My VegFest Pilipinas 2023 experience

No, I am not a vegan. One of my close friends is, and this is literally the only time of the year that we’re guaranteed to meet. It was in 2018 when I first attended the VegFest Pilipinas and it was a blast. So I figured, why not attend every year and discover what are the tasty treats in store for me?

This year’s fair was held at the Blue Bay Walk, and I got there after lunchtime. Cecille was already waiting for me and I was super hungry coming from the dentist appointment so we grabbed lunch first. I let her pick since this is her “territory” and we ended up at WildThyme, a kitchen offering plant-based meals for your meat-craving palate. I got their tinumok which, instead of shrimp, they used a flavorful version of crushed tofu wrapped in taro leaves. It was a combo meal so it came with a cup of rice, crispy octo eggplant, and some sort of lemonade with butterfly pea, hence the purple hue.

Once we were full, we decided to check out each booth. Unlike the previous years, there wasn’t much free tasting this year, which was totally fine. I guess it was just something I learned to expect from this kind of event. We stopped by Green Meat Hub, another plant-based kitchen and we got to try their spicy bagoong alamang and aligue (crab fat), which tasted similar to the real thing but they were made of soy instead of shrimp. I think Cecille got the bagoong and aligue jars because they were so tasty.

Then we checked out Vegetari, and tried their plant-based bagnet and lechon kawali. This was my “star of the show” last year, where I ate a full meal of lechon kawali with rice, which again, tasted similar to the real thing sans the worry of getting hypertension and high cholesterol levels. This year I got their full set of munchies. I like snacking in the middle of the night when my Asian dramas are too good to just quit watching for the day.

Cecille lowkey did a full-blast shopping; of course she needed to stock. After we did our rounds, it was time to stop for an afternoon snack. We got deep-fried watermelon. I know – it sounds a bit odd but they tasted like honey-glazed donuts. They’re super sweet (just like the man who handed me my order) they’d give you cavities. We ate it along with a cup of hot coffee called French Kiss, a mix of espresso, vanilla, and cinnamon from Odd Cafe.

Then we went to get drinks. One might think that plant-based options for drinks are quite similar to the omnivore’s diet. There’s kombucha, a plant-based probiotic, and some beers that are guaranteed plant-based because apparently there are some beers that are not, based on preparations (and other ingredients). Happy Brew Kombucha is something that I would go back for. Actually, no. I looked for a place nearby where I can get this drink and luckily we have one in my city. I got two flavors, and Berry Dreams tasted like sparkling strawberry wine and of dreams come true, watch out for Raia’s cocktail! I also got alcoholic beverages from Nipa Brew; Drop Zone and Sun Stoked tasted amazing when the nice salesperson offered us a free taste. I figured they will go along well with my vegan fried pork rind munchies.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting at the greenfield area, where friends and families were also lounging under the Saturday afternoon sun. Cecille and I had a lot of catching up to do, and it was already 8:30 when we realized it was time to go home and we just missed the free wine tasting at 7.

Sometimes, the therapy you need is just a long conversation with an old friend. I came home tired, but with my heart full, stomach satisfied, and soul refreshed. I hope we can do this kind of meet-up more often.