Vida Vegan Con is a vegan bloggers conference, during which vegans from all over the globe descend on a city. (The first two were held in Portland and the most recent one was in Austin.)
The conference is a place to reconnect with old friends, put a real life face to an online persona, and meet new people.
I knew from the VVC I attended in Portland in 2013 that the time would be fleeting and intense. It was going to slip through my fingers quickly. And so I had to let go, be present, and try to enjoy every moment as it came.
The best thing about the conference was getting to spend time with people who are inspired and excited by the same things as I am. There were eager and animated conversations about the best tofu scramble, the joys of Instagram, and which Austin food trucks were not to be missed.
Not only did the group consist of bloggers for the most part, which is a niche in and of itself, it was also vegan bloggers.
There was an understanding of why we were there and what pushes us to keep writing. It is easy and energizing to be with people who “get” you.
So often in my regular life, I watch loved ones geek out in discussions about the latest Marvel movies or obscure television shows. And this was my own vegan version.
The Meet & Greet
The Vida Vegan Con festivities started with a meet and greet at Buzzmill Coffee. The event was outdoors for the most part, and with the humidity, it felt like we were all wrapped up in a wet flannel blanket.
I kept seeing so many familiar faces, it was hard to continue with one conversation for long.
Golden Spike Rail Cart was there serving a limited menu. I got tofu tacos and egg rolls with two different flavors – buffalo and banh mi.
The next day was the bazaar at Marchesa Hall. The room was packed with vendors with lots of food samples, t-shirts, purses, and more.
I was finally able to meet Christy Robinson in person, who makes vegan-themed jewelry. I bought a piece from her for the first time 7 or 8 years ago, and over the years I’ve added many more to my collection. It was great to finally chat in real life.
(David and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary a few days ago, and he surprised me with a necklace he purchased from her while we were there.) I also picked up a couple of shirts (one from Meaningful Paws and a Vida Vegan Con t-shirt) and a round of Miyoko’s cheese.
There was a main hall, where speakers rotated throughout the day. I sat in on the talk of Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary, the Austin panel about how to build a vegan community in your town, and Terry Hope Romero’s talk on how she stays sane by not reading the comments.
(She said that she isn’t inspired to create more work by reading the negativity of other people. So on her blog, she has the comments turned off and she stays away from reviews on Amazon.)
Me & Dianne
And of course, there was the conference itself with classes aplenty. During every session, there were multiple classes from which to choose. More than once during the weekend, I wished that I could be in two places at once.
I made a point to see different speakers this time around from my first VVC to help narrow it down, but it meant missing out on some speakers who I had wholly enjoyed in the past.
Some class highlights included:
Jackie Sobon gave lots of useful information on making the most of social media in her class Blogging Etiquette & Social Media Essentials. Plus, she had all of her signature sass that makes Jackie so refreshing to be around.
Monique Koch’s class on Honesty in Your Online Presence was candid and welcoming. Monique has a palpable warmth, and she encouraged showing the parts of your life that aren’t always Pinterest perfect.
Brian Patton was as hilarious as I knew he would be in his class on Social Media & Why You’re Doing It Wrong.
Hannah Kaminsky is a terrific photographer, and I liked hearing her tips for on-location photography.
I’ve been armchair traveling on Jojo Huxster’s trips for years now, and so it was cool to get behind the scenes information in her class called Adventures in Travel Blogging.
One of the most fun classes from the weekend was Amey Matthew’s zine making workshop. People were asked to sign up ahead of time, and then Amey emailed all of us. She told us to bring a personal recipe to share.
We spent the class time copying the recipe onto paper, so that it could be compiled into a group zine. Amey’s enthusiasm is endlessly contagious.
All of the food at the conference was terrific, especially the mac and cheese that was served on the second day.
After the final day of the conference, it was back to Cheer Up Charlie’s for drinks and a photo booth. We got in a few more conversations until it was time to say goodbye until who knows when.
While I feel sad for the big gap this will create, I feel so appreciative of the time, energy, and devotion that clearly went into creating it. They should be very, very proud.
What Amey said at the closing talk was so true – I ended the weekend feeling happy for the friends I had made but sad for the ones I hadn’t. With hundreds of people attending the conference, there was no way that I could meet them all, especially not in a meaningful way.
Still, if there’s one thing that I got from the weekend, it’s that the world is small. In the past, I’ve met up with some of the bloggers who were there in California and New York. Hopefully someday I’ll add to that list with meet-ups in England, Australia, Canada, and more.
Until then, we’ll always have the world wide web.