Vida Vegan Con '11 - Day One

That's right, folks, the Disneyland for vegans (Portland, OR) hosted the first Vida Vegan Conference last week and I feel very honored to say I was among the group of bloggers and friends who attended. I was practically bouncing in my seat as my plane started to descend over the mountainous terrain surrounding the metropolitan vegan mecca. After almost 8 hours of flying/airport hopping I was ready to get my vacation started! I was among many taking pictures of the incredible angle of Mt. Hood as we approached...

If you don't know me well, let me clue you in on somethin': I am Type A/OCD to the core. In the weeks before my trip I made sure to circle the VVC Facebook like a hawk and swooped in on every link posted and t-shirt opportunity presented. When the lovely and tireless organizers posted the schedule of the workshops, I took at least an hour and decided which ones I would attend and then programmed them into my iPhone calendar. I researched restaurants and must-see spots for hours and made rudimentary itineraries for each of the days I would be in town.

I take this shit seriously!

But where to dine FIRST? I had a very hard time choosing between restaurants fairly close to the hotel/on the way from the airport and narrowed it down to DC Vegetarian, Homegrown Smoker, and Native Bowl. The first two carts offer more sinful fare in the form of huge sloppy-creamy sammiches and down-home BBQ, mac, and greens. I decided that if I wanted to be able to wobble around the city for the rest of the afternoon I should probably search for something a little lighter, yet just as satisfying...

Enter Native Bowl, a hip little cart in the NE region of the city, owned by the lovely Julie Hasson. My stomach rumbled impatiently as I sat on the MAX and soaked up the sights of the city. I definitely made the right choice. Pictured here is the Mississippi Bowl and a vanilla rooibos tea.

How is it that I managed to consume my favorite meal of the entire trip in my first few hours? This perfectly portioned bowl from top to bottom included: jasmine rice, peppercorn ranch, BBQ sauce, the best BBQ soy curls, a tangy slaw, and scallions. I must've been a sight during my lunch - I practically inhaled this bowl! And I kid not when I say that I have been daydreaming about it ever since.

Having an insatiable sweet tooth, I knew that if I put off the mandatory visit to Voodoo Doughnuts (vegan yeasted, baby!), I would not be able to forgive myself in my lifetime. Arriving at 1:30 or so in the afternoon, there was still a line with a wait of 15 minutes wrapped around the store. Even in the heat of the glaring sun I stood for my first doughnut confection in over three years. The shop sells a wide selection of doughnuts with a few shelves in their spinning case dedicated just to their vegan selections.

I simply HAD to have a classic glazed, although the maple creme bar and Oreo creme glazed were flirty little bitches and I had to have them, too. I ate all but the Oreo creme on a bench nearby and made noises reminiscent of those old Herbal Essences commercials with not a care. These were fantabulous and I'm working on a pitch to have them consider opening up a shop in AK-rowdy. Suggestions?

After my sugar coma set in, I fetched a pint at the bar across the street and sat in the shade, watching the city speed by. It was so serene watching hipsters and families of four walk by, seeing 2 bikes for every car, and making wild guesses at how much the rent in the lofts across the street might cost... the magic was really setting in!

As 3:00 approached I made my way back to the bus line so that I could check into the hotel. After a nice, cleansing shower and micronap I prepared myself for the Meet & Greet at Vendetta, where all of the VVC registrants and their partners/friends who were in town early gathered before the Vegucated premiere.

At the bus stop I met up with a small group of other eager bloggers and made my first connections of the con. Some lovely ladies, indeed! After a few rather strong (and cheap!) cocktails and nervous, flitting stares at my favorite bloggers and authors we headed down to the Curious Comedy Theatre to enjoy the show.

Vegucated is a documentary-style film following around 3 New Yorkers who decide to go vegan for 6 weeks with the guidance of the film's creator, Marisa. The film was done incredibly well; the introduction was creative and funny, the participants were brave and genuine, their journey was heartbreaking and inspiring. I laughed, I cried, my heart swelled. I would recommend Vegucated for anyone who is vegan, vegetarian, veg-curious, omnivorous, or a die-hard carnivore. It can be guaranteed that anyone with a heart beating in their chest will walk away from the film with something personally valuable.

At the event was renowned vegan bodybuilder, Robert Cheeke, who was very energetic and approachable. P.S. Here's a sneak peak of him busting a move at the Galarama/Silent Auction, to-be-covered soon!

After the premiere a large group of bloggers headed over to the Sweet Hereafter all-vegan bar in the SE district. Since I had not eaten since my doughnuts (eek!) I decided to order the "Steve Martin", a sammy with jerk-seasoned tofu, pineapple slices, greens, and a delightful creamy-spicy sauce. My pic turned out badly because of the sultry ambiance of the dimly lit patio, however I'll let your imagination run wild.

Turning in after a spectacular first day in the city, I looked forward to my next adventures. Stay tuned for more sight-seeing and the ins and outs of VVC 2011!

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