Cheeseburgers, Maine Italians, falafel pitas, cold brew coffees, milks, cheeses, butters, deli meats, macarons and doughnuts will be among the all-vegan food for sale at this year’s 18th annual Maine Animal Coalition VegFest, taking place later this month in Portland. Featured speakers will tackle three of today’s hottest food topics: fermentation, seaweed and food waste.

Outside East End Community School, the site of the event, mobile food vendors will sell lunch. Options include The Totally Awesome Vegan Food Truck, with burgers and fries, Falafel Mafia, with hummus bowls and pita, and The Greenhouse by SAO, with farm-to-table Southern style dishes. Food vendors and booths offering vegan-friendly items will fill the school’s gymnasium.

The Whole Almond of South Portland plans a big spread centered on its almond milks, along with new products, including its plant-based butter and mac and cheese powder. Its cold brew coffee and cold brew chia, along with its vegan, gluten-free baked goods, such as blueberry-rosemary scones, doughnuts, and stuffed medjool dates with almond butter and chocolate, are bound to attract attention. Biddeford vegan restaurant Vickie’s Veggie Table will sell its bottled cold pressed juices and granola bars.

At last year’s VegFest, the vegan macarons from Al’s Green Kitchen Macs in Fort Kent were a hit, and the bakery will be back this year offering sampler packs with six flavors including pistachio, raspberry cream, and Maine maple caramel pecan.

Brunswick-based Midcoast Vegan, maker of plant-based meats and cheeses, plans to debut its sunflower brie, which it describes as having a “bloomy rind and ash.” It will also sell its new hard cheeses, plant-based steaks, and vegan Maine Italians.

Tootie’s Tempeh of Biddeford, which launched at last year’s festival, will be back this year to give out samples in the form of mini Reuben sandwiches and sautéed tempeh bites with dipping sauces. The former Nuttin’ Ordinary, now Shire’s Premium Plant-based, from Peterborough, New Hampshire, was a popular spot at last year’s festival, and the company will return this year, sampling its cashew cheese spreads.


Frinklepod Farm in Arundel will showcase its Plant-Curious Cooking School, with all-vegan classes. Other vendors include Volcanic Ash, a Rye, New Hampshire, maker of hot sauce; White Muck, a Dover, New Hampshire-based vegan clothing vendor; and Portland’s North Spore Mushrooms, which will be selling home mushroom growing kits. Boston-based Vegan Publishers will sell its plant-based books at the festival.

Wes Acker of Harrison will attend to introduce Plant Based Perfection, his start-up company selling snack memberships. Attendees may recognize Acker as the force behind the former veggie burger company Freshiez, which he sold to a Massachusetts company in 2021. That company later closed. His new business, Plant Based Perfection, offers a monthly subscription with bagged snacks (such as granolas, nuts, protein balls, and chocolates), recipes and meal plans.

“My goal is to make it easier and more convenient to eat healthier, plant-based options,” Acker said.

Nicholas Repenning of Go-en. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Repenning

VegFest speaker Nicholas Repenning has a busy couple weekends ahead. He co-owns the Whitefield miso company Go-en fermented foods with his wife, Mika Repenning, and is organizing next weekend’s two-day Fermentation Fair at Dandelion Spring Farm in Bowdoinham. At Go-en, the couple makes miso in the style of that made in the Northern Kantō region of Japan, where Mika Repenning grew up.

The following weekend, Repenning will speak at VegFest; his talk is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.

“I’m going to cover the cultural significance of fermentation and how to get it into our lives,” Repenning told me. “In Maine, the fermentation scene has been alive and thriving for a long time.”


Susanne Lee, a University of Maine faculty fellow at the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. Photo courtesy of Susanne Lee

At 11:10 a.m., Susanne Lee, a University of Maine faculty fellow at the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, will talk about Maine’s efforts to reduce food waste.

“We waste about a third of our food,” Lee said. “We never eat it. It’s like going to the grocery store and buying three bags of groceries and dropping one in the parking lot. We have a limited supply of water and energy and labor, and we’re wasting it. Everyone has the potential to stop it.”

Lee plans to talk about solutions that include eating leftovers, shopping with a meal plan and list, and composting. Calling food waste “a symptom of a broken food system,” Lee said she expects to find a receptive audience at Maine’s VegFest since vegans and vegetarians tend to be aware of the problems with the American food system.

Bonnie Tobey, president of the Maine Seaweed Council. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Tobey

One potential plant-based solution to the broken food system will be what Bonnie Tobey, president of the Maine Seaweed Council, will discuss at 2:10 p.m. Her talk will introduce Maine’s native seaweed varieties, review how people are using seaweed today, explain Maine’s growing role in the global seaweed industry and share vegan recipes.

VegFest attendees will also have a chance to connect with activist groups, hear a fiddle trio headed by Darlin Corey, and enter the Maine Animal Coalition’s annual raffle, which this year includes full tuition for one person to attend the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies six-week certificate program online, which normally costs $1,260.

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