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Whew, your friendly conference organizers are back from Austin, TX and diving right back into conference-planning hyperdrive! It’s not as if we stopped in Texas, of course, but we were there to research a new Vida Vegan possibility, see some friends, and eat a taco or two, or ten. And all the chips & salsa we could get our greedy hands on. Contemplating Vida Vegan Con II naturally has us reminiscing (and reflecting, analyzing, and so proud of) the very first Vida Vegan Con in 2011. It’s hard to believe it was over a year ago!

Here are some of our photo memories, shockingly somehow taken when the organizers took a moment to breathe or inhale more coffee and coconut creamer.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz moderates the 2011 Publishing Panel

The Publishing Panel

2011 Vida Vegan Con speakers Kelly Peloza, yours truly, Leigh-Chantelle and Lauren Christensen

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Part of the ever-appropriate Reality, Identity & Blogging panel

Reality, Identity & Blogging Panel

The awesome Casa Bonita lunch buffet (please tell me someone else out there appreciates this silly reference)

Casa Bonita

One of our lovely, super-duper appreciated assistants, Karla


More Casa Bonita: with all vegan, fresh, gluten-free, raw, soy-free, and nut-free options, of course


Here's Janessa saying something great and probably wishing she had a taco...


One of the truly definitive moments, during our opening night VegNews Cupcake & Champagne reception.

vida vegan memories...

It totally speaks for itself.

And now, well - the countdown is so, so on with 99 days remaining as of this post! Expect a bajillion Vida Vegan Con II updates coming your way, right here.

Veggie Grill + Tech Seminar = We Can’t Wait!

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All you cats ‘n’ kittens out there who are deprived of Veggie Grill, we have one question for you: Have you registered for the Tech Seminar yet? Because if you did, you’re gonna be noshin’ on kale salad, gut-filling sandwiches, and some of the best dern carrot cake this side of the Mississip’. (Disclaimer: It could be walnut & chocolate chip cookies and/or pudding parfait instead of the carrot cake.)

That’s right, Veggie Grill has just signed on to sponsor lunch for this November’s Tech Seminar in Seattle! We couldn’t be more excited to share this with you. If you’ve never eaten there before, picture all your fast-food guilty pleasures from your pregan days…well, let’s just show you!

And here’s Janessa and Michele doing what they do best—deciding what to eat!

Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

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Hot on the heels of 2013 Con registration, we have more news for you!

It’s the Vida Vegan Seminar Series. These are going to be one-day seminars focusing on a single topic, with a small classroom and instructors prepared to make sure you leave for the day with a nice little skill set. We’ll space them out (between the conferences) and try to travel around a bit with them.

Our first seminar is set to take place this fall—Saturday, November 3, at the gorgeous Seattle Public Library, to be exact—and we’ll be diving into the technical aspects of Internet veganism: blogging and social media. At the end of the day, you will be armed with skills and resources to build a more effective online presence.

Classes will run one at a time, with lunch and snack breaks, and are set to include (we’re locking down our instructors and their specialties now):

  • Shooting & Sharing Video
  • Podcasting on a Budget
  • Strategic Social Media & Outreach
  • Design Basics & Tools
  • Blog Building, Coding & Hosting

We are limiting class size to 50 attendees so everyone gets ample Q&A time. Registration will open Friday, July 20, and is nonrefundable, no exceptions.

Interested? All the info is on the Tech Seminar page, which we’ll be updating as details are confirmed.

VVC Location Scouting: Chicago

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We know January and February in Chicago can be brutal, but that’s when we had time to go and that’s when we could afford to go, so that’s when we went, and you know what, we loved it!

Michele was lucky enough to grow up there, but for Jess and Janessa, this was a first look (and feel!) of the Windy City. We packed up our boots and gloves and headed to Chi-town to see if it has what it takes to host a few hundred vegan bloggers for a weekend.

We explored…

Three days of killer public transit for $14. Nice.
Chicago: Where a surprise Native Foods just pops up on your walk downtown...

We met up with friends, old and new…

VVC Organizers Janessa, Jess & Michele, with periwinkle-capped cookbook author Kelly Peloza outside Chicago Diner: The Brunch Visit

And we ate!

Nachos at Chicago Diner
The Chicago Diner: Where friends can share a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Milkshake!
Custom pizza at The Boiler Room: Daiya mozz, Upton's seitan bacon, fresh basil & red sauce
Whole Foods Lincon Park: Where one can shop with a glass of wine.
Intelligentsia Coffee
Hot dogs from the Whole Foods food court!
Tacos from Quesadilla La Reina del Sur

The verdict? Chicago definitely has what it takes to embrace us and keep us busy. We saw a lot of cool spaces, ate a lot of comfort food (some good, some bad, some awesome), and even found a tattoo artist who uses vegan inks.

The holdup? We’re looking to bring you an even better, more polished event for 2013 and are honestly a little nervous about holding our sophomore conference so far away. Chicago’s a little more expensive than Portland, and we have a smaller pool of friends and family to beg, borrow, and steal from. We know we can do it…but we also can’t afford to lose our day jobs. We have a bunch to talk about before making a final decision, but we’re planning for a March 15th announcement, after a couple more meetings. 

You know either way, Portland or Chicago, it’s gonna be a blast. It wouldn’t be so surprising if we went with one for 2013 and another for VVC3. So, see you somewhere May 2013!

Brought to you by…

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We’d like to take this opportunity to thank some fantastic folk, those who believe in what we do. We have yet to formally solicit a single sponsorship, yet these few have already stepped up to the plate and said, “I want to help make this happen.” And that’s awesome.

We want you to know that we will not accept money from just anyone. We joke about not being sponsored by the Pork Board, but it’s true. When we started researching blog conferences (ones that some of you participate in), we were surprised and grossed out by some of the sponsors. As much as we want this first year to be fantastic and to not hear those bitter words, “Well, it’s their first year,” we will do our best to not compromise ourselves, to keep our list relevant to you. Keep an eye on our Sponsors page—whether you’re a registrant or aspiring sponsor. We’ll keep updating it with links!

We think this first group sets the stage pretty well. Ladies and gentlemen, our first sponsors:

Fleming Ink, publisher of Hannah Kaminsky’s books and Go Dairy Free

Vegan Backpacker, your source for vegan adventure

Lion’s Share Industries, maker of gorgeous and responsible t-shirts

T.O.F.U. Magazine, spreading the good word—new issue just around the corner, so stay tuned!

And we don’t have a logo for them yet, but More Than Salad has just signed on. This is a rapidly growing database of veg-friendly cuisine around the world. If you’re at the conference, stop by their table.