Well, VidaVeganCon Takes Texas has officially come to and end, and what a glorious time it was. I ate, I learned, I reconnected with old friends and made lots of new friends, I had many new experiences, and came home feeling all puffed up.
I've decided to break up my blog reports about VVC into thematic posts, rather than approaching it day-by-day. If you were lucky enough to be there with us, this will be a fun walk down memory lane. If not, you can live vicariously through all these fun pics!
Imagine walking into a beautiful room with two long tables inside -- and upon each table is arranged the entire range of cheeses from Miyoko's Creamery. The cheeses are each set on lovely fresh fig leaves and there are classy little cheese knives with each wheel. Then, there are artfully arranged vegan crackers lining the center of each display. Finally, there are swarms of hungry, joyful, overstimulated vegans swarming around the cheesetables - giddy with abundance and enthusiasm. YES. You are amongst your people. You have arrived at VidaVeganCon 2015.
This was the scene that kicked off the first official activity of the weekend: The Vegan Bazaar. This event was open to the public, but (happily) the Hour of Cheesy Abundance was only open to people registered for the whole conference. My goodness that was lovely. It was great to have a chance to actually try all of Miyoko's cheeses without having to buy each one first. Previously, I had only ever tried two different varieties. I loved most of them, but in the end, I was quite surprised by my top two picks: The Winter Truffle (creamy and spreadable and both tangy and earthy. my new fave for sure!), and a special seasonal one that was essentially a cream cheese with strawberries and with beautiful flowers pressed on to it. Before the tasting, I would have never guessed that those would be my top choices! Now I know how to direct my cheesy budget.
The Great Hall of Vegan Vendors & Exhibitors!
The Vegan Bazaar event featured a few vegan food trucks outside and pop-up shops inside, a number of great talks and discussions in the auditorium, and an entire room filled with vegan vendors with merchandise for sale, samples to nom on, and occasional giveaways and contests.
A few of my favorite finds of the day!
I really enjoyed having the whole afternoon to stroll through the room and meet people and learn about how each person there was committed to supporting veganism in a different way. There were big companies like Earth Balance, and many small companies (like the ones above), food & clothing vendors, non-profit organizations, and so much more. It was absolutely uplifting to be around such a vibrant group of vegans who were acting in line with their values.
Bottom row: Free nachos from Heidi Ho; a Texas Peach Donut from Red Rabbit; watermelon + lime juice + chia drinks.
my jackfruit experience - from wonder to delight!
They also just happened to have a giant (mature) jackfruit on hand for display and novelty. Nicole and I had more fun trying to do yoga with that enormous jackfruit. It was really heavy! In case you're wondering, I totally did not succeed at balancing that thing on my legs in headstand. It started to fall off right away and Nicole caught it right before it crashed in front of my face! ha ha.
There were a few different cashew cheese vendors at the Bazaar, in addition to Miyoko. My top picks were the Herb-Garlic and the Scallion from Treeline Cheese, and the Smoked Nutmilk cheese from Punk Rawk Labs. I really wish I could find Punk Rawk cheeses in my area, because I can't stop thinking about that smokey cheese - it had coarsely ground pepper around the outside and was absolutely YUM.
Heidi Ho was also there, with a vast supply of their delicious spicy chia cheese. If you follow me on Instagram (@ameyfm), you already know that I eat this stuff on the regs. But Heidi was there herself dishing out free nachos and I was All. Over. That.
free vegan ice cream samples... uh, yes please!
I'll also cop to hovering around the NadaMoo! table, so that I could try all three of the flavors they had on display: Vanilla Cha-Cha-Chai, Bananas for PB & Chocolate, and Gotta Do Chocolate. NadaMoo has a coconut-base, but isn't overly dense like some coconut ice creams. I'd had (and loved) their ice cream before -- but I hadn't ever tried that Bananas for PB & Chocolate flavor before. TRUE LOVE, friends. True love.
At the end of the day, I came back to the hotel with a bevy of purchases, samples, freebies, and coupons. I made several purchases, and it felt good to know that I was supporting all these enterprising and compassionate vegans in their business endeavors!
My #1 favorite of all is that darling grey tee shirt with frolicking animals and the word "freedom," from Meaningful Paws. So cute, so on point.
~ THE SWAG BAG OF WONDER ~
No doubt you have heard about the legendary VidaVeganCon Swag Bag. First thing Saturday morning: we signed in, got our badges, and each received a giant blue bag stuffed to the brim with vegan goodies. Let the good times roll!
Here's my swag all laid out, once I returned home. Plus a few random things I purchased snuck their way into this picture too... and also my aunt's juicer, which photobombed my picture. Obviously, there's a lot here, so I'll just highlight a few favorites below:
Oh yea! Pretty much everyone is raving about this stuff, and with good reason. It was one of the first products I busted open once I got home. Topped on some homemade yogurt, it is just so good. Not too sweet, and perfectly crunchy. Lucky me, I found an extra baggie of on the Swag-Swap Table, so I came home with two -- but they are both long gone by now!
The president of PureFit included the sweetest letter inside each box of their gluten-free & vegan protein bars, about how committed the company was to supporting the cause of animal rescue, and what a meaningful presence his own adopted dogs had been in his life. So touching, y'all. That's doing it right.
The swag bag came with some hemp hearts, then I got a small baggie of Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts at the Bazaar (before I realized I would be getting more), and then I won a trivia question during lunch one day at the conference and won even more hemp goodness. I am all set.
Each of us got a beautiful little cheese knife from Miyoko's Creamery (so classy!), a fun pack of playing cards from MailChimp, and assorted other goodies. Of special note is my new favorite deodorant that came in the Vegan Cuts Beauty baggies: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant. I'm not gonna lie -- with all my cycling and yoga and dog walking, I really put my deodorant to the test and I can get pretty smelly. I'm happy to report that this stuff absolutely works. Like, 100%. It's not a roll-on. Instead, you roll a little bit of the paste into a ball the size of a pea and then rub that in your pits. I got Cedarwood & Juniper scent, which smells quite lovely, and once this little tub runs out, I look forward to trying their other varieties as well.
I really loved this baggie of the new Garlicky Green Parma (vegan parm) from Parma. I've had their original parm before, but hadn't heard about this new flavor. It's more heavily spiced (as you'd expect), and I think I prefer it to the original, since I usually use vegan parm when I'm looking to add a good savory kick to my dinner. This is definitely a product I'll search out and buy again.
I also loved that tiny little packed on Nacheez nacho sauce and wished it was 100x bigger.
Each swag bag had a giant bag of Earth Balance popcorn inside, but a lot of folks didn't seem to have room in their suitcase for a giant bag of popcorn. Happily, this isn't my first VVC, and I knew to travel with an extra duffle bag. So, I scored myself an extra bag of popcorn and stuffed it right on in that duffle bag.