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Merry Vegan Christmas! That’s what I said to my husband Saturday morning as drove into Toronto to enjoy as a family the biggest vegetarian festival in the world!  Dozens of vendors, speakers and performers, all celebrating a cruelty-free and delicious lifestyle.  I was in heaven.

My top priority was to see the food demonstration by the talented duo Lisa Pitman and Nicole Axworthy at noon.  We were thoroughly impressed: the demo was just as entertaining as it was informative.  The highlight of the day for me.  I had just bought their ebook Tiny Treats and look forward to try their recipes. The biggest take away from the show was that I really needed to make my own nut butters, seed butter and nut milks all the time.  What kind of DIY-er am I when I’m still buying peanut butter?!   I’m happy to say I’ve been making hemp and almond milks every day since.  Lisa is the biggest sweetheart you will ever meet.  She and I were childhood friends who lost touch then reconnected almost 20 years later!  It was great to see her and also to meet Nicole, another amazing chef and kindred spirit.  Check out their blogs at Vegan Culinary Crusade and A Dash of Compassion.

In the photo of us you’ll see in the background another blogger, Jess from cupcakes and kale, whom I didn’t meet until after this picture was taken.  Jess is such a dear!  She was my partner for the August vegan food swap so my kids got to tell her they were enjoying the garlic roasted peanuts she sent me in the car on the way to the festival.  I loved getting to make the connections!

Now on to the food!  We came prepared: cooler with ice packs for take-home food, containers and reusable utensils so we didn’t have to keep using disposable cutlery.From Green Zebra Kitchen: Mac and Cheese with Roasted Yams and Cauliflower and pizza with cashew pesto and kale, on the tip from my friend Mary of This is Vegan.  Excellent!  We also got lavender chocolate chip cookies which were so good!

From Zen Garden: Peking “duck” and “chicken” drumstick (both made from seitan) and a potato curry puff.  The fake meats were tasty but greasy and chewy and alarmingly authentic.  Not our favourite though I must admit that even just a year ago I probably would have loved it.  My taste for “fake meat” has definitely changed!  But the curry puff was great.From Bunners: gluten-free cinnamon bun with icing and butter tart.  Awesome!  The cinnamon bun had a super texture, almost like cake, and not overly sweet.  It was really well done.

From Apiecalypse now: Coconut tart and Marshmallow Smore Pie.  The Smore pie was my kids’ favourite, that’s for sure.  I thought they were delicious, though very rich and sugary.  Definitely a place to go if you want an indulgence.Fieldroast sausages:  I have been wanting to try Fieldroast products for over a year!  Up until now they have only been sold in the States.  We sampled the Italian, Apple Sage and Mexican Chipotle flavours, all excellent, not too greasy or salty, just right.    I would have happily bought several but they weren’t for sale, samples only.  Boo!  Though the good news is that they have recently started being sold in the greater Toronto area so hopefully they will be sold all over Canada soon.

The only downside to the day was when my husband bought donuts after being assured by the vendor they were vegan.  They had an odd taste I couldn’t put my finger on so I went to the food tent to see the ingredients and was dismayed to see it contained dairy milk and cottage cheese.  Bummer!  Just goes to show how easy it is to encounter animal products, even when you go out of your way so far as to attend a vegetarian food festival and buy food promised to be vegan.  Oh well, that’s life.

Some of the terrific food I got to sample: Daiya grilled cheese, White Chocolate Wonderful by the Peanut Butter & Co, Coco Camino chocolate, New Moon cookies,
Teriyaki Gardein strips, Vega smoothies, Larabars, The Simply Bar, Banana bread from Kupcakes Bakeshop, dried white mulberries by Navitas, ShaSha gingerbread cookies, Prana nuts, Fruit&Fruit bars, Manitoba Hemp Seeds, Food for Life breads and a strawberry-pineapple smoothie from the Tropical Fruit Hut. Oh, yum!

A big thank you to the Toronto Vegetarian Association and the volunteers and speakers that made the event so wonderful.

Anyone else get to enjoy the Vegetarian Food Festival?  What were your favourite finds?  Here are my top 5 favourite food finds from the festival:

1. Apple Sage sausages by Fieldroast
2. Cinnamon Bun by Bunners
3. Mac and Cheese by Green Zebra Kitchen
4. Coco and Raisin bars by Fruit&Fruit (inspired me to make my own in my dehydrator!)
5. Kale pizza by Green Zebra Kitchen

I had such a fabulous day of eating that I am submitting this smorgasbord of phenomenal eats to the What I Ate Wednesdays blog hop, with my thanks to Peas and Crayons for hosting.
Peas and Crayons