I know it has been a little bit quiet over the past few weeks but I just got back from Vida Vegan Con – the vegan blogger conference extraveganza – and I’m absolutely bursting with ideas and inspiration. I promise this site will be reaping the benefit with a flood of recipes, reviews and more over the next few months. But first…I should tell you a little about the fest that has me all fueled up for a summer of creating.
If you’re on twitter, instagram, facebook or feedly, you probably noticed an abundance of activity last week all with the hashtags: #vvc2013 #vidavegancon #vidaveganconhq. Pretty much my entire social media world was in Portland.
Before I got on the plane to Portland, I made a list. I knew this trip would be a whirlwind of excitement and joy – so a list was the only way to prioritize the pleasure.
My VVC “to do” list (sorry, only iPhone photos this time):
1. Get Hugs ✔
Honestly, the number one reason I went to Vida Vegan Con was for the hugs, the smiles and the sense of connection. The internet has become and amazing resource for conscious, compassionate people to connect – but there is nothing like being in a room filled with like-minded people (a chat room does not count). At the first VVC I met so many of the incredible people who had inspired me online for years. Those friendships are so dear to me that the chance to be with JL, Gena, Jill, Fran, Julie, Isa, Terry, Kittee, Lauren, Amey (and so many more!) all in once place could not be passed up. Plus, this year I met so many new friends (huge bonus hugs)!!!
2. Try new things ✔
Portland is a pretty extraordinary place. You can find kombucha floats, vegan mac’n cheese burgers, and soy curls galore.
Although I had some favourite spots to return to (Prasad…our love is deep), I wanted to check out more of what else Portland had to offer.
I discovered Canteen – and their Bangkok Bowl – kimchi, rice, beans, broccoli and curry peanut sauce (after walking for an hour in the rain it was heaven!)
Vita Cafe – $5 Cocktail Wednesday! We also had kale salad but really, what a way to start a vacation. I had the sangria and Nicole order a Caesar.
White Owl Social Club – Build your own s’mores. One of the most memorable moments of my week was sitting around the table with some of my favourite people roasting vegan marshmallows.
Portobello – Beet tartare, champagne, ravioli with morels and peas, chimichurri cauliflower of awesome. One night, four of us (Hannah, Ange, Nicole and I) slipped off to a special meal at one of Portland’s most spectacular spots. I will relive it in my mind for a very long time.
3. Find inspiration ✔
There was something about the energy at VVC that allowed me to let go of all the usual deadlines of my day job and the daily to-dos that can crowd out creativity. Nicole (my favourite travelling companion) and I brainstormed projects on the flight, during the hours of walking around the city and over lattes and a cinnamon bun at Sweetpea bakery. I loved hearing what other bloggers, authors and activists were working on. So many ideas…
4. Share ideas ✔
I was honoured to be one of the speakers at VVC this year. I was on a panel about writing cookbook reviews and one on international activism. I enjoyed putting my presentations together and getting to share the time with John, Hannah, Ryan and Leigh-Chantelle (all fantastic, fun people). As much as I liked being a part of the formal program, even more exciting were the collaborations that sparked over meals, in the stairwells and in bed with friends. You just never know where those conversation will end up. There is such a wealth of talent and passion in the vegan community, I’m excited to see the amazing, results of all these connections.
5. Say thank you ✔
I’ve been vegan for almost three decades – and wow, the community has changed over that period. I realize that now I often take for granted all the people who are tirelessly working to make my world a more compassionate place. VVC was an opportunity to say thank you to the leaders of this movement who are contributing to this global shift. It was wonderful to see all of the exhibitors at the event handing out their new vegan products, sift through the abundance of vegan swag and listen in awe to the speakers share their work.
6. Walk ✔
I spend way too much time sitting in front of a computer. Portland is such a pedestrian friendly town. I enjoyed hours upon of hours of just strolling. Sunshine would have been appreciated but even in the rain I was greatful for the chance to move everyday. Luckily I picked up a pair of waterproof shoes at Portland’s vegan shoe store – Pie.
7. Have fun✔
This past year has been a tough one for me. So, being in Portland with people I love was a really good opportunity to just let go and smile. And that I did. As you can tell, I didn’t bring my big camera. I left my laptop at home. I just went…and enjoyed.
8. Learn ✔
Okay, well, I also attended an amazing array of classes. I took copious notes during Gena‘s class on writing, Terry‘s class on recipe development and Susan‘s class on advanced photography. I still need to research all the resources Isa shared for iPhone photogaphy and Helen and Dawn mentioned during their social media workshop. I soaked it all up like a little sponge :).
9. Get back to basics ✔
Sometimes it takes getting away from to gain perspective on what is important to you. Being in Portland I realized how passionate I am about the work I do, creating vegan recipes, writing and teaching.
It was fun being in the big crowd full of energy and excitement, but I also allowed myself lots of quiet time to reflect (and sip kombucha or enjoy a hotel-room fashioned parfait).
10. Remember why it matters
Although my entire suitcase of swag may seem like my best take-away from the event, it really was something much easier to carry: a sense of purpose. I left VVC feeling like I had a great deal more clarity about who I am.
As you might expect I was not the only attendee to blog about VVC. I have loved reading all the recaps, especially those by my friends:
Wishing you all a day of sunshine, inspiration and a kombucha float.