VVC alum

Catching up with Vida Vegan Alumni: Q & A with Leigh-Chantelle

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My, how time flies! We started this Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters heading into September’s VeganMoFo, and since we received such great feedback and responses from our alumni, we’re excited to continue with a few more final installments. These special interviews offer 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.  

Our next interview is with one of our furthest traveling guests for Vida Vegan Con, (mostly) Australian-based author, international speaker, activist and blogger, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan! and the Green Earth Group.

Leigh-Chantelle, Viva La Vegan!
Leigh-Chantelle, Viva La Vegan!

What were you up to this Summer? I travelled to the USA for my Australian Winter. I spent 9 weeks in America, travelling all over the country for vegan/Animal Rights events, visiting friends and, one of my favourite things – road trips. When I was in the USA I had an interview with CHRY105.5FM in Toronto, Canada and had a lovely article written about me in the Examiner.

Talks, Panels & Workshop Videos:

LC’s USA Adventures & photos
LC’s USA Adventures & photos

I then spent a month in Cambodia, specifically Phnom Pehn, Battambang and Siem Reap before coming to Indonesia. I spent the last few weeks in Magelang, Central Java and then Surabaya, East Java before returning to my beloved Ubud, Bali where I’ll be until the beginning of October when I return home to Brisbane, Australia for aunty duties. I did a lot of media interviews when I was in Java – you can view the articles on my blog, FaceBook or Google+. One of the articles is online – use Google Translate for English. (see the photo attached – Focus Jateng) I’ve just launched 3 new vegan dessert e-books and 1 raw recipe e-book. I’ve completed the text for my upcoming recipe book due out the end of the year and am now compiling my vegan athletes interview book. As always, I have many different projects going.

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?

VVC is my favourite vegan event – and I’ve been to a great deal of vegan/AR events. I was asked to speak again for the second year, immediately accepted and was excited about the new topics I’d be speaking about.

Looking back, what was the most memorable class? I really enjoyed being a part of the Ethics Beyond the Plate panel and had a lot of great feedback about it. I thought 5 people on the panel was too many, but Jason did a great job of directing questions and keeping the topics on track. It’s biased, but I always love hearing my close friends Jasmin and Mariann from Our Hen House as well as Ryan Patey from TOFU Magazine speak.

What would you like to see more or less of in (vegan) blogging? One of the things I say in just about every talk I give – especially here in SE Asia – is that veganism is not a diet and it’s not a religion. Diet in particular seems to be the main focus for a lot of blogs. I’d like to see more people write about the fact that veganism isn’t the first and last step towards compassion and living ethically. We are here on this earth to learn and there’s just so much to absorb. I also don’t like reading about how veganism is a “cure all” for all of the diseases and environmental catastrophes we are experiencing – it’s a massive help, but it’s not the be all and end all.

You can follow along with Leigh-Chantelle’s travels and vegan journey by following her  Youtube channel, VivaLaVeganDotNet, Twitters, @VivaLVegan & @leighchantelle and Pintetest page, Viva La Vegan.

Stay tuned for the final installments of our Q & A series and some vegan-friendly entertaining tips for the holiday season here at Vida Vegan Headquarters.

Month of Memories presents: Q & A with Jojo! (aka dear Vegan.in.Brighton)

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Greetings! Welcome to the latest edition of our ongoing Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters. These special interviews offer 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. 

It’s now time to catch up with first time, wonderfully enthusiastic Vida Vegan alumnae, Jojo Huxster, better known to vegan bloggers (and readers!) around the globe as the longtime blogger behind “Vegan.in.Brighton“. Jojo’s currently across the pond once again, exploring and documenting even more of what the United States has to offer vegan visitors.


Hi JoJo! Just what have you been up to this summer? 
After Vida Vegan Con I travelled around the Pacific Northwest a little more and then popped home and quickly turned around for Spain where I celebrated my 30th birthday with my besties. After that I popped to Zagreb to hang with some more wonderful vegan friends.
Since I’ve been back in Brighton I’ve been eating all of the gelato, planning my next trip (see ya soon San Francisco!) and baking cupcakes for Operation Icing, my not-for-profit bakery.
Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II? 
After reading everyone’s write ups of the first conference in 2011 how could I not? The speaker line up was amazing and it was a perfect opportunity to meet up with online friends from all over the globe. I finally got to meet Mandee from Cupcake Kitteh and we had a ridiculously fun time sharing a room together for a whole week.
Looking back, what was the most memorable class? 
This is a tough one but I’d have to say Isa’s iPhone photography class, she’s completely hilarious and awesome and I have been using many swatches in my photographs ever since!
How has your blog changed since the three-day conference? 
I am making a concerted effort to take better photographs whenever I can, but, y’know, sometimes I’m just hungry so don’t hold me to it!
Who were you really excited to meet? 
Wow, so many people. I’ve been talking to so many PPKers and bloggers for years and years without ever having a chance to meet them in person so it was a total whirlwind and I loved meeting everyone.
So, have you started reading any new blogs? 
Yes! I have two new favorite blog discoveries, one was Bonzai Aphrodite, I’d never heard of this beautiful vegan lifestyle blog before and I love it. I had also never realised that VVC organizer Janessa had a blog, I know right, duh, and I’m loving following her on her travels around Eastern Europe and SE Asia.
Lastly, what was your favorite meal in Portland, outside of the conference? 
Can I have more than one favourite meal in Portland? (Note: Duh) I was there for almost two weeks – I seriously had to keep extending my stay because I didn’t want to leave! I loved everything I ate at Back to Eden and if I could I would smuggle Ms Panda with Cookie across the ocean (y’know, if she wants to) to come and live with me so that she can cook me her famous biscuits and gravy every day.
Another meal I keep thinking back to is the Mac ‘n Cheese burger at White Owl Social Club, I ate that thing four times in a week – no regrets!
White Owl’s Mac & Cheese Burger with shoestring fries. Photo via Vegan.in.Brighton

In short, Jojo rules and all of us at Vida Vegan Headquarters are in awe of her Mac ‘n Cheese dedication. Come back this way soon — they’re calling your name!

You can read more about Jojo’s take on VVC2013 right here on her recap and stay tuned to her blog updates & travels (she’s recently been spotted in Las Vegas) over at Instagram, @vegan.in.brighton and ditto on twitter

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

Late Summertime Crunk: Q & A with Bianca Phillips

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Hey there! Welcome to the first edition of our Summertime Q & A series at Vida Vegan Headquarters!  This series will give a glimpse into our past alumni’s upcoming projects, seasonal 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 minds.

First up, we’re joined by the one-and-only Bianca Phillips, of long-time vegan favorite blog, Vegan Crunk

Ms. Crunk.
Ms. Crunk.

So Bianca, what have you been up to this summer?

Traveling to various VegFests to promote Cookin’ Crunk, picnicking with friends, went to Bonnaroo.

Why did you decide to attend Vida Vegan Con II?

Because Vida Vegan Con I was, like, the best couple of days of my life! For real! And II was just as amazing! Loved seeing all my old blogger friends and meeting new people.

Looking back, what was the most memorable class?

Definitely Susan V’s advanced photography class

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

Hmmm….I wish I had a better answer here. It hasn’t changed at all. I really could use a re-design. Maybe one day soon.

How did VVC2013 affect your culinary style and home cooking?

I’ve been making the hell out of some Soy Curls.

Who were you really excited to meet?

Ashlee Piper! (and then we didn’t even get time to hang out … Ashley: You and me, cocktails. It’s gonna happen one day.) And JoJo!! And Sayward!!!

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

Going to the vegan strip club after the galarama and having a stripper place her ta-tas into my picture of vegan taquitos. Best food porn ever!

So, have you started reading any new blogs?

Yep! Lots! Especially loving From A to a Vegan.

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

My favorite blogs are photo-heavy and personal. I like reading about other people’s lives and what they ate for dinner. I’m not as into recipe blogs, just because I’m up to ears in cookbooks at home.

Image source: Yelp.com

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

Oh gosh! What if we had a VVC 5k?! I say that, but I know I’d actually be too hungover to run it.

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

Probably the box of a dozen Voodoo Doughnuts that I ate on for days. Also, that corn dog at Hungry Tiger Too is OFF THE CHAIN, yo.

Broken record time: As always, stay tuned for more!

Our Summertime Q & A series will continue far into VeganMoFo.

You can check out Bianca’s own recaps on VVC2013 right here: Vida Vegan Con Part I and Vida Vegan Con Part 2.

We miss you, Bianca!

Catching up with Carrie Forrest, VVC Gold Star Alumnae

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The summer is flying by and as proud organizers, we’ve been wondering what everyone has been up to since VVC2013! So, we reached out to our attendees through our official Vida Vegan Headquarters Facebook page and wanted to share the lively results. Here’s what Carrie Forrest, a 2011 and 2013 Gold star alumnae (which is something we just made up for repeat attendees and totally want to roll with) had to say:

Photographic evidence of enjoying summer in California.
Photographic evidence of enjoying summer in California.

I just finished my master’s degree project in public health nutrition on “The Differences in Selected Disease Occurrence Between Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians” to help update a paper that Dr. Barnard from PCRM published 20 years ago. I continue to add recipes to my best-selling recipe app for iPhones and iPads, Vegan Delish. When I’m not glued to my laptop or playing with my new kitchen appliances (I just got a soy milk maker…LOVE!), I’m outside enjoying the beautiful scenery of the California Central Coast.

If you’d like to catch up some more with Carrie, find out more about that intriguing soy milk maker and see what else she’s surely up to, check out her blog Carrie on Vegan, and her resourceful recipe app, Vegan Delish.

Stay tuned for more from Vida Vegan Headquarters!

Portland Picks with Sayward Rebhal, Bonzai Aphrodite

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The next round of personalized Portland Picks comes from a former Portlander (and naturally, passionate vegan blogger) who’ll be back in town in a few days to speak at the ‘Con, Sayward Rebhal. As always, our recommendations come from trusty Portland vegan locals and lovers, and we bet all our attendees, whether you’re arriving early or not, want to squeeze in a little time outside of the busy, busy conference schedule to wander in the vegan wonderland. Let’s find out more of Sayward’s “Socially Conscious, Totally Fabulous!”Portland musts below…

Sayward Rebhal, Bonzai Aphrodite
A Portland Farmers Market devotee

Your Name: Sayward Rebhal

Where must one go in Portland?
1. Vintage/secondhand shopping on Hawthorne (especially House Of Vintage, IF you have the time to commit, it is WORTH IT!)
2. Last Thursday/Alberta Arts Walk – those who are in Portland by Thursday, this will be happening! It is soooo good, quintessentially Portland.
3. Powell’s City Of Books. I know everyone will say that, but because obviously!
So…Best vegan eats? 
2. Los Gorditos is the best sloppy street-style vegan Mexican food EVER.
3. Pad Thai Kitchen is so good and sooo generous with portions. So good. Cute neighborhood, too.
4. Nicholos for Lebanese. It is mind-blowingly amazing, don’t overlook it.
5. Canteen. Because you just don’t understand how good a greens/beans/grain bowls can really taste (get the Portland Bowl!)

Nicholas Restaurant. Image Source: One Armed Dino blog
Where to for lovely juice and cocktails?
1. Green smoothie or juice at Sip (a cart out front of People’s Co Op)
2. Drinks at Sweet Hereafter (or the Bye and Bye, if you’re up that way)
3. Vegan Boba Cocktails at The Tea Zone downtown (it’s off-menu, you have to ask)
Some very special shopping…
1. FUBONN! An entire supermarket-sized Asian foods store. Amazing.
2. Stock up on bulk soy curls vegan chap stick at Food Fight!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Look, it’s all so good! You really can’t go wrong.
For real. With mere days to go, do stay tuned for the next round! For more Portland Vegan Dining, Shopping & Tourist ideas, check out our official While You’re in Town selection and the VVC 2013 Google Map

Expanding Outwards: Connecting Veganism To Other Social Justice Movements; A Guest Post by Jamie J. Hagen

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Expanding Outwards: Connecting Veganism To Other Social Justice Movements

A Guest Post by: Jamie J. Hagen, upcoming 2013 Vida Vegan Con Speaker. Look out for Jamie’s three classes on the agenda: Comments are Your Friend – Veganism, Feminism & Social Justice – and – Finding Balance: Blogging and Personal Life

Photo by Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

The first time I heard Carol J. Adams speak was at the Liberation Now! Conference in San Francisco in 2004. Her provocative slideshow captivated the audience in a huge auditorium. I was vegan then, but I’d yet to grow into any other social justice identities. All the same, important seeds of knowledge were planted.

Almost a decade later and as an active feminist, I heard Adams speak again this year. This time she spoke to an overflowing Bluestockings bookstore in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The event was to celebrate the release of Defiant Daughters, an anthology including essays by 21 authors reflecting on the Sexual Politics of Meat more than twenty years after the initial publication of her groundbreaking book.

A common thread of the essays is the eye opening experience many women had when making the connections between animal rights and feminism. Their stories are diverse, emotional, intelligent and engaging. But as the editors noted during the NYC reading, this anthology is only the beginning of the conversation about making connections between social justice movements.

The audience raised some questions after the reading: Where are the responses from men who have made this connection? Where are the voices from gender non-conforming individuals? How can eco-feminists respond to the rejection of a gender binary by some in the LGBTQ community?

Photo credit: Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

I’m excited I’ll be speaking on two panels at Vida Vegan Con regarding intersecting social justice issues. Both the “Ethics Beyond the Plate” panel and the “Veganism, Feminism and Social Justice” panel will address how to expand issues important to the vegan community outwards.

It’s encouraging so many inspiring activists are engaging in these crucial conversations in blogs, books and podcasts. Be sure to check out the book Defiant Daughters and visit the Lantern Books website to listen to clips from the evening including a reading from Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House who will also be at Vida Vegan Con this year.

Photo credit: Jasmin Singer
Photo credit: Jasmin Singer

In preparation for the conference I recently chatted with fellow panelists Erika Larson and Meave Connor. We agreed we would like to grow our panel into a larger ongoing project so keep your eyes peeled for that. Suggestions for what type of intersectional project you’d like to see are welcome in the comment section below!

VVC Alum Does Good: Carrie Forrest’s Vegan Delish App

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Carrie Forrest headshotVida Vegan is the best extended family ever! Our group is filled with so much creativity and productivity, all spreading the good vegan word through words and sights and sounds. VVC alum Carrie Forrest (Carrie on Vegan) has created Vegan Delish, a whole foods recipe app for Apple handheld devices. We wanted to know more!

You blog tons of recipes—what made you take the app leap? Was it just app or cookbook time?

That’s right. After blogging for over three years, I had amassed enough recipes and interest that it was time to organize them into something marketable. I had the opportunity to license software to create Vegan Delish, which is essentially a digital cookbook with cool features like a shopping list, social media sharing options, and recipe ratings. Besides the interactive features, I love being able to constantly add new recipes to the app to keep it fresh and relevant.

Vegan Delish iPhone screenshotWhat was the hardest aspect of development?

As a blogger, I wasn’t always consistent in my form, but when you publish recipes in the app, there are certain protocols you have to follow. That was a challenge, in terms of editing. I also felt pressure to increase the quality of my photos and take my skills up a notch.

And the most rewarding?

I’m like a proud parent when anyone tells me they use Vegan Delish. My ultimate goal with both my blog and my app has been to inspire people to try cooking easy, vegan meals at home, so I feel fulfilled whenever that happens.

Do you receive feedback from your users? Anything particularly surprising?

There is a recipe rating and review feature, and I read every comment on individual recipes from users. I’m sometimes surprised by the feedback. For instance, one person left a review saying her kids loved the Curry Kale Chips, which surprised me since I never would have thought to categorize that recipe as kid-friendly.

iPad screenshot

What’s your favorite recipe on the app?

Since my specialty is creating recipes that are super healthy and in general made with no oils, salt, or added sugars, I had to go and mess with the already-healthy black bean brownie and add spinach to it. Even though it turns the batter green, my Spinach & Black Bean Brownies still come out tasting awesome (and once they’re baked, they’re not green). Topped with my Vanilla “Cream” Frosting made with cashews and dates…mmmmmm!

Do you have future plans for Vegan Delish? How will it evolve?

My next big plan is to add recipes from other bloggers; I really want to grow the recipe base and include some of the fantastic healthy, vegan recipes that are in the blogosphere. In fact, if you’re interested in contributing, please email me at Carrie @ VeganDelish . com!

Returning to Portland for VVC, what’s a must-see/eat/do for newcomers?

I absolutely love visiting Portland, and I am thrilled to be returning in May. My favorite places to visit are the Saturday Market, Herbivore Clothing, the International Rose Test Garden, and the farmers’ market at PSU. My all-time favorite restaurants in Portland are Prasad (loved seeing it spoofed in this episode of Portlandia) and Blossoming Lotus.

Thanks, Carrie. We’ll see you in May!