By Veronica Chavez
Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.
This past weekend vegetarians, vegans, and curious foodies gathered at the Metropolitan Pavilion for the annual Vegetarian Food Festival. Started in 2011, the festival was founded by the US Veg Corp, an event production and marketing brand focused on the ever-expanding vegetarian and green market. In addition to exposing palettes to new meat-free goodies, the festival also showcases a number of companies and brands that are making it easier for people to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle.
As might be expected, one of the common threads among the festival vendors was a focus on protein, and the various ways to get an adequate amount of it without meat. There were several companies specializing in nuts and peanut butters, one of the most notable was Nuttzo, a company that has gone beyond regular peanut or almond butter to create a “super-butter” as they call it. The super-butter is composed of seven different nuts and seeds. The seeds–such as pumpkin, chia, flax, and sunflower–included give the spread that extra nutritional power with protein, fiber, plant-based Omega-3s, amino acids, and overall support for the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune system. The company also makes a butter with dark chocolate included that was delicious and perfect for those late night chocolate cravings that refuse to be denied.
As with any vegetarian scene, there were several stands also dedicated to mock versions of meats, cheeses, and all other sorts of treats vegans and vegetarians stop eating when they make their diet transition. While “meatballs” made out of quinoa and empanadas stuffed with seitan instead of meat were delicious, the company Heidi Ho was what really caught my eye.
Heidi Ho specializes in plant-based cheese and cheese spreads. After sampling the savory “Smoky Chia Cheeze” spread on a cracker, I asked the vendor more about the company’s story and of course, where I could buy more of the tasty spread. After having an a-ha moment of realizing that I had heard of Heidi Ho before on the TV show Shark Tank, which awarded the new company with an investment earlier that year, I was happy to hear that Heidi Ho can be found on the shelves of Whole Foods and online. While I’m a big fan of Daiya cheese, Heidi Ho definitely has a superior spreadable cheese that serves as a nice alternative to hummus.
As I mentioned earlier, the festival also showcased several companies and brands that are making a difference in creating a more eco-friendly society. My two favorite stands in this respect were Green Mountain Energy and GUNAS USA Inc. Green Mountain Energy is a company under the Con Edison umbrella that is able to switch your power provider from factory-provided energy to greener, less polluting methods for just an added $2-$5 each month. GUNAS USA Inc on the other hand, provides alternatives to leather handbags without sparing any of the style. Let’s just say that my wallet was the only thing that felt a bit of pain.
Overall, the Vegetarian Food Festival was beyond just the samples of yummy food I expected it to be. It was an enlightening and educational experience.
For more photos of the Vegetarian Food Festival, check out our photoblog.