A guest blog in all lowercase by Lindsay--visit her at the vegan chai blog too!
last weekend, our lovely neighbors to south held their fifth chicago vegan mania event, and i was lucky enough to visit. this was my third time, and i'm happy to report that it just keeps getting better and better! the venue was moved last year into the broadway armory building, which is a great space (and much bigger than the previous venue, which is a good thing!):
if you've never been, vegan mania can be a little overwhelming: there is a lot going on, a lot to take in, and you will be tempted to try doing everything at once. it's best if you can create somewhat of a game plan, so check out the speakers and cooking demos ahead of time; it will help you come up with some semblance of a schedule. at this year's event they had five scheduled events going on at any given time: a speaker in a large room upstairs (the presentation stage); a workshop or panel at the discussion stage; a series of vegan experts at a table on the main expo floor; a chef demo in a dedicated area on the main expo floor, but slightly away from the hubbub; and live music in the culture cafe. basically, tons to choose from, and a great lineup over the course of the day! beyond all of that excitement, there was a giant food court filled with plenty of (totally vegan) options, AND a veritable cornucopia of vendors and exhibitors.
we were only there for a couple of hours or so, but we still managed to sample a bunch of vegan delights, see some old friends, and do a bit of shopping. i took some pictures when i could, so i'll hit a few highlights below.
up top we have desserty snacks: temptation chocolate soft-serve (complete with vegan sprinkles!) and a sampler dandies marshmallow. yum! on the bottom are two of the greatest things about chicago: the diner (their food court booth) and vegan chicago. <3
here's an example of some of the tables out on the main floor: the ask a vegan table... at this moment, featuring two great bakers, natalie slater of bake & destroy (left) and our dear friend kelly peloza with her upcoming book cheers to vegan sweets (right); the chicago vegan foods extravaganza (nachos! dandies! teese!), and the SASHA table. SASHA farm is the largest farm animal sanctuary in the midwest, located in manchester MI, and i was really excited to see them at vegan mania because i have several friends who volunteer there! it was a nice little six degrees of separation moment, and it was also great to see SASHA getting some publicity.
we tried not to eat too too much while we were at the event, because we were also planning to hit up the chicago diner on our way out of town... but i will admit, i did a fair amount of sampling. when we first arrived we each bought a samosa, and then we followed that up with a temptation soft-serve cone. after that, all bets were off as i browsed the sampling area... i had a marshmallow (pictured previously), several different kinds of beanfield's chips, some tofurky chorizo, and a variety of new-to-me cheeses. in the picture on the left you can see some of the absolute chaos at the treeline cheese table; it was a little difficult to elbow my way in there for a taste! i'm glad i persevered, though. they had one hard cheese (smoked) and two soft cheeses (herb-garlic, and scallion), served up on crackers. i'm not much for smoke-y flavors (although it was good if you like that sort of thing), so i preferred the soft cheeses. both flavors were great, but i think the herb-garlic was my favorite. a little while later we came upon the punk rawk labs table, which is a company i hadn't heard of before, and they had three soft cheeses up for sampling: plain, herb, and smoked. i skipped the smoked this time around, but i really enjoyed the other two. as with treeline, i think the herb flavor was my favorite. i'll be keeping an eye out for both of these brands!
all in all, we had a great time at chicago vegan mania. it's such a nice event, and well worth the trip. were any of you also there this year? what was your favorite part? please feel free to fill in anything i missed!