The Vida Vegan Conference is a life changing experience. No two ways about it. When I was packing to head out for this year's event, I couldn't help but think to myself that there was no way it could live up to the experience I had the first time. I mean, on the first go round there were hundreds of vegans all in one place. People from all over coming together to talk about blogging about veganism. Was this for real? And the food, don't even get me started on the food. I was proved wrong. Very wrong. This year not only reached the level of the inaugural event, but in many ways, blew the roof off of it. My only regret is that I didn't take enough of my own pictures. Thanks goodness that other people did, and I can live vicariously through theirs! In order to make any sense at all, I am going to have to break this post down into sections. This post is pretty long, but there's a prize at the end, so hang in there!
Portland, Oregon is a pretty mystical place to begin with. I mean, it is really surreal. Whenever I am there I really do feel like I am in an amusement park, and I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone could live there permanently and not simply become overwhelmed with the constant overstimulation. Don't get me wrong, this place is magical, and I absolutely love to visit at least once a year. In fact I have a new little place I now call my "vacation home" above the BarBar on Mississippi. It did, however, rain almost the entire time we were there.
|You can take the girl out of California...|
The conference itself, was held at the Portland Art Museum, which was gorgeous. Located downtown, it was easy to get to from our apartment on the bus, and close by to shopping, restaraunts and other fun stuff.
|Photo Credit: the Vida Vegan Con website|
The BarBar is a bar adjacent to the Mississippi Studios music venue. The vibe is hip, the music is good, the cocktails are made with fresh fruit and quality ingredients, and they have a vegan burger and fries on the menu. Outside is a giant patio and fire pit, but the real gem is tucked up above the bar behind a barely noticeable door.
|The BarBar on 3943 Mississippi in North Portland, adjacent to the Mississippi Studios music venue.|
|Why, yes, there is a ginormous painting on the wall of our dwelling!|
The power of the internet brought together a pretty fab five. Jackie of VeganYack Attack, Michelle of Vegan Cooking with Love, Kelly of The Vegan Cookie Connoiseseur, Lou of Louzilla Lovegood Letters, and I all stayed in the apartment together. To be honest, I was a little nervous about it. I had already met Lou and Kelly at the last VVC, but Michelle and Jackie I only knew through facebook and their blogs. (And we all know that bloggers don't always do so well in real life social situations.) I couldn't have been more excited once I finally met these ladies, because they are all pretty awesome. And, Jackie, well she only lives less than an hour from me, so I now have a new friend at home too! We also were lucky enough to have Joanna of JoannaVaught.com move in for the last few nights of her stay.
|The M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I Apartment Crew (L-R) Jackie, Michelle, Lou, Kelly, Joanna, and me!|
So what is the VVC? In a nutshell, the Vida Vegan Conference was three full days of workshops, classes, mingling, and eating with like minded vegan bloggers from all over the world. Seriously, all over the world. There were bloggers from as far as Australia and England making appearances this year. The impressive trio of Jess, Michelle and Janessa are responsible for making it all happen. And this year was amazing. The conference took place in the Portland Art Museum, and the space was simply divine. The gorgeous ball room was the main meeting spot for the conference, and inside was the sponsor showcase, which featured about 25 different vendors showcasing their vegan products and keeping our bellies full of delicious sample goodness in between classes and meals.
This year's conference was packed with amazing classes and workshops. I was honored to be selected as a speaker, and I was on three separate panels. You can see the full agenda and read full class descriptions here. There was something for everybody. From how to classes on everything from food styling to creating your own 'zine, to in depth discussions on ethics, sensitivity, and body image.
I participated in 3 panel discussions: Path to Cookbook Author (with Julie Hasson, and Bianca Phillips), Publishing Avenues (with Nava Atlas, and Ryan Patey, moderated by Michelle Truty), and Interdietary Cohabitation (with Dawn Quinn and Bianca Phillips).
Of all of the classes I attended, there were three that really left me talking and thinking about them for days on end. I am truly living the lessons I was taught in these classes, and I will continue to deliver the messages that I learned from them from now until the end of time:
Why and How to Expand Your Message to Include Animal Rights (with Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan)
This workshop was like listening to the Our Hen House podcast live...but even better. Jasmin and Mariann really hit it home by reminding me about why I do what I do, and that just because I am writing this blog mostly about vegan recipes, there is absolutely no reason why I cannot add in some animal rights messages as well. They both gave us plenty of easy ways to slip in messages with out alienating my readership. And these ladies really know what they are talking about!
Sensitivity and Trigger Words (with Gena Hamshaw, Chelsea Lincoln, and Gabrielle Pope)
I probably got the most emotional during this class when the topic of "diet" came up and led to a full on therapy session about how the words we choose to write can influence the feelings of others and trigger negative feelings about body image and health.
Body Image Acceptance & Veganism (Chelsea Lincoln, Gabrielle Pope, Nicole Sopko, Michelle Truty, and moderated by Laura Beck)
This class focused on all the different shapes and sizes that a vegan body comes in. Fat shaming, skinny shaming, the use of the word "healthy", and many other things were discussed. The expanding void between "ethical vegans" and "vegans for health" was discussed. We were also given tools that we were able to use immediately (as in right after class wen we walked into the ballroom for lunch!) to improve our own self accepatnce as well as impart a sense of confidence in those around us.
I attended many more amazing workshops: Food Styling: Keeping it Real (with Hannah Kaminsky), Monetizing your Blog (with Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin), Ethics Beyond the Plate (with Laura Beck, Jamie Hagen, Leigh-Chantelle, Erika Larson, John McDevitt and moderated by Jason Das), Privacy Lines & Oversharing (with Dreena Burton, Joanna Vaught, Susan Voisin, and moderated by Sayward Rebhal), Restaraunt Reviews with Authority (with Grant Butler), The Other Side: A Reader's Perspective (with Maeve Connor, Gabrielle Pope, and Jess Scone), and finally Artful Food Photography (with Kelly Peloza).
I was in town for a whole week, and I barely scratched the surface on all the amazing vegan eats in Portland. The first day I was in town, Wednesday, Jackie, Michelle and I walked down to the Mississippi Marketplace to get our first meal in PDX. And no trip to Portland would be complete without a food cart experience. Native Bowl and Homegrown Smoker are both 100% vegan carts that make up the "vegan corner" in the marketplace. I got myself a Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl and a side of Mac'no'cheese from Homegrown. I cannot think of a better way to start my trip. Bellies full we checked in to our apartment.
|The Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl (Photo Courtesy of TahiniToo)|
|The Portland Bowl from Canteen|
|Tempeh BLT with Avocado from the Hungry Tiger Too.|
|Photo Courtesy of Bianca Phillips|
|Cocoa and fudge from Back to Eden|
|Vegan Double Decker Taco from Upton's Naturals and Food For Lovers |
(Photo Courtesy of Food Fight!'s Facebook Feed)
Sunday started with breakfast served up by the conference. Hot cereal with toppings really hit the spot and I was feeling good and ready to tackle the day. Lunch was also provided by the conference. Build your own sandwiches with a seemingly unlimited supply of fake meaty and cheesy goodness to pile up on bread. So very good.
The conference was now over, but the food was still flowing. After the conference, the ladies and I, along with the help of the amazingly wonderfully friendly Demetrius Bagely, got the apartment ready for a "VIP" post party. With four vegan pizzas and 2 orders of vegan cheesy garlic bread from Mississippi Pizza, tons of beer, chips, dips, and a super duper delicious tray of brownies courtesy of Capital City Bakery, we were set for an evening of drinking dancing, and hanging out without having to worry about getting up early for classes the next morning! Click here to read Kelly's breakdown of the VVC and the party.
Monday was my last full day in Portland, and I decided to spend it all with my sister. We started out at Junior's Cafe for breakfast, and then walked to Anatomy Tattoo to get sort-of-matching sister tattoos. After that, we headed to White Owl for drinks and so that I could finally get my hands on one of those above mentioned Mac and Cheese Burgers, which was amazing.
|Big Sis, Lil Sis Love|
Let me just say that I had to check an entire extra suitcase on my flight home in order to bring back all of the swag I brought home from the conference. Not to mention the stuff I also bought. Way too much stuff. Full size samples of Teese, a whole box of cereal, kombucha starters, Lara bars, So Delicious coconut milk, not to mention all of the coupons cook booklets and other stuff. Seriously there is just too much to mention. Which leads me to the giveaway.
|Swag Bag Giveawy Pack #1|
|Swag Bag Giveaway Pack #2|
CONTEST NOW OVER! Congrats to #49, Dana, and #52, Kaycee, you guys are the chosen winners to receive the two huge swag packs! Please send me an email with your snail mail addy to joni AT justthefood DOT com so I can send you your swag!