It’s always the same with me and conferences: I wake up the day before the event, tired and not totally in the mood to travel. I get myself on the bus, or train, or plane. And as soon as I arrive, I’m reminded of why I love events–especially vegan events–so much.
On Saturday, my first reminder came in the form of JL, decked out in her characteristic kale t-shirt. As usual, a lot of hugging and professions of love followed.
JL and I were meeting at The Seed, an event dedicated to sharing awareness about veganism and to celebrating the ever-growing vegan community. We were scheduled to present a panel together at 10:15 am, about blogging-as-vegan-activism, but because the line of folks waiting to get into the event was wrapping around the block, and people were filing in slowly, our chat got pushed back to 10:45 or so. This was a good thing for a few reasons:
a) It gave me time to caffeinate
b) It gave me time to say hi toJasmin and Mariann
c) It gave JL and I time to goof off–not that we wouldn’t do a lot more of that as the day progressed
Our co-panelist was Yoli Ouiya, who writes about green living on her blog Yoli’s Green Living. It was nice to connect with Yoli and learn about her business.
JL was our moderator, which means that the presentation was incredibly well organized. If I’d been moderating, all bets would have been off, because I seem to be as structurally incapable of preparing for speaking engagements as I am solving physics problems. I almost always just wing it (it doesn’t help that my last two presentations have entailed pulling into NYC in the wee hours the night before, and not sleeping much), and I usually just cross my fingers and hope that spontaneity will make me relaxed and engaging, rather than…well, underprepared and speechless.
In the case of the blogging panel, anyway, JL had us covered. The blog was a total blast (as you can see from the photo below). We went over a lot of helpful advice for new/aspiring bloggers, and I’d actually like to dedicate a short post to the content later this week, because I know that a lot of my readers are new bloggers, or aspiring bloggers. Right? Right.
For now, I’ll just say that I learned a lot, and I had a lot of fun on the panel!
It was so fun to share our passion for blogging with the crowd:
The panel ended, and JL and I had some time to chat with some of the folks who’d been watching. I was excited to meet Piper Hoffman, whose work I admire. After that, I got some time to peruse the amazing, incredible food vendors! My first stop was Pure Food and Wine: how could it not be? I nibbled on a macaroon and some grawnola that JL’s husband offered me, and was on my way.
Foodie stops at The Seed included a Vitamix stand, a huge array of raw chocolatiers, a station that was churning out something that looked like a fried vegan drumstick, some sandwich makers, Terri organic in NYC, which was promoting its pressed juice line, two food trucks, including a vegan mac n’ cheese food truck that had driven to NYC from Miami for the event (!), and a couple of cool snack bars, my favorite of which was made by a company called Core Foods. I tested one of the raw flavors and got another to go; I can’t wait to try it and review it here on the blog! This is Matt, the hardworking intern who made sure to get me a sample. Thanks, Matt!
I also stopped by the Herbivore booth to say hello to the wonderful Michelle Schweggman. Michelle, who is the co-owner of the world’s best purveyors of vegan t-shirts–not to mention eco-friendly accessories, vegan wallets, belts, scarves, socks, purses, and jewelry–is absolutely charming, energetic, and inspiring. I love what Herbivore stands for, and it’s always a joy to see Michelle’s smiling face at vegan events. This time, we actually got a chance to chat, which was a nice contrast to the usual rushed hello at conferences!
I also said hi to Marissa Miller Wolfson, who’s the creator of the documentary Vegucated, which follows the lives of three New Yorkers as they welcome plant-based eating—and all of the many benefits that come with it—into their lives. It’s an inspiring move, and Marissa is an inspiring woman!
Truth be told, I was kind of tired after the morning presentation, so I didn’t managed to stay in the audience for all of the main stage and stage B events. I did, though, manage to check in on a few of my speakers. First, Jasmin and Mariann, who were presenting “Think Vegan: Ten Tips to Get You Started.” I’ve seen Jasmin speak before, and she’s always great, but it was a treat to watch her dynamic with Mariann on stage! They were hilarious, warm, and engaging, and I’m sure that the audience felt moved to open their hearts (or open their hearts even more) to veganism after watching.
I couldn’t possibly miss Colleen Patrick-Goudreau speak a little while later. Colleen is an exceptionally powerful public speaker; she possesses a rare combination of force and gentleness when she talks. She’s also funny, charismatic, and absolutely steadfast and focused in her presentation of the value and importance of vegan living. Her speech this time was “From Excusitarian to Vegan: Addressing the Blocks and Excuses that Keep Us From Making Changes.” Colleen has recently coined the term (or at least, I think she coined the term) “excusitarian,” and this speech was devoted to helping people stop coming up with reasons why they can’t be vegan, and inspire them to just take the plunge. It’s hard to do justice to Colleen’s delivery here on my blog, so I’ll just advise you to listen to a few of her podcasts and see what it’s all about. I guarantee that, if you’re seeking motivation to explore this lifestyle, her work will compel you further.
Between all this, I took breaks int the “VIP lounge” with JL. It’s a rule of thumb that when JL and I hang, hilarity ensues. Yesterday was no exception.
It’s also a rule of thumb that when you put the two of us together, silly hats tend to happen. We even got Rich Roll to try one on with us:
One of the fellow bloggers whom I was most excited to see on Saturday was my friend Hannah, author of multiple vegan dessert books and the blog Bittersweet. How Hannah balances her career as an already prolific author with school is beyond me! Hannah gave a presentation on vegan ice cream making without an ice cream maker. It was super informative and fun, and I actually picked up a copy of Hannah’s new book, Vegan a la Mode, which means that I may just get to share a bunch of her recipes with you this summer!
After that, I hobbled home with a case of sore feet (too many hours of standing in my not-so-comfy flats!) and a warm heart. I love any chance to be a part of vegan celebrations, and this was no exception. Thanks to Erin Red, Jasmin and Mariann, JL, and others who partook in organizing and executing The Seed. It was an honor to be present, and I hope you’ll have me back, because I know that this “seed” is sure to multiply and grow in years to come.
Sorry. I had to make at least one slightly cheesy allusion to seeds being planted and growing in this post.