Eat. Drink. Vegan. The new name of the LA Vegan Beer and Food Festival seems so simple, yet is so true. This was my first time experiencing this event and those three words couldn’t summarize it better. I ate. I drank. Everything was vegan. Although, like any festival, the highlight was enjoying with close friends and thousands of others who share the same views about animals that I do 🙂
The day started with a 3 hour drive from San Diego. I had a light protein shake on the way up just to give me some driving energy-no extra calories were to be consumed in advance to save up for all the vegan vittles that were in store for my taste buds. I was fortunate to have a V.I.P. ticket, so the crowd waiting to get in was small, but growing, as was the temperature. The weekend heat wave was not going to slow me down and I was able to find some friends who had a shady spot to spend the next hour before they opened the gates.
Once we were let in and received our complimentary souvenir tasting glass (mine would be used for the numerous new-to-me kombucha companies), it was time to enter a vegan field of dreams. While I have been vegan for nearly 6 years, I have still not had the opportunity to try many of the well known vegan food purveyors and I knew that was about to change. My mouth was already salivating with the sights, sounds, and smells coming from the white tents before me.
Although I was a LAVBFF rookie, I knew enough from other events that I had to make a plan of attack and prioritize what vendors I absolutely had to try at all costs before my stomach raised the white flag. It also helped that my group of friends loves to share, so I got to try some extras that weren’t on my list with very little caloric cost 🙂 First on that list: The Herbivorous Butcher and their Buffalo Double Down!
I got in line about 15 minutes after the festival started and it was already quite a wait, so I knew it would be worth it. Fortunately, right next door was Chef Ayinde Howell and his famous Mac and Yease, which I had never tried. I knew the wait for THB would be long enough that I could enjoy my cheesy goodness and it made for a very enjoyable waiting experience 🙂
After whetting my appetite with an unexpected treat, it was time for the main event! Let me just say, it’s a good thing one of my friends brought an extra take home container because I have never seen a sandwich so big! It took a couple of bites before my brain could fully process all the amazing flavors that I was experiencing. In case you haven’t heard of this sandwich before, it’s basically two pieces of homemade fried seitan chicken (regular or buffalo) that act as the buns to hold a filling of homemade seitan bacon, garlic havarti pepper cheese, homemade ranch dressing, lettuce, and tomato. Healthy? Not so much. Delicious? Absolutely!
After finishing that, or half of it at least, the combination of the heat and my full belly was starting to get to me, so I decided it was time to try some kombucha. I lost track of the number of flavors I tried, but my stomach and mind were renewed and felt healthier than before. My friends agreed-it’s amazing what a few sips of fermented tea and some simple ingredients can do!
After that, the rest of the afternoon was spent chatting, sampling, and just enjoying the atmosphere. As the temperature continued to climb, I was in the mood for something cool and creamy. While my original plan was not to try any booths that are within driving distance of my home in San Diego, Yoga-urt was calling my name. I got a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of caramel frozen yogurt topped with fresh strawberries and some gummy bears for the kid at heart I still very much am. It may not have been from a restaurant far away, but it totally hit the spot!
After finishing this, my mind wanted to keep eating, but my body said no more, so I headed home full, hot, exhausted, and completely happy! I can truly say that I ate, drank, and enjoyed all things vegan! I don’t know what the next year will hold, but I know one thing is for sure. I will be back at Eat Drink Vegan LA in 2017! Now, I’m off to plan my next vegan adventure 🙂