Posts Tagged ‘Vida Vegan Con’

Vida Vegan Con 2013 — a (sorta) wrap-up

Hey guys. Long time, no see, right?

So, a couple of weekends ago, I attended this little thing called Vida Vegan Con. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

It’s just 300 or so awesome vegans coming together for a long weekend of education, togetherness, and partying.

Shenanigans pursued. Some of us got cattoos. Some of us came back with a lot of $2 bills (*wink wink*). Some of us roomed with awesome ladies and took hot prom shots before the Galarama.

All of us made new friends and met old heroes.

To be honest, I didn’t just attend this time (like I did last time) — I spoke at it, with Dawn. This was a huge, huge honor. Our presentation (which didn’t actually work at the conference — curse you, technology!!) is here:

This post isn’t a recap of the conference — for that, you can read Vegan Culinary Crusade; Diet, Dessert and Dogs; Vegan Eats and Treats; Bonzai Aphrodite; Vegan Crunk; Sews Before Bros (she has a ton, so you kinda have to search); or many others. Nor does it discuss food, though as Vegan Yack Attack demonstrates, we ate very well.

I’d rather focus on what I learned and mulled over as a result. Let me share my three biggest takeaways with you.

Don’t favor one cause (veganism) at the expense of others

Megan paraphrased something that Jamie said on panel that I did not attend, but it was the most powerful sentence of the conference:

I don’t think we should throw other movements under the bus.

Just because veganism/animal rights is an important cause, and the most important cause to me and probably you, doesn’t mean that other problems aren’t equally relevant. Poverty, homelessness, civil rights, women’s rights, environmental degradation, epidemics, access to clean water: these are all also critical issues.

To try to solve everything that’s wrong with our world is impossible and would drive you crazy, but don’t think that because you live a plant-based lifestyle you’re off the hook for everything else, or worse, degrade other movements or think of them as “lesser.”

Causes don’t need to be mutually exclusive — you can be pro-vegan and pro-environment and pro-social justice, simultaneously. For example, many of us have fallen into the trap of being so excited to find pleather shoes at Payless that we forget that these kicks were made by children in a sweatshop from materials that destroy the environment.

Veganism should be completely, utterly, positively compassionate to all and cruelty free — no palm oil, pleather, or packaging.

Being a forced ambassador for veganism

This came up in the Vegans of Color panel with a racial/cultural context attached to it, but I feel like veganism is still so fringe to many people (seriously — more folks in the US believe that lizard people control our government than champion a plant-based lifestyle) that we’re all ambassadors, no matter the color of our skin or our heritage.

Laura Hooper Beck mentioned in a different panel that she’s always seen as “the cool vegan.” This resonated with the room — it seems all of us, all different, are “the cool vegan” in our respective social circles. But wait — how can we all be “the cool vegan”? Maybe because the uptight, judgmental, outspoken vegan myth won’t die? Maybe because vegans are shockingly normal, once you get to know us?

As Mo and Terry asked the Vegans of Color audience to demonstrate, no one has the same idea of what personifies a vegan, and we’re all up against this shape-shifting stereotype.

We’re rich white women who practice yoga and shop at Whole Foods. Or we have eating disorders. Or we’re paint-throwing activists. Or we’re radical anarchists. Or we’re dirty, hemp-wearing, patchouli-showering hippies. Or tattooed punks. Or high school girls going through a “phase.”

And we all. love. freakin’. Morrisey.

As a well-educated white woman, I fit a few of these stereotypes, but not most of them, and I always wonder if what I am is somehow turning people off from veganism.

Do they look at my bad skin (totally genetic) and think that veganism caused it?

Or think, “she’s just a crazy cat lady — of course she’s too soft to hurt animals”?

Do they somehow judge my style or what they see me eating and think, “that’s not for me — I won’t do it” and not realize that they have so many, many other options?

What other perceptions and preconceptions do I need to diplomatically overcome in my forced ambassador role?

I guess the idea is to be yourself, and not be a jerk, because you never know through which lens folks are going to be viewing you, and no one likes an asshole. While there are always going to be some situations where you might not want to let your freak flag fly (leafletting a rodeo? Might want to take off the liberal message tee. Oh wait — did I just throw down a stereotype? Yes I did!!) mostly just winning people over with kindness and openmindedness is the way to go.

What I’m doing with Vegtastic!

As my faithful readers know (thank you, all both of you), I haven’t updated Vegtastic! much in the past year.

It’s been a strange 12 or so months, with many transitions, and I’ve been trying to determine how food blogging fits into this. I’m not the best photographer or a crafter of lush prose or a great recipe developer or a passionate AR activist or a lovely fashionista, but I am really good at being a low-key everyday vegan.

So, I’d rather focus on showing that veganism is easy and approachable. And that’s where I’m gonna take this thing.

But I really want to make it more about just veganism, to fit in with the first thing I leaned at VVC. As corny as it sounds, I want it to be a “making the world a better place” blog. Or, more realistically, a, “f@#$ing up the world less” blog.

Thanks a ton, Janessa, Jess, and Michele, for another great VVC!!

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar recap!

Mighty-O Donuts dunked in coffee with fancy coconut creamer made a nice breakfast, Veggie Grill served a very, very tasty lunch (wouldn’t have expected anything less!), and Pacific Northwest Kale Chips provided afternoon sustenance — they’re my new favorite snack, for sure. I really like the nutty, spicy Stumptown Original.

I took/Instagrammed some pictures:


Yep, I’m a glutton.


“Our god is kale” – Dawn


Fooled me all day.


I won this! OMG OMG OMG! #beernerd


how’d that get in there?

As usual, the people were the best part of the day!

This was a great opportunity, one Dawn and I are so grateful to have been given, and so much fun.

Many thanks to Jess, Janessa, and Michele for organizing!

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series + exciting giveaway

As I’ve mentioned before, Ms. Vegan Moxie (the lovely and talented Dawn Quinn) and I are going to be speaking at the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series at the Seattle Public Library on November 3.

Our topic is “Next-Level Social Media,” and we’re totally geeking out putting the session together. We’re going to be covering aspects of building community, establishing your goals and identity, examining emerging networks, and how to stay up-to-date on what’s next in social media.

As a digital media nerd, I am super pumped about the entire day — there isn’t a single presentation that I don’t think won’t be helpful.

The other sessions are:

  • Blog Design in an Ever-Changing Digital Landscape
  • The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Web Page
  • Podcasting on a Budget
  • Shooting, Editing & Integrating Video

Classes are limited to 50, which means attendees won’t be too totally overwhelmed to ask questions.

Plus, Veggie Grill is providing lunch. What could be better?

Well, maybe this: I have a ticket to give away to the Tech Seminar! Vegtastic! has never before hosted a giveaway, but I’m really excited about this one: it’s not just a cookbook or a product, but the opportunity to educate someone else on blogging, something I’m passionate about.

To enter the Vegtastic! Vida Vegan Tech Seminar Series Ticket Giveaway Contest (“Contest”), just leave a comment below with a number between 1-100. I’m not going to make you tweet about it or link to me or anything like that — the Contest is purely about spreading awesomeness, not getting inbound links. I’ve picked a figure in the 1 – 100 range, whispered it in my cat’s ear, and the person who is closest (just closest — no Price is Right rules) wins; I’ll select and announce the Contest winner at noon PT on September 26 (I’ll also email you, future winner).  You’re not allowed to pick a number someone else has picked. In the event of a tie, Price is Right rules (closest without going over) will apply. You don’t have to be vegan or have a blog or live in Seattle to enter the Contest, but I’d really like for you to go and be enthusiastic about it if you do win.

Can you tell I work with lawyers?

Vegfest 2011: thoughts, trends and criticisms

This is the second consecutive year that I’ve sold tickets at VegFest. Thanks to the organizers for putting on a worthwhile event.

I always renew my Vegetarians of Washington membership at Vegfest. The goody bag alone is well worth the price of admission and membership: a subscription to Vegetarian Times, two loaves of bread, a half-gallon carton of organic soy milk, a box of tofu, and a bunch of bars, cookies and snacks.

Vegfest is a fantastic opportunity to scope out trends and try new products. Things I’m seeing as trends this year:

  • Coconut — almond is out, coconut is in: coconut milk, coconut water, coconut ice cream, coconut yogurt, coconut butter, and more.
  • Spice — from Daiya Pepperjack cheese to a vitamin water-like beverage flavored with capcaisin, vegan food is out to prove that it’s neither bland nor wimpy.
  • Legume chips — falafel chips, lentil crisps, crackers made with garbanzo beans
  • Vegan seafood — we’ve done chick’n, faux beef and fakin’ bacon to death; it’s time to imitate the creatures of the sea.

I’m excited to see some of the products I sampled last year returning. For one, Wayfare is definitely expanding beyond their cheese spreads, which is very, very exciting. Toby’s products are always a welcome addition, and I’m pleased that Mighty-O donuts is getting some national recognition.

I wasn’t really wowed by anything like I was last year (Wayfare and Toby’s) but there were a few memorable products:

  • Dave’s Killer Bread’s Sin dawg — an ooey, gooey, cinnamon-y confection. It’s like a healthy(er) version of a cinnamon roll.
  • Small Planet’s tofu spreads, locally made on Vashon.
  • Odwalla, just because they were so generous with their products with me and my fellow ticket sellers.

Also, despite what the New York Times may say, veggie burgers did not have a noticeable presence. Sure, the usual suspects (Boca, Dr. Praeger’s, etc) were there, but we’ve done them. Moving on. (Not unusual for the Times to pick up on a fad after it’s already well-established or on its way out.)

However, it’s not just about food. There were a number of people gathering signatures for bill 1130, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The measure will make sure egg-laying hens have enough room to stretch their wings. I signed it– it’s a start.

I also really, really enjoyed the free chair massage. Good touch, Veg of WA.

There’s a lot of work and planning that goes into Vegfest, and I generally love the event because it’s a great opportunity to sample new products and interact with other like-minded individuals.

However, this year it made me a little sad, for the following reasons:

  • A lot of people attend the event just because it’s a ton of free food; the $8 admission price is a small investment for all-you-can-eat samples and things to take home. People get angry when they learn that their Saturday ticket won’t allow them to come back to take more on Sunday. They aren’t genuinely interested in vegetarianism.
  • It’s crowded, with everyone trying to eat and take as much as they can. (And I am convinced that there is a whole circle of hell reserved for people who bring giant strollers to densely-populated events.)
  • There was a large section of people peddling Christian propaganda, making us look like members of some cult. I have very little patience for new age-y, spiritual types. Don’t do it because you think you’ll be rewarded; do it because you know it’s right.
  • The covers of the books Vegetarians of Washington produce are poorly-designed and look a little cheap, making their contents seem illegitimate.
  • It’s clearly vegetarian-centered. I asked the vendor of a margarine product whether her product was vegan. Her response? “It has less than 2% butterfat.” So– no. Not the response an informed retailer gives a vegan. Plus, the line at the Daiya booth was suspiciously short.
  • It sort of has a school science-fair sort of feel. Nothing new, and it’s a volunteer-run non-profit organization with a small budget, so I’m not judging.

Another criticism is perhaps actually a compliment. Vegfest, perhaps astutely, showcases a unilateral message: a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is good for your health. Animal rights organizations do have booths there, but all of the speakers and events focus purely on recipes and health.

The health angle seems like the best way to convince folks to go veg (humans are selfish beings), and the least likely to alienate or anger them, but I personally believe that the health of animals and the environment are far better reasons.

A vegetarian or vegan diet is not by definition healthy — many of us eat crap. Half of the foods in the hall, even the vegan ones, were laden with fat and other unhealthy (yet delicious) ingredients, and telling people it’s better for you doesn’t make it so.

So, Vegfest was good, but lacked the sort of vegan community I’m really looking for right now. Makes me even more pumped for Vida Vegan Con in August. Yep — I’m attending.

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