The third annual Vegandale Festival hit NYC’s Randall’s Island this past Saturday with even more vendors than last year. Tents lined both sides of Randall’s Island Park each offering a different vegan cuisine, treat, information, or cruelty-free product.
What exactly is Vegandale?
No, it’s not some new show on The CW! According to the festival’s website, Vegandale is a mecca for the ethically minded and hungry, with the best of vegan food, goods, and services co-existing on one city block in downtown Toronto. This premiere destination for the vegan and vegan-curious is the only one of it’s kind, promoting a world where animal exploitation is a thing of the past. With our roots in abolitionism, our unapologetic messaging is the connection between each project we touch. BUT… we can’t contain all of that to just one city block, so we’re packing up and taking over the world!
Vegandale now takes place in 5 cities: Toronto, NYC, Chicago, Miami, and Houston.
Imagine an open field with tents and food trucks going back as far as the eye can see and at the end of that was a stage where an emcee talked to the crowd and facilitated a vegan cupcake eating contest as loud music boomed through the speakers. Vegan-friendly propaganda that was both informative and perfect for a selfie greeted you on the way in/out. The crowd seemed to grow as the day wore on, and no, it was all the stereotypical vegan crowd the media likes to make fun of. It wasn’t all white people with dreads, body odor, and hemp clothing… These days, vegans are all ages, genders, races, and wear styles. And some attendees weren’t even vegan like my friend who came with me. Vegandale welcomes all and hopes to shed some light and open-mindedness on the food, culture, and movement behind going vegan.
While it is literally impossible to eat your way through the entire festival, my friend and I made sure we walked by every vendor to find out what they were offering. Plus, we wanted to choose wisely and not be hasty, picking the first thing that looked good… it ALL looked good, so it was a hard choice that we needed to assess at the end of our full festival scan. Along our journey, free samples were offered which helped stave off our hunger for a while.
By now, even non-vegans are aware of the brand Daiya! Their non-dairy products are found in the cheese, yogurt, and ice cream sections of most grocery stores. Daiya was kind enough to offer free ice cream pops, which was much appreciated on the unusually hot fall day. If you see Daiya’s espresso coffee ice cream bars in grocery stores, definitely give them a try. They’re my favorite!
A new product I was introduced to was Ithaca Cold Crafted Hummus. The company was offering up free samples with Stacy’s Pita Chips and carrots, and OMG… I’ve never tried hummus this good ever! It was the classic flavor too, so I can only imagine how good the other flavors will be! The small company is located in Ithaca, NY (of course), but can be found in plenty of health food stores and Whole Foods locations across the country, or you can order from their website as well!
You may have seen Abe’s in your local Whole Foods. I’ve been a fan of their muffins for a while now, so when I saw their tent, I had to pop over and see what goodies they had. To my surprise, there were muffins sold in packs like I usually find in the store. Abe’s only had their brand new individually wrapped muffins! All of Abe’s muffins are vegan and they have gluten-free options as well. My personal favorites are corn and carrot ginger. Now that the holidays are coming, I do love to bring their pumpkin or apple cider flavors to gatherings as a great vegan option for dessert or brunch.
A healthier alternative to traditional cookie dough, Simply Mary’s cookie dough balls, and pops are meant to be eaten raw. These treats use chickpeas as the base and are also made with a combination of oat and almond flour.
House of Flavor
When we finally decided what to eat, my friend wanted mac & cheeze and I wanted some kind of wings. There happened to be quite a few vendors selling those items, some looking surprisingly like real chicken wings, but we wound up going to House of Flavor, which is a vegan cafe located in Bayonne, NJ. My friend and I split the two small dishes and were perfectly satisfied with the flavors, textures, and the portions were just the right size for festival snacking. Unlike some of the other wing serving vendors, House of Flavor’s wings weren’t disguised as fake meat, but rather a simple and tasty buffalo cauliflower dish.
Check out some more photos from the event and go to my Instagram for more food + product reviews!