For the last few days, Twitter has been buzzing with mentions and retweets and conversations about V Delicious, “the veggie good food show”, co-locating with The Allergy + Free From Show. Never having been to a veggie, vegan, or special diets expo before, I’m not going to lie – I was pretty damn excited.
Then Saturday came and went and Sunday morning came and went, and Sunday afternoon was ticking along… and my little brain was putting together the piles of washing and clothes to sort out, and the to-do list, and the travel recommendations taking into account the fact that our Tube line was shut this weekend, and the grey and miserable weather, and Ben still being in bed not feeling too well, and the newly tightened budget, trying to formulate some sort of equation which would tell me whether it would be worth going or not.
Luckily, my brain got tired/bored/distracted just in time for my heart to fire up and say, “Umm, of course it’s worth it. It’s a whole room full of people who know what “vegan” means and at least half-full of food you can eat!”. Roughly 90 minutes later I was entering Kensington Olympia and wondering why I had even considered it not being a good idea.
I guess about 60% of the stalls were food-related, and about 80% of those advertised gluten-free products. The other 40% or so of stalls were made up of skin-care and cosmetics, health professionals of various kinds, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and various household appliances associated with healthy, ethical living. Funny how all of that stuff seems to go hand-in-hand, really. And in fact, it sort of disheartened this cake-loving vegan a little at first.
I wandered around a few gluten-free and “superfood”-oriented stalls a little before finally zooming in on Good Hemp, whose shakes I have seen around but for some reason never gotten around to trying. I tried a sample of their hemp milk, which was average, and asked if they had samples of their shakes. They didn’t, but the sales assistant at the stall kindly gave me a sample and talked to me about their products. When I explained that I was interested for the purposes of review and comparison for my blog, she gave me some more samples and told me to get in touch for samples of other products. I was really impressed at how warm and friendly she was, and hope their product is good so I can give them some good reviews!
I continued my meandering, slowly coming to terms with the realisation that my healthy wholefood Sunday was going to have to be postponed in order to prioritise tasting and testing… What better way to break (unwritten) resolutions than at the Vegusto stall? Again, I have seen their cheeses and heard a lot about them but never bought them. Never having been a fan of cheese, I have never sought out vegan alternatives, and certainly not at the price at which No-Moo retails. Unfortunately, I think I will now have to find a way to fit vegan cheese into my life – these are gorgeous! Tangy and smooth, I am pretty sure these are very close to cow’s milk cheese, and I would strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a vegan cheese alternative. Very impressed, especially with the herb and walnut versions.
I was a bit disappointed to be too late for samples from the V-Bites, but that’s probably for the best as I ploughed my love into Dee’s veggie sausages instead. I tried each of their flavours of soy-free pea protein-based sausages, and all were equally delicious and hearty. This was the first stall at which I asked about prices and was ready to get my wallet out – but unfortunately the show only just marked their UK launch and they had no product to sell. However, they should be rolling out in various shops very soon so I will be keeping my eyes peeled. I think these may be my favourite veggie sausages so I hope I can get my hands on some soon!
At some point I also hung around the Goodness Direct stall where I picked up the very last Happy Kitchen brownie for just 50p! I had resolved to buy one anyway after a Twitter conversation in which it was unanimously agreed that they were delicious and way better than you would expect from a date-based product, so I was thrilled to get it so cheap.
I have to say I was quite surprised that so many of the V Delicious stalls were either superfood-wholefood-healthy type stalls, or ready-meal companies. I was expecting more biscuits, cakes, pastries, chocolates, and more meat and cheese alternatives. Did anyone else get this impression?
Anyway, if only for the purposes of this blog, I did want to try out a few of these so-called superfoods and maybe pick up a niche baking ingredient or two for a decent price. So I hung around the Aduna stall for a bit to try their baobab products, which seems to be the latest craze… But I couldn’t get near enough to grab a sample, and wasn’t that desperate. Same deal for the Honest Carrot stall – simply heaving – their products looked gorgeous but it wasn’t the sort of thing I would buy to take home. It would have been great as a takeaway-lunch-on-a-sunny-day sort of deal, but I felt I could probably make a similar product at home if it was what I fancied.
Back on the hunt for some interesting foods to stimulate my healthy-treat-making hormones, I lingered around the Coconom stand and tried some coconut sugar, which I have seen used a lot in Ricki‘s recipes. The staff were really sweet (no pun intended) and friendly and explained that they hadn’t yet launched their product, so I was keen to buy some but wanted to see what else I would spend my money on first. I promised to go back, but when I did I got ushered away by a security guard as the expo was closing. I say ushered, but that makes it sound like he was in some way respectful. He was really unnecessarily rude, abrupt and unpleasant although I was being perfectly polite in asking if I could just linger a moment longer to purchase a product. Unfortunately this is a memory I will keep of the show, which is a shame.
Another stand which stood out to me was the Four Girls and a Cupcake stand tucked away at the back. Cupcakes can be a little overwhelming but their selection looked dainty and refined – though what really made me stop and think was their pain au raisins. I haven’t had a breakfasty pastry since I went vegan (unfortunately Jusroll croissants don’t count), and it is one of the few things I really long for. They do madeleines too which makes my heart ache a little bit!
I tried to avoid bigger, more well-known companies but I did hover around the Plamil stand for a bit debating whether to buy a bar or two, which were going for 50p each by this point – and if so, which?! In the end I decided not to – money is money, and I was there to spend it on new products I don’t find elsewhere. Like Zero Zebra, for example, who I had never heard of. And while their little mini-biscuits, albeit beautifully flavoured, were way too dry and crumbly for my liking, their rice chocolate bars were delicious – really smooth and creamy. I’m not sure why I didn’t buy any, actually…
I also had to pay a visit to the Natural Balance Foods stand, better known as the makers of Nakd bars. The stall and the area around it was total chaos, but I managed to squeeze my way into the scrum for long enough to sample all of their new Protein Crunch bars and their Trek Protein Flapjacks. The Nakd Protein Crunch bars were alright but I prefer the standard fruit-and-nut-mush bars – the Trek Protein Flapjacks, however, were gorgeous and in my opinion way better than the original Trek bars. But then I am a sucker for a flapjack. For the rest of the show I mulled over whether or not to get some Nakd bars as I am always happy to eat them – I didn’t in the end and am now kicking myself!
I could go on, and I will… But I will let you get on with your evening and I will highlight a few showstoppers tomorrow!