Free From Festival, London
Vegan, gluten free and dairy free food is pretty much everywhere now. There was a time when S, who is vegan, found going out to eat pretty much impossible, unless she wanted bread and salad.
Today, though, restaurants around the capital are starting to get on board - and the foodie community is doing the same. On Bank Holiday Monday, S and I headed up to London's Brick Lane for the Free From Festival. Unfortunately there were no music stages and head bands, but what there were was a collection of stand which might pique the interest of those of you with a meat-free mindset.
The location, The Boiler House in Brick Lane, was packed full of stalls for what was billed as the first gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free food festival. I know, it's not snappy.
First on the agenda was snacking. Anyone who is vegan and lives an active lifestyle will know that keeping your energy up can be a challenge and finding healthy snacks to help is a key part of that.
Luckily the Free From Festival was packed with offerings - not all of them landed, but here are a few which caught the eye of the resident Millennial Gent Vegan Expert (yes, of course it's her, not me). Innate offers high-fibre snacks made from dried vegetable pieces. I am not going to lie, a bag of beetroot pieces did not peek my interest at first glance, but tasting trays are a marvel. S walked away with a few bags of beetroot and sweet potato munchables.
By the way, they are also crowd funding, so head over and take a look
Next up is Get Kenko, which offers soya bean snacks. I was genuinely impressed here. The bites spread out on the (obligatory) wooden boards looked like pieces of cookie dough - and actually tasted like it too.
Don't believe me? Only one way to find out. The company does flaxseed, black sesame and wasabi varieties, so there is a range of options for you to choose from if you're so minded.
The Middle East is something of a haven for food like this. I was in Lebanon last year and the meals there were not just light and full of flavour, but basically meat and dairy free too. This is the inspiration behind Sesame Kingdom, which looks to bring the flavour of Halva, which is made from sesame or other nut butters, to a wider audience.
The company creates amazing looking cakes and works of the ethos that, to quote Oscar Wilde, "The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself." That is an idea I can get behind.
We were on our final pass round the stalls when I stumbled across Casa Barbosa. This is a story for another time, to make sure I do proper justice to them, but this was one of the best cups of cold brew coffee I have ever tasted.
The brand is the brainchild of Vanessa Garcia-Barbosa who, frustrated that Columbia's flourishing coffee market was not represented in the UK, looked to offer straightforward, pure Columbian coffee for the UK market. And it is worth the trip.