Vegan and vegetarian food options at the North Carolina State Fair

RALEIGH — You’ll find just about everything available wrapped in bacon and deep-fried at the North Carolina State Fair, but as vegetarian and vegan diets have become mainstream, there are plenty of fair vendors ready to accommodate.

Here’s a look at some of the vegetarian and vegan offerings at the 2021 fair. Don’t conflate meat-free with “healthy,” though, unless you’re talking about bringing a healthy appetite. Everyone wants to indulge at the state fair, regardless of dietary choice. 

Sassy’s Sweet Potatoes

Vegan and vegetarian food options at the North Carolina State Fair

A new arrival for this year’s fair, this stand serves a variety of stuffed sweet potatoes. While they do serve pulled pork and bacon-topped potatoes, the rest of the menu is meat-free, including a version topped with vegetarian chili. For those looking for a sweet treat, there’s a s’mores potato, another topped with pineapple guava relish and toasted coconut, and other served with cranberry-orange compote and chopped pecans. 

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Ethio-Indi Alkaline Cuisine

The Ethio-Indi food truck, based in the Piedmont Triad, is new to the 2021 North Carolina State Fair.

Also new to this year’s fair, Ethio-Indi Alkaline Cuisine is totally vegan, with an innovative menu of plant-based burgers, hot dogs and fried fare that conform to an alkaline diet, which promotes eating fruits and vegetables and cutting out meat, dairy and gluten. If you’re vegan, but can’t complete your trip to the North Carolina State Fair without a chili dog, then this is your spot. 

Roasted Corn

Roasted corn is a North Carolina State Fair staple.

A state fair favorite for omnivores and non-meat eaters alike, roasted corn can be found throughout the fairgrounds. Some spots keep it classic, others give the ears a spicy sprinkling of crushed Takis or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The ears are typically dipped in melted butter right before serving, so just skip the dip to keep it vegan.

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Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips

The veggie dinner at Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips is a filling, meat-free meal.

Based on the name, it’s not exactly the first place one might think of when looking for a meat-free meal, but this stand, with locations near the midway and Jim Graham Building, serves up a tray of mashed potatoes, caramelized onions and mushrooms that’s so good and filling that you won’t miss the meat. And at $5 ($6 for the pita), it’s also one of the best deals at the fair. 

Tempura-fried vegetables

Several vendors at the North Carolina State Fair serve tempura-fried vegetables.

Is it true that the vegetables balance out the batter and oil in these deep-fried treats? Maybe not, but any little bit helps. Pictured above is the Veggie Patch stand, but there are several vendors serving platters of fried broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, zucchini and other vegetables. Can’t pick just one? Go for the sampler platter instead, which offers a little taste of everything. 

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Meat-free Middle Eastern

Party in a Pita serves a variety of meat-free items, like falafel, stuffed grape leaves, tabouli and hummus.

Neomonde and Party in a Pita are among the Middle Eastern stands at the fair where meat-free items are aplenty. Neomonde, located across from Restaurant Row, serves quinoa tabouli, falafel and both original and cilantro jalapeno hummus. Party in a Pita serves Lebanese cuisine, including baba ghanoush, hummus and stuffed grape leaves. 

Dairy-free dessert

Want a sweet treat? Tropical Delights serves vegan Dole Whip in a cup, cone, as a float and even inside a hollowed-out pineapple.

Have you ever wanted to eat pineapple soft serve out of an actual pineapple? You can do it at the fair, where Tropical Delights serves up its vegan pineapple Dole Whip in a cup, cone, as a float with pineapple juice and inside an entire cored-out pineapple. It’s a snack built to share, though eating at the state fair is rarely a show of moderation. 

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