Last Saturday I attended the Chicago VeganMania event in Edgewater. It was my FAVORITE festival from this summer, and that’s saying a LOT! Chicago VeganMania is a must-attend event for any vegan, vegan-curious, or non-vegan food lover in the area. I found so many new products and restaurants that I can’t wait to start using and visiting more frequently.
It was really hard for me to pick just 5 finds from the festival in order to link up with the Friday Five group! As a result, I’m splitting my review in half. Here are 5 product finds from the vendor section (plus one honorable mention!). These are different products from VeganMania that you can buy online or in stores. Later I will recap my restaurant finds. I might even need a third to review the panel discussion and other miscellaneous items! There was just so much good stuff to fit in one blog post!
5 Product Finds from Chicago VeganMania 2017
My first product find is KOYAH. They make smoothie mixes that you can combine with water to make an instant smoothie! It reminds me a lot of Nuun tablets (electrolytes I use for running) except that instead of tablets inside there’s powder. One tube creates one smoothie. KOYAH sounds like it is great for someone on the go. I was already thinking of my Wednesday and Thursday mornings when I have a workout class at Edge and at Zen yoga. Normally I make a smoothie the night before but these would be WAY easier!
I sampled them all and they weren’t fake or chalky like some other mixes. I loved the Mango-Kale-Lemon smoothie best. They also have Banana-Raspberry-Quinoa, Mango-Blueberry-Quinoa, and Pineapple-Kale-Banana. They’re made with freeze-dried fruits and veggies, and cooked dried quinoa. Super cool.
Punk Rawk Cheeses
Another product find was Punk Rawk Labs. Their cheeses were fantastic! They are all blocks of cashew-based cheeses that you can spread on crackers or cut up into squares and wedges. At VeganMania they had samples of all their cheese flavors: Original, Herb, Smoked, Nacho, and Of the Woods.
Nacho was my FAVORITE. I felt like a cartoon; I ate one of the samples and my eyes bugged out of my head! And then I had another haha. Everyone with me agreed that this was delicious and something they’d definitely buy- and they are all non-vegans. I thought of my parents and how their typical weeknight dinner is cheese and crackers. I’m going to have to show them this!
I had a lovely conversation with Sue, the creator of Kakookies. Kakookies are oat-based cookies made with natural ingredients, designed so that anyone with an allergy or food preference can enjoy. Sue came up with the idea when she saw how poorly her daughter and her cycling team were eating – similar to my quest to design a natural recipe for me to eat on my long runs. I could totally understand where she was coming from!
I tried all their flavors, Dark Chocolate Cranberry, Almond Cranberry, Blueberry and Cashew Blondie. Normally I’m a chocolate person, but to my surprise the Cashew was my favorite! I could totally see myself eating these during an ultra in the future.
Fast Lane to Health Superfood Fudge
Another amazing product find comes from a similar athletic route. At a different booth, I spoke with Laine, owner of the blog Fast Lane to Health and creator of Superfood Fudge. She is a triathlete who wanted to create something healthy to eat when she was training. And like me she likes to indulge in healthy and decadent treats.
This fudge was incredible. Similar to the nut cheeses I may have had more than one sample. When Zach and Jackie arrived later, I brought them to the table. Same with Jon and Ivory. Laine was also selling Carrot Ginger Banana Protein Muffins, which reminded me of my post-run muffin recipe. She’s only been doing it for about 6 months, which was inspiring to see. I hope the business continues to grow!
You can see that I started healthy and progressively got more into the sweets. Story of my life. Totally worth it thought because I discovered Tabal Chocolates. I wore a running shirt to the festival, and the owner of Tabal, Dan, struck up a conversation about running. I stayed for quite some time talking about running and education (he was a former school principal) before I even tried the chocolate. It was incredibly rich and flavorful -I highly recommend the sea salt!
The name Tabal means relationships, and Dan told me about the relationships he’s cultivated in various countries with chocolate growers. I love the bright packaging for each bar and how its name after its country of origin. Tabal is a Milwaukee-based company – next time I go running in Kettle Moraine I am going to make a detour!
Honorable Mention: Tiny Meats
I am really not a meat person and never have been, but the sausages I tried from The Tiny Vegan were really good. I don’t have the desire to replicate the look of meat, but I know there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who do. ESpecially those looking to switch from a carnivore diet to a plant-based one. The thought of switching to a plant-based diet is scary, which is why many people don’t do it. “Where am I going to get my protein?” The Tiny Vegan may have the answer.
They had many varieties of vegan sausages which reminded me of the meats my parents always have in the fridge at their house. I went over thinking this would be something good to get them to show how they could swap out meat sausage for a healthier option. I sampled the Spicy Salami, Spicy Italian Sausage, and Breakfast Sausage. Look at that protein! I will keep them in mind when I go to potlucks as a way to share delicious tasting vegan food.
I am so glad that I went to Chicago VeganMania and was able to enjoy the day sharing new vegan finds with friends. I’m really excited about finding these new vegan vendors and looking forward to eating and using them more in the future!
Did you go to Chicago VeganMania? What did you think of these vendors? If you didn’t go, which would you want to try? Share any of your product finds below!
Happy running and buen provecho,