To get winter-worn New Yorkers thinking forward to Springtime and sunshine, The 2015 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival kicks off this weekend, March 14-15, at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion. In its fifth year running, NYC Vegetarian Food Festival will be a weekend to celebrate the importance of plants in not only healthy and delicious foods, but our everyday lives as well. The festival lineup boasts a repertoire of visionaries in the vegetarian and vegan cooking movement, including chefs, vendors and entertainers who have one thing in common: They are all about that veg. Here’s a look at what’s lined up during this must-attend two-day veg fest.
Champions of Vegetarian Cuisine
A host of professional nutrition experts and award-winning authors are scheduled to discuss the topics of vegan and vegetarian cuisine on the festival’s agenda. Rich Roll will be signing copies of his new book, The Plant Power Way, while speakers like Chef Adam Sobel (founder of the gone-but-never-forgotten Cinnamon Snail food truck), and top cardiologists Joel Kahn and Robert Ostfeld will take the stage to talk about the benefit of vegan diets. And for you especially big animal lovers (though what vegetarian isn’t?), Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection organization that advocates for farm animals, will remind you how awesome you are for all your non-meat-eating.
Get your thrills and spills through live cooking demos! For pros and amateurs, alike, there will be plenty of opportunity to soak up expert vegetarian and vegan cuisine tips from the pros, while enjoying a little live cooking theater— not a bad deal, if you ask us. Headlining the live cooking demos are top chefs J.L Fields (Vegan chef extraordinaire), Fran Costigan (aka the “Queen of Vegan Desserts” for—what else?—her out-of-this-world vegan desserts), and Chloe Coscarelli of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars— the first ever vegan chef to win a culinary competition on TV.
Veggie Samples Galore
And no food festival would be complete without plenty of noms to sample, so come ready to snack! International, national and local vendors well armed and ready with vegan food (and product) samples to remind you, once again, why livin la vida meatless can be so freakin’ good. Meet the folks behind plant conscious companies like Green Mustache, Love Beets, Herbivore Clothing Company, Upton’s Naturals, and The Peanut Principle and check out their wares first-hand. Returning by popular demand again is Rescue Chocolate, a company well known for making scrumptious bars and truffles and respected even more for donating all its profits to various animal rescue organizations.
Did we mention your ticket gets you a free entry into the raffle benefitting this year’s charity partner, Evolve For Animals? Yeah, so that’s more free stuff for you + more help for the animals. Talk about a win-win.
Family Friendly Events
This weekend is also designed to be a learning and engaging experience for the young ones, the organizers have made sure to include activities for the whole family. The Kumquat Kids Area, sponsored by the Solutionary School, will host some super fun activities designed especially to teach youth about healthy eating and nutrition in a light-hearted, interactive way. Check out just a few of the things scheduled below:
- GrowNYC will present “Eating a Rainbow”, a program that will help to point out the health benefits of a nutritious diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Registered dietician Dr. Annie Hauck-Lawson will lead a fun show-and-tell show, “Worms Do Wonders: Kitchen Scraps turn into Black Gold for the Garden!” red worms in a compost bin
- Veggiecation‘s Brannan Robson will head up a super fun shamrock smoothie-making session, while Brian Yanish (author of ScrapKins Build-It Book) will show kiddos how to turn everyday junk into beautiful art.
- Teen vegetarian spokesperson and philanthropist Chloe Falkenheim will lead a “veg teen meet-up” while the Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will sponsor a festival scavenger hunt and present the “Planetary Problem Puzzle” for middle- and high-schoolers to get their noggins churning.
And of course…there’s more yummy eating! For those who want to get in early on the action, a pre-festival dinner will be held on Friday, March 13 from 7-8:30 pm at the National Gourmet Institute in Manhattan. Chef Jay Astafa of 3 Brothers Pizza Café (also Jay Astafa Catering) and winner of PETA’s “Best Vegan Pizza” award, will be serving up a three-course vegan feast to get the veggie party started. Get ready to tuck in for, what is guaranteed to be, one fingerlickin’ meal. Take a look at the menu below:
- First course: White asparagus panna cotta, king oyster mushroom scallop, and chilled potato leek soup
- Second course: Cauliflower steak chimichurri featuring purple cauliflower puree, beluga lentils, rainbow chard, and almond romensco
- Third course: “Cheesecake” with carrot coconut gelato, walnut crumble, pineapple coulis, and crystallized ginger
And for the extra fancy-schmancy among you, a pre-festival, pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres reception will be be held from 6-7pm with live entertainment by BET comedian Alex Carabano. The menu for this special ticketed event includes:
- Crostini with mint-sorrel pesto, green peas, and cashew parmesan
- Chipotle and coffee-braised carrot mini tacos
- Mini beet burgers
- Sparkling Kevita drinks
The 2015 New York City Vegetarian Food Festival will go from 11am-6pm on March 14-15 at Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, and with so many amazing ways to celebrate and learn about a plant-centric lifestyle, we say this is a must-attend event for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters, alike! Get out there and love some animals, y’all.