Hi y’all. Janessa here. We’ve got some news to share. The three of us founders came together recently and had some big talks. As we’ve always aimed to be transparent, honest and loving, as hard as this is to write, we made a decision that we want to share with you.
Jess, Michele and I started Vida Vegan Con in 2009, when Blogspot wasn’t yet owned by Google and Instagram wasn’t a glimpse in the collective blogger’s smartphone’s eyes. It was started with the goal to bring vegans together, to build community and increase knowledge. To learn more about the nuts and bolts of blogging on new platforms, as well as vegan lifestyle issues: activism, mating and dating, fashion, privacy and sharing on social media, photography and cookbook writing… And most importantly, to us, to bring together people who perhaps had never met another vegan, to bridge the gap that vegans felt. To introduce them to their favorite bloggers, authors and celebrities (hello, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Colleen Patrick Goudreau). To make the vegans all over the world feel less alone, more connected and more inspired.
It was the world’s first international vegan conference. Wow. And we succeeded. Because of you. And we went on to organize a second Vida Vegan Con in Portland, where we’re based, and what happened to be the “vegan mecca” at the time. Which also sold out. And a Tech Seminar in Seattle. And an Exquisite Vegan Dinner and Beer Pairing at Portland’s oldest brewpub. And a Holiday How-To party. And now here we are gearing up for Vida Vegan Con III, this time in Austin, Texas, and we couldn’t be more excited. This is a sincere labor of love for all three of us. Throughout the past six years, Jess, Michele and I have poured everything we have into this. And it’s always been a passion project we’ve hoped to turn into a career—as many of you who’ve attended and followed us over the years no doubt understand. We’ve done this while working long hour day jobs, freelancing and changing jobs (and jobs). In so many ways, we’ve put put our lives on hold to give ourselves to all things Vida Vegan Con. And it’s been so, so worth it. The people we’ve met and connected with over the years are some of our favorite people. The people who’ve attended and launched businesses, brands, started blogs & websites and began their companies after Vida Vegan events truly humble us.
This has been an amazing, uplifting, enriching rewarding experience for us, and we hope for all of you, too.
That is why it is with a heavy but clear heart that we want to share with you that this is the last Vida Vegan Con. We all still love each other dearly, and love the niche we fill doing it, but it’s time to move on.
It’s hard work. It’s a full-time job done around our other full-time hours. We’ve all grown and changed a lot in the years since we concepted Vida Vegan Con, and even with the most recent two-year break while we planned the next one, there’s never enough time. The truth of the matter is that it’s turned into a full-time job for the workload, but without the salary. We have always been very intentional about keeping the conference as affordable as possible while giving the most value we can. We never wanted big brand logos to overtake and dilute the feeling of the event; we wouldn’t feel right taking a paycheck from a company we couldn’t all get behind. We always aimed to work with socially conscious brands and companies, and we’re proud to say that we succeeded. Our intentions of a socially responsible conference with integrity and community have been accomplished. And now we leave the folks who’ve been inspired by what they’ve learned or who they’ve met at Vida Vegan Con to continue the trajectory.
We’re not saying goodbye forever; we all still love planning worthwhile vegan events and working for the animals and the communities that support and speak for the animals, the planet and each other. There may be some project down the road, in which case you can expect the same care, attention to detail and time spent planning it. But until then, if you’ve always been wanting to attend, or have been wavering about attending or sponsoring. we feel we owe it to you to be transparent. If you’ve been wanting to come, please do. This is going to be an incredible one, and the first ever in our adopted city of Austin, Texas. This is the first one to include the debut Vegan Bazaar, which is Day One of our three-day Conference and for the first time, open to the public. We’d love for to come and be part of vegan history. Join us.
We love doing this, but life rolls on and it’s time to make some changes and get our lives back. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love, encouragement and support. We couldn’t have made Vida Vegan Con what it was without all of you.
Thank you, and we hope to see you in Austin,
Janessa, Jess & Michele
Co-founders, Vida Vegan
Join us for a winter wonderland of a Google Hangout this Sunday with VVC2015 Speaker Eco-Vegan Gal!
When: Sunday, December 7, 2014 starting at 11amPST/1pmCST/2pmEST for one hour
What: Join Vida Vegan Con founders Janessa, Jess and Michele to discuss winter holiday recipes, memories, entertaining tips and hear some big announcements about what’s in store at Vida Vegan Con III in May. We’ll be joined by a special guest, Whitney Lauritsen aka Eco-Vegan Gal, who’ll be sharing her own holiday tips in a live Q & A, what she’s been up to and what this self-made YouTube star has planned for her own special class at VVC2015.
Hold up! Bonus! Well, Jess is pretty sure she clicked all the correct buttons to make this broadcast (and record!) live! This means you don’t have to “join” in on the chat to witness our shenanigans, but if you do, you’re a part of the fun!
Whether you’re attending, thinking about grabbing a ticket or just super wish you could be there, this is a chance to ask us all your questions about Vida Vegan Con.
Where: Google Hangout! Here’s the event page: Vida Vegan Con December Hangout. You don’t have to have the silly world of Google Plus all figured out by any means: just click on the link and check the event out! We do recommend that you turn off the event notifications (Boooooring).
RSVP & we’ll see you there!
P.S. Looking for more vegan holiday entertaining ideas? Download our 2013 Holiday E-Zine for a mere $3 bucks! Created for last December’s Holiday Hors D’oeuvres & How-Tos event, this e-zine is filled with wintry recipes as well as craft instructions, decorating tips, and gift ideas. Recipes include Cauliflower “Goat Cheese” and Baked Maple Whiskey Popcorn!
You like fluffy biscuits? We adore fluffy biscuits! You like gravy? We lo-o-o-ve gravy! Here at Vida Vegan HQ, Janessa’s daydreaming of mashed potatoes and pie, Michele is gonna get down with some stuffing in a very special way, and I’m seriously craving sweet potatoes, which can only mean one thing: let’s talk Vegan Thanksgiving recipes! It’s last minute, for sure, but there’s always time to add another pie to the menu. Sheesh.
With the need for an assortment of pies, savoury stuffing and whatever seitan/tofu/en croute is the latest and greatest or best of the rest, let’s grab a plate, enjoy with loved (or liked!) ones, and keep menu planning for one delicious American Thanksgiving afternoon!
And may we suggest, if your American T-Day celebration isn’t as cruelty-free as you may like (oh, family), we recommend you find your local veg group, or start your own vegan potluck with friends, and veganize the heck out of your family favorites on another day. Enjoy!
Check out these Vegan Thanksgiving photos & holiday tips from our own Vida Vegan Con 2015 Speakers & Friends:
Starting things off with a little something something…
Apple Pie on the Rocks, via Vegan Yack Attack. Cheers, Jackie!
Perhaps the ultimate fall comfort food, we have a legit Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Parsnip and Potato Mash, courtesy of Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw, via Food 52. Check out Gena’s tips on veganizing your own Thanksgiving, including her “perfect vegan pie crust“, over here.
For even more tips and on all things mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, check out The Sexy Vegan’s latest holiday episode. He’s quite the informative fella!
This one has definitely become a new Vegan Thanksgiving classic: Joni Marie Newman’s Seitan en Croute from 500 Vegan Recipes. Mmmm, “en croute”.
It’s quite the savoury masterpiece. The recipe is up on Just the Food. You know what to do.
Here in Portland, Oregon, we look forward to food writer Grant Butler’s holiday recipe guides in The Oregonian every year. I seriously found my new favorite pie thanks to his pieces last year, veganizing Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie for the second year in a row just yesterday.
Check out Grant’s most recent, talking all things cranberry sauce (with some recipes, of course): 7 Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, relish and chutney recipes, via Oregonian FoodDay.
Another holiday favorite goes to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Chickpea Cutlets:
Since Veganomicon’s release in 2007, I have been to so many potlucks and dinners that have starred these great patties (okay, fine, and last year she made them inside my apartment. Wowzers.)
Okay, we’ve got the seitan, so don’t forget the biscuits!!
Fluffy Biscuits & Creamy Sage Gravy, Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner
Frankly, it’s almost time for pie, so let’s get down with some sweet potatoes as a stepping stone. The aroma of mashed sweet potatoes, cinnamon & pecan is my ultimate holiday food nostaglia, and this one looks deeeee-lightful:
The Blissful Chef’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecan Topping
Want your mashed sweet potatoes to be SWEET potatoes? Er….yams? Sayward’s got ya covered with these Traditional “Dandied” Yams:
If you’re like me, you’ve been known to insist on mac & cheese as part of your Vegan Thanksgiving spread.
You made it through! It time for pie!
First up, this absolutely gorgeous chocolate pecan pie from chocolate guru Fran Costigan:
And goodness, gracious: Maple Yam-Ginger Pie from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen.
You can find that recipe up on FancyFoodFancy.
What a beautiful time for veganism.
And because some of us really like to go back for more stuffing, we’ve got two more for ya, of the cornbread persuasion:
Cornbread Sofrito Stuffing with Veggie Chorizo, courtesy of Terry Hope Romero on Vegan Latina.
And one more for the road: Vegan Southern-Style Cornbread Stuffing, courtesy of Susan Voisin on Fatfree Vegan.
For more ideas, check out these real life Thanksgiving Feasting recaps from our friends Bianca Phillips, Sayward Rebhal, Lisa Coulson (aka Panda with Cookie) & Jackie Sobon:
Thanksgiving Recap, or, Tale of Unturkey, via Vegan Crunk
What we ate Wednesday: THANKSGIVING!, via Bonzai Aphrodite
All things Vegan Thanksgiving on Vegan Yack Attack
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes & Plans, via Panda with Cookie
Plus, Vegan Cuts has this awe-inspiring Vegan Thanksgiving Pinterest collection.
Go team, go!
One small thing that makes a big difference? Print out or hand write a nice menu for your delicious spread, and post it on the wall. We bet it’ll get your company even more excited!
As for us, Janessa’s whole family will be together for the first time in years! Their plans include pumpkin pie, pizza and going outside to play “Leaf Extreme”. Michele is gonna be getting down with some of these, and I’m bringing Shiraz, chocolate cream pie and biscuit dough (Dude, you better believe it’s homemade!) to a small get-together (while craving Thai food, no doubt). My evening plans include relaxing with my partner, more pie, and Skyping my sister and her new dog.
And if you need an idea for staying in and avoiding the world, may we suggest keeping calm, picking up some Pad Thai and Pumpkin Curry, and relaxing with some quirky science fiction on Netflix. Nice.
We ♥ our Vida Vegan members, and we bet you will, too!
It’s time to catch up with another featured member from our Vida Vegan Membership collection, and this time we’re talking with Kat Mendenhall, the multi-talented creator of Kick Butt Boots! We’re sharing just what this vegan lifestyle coach, culinary nutritional expert and boot maker’s been up to lately & excited about—and just what restaurant she’d pick to dine at for the rest of her life. Let’s be real: It’s a great one! Recently, Kat was the first vegan chef to provide a demo at the Texas State Fair’s Celebrity Kitchen, and had her own booth at the epic Texas Veggie Fair in Dallas!
So, Kat, what excites you most about veganism today?
I’ve been vegan for five years and the explosion I’ve seen during that time is simply unbelievable. From new vegan food products, clothing, shoes, cookbooks, etc. The awareness of the cruelty to animals is more visible, including the health hazards of consuming animal products. In addition the rise in environmental efforts to control, stop, and change the food industry from poisoning our planet and the environment. Minds are being open, people are demanding change, and the world is beginning to improve for the better. That is super exciting!
What have you been up to lately? Any projects you’d like to share?
I teach cooking classes at Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas twice a month. I also hold monthly workshops in Dallas based around specific themes. [Recently, it was] all about the guys,”Tailgating Without the Meat”. I also continuously work on the development phase of creating a Texas designed cruelty-free cowboy boot.
Have any critters at home you’d like to brag about?
A 4 1/2 year old rescue dog, Izzy, my grand kitty Abbott, and a 1 1/2 year old pit bull we recently picked up wandering out on a country road in Arkansas, Belle.
If you were suddenly transformed into one creature, what do you think it would be?
Is this a trick questions? A “cat” of course!
If you could have a sanctuary for any creature in the world, what would they be?
Cows with plenty of dogs and cats around to keep them company.
What’s your favorite breakfast to make on a day off?
Vegan biscuits with ‘sausage” gravy; cruelty-free comfort food at it’s best.
What is your favorite word?
Ridicalickanoculous, my own creation!
We’re taking Vida Vegan Con on the road! How has Austin, TX caught your eye?
Caught my eye and my heart! I love that it is unique and holds tight to its Texas roots despite its growth.
Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Italy, on the calendar for next year!
All right, if you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Candle Cafe in New York City
Hellooo, legendary porcini-crusted seitan, and thank you for the answers & cravings, Kat!
You can follow along with Kat on her website’s events page, her Facebook page, with @katmossmendenhall over on Twitter, and hopefully at Vida Vegan Con III this May!
Hey, ghoul. Hey.
Halloween season has arrived and the pumpkins are out!
Whether you’re picking up some sweet confections for your own kids, the neighborhood, a rather mature costume party or it’s the combination of childhood nostalgia + all those dang candy sales getting to you, it’s time to consider your vegan options this week!
As vegans with internet access, we should all know by now that PETA offers this here list (make sure to double and triple check, you know, do the vegan thing, for confectioner’s glaze and sneaky, sneaky things like that) and recently spotlighted these 25 Vegan Halloween Candies. And VegNews jumped in on the fun just last week with their own 2014 Vegan Candy Guide for the festivities, which can only mean one thing…it’s our turn!
From eyeball-inspired sweets to the contemplation of pumpkin hot toddies, we’ve been poking around the internet again and are ready to share some Vegan Halloween inspiration at Vida Vegan Headquarters (including a bunch of folks from our VVC family!)
Vida Vegan HQ presents: 18 Vegan Halloween Ideas
First up, something classic, yet veganized, this way come…
Next up, let me give a little “omg omg” and send some thanks to the folks at Vegan Cuts for pointing us this way!
Naturally ⸺ or, not naturally, that is ⸺ it’s certainly not Halloween without some creepy edibles:
3) Witches’ Fingers, Urban Vegan (2011 speaker!)
Are there vegan gummy worms at the bottom of this bucket of candy? Or more importantly, does anyone make vegan gummy worms and have a bag they can send me for some chocolate dirt & worms action? Mmm, yuck, mmm, yuck.
Ah, something healthy to sink your teeth into, ba da bum:
5) 3 Ingredient Halloween Apple Bites, Oh She Glows (2013 attendee!)
These are really cute.
Moving on, would you prefer the following with or without booze?
7) BOO-Berry Jiggers,Joni Marie Newman’s Just the Food (soon to be 3-time VVC speaker!)
I must have this in my life. It’s utterly adorable.
Also adorable? (…and this could be my years of obsessive Anne Rice reading talking)
There’s at least a few of you planning on (blooooody) pumpkin tacos, right?! I wouldn’t doubt it.
Let’s get to the point:
The one thing I’ve crossed off my list this week so far:
Did pumpkin finally sell out? Maybe. But do I still have pumpkin fever? Yes.
13) Baked Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce, Julie Hasson’s Vegan Casseroles via Bake and Destroy (Julie joins us for a 2nd VVC in May, phew)
Hello, thematically-inclined bubble tea:
That calls for some sake in there, if you know what I mean (which to clarify, is exactly what I said about wanting sake).
Real food below! Not candy! Keep going!
15) Halloween Wild Rice, Bitter Sweet blog (3 timer!)
Yeah, pumpkin, we heart ya still.
16) Spicy Pumpkin Soup (video episodle!), The Sexy Vegan (2015 VVC Speaker!)
One more from Jackie, ’cause, breakfast:
17) Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, Vegan Yack Attack (2013 attendee & 2015 speaker!)
And for a post-breakfast treat this week, you know what fits the bill:
Hi Bianca! Hi ice cream!
18) So Delicious Halloween Ice Cream Bars on Vegan Crunk (soon to be 3-time VVC speaker!!)
Store locator here.
What do you have in store? Have a creepy, crawly vegan-tastic blog post or idea to share? Let us know, and we just may include it over on our Instagram!
Got your homemade nooch monster costume ready? Pics or it didn’t happen.
We’re a few weeks into our Membership Drive, and on behalf of Vida Vegan HQ, I’m so happy to welcome all who have signed up. We’ll start sending out welcome packs to those eligible in just a couple of weeks. So far we’ve got great stuff from Field Roast, Obsessive Confection Disorder, Peanut Butter & Co, and Tofurky…and there’s more to come! And we’ll be running our first member feature on the blog this month—we can’t wait!
Really, we want to thank you for the support. We don’t have angel investors or corporate backing or anything, so it’s between you and us to keep this going and to launch new projects. We considered doing a crowdfunder but figured this would be the better route, just grouping the fundraising with our Membership launch and Early Bird ticket sales, which we’ve wanted to do for a while now.
We’re learning so much about you through those profiles of yours: what kind of tech equipment you’re into, favorite classes of past VVC’ers, and how many of you are already vegan or workin’ on it—super helpful as we build our VVC III agenda, but also for future programs and projects. Again, we’re only here because of you, so the more we can connect with you the better.
For those who haven’t signed up, you’ve got until July 31 to grab these bonuses. But be warned: Some of the perks are limited and close to selling out…like the Early Bird registration spots and individual inclusive packages did. We do still have a couple of the double-inclusives left, so if you’ve got a friend registering and would like to share a 2-queen-bed hotel room, check it out. (And if that’s not going to work for you, mark your calendar: Regular Vida Vegan Conference registration opens August 1.)
If you can’t attend the conference but still want to support what we do, we’ve got benefits like online shout-outs, e-books, blog features, and postcards with love from Austin. Or you can check out our online store and pick up a t-shirt or water bottle. Thank you!
Other pots on the stove:
Don’t forget, this weekend is our first Vida Vegan Google Hangout. Sunday, July 6, at noon PST, join us online for an hour of chit-chat. We want to see new and old faces! Connect with each other. Let us know what’s happening with you. Hit us up with questions you have about VVC or anything else we’ve got going on.
Oh, and our open speaker application period ends July 9—so if you’ve been working on your idea, time to button it up and send it on in! We want to hear from you!
Hello, hello! Team Vida Vegan HQ returned from Vegas less than two weeks ago, and as usual, we’ve been hard at work, seriously inspired and sketching out the next three years on our calendar (er, smartphones and Google docs). There is so much in store! It’s no secret that we’re looking at a few very special cities for the much-anticipated Vida Vegan Con III, and that’s in addition to our other events. Read up on this post from way back when, aka last summer, for a reminder on just what those may be: Team Vida Vegan’s Always Cooking Something Up!
It’s also no secret that we adored our first location scouting trip to Austin last February, and with the local vegan community and dining scene growing to epic proportions, including the Capital City storefront, Mr. Natural’s brand-new new vegan brunch, and the new Wheatsville location, we’re coming back in mere days!
Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Janessa, Michele and myself will all be there — coats, potential scarves and requisite sunglasses in tow — to hear your ideas for Vida Vegan Con III. We’d also like to know just what else you’d like to see and attend, and frankly, where we should get all those dang vegan tacos. All are welcome!
We do have a ton of appointments at event venues booked around the Austin area already, and are totally open to more suggestions. Please contact us with any tips!
And if you’d like to see more about our Vegas location scouting, check out the hashtag #VidaScoutsVegas. We’ll have a post up detailing the experience and a few of our favorite locations and meals up soon enough, have no doubt.