Last weekend Vancouver hosted VegExpo, a great opportunity for local and national companies to feed people tasty vegan things and show off their shiny new products as well as some old favourites. I headed over to Canada Place with a fellow vegan friend, armed with an appetite and a keen sense of curiosity.
VegExpo had a busy schedule of talks on stage for most of the day, with many of these focusing on the GMO debate. It seemed almost like the expo was being hijacked by this agenda, which was a bit of a shame. Still, those vendors touting their wares did a good job of keeping people alert (thanks for the Lush coffee Ethical Bean!), and well fed (Tomato and Ginger Monkey Toast is delicious!).
My focus was, as always, on those companies present who had nutritional supplements, shakes, and such to sell. I typically hear out the sales pitch before letting the vendor know I’m a qualified nutritionist, thus giving them the opportunity to work their sales magic and me the opportunity to see how they represent themselves.
Spotting an Interloper at Expo
There were a couple of vendors, who I won’t mention by name, who were heavily promoting the token vegan formulas in their product line (or in one case what turned out to be a couple of products they sell for another company). These are the kinds of vendors who immediately get flummoxed when asked about the form of vitamin D, or if the magnesium stearate used in the tablets is vegan or animal derived.
Asking these kinds of questions can pretty quickly give you an insight into whether the company itself was established or has adopted vegan values or if the products just happen to be plant-based and therefore sellable to vegans. Whenever I can I will choose to support entirely vegan companies and those that actually understand what they’re selling and why. This is why I like expos; they require real interaction and remove the opportunity for someone to copy and past a frequently-asked-question answer into an email and evade giving a genuine and unrehearsed response.
Orange Naturals – Great Formulas, Not All Vegan, Alas
A couple of the companies impressed me with the simplicity of their marketing and the strength of their product formulas. The first was Orange Naturals, a fairly new company that produces shakes for all life stages as well as herbal, and nutritional pills and tinctures. They also produce homeopathic remedies.
Many of their products are vegan, including their protein shakes and a multivitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient shake especially designed for kids. This shake is also gluten-free and soy-free, and the formulas were designed by qualified naturopathic doctors with pretty great credentials and some clear ambition to bring good quality products to the market. It’d be great if all their products were vegan but the ones that are already certainly represent good value so check out this Canadian company next time you’re looking out for a nutritional powder to add to your daily juice.
Vitality – A Vegan-Friendly Vancouver Health Company
The second company that caught my eye was Vitality, a local Vancouver-based company that has been going for decades but has recently revamped itself and brought out some exciting new products that are all vegan-friendly. I met the lovely Cheryl Grant at the expo and she hinted at some more great products soon to be available from this great-looking little company.
Currently, Vitality has a multivitamin, a digestive complex, a B vitamin complex with vitamin C, and a stress-busting Relax formula. These are all vegan and gluten-free, most are guaranteed GMO-free and soy-free, and the ingredients are sustainably sourced right here on the west coast of Canada. This is especially an issue when buying supplements such as the digest formula that includes goldenseal root, a plant that is often harvested to the point of collapse in other countries. If you’re looking for a new timed-release multivitamin formula, something to help during times of stress, or something to help ease a little digestive discomfort or boost your energy and stress resistance then check out Vitality’s range of products and be sure to let them know you appreciate their compassionate and sustainable approach.
Other Favourite Vendors from VegExpo
Of course, there were plenty of other vendors at VegExpo in Vancouver, including West Coast Wild Foods who were selling pickled fiddlehead ferns, smoked morels, and a whole range of incredibly tempting foraged foods from the local area. It was a shame that the mushroom soup they were sampling wasn’t vegan but they did offer a recipe to make it with coconut cream instead so that was much appreciated!
I also enjoyed drinking the lemongrass and ginger kombucha from Rise (I’m not sure my suggestion to make a gin cocktail with this went over too well!), and eating the lemon coconut macaroon bites from Hippie Foods (which tasted just like my grandma used to make them!). I also sampled some truly disgusting fake salmon made from pea protein and, having never eaten salmon, I have no idea if it was at all realistic. The crab cakes and shrimp looked interesting too but I was somewhat put off by the slimy salmon slices and ran away to eat some Austrian pumpkin seeds which were fantastic.
Plant-Based Athletes Take the Main Stage
Although, as I mentioned, the presentation stage was largely full up with people talking about GMOs, I was sad to miss the last few presentations by vegan athletes and trainers. I loved the title for Samantha Shorkey’s presentation: Getting Jacked on the Beanstalk. Nicely done Samantha. There was some good representation by jacked up vegans at Canada Place this past weekend, with healthy looking dudes in muscle shirts proclaiming a plant-based diet. I can’t help but feel that this may have turned a few heads and resulted in a few double takes so well done to you guys for coming out and promoting a compassionate approach to fitness.
Expos are always a little strange as the brazen selling of stuff tends to rub me the wrong way. The idea of selling veganism is particularly weird but I understand its necessity. So, if even a handful of people tagged along with vegetarian or vegan friends and ate some great food and had some pretty direct exposure to some good vegan messages and healthy eating messages then huzzah! And, in the process, some new and old vegan-friendly companies got a little boost in revenue from expo and can continue their good work in feeding me delicious things. Thanks VegExpo!