In my last post, I wrote about the fun I had at this year’s Chicago VeganMania, but that was only half of it! With so many great speakers, demos, and vendors, I tried to experience as much of the festival as I could and was there till it closed at 5pm!
Victoria’s presentation walked us through a simple acronym (V.E.G.A.N.) that will help anyone on a journey towards Veganism, while also helping Veganism continue to come into the mainstream to Main Street.
V – Validate your Choices - As a vegetarian or a vegan, I know from first-hand experience, we get a lot of questions! “Where do you get your protein? Your calcium? Your Vitamin B?”, etc. Victoria pointed out that most of the questions we receive are the same, and usually, the person asking is genuinely curious. By learning how to respond to a handful of questions, these exchanges can be positive for both parties. And there are so many resources out there to help teach us these basic answers, including Victoria’s newest book, “ Main Street Vegan “.
E – Exemplify a Healthy Lifestyle – She rightly pointed out that Vegan Convenience foods are a double-edged sword. Yes, they help tremendously when I need a quick snack, or if I’m having a craving for ice-cream, cookies, potato chips etc… but while a diet that consists of only french fries and oreos is vegan, it isn’t healthy. “Remember that you are a VEG-etarian, not a Cupcake-atarian”, she said, reminding us that plenty of nutrient-packed plant-based foods are the core of a healthy vegan diet.
G – Get to Know Other Vegans - This tip is about getting to know people with similar ideals (Vegan or not!) so that it starts to feel normal. Even Facebook friends count. Don’t have any veg-friendly friends? Maybe check out a local meet-up group . Believe it or not, I don’t even know that many other vegetarians, but thanks to twitter and the thousands of bloggers out there, I feel like I do! Looking for some Vegan Blogs to follow? Check out everyone participating in VeganMOFO this month (it’s a celebration of a “Vegan Month of Food”, with hundreds of bloggers committed to posting daily throughout October).
A – Add More Than You Subtract – Stay positive and be open to trying new foods. While animal-products may seem like a big category to reduce or cut-out, the plant-based world has an endless array of new foods to try. From millet to kale to chia seeds, I honestly think I try new foods more often now than I did before I started leaning Vegan.
N – Never Forget the Animals – Even if your reasons for eating less meat are purely for health, thinking about the animals can help to stay committed on the harder days. I try not to be too much of a downer on my blog, but Factory Farming is a horribly cruel industry. If you’d like to learn more about it, I’d recommend the book Skinny Bitch or the documentary Vegucated . While both contain just short segments about Factory Farming, they were more than enough to bring me to tears and quit my omelet-a-day habit cold-turkey.
After Victoria’s presentation, we learned that Mike’s cousins Jerry and Evie were at the festival with their baby girl. We all decided to have a snack together and had our hearts set on Soul Vegetarian East’s booth. It had by far the longest line of any vendor (I waited in line about 15 min) but it was well worth the wait, and turned out to be my favorite bite at the fair.
Jerry & Evie’s daughter demolished Soul Veg’s delicious Macaroni & Cheeze. In fact, it looks like she’s giving it a serious thumbs up!
Mike and I shared a combo plate of Soul Veg’s Macaroni & Cheese, BBQ Riblets, and Collard Greens, which I can only describe as a perfect symphony of flavors. The rich & cheezy Macaroni, out of this world barbecue sauce, and the perfectly cooked collards were all delicious on their own, and even better when combined. Thankfully, I’ve seen Soul Vegetarian’s food at Chicago-land Whole Foods Markets, because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this meal ever since.
Believe it or not, I’d been at VeganMania all this time and I hadn’t visited any of the vendors yet! Finally it was time to do some visiting & shopping…
The next thing I simply had to have was the Vegan Queso by Food For Lovers which was recommended to me by Laura and Darrin . I haven’t tried it yet, but so far I’m impressed with the ingredients – it’s made primarily from tomatoes, green chili peppers, flour, and nutritional yeast, which means it’s Fat Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free & Nut Free. I’m super psyched to have an excuse to plan Nachos for Dinner (one of my favorite meals) again real soon!
Mike and I also picked up a few other healthy snacks we like because the prices were unbeatable: Dry Roasted Edamame and Organic Unsweetened Apple Sauce for me, and Tamari Roasted Almonds for him.
Lastly, Evie and I walked around for a while together with the baby. We popped into the “Culture Cafe” area which had live music and, like last year, a coffee bar with an impressive selection of Non-Dairy milks, which were available for sampling. I tried a sip of the Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut blend – Yum!
We also spent a good while in the Kid zone, which was full of balancing toys for the little ones and before we knew it the day was over!
I’d love to hear from you!Which of the Non-Dairy Milks would you have wanted to try? Or what’s your current favorite Non-Dairy Milk?