#VVC2013: Meet & Greet. And Eat

Imagine this: you have a bunch of friends who live all around the country. You know their hobbies, their partners’ names, where they grew up, where they hang out, what they do, and even what they ate for dinner today. But the funny thing is, you rarely ever see them, and it’s totally possible that you’ve never so much as shaken their hands. That’s blogging. Once a year, or once every two, you may be fortunate enough to stand at the intersection of online community and real life. And that’s Vida Vegan Con.

My first VVC experience was, no joke, life changing. It was life changing because I made so many close friends. Until VVC in 2011, JL and I had never met (we both think it’s hilarious that, after living in New York for years, it took a trip to Portland to turn us into friends). I’d never met Lisa in person either, though I had admired her from afar from a long time, and VVC was the first time I got to know Jasmin, too. These are only a few examples; that conference was full of first time “IRL” meetings that yielded deeper friendships. Naturally, I’ve spent the last two years eagerly waiting for round two.

VVC began dramatically for me this time. As I mentioned in my last post, I arrived with a nasty ear infection and an immune system that had been zapped by seasonal allergies. On Thursday morning, I woke up feeling off–not yet sick, but not quite myself, either. I hoped a little yoga would put the spring back in my step, so I headed to Yoga Pearl for a vinyasa class and some tasty fare from Prasad (which I loved on my last trip).

Yoga Pearl offers vinyasa, hatha, power vinyasa, and yin yoga classes. This was my first time practicing at the studio, and I had a wonderful power vinyasa class experience with Nikki, who was energetic yet calm, and offered a very challenging sequence with some fun inversion and arm balance practice (some of which I passed on, unfortunately, since my energy was low). After class, I grabbed some food to go at Prasad (check out the restaurant’s awesome menu here).

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I chose the El Dorado salad (spinach & mixed greens, yam rice, walnut taco crumbles, avocado, sun-dried tomato, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno cashew cheese and red chili vinaigrette) and got a cup of quinoa on the side. I ate them back at my hotel room, but only after stopping on the way to admire Portland’s food trucks.

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Yam rice! At the last VVC, I did a special diets panel on which I basically swore that potatoes are a food never to be eaten raw. This dish has inspired me otherwise. I’ll have to try my hand at yam rice–though I doubt very much I’ll be able to make it as delicious as Prasad’s was.


Lunch was delicious, but later in the day I started to feel really under the weather. When I went to visit Jasmin’s room (we were staying in the same hotel — vegan slumber party!) she urged me to check out ZoomCare, affordable walk-in clinics in the Portland area. There was one right near the hotel, fortunately, and I was able to get an appointment with a FNP right away. She was wonderful, and made a quick diagnosis. A few hours later, having already taken my meds, I was feeling much, much better–well enough to go to the welcome drinks event at the White Owl Social Club!

As soon as I got there, I saw my girl Sayward (whom I last saw in New York). It was so good to catch up, and we may or may not have gotten goofy in the photo booth.

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I also saw the ever fabulous Bianca–whose blog I’ve been reading since long before I was blogging myself. The three of us took a moment to say “Teese!”

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I got to meet Melisser, whose book, The Vegan Girls’ Guide to Life, I contributed to, and I was reunited with my dearest Lisa and Nicole. Last but not least, I saw Katie, who is not only a friend, but also a contributor to Green Recovery.

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After some schmoozing, my friend Ami and I headed off to a solo dinner at Canteen. I missed Canteen on my last trip, and I’m so happy I got to go this time. The menu is awesome, the space is intimate and adorable, and the prices are reasonable. Total winner. It’s now a favorite vegan restaurant of mine, and I can’t wait to return at some point!

For my meal, I chose the Portland Bowl (quinoa/black beans/baked maple tempeh/NW sauce/kale/carrots/chopped oregon hazelnuts). The “NW sauce” was some sort of insanely tasty noochy concoction. Right up my alley. I also got a side of steamed broccoli, because I was craving warm greens.



Happy girl.


This nourishing bowl of food was totally what I needed after a day of not feeling my best. Ami has always been so generous with me when I visit PDX, and I love our chats about yoga, life, personal evolution, and blogging. It was great to catch up.

I got home and made it to bed early so that I could be in fine shape for Friday. I was presenting one of the first VVC panels: Blog Writing as Writing. In my next VVC recap, I’ll go over the panel, highlighting the main points and recounting some of the great questions I received. But since one of my main points of emphasis was on self-editing, I think it’s best I bring this already ambling post to a close. Stay tuned for #VVC2013, part two–after I share a new recipe. I’m fighting a big case of the post-conference blues today, but it does feel nice to return to my little kitchen.




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  1. So awesome. Thanks for the virtual VVC experience– looks like a vegan foodies dreamworld!! I hope to make it to a conference one of these years, but until then, I surely enjoy your intimate, fun and detailed posts….. I do hope to cross paths with u someday- whether it be at a foodie conference, in the city, coincidentally @ Pure, or somewhere or another!
    Hope life is a little (or a lot) more carefree. Liberating. Restful and rejuvenating. Now that student life has temporarily come to close!! Take it all in, friend. ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

  2. I think by the time I get done reading all VVC recaps i will have set a goal to make it to the next one:) i loved everything on my intagram feed the past weekend. i was so hooked i would check it every hour!

  3. That part about admiring other bloggers from afar? Yah, totally get that. Seeing all of these VVC recap posts is quiiiiickly convincing me to book a ticket to next year’s convention. Would be *so* amazing to get to meet all of these fabulous writers/food enthusiasts/genuinely awesome people IRL!

  4. Gena,

    Seeing you was one of the things I looked forward to most at VVC2013. And…you didn’t disappoint. You already know I think you’re fantastic, but somehow just knowing you’re in the same room fills me with so much joy. I remain in awe of your strength, smarts and awesome quips. I just love you.

    I really enjoyed your writing session. I will attempt to hear your voice in my mind while I edit in the future. You are a very warm, authentic, encouraging speaker.

    The weekend ended too fast and with too little Gena – but I know it won’t be the last time I get to see your smiling face.

    Hope to see you soon.


  5. So excited to see the first post-con blog posts appear, especially yours! Feels as if I’m right back at the White Owl, mint julep in hand.

    Can’t wait to see the rest of your coverage! Unfortunately, I missed your first panel and would love to see your recap – we were turned away at the door because the room was too crowded, haha… go figure!

    Much love,

  6. Wish I had seen more of you, but I’m glad I got in at least one hug! Now I have a feeling we’ll be in touch much more often soon, anyway…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. The sentence “I was craving warm greens” really just says it all, doesn’t it? Haha, the vegan life!

  8. I love reading about your adventures! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you didn’t end up getting really sick! Looking forward to part two!

  9. Love the recap Gena! I had such a blast with you (obvi), despite our mutual sickness. Ain’t nothing could stop the VVC party though! Miss you already. <3

  10. Looks like such a fun time already! I have been looking forward to your recap. I hope they make it a yearly event, and hopefully not on Memorial Day next time? Any news on 2014 is appreciated.

  11. I was in Portland at the beginning of May for a different event. I can vicariously reminisce my trip through your recaps. I wish I could have gone back for the conference. Next time ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. So glad you started to feel better! Looks like such a great time…still waiting for the day when our paths cross!! xo

  13. I am loving all these VVC posts from all my favorite bloggers! It sounds like it would have been such an incredible experience. I hope I get to go someday!

    I’m so sorry the trip began while you were under the weather. That is the worst. I was dealing with a bad cold this past weekend too, and it was also the weekend I was traveling to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. I had to turn in early and miss out on the night-before-the-wedding festivities in an effort to get healthy for Saturday. Fortunately, that mostly did the trick, and I felt good on Saturday, but now I’m dealing with the repercussions of drinks and late nights during the tail-end of a cold. Sometimes it’s worth it to push yourself through for the sake of good times!

  14. I can’t wait to goto Portland one day, and to VVC. I must make a USAtrip in the future, but first save up some money :p.
    It looks likeyou had a great time, and because of what you describe, the feeling when you meet all those bloggers in real life… Well, that’s why I would love to go to VVC! You are all so amazing!

  15. Yay, yay, yay! I love the re-cap and the photos. So guess who is a sicky now? I made it home just in time, though, and I’m trying to catch up on my rest. Maybe it’s the chocolate and sugar leaving my system. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I doubt that very much, Carrie! More likely the inevitable consequence of spending three full days in close quarters with a lot of other people, plus travel. Feel better soon — so great to see you.

  16. I’ve always wanted to go to Portland. It seems like such a vibrant and beautiful place! It looks like you had a lot of fun; your dishes look delicious, too!

  17. Thanks for the quick recap! I love reading about VVC in the various blogs I follow – as a reader, I find it so cool to see my favourite bloggers meeting up, taking Instagram pictures together, reminding each other to take pictures of the food before eating (I imagine this task is difficult, haha), and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. I’m in awe of all of you and what you do! Looking forward to your next post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • If only I had a photo for every meal I forgot to photograph before devouring. I’m so happy you enjoy recaps, Sarah! Many more to come.

    • Me too Jess ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for such a wonderful conference — at least two more epic recaps to come!

  18. Too funny, Gena, you ordered my favorites at both Prasad and Canteen. Great minds order alike! Canteen has been open just about one year, so I don’t know that you missed it last time, but glad you found your way there.
    On another note, after too many of my own cases of post-vacation blues, last time I went out of town I planned more social activities than usual for the week after I returned, and it seemed to help. Hope you can figure out what works for you.

    • Aw, Ali! I wanted so much to see you while I was there, but the conference was nonstop. Next time. I’m happy I ordered your favorites — wonderful dishes, both!

      • Oh no worries Gena! I so very much get it. When our paths are meant to cross in person it will happen ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Thanks to Instagram, I almost feel like I was there! So many wonderful people in one place. Portland must have been glowing.

  20. Good on you for getting this up – I’m not even attempting a recap ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m so glad you got to feeling better over the weekend and I am even happier we got to meet! Can’t wait to read the rest of your recaps!

  21. I am so ridiculously in awe of you for already getting such an eloquent, well-written, and well-self-edited ( ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) recap up, Gena! I don’t even know how to start putting the experience into words.

    P.S. Your Blog Writing as Writing presentation was one of my favourites of the whole conference. xo

  22. I love Portland and can’t wait to go after seeing the photos from everyone’s time at VVC (we head there in July)! One of these days I will attend a blogging conference but for now will enjoy checking it from others perspectives. So true your thoughts on blogging & friendship and how such amazing bonds are formed through this very personal process. Thanks for sharing Gena! xx

    • Of course! I hope you’ve been getting it all via instagram, Shira! Hope to see you at a conference sometime soon ๐Ÿ™‚