As a new-ish vegan, I was worried I’d head to the Minnesota State Fair with little to eat besides your basic French fries, corn on the cob, lemonade… and maybe some fresh fruit and veggie samples in the Agriculture Building? But, with the world burning and factory farming a major influence in that situation, I wasn’t opposed to hunting around a bit more this year for some greener goods.
If you, too, find yourself seeking those sweet, fatty, delightful flavors we all dream of gorging on during the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the following list of animal-free items may just satisfy those cravings. As always, I would encourage anyone with dietary restrictions to double-check ingredient lists before consuming!
Oat Vegan Scone at French Meadow Cafe, $4
Had I known about this densely delicious scone first thing in the morning, I definitely would have enjoyed it with a cup of coffee in-hand. The bakery treat’s hearty oats are sweetly kissed with brown sugar, resulting in a healthy-ish breakfast. Snack on it while people-watching from French Meadow’s expansive deck, as the earliest fairgoers trickle in.
Bhel Puri at Hot Indian, $10
Light and refreshing, the Bhel Puri is an extremely satisfying combination of rice puffs, veggies, tangy spice, and roasted nuts, finished with a mint chutney drizzle. It’s a lovely summer snack and one of the few times I’ve finished a cone full of something at the fair and not felt like I’d been punched in the gut.
Earth Wings at French Meadow Cafe, $9
These Earth Wings perfectly fill that craving for greasy chicken wings. Their rich, sweet, slightly spiced glaze and light batter make the calorie-light cauliflower base seem especially substantial. I would have ordered seconds if only I’d had the patience to wait in line again. (Get two orders!)
Strawberries n’ Creme at Strawberries n’ Creme, $7-$9
A delightful summer treat! Is there a more classic pairing than strawberries and cream? Maybe, but this one should be high on anyone’s list. It’s the time of year for fresh off-the-vine strawberries that drip sweet juice with every bite. Add in pillows of oil-based whipped crème? Heaven.
Apple Pie (sans scoop of ice cream) at The Original Minneapple Pie, $9
A decadent flaky crust and abundant apple-cinnamon filling come together in a delectable pocket of pie. You’ll want to actually put it in your pocket… but it will be gone too fast. The first bite of this hand-sized creation on an unseasonably cool summer morning felt like a perfect fall treat.
Holy Land’s offerings inside the International Bazaar, prices vary
Minneapolis’ Mediterranean standby Holy Land is always a treasure trove of delicious vegan options, so of course I was thrilled to see them at the Fair again! A few favorites are the tabouli (perfectly energizing and nutrient-packed on a hot day with its perfect mix of fresh parsley, cool cuts of tomato, and that satisfying crunch of onion), the deep-fried falafel-on-a-stick (crunch and portable, this feels a bit more like Fair food and never disappoints), and their hummus platter (which pairs Holy Land’s reliably fantastic pita with the Twin Cities’ best hummus). If you have time for one stop to fill up on vegan fare at the Fair, this is your place.
Grandma’s Sugar Cookie at Kora’s Cookie Dough on a Stick $5
New vendor for 2019 Kora’s Cookie Dough is selling a vegan option of that pre-baked dessert we all loved to sneak from the mixing bowl when our caretakers looked away. Of their five flavor options, the sugar cookie variety arrives animal-free, but full of nostalgia. Finally: A vegan Fair food that’s simply not good for your body in any way at all – and on a stick!
Finding an abundant amount of vegan-friendly foods was a lovely surprise at our lovely State Fair. Hopefully those options continue to grow in the coming years, especially with the emergence of game-changing faux meats. With the year 2020 on the horizon, any vendor who served a state fair-worthy rendition of an Impossible or Beyond Burger would surely have a hit to satisfy the veggie crowd and carnivores alike…