When I first went vegan several years ago, I had never spoken to or even knew another vegan. But once I began to blog in 2011, I slowly began connecting with other like-minded bloggers who were passionate about what they believed in, loved making vegan food and all had similar thoughts and opinions about it. It was kind of exciting to become a part of this community, even though it was only in a purely virtual way.
However, when I recently attended Vida Vegan Con a few days ago, I had the chance to literally meet so many of these bloggers and cookbook authors whose work I have really connected with and truly admired over the past few years. Needless to say, it was an exciting three days, packed with handshakes and hugs, information and discussion—and a ridiculous amount of amazingly tasty vegan food.
On Day One, I got to attend a session led by Hannah Kaminsky, who discussed the basic principles of food styling, and watched her turn an ugly takeout box of pad thai into a beautifully styled work of art. Food styling is a pretty solitary experience, so seeing someone else’s techniques in action from start to finish was fun!
From there, I proceeded to attend another session led by Isa Chandra Moskowitz on iPhone Food Photography. I don’t even have an iPhone, but I wanted to be in a class taught by my cooking idol, so loved every minute of it. Every word that comes out of Isa’s mouth is hysterical, and the class has made me want to ditch my Android for an iPhone and learn about this thing called “Instagram.”
Next, I attended a session moderated by Grant Butler of The Oregonian’s Foodday section, where seasoned cookbook authors Nava Atlas, Dreena Burton and Terry Hope Romero discussed the art of writing recipes, how to engage an online audience and the ways that blog and cookbook writing differ. Useful and practical information from people who know the subject best!
On Day Two, I attended a session called “Ethics Beyond the Plate,” moderated by Jason Das of SuperVegan, where Jezebel, Vegansaurus and VegNews writer Laura Beck, Leigh-Chantelle of Viva La Vegan!, Jamie J. Hagen, Erika Larson of Sews Before Bros and John McDevitt of The Laziest Vegans in the World all discussed the ethical side of veganism, and how food choices, environmental concerns and human rights all intersect—and how to make the right choices when the “right” choice isn’t always so obvious or black and white.
We then proceeded to a Vegan Battle Royale and lunch, enthusiastically and superbly hosted by Amey, Kittee and Mo—I think at least a thousand prizes were given out for correctly answered trivia questions, taste tests and more! I never went up on stage, but still had a blast watching everyone else.
With a full belly, I went to a writing workshop taught by Isa, where she showed the group ways to get a blog post started, how to connect with readers and just simply enjoy the process of writing. I will definitely use some of the techniques I learned for future blog posts!
We ended the day with a session taught by Cadry of Cadry’s Kitchen, where she explained how to integrate our own unique voice and style into our blog. I loved Cadry’s message, which was that you don’t need to be perfect in blogging—just relateable and creative—and the rest will follow! I especially love Cadry’s videos … view them here!
On Day Three, Nava Atlas, Joni Marie Newman of Just the Food and Ryan Patey of T.O.F.U. Magazine all discussed ways that they made the transition from blog to book, tips on what to do and advice for those who choose to follow this path.
I then went to a session taught by Terry Hope Romero on recipe creation and testing. Terry has 8+ years of experience in the cookbook business, and knowledgeably and generously shared with the audience what she’s learned along the way.
Our last session was taught by Kelly Peloza on artful food photography. I found her explanations of lighting and styling to be quite clear and, although I don’t shoot the photographs you see on this blog, found it to be inspiring and helpful.
In between these sessions, I had a blast with so many fellow bloggers at the White Owl Social Club, Blossoming Lotus, Veggie Grill and Staver Locomotive, where the Vida Vegan Con Galarama for the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest was held. I already can’t wait for the next VVC!
I tried to connect online with everyone new that I met but, in case we missed each other, you can connect with me on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, bloglovin’ and tumblr. Or send me an email at erinwyso [at] olivesfordinner [dot] com!