Well, I don’t know what I was so worried about. The Green Festival was full of vegan food options and I really didn’t need to pack my own bento lunch. Two of the best vegan restaurants in Chicago were there, serving up huge heaping plates of tasty awesomeness.

There were:

And for dessert, Chicago Soydairy had a booth with several Temptation ice cream flavors.

Also present was Field Roast providing their phenomenal sausages with grilled veggies on buns. If you’ve never tried any of Field Roast’s products, you simply must. Their stuffed Celebration Roast is an awesome holiday substitute for mock turkeys.

Of course, I couldn’t eat everything so I settled on the Jamaican Jerk sandwich with coleslaw from The Chicago Diner and ended with chocolate Temptation ice cream from Chicago Soydairy. I really wished I had room for Soul Vegetarian’s famous mac ‘n cheese. Oh well, they’re not far from a client of ours so next time we take him out to lunch, maybe that’s where we’ll go.

In any event, the Green Festival was packed and, at times, a little stressful for someone with crowdaphobia. There was an amazing array of green goods for the home, body and spirit. Of course, this blog is about veganism and that means animal welfare. So I present to you, the first shot from the event…I was watching a demonstration of non-stick cookware when I noticed this little sign near the front of the booth:

This pretty much set the tone for the festival. Everyone was friendly, chatty and all smiles.

Without further delay, here are a few reviews of products that caught my attention:

To-Go Ware Meal Containers

I’ve seen photos of the To-Go Ware containers on other websites but never held one up close and personal. These are a modern styling on the tiffin food containers common to South India and are bigger than I previously thought. They could easily carry lunch for two folks.

What I really liked though were To-Go’s bamboo cutlery set that included chopsticks, spoon, fork and knife. These were really cool and I should have bought a set. I did get a shot of the latest holders they offer which are made from recycled materials like newspapers and bags:

You can get the original handwoven holders with a set of cutlery at their website. The handwoven holders are produced by a women’s cooperative on the Thai-Burma border called WEAVE. Watch the video to learn more about the WEAVE group.

Now back to the container: you have to remember that these are stainless steel. They won’t impart any weird flavors to your food. They’ll live forever. You can put your To-Go Ware in a toaster oven, regular oven or over an open flame. But, they’re not microwavable. But then most plastic Japanese bento boxes aren’t microwavable either. Nonetheless, I thought the steel tiffin food carrier was charming and seemed large enough to hold a boatload of food. Though the gentleman manning the booth didn’t know the capacity of each compartment and I’ve not been able to find it on the website. Alas, I must buy one to find out and fulfill my blog duties. ;-]

Bag ‘Em Danno

One of the nice things about packing bento lunches is the opportunity to reduce waste by reusing leftovers in creative ways and also packing lunches in reusable containers rather than disposable wrappers and bags. This weekend at the Green Festival, I went one step further and bought 2 Bag-E-Wash contraptions to enable me to reuse my large zipper-style plastic bags. I am thrilled to not have to throw away these bags or figure out how to effectively clean and dry them after using. And as many bento planners know, storage bags are very helpful for freezing portioned foods because they let you remove the air prior to popping in the freezer.

I have yet to use them but will report back once I do. I expect they’ll take up a fair amount of room in the dishwasher but I don’t use bags that often anyway. And yes, I’m aware that dishwashers too can be wasteful but that’s where I’m drawing the line. I’ll hand wash what I can but if I’m home late and totally pooped, I’m going for the convenience.

Factoid: Did you know that America produces 10 pounds of plastic bags per year for every person on the planet?

New vegan food products from Edward and Sons

I’ve seen various Edward and Sons products in stores but never knew just how vast their product selection actually was. It’s HUGE! And they’ve just launched several new food items, two of which I’ll be testing later this week.

I think most vegans craving macaroni and cheese have tried their Road’s End brand of boxed mac ‘n cheese but did you know they are the same folks that make these items:

  • Let’s Do…Organic® brand gummi bears and feet (the sours are the best IMHO)
  • Let’s Do…Organic® brand sugar cones
  • Let’s Do…Organic® brand ice cream cones
  • Brown Rice Snaps brand crackers

Among many others. They make so many products, I was grateful for their assistance in pointing out the newest selections.

The newest additions to their pantry that I’ll be reviewing soon are:

  • Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cubes
  • Native Forest® Mango Passion Chutney (evidently so new it’s not even on their site yet)

…Oh hell, let’s do the Chutney now….(opening jar…finding cracker…) wow! This is good. Downright yummy. It has a bit of a kick to it but I wouldn’t say it’s hot. Just a little restless leg syndrome. And that’s smoothed over by a soft sweetness. The coloring is a nice and toasty warm brown with chunks of mango. I’m going to have to include this in a bento lunch with some cucumber sticks and crackers. Would also be yummy on a sandwich or wrap with veggies. Has a tweek of a savory angle to it although it’s sweet too. I’m digging this. When I include it in a bento, I’ll try to take a close up photo of it. Although it is a very dark earthy color.

Anyway, go here to check out all the other new Edward and Sons products.

Rock ‘em Sock ‘em

One of the biggest challenges of being a vegan is finding groovy vegan socks. Knee socks, specifically. And stretchy ones at that. I’m so tired of all those mass marketed socks made overseas that don’t quite fit, aren’t comfortable, slide under my heel while walking and just aren’t cool enough to shell out good money for. Additionally, I have larger calves than most and can never find knee socks that can be pulled all the way up. I think that’s because most knee socks today are designed for skinny teenagers, not middle-aged housewives. And being a cold-natured person living in the windy city, knee socks are crucial to my survival.

So, I was kinda hoping to find something useful among all the organic cotton and hemp clothing booths at the Green Festival but all they had were ankle warmers in nifty natural colors like unbleached white and unbleached white.

I was nearing the end of my winding trek through the showroom floor and saw something that made my heart skip a few—an entire booth comprised completely of socks! Really really cool socks too! Ok, so there were a few hats in the booth but only on one small rack. Here’s a photo showing a sampling of the grooviness that Rock ‘n Socks manufactures.

Another really great thing about Rock ‘n Socks’s socks (aside from the wonderful designs and colors) is that they are recycled. Yeah, recycled but not from post consumer undies or anything gross. They are made, in the USA, from pre-consumer cotton/poly blend fibers salvaged from factory scrips and scraps.

As I write this, I am wearing the pair I purchased at the booth yesterday. They are quite comfy and seem to be staying up. I will further test them by wearing to work to ensure they can take a daily beating. The owner, Misty did say yesterday that she thoroughly tests their sock designs during manufacture because she wants to ensure they fit a wide range of people.

In the meantime, you should head over to the Rock ‘n Socks website to get a view of all their socks. They don’t have an online shopping cart function yet but are working on it. Misty said to just contact them with what you want and they’ll handle your orders analog style for now. They’re also sold via several retail outlets across the nation and you can get that list on the site.

Note: While Misty didn’t intend to make vegan socks, she in fact did by using recycled cotton fibers. So these fall under the subcategory of accidently vegan but vegan nonetheless.