Vegan food fest unites foodies

The splendor and entertainment that the Vegan Street Fair  provided would make any visitor overlook the 30 minute waits at ticket booths and expensive prices. The overwhelmingly supportive and enthusiastic vegan community cultivated at the fest nullified  all complications. It was an engaging experience available for vegan and non-vegan foodies.

Aside from the 100 food and retail vendors, the DJ booth, chalk on the pavement and the many photo ops were well-received. People blithely danced to dance-pop hits, wrote hundreds of vegan-friendly messages on the pavement and took pictures in front of the various VSF backdrops.

The positive ambience at the VSF in support of the vegan community only enhanced the already delicious taste of bite-size food samples.

Walking through the entire fair once, the many food options were daunting. There was a large variety of food available: Asian cuisine, Mexican cuisine, American Southern cuisine, smoothies, ice cream, baked goods, dried snacks, drinks and more. Everything looked mouth-watering. After making a distinction between the overly long lines and the bearably long lines, Skynny Kitchen was the first stop.

Skynny Kitchen’s corn tortilla tacos, with mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, onions and leafy greens, were so savory. These delicious tacos, marked by their curry-like vegetables bathed in spices, are also very nutritious.

“We’re a healthy, fast, casual American restaurant located in North Hollywood. We have vegan options, vegetarian options, gluten- free options. Everything is 500 calories or under, and it’s a clean concept — it’s whole foods,” said Rips Avetisyan, an employee of Skynny Kitchen.

Next stop was Jaycelab. Their vegan deviled egg tasted incredibly real and their no-bake peanut butter chocolate bar was to die for. The hard-boiled eggs, created by Jayce Lab from scratch, is achieved through molecular gastronomy. Basically, he’s a genius. The no-bake peanut butter chocolate bar, with its crunchy base, mainly comprised of graham crackers, and top layer, consisting of baking chocolate, peanut butter and maple syrup and topped with cacao granola bits, achieved a great balance between sweetness and depth in taste.

A long line signaling free food prompted the next stop. House Foods, a tofu-based company that had its inception in the early ’80s, was giving away braised tofu tacos. The corn tortilla tacos, consisting of a minimal three ingredients — their famed tofu, onions and salsa — were quite tasty.

The marketer of House Foods, Ernie Piraza, explained why their tofu is the best.

“Our products are all made with non-GMO soybeans. All soybeans are grown in the U.S. Our products are readily available in basically anywhere you shop!” Piraza said.

The last stop, Pulp Pantry, was a necessity. Kaitlin Mogentale, a 2015 graduate of USC, started Pulp Pantry while at school.

“I actually was at a friend’s house at USC, it was my last year at college, and I saw her juice a carrot. I think one of the crazy things about juiceries in L.A. is, we have more than 200 organic juiceries, and when you go there, you see the bottle of juice, but you don’t actually see the pulp that is created … So I took my friend’s pulp home, started experimenting, and called ten juiceries and started picking up pulp from some of them.”

Pulp Pantry’s popularity is rising exponentially due to its presence at farmers markets,  its store and at the core, its wide variety of unique health snacks — especially their vegetable-based granola. Mogentale makes new granola flavors regularly that are always well-received. Her vegan “pop-tart,” consisting of a gluten-free flour blend, carrot pulp flour, dates and apples, was so wholesomely scrumptious.

Mogentale gave an inspirational speech about her career path and passion for the plant-based diet.

“The way to move forward is to collaborate with people.  I would never be where I am today if It weren’t without my peers and mentors who have helped me curate my brand and given me critical feedback on what’s the next step,” Mogentale said.

The Vegan Street Fair was a joy not only for its food but also for its uplifting message that supports a readily achievable plant-based lifestyle. Innovation, which was almost universal at this fair, drives the vegan movement, and makes it more popular and easily accessible for everyone. A compassionate, plant-based diet has never been easier to achieve, especially in Los Angeles.