I’ve been attending the Natural Products Expo for over eight years but almost always representing an exhibitor. As a result, this vegan foodie doesn’t get many opportunities to walk the exhibit hall. When I do get short breaks, there are two areas of focus:
(1) find a decent hearty vegan meal
(2) find the newest vegan eats
– HEARTY VEGAN MEALS –
I recommend pacing yourself and avoid complete plates of food like the one pictured here(!) for most attendees. But for exhibitors, who possibly only get one single break from their booth, don’t hold back! There are a few exhibitors that typically provide a good portion sample like Follow Your Heart. They often serve small plates for breakfast but only for about an hour or two in the morning (shortly after opening). Last year they served their Vegan Egg in a tortilla wrap. This year they also sampled their now famous Rocket Cake pancakes.
A few additional booths with hearty samples include: Tofurky, Daiya, Sweet Earth Foods*, Gardein, Beyond Burger, Sir Kensington’s*, and more!
*vegan options but not all their samples are vegan so worth asking if they are not clearly labeled.
– NEW VEGAN FINDS –
Possibly one of my favorite recent finds is Stacey & Mom’s Japchaeya. It’s a pre-packaged frozen meal bursting with wonderful flavor atypical of a standard vegan frozen dinner. Once prepared, the veggies actually still have a fresh flavor and crisp texture!
Another favorite recent find is Because Cookie Dough’s vegan, gluten-free cookie dough! The flavor is outstanding and I truly couldn’t tell they were gluten-free. Good luck getting the dough onto a cookie sheet because you may just eat it all straight out of the tub.
Okay, I have a sweet tooth. My absolute favorite vegan ice cream is SoDelicious cashewmilk frozen desserts. I highly recommend the Snickerdoodle. That is all.
– PRO TIPS –
I’ve included a few “pro-tips” for first-timers and there are even takeaways for veterans! I typically share a hotel room with a dear friend who jokes around that I convert our hotel room into a day spa with my bath soaks, essential oils, and stretching/yoga that occurs every night after a long day! Just because you’re pushing through a couple long days on your feet doesn’t mean that your body has to feel it!
- Wear Comfortable Shoes
Break out the sneakers or running shoes. Whatever will get you through a 10 hour day (minimum) on your feet. You’re going to be walking/standing on lightly carpeted concrete all day and you will feel it at the end of the day. Worried about not looking professional? Don’t. No one is looking down at your feet because exhibitors are busy looking at your badge and attendees are busy looking at exhibitor offerings (read: free sh!t)!
- Epsom Salt / Dead Sea Salt
Get to the local CVS as soon as you land and stock up on some epsom salt. By the end of the first day the local CVS stores are completely sold out because you bet we all want to soak our aching feet! If you’re checking a suitcase then pack some epsom salt, or even better, dead sea salt, with you! Note that if you pack it in your carry on be assured that TSA will open your suitcase and inspect those bath salts. Make sure to pack them in their original packaging and that they are manufacture sealed to prevent any misidentification. Ahem. Speaking from unfortunate experience.
- Legs Up The Wall
This is actually my number one recommendation for everyone but I lose people’s attention as soon as I recommend it! It’s often dismissed but I cannot suggest it enough. Legs up the wall is far more effective (for me) than any foot soak. I truly experienced the benefits of this pose through yoga teacher training. It will help drain fluids from your feet/legs that have built up over a day spent standing/walking. You’ll also get a nice hamstring stretch. This pose may also help relieve tension in the low back from a long day on your feet. Seriously, just take 20-minutes at the end of any long day spent on your feet for this restorative pose.
How to do the pose:
Getting into the pose properly is very important. Watch the first video for this demonstration. Note: you can absolutely keep your back and bottom firmly on the ground and you do not have to take this pose up on your forearms in preparation for supported shoulder stand.
– If getting into this 90 degree angle initially is too much for the hamstrings or low back then back your bottom away from the wall. You want to feel at ease in this pose.
– Legs up the chair: use your hotel room chair instead of a wall.
– For the strap (as demonstrated in the next video), use a belt or the hotel’s bathrobe belt.
5 Things I Learned from Throwing My Legs Up The Wall – Runner’s World
- Healthy Snacks
The unfortunate truth about Expo is that it’s almost all prepackaged food and even though a “natural products” show it’s still processed food. After 3 days of munching on energy bars, flavored popcorn, organic baked potato chips, wheat meat, aquafaba mayonnaise and the like, you inevitably crave fresh dark leafy greens.
The day you land I recommend a quick stop to the local natural grocery store (Mother’s Market is a quick Lyft ride away) to stock up on cold pressed juice and probiotic rich drinks or food. Mother’s Market has one of the best salad bars I’ve ever seen with TONS of vegan options that you can meal prep a few healthy options for the next two-three days.
- Pace Yourself & Hydrate
Whether you’re an exhibitor or attendee, it’s easy to go overboard on the food samples. Strategically pick the samples you truly want to eat and just taste. You can always go back to that same booth another day! It’s easy to forget to drink water at any tradeshow so carry a refillable water bottle around. There are refill stations available throughout the exhibit halls.
- Make a Plan
Take a few hours before arriving to locate the booths you really don’t want to miss. I recommend the Natural Products Expo mobile app that allows you to favorite the booths you’d like to visit. This show is incredibly overwhelming and you just can’t possibly see everything even in 3 complete days. Start with the exhibit hall(s) dedicated to brand new items as they tend to be the busiest and they also close earlier than the main exhibit hall.
- Make Reservations Early
Over 80,000 people attend Expo West! That’s a lot of people in Anaheim, CA among the existing Disneyland tourists! Make your plans early, make dinner reservations, but also be flexible.
- Foot Roller
In addition to legs up the wall, I sometimes like to massage my feet using a foot roller. I’ve been known to stand behind my booth and secretly massage my feet with a foot roller!
This article states my personal opinion. I am not paid to review these products. I am not a medical professional and do not claim that any of the above recommendations will treat or heal. They are simply an expression of my personal experience.