoying myself, I came to the Peanut Butter & Co. table next.  As you know, I love peanut butter.  It's my Achilles Heel.  Peanut Butter & Co. has a huge variety of flavors, including Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon Raisin and Honey.  They recently put out a new flavor called "The Heat is On", which contains chili powder, cayenne peppers and paprika.  I had to try this! I was pleasantly surprised.  This would be really good with veggies, pretzels or crackers as a snack.  I definitely recommend at least trying it!
Thanks for the PB samples, monkey man!
Oh and I picked up this little treasure.  It's like it was made for me!

I also sampled and really enjoyed the products from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company.  I particularly liked "The Trifecta" which was a chocolate almond butter with dried cherries.  Yum!

A few other things I really liked:

Simply7 Lentil and Hummus Chips:

TheSimplyBar, which I don't have pictures of.  They're made with 9 or less ingredients and offer 16g of protein and <3g of fat per bar.  I tried the Peanut Butter Chocolate (duh!) and it was a little dry but tasted good.

Honest Tea.  These guys are pretty well known, and have a really great line of products if you're looking for something tasty and a little bit sweet.  I usually stick to water, but I really enjoyed the new Pomegranate Blue Honest Ade. 

Let me finish with the one thing I really disliked.  Tumeric drinks from Tumeric-The Elixir of Life.  Tumeric is a spice commonly used in Indian foods.  It's also what gives our mustard that bright yellow color.  There is a lot of research has focused on curcumin, the active ingredient in tumeric and its anti-inflammatory properties. 
I don't discredit the idea that tumeric (and many other herbs and spices) may have health benefits. But this particular drink was disgusting and I would not pay $5 per 12-oz bottle. Why not just eat a well balanced diet including herbs and spices to taste!
No, thank you.

I also sat in on a few of the speakers, including Brendan Brazier, a vegan triathlete and author of Thrive. 
He was a good speaker, but I have to be honest...I get very frustrated listening to people speak about nutrition if they are not a Registered Dietitian or have some credential/degree in a nutrition-related field.  He can absolutely share his extensive experience in fueling and eating as a vegan triathlete, and I'm sure he has gained plenty of insight over the years.  However, I don't feel it is appropriate for him to be giving advice or recommendations, especially if it is not evidence-based information.  For anyone reading out there,  I encourage you to always take nutritional advice with a grain of salt [ ;)] and to look for the source of the information.  Remember, Registered Dietitians are the experts.

Enough about the speakers. This post is getting ridiculously long! 

All in all, I had a great day and tried out a lot of new vegetarian/vegan food products! Do you have any favorite products you swear by?

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