San Francisco proudly presents itself as one of the greatest vegetarian/vegan hubs of the US, if not the world. It’s a melting pot of cultures, lifestyles, tastes and hobbies, so naturally us vegetarians/vegans are well represented. I have to say I’ve become quite spoiled after living in the area. From markets to restaurants, there are so many awesome veg options out there. A good number of all vegan or vegan friendly brands are local to the state of California. Many popular vegan and yoga related establishments headquarters call SF bay home as well - most notably VegNews magazine, and Yoga Journal.
rows and rows of fab vegan products[/caption]
SF bay is naturally home to many festivals and events during the year, including veg friendly ones, and I’m very happy to report from the World Veg Festival that is happening this weekend, Oct 3rd - 4th 2015. This same weekend, in the same general location of beautiful Golden Gate Park, a music festival Hardly Strictly is happening as well! SF is keeping busy, that’s for sure!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, neither from the size or actual nature of the event, but all I need to hear is the word veg (that stands for vegetarian or vegan) and I’m there. This event developed in order to commemorate World Vegetarian Day, which is on October 1st.
I found out about the event online and bought tickets for myself and Acyuta a few days in advance, just to make sure I’ll be there. The event venue wasn’t hard to find, and considering the crazy amount of people in Golden Gate park for Hardly Strictly, parking wasn’t that bad either.
The event venue was smaller than I expected. The Green festival, which is coming up in about a month, was held at the Fort Mason center last year and it was huge, covering two massive pavilions. Of course, that is a more established, and longer running event, that happens in other major cities around US as well. Not all products at the Green festival were strictly vegetarian/vegan however, although there was plenty of options. The World Veg festival was presented by the San Francisco Veg Society.
Venue being small worked in my favor, however, as I had the time to run through it quickly. We brought Zen, my pup, with us and they didn’t allow him in (something about California food laws that doesn’t exist in all states). Acyuta ended up not going in at all, but rather took off for the music festival instead.
I made a few rounds, sampled foods and headed back outside to the food stands, to buy dinner, before heading out to Hardly Strictly to meet my guys.
Onto the important stuff! There were a lot of companies at the festival, mostly smaller, new and local companies I’ve never heard of and was very excited to try! Now that I think about it, the festival was really dedicated to new and established local brands instead of big companies you are used to seeing in big festivals, or on the shelves of supermarket chains. All the companies offered vegan or vegetarian products only, and I was very happy to support them as much as possible. A lot of made-to-eat foods were raw as well.
Miyoko’s Creamery - High Siera Rustic Alpine Cheese
Heaven in a box here! One of the top two products I’ve tried and bought to take home was cheese made from nuts, cultured just like milk cheese, and with taste, smell and texture a vegan can only dream about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Daiya fan, but I’m also aware that, although great on pizza and toast, that cheese is far from the real deal.
Unlike the taste of meat, which I find repelling in any form, I like and miss the taste of cheese. Even if I could avoid factory farming, environmental consequences, and many other circumstances due to which eating meat is just bad, I would never eat meat and kill animals for food. According to Ayurveda, meat is a food in the mode of tamas or darkness, and it’s not advised for one’s health in almost any circumstances.
Dairy however is a bit of a different story. In Ayurveda it is considered healthy in moderate amounts, and a food in the mode of sattva or goodness. The B12, which we don’t get from animal products, can be obtained from dairy, and is necessary for ones health (I take supplements, for example). And then there is mother’s milk, and in early stages of life we all (hopefully) have a chance and necessity for it.
I do understand, and to some extend agree which the doubt regarding the need for milk past the infant stage of life, since our species don’t drink milk as adults. However, I was a vegetarian for 10 years before turning vegan, not eating meat, fish or eggs, but eating dairy (while I lived in Croatia and Belgium, before moving to the US where dairy farming is even worse).
I didn’t necessarily want to start a long argument about this either. My point is - I miss the taste of cheese and I was extremely happy to find this product!
This company is local to Cali, the ladies offer tons of flavors and types of cheese, and I sampled as many as possible. I ended up settling on Alpine flavor. Amazing and delicious.
Price $10 for 6.5 oz round (prices of flavors vary online). It’s very strong so I eat it in small pieces, like a sampling platter. Otherwise the size is not that big, and I probably wouldn’t splurge on a piece every week, probably not even every month. But if you miss cheese, this is your thing. Try it yourself!
JJ’s Sweets - Cocomels, Coconut milk caramels with Sea Salt
Zen likes it too![/caption]
This was heavenly product number two! I left with it in complete ecstasy. I don’t remember the last time I had a caramel, and it was pure delight. They offered a bunch of flavors, original, vanilla, espresso and sea salt, which I ended up purchasing. They had chocolate covered caramels as well. As I write this, I have just finished my last piece caramel (my jaw hurts from chewing), and I kind of wish I had bought more. It’s that different kind of buyers remorse I suffer from regularly when it comes to delicious vegan treats.
Price: $5 per bag at the fest. Ate it way too quickly, want more now! I seriously regret not getting all the flavors. Shop it!
It wouldn’t be a party without chocolate! I found this cute shop with mix and match flavors, and I purchased a pair of each to share with my honey (honest disclosure: I ate most of them). These dark chocolate treats were filled with Mint (as pictured), Peanut Butter, Hazelnut Butter, and Caramel. All fabulous, I have to say PB was probably my least favorite one - and as a fan of peanut butter, that means the other flavors were that damn good!
Price: $0.50 per piece at the fest ($0.75 online). I ate them too quickly as well and am hopping for more. Try them as well!
Wellness in a bottle - now that’s a motto I like! I’ve met these guys before, they sell their fab drinks, juices and probiotics at the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market in San Francisco. I was happy to find them here again, and after sampling a few delicious drinks I settled on the same one I get most often - E3. It’s a sweet and spicy green drink with apple juice, green algae, lime and ginger (a good punch of it too!). They sell individual drinks, from juices to non-dairy kefirs and probiotics, to almond milk drinks, and multi-day cleanses as well.
Price: varies by drink, E3 is $8.50. Yes, a bit pricy, as most raw juices are. If you are interested in a cleanse or a new flavor, try them out.
There were a few food stands, including ice cream I regret not trying (see a theme here - I’m a sucker for sweets). Lot of raw food options, and I was very happy to try a raw veggie cone filled with a mildly spicy pate and veggies. I also got a hummus bowl with pita and veggies. For dessert I split a raw vegan tiramisu cake with a nice lady I met!
I love all veg fests! If you haven’t been to one, I highly recommend it! From meeting like-minded people, animal activists, and veg foodies, to learning new things and supporting businesses and projects that dedicate to vegan foods and animal protection, it’s overall a great experience.