Food

Top 10 Vegan Products at Natural Products Expo East

VegNews' co-founder Colleen Holland hits Expo East and shares the show's most exciting vegan products.

Every year in March, the entire VegNews staff descends on Anaheim, CA (home of Disneyland) for Expo West—the world’s largest convention for natural foods. The show is enormous—60,000 attendees and 3,000 exhibitors—and it takes our entire team three full days to hunt down the most innovative and exciting new vegan products to share with VN readers. But every September, there is also an East Coast version of the event (this year we were in Baltimore)—it’s smaller and not quite as daunting, but there are still plenty of veg treasures to be found. With my two trusty colleagues in tow (both Lara and Carol can spot a great vegan product from 20 feet away), I give you my top 10 vegan products of Expo East. And remember, these products may not hit store shelves for another three months; these shows offer an exclusive opportunity to unveil a new product long before it ever hits the market.

Organic Culinary Spreads from Earth Balance
Is there a vegan alive today who hasn’t bought a tub of Earth Balance? Well, the company just kicked it up a notch with two flavored buttery spreads: Sweet Cinnamon and Roasted Garlic & Herbs. Bagels and popcorn, you’ve been warned.

Thumbs Up Bars by Go Max Go Foods
Our friends at Go Max Go Foods have done it again, this time creating a vegan version of what may be the best candy bar ever: The Butterfinger. First, there were the renditions of Snickers (Jokerz), Milky Way (Twilight), Almond Joy (Mahalo), and 3 Musketeers (Buccaneer); then came their version of Nestle Crunch (Snap!) and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Cleo’s). My life is complete.

Vegan Elixir by Tumeric
While at a spa in Bali for the VegNews Dream Island Getaway, I was served a delicious tonic made with freshly grated turmeric root, tamarind, and lime. As I sipped from my chilled ceramic cup, that moment felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enter Expo East 2012, where I stumble upon this refreshing elixir that transported me right back to the beaches of Bali. Tumeric’s Vegan Elixir is made with ginger, cardamom, spearmint, agave, lemon, sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, and, of course, turmeric.

Veggie Burgers by Hilary’s Eat Well
I know, veggie burgers have been around forever, but Hilary’s are special. Completely allergen-free, Hilary’s burgers are made with whole grains, vegetables, coconut oil, and spices—and are downright delicious. And the eco-friendly packaging (two burgers tucked into a biodegradable bag) makes these burgers a must-buy.

Strawberry Cream Cheese from Galaxy Foods
I wasn’t expecting to love this new strawberry-flavored vegan cream cheese, but fall in love I did. The smooth, creamy blend had the perfect strawberry flavor (not too strong, no artificial after-taste), and with Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods hired on as Galaxy’s official brand ambassadors, what’s not to adore?

Ginger Kombucha by Reed’s
Full disclosure: I can’t stand kombucha. Although several VN staffers are known to down a bottle a day, I can’t stomach the smell, taste, and idea of it. Enter Reed’s (makers of an excellent ginger brew), who have totally transformed this beverage. In flavors like Lemon Ginger Raspberry and Hibiscus Ginger Grapefruit, the team at Reeds use organic oolong and yerba mate teas as the kombucha base and have a lengthy culturing process that results in one (admittedly) very fine drink.

Bamboo Toilet Paper by Bum Boosa
I am fascinated with this toilet paper—is there anything that can’t be made from bamboo? BPA-free (regular recycled TP is not) and just $1.25 a roll, this is a green alternative you can feel good about. Bamboo is the fastest-growing grass on the planet (it can grow up to three feet a day) and doesn’t require significant water or replanting after harvesting.

Raw Chocolate by Cloud 9
I experienced the wonder that is Cloud 9 at an after-hours rooftop party at Baltimore’s Inn at the Black Olive. Master chocolatier Helene Leeds lived in Switzerland for 10 years and was inspired to create her own chocolate using time-honored Swiss techniques. Using ingredients like organic cacao beans, coconut butter, agave, sea salt, and vanilla, her chocolate is rich and decadent. The Walnut Raw Chocolate Fudge is life-changing.

Dairy-Free Frozen Delight from WayFare
So I haven’t actually tried the new oat-based ice cream from the people behind We Can’t Say It’s Cheese. But some of my vegan friends at the show did, and they became instant converts (who needs soy/coconut/almond/hemp when you have oats?). The Vanilla Crème got the highest marks, and the super-clean ingredient list can’t be beat.

Body Butters by The Orange Owl
Natural body care, especially those made with African botanicals (apparently, Africa grows one-third of the earth’s plants), were all the rage at Expo East. Out are parabens, petroleum products, and sulfates; today’s new generation of body care feature essential oils, coconut butter, and fruit extracts. I couldn’t get enough of the sumptuous Lemon Twist body butter from The Orange Owl, crafted from jojoba oil, mango butter, grapefruit seed extract, cornstarch, and lemon oil. If we care about making healthy food choices, it’s just as vital to use skin products that are free of nasty chemicals and preservatives.

Check out Colleen Holland's Top 10 Vegan Products at Expo East Slideshow here!

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