I had the most amazing weekend, and I give full credit to Portland VegFest 2011!
For those of you who missed out, wow, I'm sorry, because it was amazing. It completely rejuvinated me and reinforced my decision to go vegan. It was exactly what I needed. My biggest regret was only making it for one day, if I'd known what to expect I would have spent the entire weekend there.
Since I missed most of the speakers and demos (ughhhh bummer), I spent my time at VegFest checking out all the booths in the exhibit hall! A lot of the products I'd tried before, because lets be honest, I've devoted an entire blog to finding new products i can eat. But there were a few that were new to me that I'm really excited about!
First of all, my boyfriend Joe bought a Vitamix, which means my smoothies and soups are about to reach a whole new level of awesome. Stay tuned for recipes!!
Oregon Ice Works - I'd seen their food cart before, but never had a chance to try their stuff, so VegFest gave me the opportunity. Wowza. They make vegan Italian Ice in all sorts of flavors. I got to try the marionberry and the vanilla which were both out of this world. The only drawback is that their products are sweetened with cane sugar (although it is fair trade which is nice!). But other than that its just water and fruit! Pretty great, right? You can get more info at their website: http://oregonice.com/.
It's Alive - So this is one I've tried before, I'm actually a regular buyer of their raw dill sauerkraut, but they have some new flavors and products that I feel deserve attention! Like....their seaweed kimchi! I know it sounds weird, but if you are a fermented foods junkie like myself, you'd LOVE this stuff. It would take a pretty great flavor to pull me away from my beloved dill sauerkraut, but this one did it. Because its new, it isnt available everywhere yet, but they do have it in bulk at Peoples Coop which is awesome! The other product that's amazing is their dehydated snack mix, which is a mix of seeds and spices that was absolutely to die for. My favorite was the Wasasbi Nori. For products and locations, check out http://www.itsalivefood.com/index.htm
Foods Alive - Ok, this is a bit random, but I've never had oil as tasty as their flax oil. Oh my god. I would eat that stuff straight out of the bottle. And its full of vegan omega 3s, which is an added bonus! They also make salad dressings that use the oil as a base as well as flax crackers that are pretty dang good! Unfortunately, they can't be found locally, but its totally worth buying online: http://www.foodsalive.com/
Al Amir - Al Amir is a lebanese restaurant here in Portland, but they make some of their dips and sell them through grocery stores. We tried their garlic sauce, and WOW was it good. We kept going back for seconds and thirds and fourths, and if we'd had the cash both my friend Ilan and I would have bought it on the spot. This stuff is amazing, and its available at a bunch of places apparently, even Fred Meyer! Also a plus, their restaurant serves gluten free falafel, so heyyy, that's a win!
But of all the vendors, I did have a favorite...drumroll please
And the winner is....Solstice Snacks!
Oh my stars. They make these goji snack bars that are like rice crispies and fruit and all sorts of yummy goodness and I think I probably had at least two samples of every flavor (unfortunately some of them have peanut butter). Of all the flavors, my favorite is a toss up between Chocolate Mint and Thai Spice. I noticed the thai one isn't on their website, so it must be fairly new. These little snackies are sooo delicious! I can't wait to go buy some once I'm off my cleanse! More info can be found at http://store.solsticebars.com/
So I did kinda lie, I actually had a product I liked as much as the Solstice Bars; Sorta Sausage Hemp Burgers. I was all ready to write them this glowing review, when I checked their website and found out they contain corn! I'm so bummed! I was dumb for not asking ahead of time, especially because I had enough samples to equal a whole burger. I like want to cry. It was one of the best things I've ever tasted. I'm hoping to write to them and comment that they should make a corn free version. However, if you aren't allergic to corn, you HAVE to try these. Find out more here: http://sortasausage.com/
At the end of the day, Ilan, Joe and I stuck around for a screening of the film Forks Over Knives, which was the final straw in convincing me to go vegan 7 months ago. If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's out on video now and its also available on Netflix. What gets me every time about this movie is how well researched it is. With so much conflicting info out there about nutrition's part in health, its easy to get confused. I still do, after all this time. But this movie really reminded me that I am doing the right thing. I think the thing that makes this movie so awesome is that it presents the information from a health standpoint, rather than being a slasher film full of clips of animal cruelty or an intimidating and annoying liberal protest-fest. This movie focuses solely on the research that proves eating animal protein can lead to the growth of cancer cells, as well as cause diabetes and heart disease. It appeals to such a wide audience, which is really what I'm trying to accomplish as well. So seriously, SEE IT! It will change your life.
I can't even express how perfect VegFest was for me this weekend. After being run down from my cleanse, it was exactly the boost I needed to remind me why I live the way I do. It got me excited about veganism again. I was seriously glowing after I left, my whole being was filled with energy. I definitely plan on attending more NWVeg events, and I'll keep you all posted on each one! And be on the lookout for more VegFest related reviews, I have a couple new restaurants to try and tell you about!