Friday, September 13, 2013

My Day at the ALL VEGAN Bethlehem VegFest (Vegan MoFo 2013)

I love the Bethlehem Vegfest, but I've wondered since its inception why it wasn't a 100% vegan fest.


Last week, at the 3rd annual installment, that idea became a reality; I was especially excited to attend.


Even though we'd gone to Vegan Treats for breakfast (don't judge) (more on that later), we still decided to walk through the food court section of the fest right away in order to weigh the options for our future lunch. 

pumpkin and vanilla softserve = breakfast

The food area was packed from early on.  There were mostly new-to-me vendors, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the options were predominately your typical veg fare. 

Falafel and assorted Middle Eastern eats (Hellertown Deli & Pita House).

Chickpea salad sammie.

Burgers and Dogs (Easy Weenies).


Not entirely sure I would consider these staples "the art of food."  Maybe I'm thinking too much like a seasoned vegan and not like a veg-curious person?  Still, it seems like this is what people would expect.  I was looking for the unexpected.


Don't get me wrong; these options are all fine and were probably delicious, but where was the inventiveness?  The wow factor?  The I-can't-believe-this-is-vegan?  The Cinnamon Snail?!?!?!?!

There was at least a little more excitement when I spied Daiya pizza by the slice (Sotto Santi). Dear Daiya, maybe you'd consider having an entire booth at the fest next year?

Ultimately, it's really great that non-vegan establishments participate by offering vegan options, but I couldn't help but to wonder where the local vegan companies/restaurants were?  I would definitely like to see more of these: here and everywhere.
Speaking of local vegan fabulosity, the Cinnamon Snail was not in attendance because they were busy competing for a Vendy award in New York.  I'm looking forward to next year, because they are expected to have cloned themselves by then, and will be able to be in two places at once.  In their absence, VM and I both had our eye on the Pizza Wagon and filed that away for later.


Then, as we turned the corner, what do you know?  Vegan Treats!  An oasis of yumminess.  The Vegan Treats' tent, much like the shop, is always one of mesmerizing wonderment: impressively stocked with the finest array of outstanding, impeccably-decorated confections.  It truly is a sight to behold; here's a sampling of what was on offer to the throngs of attendees. I can vouch for every item in this photo, as I've tasted them all (although not all on this day).

fox in a scarf!

Per usual, it's not easy to get near the actual vegan treats.  In fact, I heard someone say, "They must be giving away something for free if they're this busy."  Nope, not free.  Just exquisite. 

We decided to come back later and continued on with our initial perusal through the fest.  As we made our way, 89 made a few friends.


Psst, you're naked.

It was around this time that I spied this gal wearing possibly the coolest vegan socks ever.  My friend had actually sent me a link to them just a few days prior, but I didn't think I could pull them off.  Let me tell you, this girl sure did.  I've since ordered them for myself, but they'll most likely be hidden underneath my boots.

I'm sorry to say that I can't remember which booth it was that I picked up these two things:

The "I adopted my dog" magnet came from the fest; the "Vegans Always Welcome" was already on my fridge and I didn't want to crop it out!

I couldn't pass up this tee because I'm a sucker for HK...and for neutering ignorant people.

I still have serious concerns about the Pig Placement Network, so I decided to speak directly to one of the women at the booth.  She implied that their work was solely based in rescuing abused, neglected, and/or homeless domesticated pigs, but I don't fully understand.  For one thing, is this really a widespread problem?  It doesn't seem that domesticated pigs abound like cats.  And, two, their website lists the first point of their mission as, "To promote domesticated pigs as pets..."


I think it's fair for me to repeat my own sentiment from last year:

" seems to me that by promoting pigs as pets (even advertising "tea cup sized piggies" on their site), you are ultimately contributing to the breeding phenomenon of yet another animal for domestication and thereby creating the problem of unwanted "pet" pigs who are in need of your rescue and re-placement services.  Rather than "domesticate" another animal, shouldn't we instead concentrate on reducing the numbers of those that are already solely considered pets from landing in shelters where they exist in vast numbers in need of a home?"

Next up was the Friends of Animals booth, always a crowd pleaser.

89 is a big fan of this organization and their representatives.

She didn't quite understand, though, how confusing it was for her to be wearing this sticker. 

Also representing at the fest: Sea Shephard, United Poultry Concerns, for the Animals sanctuary, etc.  With the considerable crowds this fest draws, I really hope that many hearts and minds were changed by all of the readily-available information.

Someone from Mercy for Animals tried to give me the hardsell on a "Ask me why I'm vegetarian" t-shirt and, when I told her that as a vegan I don't promote vegetarianism, she reasoned that many people don't know what vegan means.  As I was carefully formulating a festival-appropriate response in my head, a very young girl appeared wearing a Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary t-shirt, averting everyone's attention from the impending vegetarian vs. vegan debate.  The same MFA representative I'd been speaking to asked the little girl if she was vegetarian.  "I'm vegan," she announced matter-of-factly.  Burn!  Vegans everywhere!!  ASK ME WHY I'M VEGAN!

Time to cool off.  Honest Tea, makers of my favorite sweet tea, were at the fest offering boundless samples.  Unfortunately, they weren't selling by the bottle so I was forced to have about 12 samples.  I really like that tea.


And so it was time for wine!


VM had enjoyed wine from Franklin Hill Vineyards at the last Vegfest as well.

This time she chose the Fiesta red sangria spritzer and I forgot to take a picture of it.  Suffice it to say it was pink, full of ice, and in a cup; you get the idea.

And to accompany the wine: the pizza we'd spied earlier in the day.  There was a line for the pizza because A) they were so popular, and B) because the veggie-topped pizzas, I was told, took longer to cook than their typical meaty fare (scary).  The gentleman cooking at the Pizza Wagon was very friendly, so I chatted him about their vegan options.

I was surprised when he told me that they never offer a vegan option and that they really had no plans to do so.  Apparently this menu was developed solely for the event.

We chose "The Signature: vine ripened tomato sauce, sauteed corn with fresh herbs, basil oil-marinated cherry tomatoes, topped with roasted red and green long hots (not too spicy but do have a touch of heat)."   It was pretty good; would have been great with Daiya!  We agreed we were glad that we had shared, but were left perplexed as to why at least one of the vegan options couldn't make it to their permanent rotation.  Since they sold out of pizza before the fest was over, maybe it will...

Next up: a cooking demo.  Years ago I took a number of Christine Waltermyer's cooking classes and really enjoyed them.  Some of her recipes are go-to for me, so I was excited to see her demo.

She made an Indian vegetable biryani rice for an extremely large and eager crowd.

Full disclosure: I shared.  I was full of pizza!  Plus, 89 really likes peas, string beans, and carrots; who can resist feeding this face?

As a bonus, we received jasmine rice samples, courtesy of Lotus Foods and Christine's Natural Kitchen Cooking School (I stole VM's).

After that we hurried over to the speaker tent because we wanted to hear Danielle Konya, founder/owner of Vegan Treats, and Will Potter, journalist and author of Green is the New Red.

Danielle was first and she was great.  I had no idea what to expect in terms of topic, but she began by speaking earnestly about her journey to veganism: as a child not quite making the connection saying, "I don't eat pork from a pig, I only eat pork from the supermarket".  Then, accompanied by a personalized slideshow, she explained how Vegan Treats began; it's breadth; and how it continues to flourish: all framed by her love of animals.  As a successful entrepreneur and a vegan dessert pioneer, I did not expect her to be so humble, candid, and endearing; it was wholly enjoyable and inspiring.  When she said, "I'm not an 'eat dessert first' person, I'm a 'replace the whole meal with dessert' person," I almost screamed hallelujah.  Both huge fans, VM and I were so glad that we had the opportunity to hear her speak.


89 loves Vegan Treats for many reasons, not the least of which being that she may have started her day with pumpkin soft serve as well.  Every time the crowd broke into applause for Danielle, 89 barked in kind.

speaking of ham

It was hot and since we were comfortably seated surrounded by new fans of 89, we decided to just stay put- rather than leave and come back, for the next highly anticipated speaker, Will Potter.

Ok, ok; VM and 89 stayed put.  I went back to the Vegan Treats tent for this gorgeous cannoli cake: devil's food cake, chocolate chip cannoli cream, and butter cream enrobed in dark chocolate and topped with the world's cutest cannoli, VM's favorite.  I can out-eat VM in just about anything, but not a Vegan Treats cannoli cake!


And then, Will Potter!  I have to admit that I expected him to be a bit stuffy, but he wasn't in the least.  He spoke clearly and sincerely about the past, future, and current state of Ag-Gag laws, as well as so-called eco-terrorism to an enormously engaged crowd.  I was particularly impressed by how calmly he was able to present such infuriating material.  If you're not familiar with his work or these topics, please consider getting involved.

As if all this excitement wasn't enough, then 89 met a horse!  Not just any horse: a police horse that was so enjoying being pet that it almost fell asleep.  89 wasn't terribly impressed until the horse caught himself from snoozing by suddenly replanting his feet with a resounding clomp of his shoes and 89 went berserk.  Ah well, it was only a matter of time.

To be fair, she was a bit quieter in the sculpture garden.

And then it was time to go and I needed a drink for the road.  I'd heard rumor that the Fud Truk out of Lehigh Valley University had some sweet options, so I went to check them out.

I went with the strawberry basil lemonade and was not disappointed.

A nice end to another terrific Bethlehem Vegfest.

Till next year, Bethlehem.  Vegfest!  Bethlehem VEGFEST.  Till next year, Bethlehem Vegfest.

Bethlehem, I'll see you soon: most likely definitely at Vegan Treats.


  1. great post! This looks like it was a fantastic day. Thanks for sharing.

    And Bethlehem Pizza place, you should 100% consider adding those awesome looking pizzas to your full menu!

  2. Yay for Bethlehem vegfest going vegan. I think it's weird that the pizza place chose to make money off vegans for a day, but doesn't seem willing to offer a vegan option in their shop. Hrumph.

    I agree with you about the pigs — it makes no sense to encourage the potential domestic abuse of yet another animal. I'm fed up with a local locavore 'green' group that's pushing backyard chickens, and now, goats. I used to like them a lot when they were encouraging people to plant gardens and trees.

  3. Awesome post & amazing photos! That's great that the VegFest was completely vegan; I'll have to go next year! Yay for Vegan Treats and for the Animals sanctuary! :)
    That's a shame about the pig organization (thanks for raising your concerns with them) & Mercy for Animals getting hung up on using the word "vegan" (but good for that young vegan girl)!
    And of course, 89 is cute as ever. :)

  4. BYOL- You should go one year!

    Andrea- I feel like that's what most of the food places were doing, but at least the always have 1 or two options on their menu. Those pigs; oy. And they always have the biggest crowd because, well, pigs!

    Julie- Thanks! I don't get MFA sometimes. If people aren't familiar with the word vegan...use it more!

  5. Oh my goodness, I was going to go to this! And now in my awestruck state looking at your pictures and reading your recap, I can't even remember what came up that kept me from this splendor...

  6. What a fantastic festival. I never heard of it before.

    I feel so fortunate to be able to get Vegan Treats' products at our local Loving Hut. They're always great.

    I'll have to reread this post a few more times to take it all in.

  7. I don't even know what to respond to! There is so much. I do love those socks though, can't let that pass without mention. ALso have to say I love Danielle Konya's cat shirt. Vegans have the best fashion sense. maybe VegFest should get a clothing stand next year.
    Funny that a non-vegan pizza stand should have a vegan slice called "The Signature." Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves, buddy? First ya gotta offer a full time vegan slice and THEN let people want it!

  8. Oh also I know it's bad to promote pigs as pets...but I still want one :(

  9. That looks like a whole lot of fun. And I need those socks in my life.

  10. This looks fantastic! Especially the cannoli cake. :-P

  11. This looks fantastic! Especially the cannoli cake. :-P

  12. I was there with a friend-I saw 89 with her lil "no-fur" sticker by the Pizza Wagon, but didn't recognize her, or I would have said "Hi-I dig your blog!" Just started following it during MoFo and it's now one of my faves. I imagine the reason there weren't many options from local vegan vendors is there probably aren't many...IDK, but I live in Harrisburg, and we don't have a single vegetarian place, much less vegan. And it's the freakin' state capitol. We're a very meaty state, sadly.

  13. Randi- It's so fun: definitely go next year!

    The Shenandoah Vegan- I'm so obsessed with Vegan Treats and now even moreso after listening to Danielle.

    foodfeud- I love when vegans are wearing animal-inspired garb; when it's cooler I have a deer sweater ready to rock. Great point about "The Signature;" odd, no? Have you ever met the 2nd ave pig? He (she?) lives around the low 20's...

    Joey- I just bought them!

    Linda- Oh, that cake. I always think I'm so full, but then I manage to eat more.

    Wendy- That's a valid point. At least Horns should have been there. Not vegan, but they are always representing vegan menu items AND specials. I'll remember to pack a snack if I'm ever in Harrisburg.


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