This past weekend was the highly anticipated 5th annual New York Vegetarian Food Festival, hosted at The Metropolitan Pavilion. The festival featured food samplings, food for purchase from NYC’s top vegetarian restaurants and food companies, as well as vegetarian/animal welfare information tables, and live entertainment and activities. The event ran for two days, March 14th and 15th.

How the Vegetarian Food Festival Began

Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda organized the Vegetarian Food Festival. They are the founders of U.S. Veg Corp which is an event production and marketing brand focused on the growing vegetarian and green markets. Nira and Sarah are active members of the local vegetarian and green movement. Their involvement with the community ensures that the events they put on address the latest issues concerning the vegetarian market and the most “of-the-moment” technologies. Both entrepreneurs and foodies, Sarah and Nira realized 5 years ago that no single event existed to bring together the range of conscientious eaters in the New York City area. The festival this weekend was once again a gigantic hit with thousands of people showing up. My friends and I showed up the Vegetarian Food Festival around noon on Sunday and waited for about ten minutes in a line before entering.

With no set game plan, my friends and I began walking through the festival, stopping at booths that intrigued us. Obviously our first stop was my all time favorite Beyond Sushi. I was thrilled to see Chef Guy Vankin and excited for my friend to try it for the first time. With just one bite she was hooked. We continued to meander, munching at the many free samples along the way.

Beyond Sushi

 Looking forward to Whole Foods

Though it was nice to see so many vendors with products ranging from mock meats, fake cheeses, protein bars, etc, as a vegetarian festival, my friend made a valid point that it would have been nice to see a greater emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful to see an abundance of vegan certified items accessible in stores throughout the world (boy how things have changed!), but most of these products are still processed, pushing us further away from real, whole foods. I understand that fake cheeses and mock meats might persuade more people to join the veg-world, as they’re seen as healthier and more sustainable replacements for the real thing. But I’m hoping that in our future we will shift from processed food entirely and replace all that junk with fresh, whole foods from the earth.

One of my friends noted that her favorite part was not all the free food, but instead talking to all of the non-food vendors promoting vegetarian/animal welfare. She loved how the vegetarian food festival brought a community of people together, and that was beautiful to be part of it.

Overall I enjoyed the vegetarian food festival. I reconnected with many old favorites and connected with new ones. I tried lots of good food and products and loved being part of such an inspiring community of people. For more information on the event and to see what else is coming up, please visit here.


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About The Author

Resident Tourist

Born here. Lives here and never leaving. The nicest person to ever not speak in public. Loves New York