This weekend, vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious will descend upon Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion (between 6th and 7th Avenues) for the seventh annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. During this two-day, food-filled event (which is 100-percent vegan), a slew of vendors and exhibitors will be there showing off their best products, while more than 40 speakers will discuss various topics related to veganism and the vegan community. Of course, we encourage everyone to visit every booth and hear every lecture, but we also know this might not be possible. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of choices, here are our top 10 must-visit companies and speakers at this weekend’s festival.
1. Screamer’s Pizza
Co-founded by the owners of Blackbird Pizza (an all-vegan pizzeria in Philadelphia) and the all-vegan Champs Diner, Screamer’s Pizza offers slices such as cheese, pepperoni (made with Upton’s Seitan pepperoni), and margherita. If you’re feeling adventurous, Screamer’s also sells slices of BBQ jackfruit, Buffalo (made with buffalo cauliflower and vegan ranch drizzle), or their signature Screamer pizza. Regardless of your selection, it’ll be scream-worthy.
2. VegNature Nancy Grenier
With vegan varieties such as 3 Peppers & Chives, Garlic & Leeks, Herbes de Provence & Onions, Nuts & Cranberries, and Tomatoes & Basil, VegNature will make you glad to say “cheese.” Founded in Québec in 2014, VegNature cheese is now featured in more than 110 retailers in every administrative region of Québec and in Ontario, plus New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Our advice: try them all!
3. Wully Outerwear
Finding a good, reliable outerwear company that keeps animal welfare in mind can be difficult. Thankfully, Wully Outwear is here to help. The brand has dedicated itself to reducing its ecological impact while saving the lives of animals one jacket at a time—without sacrificing warmth and style. Jackets are designed and produced in Toronto using extreme weather performance fabrics engineered for the deep North. Wully Outerwear also donates $10 from each jacket sold to The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.
4. Sweet Maresa’s
Specializing in French macarons, Sweet Maresa’s uses ingredients such as New York State flour, herbs, fruit, and roots from sustainable farms to create some of the best vegan treats in existence. Seriously, you’ve never had a macaron if you’ve haven’t tried Sweet Maresa’s.
5. Amrita Bars
Amrita Bars was founded in 2012, almost 10 years after founder Arshad Bahl’s son was diagnosed with autism and severe gastrointestinal issues. He and his wife began removing gluten and dairy from their son’s diet, and suddenly the gastrointestinal issues healed. After this miraculous recovery, Bahl became dedicated to developing snacks free of damaging allergens to help other children and adults with the same issues. Each Amrita bar is full of superfoods such as chia seeds, maca, and unsweetened coconut, making their foods delicious and beneficial to those in need.
6. Rule Breaker Snacks
Can you imagine brownies that actually are good for you? Well, believe it because Rule Breaker Snacks uses beans as their brownie and blondie base to create sweet treats packed with protein and fiber. The brand is also free of gluten, nuts, dairy, and GMOs, while consisting of 40 percent chickpeas, oats, maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa, chocolate, and pure flavor extracts. Our advice? Have two!
7. Vegan Publishers
If you start to feel yourself slip into a food coma, consider stopping by Vegan Publishers. The company was founded in 2013 by Christen Mailler and Casey Taft in order create opportunity for authors and illustrators to publish books that promote social consciousness and awareness related to veganism. This weekend, Vegan Publishers will be selling books—with a range of content for adults and children—that Mailler and Taft hope to be at the forefront of the growing societal trend towards vegan living.
8. Health-Ade Kombucha
If you’ve entered a health food market within the past year or so, chances are you’ve come across Health-Ade Kombucha. The company’s beverage is handcrafted in 2.5-gallon batches for premium quality and is naturally fermented. Health-Ade Kombucha is also certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, raw, vegan, and kosher, so don’t hesitate to have a sample or three this weekend.
9. Kristin Lajeunesse
If you find some downtime on Saturday between the food, new friends, and free samples, you can join Kristin Lajeunesse, where she will be talking about reaching her goal of visiting every vegan restaurant in the United States and how, from that journey, her memoir Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, and Make Love came to be. Lajeunesse is the founder of an award-winning website and is focused on creating the first nationally televised vegan travel show.
Emma DeBono is a freelance journalist, vegan, and avid traveler currently based in New York City.
Photo by Vromage VegNature