Vida Vegan Con III Day Three: Talks, Tacos, and Treats!

Greetings! Today was the first official day of speakers and panels at VVCIII and I had my hot cup o'joe with Chicago Vegan Foods' Dandies handy! The organizers made sure that a full coffee and tea bar was available throughout the day so we could all stay stimulated for the awesome talks.

But first! Breakfast tacos and an "artisan" toast table with all sorts of Earth Balance spreads, PB, and Heido Ho Organics' "Ne Chèvre" cashew cheese (amazing!).

The taco table was chock-full of delectable fillings: chorizo, seitan bacon, beans, smokey tofu...

And all the fixin's! 

Accompanied by some house-made cashew yogurt and coconut-blueberry chia pudding (topped with granola and hemp seeds - hippie status!), this brekkie totally hit the spot.

Check the coffee bar! Four or five different kinds of vegan creamers and milks, a variety of sweeteners, and an impressive selection of gourmet teas.

The second best reason for going to VVC (the first, obvs, being meeting the other attendees and speakers!) is for the "Swag Bag of Wonder" - so many snacks, cruelty-free beauty products, coupons, and an entire 30-day supply of nutrimatix supplements! Always in awe of how well the VVC organizers take care of their attendees.

I attended the Blogging Etiquette and Social Media Essentials talk by Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack and learned a TON about what I'm doing wrong to market this blog'o'mine (and how to make it right!).

The Feminism and Veganism panel included Anika Lehde, Nicole Georges, and JoJo of Vegan in Brighton and was so refreshing, thoughtful, and humorous. Watching these strong vegan women take down PETA ads, encourage everyone to challenge the patriarchy, and charm us wit their wit was the highlight of my morning!

Eco Vegan Gal Whitney Lauritsen gave a lecture on How to Turn Your Blog Into a Full Time Career, jam-packed with quality info and questions to reflect on daily about our passions, our "ideal day," and how we can tune into our audiences.

During our break we got to chat with Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, which was a gigantic fangirl moment for me! Not only is Gene behind one of the most notable farm animal sanctuaries in the US, he is taking the mainstream world by storm to spread the good [vegan] word in ways that are accepting, approachable, and amicable. Have you seen his appearance on The Daily Show? So inspiring!

Another super-cool speaker was Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet - the food styling/photography guru herself - demoing how to make casseroles look as delish as they taste. If you haven't checked out her blog or her portfolio, you are doing yourself and your eyes a disservice.

By lunchtime we all needed some brain food. The spread had a bowl (or deconstructed bowl, rather) theme and included greens, grains, tempeh sausage, more seitan bacon, house-made coconut bacon, and some stellar ranch and tahini green goddess dressings. We also had panna cotta with pineapple and quinoa granola, what!

And don't forget break time snacks! Fruit and delightful chocolate oat cookies.

After the conference ended for the day, we hauled our swag bags back to our room and made our way over to Capital City Bakery just in time to hop in line for their 3rd Birthday Bash event. All-vegan, super-chic, and all kinds of adorbs, CCB is a must for any Austin visitor. Mother-truckin' cupcakes, cheesecake, brownies, cookies, kolaches, rice krispie treats, cinnamon rolls, as well as some savory items and a cafe. We rocked the peanut butter crunch, s'mores, confetti, and "short stack" blueberry with buttercream and a little maple syrup, as well as some of the BEST BROWNIES IN EXISTENCE and a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookie sammich with buttercream. *faints* Mind you, this will serve 2 people over the next 4 days… or maybe just until tomorrow.

Sweet Ritual (the all-vegan Austin ice cream parlor) was also in attendance, offering select flavors. We just had to try the "Death Metal by Chocolate": chocolate ice cream with CCB brownies and Oreos. To DIE for! Uptons Naturals were also there, serving some of their awesome tacos.

Having our dinner after dessert, we walked down to Counter Culture - a retro vegan diner with an eclectic spin on some of the typical diner fare. Nachos were just calling our names and were a fantastic appetizer. We split the mac & cheese (casserole style, with broccoli and breadcrumbs!) and the (gluten free) pizza special: fig sauce, vegan brie, apples, spinach, and caramelized onions. This meal was straight up fabs. Classic, savory, and complex flavors were just what we were looking for to punctuate our fantastic first day of the conference.

Tomorrow brings more speakers, more breakfast tacos, and a bittersweet send-off to attendees with ATX Vegan Drinks!

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