posted August 31st, 2011 by Dan F.
I spent the weekend in Portland, Oregon at Vida Vegan, the first ever vegan bloggers conference. I was one of the sponsors of the conference and had a nice table where I showed off More Than Salad to many people. This was all great of course but...
I underestimated how good it would feel to be in the same place with 200-300 vegans. Being vegan as I have been for 8 years now, I've become used to explaining myself. It's necessary to explain to people in restaurants and to read labels and to expend effort trying to fit being vegan into a non-vegan world. Granted, the world is more vegan-friendly than ever which is of course wonderful, but I just spent the entire weekend in a vegan world and it was quite a feeling.
At the reception on Friday night, there was a big spread of cupcakes, champagne, and cheese and crackers. That would be vegan cheese and crackers. This is something we don't have in NYC yet. This sort of artisanal cheese seems to be increasingly widely found on the west coast. In this case, there were three flavors of cheese by Heidi Ho Organics and a bowl of maybe 3-4 varieties of crackers. At every party I have ever attended since being vegan, I couldn't have eaten the cheese of course, but I would've had to ask the host to see the box of the crackers. In fact at parties I'm used to asking to see labels to check what I can eat. So I had a moment when I realized I could take any cracker. I didn't have to ask.
On Saturday and Sunday there were breakfast and lunch buffets. Big buffets. Many blog posts have probably since been written about them. The food was delicious and it was completely novel and amazing to be able to take anything. For most vegans, we find things at buffets in restaurants or wherever. Maybe we go to an Indian buffet or occasionally in Asia there are asian vegan buffets. But here we have a gourmet, enormous, vegan buffet where I can literally take anything. I don't know if I have ever filled up a buffet plate so high that I had to pile things on top. I know to non-vegans this is unremarkable, but every vegan at the conference knows exactly what I meant.
So the rest of the conference really had to do with food. Talking about it and eating it. Let's take a look since that's really what everybody wants. Vegan food porn!
Hard to see, but under the veggies and daiya cheese there is a mountain of baked beans and BBQ soy curls
BBQ Tofu, Black-eyed peas, collard greens, and a toasted baguette
breaded with polenta, with bbq sauce and mustard
Possibly too crazy to describe
scallions, peppers, soy curls, and spicy sauce, with vanilla rooibos iced tea
Jerk tofu, pineapple, veggies
I know that last picture isn't that attractive, but I have to put it there because it was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in recent memory.
More pictures at the MTS Facebook page including pics of the buffet and more. I also have more pics from the roadtrip which I will upload soon. I had a lot of great stops in places from Pittsburgh all the way to Seattle. Now in California for a bit and heading back across the southern US soon!