Boston Vegetarian Festival – October 29, 2011

Although I may not be traveling this week, I was eagerly anticipating going to the Boston Vegetarian Festivall this weekend. This is the 16th year that the festival is being held in Boston at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at 1350 Tremont Street. Easily accessible by the T (the T-stop’s Orange Line Roxbury Crossing station is diagonally across the street) or by car (plenty of free parking is available). Open today, Saturday, October 28th from 11 am – 6 pm and Sunday, October 29th from 10 am – 4 pm, this is one of the largest vegetarian festivals in the country and one not to be missed. I love that it is FREE and some of the best vegetarian and vegan companies, both big and small, are always there to talk to consumers, give out samples, and sell their goods. There are lectures available on various vegetarian topics as well as cooking demonstrations on both days, too.

Some of my favorites today? Of course, who doesn’t love Gardein? They were there giving out samples and my favorite — coupons!!! I also go prepared each year to do a little stocking up with May Wah, a great company that offers tasty meat alternative products that are easy to add to stir fry or eat on their own. Lightlife was also there and I have gotten so addicted to their Smart Tenders so it was nice to see them there. They had a pretty cool bag that they were giving away as well as hot dog samples. But between the bag and the hot dogs — people were getting cranky because the lines were incredibly long and not moving. Another popular table was for Tofettes, a product I had neither seen nor tried before. I ended up buying two bags to try out, a teriyaki and a hot and spicy and I will report back later on how they worked out. Don’t pass by the Wheeler’s Ice Cream table where they were giving out samples of their 100% super yummy vegan ice cream and making sundaes, too.

There were so many bakeries at this year’s festival, far more than I’ve seen before. Clearly, there has been an explosion of vegan bakeries in the Northeast and I guess we all benefit. On the second floor there is a large table of baked goods on display by a bakery out of Bethlehem, PA called Vegan Treats. Clearly this was designed as a way to torture me exclusively because they neither sell to the public (wholesale only) and they don’t sell in the Boston area. Although their cupcakes, cakes, cannoli, etc. looked beyond fantastic, I wasn’t about to get addicted to something I couldn’t get again in the future. So sad! However, my absolute favorite vegan baker was there in a prime spot just as you walk inside and that’s Cafe Indigo. They have my all time favorite carrot cake, which VegNews rates as the “Best.CarrotCake.Ever” — I don’t think I need to elaborate! Truly the best and if I am jonesing for something sweet, this is what I might think of getting. Based out of New Hampshire with a great cafe, I got hooked on their carrot cake a few years ago when I had it at the now defunct My Thai Cafe in Brookline. I was elated when Whole Foods started carrying them so I am a happy girl. I ended up buying seitan cutlets and no cake as I ran out of cash after I bought my festival t-shirt.

I highly recommend bringing your appetite because you can definitely fill up on food their, both samples and full meals are available for sale. You should also bring plenty of cash as most places do not accept credit cards. Talk to the vendors and see what they have to offer you and please, don’t go just for the sake of grabbing free stuff. In addition to the food vendors, there was also jewelry, vegan and vegetarian books and cookbooks, as well as many, many animal rights booths set up. I get why they have to have these, but it’s kind of a Debbie Downer moment when you are trying to enjoy yourself. Veggie pizza next to “don’t kill animals” can be a bummer. I talked to one of the members of the organizing committee and asked why they haven’t gotten a larger venue. I think I’m going to have to get on that committee because this may not be the place to be if you are slightly claustrophobic. Don’t bring your babies or little kids folks — this place is packed and slow moving at times. Overall, however, a great way to get your veggie information and meet people so if you are wanting to get out before the big snowstorm, head on down to the Boston Vegetarian Festival this weekend!

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