The Top Ten 10 Vegan Eats || PNE 2016

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It has arrived, boys and girls, and it has returned with a vengeance. Annually, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), graces Vancouver to wrap up our summer season, running this year from mid August straight through to Monday, September 5. Featuring a wide range of entertainment, rides, family features, music, live shows, tarot card readers, games galore, and more, the epitome and central feature for many guests and attendees has always been (drumroll!) the food.

We frequented the PNE when we were young, and ate one of everything: cotton candy, candy apples, Wiggle Chips, lemonade, Buckeye Root Beer, and the ultimate: Mini Donuts. Fast forward to the veggie and vegan years. Observing a slight shift in programming and food vendors over the past few years, us veg-folk have noticed the number of snack containers in our bags reducing drastically as the Expo introduces more and more options.

Case in point: enough to make this list. Welcome to the first (ever) Top 10 Vegan Eats of the PNE 2016!



1. Tossed Gourmet Salads and Wraps: New to the fair this year, Tossed features two formats for their dishes: wraps, or salads (for our Gluten-Free/preferred friends). Though the menu only has a few options listed, the Tossed folks are very welcoming for meal modifications (within reason) and switching out toppings for the veg-friendly options. Case in point: kale, cabbage, carrots, peppers and mandarin; add chickpeas, and lemon/oil dressing on the side. Pro-tip: hemp hearts and/or black beans also available for added boost and protein.


2. PNE Market Fresh Fruits and Veggies: This Market pop up has juices (fresh or bottled), salads, and sandwiches. Featuring ingredients from the PNE Chefs’ Garden, the wraps and sandwiches are pre-made, but can be adapted and prepared from scratch. The Organic Quinoa and Greens Salad features peppers, cranberries, artichokes, pumpkin seeds, and green onion; and can also be wrapped up for a more substantial offering.

3. Booster Juice: There is nothing wrong with having a familiar options for juices and smoothies, when push comes to shove. For smoothies containing yogurt (a few of them), that ingredient can simply be omitted. Otherwise, opt for one of their juices and don’t forget your booster. Pro-tip: not all menu options from the stand-alone shops are available at the PNE booth.

4. Crazy Dogs: Crazy Dogs appeared on the VP list of eats for last years’ PNE. Any (any!) hot dog platter on the menu can be made with a veggie dog. Go for the feature with Cilantro and Guacamole galore, add extra Guacamole, experience PNE Foodie Nirvana.

5. Vina Vietnamese: A la option number 3, there is nothing wrong with a familiar staple. Located in a row of Fast Food Non-Veggie friendly places, Vina is a welcome (and cost-efficient) option. One of the hot platters is vegan-friendly, featuring an array of noodles, steamed veggies, and rolls; my preference was the (cold) Salad Roll, packed with noodles and vegetables, and that delicious side of Peanut Sauce. Pro-tip: if we are talking meal-size, you might want to go with 2.

6. Canadian Kettle Corn Extreme: Anyone who knows me well knows that my preference leans to savoury over sweet. Once in a while, this changes, and the PNE is a prime example of a seasonal shift in tastebuds. Canadian Kettle Corn is the perfect balance of salty and sweet. The seasoning is well-balanced, and doesn’t overpower your tongue in the same way that many (many) fair items do. Several stands are set up throughout the site, with a wide variety of flavours and sizes. Fun fact: also certified Gluten-Free and Peanut-Free for the sensitivities and/or allergies.

7. Summerland Soft Serve: Dairy-Free, pineapple whip. I say no more. If you know, you know. This right here is infamous, and it’s infamous for a reason.

8. Frolicious Frozen Treats: While we are talking about ice cream and frozen goodies, I present exhibit A:


All of the ice creams and frozen “yogurts” at Frolicious are dairy-free. We are talking flavour options ranging from Chocolate and Vanilla, to Cake Batter, to Cinnamon Roll and Butterscotch. Toppings featured are some of my favourites (Maynards Sour candies are gelatin-free, as pictured here), and include both vegan and non-vegan options. The staff are friendly, happy to answer questions, and look the other way when you fill your container half-way and then re-fill it. Been there, done that.

9. Corn Castle: This is a festival favourite. Fresh, sweet local Chilliwack corn on the cob, hold the butter! Pairs well with a Veggie Dog, salad roll, or grab a handful for a substantial snack on the go.

10. Fruit in a Fruit: A new option to the PNE this year, Fruit in a Fruit features fresh coconut, watermelon, and pineapple beverages sold in the original shells. For the warmer days, this isĀ an ideal way to stay cool all day at the Fest.

If you venture away from the PNE for a break, take note of these vegan-friendly options in the neighbourhood. Some of these are within walking distance, or easily accessible via any of the buses that run along Hastings. (PleaseĀ note these are not exclusively 100% vegan restaurants and cafes):

  1. Tentatsu Sushi
  2. Roundel Cafe
  3. Jakalaope
  4. What’s Up Hot Dog
  5. Tacofino

Remember to venture to the PNE with an open mind, a few of your preferred veg-forward stickers (if you’re so inclined), and above all: an empty stomach and major appetite. Happy Eating and Festival Treating!

Zoe || comments/questions: || IG @zoemarg



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