Yes it was crowded. A veritable pickpocket’s paradise.
I was near Boston last weekend to visit my niece, but decided to drop by the 12th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival to see some friends and what the fuss was all about. (Sorry that my pictures look like they were taken underwater. A finger-smudged iPhone in the dim light of a basketball gym is not a recipe for photographic excellence.)
The fest drew a reasonably diverse crowd – not too hippy, not too white, not too tattooed, not too old or too young. There were so many free samples that I wasn’t even tempted by the food for sale (except the ice cream; details below). Many nationally distributed brands were present, as well as a bunch of Boston-area caterers and seed-and-granola roasters (that’s not a glib insult; there were actually a lot of people selling seeds and granola). It was great to see that in almost every case, “vegetarian” meant “vegan.” The focus was overwhelmingly food-related, though there was a smattering of other stuff.
A Carpenter Glove. The note on the Sox hat was either offering or begging for tickets; I can’t recall which.
My favorite non-food item was the Carpenter Trade Company’s baseball gloves. While Scott Carpenter played up the leather-free aspect at the veg fest, my impression is that his gloves are accidentally veg*n. The synthetics just perform better, plus his gloves are custom sized and significantly lighter than the standard models. He defaults to wool padding, but you can request a synthetic alternative when he makes your glove.
My least favorite non-food item was Vega. (Just kidding about it being non-food. Sort of. It’s so completely gross it must be good for you. I tried it so you don’t have to.)
Working hard at Wheeler’s Black Label. The elusive Wheeler himself refused to be photographed, claiming he already gets stopped by strangers too often.
My favorite food item was Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream (they also have a blog). This stuff is fucking incredible! Inspired by the pioneering work of 19th century African-American ice cream innovator Augustus Jackson, Wheeler made his own machines to churn out the freshest vegan ice cream I’ve ever tasted. He’s is planning to open a shoppe in Kendall Square in Cambridge later this year.
Mike and Glenn from Bumblebar.
Most of the other food was hard to get excited about. There’s just nothing too special about vegan chocolate, spices, baked tofu, fruit juice, peanut butter, or energy bars. Actually, there’s one energy bar I want to post a shout-out to. I’ve generally ignored BumbleBars because I assumed they contained honey, but in fact they’re vegan and always have been. The BumbleBar crew was super friendly and completely won me over with their unofficial (but oft-recited) slogan of “confusing vegans since 1995.” And the bars are pretty tasty, too!
What else? The Boston Vegan Association seems to be doing some good work. I didn’t go to any of the talks or presentations, but there were a bunch if you like that kind of thing. (Well, I tried to listen to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau‘s “Cozy Comfort Food for Chilly Nights” but I got bored and left after she spent the first 10 minutes making stale jokes about how normals think vegan food is weird and scary. C’mon, Colleen, you’re preaching to the choir here, just get to the cookies already!)
All in all, a good time. If you’re in the area when the 13th annual rolls around, definitely check it out. Admission is free, so you don’t have much to lose.