Twin Cities Veg Fest re-cap: Vegan nachos and honey without bees

Compassion and community at Coffman Union
Compassion and community at Coffman Union

Despite game day traffic and the obnoxiously expensive parking rates that come along with U of M sporting events, this past Saturday the 2nd annual Twin Cities VegFest was a rousing success.

This year's gathering was considerably bigger than last, with food vendors including Flamingo Ethiopian and Kitty Corner Cafe; about a dozen companies handing out samples of their vegetarian goods; plenty of interesting exhibitors and speakers; and approximately 1,800 people in attendance. 

Here are some highlights from the day.

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We encountered some familiar faces almost immediately at the

Punk Rawk Labs

booth. The raw vegan cheese company's co-owner Julie Morgan Wellman was there chatting with interested customers, handing out logo buttons, and offering samples of their brand new nacho-flavored cheese, a cashew-based creation that was spicy, salty, and delicious.

Melt, slice, or shred, but it's all dairy-free
Melt, slice, or shred, but it's all dairy-free
The longest lines seemed to be in front of the Way Better Snacks set-up, where reps handed out sweet potato tortilla chips and sprouted multi-grain tortilla chips. Also popular was the table manned by Chicago Vegan Foods, maker of the popular Teese vegan cheeses, sold here at Seward Co-op. Chicago Vegan handed out small portions of chips topped with their melted nacho sauce and optional vegetarian chorizo sausage crumbles. Dandies vegan marshmallows, a dense gluten and gelatin-free confection that really melts, roasts, and puffs like a traditional marshmallow, were also available to try at their table.

Coconut comfort caramels
Coconut comfort caramels
Another option on the sweet end of the spectrum were the candies from Comfort Candy, a vegan confectioner specializing in coconut cream and corn syrup-based, rather than dairy cream and butter-based, caramels. We got samples of the variety with shredded coconut, which packed all the punch of a Girl Scouts samoa cookie in a teeny, sticky bite.

"Honey" made from apples
"Honey" made from apples
One of the most interesting products we discovered at the fest was Honee, a locally made bee-free honey alternative that owner Katie Sanchez said she developed as a by-product of making apple jelly. Sweet, tart, totally vegan, and much cheaper than traditional honey, this product really surprised us.

Before leaving we grabbed swag bags filled with info from eco-friendly companies like Hour Car and a giant Double Chocolate Decadence cookie from Alternative Baking Company, based in Sacramento.  

If you missed this year's VegFest, the next one is already in the works. Check the organization's Facebook page to keep up to date. 

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Coffman Memorial Union

300 Washington Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


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