Vida Vega Con 2013: The People

Hope you’re enjoying the recaps so far! Thought I’d take a break from the day to day to focus on the amazing vegans I met and with whom I reconnected during the conference. There are many reasons the experience filled my heart with happiness and appreciation, but the shared consciousness between these folks surely takes the cake. Have you ever met someone and instantly felt connected? With these people there already exists a foundation, a shared understanding of the most fulfilling way to live and care for the other beings on our planet. I’ve never experienced anything else like it. So, let me introduce you to these fabulous veg-heads!

The night of the Galarama, as I had mentioned in the previous post, was filled with wine-sipping and mingling (I understand there was some dancing going on, too? Too busy sipping and mingling over here.). Here I got to spend the most time learning about my new comrades and soaking in the full effect of the reason we all were there.

Erika of Sews Before Bros is a beautiful soul I had the fortune of meeting during the 2011 conference, briefly, when she returned my dropped debit card! We stay connected through social media since then and I have had many a “hell yes” moment in response to her socially conscious articles and comments. Plus, she’s a total goof! Check out her page to see her tipsy champagne-bottle photo bombs.

Jill of Vegan Cuts is a total sweetheart. Joining us on some of our adventures, she was a great companion. And, I mean, has anyone out there not subscribed to Vegan Cuts? It has taken off and become a treasure of vegan goods!

Heidi from Heidi Ho Organics is an energetic and inviting presence. You can tell she is down to Earth - this must be a common thing for vegans!

Taylor of Hot Piece of Class (return to blogging, my dear!) is a warm and fun-loving vegan with whom I was excited to reconnect this year. Following last conference’s miles-long, late night trek home from the Galarama in our fancy dresses, I knew there were more adventures to come! Also, a partner in gluten-free dining!

Bianca of Vegan Crunk was a fabulous partner in crime during both conferences! Not fearing sideways looks when I talk about mass consumption of adult beverages or dealing with the food-baby aftermath of an evening junk food binge in town, I could really be myself around Miss Crunk. Fun-loving vegans, ftw!

Rebecca (second from right) is an amazingly warm soul I met during the last conference, as well - totally laid back and oh so sweet. During both Con’s I was lucky enough to embark on some late night adventures with her, also. She, Taylor, and Katilin (left) - a new vegan buddy! - proved to be spectacular companions for each night’s shenanigans.

Kathy is a local Portlander, whom I met last year, and has always graced social media with gorgeous pictures of local vegan meals as well as fabulous articles and tips on healthy and sustainable living. It was a dream to meet up with her again.

While mingling I was introduced to Kedar of Beyond Meat and local vegan Amy, enjoying the festivities. What I truly loved about all events during the conference is that you could strike up a conversation with someone new and have many different levels on which to connect with them. Our discussion of the expansion of vegan options in food chains and promoting small town veg communities warmed my heart.

Dan of The Gay Vegans was truly a treat to get to know. One of those folks that you feel you’ve known for decades! His inviting presence and comforting hugs made my affection for him grow as the weekend wore on. Truly a wonderful new friend - whom I miss very much!

Dill and Nick - my house hosts! These two are the most generous people I believe I have ever met. Opening up their home to multiple conference-goers is only the first on a long list of actions they have taken as PDX locals to foster connections between compassionate folk. I cannot express enough gratitude for this wonderful couple for making my trip hassle-free and filled with a sense of fun and belonging. :D

Meet The Intrepid Herbivores! Sadie and Joe with their buddy Matt attended the Gala a few nights after their screening of the show’s pilot episode. Having had a chance to chat with them both nights, I sensed adventurousness and kindness in what they’ve done. I wish them all luck in their ventures and hope we will meet again! Also - save me some kale.

Jared of The Laughing Vegan is a bright, bubbly, and incredibly awe-some dude and an old friend from 2011. Spending time with him this year was a dream - especially when gushing over the meals we had when we weren’t together and stuffing our faces. He makes my heart smile!

Anika is a sweetie whom I met in 2011 (and who graciously drove some of our tired asses home one night!) and was happy to see attending again this year.

Feeling like a total nerd approaching one of her favorite celebrities, I introduced myself to Angela of Oh She Glows... and she already knew my effing blog! SQUEE. I have been following OSG for years now - mesmerizing photography and back-to-basic healthy dishes - and never thought I would have the chance to meet her! Soft-spoken and astoundingly sweet, she proved to be a lovely Gala companion. SQUEE AGAIN.

Staci, a local Portlander (jealous!), was an inviting and warm attendee and an instant buddy. Wish we had spent more time together!

Amey, of Vegan Eats and Treats, and her lovely mother Cynthia are just so damn incredible. Amey is another one of those people I met with whom there was this another-level connection. She is so deeply caring, it makes my heart sing. And after meeting her mama, I can see why! Until next time, sweet Amey!

Demetrius, of the famed Vegucated documentary (don’t tell me you haven’t seen it!), was a pleasure to keep in touch with between conferences. Glad I ran into him again!

Chef Amber Shea and her husband, Matt, were tons of fun - always making suggestions for exploring Portland beyond the usual food tours. (Goth bars, anyone?? YES.) Amber is especially close to my heart with her candid expressions of her own health struggles on her blog. Very warm heart-feelings for these two!

The beautiful, dedicated, and supportive Gena of Choosing Raw once more! Wish there were more time to spend with her. 

Jean of Sunshine and Slaughter was an instant new friend during the weekend and provided many laughs. A very warm heart... Miss her much!

This is one of my few photos with Dawn of Vegan Moxie and Helen of Vegtastic! Having created a close bond with Dawn during the first VVC, I knew that her comrade Helen would be an awesome person to get to know - and I was right! Another soul whom I must have known and loved in a previous life, Dawn has stayed a close companion and a reason to try and fit in a trip to Seattle soon. :)

After the last day of official festivities and panels, we met in our main room at the museum for a goodbye speech from the organizers. Here I took the chance to say hello to/take photos with some of the attendees whom I hadn’t been able to spend much time with.

For example, Joni of Just The Food and numerous popular vegan cookbooks is always a hoot to hang with and enthralling to hear on a panel. A down-to-Earth and genuine gal all around.

John of The Laziest Vegans in the World has been on my blogroll for ages and we’ve corresponded about our favorite vegan convenience items for just as long - yet, we missed each other at the first VVC! It was great to finally meet the man behind the blog. (Rudi’s, ftw!)

Kelly of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur is a sweetheart whose projects I have followed for some time (she has a visually stunning blog!) - glad to have had the chance to meet her.

Christy of The Blissful Chef is a wonderfully dedicated blogger, focusing on maximizing health and the presence of plant-based lifestyles in the fitness community. Having shared brief, although meaningful discussions about the future of such topics in the lunch line, I hope to continue our correspondence in the future.

Laura Beck of Vegansaurus and Jezebel writer fame! Being a fearless voice for oppressed groups everywhere, this woman has surely been an inspiration.

None other than Isa of Post Punk Kitchen and many a top-selling cookbook! Funny, witty, and sweet - VVC wouldn’t be what it is without her.

Sweet Janessa, one of the tireless organizers behind the event, still had steam during the last hurrah! She and Jess and Michele have shown how much dedication to a lifestyle of compassion can achieve through two successful VVC’s...

Ashleen of Daiya joined the conference to connect with the vegan blogger community and was as sweet as can be. Clearly having much passion for the work she does for one of the best vegan cheese companies out there, it was refreshing to chat with her throughout the weekend. I hope she continues to attend the events ahead!

Ty of Cameraphone Vegan, and another Seattle native, was an addition to a growing list of new vegan friends. Enjoying the delicious food touring as much as I did and sending me a recipe for vegan cottage cheese (whaaaat?!) only begins to describe my appreciation for her.

Not expecting to run into famed authors/bloggers Nava Atlas of Veg Kitchen and Fran Costigan at Veggie Grill during my last day - I was quite surprised! Also, the lovely local Amey, who continually proved her generosity and obvious appreciation of her town.

My last few hours in PDX were accompanied by Lydia and Mauro of From A to Vegan. These two gave me wonderful company, laughs and smiles-a-plenty, and stimulating conversations about the future topics of the conference. Truly beautiful people, through and through - so glad to have them only be a few hours away from home.

As I hauled my luggage to my gate in PDX airport, imagine my surprise to again run into Bridget of The Road Not Processed. Not only were we booked on the same flight - we were seated right next to each other! Having two very distanced final destinations, this was a shocker, but a very pleasant surprise. Sharing some recaps of our favorite events and how we planned to adjust to life back home, this was an unexpectedly heartwarming way to end my trip.

All in all, my expectations were exceeded from the trip regarding the wonderful people I hoped to meet - even after having had an incredible experience meeting new friends in 2011. I can only imagine what the next conference will bring when my heart has been stretched to accommodate the loving and appreciative feelings I have toward the folks whom I encountered this May. I am incredibly blessed.

VVC: There is truly nothing like it.

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