Tag Archives: vegan food and drink festival

2nd Year Vega-versary

Two years. I can’t believe it’s already been two years of being vegan. I don’t even really know what to say. I could go cliché and say that if I could do it, you could too. Or I could go into detail about why I went vegan, but I feel like I’ve already covered that. I did have a post I wrote about my 1 Year Veganversary, but apparently I didn’t post it, and after re-reading it, it didn’t really say much except for, ‘wow! I can’t believe it!’ So, I’ll spare you. In case you’re wondering (although I’m pretty sure I’ve written this out somewhere else) here’s why I went vegan:

New Year’s Eve 2015, I decided to make my New Year’s Resolution to be vegetarian. There wasn’t really anything specific that triggered it, I just wanted to do something different that year. (Usually me and my family just made stupid resolutions, anyway) I was ‘successfully’ vegetarian until about June or July. By that time, it had gotten to be 40+ Celsius, and, me being the idiot I was, I was on the subway and didn’t eat breakfast or drink any water.

Guess what happened next.

I started getting dizzy and had black spots dancing at the edges of my vision. I got home okay, (luckily) and chugged some water. That incident didn’t do very well for quelling my mother’s concerns about it being an okay/healthy diet. And, while now I know why that happened, at the time I somewhat agreed with her. So, after that, I decided I’d be pollotarian (someone who only eats poultry), but was still curious about vegetarianism, and I had ended up stumbling across a Reddit thread that said something like, ‘If you want to go vegan, watch the following documentaries’. Being a curious person, I decided to check out the documentaries.

The first one I watched, Vegucated I didn’t really like, because they were coming at veganism as an aid for weight-loss. A few months after that, I watched Earthlings, and well… let’s just say that one stuck. Even though I still didn’t really know anything about the products, or this or that, I just couldn’t continue non-vegan after that. It was pretty much an instant resolve to stop, which was a bit hard because I still lived with non-vegan family. So I started researching, anything that related to veganism, I read. That was back in Feb. 2016, and I’m still going.

I’ve learned so much within just the past two years, it’s crazy. It seems all that was so long ago!

I do still have some non-vegan items, and while I’m not proud I still have them, I’m not ashamed to say I’m not 100% vegan yet. (But, I mean, is that really a thing?)

During the first year I went vegan, I had focused on just switching over my diet, because while I wanted to immediately change everything overnight (… can you tell I’m an ethical vegan?) that was neither practical nor possible. I didn’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to allow me to switch over everything I own, so I decided the best place to start would be the kitchen, and I could continue to replace other aspects each year/couple months, once I found out more information, had the means to do so.

And, I’d like to say, if you’re thinking about going vegan, but think doing something like the above (not immediately getting rid of every non-vegan thing in your house) would mean you’re not a ‘true vegan’ – don’t even go there. You are 100% a true vegan as long as your heart is in it. Don’t worry too much about being perfect.

It’s not a cult. No Vegan Police are gonna show up and haul you off to jail. Relax. Change over in your own time, as long as you’re committed to doing so, you’ll get there eventually. And, by you even just thinking about changing already puts you on the right path. It’s about getting on the right path, not being dropped at the end of it. Life is a journey and all that crap.

Also, unless you were born with literally all the knowledge ever, you’re going to make some mistakes, or use something that you’d think would be fine (like, say, a plastic bag, or your phone) only to discover later that it’s actually not vegan. And that’s fine. You’re not gonna throw your phone off a bridge – that’s just not practical. There are, unfortunately, some items you use/have to use in today’s society that aren’t vegan.

That does not mean you are a lesser vegan, or aren’t a real one at all. It’s about trying.

Hell, the definition is even: Is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

So, again, relax. As long as you’re trying, and not eating straight up flesh you’re doing fine.

During this second year, I focused my efforts on beginning to switch non-food items, like toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, etc.). I even discovered some ‘hidden’ food items that weren’t vegan I was unknowingly eating. Lays plain (original) potato chips, for instance is made with pork enzymes, and food dyes such as Red #40 is made out of crushed cochineal beetles, and the others (Yellow #5, 6, Blue, etc) are tested on animals. Sad to discover, for sure – especially because Lays doesn’t have the information readily available on their website. The only reason why I even found it was because I was doing research for the vegan cookbook I’ve been working on, and stumbled upon a comment on some vegan forum somewhere. From there, I had e-mailed the parent company (Frito-Lay) about multiple products, and only after asking about it, was I linked to this list* that has all the chips that are made without pork enzymes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s disappointed to learn some of the plain chips contain enzymes.

Things like this always bring about the same question to me: how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

Obviously, pork enzymes is pretty bad, as well as food dyes tested on animals, but should I be expected to contact the parent company every time I’m faced with a situation that is a bit unknown? Of course, I contact the company as often as possible, so that I’m making the best decision, or, if I don’t know, and aren’t able to get an immediate response, (say, for example at a family gathering, where I wasn’t expecting to have said item called into question) I’ll always just pass. Or, if it’s something they bought/cooked ‘specifically for me’ I’ll research, call the company (stay on hold for as long as it takes), or (if I’m not able to get a response, or get an ‘I don’t know’), I’ll take the item home (if able) and continue researching until I get an answer.

It sucks to do that for sure, having to stop the fun of the party or make that person worry when they thought it was fine, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some of you reading this might think that’s rude and will say to just accept it, even if it’s questionably vegan, but I say: why would I put something in/on my body if I don’t know what’s in it, whether or not I was vegan? I don’t think I’ve ever done that, I’ve always asked what’s in something, not even just because I had an allergy, but because I honestly am confused why people would just accept something. There could be literally anything in that, and you don’t know. I’d much rather not eat/use it, and offend the person for a minute, (or, better yet, share the new information so they can avoid the mistake in the future) then have something that I use/is in my mouth when I find out it wasn’t vegan. It’s just… ‘safer’ to not accept it.

If they get offended (which, c’mon, really?) just apologize and tell them you appreciate the gesture, and (if it was a ‘hidden’ ingredient like the food dyes, or something else) tell them they were so close/on the right track! It’s not their fault companies don’t list everything on their packaging (going back to the Lays Original, no where on that bag does it say it contains pork enzymes), so please, please don’t get mad/upset at them for not knowing. Try to remember that not only is it not their fault, but also, would you have known that before you went vegan? No, so don’t go shaming them for not doing hours upon hours of research. Also, some items do say Cruelty-Free or Vegan and have the food dyes or honey, so they might’ve assumed (the same way I’m sure you do sometimes) that if it says vegan right on it, it’d be safe.

Going back to the how far down the rabbit hole thing, I really think it depends on the person. Same as how some vegans eat honey, while others don’t. (I don’t, in case you wondered) It’s all about perspective, and, while it might seem blatanly obvious to some, others either don’t see it that way (and never will), or, haven’t done enough research to know, so they eat/use it unknowingly.

Bottom line: It takes time to learn what’s vegan and what’s not, so don’t be ‘that guy’ and be an asshole because they don’t know something. Instead, why don’t you try helping them discover information. For example, if your non-vegan friends come over, get them to try some vegan food. Don’t force it down their throats, but maybe make it a rule: when you come to my house, you eat vegan. That’s a very reasonable request, and if any of your friends cause a fuss, then tell them they’re not welcome in your house. It’s not that hard. Or, (if you’re okay with it) tell them they can bring their own non-vegan dish (that’s already cooked, unless you don’t care about having non-vegan food ‘contaminate’ your kitchen). It’s your house, you can set the rules, and if they don’t like it, or (for some reason) aren’t comfortable with that, well, then maybe they shouldn’t come over?

You know, as a living, breathing vegan that you don’t need animal products to survive, so if they really can’t eat those 2 out of how-ever-many-meals-you-eat-in-a-lifetime vegan when they come over, then that’s definitely a problem. Also, don’t be afraid to bring subjects like this up with your friends. Don’t attack them, obviously, but ask them their views, and if they’d be okay with it. Present your point of view, and why it’s important to you, for example, to keep your kitchen vegan.

That said, again, it’s 100% up to you, what you’re comfortable with. No one can (or should) tell you what you’re okay with.

It’s been awesome so far, I’ve discovered so many new, amazing products. Nooch is now a staple in my kitchen, when only two years ago I didn’t even know it existed. Same with black salt, and a bunch of other products. I even went to my first vegan festival this past year! That was such an amazing experience, I’m definitely going again this summer. If you haven’t seen it, you can read my review of it here.

I’m super excited to discover even more vegan products in the coming years. I can’t wait to see what else they come out with!


*That list is just the Canadian one, this is the US one, and I haven’t been able to find one for other countries. I recommend getting in contact with them to see if there’s one available for you’re country. (I know usually, UK and Canadian products are produced pretty similar in the ways that they’re produced, so if you live in the UK, I’d suggest using the Canadian list if there isn’t a UK one)


Want to learn more about veganism? Check out The Veg Life, for awesome recipes, product reviews and more!

Vegan Food and Drink Festival Review

As you may of heard, there was a vegan food and drink festival Aug. 19th this year in Toronto, and I was lucky enough to be able to go. It was my first ever vegan festival, and I was definitely blown away. I’m already working on my game plan for next year’s event.

One of my favourite things: Getting to order whatever I wanted from any vendor. That alone was enough to make me want to go back.

I don’t know how many of you have allergies, but being allergic to dairy, (whey) there is a hell of a lot of food in this world I can’t eat. And deciding to go vegan didn’t exactly broaden my food spectrum. So, being able to go to a public event without having to research/bring my own/call ahead/ask what was in every dish before ordering was absolutely fantastic. I swear, I was like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to try everything there just because I could. That itself blew my mind. It was so… I don’t know – nice, I guess would be the word – to not have to worry about what I could/couldn’t eat. The only ‘worrying’ I did about the food was whether or not I’d have enough time to try everything.

 

On top of that, I was amazed to see just how many people showed up! I mean, I know probably not every single person there was vegan, but it was still amazing to see. There were so many people! There were some lines that were so long they were impossible to get around. I loved seeing how many turned out, even though it meant waiting in giant lines.

Alright, now onto what you all came here for: the food.

Globally Local’s Famous Burger

This is supposed to be a vegan Big Mac. Now, I’ve never had a real Big Mac, so I can’t compare the two. All I can say about this is: Oh. My. God.

There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to describe to you how incredible this burger was. Hands down the best thing I tried at the festival. The patties themselves were actually pretty underwhelming – they were super thin and I feel like the only thing they added to the burger was texture. Not to be mean, but it seemed like they use those really terrible thin, cardboard-y vegan frozen burgers you used to buy before you discovered there was better options.

But the sauce!

Again, never having the real Big Mac sauce, I can’t tell you if it was close to the real thing or not. The sauce to me, tasted similar to warm ranch dressing. I loved it. If they sold the sauce in a bottle like salad dressing, I’d probably drink it. (Yes, it’s that good)

This burger was also messy. And, while I tend to stay away from eating foods that are too messy (I hate getting my hands all goopy with sauces), I didn’t really mind licking this off my fingers. I had the sauce smeared on my face and dripping out of my palms and I did not care at all. It was pure indulgence and I couldn’t have been happier.

My only regret is not getting two.

Sweet Teeth’s Cookie Monster Ice-Cream

The best dessert I tried. No contest.

Before the ice-cream melted enough to spoon out of the container, the spoon slipped and cookie crumbs went flying, since the cookie dough wasn’t soft. I believe it was their vanilla ice-cream that was dyed blue, but I’m not sure. (I can’t remember)

The worst part about this ice-cream was the size of the pint. It’s the same size as the Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice-creams – waaaay too small. (But considering I ate the whole thing, perhaps they do that on purpose)

I got to their booth later on (closer to when the festival was over at 7pm), they were sold out of almost everything else, but boy am I glad I got some of this.

I already miss it.

Rescue Dog’s Fat Mac

This. Just… this.

Like the Big Mac, there aren’t enough words. If it wasn’t swamped with so many onions, I would’ve liked it better, but it was still good. (Most of the onions fell off when I picked it up anyway)

This not-dog is made out of flax. Yeah, you read that right: flax. I don’t know how they do it, but boy am I glad they do. It has a great texture; it’s closer to a sausage texture than a hot dog, in that it has that nice hard bite/shell and then the squishy, juicy inside. And the sauce – same as the Famous Burger – it is amazing. It actually tastes similar to the burgers, I think they might even use the same one. (Though I can’t say for sure)

Either way, I’m not complaining. Best not-dog I’ve had, ever.

Also, apparently Good Rebel sells their dogs in packs of 6, so there may be a homemade replica of this in the future.

V Eats Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

This was the first thing I tried at the festival, and man am I glad I picked it. It’s amazing.

These guys came all the way up from Dallas, Texas. The ‘chicken’ they used was actually oyster mushrooms. This was the first oyster mushroom dish I’ve ever had, and it was good. To me, it didn’t taste like chicken – didn’t have that distinctive ‘chicken’ taste, like it does when I make seitan, but it didn’t need to. The sandwich was good all on its own. They could’ve said this was a buffalo mushroom sandwich, and I would’ve been just as happy to eat it. It was also a bit spicy, I feel like if they used a bit more lettuce or something to cut through the spice it would’ve been better.

This one was also messy, but worth it. They filled it with so much stuff that when you took a bite, it would squish out the back. Totally something you need to eat with napkins, but it’s definitely worth getting. If you’re in Dallas, or see these guys at another festival, I highly recommend getting this sandwich.

Bald Baker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie and Brownie Bite

The cookie was super thick and really soft. It also has peanuts in it that help give it a crunch. The brownie was super soft too and was just amazing. And… it was the last one they had. (Sorry!) I didn’t even try the free sample first, I just saw it was the last one and bought it.

Once again, my only disappointment was that it was the only one they had.

Sweet Olenka’s Cookies N Cream Bar

This was good.

Chocolate, cookies and ice-cream, what more could you want?

It was super frozen though – I’m guessing because it was so hot, they had their freezer cranked up so they didn’t melt, I couldn’t bite into it, it was so hard. I didn’t mind waiting for it to soften though, I ate all the cookie crumbs off from the chocolate shell.

And then, when I got down to the end of it, the whole bottom of my chocolate shell fell off. Luckily, it landed on a napkin, and not on the ground.

This again, wasn’t really anything special: vanilla ice cream and chocolate, but on a hot day it definitely hit the spot.

Flying Colours Food’s Chocolate Hazelnut and Walnut Caramel Spread

The chocolate hazelnut spread was my favourite between the two. I’d assume it tastes close to Nutella, but I’ve never had real Nutella, so I can’t say for sure. I didn’t really like the walnut one, I’m not sure why. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t… I don’t know, special, I guess. I think I might’ve just been more excited to try other foods, so this one was kind of ‘meh’.

I’ll definitely be looking for the chocolate one in stores though.

Panago’s Mediterranean Pizza

This one, I’m sorry to say was nothing special. It just tastes like take-out pizza with Daiya on it. If you’ve ever had Pizza Nova or PizzaPizza pizza, you know what this tastes like.

I am proud to say though, this pizza had black olives on it (I hate olives), but they actually weren’t too bad with the other flavours. I’m not committing to anything, but I wouldn’t mind getting this pizza again.

I checked out their website, and I’m glad to report they are very accommodating to vegans. All their crusts are vegan, and they say you can sub out any cheese on any other pizza with Daiya, and do the same with their meatless pepperoni. I’m definitely going to try some of their other pizzas.

The Spicy Ethiopian’s Tikel Goman

This reminded me of stew. It was good, for sure, but if I had a choice between this and the Famous Burger, well…

The dough-y bread (sorry, I don’t know what to call it, it’s like a very thin pancake) was very squishy. I didn’t like the texture of it in my hand, especially having to pick up the stew (more squish) with it and then put it in my mouth. I probably would’ve liked it better if I ate it with a fork.

Again, not bad, but not the  greatest. It was essentially potatoes, carrots and bread. Nothing I’ve never had before. This was probably my least favourite dish.

I also tried two cheeses that I didn’t get a picture of. The first was from this new place, West Junction. This was my first ever cashew-based cheese, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been putting off trying nut-based cheeses for some reason, but I’m definitely glad I tried West Junction’s. They had cut their mozzarella up into cubes and I tried it in what I believe they said was their salad dressing. It was covered in oil, some spices and had an olive on the side. It was good, definitely milder than Daiya (I’m starting to think that they’re the most… potent vegan cheese), and the consistency kind of reminded me of tofu. I think the oil on it gave it a weird, slippery texture, but I’ll definitely buy this when it becomes available for purchase to do a proper review of it. (Not covered in oil)

The other was my second nut-based cheese from Main Vegan Deli. They were selling cheese and deli slice items (like grilled cheese and other sandwich types), but I got there after they were packing up, so I didn’t get to try anything off the menu. They were nice enough to let me try a cube of what I think was their cheddar (it was orange) cheese. This one and the West Junction one tasted pretty similar, this one was less slippery, but still that soft, tofu consistency. I guess that’s just the texture of nut cheeses? Again, it was good, but I’ll definitely have to track them down to try it again, perhaps in a dish.

If you missed this one, there is another festival coming up Sept.8th-10th, VegFest. This one has more vendors, and some of the same ones, so if you missed getting to try anyone from this event, you’ll get a second chance to check them out. VegFest is free admission, but you’ll still need to buy food and drinks from the vendors. I haven’t decided yet if I’m gonna go to this one, I might just save up for next year’s Food and Drink festival.

 

All in all, this festival was a lot of fun. I definitely enjoyed trying all the different types of food, and seeing all the people who showed up. If you’re able to, I definitely suggest checking it out. I can’t wait until next year’s!