Vegan Hot Dogs and Hateful Quinoa at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival
Disclosure statement: They say that all the cells in your body regenerate every seven years, which means that I'm now completely made out of plants. Like a cow, only way better-looking. I quit eating meat because animals are cute. Even the ugly ones are cute when they're babies. Plus, the Ed Gein torture-shed conditions provided by industrial agriculture are also environmentally grim. But! Some of my best friends -- and also the person I intend to marry -- eat meat, and I would never judge anyone by their dietary choices, unless those choices include quinoa, a high-protein pseudograin that tastes like chlorophyll mashed up with dirt, popular within an insufferable demographic cohort that likes National Public Radio and wears New Balance shoes. Other than that, no judging! Disclosure ends.
Yeah Dawg Vegan via Facebook
The fourth annual New York Vegetarian Food Festival sprawled across two floors of the Metropolitan Pavilion this last weekend, packed with vendors, restaurateurs, activists, authors, and hordes of people who showed up to eat. If there was a line, you knew that it was vectored toward some food.
Because they're more interesting and accessible, I focused primarily on the local businesses instead of the national vendors in attendance (although I would be happy to write about manufacturers of powdered vegetable protein supplements if you can pay me). This decision was forcefully validated when a Gardein soy meat-substitute vendor handed me a stick-borne sample of Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n substrate, which had a snotty texture and tasted like Tang.
It didn't help that I'd just eaten some pretty great samples from the booth of Marty's Vegan Fast Food. While I was waiting in a self-organized queue that kept sidewinding off in different directions according the whims of a large group of indecisive young women who kept allowing friends to cut the line, I talked with owner Marty Krutolow, who said he was still looking for a location, preferably one that could provide a large, communal vegan kitchen. "Vegans don't have a lot of fast-food options," he said. TRUTH.
Marty's was serving two kinds of Vegan Drum "Stix" (sic) -- basically a battered, soy-based vehicle for barbecue or Buffalo sauce. The "stix" were satisfyingly crispy with a chewy texture, and the vegan Buffalo sauce was vinegar-y and great. I don't want to throw shade on the barbecue sauce, but I grew up in Kansas City and I HAVE OPINIONS. But setting aside regional biases, it was just fine. I'll definitely eat at Marty's when they find some real estate.
The line for the Yeah Dawg booth was long enough to block the booths of other vendors. Among the pleasures you have to give up when you quit eating meat is buying hot dogs from street vendors. This is the line: