Vida Vegan Con 2013, Part I

June 2nd, 2013 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration

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I really love this pic. Don’t I look happy? I hate public speaking – it is my #1 biggest fear – but speaking at VVC was pure bliss. What a rush! Loved it loved it loved it, and I want MORE!

I’d already been in Portland for three days when Vida Vegan Con officially unofficially began. See, my plan had been to hit P-town early, soak up all my favorite old sites and see all my favorite old friends. But pretty much the second my plane landed, I got sick. With a gnarly head cold. Bummer.

Eh, not so much of a bummer really, because it just meant that I holed up in my friend’s house, listening to the rain and getting a lot of work done. Which was nice.

But by the time Thursday night rolled around and brought with it the unofficial VVC meet ‘n greet at the White Owl Social Club (a new and very vegan-friendly bar in SE Portland), I was feeling . . . well, I was feeling pretty dang lousy. Boooo! That’s okay, I didn’t let it stop me from having fun.

The party at White Owl Social Club – can you spot the vegan gentry? I spy: Julie Hasson, Fran Costigan, Susan V, Nava Atlas, Miyoko Schinner, Kittee Bee, Bianca, and Jill Nussinow, and that’s just in the foreground. Pretty awe-inspiring, right? Color me starstruck.


Gin has lots of botanicals – gin will kill the germs!

It was a fantastic party, a perfect way to kick off VVC, full of excitement and mingling and joyful recognition – that moment when the person you’ve followed in two dimensions for so long, is suddenly standing in front of you in the flesh. I love blogging functions for just that very reason: the virtual world becomes actual reality and it’s always such a strange, fun feeling.

With my shorties, Ami and Gena. Yes, I am really really tall!

I got to meet a bunch of new folks – some of whom I was familiar with (online), and some who were totally new to me. But mostly, I got to catch up with some of my favorite friends from around the blogosphere. Joy!

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Photo booth fun with Gena.

The party wound down pretty early, with most VVCers wandering off for various dinner engagements (everyone was so excited to eat all the Portland foods!). But I stayed put, grabbing a table with my friend (fellow ex-Portlander and vegan-mom-blogger) Joanna and a bunch of her friends who I’d just met. Everyone was so awesome, because you know – obviously. My sister even showed up to join in the fun!

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My new friend Ross, enjoying his Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Ball Burger (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like).

Aaaaaand this is what happens when you put a plate of food down in front of a bunch of vegan bloggers. Cameras at attention! Haha, silly bloggers.

After White Owl, we hopped over to another bar, the all-vegan Sweet Hereafter, where my friends had drinks (fiery flaming ones!) and I had a big bowl of broccoli, brown rice, and nooch-encrusted tofu all smothered in peanut sauce. It was heaven but I was spent. Sick and coughing, I scurried home early to prepare for the next morning – the first official day of VVC!


VVC founders Jess, Janessa, and Michele, about to officially open the doors for VVC 2013!

Friday morning I was up bright and early, with big boisterous butterflies bubbling around in my tummy. I still felt sick as a dog and my nose wouldn’t stop running – which is not so great for public speaking! But, I just tried to pull myself together and go with the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Besides, I was so excited that it sort of overshadowed the sick-ick.

Sometimes people ask, so this is what I wore:

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This year, VVC was held at the Portland Art Museum, which was such a beautiful location for a conference. I arrived early and got all registered, grabbed my swag bag, thought to myself “Oh my god, this thing weighs 30 pounds!”, and promptly checked it with the coat check people (bless them). With a few hours to kill before the first classes began (the conference started later – after lunch – on that first day), I ventured out with old-friend Joanna and new-friend Emily in search of food. Luckily, we found a juice and breakfast-bowl bar nearby, where we procured green juice and organic oatmeal. Perfect!

And then . . . and then it was time for the real deal. The conference was starting and I was quaking in my [vegan] boots, because I was speaking in the first time slot.

Luckily, I found the lecture hall about 30 minutes ahead of time. It was empty of course – we were the first panel of the day – and so I was able to sit up there at the front of the room, and look out over all the empty chairs, and take deep breaths. I made some notes. I listened to this Matt Pond song on my iphone, loudly, because it calms and comforts me. I took more deep breaths.

I was terrified.

And then it was time.


I sat on the Compassionate Parenting panel, alongside Dreena Burton and Josh Hooten, and moderated by Michelle Schwegmann. It was a great, well-rounded panel and despite the vastness of the topic, I think we covered a lot of key information. And despite my ridiculous nerves, I think I did pretty good.

That picture up at the very top of this post? It was taken during this very panel. Because during this panel, public speaking turned from frightening into FUN, and by the time it was over all I wanted was to do it again. So hooray for growth!


Immediately after my panel I had to hurry away for a class I’d enrolled in (some of the classes required pre-registration, because there was high demand and limited space) – iPhone Food Photography with Isa Chandra-Moskowitz. This was a fun session, infused with Isa’s characteristic brass, and I left with about a million new photo apps to play with. Yay!


I spent the rest of the afternoon milling about the main ballroom: visiting the sponsor’s tables, sampling delicious vegan treats, and chatting with friends old and new. That guy up there ^^^ is Dan from Chicago Vegan Foods, who I met years ago at Portland VegFest. He is awesome and I was stoked to learn that Teese cheese has been reformulated and is now soy-free! And it tastes a-friggin-mazing.

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It was so great to get to spend some afternoon downtime with my friend and fellow MSVA graduate, JL.

In the late afternoon everybody gathered in the main ballroom for the official Welcome Address, followed with a short reception sponsored by Veggie Grill. But by this time I was feeling epically exhausted, from the adrenaline rush of speaking, the excitement of the meeting and mingling (fun, but hard on an introvert), and of course mostly because I was still in the grips of a major cold.

As everybody else traipsed over the the vegan mini mall for an Upton’s Naturals pop-up shop at Food Fight and s’mores at Herbivore, I hightailed it back to the house. I happened to be sharing a house with four amazingly talented vegan superstars, but I hadn’t even seen them yet! And I didn’t see them that night either, as I grabbed some takeout pho, ate it in my room, and promptly passed out.


catch Part I here

and Part II here

  • Emily Nolan

    Beautiful recap of the day! Looking forward to reading more :) Thanks for sharing Sayward!

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  • Renate

    Looking forward to reading more!I am one of those people who wants to see outfits… Love that dress, really beautifull ^^

  • Dreena Burton

    You did more than a pretty good job – you did a fabulous job! Plus, you moderated too – no small task. I missed the meet and greet, looks like it was fun – and that mac ‘n cheese burger is crazy – can you imagine how much our kids would LOVE that?!

  • Sonja

    love reading the recap and hooray for growing so much (public speaking-wise)!

  • Kerstin La Cross

    (Aka:Ristia_Amore on Instagram!) Aw, I’m still so sad that I worked all weekend and wasn’t able to hit up the con and meet you! ): Looks like it was a blast.

    What place did you pick up that take-out pho? I *love* pho, and the only place I know of so far in Portland that has a veggie version is on NW 21st. (Clearly, I haven’t been exploring much. The east-side scares me!!)

  • Shannon Mulligan-Mayernik

    Loved reading this—-hopefully going to VVC next year with my bestie!! Can you share some of those new photo apps you spoke about?? I’m always looking for new ways to jazz up my iPhone photos! :) Can’t wait to read Part 2. -Shannon

  • freeheelvegan

    You looked like a natural up in front of the audiences. Nice job faking it! :-)

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Loving the recap, can’t wait for days 2 and 3! That fried mac n’ cheese ball burger is scary, in the best possible way. And, you completely lost me after “Teese . . . is now soy-free!”

  • luminousvegans

    I just wrote a long comment and it erased! But the gist of it was that this is a great recap! I love the photo of everybody taking pictures of the dish. It is interesting to see that everybody who attended VVC had a unique experience though united by commonality. I would have definitely have been nervous if I had to give a talk. Shoot, I was nervous initiating conversations with strangers which is why we probably didn’t meet. Next time though!

  • Bianca-Vegan Crunk

    It was soooo amazing finally meeting you!!! And you got some great shots! I love that “cameras at attention” shot from White Owl. And the whole room shot. That takes me back. I wish we could all go back and stay at VVC forever!

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  • Carrie @ Carrieonvegan

    You did an amazing job with the panel, Sayward, and you have an amazing confident, strong presence. I definitely didn’t know you were nervous and I think you should do more public speaking!

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  • Sayward Rebhal

    Of course, my pleasure! It’s fun to relive it all. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, thanks! I always feel so weird taking selfies/outfit shots, so it’s nice to hear that people do appreciate it.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, thanks Dreena! People tell me I don’t seem nervous and I’m always like “HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??!”, haha. Self-perception is a crazy thing I guess. But anyway, it was so fun sitting on the panel, and moderating the panel, with you! So great to finally meet after so long. =)

    And yes, I thikn Waits would flip out over that burger. It’s kind of kiddo heaven.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Sonja!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I got the pho at Pho Van right there on Hawethorne, in the mid 20s I think? It wa spretty good, but my very favorite spot is Pho Gia in the NE. SO GOOD!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh yes! For shooting Isa recommends using Camera +. For editing, VSCO (my fave), Snapseed, and PS Express. For text layovers, Phonto. Lots to play with!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks, I was shaking!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Dude the new Teese is SO GOOD. You gotta try it!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, sorry you lost your comment. But I agree with you, it’s been so fun to read all the recaps and see all the different perspectives on the same events. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    SO great to meet you too Bianca! I wish we could have chatted more, it was so rushed and then on the last day when we were finally talking, I was SO TIRED, haha. Ah well, there’s always online, and there’s always VVC2014!!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, thank you Carrie. I guess I fake it pretty well, but it’s all a bluff! I do want to do more public speaking though – every time I do it gets easier.

    Let’s connect in person soon!

  • Shannon Mulligan-Mayernik

    Thats so much! Can’t wait to play this weekend with these new apps!!! Enjoy your weekend and feel better!!!!!

  • Carrie @ Carrieonvegan

    Hey lady! Yes, we definitely have to get together in SB. I’m in Palm Springs until about August so let’s shoot for sometime after that.

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  • veganinbrighton

    What a great recap and I love that I’ve discovered your blog thanks to VVC!

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