There were three levels where activities were taking place, and when we arrived around 12:30, the whole place was hopping. We made our way into the second level and immediately grabbed a couple of small bowls of vegan chili, which was provided by the university, and took a seat to assess the rest of the offerings.
It was free and was also served with some brown rice, but I didn't have any because I wanted to save room for the many other food options that were available. While we were eating, my friend Pam ran into us with her family in tow, and let us know there was falafel on the first level, which is of course important information for me to have. We scarfed the rest of the chili down and decided to brave the extremely crowded first level.
It was a decidedly un-vegan-like cattle call downstairs. We did manage to get a couple of falafel patties (minus the not-vegan tzatziki sauce), and they were unfortunately kind of cold. They were made by Falafel Republic, and I had actually bought them in a package before at a local health food store. I would have to say that to my discerning falafel-loving palate, they were just okay, but considering the crowd, I think we were pretty lucky to even get them at all. Seriously, I think there were a lot of people who showed up just for the free food, and not as much for the vegetarianness of it all, and it started to wear thin on both John and me pretty quickly.
We made our way around the "track," as it were, and ended up buying a veggie patty and veggie roti from the One Love Cafe table. One Love is a vegan-friendly restaurant right here in Worcester that we ate at recently but I have yet to review. The food was nicely curry-ish with cauliflower, carrots, and green beans, and was thankfully able to be eaten out of hand, since tables were scarce.
Veggie Roti in waxed paper
John attempting to enjoy his veggie patty without elbowing someone in the head (on accident. Or not.)
At the other end of the room from One Love, there was a very busy table for X's and O's Bakery from the Albany, NY area. I bought a brownie and got John a chocolate chip cookie from them. I had bought a few things from X's and O's when I had to go to Albany for work before (vegan twinkies, woot!), so I was pretty happy to enjoy more of their sugary deliciousness.
My super-fudgy brownie
After escaping from the first level, we did a quick walkthrough of the third level to see what was there. Peace o' Pie of Boston was there, but we have had their food before and were also thinking about pacing ourselves, so we decided to leave for an hour and then come back in time to grab some vegan soft serve and catch Terry Hope Romero's demo.
When we got back, we jumped in the looooooooong line in front of the Like No Udder dairy-free ice cream truck. Understandably, there had pretty much been an all-day run on the business, so the machine needed to take a short break, but we stuck around to wait for it, since we had half an hour until the cooking demo. It took almost that whole time, but holy wow, it was worth it!
John's chocolate/vanilla twist and my vanilla with a cone
They also usually do shakes, and usually serve the ice cream in the cone, but their poor machine was getting stretched to the limit. The folks working there were really nice and apologetic about the wait, but they really didn't need to be. I'm sure that there will be at least one time this summer when I drive to Providence to stalk the Like No Udder truck. Soft serve ice cream is something I have been missing pretty desperately!
We made our way into the building again and buzzed up to the conference area on the third level to get seats for the cooking demo. Terry Hope Romero talked vegan-ness, cooked Seitan Potato Tacos from Viva Vegan! and answered a ton of questions, and was generally very sweet, funny, and all-around awesome.
My semi-terrible picture of Terry Hope Romero
After the demo we decided to do one last run-through to make sure we felt like we saw everything we wanted to see and decided to hit the road. It was about 4 PM, and things had calmed down significantly, and many of the tables had shut down for the day. It started out rainy and kind of gross today, but by the time we left, it was beautiful and sunny.
Me in my only message t-shirt with my new short hair*
Overall, it was a really good experience to visit VegFest. I will say that what we ate was only a small portion of the food that was available at VegFest, so they definitely had the food covered, which I think had been a problem last year. Our biggest issue was the crowd, which was extremely out of hand when we first arrived. With the number of people who came, it would have been better to hold the event in an auditorium or even outdoors, but I know that the kind of preparation that would go into selecting a venue and coordinating is a Herculean task, and VegWorcester did an excellent job with their limited resources. So I will quit making a fuss, because the vendors (both of food and of information -- there were tons of tables with information about various vegan-like causes) were very high-quality, and drawing a massive crowd is a really good thing, because it means more people are being exposed to the vegan lifestyle. The event definitely reminded me that it's a very good time to be vegan, because it's becoming a lot harder to dismiss it as a passing fad.
I have SO MUCH to blog about, so I'll hopefully get on at least once more this week to share a restaurant review at the very least, but starting with my visit to Mississippi/Louisiana next week, things are shaping up for a very busy summer. It seems strange to be thinking about summer with temperatures still hanging out in the 40's, but the older I get, the more I realize that time really sneaks up on ya. Enjoy your week!
*I went and cut 18 inches of hair off my head and didn't even blog about it for two weeks.