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Thank you all for being here with us. We’re in our FOURTH year of release. YES, it’s been three and half years since we world premiered in Toronto. Most movies fade after their first year or so. We’re a little different though. Some of that is being an indie documentary, and also a movie about veganism. Much of it is though seems to be veganism continual rise around the world 🙂 Especially including SoCal (which is both L.A. and Orange Counties), I’ve notice these last couple of years.
To better see what was going on out there, your new newsletter writer – me, Producer D. – went West this Winter. Thanks to some quite wonderful home hosts (and cooks!), I enjoyed a most wonderful and amazing month working out in the field. (Yes, really, I was working! WiFi changes Everything.) While visiting SoCal, I was able to see up close how various vegan organizations, events, people and the scene overall there keeps growing with Enormous Amount of Momentum. It was awesome to recognize in-person, and otherwise inspiration to be amidst for a few weeks.
Two big events influenced this trip’s timing: the debut of Vegan Street Fair L.A. (which I’m the godfather of), and the annual gargantuan food show that is Natural Products Expo West.
VSFLA15 is a brand new event, and perhaps the first of its kind in the world. ‘What is it’ you ask? It’s dozens of vegan food and beverage vendors serving up small servings of their greatness for very modest prices to a big crowd of people mingling, meeting, noshing and laughing in blocked off streets. No music stage, no speakers, no other programs. Eat and greet was the order of the day.
The event setup allows people to enjoy a great many tastes without spending oodles and oodles of money, or ordering a big portion of something they may not know or enjoy. The idea forVSF very much came from one of the world’s largest food festivals, Taste of Chicago. (which is waaaaaaaay overdue for being more vegan-friendly says this ChiTown native).
(Photo by Jenna H.)
Besides supplying a great many tastes and sips of vegan SoCal, this new event blew through all attendance projections bringing out some 10,000 people, many of whom stayed in the atypical rain (and hail)! to get their eat and greet on. It was a terrific event, and a lot of work is underway already for its return in 2016. Plus the addition of few other cities to boot! Feel free to lobby VSF on social media to come through with their team and this awesomeness. It really was something else!!
Then, a few days later, many vegan bloggers, personalities, and other business people join some 71,000 people in Anaheim forExpo West. This industry show is where most natural products debut, and aim to make deals with grocery chains across the U.S. It’s at least five football fields of products, if not a good six or seven this year seeing how they’ve outgrown the convention center by quite a lot! This show is quite exciting to attend as we all get to see, and taste, what companies have kept secret for months and months. Or perhaps not so secret, yet very very few have tasted (or even seen).
Our seitan makin’ friends Upton’s Naturals shocked us and many others introducing jackfruit carnitas to the market. No one else even sells a jackfruit product nationally, or seemingly even regionally! Heck, most people don’t even know what jackfruit is!!
Daiya Foods definitely came to do business with oh so many new items. First, they’ve added two new frozen pizzas, one being a meat lover’s or such with Beyond Meat sausagecrumbles on it. Wonderful work! It took me back to pre-vegan days in a GOOD way! Second, there are now New York-style vegan cheesecakes in four flavors coming across the U.S. Very convincing to most I’d imagine, save for its height to this discerning! Third, there are now shelf stable boxed vegan mac & cheeses in the world – with liquid cheese packs inside. Yes, just like a certain brand we won’t name here has! Fourth, and perhaps the most stunning to me, was yogurts! And all of these products are allergen-free – no soy, no gluten!
(Big Vegan Around Town Prabhat, renowned chef Doomie with yours truly)
Frustratingly, I got quite sick Saturday and Sunday so missed seeing a good many people, tasting more eats, admiring snazzy packaging and receiving more product samples than one knows what to do with. So feel free to taste, er, see a good few of the products from Expo West ’15 by checking out blog posts fromThe Spooky Vegan, The Healthy Voyager, Fettle Vegan, Bonzai Aphrodite, Astig Vegan, and Lazy Girl Vegan. You might also want to explore the hashtag #vegansatexpo on Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook. This year, one trend seems to be even more vegan cheeses, coconut waters, and plant-based milks coming to market this year yet.
Special shout out to Nada Moo vegan ice creams from Austin TX – your new packaging rocks, likewise with the tagline, the flavors are clever and tasty too! Look forward to a full scoop while in town for Vida Vegan Con 3 late May!
And another special shout out to our pals at EatPastry sporting some gorgeous new packaging for their brand new gluten-free baking mixes.
Enormous gratitude to all those who were part of my month in SoCal! Still in the afterglow here.
Reader, I hope you enjoyed these highlights of my time in L.A. Looking forward to sharing more observations, snapshots and otherwise with you from the vegan scene all around. Wishing you the very best of Spring.