This year's Vendy Awards, coming up on September 17th on Governor's Island, has placed a special emphasis on vegan food vendors, with a brand new category for the awards show's 12th year. There have been vegan vendors at the award event before—Cinnamon Snail has been a big winner in the past—but this is the first time vegan food makers will have their own category. Six animal-free purveyors will be going head-to-head, competing with things like vegan barbecue, veggie burgers and Indian cuisines.

We caught up with these special, cruelty-free folks in advance of this year's awards show; here are your six nominees for Best Vegan Vendor.

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Vegan Nachos from Vegan Bandwagon (Clay Williams/Gothamist)

VEGAN BANDWAGON, Nickolaus Wesley Fabro

How long have you been in business? I've been in the business since Early May 2016, very new and green to the mobile food business. I've been an organic farmer for years though, so growing and producing food is nothing new to me.
What types of foods do you offer? I offer raw options, which include uncooked veggies on a kebab, with soy- and gluten-free dipping sauces. I also have grilled falafel patties with eggplant and garlic spread. Some scrumptious fried jicama sticks in various incarnations. I am appealing to the most common foodie crowd with my falafel crumble vegan cheese and black bean nachos (organic Tortilla chips). A little bit of everything for everyone.
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? I'll be sampling my falafel nachos (falachos) and my raw or cooked kebabs (k.o.bobs) primarily and may throw in a surprise if Rachel Ray stops by my cart.
Are you vegan? I am fully vegan (I don't eat honey, to be precise) and have been vegan since early December 2015. I decided to go vegan after witnessing the slaughter of a young calf by farmers of a biodynamic homestead while in Serbia. It really opened my eyes to the exploitation and cruelty of the animals that we share this planet with.
Are most of your customers vegan themselves or is it a mix? Most of my customers are vegetarian and raw vegans, so I'm at a bit of a crossroads while trying to court the everyday vegan. I believe my marketing aims to tackle the reluctance to consider food choices and what it means to support the food processing industry. I would like to see more feedback from my customers who are committed to endorsing eco-friendly products and quality control when it pertains to ethical issues. Can't say enough about consumer choices.
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's? I'm currently working on launching a vegan-only food event as a DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) Contractor with the City of NYC so stay tuned as I announce the scheduled dates on The Vegan Bandwagon I'll also be taste testing up until the award show on September 17th at Brooklyn Kava (191 Stuydam st). Stop by and sample my menu!


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Tofu Satay over Sticky Rice (Clay Williams/Gothamist)


BAMBOO BITES, Daniel Miller

How long have you been in business? Three years.
What types of foods do you offer? Coconut Sticky Rice boats in a variety of SE Asian inspired styles.
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? Our signature Coconut Sticky Rice with two vegan options: Tofu Satay with SE Asian spices, peanut sauce, cucumber relish, crushed peanuts, and fresh cilantro; or Mango Sticky Rice with sweet coco sauce and black sesame.
Are you vegan? No.
Are most of your customers vegan themselves or is it a mix? Mix; however, even meat eaters love our vegan dishes!
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's? We deliver on Seamless, cater office lunches and all types of events, and are at Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea every weekend.

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(Clay Williams/Gothamist)

JERK SHACK, J. Anthony Darrell

How long have you been in business? We have been in the mobile business for over three years. We had a brick and mortar location for three years prior, so in total we have been on the NYC culinary scene for about six years.
What types of foods do you offer? We offer 100% Authentic Caribbean Cuisine. We specialize in jerk, however we are being recognized for our Ital Vegan menu items, which consist of offerings such as: callaloo, coconut seasoned rice and peas, curried potatoes and chickpeas, and our veggie roti.
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? We will be serving our Vegetarian Roti. We will also be serving our Ital Vegetarian Plate. Our drink will be Sorrell.
Are you vegan? My wife, Kellyann, has been a practicing Vegan for over six years now and she inspired us to add vegan menu options to our menu.
Are most of your customers vegan themselves or is it a mix? Our customer base is a mix of vegetarians, vegans and carnivores. I believe there has been a shift in the way people value their health. Most people try to stay away from too much starch or some double up on veggies. But we have something for everyone.
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's? We are currently operating in Staten Island. I am a resident of SI and I am very aware of the lack of diversity when it comes to dining options. Most of the big food trucks stay and never venture across the Verrazano and that means more room to navigate. There is also a revitalization of the St. George area going on and we would like to be part of that.

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BBQ Seitan Burger from Monk's Meats (Clay Williams/Gothamist)

MONK'S MEATS, Chris Kim and Rebecca Lopez-Howes

How long have you been in business? We just celebrated our four year anniversary. We started Monk's in our kitchen in 2011. After a year of tinkering with recipes and feeding friends of friends, Chris quit his day job and Monk's got official.
What types of foods do you offer? We make modern American comfort food with a fresh sensibility. Everything we make is 100% plant based. We take familiar dishes and remake them with a focus on local ingredients and handmade culinary processes. Our current obsession is worldwide barbecue techniques, which are the foundation of our sandwiches and tacos.
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? We will be serving a flight of Monk's Meats sliders: American barbecue, Korean bulgogi and Jamaican jerk seitan. We produce our Monk's Meats seitan every week. Our booth at Smorgasburg started as a way to market our Monk's Meats brand of vegan "meat," but the menu evolved to showcase the full range of flavors we are interested in and our love of all things sandwich.
Are you vegan? Rebecca is vegan. Chris is vegetarian. We have booth been veg/vegan for over 20 years. After the first couple of years, the label matters less than the habit of doing less harm whenever possible.
Are most of your customers vegan themselves or is it a mix? Our customers are a mix of serious vegans and people who like to incorporate meat-free options into a more conventional diet. We have won over more than a few "hardcore meat eaters" who are now open to the possibility of a good meal without any animal products.
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's? You can find us at Smorgasburg every weekend through late October. We also do the Vegan Shop Up! monthly pop-up market and other pop-up events throughout the winter. Instagram is the best place to see where we will be next. We are looking to open our own store front this winter or spring where everyone can pick up a full range of Monk's Meats products. Hopefully we will have more news on that soon!

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The Cali Kush Dawg at Yeah Dawg (Clay Williams/Gothamist)

YEAH DAWG, Marina Benedetto

How long have you been in business? We started in summer of 2013. So about three years!
What types of foods do you offer? We make plant-based comfort food but specialize in hot dogs. We have a unique recipe where we eliminate the soy and gluten and use roasted root veggies, sunflower seeds, GF flours, and herbs and spices to create our dawgs!
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? Our New Yorker Dawg (our classic dawg with our homemade kraut and relish), Our Viva Dawg (our Classic Dawg with pineapple pickle chipotle mayo and coconut bacon, all home made).
Are you vegan? Yes I am vegan. I have been vegan for about 15 years and vegetarian for 22 years!
Are most of your customers vegan themselves or is it a mix? I would say our customers are a mix and meat eaters are often in shock over how good our dawgs are! Our goal is to make plant-based eating accessible to everyone not just vegans!
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's?Vegan Shop Up! at Pine Box Rock Shop and at Haymakers Corner. We also sell them in packs of 4 for you to grill on your own in about nine stores, and three restaurants all over NY and are currently expanding.

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Mystik Masaala (Clay Williams/Gothamist)

MYSTIK MASAALA, Yuvaraaj Thakkar

How long have you been in business? I started this project in 2012 in memory of my son RISHI. It was his dream to become a chef. He loved cooking good food and feeding people.
What types of foods do you offer? I offer Indian food like it should be. It is our pleasure to bring to the good people here the authentic taste of what a typical Indian family eats at home.
What will you be serving at this year's Vendy Awards? We plan to serve Aloo Bainghan, eggplant and potatoes; Rajma Chawal, red beans over rice; and Palak Tarkari, a spinach dish.
Are you vegan? I'm a pure vegetarian. Have been all my life.
Where can people find you outside the Vendy's? We setup shop at 399 Park Avenue and 270 Park Avenue for lunch and for dinner we are in LIC outside Duane Reade on 47th Road.