I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years (I was a stubborn seven-year-old), and New York City is by far the best place I’ve ever lived for food choice. Gone are the twee Sussex pubs where the only options are pheasant breast or rabbit pie – and instead I have gorgeous Korean vegetarian restaurants and vegan food trucks to visit.
So it came as little surprise that there’s a whole festival dedicated to us too.
Ryan – a fellow veggie – and I nabbed tickets to the Vegetarian Food Festival and headed to the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street raring to taste.
Unfortunately, it was kind of busy.
Elbowing our way past swarms of hungry lettuce lovers, we checked out an extensive variety of fake meats and lacto-free sweets.
Unlike a fair few vegetarians I know, Ryan and I are fans of faux meats. Meateaters always ask why I like the fake stuff when it’s trying to emulate the very thing I disagree with – but it’s not the same, is it? Plus… it’s tasty. We particularly liked the crispy chicken by Gardein and I laughed when I saw a man slicing fake meat from a gyro rotisserie.
After wandering around the two floors of food, we picked our lunch. The vegetarian sushi had particularly caught my eye, so I opted for a sweet potato and avocado roll.
I loved the black rice (I never use it) but the sweet potato was a little too mushy – I think the whole thing needed a bit more crunch.
Ryan went for a veggie sausage with all the fixins.
The sausage by Yeah Dawg! was gorgeous – grilled on the outside but moist in the center. I would definitely eat them again.
Afterwards, we sampled dairy-free ice creams, which were nearly convincing apart from a slightly chalky texture. We agreed that the salted peanut butter by the Alchemy Creamery was our favorite.
Full and not too keen to stay crowded by hungry herbivores, we decided to head home.
It was frustratingly busy and there was a ton of hippy stuff that didn’t really apply to us. I think it’s assumed that vegetarians live a healthy, spiritual life, which obviously isn’t the case for everyone seeing as I’d reach for the veggie dogs and meaty treats over kale crisps and crystal massages any day.
Still, I’m really glad we went – sampling is always fun and it definitely opened my eyes to vegan/vegetarian possibilities that I didn’t know existed. Just another confirmation that New York provides plenty for its veggie community.