Pittsburgh Vegan Expo and Convention offers tasty sample of the lifestyle
Dacia Thorson recently obtained a registered trademark for legal rights to the word “Beaf.”
That’s not beef, but rather Beaf, a plant-based meat alternative.
Thorson and her husband Curtis are vegan and own Honest Pastures in Virginia Beach, Va., where the products they manufacture and ship throughout the U.S. include Grillable Beaf Steaks, Corned Beaf, Gyro Beaf, Jackfruit Beaf Ribz, Montreal Chickun, Veggeroni, Teriyaki Beaf, Beaf Broth and Smoked Beaf.
Their Beaf products are made from natural ingredients such as vital wheat gluten, vegetable broth, organic brown sugar, chickpea flour, herbs and seasonings and are adaptable to many recipes.
“Each ‘meat’ involves one or two cooking processes, sometimes three, to get different textures and flavors,” Dacia Thorson says.
Moving to Monroeville
They will be offering consumers samples and sales of their products at the Pittsburgh Vegan Expo and Convention Nov. 9 at the Monroeville Convention Center.
The expo is being presented by Amy Cottrill of Pittsburgh, who is bringing the food show to Monroeville for the first time after offering similar vegan food events in Mount Oliver, the North Side and North Hills.
“I have watched veganism slowly grow in our city — very slowly at first,” says Cottrill, who has been a vegetarian, then vegan, since she was a child.
In the past 10 years, she says, the pace of the growth of the vegan lifestyle in Pittsburgh has increased dramatically.
“It used to be very hard to find good vegan options in most mainstream restaurants and grocery stores around here. Now, it is rarer to find a restaurant without vegan options,” she says.
Making the transition
Among the speakers at the expo will be Dean Caliguire, who played football for the University of Pittsburgh before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He also played for a year and a half with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Caliguire will talk about his transition to a plant-based diet and how he feels it played a major role in him overcoming several health problems and illnesses. After battling obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation and sleep apnea, he took steps to improve his condition and was able to lose 80 pounds and reverse or improve his medical issues.
He spent time at a health center in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he participated in an eight-day water fast and learned how to make diet and lifestyle changes.
Caliguire also credits his family, including his wife; his brother Joe, owner and chef of Sarafino’s Restaurant in Crafton; and his godfather, Dr. Dominic Brandy, also a speaker at the expo, for helping him on his journey back to good health.
“I still have a ways to go, but I have kept off the weight for a year and I feel like a new person,” he says.
Speakers and exhibitors
Other speakers will include Sally Lipsky, talking about her book “Beyond Cancer: The Powerful Effect of Plant-Based Eating,” and Joel Holc, an energy awareness coach and author of “The Eggshell Effect.” Professional fighter Khama Worthy will discuss his studio, The Academy: Pittsburgh MMA and Fitness, and his training and career in mixed martial arts.
Local exhibitors will include Taylor Kalasky, owner of Yumzio Bistro in Greensburg, who says she recently expanded her vegan- friendly menu to include items such as vegan omelets and breakfast sandwiches.
“One of our most popular vegan dishes is our Vegan French Toast, made with Cellone’s thick sliced Italian bread which is then dipped in homemade vegan tofu custard,” she says.
Yumzio Bistro will feature vegan- friendly mini-doughnuts, fudge, brownies and cupcakes in its booth at the expo.
Josie’s Sweets and Treats in Dormont recently expanded its menu to include vegan s’mores cupcakes, cookies and brownies, and savory vegan cornbread muffins with bell peppers and mushrooms.
Owner Christine Krutules’ vegan options at the expo will include vegan and gluten-free apple crisp, s’mores cookie bars, pumpkin coffee cake, cinnamon rolls and brownies.
Cottrill says Pittsburgh Vegan Expo is open to and designed for everyone, not only vegans.
“All are welcome to try new foods and gourmet desserts, watch cultural dance performances and an eco-friendly fashion gala and do holiday shopping to support local businesses, including artists, jewelers, body care product makers, makeup reps, clothiers, book authors and more,” she says.
There will be a performance by four-time North American Beatbox Champion, Villain, accompanied by child break-dancers from The Get Down Kids, under the instruction of Kid Cuba of The Get Down Gang.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.