Talking Big Changes & Mad Men MoFo: More Q & A with Kelly Peloza of Seitan Beats Your Meat

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Hey there! Welcome to the latest edition of our ongoing Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters. These special interviews give a glimpse into our past alumni’s upcoming projects, summer shenanigans and reveal what they really learned at VVC2013. They’re sharing which class sticks out in their minds so many months later, and just what they’d like to see more and less of in vegan blogging, a question that’s always on our own minds. 

This time around, we’re getting serious about VeganMoFo thematics and talking how to survive big, bloggy changes with two-time Vida Vegan Con speaker, ‘artful’ food photographer and soon to be two-time cookbook author Kelly Peloza, who can now be found blogging exclusively at the amazingly titled Seitan Beats Your Meat.

Instagram Noir Self-Portrait. Photo via @KellyPeloza on Instagram

So Kelly, just what have you been up to this summer?
Working, blogging, and working on/planning projects (including Vegan MoFo)!

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?
I had an amazing time at Vida Vegan Con I!

Kelly & Jess in some strange filter at Native Foods in Chicago in 2012

Looking back, what was the most memorable class?
The body image class was one of the most memorable.

How has your blog changed since the three-day conference?
It no longer exists (sort of)!

I found myself with tons of extra time and inspiration after the conference, so I started a brand new blog with a new focus and image to put my time and energy toward. I now blog at Seitan Beats Your Meat and the archives of my old blog, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, exist elsewhere.

How did VVC2013 affect your culinary style and home cooking?
The contents of the swag bag have been going strong! I’ve just been really into summer foods, fresh fruit and and vegetables. And pesto and bacon for some reason.

Who were you really excited to meet?
New friends! My VVCII roommates were fantastic!

Any nice surprises you’d like to share? Special memories?
I’m really excited for Vegan MoFo (can you tell?), where I’ll be doing Mad Men MoFo this year (Note, which she’s getting all retro right now!)! Then I have a new cookbook coming out in October called Cheers to Vegan Sweets.
My favorite memories from VVC2013 are the classes, VooDoo doughnuts, karaoke night, and our apartment!

So, have you started reading any new blogs?
Yes, I started reading some fellow attendees’ blogs. And the death of Google Reader made me take a look at my feeds and cut out some blogs that I don’t read anymore or haven’t been updated in years.

What would you like to see more or less of in (vegan) blogging?
It’s the best when people have a “thing” or a style that’s unique to them and their blog, whether it’s their photos, drawings, stories, or a special theme. It makes blogs so genuine and entertaining.

What would you like to see the organizers incorporate into the next VVC?
Keep the breakfast showcases coming!

What other vegan events put together by VVHQ would you like to attend?
I would love to see webinars* put on by speakers to keep the conversations going between conferences, especially since not everyone lives near the same city (or continent).

Lastly, what was your favorite meal in Portland, outside of the conference?
I keep thinking about FlavourSpot.

Maple cream & pecan waffle from Flavourspot. Image credit: Panda with Cookie and Waffle

*Special Note from Vida Vegan Headquarters: Seriously, has she been reading our minds?! Something of the sorts is very much in the works (and then again, what isn’t?) because we love the notions of staying in touch and letting folks around the world tune in while keeping their pajamas on. And….now I’m craving maple, preferably in a retro cocktail.

Congrats on the upcoming cookbook, Kelly! 

To keep up with Kelly’s latest, be sure to catch her on Instagram @kellypeloza and likewise on Twitter.

Our Month of Memories Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters will continue far into the end VeganMoFo and beyond.


Month of Memories: Vida Vegan at the Office

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Yeah, we don’t have an office. Our HQ is a P.O. box and a collection of living rooms, coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and bars. It’s a little challenging at times, sure, but it also allows us to try new spots around town, curl up with cats, and stay limber, so we can dream up lots of fun stuff for the likes of you.

Here’s a look back, via our Instagram feeds, at what a Vida Vegan meeting looks like!

Working on the schedule in Michele’s living room, from @janessapk
Early VVC floor plan sketching, in Janessa’s coffee table, from @vidaveganhq
Bagels and coffee and notebooks and laptops, at Ford Food & Drink, via @vidaveganhq
A blank slate, ready to be filled with classes. Another living room shot, from @jdfunks

And for you Portland folks, just a heads-up, we signed a contract for a little event space for early December. We’ll try to get details together for you soon. We’re pretty excited about how it’s shaping up.

Month of Memories: Chicago Veganmania 2012

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The three of us took a trip to Chicago last Fall, where we scouted a few locations for potential future events and timed it so we could attend Veganmania.

Chicago Veganmania was the place where we met Black Metal Chef AND Miyoko Schinner, so based on those two facts alone it was pretty great. We also saw some of our favorite Chicago faves: The Snarky Vegan, Kelly Peloza and Dan & Nicole from Uptons. There was a pretty good Portland showing too, with Herbivore and Food Fight representing Portland’s OG vegan mini-mall.

The Vegan Black Metal Chef at Veganmania
The Vegan Black Metal Chef at Veganmania



Miyoko Schinner at Chicago Veganmania
Miyoko Schinner at Chicago Veganmania


The organizers of Veganmania put together a great event for Chicago–and beyond–vegans and veg-curious, and we loved taking it all in. It’s wonderful that there’s so much support of one another in the vegan community, and the three of were grateful for the opportunity to support the hard work and great show that was Veganmania 2012.

A Peek into some VVC2013 Classes, Part I

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Or rather, here are some photos of a few classes at the Vida Vegan Conference that julia Legume found the time (and interest! and passion!) to attend, or at least pop in on. Fortunately, she just so happened to break a cardinal rule of vegan blogging by forgetting her own, and wound up using this organizer’s camera throughout the weekend, so here we go:

Vegan Professionals in a Non-Vegan World with Grant Butler, Fran Costigan, Julie Hasson and Janessa Philemon-Kerp

The line-up

Fran blowing everyone away, as usual

Packed house, as with every class I heard about

Biting Off More Than You Should Chew, a open discussion group…with Ryan Patey

Ryan Patey of T.O.F.U. Magazine

Opening their ears & minds. Here’s Erica’s recap on Sews Before Bros.

Isa poses a deep question.

The Zine Workshop

Brainstorming their next zines…

Joanna Vaught, Kittee Berns and Amey Mathews, our VVC zine experts. Here are Joanna’s recent post on zine-making.

Amey Mathews illustrates her own holiday zines, and assembled the lovely Vida Vegan Unofficial Cookzine

Peeking in to the wildly popular Monetizing Your Blog with Nava Atlas and Susan Voisin

Attention Spans, Social Media & the State of Blogging, another discussion group, led by yours truly. Here’s Erica’s recap on Sews Before Bros.

Aka the ‘existential social media support group’….because how can one stay sane (and blogging) in the short-form revolution? 

The library was such a special, intimate space for these discussion groups.

The Return of Vegan Battle Royale: The Vegan GameShow with Kittee Berns, Amey Mathews and Mo Martin 

And…..that’s all that exists in my archives. One day, there will be a Vida of some sort that I can sit through an entire class that’s not my own — mark my words!

Til then, I’ll live vicariously through the recaps. Please note, this was but a small fraction of the nearly 40 classes throughout the three day weekend.

Here’s a quick handful for everyone else who couldn’t make it or simply wanted to attend more classes:

Vida Vida Vegan, Bittersweet Blog

12 Lessons I Learned from Vida Vegan Con, Lazy Smurf’s Guide

Vida Vegan Con 2013: The Food, The People, The Fun!, Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Kitchen

A Love Letter to Vida Vegan Con, Cadry’s Kitchen

The 2013 VVC Mega Recap Post, Freeheel Vegan

Vida Vegan Con 2013 tag, Good Good Things

Vida Vegan Con tag, The Gay Vegans

Vida Vegan Con tag, VeganNoms

Month of Memories: Coffee in Seattle

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SEA doughnutCoffee and a doughnut, come on! Is there anything so simple and pure and everything that’s good in the world?

Sadly, vegan doughnuts are not a given. So if you are lucky enough to have them in your life, you embrace those fried-dough sweeties. And don’t get me started on a good, honest cup of the local roast! Think of all the sad cups of coffee you’ve had, especially while traveling, stale, bitter, or that thin brown water. Yes, you drink it—because that’s all there is—and you drink it black because they don’t even have soymilk.

The Pacific Northwest is sort of a quality coffee safe zone, especially when you get into the cities. We just happened upon Herkimer on our location-scouting trip to Seattle, for the 2012 Tech Seminar, and it was exactly what we needed. When you’ve got a day or two in a city with a bunch of appointments, and you’re hoping so hard one of them suits your needs, stress can run pretty high. (What if you can’t find the perfect combination of location, capacity, wi-fi, catering, and price?) Taking a moment to sit down with the best partners ever and just eat a (Mighty-O) doughnut and drink a cup of coffee—leisurely drinking from a mug, not throwing back a paper cup—can be pretty special.

Thank you, Seattle. Thank you and your gazillion local coffee roasters. You spoil us.

Late-Summertime Laze: Q&A with John McDevitt

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Joining us in our walk down memory lane are some of our favorite Vida Vegan Con alumni. What are their upcoming projects and seasonal shenanigans—and what did they take home from VVC2013?

Today we’re checking in with John McDevitt. Running Vegan Omaha and helping the kitties via The Teal Cat Project, it’s ironic the he’s the voice behind The Laziest Vegans in the World. Hey, John!

What have you been up to this summer?

Traveling, relaxing, gardening, and jogging.

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?

Because I really like Jess, Janessa, and Michele. Plus, all of the presenters and attendees are amazing.

Looking back, what was the most memorable class?

The VeganMofo class ruled.

How has your blog changed since the three-day conference?

Not much. Still lazy as ever (blogwise, anyway).

How did VVC2013 affect your culinary style and home cooking?

Ha! Not at all. I did enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives, though.

Who were you really excited to meet?


Any nice surprises you’d like to share? Special memories of VVC2013?

I just love the vibe of the conference. So many vegans in one place, it’s pretty amazing! Happy to see everyone from 2011 and meet the 2013 newbies.

So, have you started reading any new blogs?

Yes, a couple! Can’t wait till VeganMofo to find even more cool vegan blogs.

What would you like to see more or less of in (vegan) blogging?

I like to see people having fun with blogging and not take it so seriously.

What would you like to see the organizers incorporate into the next VVC?

Maybe expand the conference beyond blogging?

What other vegan events put together by VVHQ would you like to attend?

A vegan cruise, just do it! [Editor’s note: We’ve done some research, and we haven’t ruled it out.]

Lastly, what was your favorite meal in Portland, outside of the conference? (as if you could resist!)

Portobello gnocchi.

Until next time, Mr. McDevitt.

See John’s coverage of the past Vida Vegan Con here (and catch up on convenience foods galore)! And stay tuned for more of our Month of Memories, from us (Janessa, Jess & Michele) and our Vida Vegan family, all VeganMoFo long.

Month of Memories: VVC2011 Meet & Greet

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Look at all those vegan mugs!

When we planned the pre-VVC2011 meet & greet, we had NO IDEA who would show up. Sure, we gave the folks at Vendetta a little heads-up, that we might have upwards of 50 people swing by, and that they might want to add some extra vegan specials to the menu. But then y’all kept coming. This is a shot of just one little area and I can count around 30 of you!

For many, this was the first opportunity we had to put faces to names (or avatars or logos) from blogs, forums, and cookbooks. Newbs and pros mingling, some of us crawling out from behind our keyboards for a very rare social situation—even the most socially awkward can be comfortable in a gathering of bloggers! It was just so exciting and invigorating to witness this gathering…and precisely what we needed to kick off our very first conference weekend.

And I can’t help but wonder how many friendships were born in that patio.