Nearly 20,000 people are expected to descend upon the DMV this October for DC VegFest, a free vegetarian festival hosted by Compassion Over Killing. Ahead of the festivities, we were invited to Busboys and Poets on September 21 for an exclusive preview of what’s to come for the district’s kindest eaters. For a carnivore like myself, venturing into what I considered a Garden of Vegan was a bit nerve-wracking. What I found, however, was a welcoming group of people who are passionate about products supporting their cause.
Although the October VegFest activities will be much larger, the preview – hosted by Grassfed Media – gave attendees the chance to sample the types of food one can expect next month. Being the trusty food reporter I am, I sampled everything to give you the lowdown.
Coolest Concepts (TIE)
What: Based in DC, ‘Chups concocts tangy fruit-based ketchups with flavors such as blueberry, cherry, spicy pineapple and mango.
Why: While chatting with ‘Chups, I learned ketchup doesn’t have to be tomato-based (others may have known this, but to me this was a ground-breaking discovery). In fact, the original concept of ketchup – which is mainly about the vinegar and spices added to the sauce base – was around for more than a century before tomatoes rolled into the catsup game. The mission of ‘Chups is to bring diversity to the ketchup market by introducing new flavors A.K.A heisting the market from Heinz. Major chops to ‘Chups.
What: Craft Kombucha brews raw, fermented, naturally carbonated tea in small, flavorful batches.
Why: In founder Tanya’s words, CK was “inspired by beer and cofounded by a dog.” The kombucha flavors resemble beer flavors (such as citrus lemon hop), and also come in refreshing seasonal flavors like pomegranate. I was told this light, fizzy tea was actually a great post-beer binge beverage, as the probiotics help with hangovers. Also, bonus points to Tanya for featuring her beer-inspired boxer, Guinness, on the company logo.
What: Vegan protein bars and vegan cookies, respectively.
Why: Both decked out in bright blue décor, Kate Bakes’ and A Better Batch’s booths looked just as sweet as they tasted. Kate provided samples of both her scrumptious banana cinnamon oatmeal and sunflower butter raisin bars, while A Better Batch sampled chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed and mocha oatmeal cookies. Both were delicious and certainly more nutritious than non-vegan goodies – at least that’s what I told myself when I had twelve of each.
Fantastic Flavor: Undone Chocolates
What: Organic dark chocolate made with beans sourced from Caribbean and Central American co-ops
Why: With only a two-ingredient base of organic cacao and organic sugarcane, Undone still manages to take its flavors to the next level. My favorite was the “Replenish” made with a touch of Himalayan pink salt, while the “Arouse” made with cinnamon, cardamom and chili is perfect for fans of subtle spice.
Non-Meat, Non-Dairy Noms: Busboys and Poets Vegan Spread
To compliment all of the delicious samples, B&P provided an entire spread of meat-free eats that would’ve fooled even the most devout of carnivores. An assortment of seasoned Tofurkey, hummus, vegan cheese, vegan sliders with chipotle mayo and vegan tuna on endive allowed guest to fill their plates and see just how delicious meat-free can be.
After sampling to my heart’s content, I received a fantastic swag bag packed with dairy-free mac-and-cheese, cookies, granola, bean and rice chips, DC VegFest bucks and a copy of award-winning cookbook Vedge. I left feeling full and admittedly not missing the meat I didn’t eat.
My advice? Take your most skeptical carnivorous pal to DC VegFest on October 3. They’ll see, as I did, that through ingenuity and creative cooking, those who inhabit the Garden of Vegan have to sacrifice neither animals nor deliciousness for their meals.