However, this hodgepodge was incredibly enjoyable, confusing as it was. Even though the Vegan Society was there (having helped ensure that the event as a whole would be very vegan-friendly), it was not a VegFest, and so the usual suspects of raucous pushers, overeager crowders, and animalistic sample-raiders were missing in their usual overbearing numbers. Halleloos! It made for a much more manageable event, calmer and less intimidating yet just as fun for the rational-minded not-as-pushy cruelty-freers as any VegFest in London has been.
I'll review my day in sections, starting with the extremes to get those scary things out of the way first.
I Go to Extremes like Billy: Two Bests and Two Worsts
My Two Faves of all time OF ALL TIME (of all weekend) were WAIT not EVEN of all weekend because I had two bestever HOUSE GUESTS! but definitely faves of this fest and maybe any vegfest kind of thing, actually! were obviously both dessert-oriented, as I am. That was some sentence for your poor brain to follow. So my favorite new company discovered at Just V was Loving Earth Chocolate, a raw organic chocolate company, big in Australia and sure to take over the market here (they are new to the UK). I don't know how this is raw, because it just tasted like regular non-raw/non-weird hard chocolate. And the texture! Perfection! Nothing like that slimy soft wackadoodleness that lots of raw chocolate resembles. I was so impressed, and that was before we learned from their reps all about how ethical and upstanding this company is. The cocoa is fair trade, and is even on the very reputable, very legit Food Empowerment Project list, which only recommends buying from companies that are fair trade and free from child labor and slavery. Cocoa is a seriously important thing to make sure you buy ethically! Then the Loving Earth reps told us the packaging is even made from vegetable ink to make sure it's vegan and like, everything they said was just red underlined 100 emoji. So great! All the samples were delicious, thick with the cocoa butter feel and wonderful. My favorite from my home stash has been the caramel, a white-ish bar with the best texture in the entire world (I think it is just pure cocoa butter, possibly. Send more!) Hooray!
So those were my bests, how about my bads? Sadly, they both came from companies I like, but their representatives were so off-putting that they stuck out as the worst parts of the day! I mean, really, this shows how great the day was, because these aren't like, oh I lost a toe levels of bad, but just really annoying experiences. The runnerup winner/loser is a lady from Ruby Bakery. My fest companion bought a thing, and then we asked if we could take pictures, and did. Brash lady came up close and was like yelling, "You'll put them on instagram right??" and we were like, uhh, maybe. And she said, equally loudly, "What do you take them for if not for instagram!!!" and we were just like...um...first of all please take a step back, second of all, people took pictures for all kinds of reasons before instagram was invented...right?? Right? Am I misremembering what life was like before phone apps? Cameras existed before last year, right? Anyway here is some proof that pictures aren't only for instagram.
First-place winner/loser champion was from a company I like even more, Plamil. One of their reps was tolerable at first, talking to us about some new products, but then it got out of control. He started going off about the history of veganism in the UK and how this company began many years ago, all without even noticing that we were trying to walk away. I was even waiting with chocolate in my hand ready to buy! But instead of letting me give them money, he then started railing about how the Vegan Society got soft and lets companies use their symbol that don't deserve their recognition, and about how NO OTHER PRODUCTS EXCEPT FOR PLAMIL'S can really EVER be considered vegan because of trace contaminants and we were just standing there for WAY TOO LONG like, Hey Mr. Mansplainer trying to tell two intelligent long-time vegans in their 30s about the RIGHT WAY TO BE VEGAN, can we please step away from you and your overbearing demeanor now please? It was seriously like ten minutes of our time wasted, plus a lot of our mental energy expelled trying to stay polite. I waste too much energy trying to be polite when other people aren't.
& Am Grateful For
The big, basic (and no don't mean basic like how the kids are using it these days (me too) like with disdain about how someone isn't cool enough, I mean like the regular definition of a word in our lexicon) point of a VegFest, for me anyway (and for others given how many stalls are devoted to it), is bar stocking. Not that kind of bar stocking. I mean protein bars, energy bars, granola bars. I had a gay ol' time stocking up on my work snack bars, my travel bars, my leg day extra protein needed bars, &c. Bars bars bars. Trek, Nakd, and Nature's Path - the standards - were there, thank goodness. The Nature's Path rep was the nicest lady and gave us a free granola bar each! Trek and Nakd always have incredible deals at these Fests, and for people like me who buy them retail all the time it's like Chrimble. And their sample setup is brilliant: the boxes of each flavor are set out on big tables with big bowls of that flavor crumbled up in front of it, so if you like that flavor, you grab the bar behind it to buy. It's really simple and quite astounding that others haven't figured out how to run this as well.
I ROLL MY EYES AT EVERY VEGFEST OH NO MY EYES
SO. Here we are. I decided to go for three 'shots' from the 'juice' options listed 'above'. I went for turmeric, chili and lime, and aloe vera. Yes, these were just pure juiced version of these ingredients. Not mixed with anything else. No fillers, no soothing agents, no mitigating circumstances. The lady who was juicing me was sort-of laughing the entire time at me because I think I was one of the few patrons all day to choose pure turmeric and pure chili pepper juice.
Here are some action shots, courtesy of Jojo, who I think is still shaking her head at me but who definitely helped keep me from falling when my legs gave out.
AND THE BEST DISPLAY SET-UP
GET IT H IS FOR HAUL I DIDN'T EVEN PLAN THAT!