Thursday 6 June 2013

Vida Vegan Con 2013

Hey y'all! I'm back in Brighton! I had an amazing time travelling around the Pacific Northwest, I was away for almost a month and whilst I was there I was lucky enough to attend Vida Vegan Con in Portland! I know! So exciting! I'd been dreaming of going to this vegan bloggers conference since I first heard about it's inception back in 2011 and it was everything I'd imagined and more.

The weekend kicked off with an Unofficial Meet & Greet at local vegan friendly bar White Owl Social Club. It was fun but kinda overwhelming to meet so many bloggers in one go hence the lack of photos, I was far to busy talking to everyone and cramming the mac 'n cheese burger into ma mouth!

Yup, the mac 'n cheese IS the burger. This carb on carb meal with a side of carbs was one of my Portland fave's but I would perhaps suggest that eating it three times in one week like I did could be a bit much. If you can eat it four times in a week I'll hand over my Carb Queen crown!

The next morning everyone was up bright and early to grab their Swag Bags...I was too excited to photograph the whole thing but it was epic, like, almost the same size as my suitcase epic! My first class of the day was Food Styling with Hannah Kaminsky where she showed us amongst other things how to turn this messy looking Whole Foods takeout Pad Thai into a beautifully plated meal. This was amazing to watch and I'll certainly be trying this next time I grab some takeout from Street Diner or Iydea.

Continuing the photography theme one of my favourite classes of the weekend was Isa's iPhone photography class. Isa is totally hilarious and the class was was super practical (we could follow along using the app's on our phones) and helpful, there were tips on everything from taking the photos to styling (swatches!) and editing.

I don't actually own a camera, I take all of my photos with an iPhone so this was the perfect class for me.

Erika from Sews Before Bros wrote some really in depth write ups of the classes she attended so follow the class name links below for the full scoop on some of my favourite classes.

One of the most enjoyable classes I attended was the Vegan MoFo Workshop with Amey, Kittee and Mo, these gals are super funny and it's no secret that MoFo is one of my favourite times of year. There were some great tips for both MoFo veterans and for newbies to the crazy month long blogging event.

I started looking forward to Restaurant Reviews with Authority with Grant Butler as soon as the agenda was announced. Grant writes restaurant reviews for both The Oregonian and MIX magazine and as a blogger who mainly writes restaurant reviews I was excited to learn some new things and to see where I'd been going right or wrong. Thankfully I haven't been making any massive faux pas and his class gave me some great tools to deal with how to write about places I don't love immediately.

The Making of a Zine: From Concept to Distribution with Amey, Joanna and Kittee was one of the most inspiring workshops for me.  I love zines and I have a pretty decent collection including zines written by all of the members of the panel. I've wanted to write a zine of my own for ages and this really gave me practical tips about how to get started. Amey even has a great DIY zine making how-to on her blog.

I also really loved listening to Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan from Our Hen House discussing how to expand your message to include animal rights and the Body Image Acceptance and Veganism panel actually made me cry. I loved everyones honesty and bravery in the face of such a tough topic.

The Portland Breakfast Showcase had to be the foodie highlight of the weekend for me. There were so many amazing options and I did my best to try them all! It was served on a first come first served basis so I made sure I was first in line for Sizzle Pie's brunch pizza. I went for the Drugs Benedict which is topped with a white bean & shallot spread, cheesy tofu scramble, bacon bits, hashbrowns & green onions.

I definitely made the right choice here and I even got a bonus slice for being first in line! I fully believe that pizza is the breakfast of champions (I even have a badge to prove it!) and this one even had ranch for dipping.

Obviously I couldn't only try one option at a breakfast showcase, I also tried all of these. Clockwise from the top left, the Meatloaf Benedict from A.N.D Cafe, Tempeh Bacon Quiche from Back to Eden (I have more to write about Back to Eden - it might be one of my favourite places ever), Chocolate and Lemon Doughnut halves from Cinnamon PDX, and Summer Vegetable Panissa from Portobello.

Alongside the meet & greet, the classes, and the breakfast showcase the Galarama was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. I put on a dress and make up and made a beeline for the food!

The first thing I headed towards was the So Delicious ice cream bar. I'm pretty into ice cream, especially if it's chocolate, but my main reason was that I'd heard there were brownies from Capital City Bakery in Austin - these are my favourite brownies in the whole wide world and this little sundae was perfect.

There were also two food trucks at the galarama, Tandem Treats and Taco Pedaler as well as trays of cheese made by Miyoko Schinner from Artisan Vegan Life. It was a tough decision but I couldn't resist a Tandem Treats dawg topped with sauerkraut, onions and a classic mustard / ketchup combo.

I did actually manage to take some pictures of people at this event, not many but I tried.

L-R Mandee AKA Cupcake Kitteh, Randi, Me.

L-R Paul, A Chimp, Lisa AKA PandaWithCookie.

L-R Stephanie AKA Lazy Smurf, Me.

Sunday's non-class highlight had to be the Vegan Battle Royale and Ice Cream Social. I kept score for one of the teams in the Battle Royale and I certainly made the most of the ice cream social! These almond milk based Mocha Almond Fudge mini bars from So Delicious were the best ice cream bars I've ever eaten. I really, really wish we could get them in the UK. Sort it out So Delicious!

As you can probably tell I really, really loved Vida Vegan Con. I learnt so much and I met and hung out with so many positive, inspiring and all-round awesome people, there are far too many of you to name - you know who you are! Thank you for making VVC so rad!

Whilst I was having all of the fun at Vida Vegan Con I was also thinking about my blog readers who couldn't attend. I really, really wish that everyone from the vegan blogging community could have been there! In an attempt to spread the VVC love I started collecting things for a giveaway because, let's be honest, the pictures of the Swag Bags all over Instagram and Twitter were probably making you pretty jealous! It's also my birthday really soon (less than a week, so excited!) so I bought you some presents and threw them in there too!

All you need to do to win this Peanut Butter & Co tote stuffed full of all of the goodies pictured below is to leave me a comment telling me which class on the VVC agenda you'd have been most excited to attend.

This goodie bag contains a jar of Booda Butter Organic Moisturiser, a Booda Butter lip balm, a Hurraw  almond lip balm, Amey's Unofficial VVC Cookbooklet, a Vegan Dish keychain, a Field Roast t-shirt, stickers, a bag the new of Earth Balance Pops, two Peanut Butter Cookie Luna bars, a Go Max Go Thumbs Up bar, an Eli's Earth Dream Big Bar, a Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt bar, Tofurky jerky, sample size packs of Nacheez, Dandies, Simply Hemp Milk, Surf Sweets and a whole lotta PB sachets from PB & Co, Artisana and Earth Balance. 

The competition is open to anyone living in Europe who didn't attend Vida Vegan Con. The competition closes on Monday June 17th. Don't forget to leave me some kind of contact details and good luck!

The competition is now closed. The winner, who I picked at random, is SarahByng! Congrat's Sarah! I'll be getting in touch with ya soon.

I also wanted to mention that I'm currently up for the Best Blogger award in the UK's Veg Fest Awards! If you haven't voted yet I'd love it if you'd consider voting for me, here's a link so that you can check it out if you want to.


  1. All things Vegan, what could a man want more of! This is great, really love it. Thank you for your Travels and blogging. You Rock Missy!!

  2. Woah, that's an impressive giveaway!

    I love this post and I'm particularly taken with the idea of tofu scramble pizza. I can't believe I've never thought of it! I'm definitely giving that a go at home.

    i'm definitely planning on heading over next year (penny-pinching starts soon!), hopefully you'll be able to make it too! Otherwise you'll just have to head down our way- we have So Delicious ice creams in Sydney!

  3. nice! so glad you had such an amazing time!

    i would have loved to attend the zine making class. I published my last zine in 2000 and feel rusty!

  4. I would most like to have attended Ginnie Messina's nutrition talk, but the whole thing looks like it was brilliant!

    (tigerpants on ppk)!

  5. Hannah's food styling class would have been the one I'd be most excited to attend - but actually the breakfast showcase would have trumped any class for excitement!

    (contact details - jostimpson at

  6. It just looks like the most fun place for a vegan blogger :) So glad you had a great time, some really lovely pictures and food. It really doesn't get much better than a goodie bag!!

    I would love to have attended the Restaurant Reviews with Authority class. I'm really wanting to improve my critique of places, resturants and food. I have noticed I limit myself to 'that was yum' or 'it was really nice'. I really want to get myself across better to the people who read my blog! :)

    urban_lake @

  7. I would have loved to go to the iPhone class since even with a proper camera my pictures are just awful.

  8. Oh wow, how fun : ) i wish I could've been there, I've never been to Portland. I think it's so cool that there was an iphone photography class! (I don't live in Europe, don't count me in!) Your picture looks awesome! I would've loved to take that class and I don't even have an iphone. So, which vegan mecca do you like better- Portland or Austin?

  9. Body Image Acceptance & Veganism would have been my choice - body acceptance is such a tough issue and any time I can expose myself to compassionate approaches to it I will!

  10. So glad for you that you could attend this wonderful wonderful wonderful conference!
    I would've loved to go, and I will go somewhere in the future. That iphone photography class that Isa gave, she's like a vegan superhero, who would want to miss that?!

    We should start a European VVC, to keep all the European vegan bloggers happy :)

  11. Taking that survey made me realize how much stuff I haven't tried yet!
    Looks like an amazing trip, so glad you had a good time. The Body Image workshop sounds really moving.
    Did you get a root beer float?!

    1. OMG, Yes! I totally forgot that I had a root beer float at the Galarama! It was everything I dreamt it would be!

  12. Zahira ( June 2013 at 17:42

    I would have died to attend to any of those activities, but this one really catched my attention:

    Blog Writing as Writing: Take Your Blog Writing to the Next Level

    Sometimes it gets hard as hell to write a decent blog entry son all help is welcome!

  13. The Vegan MoFo Workshop would have been tops on my list! I love MoFo, but it's a commitment that always winds up a little disjointed for me.

    Thanks for a great review; I hope to make the next VVC!

  14. I so wish I could've attended. It's now on my list of things to do before I turn 40!

    There are so many classes I would've loved to attend, but Isa's phone photography class, the MoFo class, and the classes about reviewing probably would've been the most useful to me!

    Also, I'm kinda loving veggiesara's EuroVVC idea.

  15. Hi JoJo,

    What a lovely idea. I love reading about all your fun-looking vegan adventures. Portland sounds great. If I'd have gone, I reckon I'd have been most excited to attend the "Spirituality & Veganism" workshop. I like an earthy sort of spirituality and I'm always curious to see how I can keep this really practical and informed,

    Roberta ( )

  16. I'm going to have to get myself to this event some day. I've been loving reading everyone's write-ups. I think you win though as you managed to get loads of food pics! I'm pretty sure I would have failed at the mac 'n' cheese burger challenge but I could get down with some So Delicious. Us UK folk should start a campaign to get them over here.
    Such a generous giveaway Jojo, I'd love to win. If I could only go to one class I think I'd choose to hear Jasmin + Mariann. I love the Our Hen House podcast.

  17. Hi from Barcelona! :)

    I would have loved to have gotten to go to VVC, to see all the big vegan bloggers in person and be surrounded by so many vegans and so much vegan food! You are mega-lucky!

    I would have loved to go to the camera-phone photography class with Isa as camera-phones are so ubiquitous but an under-used tool in blogging. I feel more comfortable taking a camera-phone picture in a restaurant that taking out my camera. Plus Isa is my vegan hero, she is amazing! I have all of her books and can;t wait for her new one later this year! :)

  18. The conference sounds amazing - no wonder you didn't have time to take many pictures! Looking at the programme, I would have loved to attend any of these classes (so many great topics and so much to learn!) but I think I would've been most excited about the VeganMoFo workshop. I just really love MoFo.
    Also, that looks like the best breakfast ever.

  19. I'm heading to Portland in just over a week. This post is perfect timing!

  20. Yay, great blog Jojo! Would love to have gone but the goodies would make me very happy :D (@scotpaulabear on twitter)

  21. I couldn't get over all your Instagram pictures, pizza, mighty doughnuts and those brownies! Why do America get all the best vegan treats?Peanut butter jelly- need that in my life!
    I think the photography classes would have been great, I have a good camera but struggle with setting up plates, I worry it looks too stages same times. I love the swatches idea!

  22. I think the Body Image talk would have been interesting to attend. Thanks so much for the give away!

  23. Oh wow! I really think I will try to make this my visit to the States next year, sounds so good! Portland is a crazy vegan fairyland. I love the idea of the iPhone photography class, especially since my first real smartphone is on its way to me now! (nabramow at gmail dot com). Thanks for giving me even more motivation to sign up for the next one! :-)

  24. The zine making workshop would have been top of my list. I've been planning to do a Cake Liberation Front one for far too long now. Thanks for the link to the zine tutorial, i'll check it out. Great to read about it all and that you had such a good time. x

  25. So many things to do and attend there, hopefully I'll be able to go one day and spread the word about our Vegan Package Swap too :) But first I want to go to London VegFest!

    This is an amazing giveaway, having the chance to get goodies from the US is always exciting!

  26. Such a great giveaway!
    That mac 'n cheese burger looks soo good!
    I would love to go to the iPhone Food Photography class.
    But the Spirituality & Veganism class sounds really interesting too!
    All the classes sounds great, what an amazing idea!
    p.s. Your dress is really cute

  27. What an amazing prize Jojo, I only hope that one day I will be able to go to VVC. There were so many classes to choose from but I think my first would be Vegan Nutrition: Keeping Your Blog Current & Reliable.

  28. Oh wow, it looks like you had such an amazing time!! I'm so jealous. I would Love to go to VVC one year! And Portland is high up on my go-to list (they have a vegan mall for goodness sakes! Britain - Catch up!!)
    I'd probably be most excited about the food styling and photography tips. I love Hannah Kaminsky (we share a first name, for one thing!), and I'm always open to new photography tips! I've been taking photos for Years, but only start photographing food a month or so ago, so I have a lot to learn!

  29. *sigh* I really, really miss VVC! I want to go back and live in the ballroom and just hope that someone starts feeding me vegan food for breakfast, lunch, and tea!

    Great recap and I love that you're giving away so many awesome treats!

  30. I sooooooo wish I could have been there this year! All these recaps are killing me (in a good way) :) I'd be totally all over that brunch pizza, in fact, I may try to make that this weekend.
    There's a bunch of classes I would have wanted to attend but I'd probably most like to do the Writers Block or Incorporating Your Other Creative Talents into Your Blog.

  31. Definitely the "Art of Writing Recipes" talk from Grant Butler. I love trying new things, and amazingly, sometimes they turn out okay (sometimes...) and I'd love to share them!


    vixydapixie (at) hotmail (dot) com

  32. Your trip looks like it was amazing fun, I'm so envious!

    If I could have gone, I would have loved to go to Vegan Invasion: Community Building as most of my vegan friends have now moved out of the city where I live and I'd love to build up a new community/social circle of vegans.

    Imogen (from the PPK)

  33. Ah, you got such a great photo of the Pad Thai, before and after! So glad you could make it to the workshop and I'm really encouraged to hear that you enjoyed it. :)

  34. I am very glad to hear you had so much fun! And thanks for sharing all your experiences with us. I think we need to set up something similar in Europe! Although I wouldn't mind travelling to Portland one day.
    I think the VeganMoFo workshop sounds like a super fun and useful class!

  35. Holy crap - pick just one? I guess the Food styling would have been the one for me. I think I've got the making tasty food thing down, but I struggle with the making tasty food that doesn't look like a dog threw it up!

    What a food line up though - I would have put on half a stone over three days. Reckon we should get UK vegans to petition So Delicious for those ice creams to get over this side of the atlantic?

  36. Laura bigosuk@yahoo.com15 June 2013 at 17:29

    Hey Jojo :) Hope you are well. I would love to have attended the Body Image Acceptance & Veganism talk as I think it would be very interesting but as a starting out blogger I probably would have attended all of them if I could! All the best of luck with the VegFest Award! xx

  37. I'd love to check out the Spirituality & Veganism class. Not many people talk about the link between them.

  38. I totally get the carb queen of my favourite comfort foods is a potato waffle sandwich with ketchup :p

    I'd love to have attended the Ethics Beyond The Plate panel. I love animal products but choose not to eat them for ethical reasons. I'm doing my best to extend this to other areas of my life (how crunchy do I sound lmao) - it would be great to get an insight into how to do this without feeling like a little fish in a really big pond. Is everything made in damn sweatshops these days? :/

    GG (on PPK forum :) )

  39. Gosh... How amazing.
    I think the iPhone photography would help me to stop taking photos that make stunning food look really drab :(

  40. That's so great you got to go to Vida Vegan Con! I hope to go one day! What was your favourite bit? :)


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