Saturday, August 27 was the first official day of the conference. First things first, and one of the things I was looking forward to the most: the full, vegan breakfast buffet! This is my favorite meal of the day, and most breakfast buffets make me sad, but this one was filled with gf biscuits and gravy, chia pudding (yum), lots of fruit, potatoes, scramble and more! I thought I’d get seconds after this plate, but that did not happen. The idea crossed my mind simply because I could, and how many more all-vegan buffets do you think I’ll be seeing in the near future? Not many, friends.
After breakfast we all headed off to the panels, the first of which I went to was the Travel panel with Laura of Vegansaurus (!!), Webly of Stumptown Vegans, Samantha Cohen and Jason Das of SuperVegan and Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of The Healthy Voyager. The panel covered a range of topics, from how they plan their vegan vacations, to which city they deemed Vegan Mecca (answer was overwhelmingly/not surprisingly Portland), tips for reviewing restaurants and choosing whether to support only all vegan or omnivorous, mainstream restaurants.
The second panel I attended was the Nutrition panel, and I was super pumped for it, as I may have mentioned prior to leaving for the con. On the panel were (left to right in the photo): Gena of Choosing Raw, Wendy of Veg Food & Fit, esteemed cookbook writer Bryanna and Ginny of The Vegan RD. I took a ton of notes on this panel and particularly enjoyed the discussions about raw food vs. cooked, sugar, supplements and the panelists’ current food obsessions.
Panel three of day one was the one and only panel that I was speaking on: The Accidental Journalist. I was plenty nervous before it started, but Michele and Gabrielle calmed me down some, and I think it’s because I could tell they were nervous, too, (sorry to call you out, guys). Prior to the day, we’d been working on our presentation collectively online and I think that we each brought something constructive and helpful to the talk. The consensus after was that people definitely got something out of it and one noted they “were taken back to their high school English classes.” Success. A few topics covered were: grammar, plagiarism, our biggest pet peeves, spelling and voice and we took a few great questions from the audience. Thanks for being part of the nerdy writer dream team, Gabrielle and Michele!
Photo of me talking with my hands, courtesy of the lovely Jess Scone, (with Michele to the left and Gabrielle on my right).
After the talk was lunch. After reading others’ posts on this day, my photo makes me feel slightly gluttonous, but no matter. It was delicious and I cleared my plate, which was composed of: BBQ tempeh on the bottom, asparagus and an array veggies, kale (duh), orzo salad/raw golden beet salad and pesto potato salad. Goodness gracious.
And of course, first dessert. Luna and Larry’s was a con sponsor, so we all had our choice of original naked coconut or dark chocolate Coconut Bliss bars. I chose chocolate and it was phenomenal – rich, with a smooth texture and the perfect melding of coconut and decadent chocolate. Wow. Great ice cream bar for a hot day.
The next panel was Small Towns, Represent!, with Bianca of Vegan Crunk, John of Laziest Vegans in the World, Lauren from Whoa Wren, Ryan from T.O.F.U. Magazine and Elizabeth from VegNews. I knew I wanted to attend this panel because Tacoma, while getting better, is still challenging at times for vegans and it also seems as though there aren’t many of us. That is until we throw a vegan bake sale, and people start coming out of the wood works! It was great to hear the individuals behind the successful Vegan Omaha group discuss how to start a successful vegan community in an area that poses challenges. I loved this panel because of how interactive it was, due in part to the audience and their helpful questions/answers. I wrote down many ideas that I plan to work on in the near future.
The last talk for day one was Planting Seeds of Compassion: Communication as Activism by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I was only familiar with her cookbooks prior to this talk, and wasn’t very aware of her speaking career, but I know one thing after listening to her speak: the woman is truly inspiring. She’s as passionate as she is intelligent as she is thought-provoking, and I’m so thankful I chose to sit in on her talk about how we can affect change daily simply by living the vegan lifestyle. Here are two quotes I found particularly stirring:
“There is inherent violence in taking the life of an animal. We compartmentalize our compassion.”
“My hope is we all embrace our unconditional compassion and inspire others to do the same.”
Post-panels, we all headed back to our respective rooms to get dolled up for the Galarama at the Ambridge Event Center. The event offered up a great variety of appetizers by The Vegan Caterer, including Gardein chic’n tenders, seitan sliders, salad rolls and bruschetta with spinach artichoke dip. Also: there were slices of Sizzle Pies that went really fast, but we managed to grab some, and I was in heaven. Must go there on a future visit soon!
The event was also a fundraiser for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and I think almost every person in our group came out with a great basket and prize, (mine was a gluten-free baked goodies basket from the lovely Back to Eden Bakery, which I love!).
We also got in line for a really awesome twist on photobooth pictures: Fliptography flipbooks! Anika, Brit and I wanted to do a metro Seattle/Tacoma book, and here’s a snap of us, pre-Anika jumping in:
Photo by the lovely Megan. Every time I look through this book now, I just start cracking up. What a great, sweet little souvenir!
Post-dinner, pre-flipbooking, there was some definite Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss sundae bar action going on. Vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate and peanut butter sauces, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. I didn’t think I could handle more food, but I was wrong.
After the event we walked to the Vegan Mini-Mall to Food Fight! where the Upton’s Natural’s pop-up sandwich shop was taking place. Though we were all filled with food, a group of 5 of us ladies split two sandwiches – the BLT and the seitan eggplant on focaccia. Damn they were delicious. After roaming the stores, we walked to nearby Hungry Tiger Too for drinks, more convos and so Brit and Kyle could split a corndog and tots. I had some bites, I won’t lie.
Some of us decided we’d rather not wait for the bus and thus hit the streets to walk back to our hotel/dorms, despite fancy garb, baskets of winnings and inappropriate shoes (on Taylor and my parts, at least). Despite that, the walk was beautiful, as evidenced by my blurry shot of downtown Portland at night. It was a lovely eve and I honestly haven’t walked around Portland much in my visits to the city, so I was happy we took up this opportunity. This moment was one of my favorites of the weekend, walking with fellow vegans after a great night, taking in Portland for all the beauty and stillness it had to offer.
On Sunday morning, we all headed back to breakfast, despite our 2-ish a.m. bedtimes, (bad partying bloggers!). Breakfast was the same as before, except this time around I got less of everything except added another biscuit and gravy and tried one of the plain So Delicious Greek style coconut yogurts. Loved the consistency and taste. Need to track some down and integrate it in recipes.
My first Sunday panel was Activism, pictured above, with Jasmin of Our Hen House, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan, Ryan, Chelsea of Flavor Vegan, Sunny of Peta2 and Isa. As I’ve been learning more and getting more involved in activism, I definitely knew that this was a panel I needed to attend, and I’m so glad I did. The panel focused on ways in which bloggers can integrate activism in their blogs, food as activism, how to get more people to attend events and tips for avoiding “activist” burnout. They also fielded some great audience questions.
Second session of Sunday was Extreme Food Writing Makeover with Dynise of Urban Vegan. As an avid fan of Dynise’s blog and book, I wanted to see how she could help me fine-tune my blog posts and make them tighter, something I definitely struggle with. Dynise gave us all some doable goals, and even had us taste a pistachio and almond and write down what we thought of them immediately as an exercise. After this class ended I had so much to think about in terms of my own food writing, but that all has to wait, as this post is already breaking so many of those rules, (due to length, mostly!). Brevity, no more cliches, choosing better words, etc. are new goals.
Next up, another writing class, (I loved all the writing classes!): Story-making and Food Blogging with Terry of Vegan Latina.
I’d read that Romero was a nerd, but I really had no idea until I sat through her presentation, (D&D and cat references abounded). What I found so helpful about her presentation was that she reverted to the basics in regards to writing, such as: what is a story? What’s your story? Who’s your audience and how to battle “monsters” that may come up as you’re writing. I left this talk with, again, lots on my mind, and some great tactics to use when I get stuck thinking “what on Earth should I post next?” Terry’s was easily one of my favorite presentations of Vida Vegan Con.
Lunch followed, and I was too hungry/forgetful and spaced on taking a photo. Thankfully, Katie got a great shot that looks very similar to what I ate.
Imagine this without the rice and black olives, and you’ll have my lunch. I’ll never, ever tire of Mexican food. The buffet included soy curls, Daiya pepperjack, Food For Lovers queso and raw walnut “meat,” (cue our junior high laughter).
Next up was the Publishing panel, with Isa, Terry, cookbook writer and Native Bowl owner Julie, Bryanna, Joni of Just the Food and Ryan. They discussed the many mediums and ways in which one can go about publishing the cookbooks of their dreams. This panel wasn’t of particular relevance to me, but listening to some personal heroes speak on the topic was enlightening.
The last panel I attended for the con was Your Blog Sucks: Opinionated Bloggers. Panelists for this included: Jasmin Singer, Ben Grossblatt, Jordan Pattern and Laura Beck and discussed how to find your voice, letting comments fall as they may, consistency and quality. As Jasmin so eloquently summed up in the beginning, “if you can’t take the heat, stay out of your opinionated kitchen!”
After the last panels, we all headed back to the hotel ballroom one last time for the closing address – the last official element of the conference.
The crew, all together for one last round of invigorating conversation, laughs and bonding with those like ourselves, (Clockwise, left to right, Jared, Brit, Taylor, Samantha, Me, Becca, Katie and Bianca down in front).
Just writing this made me feel super nostalgic. I said it in my first VVC wrap post and I’ll say it again: I feel so grateful to have been a part of this amazing event, to have gotten the chance to meet many of my vegan blogging heroes and to have learned and partied with them all in a great city. Vida Vegan Con was one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2013. See you then, friends!