Thursday, September 01, 2011

Vida Vegan Con: A Photo Diary

Just as you might expect, there was an endless stream of tasty vegan food at Vida Vegan Con. But what I'll remember most about this past weekend is not the bounty of food, the plethora of amazing workshops, or even the cupcakes and champagne reception or Saturday night Galarama. What I'll remember for the rest of my days is the extraordinary sense of camaraderie among all of the lovely vegan spirits who came together to share their experiences and support, nourish, and learn from one another.  I've been to many vegan events in my lifetime, but never before have I seen so many beautiful, happy people in one place. The atmosphere was jubilant. We were all so appreciative to be together in this very special place and time! 

And it is a very special time. I've said this before: vegan is going mainstream, baby! We old-timers can feel it, and we have waited patiently these last decades knowing that someday the day would come, the lights would shine, and the mainstream would awaken from its collective state of unconsciousness. We haven't yet achieved critical mass, but what a glorious moment in vegan evolutionary history this is! The sheer number of vegan blogs out there, (those attending VidaVeganCon represented but a fraction of them), is evidence that the tide is turning in favor of compassionate, sustainable, plant-based eating. 

Before I arrived at the Portland conference venue, I met up with my amazing VFFs, (each of them an author, chef, and culinary goddess!) Julie Hasson, Bryanna Clark Grogan, Dynise Balcavage, and Fran Costigan, at Julie's vegan food cart, Native Bowl. They were already camped out at this table when I arrived, and I was overjoyed to see all of my gorgeous girlfriends. Having my favorite Mississippi Bowl for lunch, well, that was just an added treat!


While I was checking in at the front desk of the hotel, a charming young woman walked up to the desk. She began speaking in the most lovely Australian accent. I had no idea who she was or that she was attending (let alone speaking!) at Vida Vegan Con. But when I asked her if she would say my name (because the Australian pronunciation of my name makes it sound like music), she happily obliged. "Gai-yllll," she purred. (Can't you just hear it?) She made my day! Every time we ran into each other throughout the weekend, Viva La Vegan's Leigh-Chantelle would make it a point to say my name. I smiled so hard each time, it almost made my face hurt. Your friends in the States miss you already, Leigh-Chantelle! Come back soon!


What can you say about finally getting to meet someone face-to-face whom you've already fallen in love with online? That's how I felt about Kathy Hester, who pens Healthy Slow Cooking. I was so happy to meet her that it felt like being reunited with a long, lost sister. She and her partner, Cheryl, are just about the cutest, sweetest couple I have ever met. (I call this photo, "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!")


And what words have been left unsaid about the two amazing women who started a vegan revolution? Here I am with PPK's Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Not only do they each boast three names, but if you look on my bookshelf, you'll find that their cookbooks are the ones that are most well-worn. (Complete with crinkled spines, dog-eared pages falling out, and food stains galore!). The enigmatic John McDevitt of The Laziest Vegans in the World (how he chose that name I'll never know. He is anything but lazy!) rounded out the photo. I think Terry's face must have hurt from too much smiling by this point, don't you?


I appreciated the opportunity to take a break from work and hang out at the Galarama for a spell with my favorite vegan food scientist, Turtle Mountain's Ken Viscidi. (Great job on the Greek yogurt, Ken!)


What an enormous surprise when an old friend arrived! Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke really got the party going into high gear with an impromptu strut out on the dance floor.


The weekend was filled with surprises—it was so great meeting all the people you tweet with all day long. One of them is Vegan Mainstream's marketing maven, Stephanie Redcross.


Susan Voisin is one of my heroes. She helped me through my early McDougall days with an endless stream of delicious fat-free (and nearly fat-free) vegan recipes. What a thrill to meet the beauty and brains behind the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen!


A few weeks ago I took my first vacation in over a year and hooked up with Vegan Radio's Judy Petullo and Barb Troyer, hosts of All Things Vegan Radio in Bend, Oregon. I hope to see you again in a couple of weeks! You and Bend totally rock!


To Jess Scone, Janessa Philemon-Kerp, and Michele Truty—the three of you put together an amazing event, and I sincerely hope you are enjoying a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. I can't wait until the next VVC. It will no doubt be even bigger and better! 

And a very warm shout out to all of the exquisitely beautiful souls I met this weekend, but did not get the chance to memorialize in pictures. I consider it an enormous gift that I had an opportunity to spend a weekend with you. Until we meet again, let's keep doing what we do best: inspiring others to eat healthfully, compassionately, and sustainably and showing them that going vegan is just so incredibly delicious!

25 comments:

Allison Rivers Samson said...

Love this post... and YOU, Gail!! Come visit and play soon. We'll go to Animal Place (animalplace.org) and cuddle with the sweetie animals! xoxo

Vegiegail said...

Love you, too, Allison! I can't wait to come and meet all the cuddly animals with you!!!

Helen said...

It looks like you had an amazing time with so many fantastic vegan friends! I am envious and wish I could have been there. Glad you had so much fun!!!

Cat @ The Verdant Life said...

What a great round up! I'm kicking myself for not taking more pictures. It was great to meet you at VVC and hope to see you next time!

avegangirl said...

What a dream to be immersed in so much vegan culture and with so many of my favorite cookbook authors and chefs! Thank you for sharing. I can at least live vicariously through this post! :)

Vegiegail said...

Thank you, Cat! It was great meeting you, too. And believe it or not, I am also kicking myself for not taking more photos!

Kathy Hester said...

Miss Gail, I can't tell you how much I loved to finally meet you in person. It really does feel like we've known each other forever.

I can't wait till I get the pleasure of your company again! You need to get So Delicious to send you to NC for a visit.

Vegiegail said...

Thank you, Kathy! I hope we can see each other again very soon!!!!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

What a wonderful post, Gail! It was so amazing that I haven't even been able to write about it yet, and now you've done it for me (well, almost!). I have such a great time every time we get together! I'm soooo happy to be back on the island with my kitties, Brian, and my youngest daughter and grandson, who are here visiting from Vancouver. But I'm looking forward to seeing you again, Gail-- maybe at Seattle VegFest next year??

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan said...

It was so wonderful to meet you, Gail! I only wish we'd gotten a photo together. :D I hope we meet again soon!

Vegiegail said...

Awe, thank you, Bryanna! From the first moment we met, it felt like we had known each other forever! And I'm always looking forward to the next time we'll be together. I'm so glad you are getting to spend time with your youngest daughter and grandson at home.

Hi Amber! I was so tickled to finally meet you, and I also wish we'd taken a photo together! Let's make sure we don't miss the next opportunity, and I also hope it's real soon!

John McDevitt said...

Thanks Gail! You should be my PR person :)

SusanV said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Gail. I swear, I think you met everyone there; every time I turned around you were talking to someone else! Thanks for sharing your photos--they bring back great memories.

Vegiegail said...

You're funny, John! It was wonderful seeing you! Are you back in Omaha, or will you be at NW VegFest?

Vegiegail said...

Susan, you have no idea how thrilled I was to finally meet you! I hope we see each other again soon!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

LOVED LOVED meeting you and SOOO wished we could have spent more time chatting!! What a fun event!! Hope to see you around the vegan world sometime before 2013 VVC!!

Vegiegail said...

Me, too, Marti!!!!

veggiegrettie.com said...

I wished I was there! It would have been great to meet you. Next year :-)

Vegiegail said...

I wish you could have been there, too, Gretchen. I thought of you many times while I was there. Hope to see you at the next one in 2013!

urban vegan said...

Miss you and the VFFs, Gail. VVC 2011 was a magical, mystical, transcending experience. xo

VeganMarr said...

It looked like a really fun event! So glad u all had such a wonderful time together. Wish I couldve been there! Hugs to u all! :-)

Gena said...

Totally fabulous recaps!

VeganLisa said...

Gail, you are such a vegan superstar. Thank you for the enthusiasm, hearty hugs and amazing eats that you brought to the con. I'm so happy that Fran introduced us. I have no doubt that our paths will cross often.

xo

Vegiegail said...

You summed it up perfectly, Dynise! Why do I wake up and keep looking for you around here every day? xox

I wish you could have been there, Marr. You would have so loved being around all these beautiful vegan souls.

Thank you, Gena! Aren't you just aching for the next one? I don't think it can come soon enough!

Awe, thank you, Lisa! I'm so happy Fran introduced us, too! There's nothing better than vegan hugs. That's what I say! I'm looking forward to crossing paths with you again. Hope it's soon!

Marie said...

How thrilling! It looks like everyone there had an amazing time and sounds like a bit 'o vegan heaven on earth!