What I Saw and Ate at VeganMania 2012 (Chicago, IL)

Chicago VeganMania

I had never been to VeganMania, nor had I ever heard of such an event until a local newsletter landed in my inbox and informed me that THIS event was occurring in Chicago. So of COURSE I had to get up there and see what this was about. I read that VeganMania had grown so large that they needed a larger space, hence, their event was moved to the Broadway Armory. And it seems, as one man remarked to his friend in passing, that the “event is STILL DAMN CROWDED!” But isn’t that a good thing?

Food venders
When you step into the main space, there were lines for various food vendors. Everyone had to exchange their money into silver tokens ($1 = 1 silver token) in order to pay. I thought this was a good idea because you don’t want food vendors handling somewhat unclean money while dishing and handing out food at the same time. It makes the process easier and simplifies things. PLUS! The tokens are reusable and are not as wasteful as say, paper tickets! I was also amazed that the veganmania staff labeled garbage bins for recycling and ACTUALLY RECYCLED!

Booths

There were a variety of interesting regular booth vendors that included some vegan friendly companies (Knudsen, Raw Revolution, etc.), local vegan groups, advocacy groups (there was a group accusing Kashi of GMO-ing their food, WTFARK!), independent companies with their vegan products and vegan notables. I tried some samples of Raw Revolution and I loved it! I later bought some bars from Whole Foods to snack on!

Food Vendors Lines

I would have to say that Soul Vegan won out for having the longest lines for their food, as they actually ran out of food and was replenishing their supply while their dedicated customers patiently stood in line for the food to come. I checked out their menu and it looked really great, but I am not into lines and wanted to eat something without waiting forever.

Sign of Vegetarians

I saw this interesting poster of notable people who were vegetarians. Apparently, the creator of MIME (email), Steve Jobs, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the 14th Dalai Lama were/are all vegetarians. The sign said that they all observed a vegetarian diet and affirmed its necessity from the standpoints of morality and logic.

Vegan Black Metal Chef

I also saw the vegan black metal chef greeting his fans, signing autographs and taking a ton of photos. I was really bummed that I missed his cooking demo at veganmania, but thought it’d be awkward if I had approached him as I don’t know a lot of his cooking as I’ve seen only 1 of his cooking videos. NEXT TIME!

Chicago Diner's Vegan BBQ "Wings"

I got hungry and saw that people had this really tasty looking vegan wing with celery sticks meal so I headed over to the Chicago Diner’s booth and snagged the vegan bbq wings with celery sticks and vegan sauce. The “wings” were seitan (wheat gluten) and it seemed to be breaded, maybe fried? and mixed with a hot sauce. I think this was my first time eating seitan in a non-Asian prepared dish and thought this was actually fairly decent. I thought the seitan was a little chewier on some parts of the ‘wings’ due to them sitting in a catering pan, but this was overall very decent for 5 silver coins and was fairly pleased with my purchase.

Fresh Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost

I needed something to drink and was immediately distracted by this vendor who had ginger ale among his wares. I really enjoy ginger ale, especially if it’s strong so I handed over my 2 silver coins for the Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost and tried it out. The drink had a pleasing ginger taste, not too sweet which is a big bonus for me, and had a smooth after taste. You can see the ginger bits swirling on the bottom of the bottle and believe me, you might actually end up drinking all of it, ginger bits and all in one gulp, like I did. What a great drink!

Funny Shirt

The sense of humor of these vendors never ceased to amaze me and everyone seemed to want to make things right in the world with products that promoted sustainability of Earth’s resources and healthier eating. I have to admit, the shirt that said that “I don’t eat anything that poops!” was awesome and if anyone is shopping for a vegan, this would be it!

I would have to say that my only issue with veganmania was that there were a lot of vendors harking “vegan” versions of totally non-vegan dishes (i.e. mac and cheese, vegan “cheese”, etc.) and thought that instead of trying so hard to re-create these faux dishes, it might be more effective to embrace cooking and preparing things in way that is not “mimicking” non-vegan foods. I thought that a vegan can not eat anything from an animal so why try so hard to mimic some of these products? In any case, while the event was crowded, I thought people were really nice and perhaps unusually friendly and polite as we bumped into each other while navigating the crowds. I learned more about veganism and thought this was a grand way to learn more about it without feeling alienated. I hope next year’s veganmania is bigger and better! Thanks for reading all the way through! 🙂

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