A good friend of mine sings a sweet, alt-country cover of the über-80′s Wall Of Voodoo jam, Lost Weekend (a spectacular song in it’s own right). It’s super catchy, which is why I’ve used a lyric to title this series – even though the original song is rather forlorn. Quite the opposite of my weekends these days, but never mind that. It’s a great title and really, aren’t they all? Lost, but never forgotten.
This May, SoCal saw not one, but TWO all-vegan, all-awesome festivals in a single spectacular weekend of cruelty-free and eco-friendly celebratory glory! And I think it’s official: LA is giving Portland, New York, and SF a run for their “Best Vegan City” money. Bring it.
And if this weekend wasn’t wonderful enough all on it’s own, for me it was EXTRA special because, well, LA Vegan Beer Fest is where I met Jeremy for the first time, last year. ♥ ♥ ♥
And now, one whole wild year later, this is how we spent our anniversary weekend:
Saturday morning meant a road trip to LA. We always make a giant fresh-pressed juice before a weekend away, to clean out the crisper and use up all the veggies. This one, pre-beer fest, centered around beets. Because liver.
A gorgeous drive down the California coast, a quick pit stop for a couple iced coffees to fuel the fun, and we were ready to take on the 5th annual LA Vegan Beer & Food Festival!
Gosh, how to even describe Vegan Beer Fest?
It’s like, one day of pure unabashed and unadulterated awesome. Vegans – the happiest vegans! – everywhere, all around. So many friendly and familiar (and even famous) faces. Good music – live and turned up loud. PERFECT WEATHER. Incredible food, soooo much food, from raw kale salad, to gourmet Mexican, to mac ‘n cheese + ribz turned into a grilled cheese sandwich. And of course, beer. All the beer.
I can’t say enough about the Los Angeles Vegan Beer Fest. It is seriously the best day of the year (if it’s a year in which I didn’t get married or have a kid).
Beer Fest is, of course, about beer. And great food, and really great music. But most of all it’s about community. I ran into SO MANY long-lost vegan pals, and I got to meet Bonzai readers which is always so special, and I made new friends, too. Lots of new friends!
And that’s one of my favorite things about the vegan community in general – the accessibility and the inclusiveness. For the most part we are all just so incredibly stoked to be involved in something so meaningful. And there’s very little social hierarchy that I experience, so that you can go to an event like this, and hey! that person is totally on TV but they’re just chumming it up with everyone else. And ohmigosh! That’s so-and-so from my favorite podcast, or whatsherface from that seminar I saw, or that wicked sharp writer who just released a top-selling book. Or, maybe it’s someone you don’t recognize at all – someone who just looks super freakin’ cool. And you can just walk up and say hi, no matter who they are, because they’re probably approachable, and they probably just want to geek out over the food, and chat about activism.
And finally, of course, this whole thing was also an anniversary!
One year. One year earlier, I’d spent the entire trip down to LA telling my girlfriend Kate about how I just didn’t believe in longterm romance. And how I really didn’t think that my “match” existed, because that person would have to be X but also Y, and strangely Z, and also this impossibly long collection of other odd, often seemingly contradictory letters and variables.
I had no idea that I was describing the man I’d meet only hours later, who turned out to be all those things and so much more. Jeremy and I bumped into each other around 3:30, at that very spot at Beer Fest, and we were stuck like glue until after midnight. And we’ve continued to stick, ever since. He is everything I never thought existed, and who could have imagined that one year later we would be here, living this beautiful life together?
Beer Fest wraps up early, around 5:30-6. And after saying a million goodbyes, Jeremy and I decided to retrace our steps from our first night together, a year ago. Which meant: dinner at Bulan down on Melrose Ave!
Bulan is a hole-in-the-wall all-vegetarian Thai joint, and it’s awesome. And after dinner, we grabbed a night cap at the same bar as last year, just a little bit farther down Melrose.
But of course, this year, instead of escorting Kate and I safely to our hotel, Jeremy took my hand and walked me back to the little room we’d rented, right in the heart of Hollywood. Together.
It was a really, really great day.
On Sunday we enjoyed a lazy morning lounging around. We knew we wanted to hit World Fest – an annual LA event that bills itself as basically “vegan Earth Day” – but we weren’t necessarily in any rush. So, we decided to take a bit of a stroll, to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.
Holy moly, I had no idea the Hollywood FarMar was so amazing! There was tons of produce, but also prepared foods (for like, blocks!) and clothing and wares, and flowers, and coffee and juice, and music . . . it was more like a bazaar than a FarMar. It was great! And while we were there, we finally got to sample Nary Dairy vegan cheese (good but very similar to the cashew cheeses I make at home) and No Moo “wise cream” (which was delish!). We also grabbed breakfast:
So, we didn’t actually take a ton of pictures at World Fest, whoopsie! Well actually that’s not entirely true, we did take pics but they’re mostly of us holding food, not of the actual surroundings, and I’m sure you’re pretty tired of looking at my mug by now. Just a few to get an idea of the event?
This was the first World Fest I’d been to, and word on the street is attendance was low due to the double-booked weekend with Beer Fest the day before. But World Fest is a totally different vibe, focused on the environment, on education, on family-friendly activities and lots of brands and booths selling goods and sharing information. There were multiple stages and lots of live music, plus guest speakers and demos.
Overall, World Fest was a really cool mix of art, fashion, health, and activism. I hope that next year it’s staggered more from Beer Fest (though it did make for a fun and eventful weekend!) and I’ll definitely bring along the wee Waits Rebhal next time.
Jeremy and I took off in the early afternoon, giant bag of V-Dog + refreshing snow cone in tow. We were home by late afternoon, and spent a balmy and relaxing evening playing cards outside while grilling up veggies and buffalo tempeh wingz.
Again, gosh, a really, really great day.
But I seem to have had a lot of those, this past year …