Vida Vegan Con 2013: The Food, The People, The Fun!

Sitting at my computer for the first time since last Thursday. What a whirlwind trip off to Portland, Oregon for the Vida Vegan blogging conference. This is only the second event in its history, and yet it is a wonderland of vegan personalities and of course, vegan food!


I arrived Thursday afternoon, and that night went to dinner with my buddy JL, her hubby Dave, and our new friend Ashley from The Unintentional Vegan. I actually saw JL as the elevator doors opened (we stayed at same hotel), and we squealed SO loud I think we damaged Dave’s ears! JL had reservations at Natural Selections. WHAT a find! They had a four-course vegan menu (their menu changes daily), and it was phenomenal. By far the best meal of my visit. I don’t remember the names of the dishes (pop to JL’s blog to check, she took a pic of the menu!), but here are some pics (quality not the best b/c of lighting, and well we wanted to EAT!).






Every course was exquisite with rounded flavors and special touches. We all literally groaned tasting the first bites of each dish. JL had chosen this restaurant after reading a review by Grant Butler in the Oregonian. If you visit Portland – get there!

The next morning I was meeting my dear friend Heather Nauta for brekkie! We got lucky, the “Kure” juice/smoothie bar was 2 blocks from my hotel, it fit our bill perfectly. I got the “Queen Green” smoothie. Of course. 😉 We also bumped into Lisa Pitman (I hugged her extra long to absorb her joy, see pic below), Nicole Axworthy (photographer for my upcoming cookbook!), Hannah, Angela Liddon, Kate Lewis, and Marika Collins. (Some photos to come.) Here I am with Heather afterwards at the VVC registration:


Also at registration I met Isa Chandra Moskowitz for the first time.


We got our swag bag. Holy shmokes, lots of stuff:


I had my first panel that morning – “Compassionate Parenting” with Sayward Rebhal, Michelle Schwegmann and Josh Hooten:


photo credit Ami Baio, heart-shaped sky

Here I am later with Sayward:


I had no idea she was so tall! I have slight heels on here, and Sayward is in flats! I missed getting photos with Michelle and Josh. What a beautiful, kind group of people. Splendid energy, loved it.

After that panel I met my Canadian blogging buddy, Ricki Heller and we snapped a pic with Angela. Canadian Plant-Power!!


This is the first time I’ve met both, despite having ‘known’ them through blogging and email for years. What a pleasure to hang out with these ladies. Ricki’s new book is coming out this fall, by the way. If you are gluten-free and vegan and love healthy sweets – just go preorder! Angela was so unassuming and humble despite her huge fan following, she is as lovely as you can imagine – and yes, she glows. 😉

Food interruption!! Sampled this Wayfare oat ice cream. O M G.


There was a LOT of decadent vegan food at the conference. Coconut Bliss also have a new Salted Chocolate Caramel flavor (WOW!) and So Delicious has a new sugar-free ice cream (also amazing). Thank HEAVENS the kind people from Portland Juice Press let me monopolize their Saturday morning sample table (later I scored a whole bottle, saved my butt that day)! Later Angela Liddon and I escaped with Tess Masters (aka The Blender Girl!) for another green juice! Here I am with Tess, must admit I have bit of a girl crush! :)


Also finally met my friend Gena. She is also so unbelievably real and down-to-earth, despite her huge online presence and career accomplishments. Her smile brightens my heart.


Group pic with Ricki, Heather, Christy, JL and Gena:


Later I did the “Art of Writing Recipes” panel with Terry Hope Romero and Nava AtlasJason Das tweeted this sketch of us afterwards. HOW COOL! (And, how did I miss meeting you, Jason?!) It was a flurry of activity and people.


Here I am later with Nava. What a privilege to meet this vegetarian and vegan cookbook pioneer. I have communicated by email so many times with Nava, and this was our first time to meet. I felt like I’d known her forever, so easy to talk to, great sense of humor, and so much career wisdom.


Also reunited Fran Costigan (we first met at Summerfest). Here I am with Fran and Brian Patton (aka The Sexy Vegan). Brian is funny and witty in his videos, and in person he is that and also a really sweet guy. I’ve been tweeting with him the last month, he is uber-fun. I’m sure I’ve annoyed the heck out of him, repeatedly telling him to get gifts for his beautiful pregnant wife!


Also reunited with Allison Rivers Samson and Jill Nussinow. Couple pics of these vegan divas!


Jill with Lisa and Nicole…


If you’re still with me (!), here’s that “joy hugging” with Lisa:


My 3rd and final panel was “oversharing and privacy lines” with Susan Voisin and Joanna Vaught. Gosh, so blown away by the spirit of personalities at this conference. Again, for someone with the reputation and fan base that Susan has garnered, she is one of the most genuine and gentle people I have ever met. This panel was useful for many bloggers I think, to determine what type of blog they want to have (more lifestyle-oriented like Joanna, or more recipe-based like Susan’s or mine), and how much of our personal lives we are willing to share. Joanna was engaging and humorous, first time I met her as well!


I met Whitney of Eco-Vegan Gal fame. I must admit, I was a little nervous meeting her – she is so savvy. But, I should not have been. Whitney is every bit as warm and beautiful as she appears in her videos.


Here we are at the Galarama Saturday night. Isn’t she just naturally stunning? She complimented me on my style! I cannot tell you how lovely that is to hear as a mom of three normally bustling about in day-to-day routines. Only wish I had more time with you, Whitney!

With Grant Butler at gala:


Another gala pic, with Jared Bigman. We had quite a few laughs, made my night!


And with Cadry Nelson from Cadry’s Kitchen:


So many pics, so little time…

Another with JL. Gosh, she is FUNNY. She cracked me up at dinner the first night, and her no-nonsense attitude is refreshing.


I met many other people just briefly but didn’t get a chance to talk with them or get photos. Didn’t even get a photo with VVC organizers Jess, Janessa, and Michele (boo). As much fun as it was (and it WAS)… boy, it was good to get home. Seeing the girls jumping around in the van to pick me up was the best. Our eldest had drawn this to welcome me home:


I think it’s a peace offering for the week of housework I have ahead of me. 😉

Were you at VVC? Tell us what your favorite eats were, the highlights, etc! 

(p.s. for more photos and fun, check out #VVC2013)


  1. says

    Wow! I’m so jealous! This looks like it was an amazing event. I would love to be there for it next year. And those pictures of the food are just not fair. I became a vegan just over a year ago and am always on the lookout for events, blogs, recipes, everything! So glad I found your site.
    Robin recently posted..What are the best juicers for leafy greens?My Profile

  2. says

    It was SO nice meeting you at Herbivore the night of the s’mores event. I would have jumped over the counter to give you a big hug, but I was trapped behind a massive pile of unfolded hoodies!

  3. says

    Oh my goodness, seeing pictures of that Natural Selections meal makes me want to hop on a plane back to Oregon, stat! It was soooo good – I don’t think I have the words to do it justice.

    So great meeting you and what a grand time it all was – can’t wait until the next one!
    Ashley F. recently posted..Morels the Vegan Butcher Jerky ReviewMy Profile

  4. says

    Dreena, it was so lovely getting to meet you in person! I’ll admit I was a little starstruck. You’re a rockstar in our house! Plus, I would be lost without your homestyle chocolate chip cookies. But you were so sweet and down to earth, you put me right at ease. :) I was able to attend your panel with Nava & Terry. (How cool is that sketch? Love it!) It was so useful to get advice from three strong, female powerhouses in the vegan movement.
    Cadry recently posted..Part One: Bringing Your Other Creative Talents To Your BlogMy Profile

    • Dreena says

      me too Kittee! That’s how most of the conference was for me – quick and passing… but awesome! xo back!

    • Dreena says

      Jason, definitely going to interrupt and introduce myself next time! You seem super cool. (and yes, that’s my ‘super’ bad pun) 😉

  5. Connie Fletcher says

    I am sooooo jealous and yet soooo happy for all of you that got to go. I really want to go….maybe next year!!!!

  6. says

    It was absolutely lovely meeting you, Dreena, and I love your re-cap. The panel you did on privacy was one of my favorites of the event and I appreciated your honesty and input. Big hugs and already looking forward to the next event. :)

    • Dreena says

      So glad to know that, Carrie. Had no idea if that panel would be informative, but I’ve gotten some other similar feedback. Think it was really useful having range of experiences between myself, Susan, and Joanna. Are you going to Toronto Veg Food Festival? I’m thinking about it!

  7. says

    Dreena, I was so happy to get to meet you–though it seemed like I already knew you because you are just as lovely and warm in person as you are online. And I am completely amazed that amid all the excitement you managed to get so many photos! I’m grateful fot that because I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I forgot to get my camera out. I’ll just have to keep returning to this post to relive the weekend!

    • Dreena says

      Feeling is completely mutual, Susan. Could have sat and chatted with you a while after that panel. It was SUCH a flurry of activity, wasn’t it? Hope to see you again down the road. xo

  8. Clare Cobell says

    I wish I’ve been in Portland to see those dishes…
    Great to see you in so good mood, no wonder why actually.
    I’ve gotta be there next time!
    Clare Cobell recently posted..jubilerMy Profile

  9. says

    Oh, I’m so glad you all had such a great time. You all look positively beaming, fantastic, happy, and.. just wonderful. What an awesome experience.
    Really hoping to make it next year, and to meet all of you fabulous people!

  10. says

    Though I’m so sad we didn’t get to spend more time together at VVC, it was a tremendous treat to finally meet you, and I know our paths will cross again soon. You’re so charming, kind, and inspiring in every way!

  11. says

    What a beautiful, joyful, heart-lifting recap of the magical weekend we just had! I was so happy to meet you (and a little starstruck!), and am stupendously honoured that you linked to me. I might need to bookmark this post so that I can look back on so many dear friends’ faces later – I miss these people so much already!

    P.S. Between you and me, I think we’ll clear out all of North America’s stock of Salted Caramel Coconut Bliss once it’s on the shelves. 😉
    Hannah recently posted..Chocosol Hemp Gold and Sinfully Raw Vanilla ChocolateMy Profile

  12. says

    I saw you several times this weekend, but never did get to say hi! But I’m painfully awkward and have a hard time with hellos =X Still, I was glad to see you there, and I’m happy to hear you had a great time!

    • Dreena says

      Oh, Amber, I wish you had have interrupted me and said hello (I’m sure I was jabbering on wherever I was)! Funny, I saw pics of you with other people and wanted to chat with you too… We need a PA system there to make sure we say hi to everyone in the flurry of activity!! next time, ok??! :)

  13. Eve L. says

    What a dream conference! What a great idea to get together and share info and best practices. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear everything you learned. It’s so fun to see all these photos of you and all these other wonderful folks all converging in one place. Thanks for sharing it all with us!

    • Dreena says

      Eve, it really was… You would have loved it. Thanks for your note, maybe another conference we will meet! xo

  14. says

    What a beautiful write up, Dreena! It was so lovely to finally meet you (I had no idea you are that tall!). The panels you were on were fabulous. I particularly liked the over sharing and privacy one. I had such a great time overall (although I’m quite shy in large groups) and I can’t wait for the next one. Talk to you soon! :)

    • Dreena says

      LOVED meeting you Nicole, and I never know if someone is shy or just tired of hearing me ramble on. 😉 You have me thinking about cutting my hair…

  15. says

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I’m familiar with almost everyone you mentioned/picture through reading their blogs, although I don’t “know” them as such. Vegan food bloggers are my sort of “celebrities”!

    • Dreena says

      Well Emma, I felt the same way meeting people I’ve known only through the computer for years. Hopefully you can get to a VVC event down the road. :)

  16. says

    I am seriously kicking myself for not going! Hopefully I’ll be there next time. Meanwhile, please keep me in mind to test for your next book; I am a devoted Dreena recipe tester!

    Your daughter is a very talented artist. Wow!
    Vegyogini recently posted..Mothers’ DayMy Profile

    • Dreena says

      Next year! It IS a vegan wonderland there, without a doubt! I’ll pass along the compliment to our daughter, and of course I’d love to have you test again. :)

  17. says

    Yes, that was SO quick! It was SO awesome to meet you in person finally and spend so much quality time with you. You are a GODDESS and the crush is TOTALLY mutual. Your panels were fabulous too. Can’t wait until the next time we are together. What a great weekend. Lots of love xxx

  18. says

    Oh, my gosh, you are QUICK!! I will be happy if I get a post up by week’s end. SO great to meet you and everyone there–you have summed this up so beautifully, I think I’ll just refer everyone to your site–LOL! Thanks for the recap and the terrific memories, Dreena! xoxo

    • Dreena says

      haha, feel free to do so, Ricki! We are full-on into regular routine tomorrow, so had to get this post wrapped up today – asap. Delightful time with you! xo

    • says

      ha! I’m with you Ricki. Plus, I just got home this morning! :)
      Dreena, it was SO fun to meet you at last! It’s such a joy to meet the real faces behind so many blogs and books and recipes.

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