Sunday, September 20, 2009

Veg Fest 2009

Yesterday Justin and I went to Veg Fest at the Oregon Convention Center. I'd been anticipating this event since August and found the cool, drizzly fall morning to be a perfect backdrop for a Saturday of free vegan food, cooking demos, classes and info booths from some of the coolest companies on the market right now. We got the entrance of exhibit hall A and waited in a line for about 5 minutes. It was exciting to see so many people eager to be exposed to veggie culture. In fact on our way out 2 hours later there was still a steady line at the door! Once we got inside and it became clear that everyone's main priority was downing the free food. Having attended Expo West, the massive annual natural products trade show in Anaheim, for the last two years I was prepared for crowds of sample hungry people but this scene was truly comical in its unapologetic crush for free yummy treats. So we dove right in.

Two of the companies I was most impressed with were Dr. John's VitaCrisp Crackers "gluten free healthy yummys".  These raw vegan crackers were absolutely delicious. We stopped in front of their table for a few minutes and sampled several crackers (with a delicious cilantro-basil pesto). Dr. John was there with a welcoming woman who encouraged everyone to sample away and come back for more as she refilled bowl after bowl. I tried the India Spice, Nacho Chez and Medium Hot Chipotle and began to think maybe I could try a raw diet after all. Interestingly enough the other up and coming vegan business I really liked was also raw, Bishop's Vegan Gelato. Heather Bishop herself was there scooping up serving after serving of this organic almond milk based ice cream. I tried a bit of the Orange Cardamom and it was absolutely amazing.

We also spent some time at the Dave's Killer Bread table where again the line of people to sample slices was deep. This bread is indeed killer and I almost always have 2 slices for breakfast. Sharing their table was Project Pooch, a great program that works with youth in corrections to care for and train shelter dogs, preparing them for adoption. We spoke with their representative while waiting for our turn at the bread samples and she told us about their fundraiser for the program on September 26th.

In addition to the coupons, handouts, a shopping list and full bellies we left with contact info for two volunteer opportunities we're looking forward to. Fences for Fido, which provides free fences, spay/neuter and shelters for dogs who are relegated to a life outdoors and have been chained by their keepers. They accept volunteers for fence-building projects. You can also contact them to apply for a fence for your own dog, or a dog you know. We were also thrilled to discover Out to Pasture, an animal sanctuary nearby in Estacada. Perhaps we'll be able to help clean troughs, muck out stalls and share a little love with rescued farm animals.

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