"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Kosherfest: The Kosher Industry's Trade Show

Today I attended the 21st annual Kosherfest, which bills itself as the world's leading kosher food and beverage trade show. There were numerous meat and dairy companies, as expected, but there was no shortage of vegetarian and vegan products. Vegetarian offerings were too numerous to mention. Vegan free samples included hummus, veggie burgers, cookies, pickles, knishes, nondairy whip, beans, vegetables, fruit, tea, juices, and soft drinks.

HomeFree was on hand to promote their cookies and coffee cakes, all of which are vegan, kosher, organic, peanut-free, and tree-nutfree. Their oatmeal and chocolate-chip cookies were quite delicious. I haven't tried either the apple coffee cake or the cranberry coffee cake (yet), but the latter was selected as "VegPicks" Best of the Best by VegNews in 2007. HomeFree president and founder Jill Robbins said that HomeFree products are "the only certified organic baked treat made in this country for people with peanut and other food allergies." Only HomeFree's coffee cakes and oatmeal cookies are "certified" vegan, but all company products are free of animal ingredients. In addition, Robbins noted that her cookbook, Allergen-Free Baking, is completely vegan except for "one or two" recipes that include honey.

Robbins started making baked goods free of common allergens because of her son's food allergies. She promotes HomeFree cookies as the perfect treat for classrooms and social gatherings: "They're not junk. They're wholesome cookies. The kids all love them. And the kids with food allergies get to be a part of the treat instead of watching from the outside."

Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods was promoting six new "meatless" and "chickenless" mock-meat products that were launched last month. The company's California, Bombay, TexMex, and Italian veggie burgers are all vegan. Company VP Larry Praeger said that there is high demand for veggie burgers without eggs or cheese. He suggested that the market for veggie burgers and mock meats is growing and that it includes individuals and families who aren't vegetarian but do eat vegetarian foods.

The definitive source on the kosher market agreed. As the PR mastermind behind Lubicom Marketing Consulting, the KosherToday newsletter, and Kosherfest itself, Menachem Lubinsky would probably speak positively about any sector of the kosher food industry. Here was his response when I asked him whether he saw the vegetarian and vegan market growing within the kosher food market:
Yes. The reason I see it growing is because people are much more conscientious about it. And also because the market is paying attention to them, whereas previously they weren't. And in kosher, it's always been about: The supply and demand work in interesting ways. Once the products are out there, somehow you found the people that'll receive the spelt-free, receive the organic and natural, and I see the same thing with vegan.
All in all, Kosherfest was worth the schlep to New Jersey. If nothing else, I got to see a larger-than-life Streit's matzoh display.


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