Disappointed by the Lack of Vegetables at the Vegetarian Food Fair

Monday, September 14, 2009

I wish I was kidding.

On Saturday I hit up the Vegetarian Food Fair with Meghan to assist with her demo “Doing it Veggie Style”. Meghan’s demo focused on healthy vegetarian cooking that doesn’t center itself around soy, grains, potatoes or corn. SANY2147

In Meghan’s exuberant style she showed a packed crowd how to make baked falafels with cilantro pesto, quinoa salad and chocolate truffles as well as discussed the benefits of eating seaweed and demonstrated the simplicity of sprouting. meg demoIt was an action packed hour and the crowd seemed to really enjoy themselves and rushed to grab some samples of the food! Everyone was excited to talk to Meghan afterwards and check out her tutorials (including the Green Smoothie Cleanse, Lunar Cycle and Five Days Vegan – which starts on Tuesday!) meg demo 2It was really fun to help out and get things prepped and make sure she had everything she needed to keep the demo running smoothly. We were both pooped afterward and decided to scope out the rest of the Fair in search of some lunch. SANY2162

That’s when we came up empty handed.

There were tonnes of vendors at the Fair selling everything from cookware, baked goods, and slicers with a mix of people promoting their services and causes. (I picked up some amazing products from
Living Libations) There were also tents with vendors selling vegetarian food where Meghan and I hoped to pick up some fuel. Everywhere we turned there was tofu in many shapes and forms: Deep fried, tofu “duck”, tofu “lamb”, tofu “chicken”, tofu “turkey”.

I want to say that I don’t have a big issue with tofu, but I do try to limit my consumption. As a vegetarian/vegan it could be very easy to consume tofu multiple times at every meal in the form of tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy margarine, soy cheese, soy ice cream, not to mention the addition of soy hiding in other foods. We don’t need to be eating soy (or any food for that matter) that frequently! There has been a lot said about soy both negative and positive, and personally I try to stick to the basics (organic tofu or tempeh) and only eat it once in awhile.

I personally can’t understand the heavy reliance on faux meats. As a vegetarian/vegan there are so many options for foods and sources of protein, why try to replace them with fake versions of meat? A vegetarian or vegan plant-based diet can be an incredibly healthy one, but on the flip side it can be incredibly easy to choose faux meats/pasta/bread/cheese/ grains. In order to maximize the benefits of a plant based diet, one needs to be conscious of what they are putting into their body and focus their choices around the good stuff!

In addition to all the tofu there was a lot of bread and seemingly processed foods. Where were the vegetables? Rather than focusing on the benefits of a plant based diet, there seemed to be booth after booth of deep fried items, tofu and fake food. Add into that my gluten intolerance and Meghan’s black pepper allergy, we definitely had a problem. Meghan and I opted for cookies from Sweets from the Earth, bananas I had in my bag, some leftover quinoa from Marni Wasserman’s demo and thai young coconuts.

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While I am sure there were other things we could have eaten (Ricki found vegan sushi) it was so packed that it made the booths challenging to navigate and asking questions just wasn’t an option. When we mentioned a couple people about the lack of vegetables more than one person pointed us in the direction of the Live Food Bar booth. The line was long and they seemed to have a lot of snack-type items rather than lunch. Many of the demos had healthier options (Marni made a quinoa salad and jae steele had some kale chips and raw granola rocking) but samples were a hot commodity!
SANY2157I’m sorry if I’m coming off as so negative about the event. It really was a beautiful day with beautiful blue skies and lots of sunshine, Meghan’s demo went really well and I had a lot of fun hanging out, but the lack of emphasis on vegetarian/vegan nutrition really bummed me out. As someone who recently became vegan I really enjoy cooking and finding joy in this plant based diet without a ton of soy or processed food. As I was writing this I was talking to Joey about the foods we eat and he agreed that he has enjoyed the variety of foods we eat and said he doesn’t feel bored or deprived at all. This conversation had just taken place following our dinner of a chickpea-zucchini-tomato stir fry over quinoa – yum! There is so much more to vegetarianism than tofu and deep fried stuff and I wanted the Food Fair to share that with everyone who attended.


GF Gidget said...

I find that to be a problem with GF events as well. People focus on finding substitutions for glutenous foods. Instead, they should focus on eating whole balanced meals. If you shop the perimeter of the grocery store you will be amazed by the number of naturally gluten free foods. GF Guy and I try to shop this way. Not only is it healthier, it is much more economical!

LauraA said...

You're so right about the soy...everything in moderation! I have a feeling that the reason soy is packed into every vegetarian food option going stems from the fear that vegetarians aren't getting enough protein. You'd think that fear would be outdated by now.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Oh man, that's awful :( But hooray for Meghan's exhibit/demo being MORE than worthy!! I wish I could have been there to support her and to attend the fair (even if there was a lack of food there, haha).

Lauren said...

That totally stinks! The same thing happens at my Whole Foods, they always have vegan potstickers and different fried tofu dishes, nothing not artifical (which is why I usually end up going the Indian route). It's like they are trying to make up for use not being able to eat those things, like we would if we did anyway! Glad everything else went great! I wish they had a Veg Fest around here (with good food of course).

Ashley Gibson said...

Absolutely!! I'm all about focusing on the things that are naturally gluten free and vegan!

There is so much amazing food out there, and we just need to embrace it, rather than try to replace the things we're not eating.

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) said...

Awesome. The highlight for me was def. walking around in matching T's with you. We should do that more often :)

My post is coming up tomorrow and I pretty much said the same thing. No veg at the veg fair? I have a huge issue with foods that come in quotes and I am pretty sure that the food that was served there was not doing it's part in getting non-veggies to think veg happy thoughts.

Nicci said...

A Vegetarian Food Fair but no veggies...that's crazy. Did they forget veggies at home? Sorry you couldn't find much there. Was it a big organized event?

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I do some soy, but not much. And I don't give much to my children either!

I loved hearing about the fair. We don't have anything like that around here.

Ricki said...

Hey Ashley--
It was great to meet you there! I had the same problem--that veg sushi was THE ONLY thing I could eat given my dietary restrictions--and this will maybe 100 vendors! But you're right, the day was superb and I'm so glad Meghan's demo went well! :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you didn't love the fair! I had a great time (and enjoyed a huge delicious cup of fresh fruit!) I went on Sunday so maybe it was a little less busy than Saturday but I personally felt like I found a pretty good balance of items with different bases (beans, nuts...etc as well as soy). Hope you have better luck next time!

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