I was invited to the Plant Based Foods Association party where we applauded executive director Michele Simon, JD, MPH, and Policy and Partership Consultant, Elizabeth Kuchinich. Billy Bramlet, founder of Wildwood Dairy and now the big cheese at Miyoko’s Creamery took my wine glass to clink, asking everyone to sing happy birthday to Miyoko. Many exceptional vegan change makers like David Benzaquen, of PlantBased Solutions; Colleen Holland, publisher of VegNews; Renée Loux, vegan chef-author; Joy and Bart of the Candle family of restaurants; Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen; and so many more – including a vegan cheesemaker from France – were in the room!
Some trends that I noted at Expo East were vegan and paleo on the same label; organic, non-GMO, additive-free, and allergy-free foods; vegan burgers; beans being used in crackers and snacks, and bars; cold brew coffee; and lots of plant-milks. I got to sample new-to-me Ripple Milk, which is made with peas, and it was fantastic. The choices for ready-to-cook and grab-and-go foods are plentiful, including already spiralized vegetables, and complete organic salads in a bag. I saw a lot of probiotics, both in supplement form and in shots of sauerkraut and kimchi juice. Superfoods and super promises were also trending. (I still roll my eyes quite a bit at many of the claims).
There were lots of vegan chocolates at the Expo, and some of my favorites were Raaka Virgin Chocolate, Hui, Pacari, Divine, Theo, and Chocolate Inspirations. I didn’t expect to like the Raaka Apple Pie bar but it is incredible – and it’s gluten free!
Vegan cheeses are continuing to grab market share. I’ve tasted most of Miyoko’s Kitchen’s cheesees and enjoy them all, but my personal favorite is the Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash. I spent a lot of time at their booth, which was done up as a French café, and I nibbled pretty constantly on the Fresh VeganMozz panini and bread spread with her European Style Cultured VeganButter.
Kite Hill also had a booth, and I was able to finally taste their ricotta. Amazing! It was worth the wait. Field Roast Grain Meat Co. was at the Expo, serving their Hand-Formed Burgers and the new mac and cheese, made with the Chao Cheese.
A lot of sweetener companies were represented at Expo East. Wholesome! showcased granulated and liquid sweeteners, and they introduced new vegan organic Swedish fish and canned frosting. Big Tree Farms had delectable coconut sugars and nectars. Suzanne’s Specialties makes the first rice syrup I ever used, as well as Rice Mallow Cream. The line has greatly expanded over the years. Bob’s Red Mill always has a lot of items. This year what caught my eye was their new Paleo Flour. Edwards and Sons has new Heavy Cream Coconut Milk and Green Banana Flour. Dandies Vegan Marshmallows gave out samples of Pumpkin and Peppermint minis. Yum!
Just the Facts
The educational sessions were my favorite parts of the Expo. Elizabeth Kucinich moderated a panel for the Plant Based Foods Association, which was sponsored by Miyoko’s Kitchen and Plant-Based Solutions. Plant Based Foods Association advocates for better policies to meet the growing consumer demand for plant-based foods. I’m not a manufacturer but I am going to join.
Some of the things I learned:
- Plant based foods have contributed $13.7 Billion to U.S. economy.
- Plant-based foods are a fundamental consumer shift. They’re not a trend – they’re here to stay!
- 55% of people want to embrace plant-based foods and they ask that it be made easier to do.
- Climate change is number 1 concern of government and military. Promoting plant foods is critical for protecting the environment.
- Vegan jerky is outselling meat-based jerky!
- Sales of plant milks are up 64%, while dairy is down. Vegan cheeses are roaring ahead of dairy cheese.
- Climate change is on everyone’s mind, (well…) including the government and military, and this factor is contributing to the shift to plant foods.
I was invited to the Plant Based Foods Association party at Expo East, where we applauded executive director Michele Simon and sang happy birthday to Miyoko Schinner.Wine, Miyokos’s Cheeses, and party food were served, and many exceptional vegan change makers like David Benzaquen, PlantBased Solutions and Renée Loux, vegan chef and author of Easy Green Living.
On my last night in Baltimore, I had fun at the vegan expo meet-up organized by Eco-Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen.
Do you have a favorite plant milk or cheese? Let’s talk to each other!