Top 10 Vegan Moments at Natural Products Expo West 2016

natural products expo west 2016Natural Products Expo West is the largest natural products expo in the world, where thousands of new and wonderful vegan goodies make their debut each year! Over 77,000 folks attended this year’s show in Anaheim, California, with over 3,000 companies showcasing their new creations.

I started attended Expo West over 10 years ago when I was in search of healthy snacks for K-12 schools, and although I still gather snacks and send them off for students to sample, now my main focus is finding, tasting, and writing about all the scrumptious new vegan food – and meeting the innovative folks who make it.

Every year is a blast, and this year’s Expo West was no exception.

john salley veganHere are my Top 10 Vegan Moments from Natural Products Expo West 2016.  Take a look!

1. Vegan Athletes

We’re both 51. We’re both vegan. But only one of us is a 4 time NBA Champ, and it’s not me!

Yep, that’s John Salley with his awesome pro-veggie shirt. And that’s 5 foot tall me on a stool behind him. John was helping promote Violife Dairy-Free Cheese, and just being an all-around great guy who knows a plant-based diet is the way to go! I met up with other vegan athletes while there too.  Plant-STRONG for the win!

 

2. Organic Juice

The press room was stocked with Suja Juice this year, which means I could drink as much as I wanted… and I did! YUM! Every time I went back to the press room to write or check my schedule, there was that colorful, elixir of wellness packed fridge just beckoning me to indulge. Freakin’ awesome!

suja organic juiceMy new favorite flavor is Suja’s Divine Probiotics – made with apples, almond milk, banana, chia seeds, vanilla and – you guessed it: probiotics! My second favorite flavor is Sweet Beets!

Suja can be a bit pricey, but if you find a sale at the store and combine it with coupons, you can get the price down to about 2 bucks.  Sweet!

3. Vegan Bread!

There were so many awesome new vegan breads at this year’s expo! There were a few new varieties from Follow Your Heart, including gluten-free for those who need it. And a really, super, duper soft variety from Dave’s Killer Bread called “White Bread Done Right.” It has the most whole grains of any organic white bread, but you’d never know it by the consistency – it’s like a healthy version of Wonder Bread, and it’s darn good!

daves killer bread veganSpeaking of GOOD, I was happy to see Ozery Bakery at Expo West! I love their Cranberry Orange Morning Rounds; when they go on sale, I can pick up a 6-pack for $2.50. I just pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes, and gobble them up – no need for jam, or vegan butter – they’re delicious just as is.

Vegan Morning Rounds Ozery Bakery“Morning Rounds” made my “Top 3 Best Picks” list as part of my Expo West blogging assignment. If you’d like to read more, check out my little blurb about them here!

 

 

 

 

4. Gardein’s new Vegan Scramble Breakfast Pockets!

gardein vegan scramble breakfast pocketsOh man, oh MAN, are these good!

If you’re transitioning from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based one and need something to switch out those breakfast sandwiches from McDonald’s – look no further. These taste GREAT! And what’s super cool is they contain Follow Your Heart’s new VeganEgg, and Daiya’s vegan cheese!

 

 

A trifecta of vegan companies, coming together for breakfast. I love it!

 

jane velez-mitchell vegan5. Jane Velez-Mitchell

It’s not the first time I’ve spoken with author, and former CNN host, Jane Velez-Mitchell, but it IS the first time I’ve seen her wearing such a cool shirt! I asked if I could take her photo, and she said, “Sure, but hang on!” and then pulled her coat wide open for the big reveal!

Vegan. 

Compassion. 

Nonviolence. 

For the People. 

For the Planet. 

For the Animals.

 

Jane isn’t just vegan; she’s spreading the word. What’s not to love about that? Jane is always such a wonderful advocate for animals and people, and that makes me happy!

 

6. Aquafaba!!! fabanaise vegan mayo

I know, most of us have heard the great news about aquafaba (aqua=water, faba=beans), but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it in a product for sale! It’s out of our kitchens and on its way to store shelves, y’all!

For those who are wondering what aquafaba is, it’s simply the brine (liquid) that you’d normally pour down the drain from a can of beans – but when you whip it up (garbanzo/chickpea brine works best), it becomes the consistency of egg whites, like magic! Well, guess what?! Sir Kensington’s paired up with Ithaca Hummus, took their extra aquafaba, combined it with a few more ingredients – and made it into vegan mayo, which will hit store shelves this June! Innovation and cooperation at its best.

Ok, pop quiz:  How many vegan mayos are there now? I’ve lost count! Isn’t that crazy!? But that’s ok – the more the merrier! Times they are a changin’!

 

seventh generation vegan

7.  Transparency 

Heck, yeah! You know, being allowed to know exactly what we’re eating, breathing and slathering on our skin?

Yep, that’s transparency and it was certainly a “buzz” word at this year’s Natural Products Expo West.

Not only were labels easier to read, companies, such as Seventh Generation are even making the packaging itself clearer too. Here’s one of their new, and very pretty, hand soaps in clear packaging, and you can see their new dish soap packaging in the photo.

Transparency was also a key theme with speakers too. This is all consumer driven, so bravo to you (and me!) – WE – the consumers, for making this happen! Now, if only we could get a law passed mandating disclosure of what’s in all of those “natural flavorings.” *sigh*

(Here’s my post about Seventh Generation and Animal Testing if anyone is curious about the previous controversy.)

8.  Scrambled Vegan Eggs!

Vegan Egg Follow Your Heart

I really enjoyed hearing all of the “Oooh’s” and “Aaah’s” as folks watched Follow Your Heart whip up some vegan scrambled eggs. Their new VeganEgg isn’t the first plant-based egg, and it won’t be the last (Hampton Creek’s Just Scramble is just around the corner!), but this is the first time I’ve seen such a cool thing exhibited at Expo West, and it really wowed the crowd.

Easy Vegan Tip:

Make your own scramble! Just crumble up tofu and sauté with your favorite veggies.  Add a little turmeric for a beautiful yellow hue (it’s healthy too!), some nutritional yeast for a lovely umami flavor, the herbs you love, and a dash of sea salt.  Some folks even add Kala Namak – a black salt that’s actually pink when ground. It gives food a very distinctive “eggy-like” taste.

 

plant based foods association9. The Plant Based Foods Association

History in the making right here, folks. WOW.

You know how there’s an “American Egg Board” and a “National Meat Association” and a bajillion other groups of folks who have banded together to dupe consumers into eating a ton of saturated-fat filled, cholesterol laden food? Well, guess what?! Now there’s a group of professionals who have joined forces to promote eating PLANTS!

The Plant Based Foods Association’s announcement triggered a huge crowd on the floor (you could barely move a foot!), and has already garnered fantastic media attention from across the globe.

Their objective is:

“To ensure a fair and competitive marketplace for businesses selling plant-based foods intended to replace animal products such as meats, dairy, and eggs, by promoting policies and practices that improve conditions in the plant-based foods industry, and educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based foods.”

Ok, this could only be trumped by my final, and most memorable moment at this year’s Natural Products Expo West…

100 vegans expo west10. A Gathering of 100 Vegans!

The beautiful, intelligent and compassionate Whitney Lauritsen aka: Eco Vegan Gal, coordinated a gathering of vegans at this year’s Expo West and the turn out was amazing! That’s Whitney in her super cute blue dress in the middle, next to that frumpy looking girl with a scarf on her head on the right: ME. Oy!

If you look closely you might recognize a few friendly faces: Chris Cooney of The Vegan Zombie, Colleen Holland of VegNews, Caroline Love from Hampton Creek, Marathon Runner Micah Risk, Lighter’s Alexis Fox, the Vegan Black Metal Chef, and Jason Wrobel, author of the new vegan cookbook, Eaternity.

the-vegan-way-book-cover-final-mobyThe food was certainly great this year, as always, but meeting so many vibrant and friendly folks, who care so deeply about health, the animals and the environment was truly the highlight of this year.

Sign up right here to stay in the loop for all the vegan scoop!

See y’all back on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! xoxo

Jackie Day, Author of the new book The Vegan Way: 21 Days to a Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You (St. Martin’s Press / Macmillan) Check it out! It’s getting GREAT reviews!