Vida Vegan Con 2013, Part III (the end, sad trombone)

June 4th, 2013 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration


Jess, just hanging out holding a fire extinguisher . . . like ya do.

The final day of VVC was a little bit different for me, since I wasn’t speaking at all. Which meant I was completely relaxed. That last day was all about attending panels, enjoying the food and sponsors, and connecting with my fellow bloggers. It was awesome – tinged with sadness and blunted by exhaustion – but awesome nonetheless.

After breakfast I went straight to my first talk of the day, which was Advanced Food Photography with Susan V. This ended up being my favorite talk of the whole conference!


Susan is entirely self taught, humble and humorous and totally knowledgeable. Her presentation was thorough and beautifully prepared, and there was such a breadth of knowledge that everyone from the photo novice to the more adept photographers could take something away from it. We learned about camera settings and functions, how to properly light a shot, tips and tricks for richer, more “real” pictures, the importance of props and scenery, and also post-processing tools. It was amazing – thank you Susan!


The next session I attended was a group discussion led by Ryan Patey of T.O.F.U. Magazine, entitled Biting Off More Than You Should Chew. Ryan encouraged lots of back and forth, as we explored the issues that can come up inside, and parallel to, our community. From the class description: “Veganism is not perfect. This is no surprise to some, but to many it’s a reason to attack. Racism, fat shaming, and other forms of oppression are often used in defense of the voiceless, in turn harming other important movements. This discussion aims to illustrate some of these issues and foster conversation on how they can be addressed.”


Overall, it was a really excellent session and I hope that the next VVC will feature more of these roundtable-style discussions where everyone can get involved. I know I keep saying this, but this session needed to be longer!

Afterwards we had lunch, a smorgasbord of awesome that was made even better by the delightful company. For my final VVC meal, I got to eat with some of my very favorite people!


Ginny Messina, The Vegan RD (one of my online heroes!), me, the fabulous JL, and of course, miss Gena. As a somewhat unrelated aside (I guess it’s related since we’re eating lunch here), a few days ago JL posted a blog where she reflected on some of the language she heard around food during VVC. I noticed a lot of the same sort of stuff that she did, and I’m so thankful to her for being brave enough to say it. Great discussion in the comments as well. I hope you’ll give it a read.


Bianca, Dawn, and Joni dish about living with omnis.

The last panel that I attended was Interdietary Cohabitation, a discussion of the issues that arise when vegans live with non-vegans. It’s not an issue that I face, but I know a lot of my blog readers, as well as most of my coaching clients, are in this situation. So I hope to learn as much as I can about the experience.

It was a great panel with lots of fantastic insight, and led to another awesome discussion in the question-and-answer period at the end. So many great minds at VVC!

Then the panel was over.

Then the conference was over.

Just like that, it was all over.


Our fearless leaders, Michele, Janessa, and Jess, say goodbye.

It was late afternoon and I was exhausted, still sick, socially overstimulated, and completely in bliss. What an amazing event. WHAT AN AMAZING EVENT!

My dear friend Jo picked me up from the museum, and we spent the evening together, tooling around Portland and catching up. We hit the mini mall so I could grab some soy curls at Food Fight! (dudes, they don’t have soy curls in SoCal, wtf???)


Aww Food Fight, I missed you!


Baby Maebeline enjoys the new Vegan Gourmet Shreds.

And of course, since we were at the mall already, we had to pop next door and say hi to Herbivore.


Josh and Michelle were both there, and Remy too, and man, I miss that place! We took some silly pictures with the glasses that get left behind in the store, and it was sort of just like old times again.

Can you tell that this is the nostalgic portion of our recap? *sigh*


Jo, Maebe, and I had dinner at Canteen – the last place on my Portland “must eat” list. You’d think something like a simple bowl wouldn’t be a main draw in a town so full of amazing vegan options. But, you’d only think that if you’d never tasted the epic deliciousness that is The Portland Bowl. I was a very happy lady:


After dinner Jo dropped me off back at the house. I packed my bags, bade farewell to my housemates, and hit the sack early. I had a 5:30 am wakeup call!

I was feeling pretty blue when I flew out of Portland the next morning. That city may be rainy as hell, but it still holds some of my very favorite people and some of my very best memories.

And some of my worst. It’s bittersweet to visit a place like that, but after something as special as VVC, after so much connection and reconnection and inspiration and just plain fun, well, it was more sweet than bitter to be there and I was sad to go.

But . . . then I stepped off that teeny tiny plane, onto the tarmac in Santa Barbara. And the sun was bright and warm and perfect, and there were palm trees on the horizon, and my baby boy was waiting for me . . .

photo (40)photo (41)

. . . and yeah, it was good to be home!


catch Part I here

and Part II here

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  • Rachel in Veganland

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and JL’s article, Sayward! It’s always uplifting to see the ways in which you engage multiple issues such as foo and body image so regularly on your blog!

  • Nicole

    Awww, what a lovely end to a wonderful weekend. I was there too! But sadly, I didn’t have the courage to come up and introduce myself. I think Susan’s photography talk was one of my favourites too. Actually, you can see the back of my head in your photo! I’m the one with the short brown hair in the second row. Hehe!

  • Dreena Burton

    Darn, I wished I had seen Susan’s session, pretty sure I was in another at that time. Can’t remember, all a blur! I’m missing the energy and activities already, that pic of Jess in the ballroom looks entirely too bare! :( Hopefully the next VVC will be 2014, not 15! hugs!

  • April

    Sounds like you had such an amazing experience connecting with so many other vegan bloggers. I’m totally sad-facing that Grand Rapids doesn’t host cool events like this!!! Hope you kick your germies soon – we’re just getting over a similar bout of illness in our household. When 1 of us gets sick, all 6 of us get sick…

  • Amey Mathews

    great post! I also really loved Susan’s photography presentation. I learned so much!!! It’s always such a bittersweet thing to visit a place where you once lived. So many complicated feelings and memories butting up against the present moment!

  • Rebecca

    As your conference is ending an herbal weekend in MA is just set to begin! (I have wanted to attend this for at least 2 years already!! Glad I’m finally back East).

    A request to you, Sayward: I know not everyone reads through all the comments, so it is possible to include a shout out to those attending Herbstalk in Somerville, MA this weekend? I would love to meet up with other Bonzai readers if any are attending! Maybe those attending could connect somehow.

    P.S. I seriously started flight-hunting for flights to Portland after your post! Unfortunately they were…I kid you not…almost $1000!!!! Whaaa??

    P.P.S. Ever since I got a new computer, it always says your website is in German and would I like to translate it. Makes me chuckle every time.

  • Rebecca

    Whoops..meant have been forward to it for a year! Loong night (a lecture by T. Colin Campbell!)

  • skeptk_vegan

    So wonderful! So many great topics! Living with omnis is particularly interesting, I have heard so many stories of vegan/vegetarian failures due to living with a meat loving man or otherwise. Is VVC something that anyone can go to?

  • lysette

    I love the color palate of your photo’s. Sunsets and rises.

    Thanks for the link to JL’s post. In a few weeks I’ll be spending my summer living with 50 other artists where our meals are prepared for us, which I’ve done for the last 10 years. I encounter the same body issue conversations swirling around each meal, usually I’m the only vegan and people look over at what I’m eating and groan they wish they were eating that instead of –fill in the blank–. JL’s conversation helps me reflect on the issue before being immersed in it.

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  • veganinbrighton

    That Portland bowl was one of my favourite Portland things! I loved it! I’m with you on the sadness of leaving the con & heading for home, but, like you, I was so excited once I arrived! There was no sun (or palm trees!!) but my husband and kitty were waiting for me and I also really, really love the city I live in which makes coming home a whole lot easier!

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