Vida Vegan Con 2013: A Love Letter

Vida Vegan Con 2013Summer camp isn’t something you usually get to experience after the age of ten.  The instant friendships, gabbing over mutual obsessions, laughing until there are tears welling in your eyes…  Mixed with days of classes on the very things that light a fire in your heart and mind…  Followed by nights of staying up late, singing karaoke, sharing stories, and then starting it all over again at the dawn’s early light.  And yet, last week, well past the age of ten, I relived those summer camp days at Vida Vegan Con.

Vida Vegan Con, as I’ve talked about here before and you’ve no doubt seen scattered all across the vegan blogosphere for the past week, is a conference for vegan bloggers.  A niche within a niche, it’s amazing that hundreds of people across the globe want to travel to Portland to immerse themselves in the vegan food mecca to connect with bloggers they’ve only known virtually, to meet the cookbook authors who have inspired them in their kitchens, and to make instant friendships that feel somehow old.

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Being at a conference with other likeminded people whose compassion for animals has led them to similar places made the world feel very small. The smiles, the waves, the feeling of community made my heart swell.

It made me think about how cookbook authors are like musicians in many ways.  Just as a song that you hear at a particular period of your life can resonate very deeply and become a part of your own story, a recipe fills an intimate part of our lives.  Whether it’s the cranberry sauce that you make every Thanksgiving, or your favorite chocolate chip cookies that are your fail-proof go-to for any event, whether it’s the well worn cookbooks that guided you in your early days of veganism when you didn’t know tempeh from Tempe, or the meals that made small town living taste exotic.  These recipes and cookbooks fill cherished parts of our lives – from quiet dinners with a spouse or partner to yearly holiday traditions that become a part of one’s own family history.

Cadry & IsaWhen we share our own recipes, it’s sharing a personal part of our families too – the foods we eat, the things we like, the ways we fuel those we love the most in the world…  Sharing recipes is something that has been done since the beginning of human history.  In some ways, it’s the way that we describe our very particular worlds – what’s in season, what are our preferences, what is growing in our own towns.  Food gives a glimpse into our own lives.

Meeting other bloggers and cookbook authors, who share these things in these same ways, many of whom I already knew the names of their cats or dogs or favorite travel destinations, was really special.  There’s something very validating about shared connections.  We are from all over the globe, but we have these values in common.

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As much as I enjoyed the classes and will take away so many useful ways to improve my own work, the biggest take away was this – we are all more alike than we are different, and while our ways of connecting in this century are very different from the ways of our ancestors, it doesn’t make it any less moving.

Best of all, nothing feels as good as laughing until it hurts.

A huge thank you to Jess, Janessa, and Michele for organizing Vida Vegan Con.  You should be very proud of yourselves and what you’ve created.


    • says

      Absolutely! Some people even had campfires at White Owl with s’mores and everything! Like you, I’d love to re-live it all over again!

  1. acookinthemaking says

    What a great post! Your description of how food is part of our family’s history and gives a glimpse into our own lives is so spot-on. Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words why it is that I take pictures of my food and write about it online. You nailed it!

  2. says

    I’ve been reading a lot of VVC posts of late, and it just makes me really wish I’d gone, both for the food and the lovely people. Next year!

    • says

      Yes! I hope you can make the next one. There were some other folks from across the pond, and so you’d be in good company! It would be great to meet you in person at last. :)

  3. says

    Aww, what a wonderful tribute to VVC! I was getting a little teary eyed while reading it because you just captured the essence beautifully. My only regret is not having met more people. Next time I will make a better effort to overcome my shyness to initiate more conversations!

    • says

      That is so sweet that this post touched you! That makes me really happy. It was such a special weekend and rejuvenating in the best possible sense, even though it took a few days to catch up on sleep deprivation!

      I think it would be great if there was some kind of orchestrated get-to-know-you session, where people are in small groups, introduce themselves, answer some questions… I know that stuff can be kind of cheesy, but it also can be really helpful for those of us who aren’t as inclined to go up and introduce ourselves to others. Plus, there were lots of people at VVC who I wanted to meet but simply didn’t recognize or didn’t see. If you hadn’t come up to me at the end of my session, I may not have ever run into you, and that would have been a shame!

  4. says

    I’m thrilled we finally got to meet. I love how you describe the connection that comes from sharing recipes. It is so true! I feel so lucky to have friends who make my life more delicious everyday.


    • says

      I’m thrilled we finally got to meet too! Meeting you was something I was really looking forward to about VVC. If I would have known I was going to get an early Lisa & Nicole sighting at Herbivore, I would have been even more excited about going to the vegan mini mall! :)


  5. says

    You have a way with words.. and so true. the connection with like-minded people is instantaneous. i can only hope i can make it one of the vvcs:)

    • says

      I hope you can make the next one too! It would be delightful to meet you. Plus, it’s cool to see the way that a person’s personality and traits translate from their blogs to their real life selves. The same things that you enjoy about them online come to life in front of you!

    • says

      Absolutely! It was such a great time. It’s going to be hard for anything else this summer to compete, and it’s only just the beginning of June!

  6. says

    Aw man! I love this post, too! It was terrific meeting you, experiencing the writing workshop (oh boy), and having a great time. You and your husband are rad people, and I hope that you never forget that! Although, you do live in Iowa. What the hell? 😉

    • says

      It was so fabulous meeting you too! It was such a treat getting to spend gobs of time with you after being a fan of your blog for a long time now. About Iowa… I totally understand your confusion, but honestly, no one is more perplexed by it than me. 😉

  7. says

    It was so good to meet you! Your writing is so beautiful and what you say here is so true. I have friends that aren’t bloggers and they don’t understand how you can be intimate friends with someone online and that you’ve never met before. Can’t wait till the next one!

    • says

      Yes, it was just lovely getting to meet you, Christy! It’s kind of magical to see that those relationships we’ve built in the online ether do translate in real, person-to-person scenarios. I guess there’s a reason why we gravitate to the blogs we do! At their essence, we just like each other! :)

    • says

      Oh, I hope you do make it a point to go! I missed the first one, and after experiencing the second one, it only makes me more sad that I wasn’t able to go the first time around. I know it can take finagling to make it happen, but it’s really worth it!

  8. says

    Love the comparison to camp and am now even more jealous than I was before, which was a LOT! I’d love to go to VVC as well as Portland, combining the two is like the ultimate to me. Hopefully with VVC coming to closer east I can make it next year.

    Great recap, I love all the photos! You met so many of my favorite bloggers.

    • says

      Portland is a very cool city! The conference and seeing friends and family in the area kept us pretty busy. I feel like I need another trip back to really experience it!

      I’m hoping they’ll choose a city that is further east as well for the next VVC. Chicago has been mentioned, which would be very convenient.

      I hope I’ll see you at the next one!

  9. says

    After reading this and Vegan in Brighton’s post about VVC, I am definitely going next year! It looks like so much fun. Jojo talked about an iphone photography class she took there. I love that! What was your favorite class?

    • says

      Excellent! It was a great time, and it would be lovely to meet you!

      I missed the iPhone photography class, but I’ve heard great things about it! I had a different class with Isa, which was a writing workshop, and it was definitely one of my favorites of the weekend. We did several free writing exercises and shared them with the group. She had some juicy prompts to get us started and then gave us advice on our process and work. I would love for more classes like that at the next one! It was very interactive, and I enjoyed hearing everyone’s work from their own mouths.

      Susan Voisin from Fatfree Vegan did a very helpful session on photography. Amey from Vegan Eats & Treats, Kittee from Cake Maker to the Stars, and Joanna Vaught did an entertaining and inspiring session on zine making.

      Other favorites from the weekend would include a food styling class with Hannah Kaminsky and cookbook author sessions with Terry Hope Romero, Dreena Burton, Nava Atlas, Julie Hasson, Bianca Phillips, and Joni Marie Newman.

  10. says

    I know I’ve said it before, but hanging out with you and David was definitely one of the best parts of the trip for both Chris and I. And I couldn’t agree with you more- It is so good for the soul to be surrounded by like-minded people with the same sense of purpose. Such a great weekend. :-)

    • says

      David and I feel the same way! Spending time with you both was one of the absolute best highlights of the trip! I knew VVC & the Portland trip would be a lot of fun, but I really couldn’t have imagined how great it would be! :)


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