The 2016 Vegetarian Food Festival

vegetarian food festival 2016 collage

As a dedicated attendee of the annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, I feel it’s my duty to let my readers know how it compares to those in the years prior. After all, veggie innovation can only move forward and not backward, right?

This year, I found it to be even more crowded + packed with a host of new vendors and products. They even expanded to the second floor, which was nice because the main floor gets too claustrophobic — even for crowd-accustomed NYer me.

Here I go through a list, ordered from most to least liked of the top things I saw at the fest. Of course, I’ll be quite biased towards sweets — but then again, if you read my blog, you’d know that already!

  1. Pure Genius Cookie Bars 

    If I eat a cookie, I’m often inclined to limit my consumption of sweets throughout the rest of the day after that. But after finding out that cookies made with chickpeas can be insanely tasty, addictive and slightly good for you, I’ll probably throw that limit out the window!

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    Absolutely delectable, nearly guilt-free!

    These cookie bars were soft, melted in my mouth and had an almost cake-y consistency to them. Think brownie — but moister. Their blondie bar was my favorite, as it had ample rectangular chocolate chip chunks, not the measly round kind, which I greatly appreciated.

    Plus, Nancy (the founder and creator) was super-nice + let us nosh shamelessly on her samples. She gave me coupons, too! Definitely rooting for her & her business… psst: please make a snickerdoodle version if you have time ;)

  2. Pony Cakes 

    Slick branding and a solid product: those two ingredients are the recipe for success in any business. Pony Cakes has both: a cute logo, clean packaging that gorgeously displays their cookies, and catchy product names. I’m just waiting for the charity foundation messaging (in their case, to an equine rescue organization).

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    The Pony Cakes cookie product lineup.
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    Pony Cakes’ cookies are made with interesting ingredients like garbanzo, sorghum & fava bean flour.
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    Pony Cakes makes the ultimate vegan cookiewich.
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    Their brittle was also good, though nothing special.

    The cookie sandwiches taste amazing when chilled, which is really the only suitable way to eat them, as they fall apart at room temperature. They are reminiscent of a cookie ice cream sandwich, except less icy. Think: a super upgraded cookiewich. My favorite aspect is the ample cream filling: almost like a high quality version of oreo cookie cream, made with wholesome ingredients (love that they use corn and chickpea flour in their cookie base!).

  3. Holi AioliMy only non-sweet packaged item rightfully earned its place on my list. With its deliciously creamy consistency, unique taste and a corner on the vegan aioli market (the next closest thing is to make your own from veganaise), I forsee a healthy, flavorful future for Holi Aioli.
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    Love at first crunch! I must’ve had like 10 of their chip samples!
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    Sauce attack! I’m definitely the type of person who adds sauce to everything I eat.

    I’m probably going to end up squirting the stuff on everything in sight, so it’s a good thing we got three jars!

  4. Mo’ Pweeze Bakery 

    Vegan cupcakes are nothing new, though I’m far from immune to a cupcake’s charms. I haven’t specifically had mini-sized vegan cupcakes before, so I was eager to try these.

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    So many colorful cakes!

    As cupcakes go, these were pretty standard. The fact that they were made with organic ingredients didn’t necessarily impact the taste for me. They were moist and quite tasty, but they didn’t blow me out of the water.

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    Gotta try my hand at making these minis. Popping one in my mouth is so much more satisfying than one bite out of a regular one.

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    Ready for their closeup.
    After checking out their website though, I’m happy to be supporting a small family business that supplies allergy-customizable treats (one of their sons has 30 allergies!).

  5. Yeah Dawg 

    Vegan hot dogs have never been an item I’ve had faith in. For one, they generally are pretty tasteless. It’s tough to replicate something that is made up of several reconstituted animal parts.

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    Hard at work assembling dawgs!

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    Ingredients you actually recognize.

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    A dawg in my lap, I ain’t got no thigh gap!
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    They had Blue Sky soda on their menu, a “healthy” soda that was refreshing and not overly sweet.

    Yeah Dawgs, however, managed to make their dogs not look so… tofu. The texture could still use work. What’s most important in creating a vegan dog is the texture and flavor profile. These could’ve used a bit more salt… and — dare I say it? — fat. “Healthy hot dogs” just seem like an oxymoron, so I’d love to see a luxurious, flavorful and gluttonous vegan dog. One day!

Photos by Juan del Río and me.

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