Stewart Rose has a unique take on encouraging people to try a vegetarian diet.
"We don't ask," he said. "We don't tell."
He knows his annual VegFest attracts plenty of meat eaters among the 15,000 people expected to graze their way through Seattle Center's Exhibition Hall this weekend.
Concerns about diet and health may get them in the door, but taste wins them over.
"It's way beyond apples and carrots at this point," he said.
Vegetarian food has gone creative and gourmet. Visitors snapped up samples of dark chocolate with quinoa, pistachio butter with fennel, Sicilian blood-orange juice, "ice cream" made from hemp seeds, and sea salt with bamboo flecks.
The largest vegetarian festival in the country, VegFest is put on by Vegetarians of Washington, a nonprofit organization, and it continues 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
About 175 vendors are participating, 10 percent more than last year, Rose said.
Vegetarian food has become a big business as companies look for new alternatives to meat and consumers try to cut their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Some new products on display looked like astronaut food, including packets of dried raw food made by a company in Korea designed to mix with juice as meals on the go, and foil packets of puréed organic fruit as snacks for kids.
There were also homey local products like Marilyn's Nut Butters, a variety of nut spreads made by Marilyn Taylor in Seattle and passed out Saturday by her sister, Jane.
The event features lectures by local doctors on health and nutrition, cooking demonstrations and a book sale.