Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vida Vegan Con 2011 - Friday/Saturday

The kick off was Friday night with a fantastic reception hosted by VegNews. Champagne and cupcakes were abound! The cupcakes were from Sweetpea Baking Co, and boy were they delicious. I wish I had one right now...

It was great getting to meet some of the bloggers and visiting the great companies that were tabling. Some of the first ladies I met were Dawn of veganmoxie and Gena of Choosing Raw. Wow, these ladies are so amazing, I was happy to see both of them throughout the weekend and even attended several panels that each of them spoke on. Additionally, on Saturday I was so lucky to chat with Gena about nutrition school and she gave me the most stellar and possible life altering advice. 

Gena, Dawn & myself
Photo via Bianca of Vegan Crunk
At this point I had also met Bianca of the blog Vegan Crunk, and we chatted a bit about her brand new tattoo (check out a pic of it on her site.) This girl is awesomely honest and funny and I saw her on two different panels. Keep your eyes peeled for her cookbook which will veganize classic southern/soul food. Umm, yes please! 

After much schmoozing and mingling we bloggers retreated and prepared ourselves for a full day of gettin' our learn on. 

Saturday morning began with a full vegan (obviously) breakfast buffet. I was so hungry and so excited that forgot to take any photos of breakfast. In fact, I found myself so excited/overwhelmed/distracted the whole weekend, that I forgot to take pictures of almost the whole conference. 

Anyway, I sat down at a table with my overflowing plate of tofu scramble, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes and coffee of course. I was settling myself in and chatting with the people at my table when, mid coffee sip, I suddenly realized that I was eating breakfast with Susan of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Wow, I was completely star stuck. Susan's blog was one of the very first that I started reading and cooking from. I couldn't believe I was having breakfast with her, and in fact, I actually still can't believe it. 

Finally it was time for classes! I first headed to Build-A-Blog with Amey of Vegan Eats and Treats, Sherri of VeganNosh and yes, Bianca! This was a very informative class with topics covering everything from literally how to begin a blog to getting noticed to themes and blog structure. One thing that stuck out to me was the talk of using Facebook. Bloggers (and everyone else who uses the FB), Facebook owns what you post. So bloggers, be careful and beware if you have a Facebook page. (Coincidentally, A Vegan Food Snob, does and you can visit it here.)  

Next for me was the Nutrition Panel with Gena, Ginny Messina, The Vegan RD, Bryanna Clark Grogan of Vegan Feast Kitchen and Wendy of Veg Food and Fit and moderated by Grant Butler of The Oregonian. I was very excited for this panel as I am constantly wanting to learn more about nutrition and these were very legit people in front of me. A few topics of interest I want to mention are...
  • When buying organic produce, focus on the dirty dozen.
  • When eating raw, it doesn't have to be all or nothing!
  • All vegans need to take a B12 supplement. All *humans* should be taking a B12 supplement after age 50. 
  • Oils and fats are good!
I had like a light bulb moment when the chat about raw food came up. Gena was saying how often people who want to "go raw" tend to take it to an extreme and literally go 100% raw. My moment came because I did this! Last summer I wanted to go raw for the month of August and went totally crazy. Mind you it only lasted 2 days, but that's a story for another time. Gena's advice was "do not dehydrate anything!" and simply add more naturally raw food, such as fruits, veggies and nuts into your current repertoire. Hello, this makes so much sense! Healthy vegan eating should be all about inclusion of good things, not insane restrictions. 

My second major "I can't believe it!" moment of the weekend happened in this panel. During the Q & A session, I turned to see who was asking the question, and who is it but Isa! Ah, I almost died! In my head I'm thinking... "Oh my god! Isa Chandra Moskowitz is actually taking the same class as me?! But she like already knows everything about everything!!"

My last class of the morning was The Accidental Journalist with Gabrielle of Vegans on the Move, Dawn and Michele of vegtasticvoyage (also a VVC founder). Such an interesting class for me and some of the tips I took away were...
  • Add contact info when reviewing a restaurant (duh! seems so obvious, but I realized I hadn't done that!)
  • Read your post aloud!
  • Leave & come back to a post before you publish!
  • Test your links!
Since lunch was next and this post is getting too long (sorry Dynise!) I'll leave you here with a photo of my extremely delicious lunch from our fantastic lunch buffet! 

Clockwise from top: pesto potato salad, BBQ tempeh, grilled veggies
raw golden beet salad, raw kale salad, baby carrots w/ purple cauliflower
hummus & orzo salad

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