Last Sunday my friend Allyson and I made a day trip to Toronto to go check out the annual Vegetarian Food Festival. I’ve been wanting to go for years, but never wanted to make the 3 hour trip from London, so I was so excited to actually be in the area for this year’s event!
We planned on going to Fresh to grab lunch beforehand, but I was disappointed to find out that it’s not safe for me to eat there because of the nuts. Now, I eat at a lot of restaurants that use nuts, but they all assure me that they do their best to prevent cross contamination. Not Fresh though. It seems weird to me that they can’t at least store their nuts slightly separate from the rest of their ingredients and keep their peanut sauce away from the other sauces. It doesn’t seem like it would be a great inconvenience to them.
But anyways, I digress. We ended up finding a place called Arepa Cafe around the corner, which is gluten-free (for Allyson) and almost totally nut free. Yay!
I’d never even heard of an arepa before, but I found out that they are flatbreads made from corn that get stuffed with various fillings. I had one with black beans, plantain, avocado, and mozzarella and it was seriously delicious (and also seriously messy)!
Afterwards we wandered down to the festival for an afternoon of more good eats. I didn’t manage to get a picture of all the vendors because there were so many, but here’s a summary of some of the ones we visited:
Y’all know I’m not much of a supplement person, as I much prefer real food, but when it comes to supplements, Vega seems to be about as close to real food as you can get. I tried their sugar-free energizer and their all-in-one nutritional shake, and I liked both. I started to drink more smoothies this summer, but they were never really that filling, so I could see myself maybe buying the nutritional shake to add to them.
Live On Chocolate (Website)
This is a gluten free, vegan chocolate company that also makes power puddings made from raw cashews. I was really excited to see they also have a nut free coconut lime power pudding made with avocado instead. And the owner Stacy reassured me that she takes great precautions to prevent contamination. It’s currently made in the same equipment as the cashew ones (although it is thoroughly cleaned), but she’s hoping to purchase separate equipment soon. This made me so happy – I love it when companies are so allergy aware. PS. The coconut lime one was delicious!
Nud Fud (Website)
I forgot to snap a picture, but I was so excited to see Julia, the owner, and her products there! They’re made with a base of banana, sesame seeds, and coconut, and then dehydrated at a low temperature to preserve nutrients. She was also debuting her new formula for her brownie chia bites – I tried her first prototype at the beginning of the summer and loved it, but she says this version is even better. I wish I’d picked up a few!
Daiya Foods (Website)
At the Daiya Foods booth they were sampling their new gluten free, vegan frozen pizza. The crust was a bit hard, but it was otherwise really good! If I hadn’t known it was vegan cheese, I honestly would have thought it was just regular cheese on it.
This is a local company that makes vegan yogurt. I’ve tried a few brands of vegan yogurt before, like the So Delicious almond milk and coconut milk yogurts, but I wasn’t a big fan. Yoso’s vanilla coconut yogurt was actually really good though and it had a much better texture. The guy at the booth also said that theirs uses much more natural ingredients than So Delicious, which is definitely a plus. Even though I eat regular dairy yogurt, I actually think I might start buying this brand on occasion just to switch it up.
Sunwarrior Protein Powder (Website)
I’ve heard a lot of people rave about Sunwarrior products, so I was curious to see what all the hype was about. I tried the vanilla flavour and I thought it tasted alright, but it was pretty chalky. Apparently it’s not as noticeable when you blend it into a smoothie though.
New Moon Kitchen (Website)
This is a local cookie and granola company that is vegan and nut free. I tried their chocolate peppermint cookie and oatmeal cookie, and I loved them both!
RISE Kombucha (Website)
I was so excited to see one of my favourite kombucha companies here! I’ve tried most of their kombuchas already except for the ginger and lemongrass flavours, so I got a chance to sample those. They were good, but the mint chlorophyll and blueberry maple flavours are still my favourite. Allyson and I bought 2 bottles for $5, which is such a steal considering they’re usually $3.69-3.99 each.
Giddy Yoyo (Website)
These guys are one of my favourite chocolate companies! Not only is their chocolate mind blowingly good, but it’s also organic, fair trade, made with heirloom cacao, and it’s vegan, gluten free, soy free, and nut free. How can you go wrong with that? This company also sells other products like raw cacao powder, goji berries, and the most amazing dried banana spears that are made from only bananas, yet somehow taste like banana bread.
I could have gone absolutely crazy with purchases, so I had to restrain myself to just a few things.
I ended up picking up a bag of those Giddy Yoyo banana spears, Nud Fud cacao energy snacks, a nut milk bag to make my own almond milk, a sample of hemp hearts, and tons of coupons! Combined with all the free samples I got, I’d say it was a more than successful day.
Have you ever tried any products from the companies at the festival?
If you had to choose, what would you say is your all time favourite food company?