NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

I’ve been on vacation for the last week, and part of my plans included going to a conference for the last few days. I had hemmed and hawed for months over what day I would come back, because of the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. I really wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure if I could do that after going to the conference and the travel issue, but last week Living Social had a deal on VIP tickets to the Food Festival, so I decided I had to go.

I’m glad that I did!

I’ve been the to Boston Vegetarian Food Festival several times, though not in the last 3 or 4 years, so it’s been a while since I’ve been to something like this!

This being the first year of the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, there may still be some kinks to work out. Like one, a larger space. In my recollection anyway, the Boston one is much bigger (and is two days, rather than one, but that one has been around for a long time). They might also look for more diversity of vendors. If you wanted chocolate, marshmallows, vegan ice cream, cupcakes and mac & cheese (all vegan), you were all set. There was some diversity, I’d just like to see more. Believe you me, I’m not complaining about any place that has multiple types of all of the above in one room!

Due to my lack of skills as a photographer and the insane crowding in the room, I didn’t get many pictures, and even fewer that came out. I’m hoping that there will be more elsewhere on the web!


Cherry Pomegranate Cupcakes from Wild Flour Baking Co. Delicious!


An actual clearing in the insane crowd!

So what should you know if you go to a Vegetarian Food Festival?

  • Some “vegetarian” food festivals are just that: vegetarian. Not all of the products at any given Vegetarian Food Festival will be vegan, so be careful. Of note, I didn’t see any non-vegan items at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, but I’ve traditionally seen dairy/egg containing products at Boston. I also saw some tweets in the last week complaining about non-vegan items not being properly labeled. At NYC, allergens were also clearly marked.
  • No matter how large the venue, it will always be crowded. These are generally free events with food samples! Why wouldn’t lots of people want to go? If you are someone who can’t stand being in tight, enclosed spaces with lots of people, this may not be the event for you, unless you have a way of dealing with that.
  • On that note, this may be controversial, but I’ll say it anyways. Don’t bring babies or very young children. It’s not that this isn’t a family-friendly event, but it’s not geared towards children, it’s very, very, very crowded, and having a stroller isn’t going to get you through anything any faster. There are samples everywhere, right in reach of little kids. If you only want them to have one piece at each, you’re going to have a hard time setting that limit even when you’re right there next to them (I saw this happen quite a few times). I also saw a woman with a newborn trying to bounce and soothe the baby in the middle of this gridlocked crowd- not working so well, and the woman just looked miserable. This is a VERY high-stimulation situation. If you know your child doesn’t handle that well (or wouldn’t be developmentally expected to be), don’t bring them in. You’ll be much happier that way.
  • If there is a pre-sale on premium tickets, grab them. You will thank me. This was the line today- but you bypass it with a VIP ticket (and get cool stuff).
  • There’s usually a bunch of vendors that will be selling their wares. If you want to buy stuff, bring cash. Some may take credit cards, but many won’t. I didn’t get a t-shirt because I ran out of cash. 🙁
  • Check out the program ahead of time, and try to plan your trip around that. There may be speakers that you want to see, or cooking demonstrations you want to watch. Get there early!
  • Do you want to eat before you go? At the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, there were a number of restaurants that were selling food- like lunch-type food (and desserts). I’ve seen the desserts at Boston, but not so much of the more savory-kind there. Considering the line to get in for general admission, it might not be the best idea to go there starving hungry. On the other hand, don’t stuff yourself before you go! You may well want to try meals there, and you’ll most certainly want samples!
  • Consider bringing your own utensils. Aside from reducing waste, some vendors run out. 🙂 It won’t work for things like vegan ice cream, where a little bit is scooped out directly to a tiny spoon, but will for most other things.
  • On that note, consider bringing some containers if you want to bring food home with you. A lot of the food is meant to be eaten there, so they’re not served or packaged in containers conducive to travel.
  • Bring a bag! You will get stuff there and you’ll need something to carry it home in!
  • If you want to take pictures, be skilled at taking them in tight quarters while getting jostled!
  • Finally… patience. You’ll need a lot of it. I didn’t have enough, so I never got near Chicago Soy Dairy’s table to buy some Teese. I’ve had all of their products, so it’s not like I had to try something, but they don’t get sold locally, so I’m bummed. I’m just one of those people that doesn’t do all that well in big crowds!

It was a fun day, and I’m so glad that I went. I wasn’t in the city for all that long, as I couldn’t tolerate being in that kind of a crowd for a really long time, but it was definitely a great experience. I think I’m going to make myself available for the Boston one in the fall… Vegetarian (Vegan) Food Festivals for all!

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  1. Pingback: Foodswings Closing! | The Picky Vegan

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