Monday, May 12, 2008

Music festival madness

The Coachella Music and Arts Festival turned out to be more than a feast of music -- it's also a feast for vegans.

I was covering the festival for the newspaper, spending 12 or so hours at a time at the polo grounds. Initially I was worried about finding enough vegan food on site to keep my energy up over three days, especially since you aren't allowed to bring any food into the venue.

It turned out to be an absolute feast: I had tempeh wraps, grilled tofu burgers, baby mixed green salads with shredded beets, fresh fruit smoothies, fresh coconut water, even a platter of African food that included black-eyed peas, spinach, rice and candied plantains. One of my friends raved about a spicy coconut soup that I never had a chance to find.

Smoothie lovers

It was expensive, yes. But I would rather pay $10 for a great salad than spend the same amount on inferior festival foods.

Veggie eaters

My favorite was the blackened tempeh wrap, which came with a lemon tahini sauce.

Tempeh wrap

I also drank a lot of Olade, which was a refreshing alternative to traditional lemonade. It's organic, sugar free and just five calories -- nothing but lemons, water and stevia. Plus, it was created by the diabetic drummer of Rage Against the Machine, so it has street cred too. (Personally, I think he should have called it RageAde. The label makes it look more like Jack JohnsonAde.)


Then, just a few days later came the Stagecoach Country Music Festival, which I also covered. The website clearly said there would be vegetarian and vegan food -- but the reality was far different. I would even say it was horrific.


Smell My Butts

Road Kill BBQ

Here were my options for dinner:

* Something called a veggie burgerito. It was a crumbled veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, french fries and condiments, all INSIDE a tortilla. But the people working the booth couldn't tell me if the veggie burger was vegan.

* A veggie corn dog. Even if the batter was vegan (which it probably wasn't), I didn't really want fried food at a hot festival.

* A plate of peppers and onions -- cooked on the same grill with meat. No thanks.

I ended up getting a sauerkraut sandwich, which was my own genius invention. Basically, it's a hot dog bun filled with sauerkraut and spicy mustard. My friends were completely grossed out, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever eaten.

My friend Matt wrote about it here.

Luckily, I also snuck in some of my own BBQ:

My kind of BBQ

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