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Round Up: NYC Veggie Food Festival 2014

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This weekend, the Peaceful Dumpling team headed to the vegan and vegetarian overload that is NYC Veggie Food Festival 2014. When we got there in the morning, the line already stretched the entire length between 6th and 7th avenues–literally, hundreds of people waiting to get in. After we scooched past for the press pass (hooray!), we were treated to the most diverse selection of vegan food, drinks, treats, charities, beauty products, and inspirational speakers. Some highlights: meeting with founders of various vegan brands; some very cool charities that I’d love to support; and chatting up Miss Earth USA! (She’s like a princess, people!).  Read on for our round up of NYC Veggie Food Festival 2014.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - ambience

General ambiance…

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - chai mookie tea blend

Chai Mookie Tea specializes in all varieties of healing chai blends.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - healthy schools coalition

NY Coalition for Healthy School Food was out representing the first vegetarian public school in NYC!

NY Coalition for Healthy School Food is an amazing non profit organization dedicated to changing local school food by introducing plant-based menus and pilot programs. One of their recent initiatives was at a charter school right in my neighborhood of Harlem. Being in the area, I see how important it is for these kids to have an outside role model for healthy eating–Harlem is fast gentrifying and has tons of vegan-friendly options, but I also see a lot of young ones dropping by a bodega for snack or dinner. It’s a stark contrast, and one that can be directly approached by such non profit outreach.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - miss earth usa

With Miss Earth USA!

The reigning Miss Earth USA Nicolle Velez was on hand to promote healthy lunches at schools. Miss Earth pageant is a prestigious beauty competition (much like Miss Universe, but with an environmentalist twist). Nicolle represented USA in the international competition and was a semi-finalist. Her favorite cause is palm oil awareness, and yes, she’s a vegan! She is such a lovely, poised, and intelligent role model.

Nicolle Velez miss earth usa

Nicolle, at Miss Earth USA Competition last fall

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - taft vegan gyros

So, back to the Veggie Fest…Here we are at Taft Vegan Gyros stand to witness the unveiling of the first-ever vegan spit roast.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - soofoo

For those of you getting tired of eating the same old brown rice, Soofoo is a fun whole grain medley that is all USDA organic.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - amrita nutrition bars

I stopped by Amrita bars and talked to the founder, Arshad, about how he started the company.

amrita founder Arshad

Amrita founder, Arshad

One of the things I really appreciate about events like this is meeting all the founders, who are really passionate about their company, and usually have such an inspirational story behind the brand. Arshad started the nutrition bar Amrita after his son was diagnosed with autism and his family began a healthy eating journey together. They experimented in the kitchen first–and what they liked eating together as a family, became the foundation of the company. I tried chocolate and apricot flavors and they were both very fresh-tasting and delicious.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - instagram break

Instagram break! With Features Editor Jennifer

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - vegetarian tshirts

Vegan T-shirts on sale

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - freegle

BeFreegle Foundation was one of my favorite booths of the day. Evidently, beagles are used for toxicity tests because of their sweet, docile nature and keen sense of smell. This group rescues beagles from labs and puts them up for adoption or foster care. This sweet beagle, Juno, was released from research laboratory in 2010, and was adopted by founder Kate Aubry. Now she is a certified therapy dog–and she was so sweet, calm and gentle, even in the chaos of the festival.  If you are looking for a gentle companion, please look into BeFreegle site! They’re always looking for foster parents or permanent homes. 

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - brooklyn chocolate

Sampling delicious dark chocolate from Brooklyn Dark

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - brooklyn chocolate

I fell in love with these organic, vegan, gluten-free chocolates by Brooklyn Dark–here is founder Lev Kelman, who put his love of superfoods and culinary training to create these bars.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - tomato dipping sauce

Cheeky Monkey tomato dipping sauces.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - badass cookies

Sea vegetable cookies from Badass Cookies

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - upton seitan

Upton’s Seitan – again, delicious!

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - jonathan sprouts

Jonathan Sprouts is a company that grows sprouts for food and beauty products. I’ve never seen face and body creams containing broccoli sprouts–it was super moisturizing and Jen got a bottle!

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - moo shoes

Moo Shoes is both an online store and a brick-and-mortar boutique on Lower East Side selling vegan accessories.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - soulkofa

Soulkofa vegan soul food, based in Brooklyn, was the most amazing vegan fried chicken I’ve ever had.

I should mention here that vegan soul food is a legit movement right now in Harlem (yes, I know Soulkofa is based in Brooklyn, but hear me out). I witness the beginnings of it right around when I moved here in 2011–now, it’s a full-fledged force. It’s distinct from other vegan subcultures in NYC–think vegan fried chicken, lo mein, fried plantain, mac n’ cheese, and other rib-sticking comfort foods. Nothing fancy, and no over emphasis on super foods, detox, or macro, and lots of Southern, Caribbean, and some African influence.

nyc veggie food festival 2014 - organic living superfoods

We stopped by Organic Living Superfoods and spoke with co-founder Craig Singer. This homegrown vegan brand from greater Boston area was founded with the idea that whole plant-based foods like fruits, nuts, and seeds are the solution to living healthy. In NYC they are found at Equinox and select yoga studios. 

nyc veggie food festival 2014 - organic living superfoods

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - brooklyn rose vegan bakery

Brooklyn Rose Vegan Bakery

brooklyn rose vegan cupcakes

the love kitchen

The Love Kitchen: I could’ve had like 3-4 of those little “Birthday Cake” samples, so good!

 

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - monk's meats

We talked to Monk’s Meats founder Chris for a long time. Don’t worry guys, “meats” here are just vegan seitan “bulgogi” and other delicious things.

rescue chocolate

Rescue Chocolate deserves a special mention. 100% of the proceeds go to animal rescue organizations around the country, and all the chocolates are organic, fair-trade, and vegan–and taste superior to a lot of the premium chocolate brands out there (I would know, because I’ve had them all). And with names like “Peanut Butter Pit Bull” and “Mission Feral Fig,” how can you resist?

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - vegan underwear

Because who doesn’t want a vegan G-string?

vegan sushi

All vegan sushi restaurant? You heard that right…

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - beyond sushi vegan sushi

Beyond Sushi in NYC isn’t just about your boring old cucumber avocado rolls. Think black rice, all sorts of tofu, vegetables, mushrooms, purees, etc.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - fanciful fox

Fanciful Fox soaperie – all natural organic handmade soaps, toners, serums, and other goodies from Scranton Pennsylvania.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - vegan drum sticks

If you are still hungry, take 5 with vegan drum sticks.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - vegan pesto

We headed to Regal Vegan…

vegan mushroom bisque from regal vegan

For a shot of creamy mushroom bisque!

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - raw vegan macaroons

Emmy’s raw vegan macaroons

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - vegan macarons

You would think that we’d be sick of vegan desserts by now. We weren’t. Sweet Maresa’s vegan macarons are oh-so-pretty…

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - sweet maresa's

…But we decided on the amazing vegan chocolate chip cookie, instead.

nyc veggie food fest 2014 - de maevens Last but not least–we grabbed a pint of Sicilian Truffle ice cream from DF Mavens, and they were so nice to also give us a few mango pop sickles for the ride home. The chocolate flavor was divine (you can’t go wrong with a name like Sicilian Truffle) but the mango flavor was unbelievably delicious! I can’t wait til their retail location opens up in spring. I literally met with so many dozens of brands and organizations that I feel sad not to be able to talk about each of them more. The thing that they all share is such a sense of commitment and passion. I don’t think anyone comes up with an idea to do a vegan company with sheer profits as a #1 goal and priority–they all do it with a sense of purpose that’s really inspiring. Jane Goodall once said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” My biggest takeaway from NYC Veggie Food Festival was that everyone there was out to make a difference–whether it’s helping children, animals, the environment, or people in general–and that was so inspiring to see.

Related: VegFest Albany 2013

5 Eco Friendly Music Festivals This Summer 

__ Photo: Peaceful Dumpling

Juhea Kim
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.
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