My First Vegandale Experience: NYC
Last month, I had the pleasure to visit NYC Vegandale, where they had over 200 vendors with tons of delicious vegan food. At Vegandale, I had two non-vegan friends tag along who could give testament to the tastiness of the food. Although, there were some downsides to the festival, which I learned for next year or any other vegan festival that I attend. I want to share the highlights and lowlights of the experience for you here! So let's start with the thing I'm sure you're all dying to know, how was the food?!?!
With so many options to choose from, all three of us had difficulty deciding what to eat. Luckily, three different things intrigued us for lunch. I got Jerk Chicken from an authentic Caribbean vendor, and it was spicyyyyy, which is what I wanted. :) I had my boyfriend who has had real jerk chicken before, and his opinion was that the seasoning was slightly different, but it was good. My friends both got beef empanadas, and again, comparing it to a cow beef empanada, they didn't think it was as good. I believe their critique was that it was dry, which is unfortunate.
Although, my one friend's favorite dish was.... tofu!!! She got the tofu from Soy International (@kims_soy), and it looked v good; I was jealous I didn't get it. My other friend got avocado fries too, and they were also delicious; even people around us wanted to know what it was. Lastly, we ended the day with dessert, fried ice cream, which I enjoyed. We got chocolate with chocolate chunks, and we all enjoyed it. There were so so so many options, but I think we sourced out some gems.
Along with food, other vendors at Vegandale had vegan products or were sustainability-oriented (like green energy). A few that stand out were merch, personal care products, and art. As for future advice, I recommend spending time checking out these vendors if you're interested in vegan products or accessories. We spent most of our time looking at food options, so I only checked out one booth with stickers and clothes. Luckily, you can still look at the vendors online, allowing me to see what I *kinda* missed out on at the physical event. For example, this vegan artist has super cute work that - https://lisetteartshop.com/. I recommend checking her out!
I'll keep this section short and sweet, but the decor there was a mix of cute, funny, and blunt. Some of the signs were geared to induce guilt of the non-vegans, as was the entertainment. In contrast, others were amusing and hit on vegan stereotypes. My favorite pieces were the initial booth welcoming you to Vegandale and the art on display.
Higher prices are to be expected since it was all vegan and in NYC. But I was disappointed by how expensive some of the vendors were. This certainly helped narrow down our food choices. If there were more free items, this would have helped outweigh the high cost of attending, but we didn't find many vendors giving out free samples. Our tickets cost $10 to get in at 1 pm, to get in at 11 am, which is when the festival started, was more expensive but I don't recall exactly how much but I want to say around $20. For example, my jerk chicken was $12, and the fried ice cream for one scoop was $7-$10, I think. Which you may be thinking isn't terrible, but given the number of options, it's hard to justify trying a bunch of food when the average price is around $10 or more. But that's coming from me, a girl on a budget who doesn't eat a lot; I can see how others have different opinions.
By far, the worst part of the experience was the lines. There were a ton of people there, way more than I expected to be frank, which meant that the lines for the good vendors were insane. I think I waited like 45 minutes to get one thing of jerk chicken. We all waited for fried chicken for 45 minutes to get to the front of the line, only for them to run out, which was extremely upsetting, to say the least. Since we arrived at 1 pm and the festival ended at 7 pm, we spent most of our time waiting. To get home, we needed to walk through Harlem, and not through a particularly nice area, so the lines did prevent us from trying everything I had wanted to as we aimed to leave before it was dark in NYC. It was encouraging to see how many people came out for the festival, so while this is low light, it is also a highlight.
While there was probably a warning somewhere, not all vendors accepted credit card payments and were cash only or Venmo. However, due to the number of people attending, I think the cell towers got overwhelmed because several vendors could no longer accept Venmo since it wasn't working immediately. I also lost service while at the festival, but my friends did not, which was interesting. With this said, I will bring some cash with me next time and hope that the vendors prepare for another service delay.
My Conclusion on Vegandale NYC
I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and loved the decor. It genuinely brought me so much happiness that my non-vegan friends even wanted to join me on a day full of vegan food and vegans. I would recommend the festival to anyone interested in veganism or food. They had music and contests on stage to help make waiting in line less boring, which was much appreciated. They also had the Green Event Ninjas there to help make the event more sustainable. I'm already looking forward to next year, where I plan to stay longer, try more food, and visit various booths. Shameless plug, but check out my Instagram reel on the festival to see more. :)