Vida Vegan Con III Day Four: Phenomenal Speakers, Funtastic Drinks, and Final Farewells

The final day of the conference, proper, was such a bittersweet affair. Truth be told, this weekend has been such a whirlwind of activity and excitement it's been difficult for the meaning behind festivities to truly sink in. My thoughts have been consumed with taking photos, ooh-ing over the lunch spreads, and reminding myself to track certain people down for hugs and introductions - all of which only makes me wish the conference lasted longer.

Our last day began with a similar breakfast spread, yet today we also had tofu scrambles and hash browns! Just looking at Heidi Ho Organics' Ne Chèvre spread is making my mouth water… I could eat this stuff every day.

We were treated by Capital City Bakery iced sugar cookies between talks - yum!

The lunch spread was the best one yet. I believe I could have easily taken on this entire vat of mac & cheese by myself, it was that GOOD!

Miss Heidi Ho herself posing by her fantabulous nacho cheese!

The best thing about the food offered at the conference is that it is all worry-free. Not only is it all guaranteed vegan, but all dishes are clearly marked with allergens (gluten, soy, nuts), so that absolutely everyone can personalize their meal.

The final day was accompanied by some panic to meet and hug all the bloggers and attendees possible before THE END. So glad I got to meet The Food Duo!

Ted (@wokwildside) and Allison of the Miami Seed Food and Wine festival!

Jackie of Vegan Yack Attack! Not only does she put on a super-informative presentation, her food photography is unparalleled. Check out her guest post from Vegan MoFo 2013 for an incredible Apple Cinnamon Sundae!

Cadry of Cadry's Kitchen! So rad to meet people face-to-face after years of admiring their work.

Amey and her mama, Cynthia, of Vegan Eats & Treats! This woman is so dynamic, relentlessly compassionate, and extraordinarily creative. Cannot speak highly of her enough. Going to miss Amey so much!

Blogger inception! Vegan Noms meets Vegan Nom Noms! Nicole traveled all the way from Berlin to enjoy the conference. Connecting through Instagram, we kept missing each other - that is, until this fateful moment. 

Erika of Sews Before Bros! Another triple-VVC attendee and fellow #doxiemama, this lady just melts my heart!

Chemese of The Chemese Project and Monique of Brown Vegan! These ladies are so warm and their smiles brightened up each and every morning of the conference.

The final farewell address had everyone's heads swimming with nostalgia and eyes welling up with tears. The organizers (Janessa, Jess, and Michele) have worked tirelessly for each and every conference. There are no words to fully express my gratitude for the work they have done. Even as I type this I'm getting misty about how all of the connections, fangirl moments, life-changing experiences, and life-long friendships I have gained from each VVC would never have happened if it weren't for them. And I am eternally grateful.

The after party took place at Cheer Up Charlies, a bright and down-to-Earth bar with creative drinks and an open and inviting outdoor space. AND food trucks! We simply could not turn down another opportunity to partake in Arlo's bac'n cheeseburger and tots…

Here the Red Hot Vegans also presented prizes to the winners of the Red Hot Vegan Scavenger Hunt, which took place during the weekend of the conference!

Kale gingeritas, watermelon coolers, and a "vegan yeti" White Russian… stellar!

Here we have a behind the scenes look at vegan food photography with Jean of Sunshine and Slaughter and Brit (@insta_brit)!

After slammin' some kickass grub and drinks, we Uber'd our way to Sweet Ritual - an all-vegan ice cream parlor - before they closed for the night. Here you see the "Faux Butterfinger" shake… mind-blowing! With seemingly endless flavor combinations, Sweet Ritual is a must-visit for any Austin traveler.

The coolest part about this late-night trip was that our Uber driver came in with us and enjoyed some vegan frozen treats himself! We had an awesome conversation about transitioning to a more plant-based diet: concerns about how to substitute animal products, where to find top notch vegan specialty products, and how to introduce vegan meals to his family one day a week. This exchange may have even overshadowed the milkshake in awesomeness because how often does one get to have impromptu real talk with someone interested in veganism? So: Adam, if you're reading this, I wish you the best of luck with your journey! Google will be your best friend to find endless articles, recipes, and answers to any questions you have. Keep in touch!

After some more hangouts back at Cheer Up Charlies, it was time to hit the hay. My mind wrestles between pangs of sadness that the final VVC has come to its conclusion and immense gratitude to have been a part of such an incredible movement.

I do not believe that the VVC train has reached its final destination, however. The vegan community is too strong. Vegan bloggers, entrepreneurs, and artists are too talented and motivated to lose any momentum. The future is VEGAN.

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