Summer is officially upon us, and I started mine a couple weeks ago with an epic trip to Houston for Vegandale Fest! Vegandale Fest is a giant vegan celebration taking place in four cities this summer, with Houston as the first stop. The fact that this vegan festival kicked off in TEXAS, of all places, makes me incredibly happy and optimistic. It is yet another huge sign that veganism is hitting the mainstream: the world is changing!!
The Vegandale Fest will be coming to Chicago, NYC, and Toronto next! If you’re planning to go to Vegandale this year (or any vegan food fest, really), you should definitely check out Vegandale’s survival guide with their essential tips, including the importance of sunscreen, hydration, and bringing cash.
After attending the festival with my girlfriends, I wanted to share some more tips from my personal experience! If you’re someone like me, who gets overwhelmed by big events like this, keep reading, because these tips should make for a more manageable and enjoyable experience. 🙂 Sprinkled throughout, I’ve included photos of some of the wonderful eats we got to enjoy!
- Pre-game with kale! LOL.
No joke, treat yourself well before the fest. The week before the fest, I mainly stuck to healthy plant-based, whole foods, ate more greens than usual, and drank lots of warm water and lemon juice, just to prepare myself for the decadence that was coming (vegan donut burgers, y’all). For dinner the night before, I ordered a gorgeous Mediterranean greens bowl from Green Vegetarian, which I actually couldn’t finish. The leftovers came in handy–this will come full circle by the end.
- Come in with a game plan…but leave room for spontaneity.
Keep a list of which vendors you definitely want to visit, but also plan to support new, smaller vendors, whom you may have never heard of before! Researching the vendors beforehand helps with decisions. Before the event, Vegandale releases a list of vendors and a site map, so attendees can plan accordingly!
- Prepare to walk…A LOT!
Comfortable shoes are essential. I wore flats, which was perfect for me, but sneakers are also a good choice. I always love checking my steps and I try to reach 11k daily, or 15k on a great day. Although my FitBit logged only about 9k steps that day, it also logged that I burned 3,408 calories, and noted that was in the fat burn zone for 7 hours and 18 minutes…I guess it was all that excitement about the food, and photographing it all. You ever find yourself doing squats just to get a great angle? LOL. Photography can be a test of fitness, y’all.
- Divide & conquer with friends!
At a fest like this, my goal was not to eat as much as I could, per se, but to TASTE as many things as possible. I went with my girlfriends Courtney (@colormecourtney_), Christina (@christinaisblue) and Andrea (@czeizetheday). We split up to explore various vendors, and then we would regroup, to share bites of each dish! This strategy saved my wallet and my appetite. We also shared a lot of laughs (check out this hilarious photo my friend Christina took)! Another good way to experience the fest is to invite not only your vegan friends, but your omnivore friends too, so they can see what vegan food is all about!
- Know your own body and your limits! Choose wisely.
I do love desserts, but not as much as I love savory foods! And honestly, too much refined sugar can have me feeling terrible, leaving me with the worst headaches and energy crashes. Combined with the Texas heat and a lack of water stations at the fest, I had to watch out for myself. Other than Eggloo’s epic bubble waffle ice cream, I knew I couldn’t handle too many sweets in one day, so I saved most sweet treats for later, which brings us to my next tip.
- Bring an insulated freezer bag!
This is for those delicious treats that you plan to savor later, such as Sinfull Bakery’s 2 lb cinnamon rolls. Imagine those rolls melting and getting mushy in your purse or tote bag…no thanks! Having an insulated freezer bag helped us keep to-go foods cool and intact. I was also on a personal mission to bring back as many goodies as possible for my sister (@maibananna) and my friend Margaret (The genius behind Plant Philosophy!), who couldn’t make it to the fest. I was able to bring back a pretty great assortment of goods, including: Sinfull Bakery’s cinnamon rolls and mac’n’cheese kolaches, fluffy AF Eggloo bubble waffles (sans ice cream), Baton Creole’s jambalaya baton, and No Bones Beach Club’s Korean-style wings, and a single, epic bite of Chickpea and Olive’s chik’n & donut sandwich.
- Hydration is key.
However obvious this may sound, hydration is truly essential. We packed our reusable water bottles and made sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. It was kind of a challenge, because at a park as big as Sam Houston Park, somehow accessible drinking fountains were left out, which kind of baffled me, to be honest. Some vendors had bottled water, thank goodness. My favorite is always good ol’ H2O (remember, sugary drinks will only dehydrate more)! I did appreciate that fresh coconut water was available for purchase, though, since it’s naturally sweet, and a great source of electrolytes!
- Pace yourself and plan for breaks!
About halfway through the afternoon, my friends and I were feeling pretty depleted, so we decided to head back to our AirBnB to cool off for a couple hours. During that time, we also went thrift-shopping, which was so much fun and provided us with some much needed AC.
- Location, location, location.
Luckily for us, all our desired destinations were not too far apart. It’s not a bad idea to check out what potential indoor activities (like museums) might be near the fest so that you can get some cool, air-conditioned relief without straying too far. After our lovely break, we returned for the last two hours of the fest, feeling refreshed and ready to try more new things!
- Finish strong with some greens.
Make sure to get some greens in after all that decadence!
Later that night, I realized I had mostly been taking bites all day, and I was actually ravenous, and craving my greens. Thankfully, I still had that huge box of leftover Mediterranean salad from Green Vegetarian. I devoured that ish, with a fourth of an Arlo’s bac’n cheeseburger…balance is important, after all.
Food-wasted, is that a thing? I think so. The morning after Vegandale can be rough…get yourself a kombucha and a gigantic kale salad.
After all that indulgence, I’m in the mood for some hearty basics, like soba noodle soup, or fresh dishes like cold tropical noodle bowls and kimchi tofu wraps! What refreshing summer dishes would you like to see next on the blog? Let me know with a comment, and thanks for checking out my Vegandale adventures!