September 02, 2011
Why are these people smiling? They just made their way through the stunning breakfast buffet at Vida Vegan Con, that's why. I didn't even know I was hungry until I'd hit up the over-burdened tables of fab vegan food.
First came bowls of chia pudding, cut-up, fresh fruit (my favorite), and cartons of So Delicious coconut milk yogurt, including Greek-style yogurt.
Then roasted potatoes (my favorite — uh, wait, did I already pick a favorite?), bagels, tofu scramble, biscuits and perfect white bean gravy, gluten free pancakes with a vat of maple syrup. And of course there was peach crisp. Why wouldn't there be? I'm probably leaving things out, but how can I possibly remember so many choices?
After breakfast and a welcome address by the VVC organizers, I attended a vegan travel panel, then hopped on the free Portland trolley to Whole Foods.
At Whole Foods, Fran Costigan, the queen of vegan desserts, did a presentation called Dark Chocolate Bliss. She made chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, gold-dusted bittersweet and ginger truffles, and demonstrated how to work with chocolate transfer sheets. Of course it was all informative and luscious. Note that Fran doesn't normally work with such a large whisk, but when in someone else's kitchen, making do with a smile is sometimes required!
(Find my review of Fran's dessert book here: http://bit.ly/hpAadu)
This being VVC, after inhaling chocolate cake and truffles, it was time to scuttle back to the conference center for lunch. By now, I was getting used to eating dessert both before and after a meal (see day 1), so no problem. Once again, the meal was planned to be inclusive of everyone's needs; raw, cooked, glutenous, gluten-free — it was on the table. Fresh, raw veggies, massaged kale salad, purple cauliflower hummus, roasted veggies, and another round of peach cobbler.
And just behold the magnificent golden beet salad.
Here's my plate piled with pesto potato salad, BBQ tempeh, kale salad, roasted veggies, and golden beets. Fab.
For some (you know who you are), the lure of Portland's food carts proved greater than the conference food, and above you see a box of batter-fried oreo cookies from Home Grown Smoker. It came with chocolate dipping sauce. I didn't taste it but others were moaning with pleasure at every bite.
In the afternoon, I attended an inspiring talk by Colleen Patrick Goudreau called, Planting the Seeds of Compassion: Communication as Activism. She spoke about how important our word choices are when communicating about veganism. She cautioned us against using words like "fake," "faux," and "mock" when naming foods since what we are eating is real, not fake, food. For example, we eat nut meat or wheat meat, not fake meat. She urged us to speak to people about compassion, not factory farming, so as to not lose their interest. I'm over-simplifying here, but I suggest looking at Colleen's writing, and especially her new book, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge, for inspiration on sharing and spreading vegan compassion.
By now you're probably wishing the day would end, and frankly, so am I. It's almost as exhausting to write about it as it was to live it. (It was exhausting but exhilarating to live it.) Saturday evening, we attended the Vida Vegan Galarama and silent auction for Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. It was a fancy dress affair for those who chose to get their fancy on, or come as you are for those for whom fancy dress is jeans and tees. The little black dress was everywhere, but some, like Vegan Backpacker Jill (also from Vegan Cuts) looked gorgeous in a smashing red dress. I wish I had a photo to share.
Naturally, there was food. My plate contained gf pizza from Sizzle Pie, Gardein strips and a yummy fresh spring roll. For dessert? A mile-long Coconut Bliss sundae bar. And I just realized I failed to use my coupon for a beer, cocktail, mocktail or wine. Darn.
I'll leave you with a video of vegan body builder Robert Cheek hoofing it on the dance
I'd like to thank Wellsphere.com for sponsoring my ticket.