I go to Expo West for a few very simple reasons:

1) To get a pulse on the $99B natural products industry & to see what trends to expect for the year

2) To sample the newest vegan food on the market

3) To meet the leaders behind some of my favorite companies.

Expo West is where natural product companies debut their latest products and make newsworthy announcements and where thought leaders discuss the latest trends, stats and legislation affecting the industry. Highlights from last year include:  Whole Foods announcement of its decision to label all GMO foods sold in its stores within five years and  Lyfe Kitchen's incredible food (the vegan “chicken” sandwich is to live for!).

You can read my full recap of ExpoWest ‘13 here.

This year, I’m looking forward to so many things, but especially the following:

  • Listening in on Raj Patel’s keynote on Saturday, March 8th from 9:00-10:15 am at the Anaheim Marriott, Platinum Ballroom 6. Raj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic who has written the books Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing. Raj will be answering the question: “How Will We Feed 10 Billion People Sustainably?” People who read my blog know that I am a nerd and instead of crushing on celebrities, I crush on academics. Raj is one of those academics. Let’s hope I a) secure and interview with him and b) if the latter occurs, that I don’t make a fool of myself. Natural Foods Merchandiser did a great Q&A with Raj here if you’d like to get a feel for his views and activism.
  • Taste-testing Hail Merry’s two new (and undisclosed) macaroon flavors. They won’t let me in on the secret, so if you find me at their booth shoveling macaroons down my gullet in recompense, don’t judge me. [Hopefully Raj Patel doesn’t read this post; he’ll think I’m a part of the “Stuffed” problem. Oy vey!]
  • NadaMoo's debut of two new flavors of their coconut ice cream called Vanilla Cha Cha Chai and Bananas for PB & Chocolate. Their next flavor should be called, “GetInMahBelly” as a tribute to my eating style, no?
  • Larabar's debut of new Uber bar flavors.
  • Learning more about how the vegan and vegetarian market is expanding. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, there are anywhere from 5 million to about 14 million adults who are currently vegetarian and the number of vegans could range as high as 6.9 million. This is exciting!

So, grab a fork and dig in with me as I eat all there is to eat and bring you back the most interesting vegan products and natural products trends.

Editor's note: Annabel blogs regularly at feedmeimcranky.com