Contains: a shitload of free samples and a fuckload of people
Free From: You’d think it’d be free from meat eaters but some dude selling soup chatted to me about how he went back to being omni so there’s that
VegFest London 2017 had the biggest turnout to date, and it was fucking awesome.
There were international vendors set up throughout the exhibition centre, selling everything from pizza slices to lamps made from Himalayan salt.
Being a poor student I obviously went with the intention of scoring as many free samples as I could, and good GOD I was not disappointed. I managed to eat so much free shit I didn’t need to buy food to eat while I wandered around – which I was actually disappointed about because the food hall was INCREDIBLE … though this did save me from the ridiculous waiting times that hit around midday (the queue for Jake’s Vegan Steaks was easily half an hour long the whole time I was there).
Fortunately there was also booze. Booze with no queues. A no-queues booze cruise. (Don’t be deceived, there was no cruising. I only had half a mango-flavoured cider because someone – cough, RYAN, cough – passed his plague on to me.)
So here’s a little roundup of the vendors that stood out based on the free samples I snagged and those that coerced me into buying their wares. Fair warning, there may have been a bias towards cheese-related goods…
A fucking incredible online store (with an actual shop based in Newcastle) that sells damn near anything and everything you could dream of. Whipped cream to tofu presses, Quinoa Puffs to shoes – you name it they’ve got it (and the people that run it are the SWEETEST HUMAN BEINGS ALIVE).
Marshmallows and biscuits and everything smothered in chocolate… holy fucking shit I swear to god this stall was heaven. I picked up four of their Round Up biscuits and I wish I’d bought the whole damn table because they are fucking ace.
Yas (my long-time friend, fellow vegan, and the person who stopped me spending my entire life savings at VegFest) and I tried some of Conscious Chocolate’s free samples and they were hands down the most flavour-intense, gorgeously rich chocolates we had ever tasted. You’d be a fucking fool to not try these (and an even bigger fool to not remember to go back to their stall and buy an actual bar GOD DAMMIT).
I fucking love how their tagline is “probably the best seitan in the world”. It’s like, “we don’t wanna brag, also there’s a fuckload of seitan out there so I mean statistically maybe not but like we’re pretty damn good so at least top ten. Definitely top ten. Stretching for top five.” Taglines aside, their seitan is pretty fucking awesome, especially the chilli and italian flavours. If, like me, you’re a lazy motherfucker and every time you get off your ass and attempt to make seitan it turns out like a chewy leathery catastrophe then you should definitely check these guys out.
Anyone who knows vegan sweet treats knows Ms Cupcake. They are some of the damn finest cakes, cookies, and bakes the vegan world has to offer. I picked up one of their red velvet cookie sandwiches (on the right in the photo) for my omni sister and holy shit it was good. You could feel the cavities forming, it was that full of sugary goodness.
New Roots is a Swiss company that do bloody INCREDIBLE cashew cheeses. They’ve got a camembert, cream cheese, and a ricotta as well as loads of other flavours of classic cashew cheese to choose from. I tried their brand new Free the Goat Cheeze which is their take on ricotta and holy shit they are killing it. Definitely a company to keep an eye out for.
Raw Food Rosie’s
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think I’ve found my favourite vegan cheese. Raw Food Rosie’s cheeses are jam-packed full of flavour that kicks you in the teeth, punches you in the throat, and keeps you coming back for more. Their Vampire Slayer cream cheese? Holy fuck. I went away with one of their original classic bries which I will definitely be reviewing soon. For an artisanal cheese their prices are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD and if Yas wasn’t with me to drag me away I would have gladly spent all my money on every flavour of cheese they had to offer.
Vegetarian Caviar Club
Now I think I only ever tried real caviar once in my life and knowing what it was made the whole experience pretty fucking unpleasant. But THIS I can get on board with. It’s made with sea weed and looks like the real deal. I tried the “salmon” and Yas tried the “wasabi” and both of us were pleasantly surprised by this stuff. When I get good enough at making sushi that it doesn’t end up looking like a bastardisation of those ridiculous instagram “buddha bowls” splayed across my kitchen counter then I will definitely grab a jar of veggie caviar to finesse my sushi rolls.
Yas had the joy of going to university t’up North so she had already tried Tyne Chease before VegFest and told me about how bloody good it is. She was not wrong. I basically stood at their stall for a good 10 minutes tasting EVERY. SINGLE. SAMPLE. Tyne Chease has literally mastered integrating flavours into their cheeses. They are iconic. My only qualm was that a wheel of their cheese was almost £3 more expensive than some of the other cheeses around (eg. Raw Food Rosie) and as a student that pinches just a little too much to justify it…. especially as someone who could easily eat one whole wheel in one sitting. Would it be weird to put cheese on my Christmas list?
Last but DEFINITELY not least is Verys. Those charismatic Italians drew us in and left us with the some mozarella cheese and the goddamn best ravioli I have had in years. I could have cried (granted I was very hungover when I ate mine, but the sentiment still stands). The only problem is I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHERE TO BUY THEM. Their leaflet says they are available on The Vegan Kind Supermarket website but I have scoured and found absolutely fuck all. My heart is broken. Send help. I need this pasta in my life. If you ever come across Verys products BUY THEM. BUY THEM NOW. And send me some while you’re at it…