Vida Vegan Con 2015

Two years ago, I wrote about Vida Vegan Con II, the vegan blogger conference I attended in Portland.

This past weekend was VVCIII, the third–and final–conference. Last time I learned so much and met so many great people, and I couldn’t wait to pick up where I left off.

I flew into Austin, Texas on Thursday and met up with friends at Counter Culture, a vegan diner. I loved walking onto a restaurant in a new city and seeing familiar faces. During our meal a few others from the last VVC said hello. The city was buzzing with vegans already!

counter culture meal

A burrito and potato salad to kick off the weekend

Friday, vegans from around the country–and world–convened on the Vegan Bazaar. We nibbled on vegan cheese from Miyoko’s Creamery (and got to meet the wonderful Miyoko herself). We heard Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, speak at a breakout session. And we got to shop!

I finally met Nikki, the owner of CykoChik Custom Handbags (and yes I bought a tote I’d been eyeing for a while).

cykochik

I also met Kat, creator of Kick Butt Boots–custom, handmade vegan cowboy boots. Everyone had their eye on a striking red pair. How cute would they be with jeans or a fun, flowy dress?

kick butt boots

We sampled food (The Vegan Nom and Cool Beans food trucks stole the show), bought clothing, jewelry and beauty products and then headed our separate ways. I ended up having drinks at a T.O.F.U Magazine-hosted album release party and then dancing the night away with friends at a bar playing 80s dance music.

Saturday was the first official day of the conference. We picked up our swag bags and we were all treated to a delicious breakfast buffet and coffee bar with so many creamer options: coconut, almond, hemp, soy–awesome!

I attended sessions on science, feminism, health, entrepreneurship, and activism. Lunch was also fantastic. We filled up on the most delicious foods. The day was so inspiring. I learned so much, met new people, and was motivated to do more with blogging and veganism in general.

That evening, we attended Capital City Bakery’s third-year anniversary. I’ve never seem so many people in line to buy cupcakes, and I’d never seen people so happy to be in a line!

capital city bakeryUpton’s Naturals was also on hand, serving up BBQ jackfruit sandwiches. I’ve never had pulled pork, and you’ll never need to, with this cruelty-free version.

Upton's BBQ Jackfruit sandwich

After eating sweet and savory goodness, a few of us bar-hopped until, one by one, we faded. Our crew got smaller as the night got later and eventually I also retreated to my apartment.

Sunday was another packed day of conference sessions, buffets, and socializing. The conference ended in an emotional goodbye and heartfelt thanks to the three founders who turned a dream into a reality and changed the lives of so many others. It was bittersweet to say the least. I’m sad to see VVC come to an end, but I’m excited for what’s next. There’s a new vegan economy springing up and I can sense a change for how people eat, how people think about animals, and the types of businesses that will grown out of this conference.

I loved seeing how bloggers had evolved and progressed. Several attendees had written cookbooks or started vegan businesses since I’d seen them last. VVC played a big part in that, I’m sure. It helped so many of us grow.

After a teary farewell, we ended on a high note. Burgers at Arlo’s! Austin, with its warm nights, knows how to do patios. Days were indoors at the conference but nights were for being out. Sunday evening was no different. We socialized, drank margaritas, and ate burgers and ice cream (from Sweet Ritual) on the patio of Cheer Up Charlie’s.

kale margarita

Monday, I squeezed in one last breakfast with a group from the conference and then hopped over (see what I did there?) to Rabbit Food Grocery to check out the vegan nibbles and wares (rumor has it I bought another bag, but you’ll have to check my fashion blog to see if that’s true).

vvc goodbye breakfast

The weekend was as fun as this post is long. But unlike a too-long post, I didn’t want the weekend to end. It might seem like us bloggers were food obsessed. Perhaps. But it’s because we are enjoying and promoting a world that could be. A world without animal exploitation. It’s a marvelous goal and it makes us passionate and keeps us motivated.

Special thanks to Janessa, Jess and Michelle, without whom none of this would be possible.

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Vegan fashion at the VVC gala

One of the highlights of Vida Vegan Con was the gala and silent auction many of us attended on the Saturday evening, smack in the middle of the conference. The gala was an even that raised money for Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, a home for chimps saved from the biomedical industry.

One of the highlights of the gala was seeing everyone dressed so stylishly. I snapped a few pictures. It’s just a sampling of the people in attendance. I wish I could have documented them all.

First I stopped this lovely couple on their way into the event. They aren’t bloggers but they’re friends of bloggers and supporters of the chimp sanctuary. I love her strapless dress, sparkly shoes, and the adorable bow on her belt. His shirt and tie combo is fantastic (nice pattern mixing), and so are his slim-cut trousers and low-profile shoes.

cute couple Next I stopped Taylor from Tacoma who writes Hot Piece of Class. She also had sparkly shoes and a skinny gold belt (I see a theme) but her look was completely different. She looked great throughout the conference and I wish I’d gotten more pictures of her.

Taylor Rebecca, the next woman I stopped, was just as stylish. Her neutral outfit set off with wine colored tights and a blue cardigan. You can tell by people’s outfits that spring evenings in Portland are cool. Luckily the people are cooler!

Taylor's friend I was so enamored with those gray booties that I snapped a close-up of them, along with a yellow pair of heels someone had on. Both are wedges but they’re nothing alike. Proof that there’s a huge variety of wedges out there. They both look comfortable, stable, and stylish.

wedges

The person wearing those cute yellow wedges was looking stylish from the ankles up too. She had on a great faux-leather jacket and skinnies. After I took her picture she pointed out that her collar isn’t part of a shirt, but rather a collar necklace. What a great way to change up an outfit!

faux leather jacket

Meet Joe and Sadie, the stars of The Intrepid Herbivores, a vegan TV show about travel and food. Their show is fun and funny and is a great way to learn about how to travel vegan-style. Check out their site, “like” them on Facebook, and look for them on TV in the near future. I just saw a screening of their pilot and I can’t wait for more.

Oh, and don’t they look great? Sadie managed to match her scarf to her hair (possibly a coincidence). If I had a utility belt purse like hers it would have saved me from juggling my clutch, camera and glass of wine. Joe made his look unique with a utilikilt and combat boots.

Intrepid Herbivores

I approached Staci and Justin as they basked in the warm glow of a heat lamp. They’re another example of two people who look fabulous on their own but together really turn heads. I love the statement necklace Staci chose and her bold combination of gray and orange. Justin has a monochromatic look with a great tie. He let his style shine through with the checkered Vans.

Justin and StaciStaci was nice enough to get in touch with me after the gala. She sent me a couple of other pictures that really show off her look. She’s not a blogger, but she could be. She knows how bloggers like to list brands so she sent me a list. Her dress is H&M, her shoes are Madden Girl, and the necklace is from Nordstrom. Justin is wearing a Van Heusen shirt and tie, Dockers, and Vans. Both of them prove that you can look like a million without spending it.

Staci and Justin

I stopped one last group at the gala. They all had such great style! The woman on the left in the elegant halter dress is Kendra Peterson of Biting the Hand that Feeds You (Thanks Sarah, for providing that info!). Next to her, in the slinky, one-shouldered dress, is Sarah of Bentoriffic. Sharon, in the tomato-red and black ensemble is half of Big City Vegan, a site she runs with her sister. Finally, with the amazing purple flower in her hair and black lace overlay dress, is the one and only Super Diva (AKA Dawn). They all have great stories to share and I encourage you to check out their blogs.

Fab four

They also were nice enough to remind me that no one had taken my picture. Dawn offered. Thank you Dawn! I’ve had this dress for a few years but it hasn’t made it to my blog until now. I got it at Fashion Crimes in Toronto. My Shoes are by Hot Lips and my empty cage necklace (perfect for the occasion) is from The Sapphire Bee.

three bloggers

After that last photo, I hit the bar, the vegan sundae line, and the dance floor. Even bloggers need to clock out sometimes and just have some fun.

Vegan fashion at Vida Vegan Con

I had a lot of fun at Vida Vegan Con, the vegan blogger conference I attended last week. Most bloggers had food blogs, some had lifestyle blogs, and a few had style blogs. Everywhere I turned I saw fashionable bloggers! It was hard to get photos though–we were all so busy. I managed to get a few shots at least.

I stopped Ky Lee Fournier because I loved her casual style. I’m a huge fan of fedoras and skinny jeans and I like how she threw a denim jacket into the mix. The faux leather booties add a bit of toughness and the cotton floral bag is a great soft spring piece. Ky Lee is a vegan sports nutritionist from British Columbia and she’s as fit as she is stylish!

Ky Lee Fournier

When Londoner Kip told her friends she’s had her photo taken for a style blog, they laughed. Kip runs The Messy Vegetarian Cook blog and is known for her recipes, not her outfits. But who’s laughing now? From the red tights and adorable polka-dots to the cute cardi, this is a great look. I think I need a pair of 8-hole vegan Dr. Martens now too!

Kip

I was thrilled to meet Jesse Anne O in person. I’ve been reading her blog for a couple of years and was thrilled when I found out she was going to VVC. She runs a smashing style blog with a focus on ethical attire. I love following her New York adventures and seeing what she’s thrifted. She’s also got her pulse on vegan designers and local shops.

Jesse Anne O

As proof that we met, here I am with Jesse.

Jean and Jesse

I saw a few people donning stripes over the three-day conference. Case in point: Anika of Vegan Score and Dawn of Vegan Moxie. I know these two lovelies from Seattle and it was great to reconnect with them in Portland.

I love Anika’s black, white and red look. She shows how to “dress down” with a denim jacket. And you’d never know it, but those cute ballet flats are Crocs! Waterproof shoes for temperamental spring days–genius! Dawns tights and cardi are a great way to wear a summery dress when it’s a bit cool out. I love how she chose green tights and caramel faux-leather flats. Adorable!

Anika and dawn

Helen and Molly are also from Seattle. They are the voices behind Vegtastic and Vegan Princess in an Omni Kingdom, respectively. I paired them up for my impromptu shoot because they both had on dots. Helen’s top has a subtle Swiss dot and Molly’s dress is a whimsical circle print. I like how they show how to layer with cardigans and how to rock flats. I think Helen might be wearing Cri de Coeur (and Jesse, above, might have on the same style. Great minds…).

Dawn and Molly

Speaking of great minds, meet Megan and Megan. Megan on the left, runs The Opinioness of the World, an awesome blog filled with info about film, food, and feminism (among other things). I almost bought the very scarf she’s wearing but I left it at Herbivore Clothing. Moments later, unbeknownst to me, Megan popped in and got it. Good call! It looks great and it’s super soft.

Both Megans got their shirts at Herbivore, which is why I thought they looked so good together in this post. It’s a black and fuchsia theme! The shirts read “Love life: no matter whose.” A terrific message! I like how these women took the same shirt and created completely different outfits. Megan on the right is on twitter and YouTube and has tons of adorable cat stories and photos because she fosters kittens. Awesome!

Two Molly's

Finally, it’s me again. But only because I bumped into Lulu. We’d been carrying around the same bag all weekend and had a couple of photo ops together. Lulu looked fantastic all weekend long. I wish I’d gotten pictures of her every day. Her wardrobe is all about color and texture and she makes it seem effortless. She doesn’t have a blog–yet. Here’s hoping to that happening soon. No pressure, Lulu!

Jean and Lulu

There you have it. I snapped a bunch of photos at the vegan gala too, so look for that post next!

Vida Vegan Con 2013

I already wrote about the nine-hour Portland bloggers pre-funk, but what about the actual event?

Well, it began unofficially with a supermodel scramble at one of Portland’s original vegetarian restaurants, Paradox Café. I had breakfast there with Vegan Score before heading to registration.paradox cafe

The conference was at the Portland Art Museum. Registration was all morning long, which gave people time to check in without long lines, grab a latté, explore the museum, and find long-lost friends. We grabbed swag bags and checked out the exhibitors hall, both of which were filled with vegan goodies.

swag

merch

On Friday I attended the following sessions: Blogging as Writing, Monetizing Your Blog, Expanding Your Message to Include Animal Rights, and the MoFo (Month of Food) Workshop. All the sessions were helpful and I gained the most from the animal rights one. I learned that through gentle suggestions, reminders–even humor–I can let people know about how to eliminate cruelty. Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House said something as simple as, “I made this recipe without eggs because I don’t like how hens are mistreated” goes a long way to getting people to think about their impact on the world.

After the sessions, Veggie Grill hosted a delicious reception and then a lot of us headed over to the world’s only vegan mini mall. I met up with Vegan Moxie, Vegtastic, Vegans Don’t Bite, and whole bunch of others. I am in the habit of calling bloggers by their blog names, but I assure you, they all have proper names too! We had vegan gorditos at Food Fight, vegan s’mores at Herbivore Clothing, and lattés at Sweet Pea vegan bakery. After filling our bellies I went to Hungry Tiger, a vegan-friendly bar, for a drink with the Fat Gay Vegan, Vegan Score, and The Messy Vegetarian Cook.

vegan mini mall

Saturday started with a scrumptious breakfast buffet at the conference, followed by these sessions: Ethics Beyond the Plate, Vegan Invasion, Finding Balance, and International activism. Mind you, these are only the sessions I attended. There were three going on at any given time–from iPhone Photography to Vegan Parenting. There was something for everyone.

snacks by Peanut Butter & Company

We broke for lunch halfway through the day and I was still full by the time I got to the gala. We had lots to choose from: a vegan sundae bar, vegan artisanal cheese table, drinks, dancing, and of course, the silent auction to benefit Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW. We raised over $4000 for them!

gala

sundae bar

Sunday began with another great breakfast. I attended four sessions: Publishing, Body Image, Social Media, and Interdietary Co-habitation. Of course we had another great lunch–a sandwich bar!

sandwich

I was sad when things wrapped up for the day, weekend, year. I’d made new friends, got to know acquaintances from online and in Seattle, and reveled in the company of kind and compassionate people. Everyone had a different story. There were 20-year-old bloggers and 60-year-old ones. We came from all walks of life, but we were united in our love of animals, health, the earth, and of course food.

I’m excited for the next event and I have a lot of blogs to read in the meantime.

Heading to the vegan bloggers conference

I just came back from a terrific weekend in Portland, where I attended Vida Vegan Con, a vegan conference. Over 300 vegan bloggers spent three days in Rose City. Most of our days were in the Portland Art Museum conference rooms. Evenings were a mix of events–from vegan bars to a gala and auction. It’s impossible to sum up such a rich event in a simple post, but I hope to give you a glimpse of what went on.

I drove down to Portland on Thursday and headed straight to Herbivore Clothing for shirts, a poster, jewelry, and stickers. Other bloggers were in the shop too, and I was so excited to be part of the action.

herbivore collage

A bunch of bloggers met at The White Owl Social Club. I walked in around 4:30 pm and the place was abuzz. The White Owl isn’t all-vegan, but the menu had vegan items, including the special of the day: The Greatest American Gyro. Yum!

After happy hour, I went to see a screening of the first episode of The Intrepid Herbivore’s first travel show. If you’d like to see a vegan-themed travel show on TV, go “like” them on Facebook so producers know that there’s a fan base for this type of show. The episode was great! Host Sadie is funny, lively, and teaches viewers where to go for vegan food and cooking classes, and how to be an ethical traveler. Show One focused on Thailand.

Instead of paying for a hotel, I booked a room in a private home through airbnb. I took a gamble–and it paid off. My host sounded great in her profile and was as busy as I was. The Sweet HereafterWe never actually met! We were both gone all the time.

She came home later than I did and I left before she got up. It was a perfect arrangement. I had a clean, quiet place to sleep, shower, and keep my things, and I saved a bunch of money.

The first night, I had to find the key she’d hidden. Then I checked in, settled down for a moment, and went out to meet up with my friend from Seattle Vegan Score. We went to a vegan bar, The Sweet Hereafter, for a drink and to get acquainted with some of the other bloggers we’d be seeing at the conference.

I had a fun day–and the conference hadn’t even started. I learned that Portland has a thriving vegan community. I’ll share more with you soon.