Chicago Vegan food and Drink Festival

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In one weekend I knocked two things off my bucket list: visit Chicago and attend a festival dedicated to eating and drinking. I lived in Central Florida for over 20 years and never made it to Epcot’s Food and Wine. Boo.

Vegan Food and Drink Festival had their second annual festivals in Chicago, Toronto and New York this year. When I heard about these events I got real pumped because I am currently living in Iowa- where Chicago is only three hours away.

YAY.

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Ecorrazi.com and Grant Park Conservency presented this all vegan experience featuring comfort food, craft brews, wine and spirits.

Grant Park, also referred as “Chicago’s front porch” was such a beautiful location for a festival. The park is huge and is home to popular attractions such as Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. Where the festival was held you could see the Chicago skyline to one side and beautiful Lake Michigan to the other.

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Before getting to the festival, I had a very specific list of needs: tacos, donuts, pizza, mac and cheese, burger and ice cream.

It’s important to know what you want. This is how my day at Vegan Fest Chicago went down.

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I started off my day without rules and with a well-rounded breakfast with this chocolate sprinkled donut from Bad Day Donuts.

Bad Day Donuts is the brainchild of a vegan baker who’d long admired other vegan donuts from afar and decided to take matters into her own donut making hands. Also on the list was a cinnamon roll which my husband ate before I even took my camera out.

Rookie mistake.

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We walked around the beautiful park and saw that the lines were growing like weeds. We went over to this taco tent because, tacos.

Taqueria La Veganza is a pop-up based in Oakland, California and serves up a freakishly close alternative to authentic Mexican Food. The vegan “meats” are 100% plant based and the taste and texture are as close to the original I believe is even possible.

The Vegan Taqueria is currently doing weekend catering and pop-ups but is working on funds for a food truck. I am so excited about this find because my next travel nurse assignment is in Oakland!

Cannot.

Wait.

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For the festival, he had two options: Taco Plate and Burrito. The flavor profile was unreal. Both my husband and teenage brother said they were the best tacos they had ever had- which says a lot considering the amount of tacos they have consumed in cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, Fort Worth, New York City, Miami and Orlando.

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Unfortunately at the end of the day we wanted to get another round, but they had sold out.

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The heat was getting a little serious out there, so we took a moment to cool down with the Brew Dr Kombucha who was handing out samples of their 100% raw, high-quality organic booch. My favorite flavor was “Love” which is a combination of jasmine and lavender.

Here are the ingredients: Filtered Water, Organic Jasmine Green Tea, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Lavender, Organic Chamomile, Organic Damiana, Organic Rose, Live Probiotic Culture

All. The. Goods.

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After having some ice cold refreshing kombucha, the greatest thing happened to me. I hopped in line for some macaroni and cheese. Not knowing that this was THE SOUTHERN FRIED VEGAN from Los Angeles popular for their delicious vegan versions of popular festival foods. Little did I know, I was about tenth in line before they even started cranking out orders. Later on in the day, the line was wrapped around the park.

Right place.

Right time.

I chose the “Build-A-Bowl” option and from bottom to top had macaroni and cheese, fried chickun and cole slaw.

 

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For dessert, I cooled down with a frozen cookie sandwich filled with a banana based vegan ice cream from Nana Creme. Their cookies and ice creams are free of: the eight most common allergens, GMOs, guar gum, artificial coloring or flavoring, or pectin.

Unreal. 

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After constant eating for a few hours, I wanted to find some activities. Around the festival there were so many options like

Corn hole

Beer Pong (both red solo cup and jumbo garbage can style)

Volleyball

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It was time to cool down again after playing corn hole with an awesome couple we met at the festival. The smoothie was made with the perfect proportions of strawberry, mango, banana, coconut water and pineapple juice.

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If you were wondering, we won.

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All day we watched the line for Doomie’s wrap around Grant Park. From 11-3 the wait was at least an hour and a half. I wanted to know what the hype was about! It turns out Doomie’s came all the way from Toronto and they were only serving up one special item- a Big Mac.

We were about to leave without getting a taste because it was starting to get really hot out, and the thought of standing in the longest line at the festival was daunting. But then we had a dare I say it, yolo moment.

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This burger freaked us out. It tasted just like I remembered! My husband had the “is this vegan?” look in his eyes. I gotta say, it was worth the wait.

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This pizza on the other hand was not.. I saved pizza for the end because it is my favorite. Since going vegan I haven’t found a pizza that I LOVE.

Even after visiting, Paulee Gee’s Pizza tent at the fest…still nope. This pizza was pretty freakin’ disappointing. It was cold, hard and had one speck of cheese. And six dollars.

Womp, womp.

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My 16 year old brother came with us, too and he enjoyed every single bite! It is so exciting for me to share this experience and lifestyle change with my family.

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There ya have it. Vegan Fest Chicago 2017. Overall the food was exceptional, there was plenty of shaded areas to sit, water stations and variety of vendors. There were over 70 vendors and I only got to about 10 of them. I believe there is room for improvement so that guests can experience more vendors- whether it’s making it a two day festival or having cheaper sample sized options to increase speed of lines. The portions were HUGE, which is great but they were also $10-15 a plate. I think it would be fun to have, say, $5 options.

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Happy eating,

Sherise Rae

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