The Journey Begins: Main Street Vegan Academy

Main Street Vegan
Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit
Source: Google Images/Moviebyte.com

No, I’m not off to Middle Earth to reclaim Lonely Mountain. That’s Gandalf’s job! (“The Hobbit” reference)

Yesterday, I started something I consider to be a big leap forward in my life. As a passionate vegan who wants to spread the message of plant-based living and compassion, I’m going for certification as a vegan lifestyle coach and educator (VLCE) through Main Street Vegan Academy! Main Street Vegan Academy was created by bestselling author, motivational speaker and amazing vegan “Wonder Woman,” Victoria Moran. It’s based on her book of the same title which will help move veganism further into the mainstream!

Main Street Vegan
Source: MainStreetVegan.net

Over the 5+ days of the Academy, our class will learn about how to share the health and societal benefits of veganism, be it as lifestyle coaches, entrepreneurs (veganpreneurs?) or educator. We’ll also learn how to develop a business, connect with our communities, etc. With our instructors coming from a wide range of backgrounds, there’s truly something to be gained by all of us through this experience.

After our first half-day, I’m already blown away. Taking our classes in Victoria’s living in Harlem is truly a treat. We’ve had some great snacks from Treeline Cheese and dinner from Beyond Sushi with Victoria’s amazing rice pilaf and kale salad! Our first instructor, Dr. Robert Ostfeld gave us an amazing presentation on cardiac wellness and the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet. Since he works out of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, I’m hoping to be able to spread his message and work through my neighborhood!

There are 13 students from all walks of life and across the globe! In a way, I think we’ve all connected. Seriously, so many of us learned about the Academy from other students, especially JL Fields of JLGoesVegan, who will be one of our instructors. In addition, I met 2 fellow bloggers whom we follow: Michael of VeganMos and Sara of Homemade Levity (both NYC locals). I got to meet a Facebook friend from Staten Island, Julie, face-to-face for the first time! Not to mention, I’m already taken by the new people I’ve met, coming from as far as Germany and Australia.

Over the course of the Academy, I’ll be tweeting from @thefoodduo with the hashtag #mainstreetvegan to share some updates and interesting facts. My fellow students will be hashtagging along with me. We’ll be sharing our journey with all of you, and I hope you’ll join along.

What We Did at Vegan Summer Camp – Vida Vegan Con 2013 – Part 3

The final day of Vida Vegan Con has sadly arrived…in our recap. As we look back on all of the fun, in-depth conversations and connections we made, it’s rather bittersweet to be writing about this now. We start to relive the days and missing everyone we’ve met and the city of Portland itself! We are then left scrolling through photos and watching Portlandia on Netflix, while little smiles appear on our faces with a longing to reconnect. When’s the next one happening?!?!?!

Sunday, May 26th!

“Everyday is Saturday night, but I can’t wait for Sunday morning” – K-Os

Okay. So, that is NOT a video from the Galarama! But you know you had a great time at an event when you wake up on a Sunday with a smile…and a milkshake a la melted So Delicious ice cream! 
Sunday was our final day at VVC and in the City of Portland. We did our best to sleep in…a bit, but we didn’t want to miss our lovely breakfast with everyone. Sweats thrown on again, we hiked it over to the museum and into the ballroom. Cereals, yogurts, fruit and even chia seed pudding. If we had to compare it to the showcase on Saturday, it was perfect for a morning-after-Galarama meal.
After breakfast, we had to miss the first morning sessions to return to the hotel to change, pack and check out. We did make back in time for Ryan Patey‘s session called “Biting Off More than You Should Chew, a Discussion.” It was a great conversation amongst everyone, touching upon so many topics from body image to religion to being and speaking out as vegan in the workplace. We learned that we’re all unique, but not very different, especially in our vegan bond.
After the discussion, it was time for lunch! There was a great Sandwich Board buffet, where we made delicious, filling sandwiches and enjoyed yummy ice cream. Yes, there will ALWAYS be vegan ice cream!  
Macaroon attended some tech sessions on social media and web effectiveness and took a TON of notes, which she’s still typing up. Because she loves that stuff, she is trying to work out some strategy for this very site…somewhere in between changing jobs and graduate school. Thanks to Dawn, Helen and Jason for leading those sessions, full of information! 
Then, we all headed back to the ballroom for our final group goodbye. Hugs about with “See you soon” said by all. Soon, it was time to meet our Portland-based pals, Hops and Grape for dinner and a ride back to the airport, making a couple of foodie stops along the way!
At the airport, we got a special treat in seeing some of our fellow NYC VVCers on our flight home to JFK: Sharon of Big City Vegan, Terry from Vegan Latina (and her great cookbooks), Jill of Compassion Couture and Emily of My Kind of Life! YAY for vegan travel buddies!
So what did we walk away VVC with? 
  1. An insane amount of swag
  2. Super useful knowledge that can be applied to our blog, our skills and experience and our lives
  3. Full, overextended, happy bellies
  4. The best hugs on the planet…THANKS DAN!
  5. A ton of new friends, even made post-VVC!

The only thing we regret is not taking photos of our old and new friends! That will be added to our TO-DO list for the next VVC! Ahh, but there’s always Facebook and our blogs!

Up next: Our Portland Foodie Slideshow!

What We Did at Vegan Summer Camp – Vida Vegan Con 2013 – Part 2

Hello Mudda…Hello Fadda…Greetings from VVC 2013…The Recap Part 2! Man! We should have had some postcard writing fun, a la sleepaway camp style. Granted, neither of us have ever gone to sleep-away camp, but it sounds like it would have been fun!

So with Part 1 behind us (but still ingrained in memory), let us share the good times had on Saturday at the conference and the Galarama!

Saturday, May 24th! 

Day 2 of VVC started off with a MASSIVE Portland Vegan Breakfast Showcase with 9 of the area’s amazingly delicious vendors, like Back to Eden Bakery and A.N.D. Cafe. The dreams and thoughts alone make our tummies do happy, little flippy-flops!

Then it was workshop/panel time. We attended a couple including Ethics Beyond the Plate and The Writer’s Block workshop. Greatly informative, thought-provoking and helpful in our blogging. Artie really got into the Writer’s Block session. He shared a lot of what he wrote in his notebook and has since come up with ideas for future pieces!

Lunch was ridiculous as we each got to make our own “bowls.” If you don’t know what a “bowl” is, it’s literally a mix of grains, veggies and proteins, flavored however you like. They’re total comfort meals. But this “Build Your Own” session had us sharing a bowl because there was too much goodness that could fit into our bellies.

There was also the Vegan Battle Royale game show. So much fun with team head-to-heads and audience prizes. We each one a prize!

When the day ended, it was time to head back to the hotel and get all dolled up for the Galarama at Staver Locomotives.

GALARAMA!


First off, Staver Locomotives is a stellar venue to have any event. We’d have a pity party there, because it’s just that cool! The ladies and volunteers at VVC put together a lovely evening for us to eat, drink, be merry and give to a great cause, Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW!

Our friends, Hops and Grape, joined us from the far-off land of St. Johns (N. Portland – It’s not that far).  It was great to have them there, because they get to be around other vegans (see, we’re not so weird) and we get to spend time with them, since we are usually 3,000 miles apart!

Artisan vegan cheese, tacos, hot dogs, mini cupcakes and a sundae bar! OH MY! Bourbon and vodka samples, a stocked bar with soda/liquor blends (Ummm..Strawberry Jarritos please?) YES, and there was DANCING!

There was an silent auction where we won an awesome Namaste Monroe handbag with goodies inside (WAFFLE MIX TOO!) and a pack of coupons from WholeSoy & Co. (Best Vegan Yogurt Ever!) SCORE and we did it all for the CHIMPS! In fact, the Galarama raised $4000.00 for the sanctuary! Vegans always are doing good.

The night ended with us taking home a tub of So Delicious‘ Almond Mocha Fudge, which later melted in our hotel fridge. No worries. It made for a yummy milkshake in the morning, while singing “My vegan milkshake brings all the vegan boys to the yard…”

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Vida Vegan Con fun…

What We Did at Vegan Summer Camp – Vida Vegan Con 2013 – Part 1

Portland, City of Roses, oh how you have spoiled us with the grand sense of community, vegan pride and delicious eats for which we would have been glad to have been taken hostage. Vida Vegan Con, we missed the first one, but we definitely made sure we’d make it this year! It was a long yet lovely weekend of putting faces to blogs, connecting with old and new friends and engaging in many sessions ranging from the art of photography to ethics beyond the plate. And just like when we went to camp as kids, we knew the memories would be long-lasting!

So, how do we share with you our time at VVC? We can surely show you what we ate (will do that in soon enough), but we want to just share some of our favorite moments of all three (ok, four) days. So let’s begin with Part 1 of our VVC recap!

Thursday, May 23rd!

We were staying up in St. Johns (N. Portland) after arriving on Tuesday. After spending time with friends and doing a bit of shopping at Bridge City Comics and Music Millenium, we didn’t know if we’d make the Unofficial Official Meet and Greet at White Owl Social Club. But we did, pushing back our check-in at Hotel Modera.

We stayed enough to enjoy a couple of ciders and say hi to some friends, who were devouring Fried Mac & Cheese Burgers! If only we hadn’t stuffed ourselves earlier between Laughing Planet Cafe and Blossoming Lotus, we would have partaken. Alas, we couldn’t, as we had plans to see Savoir Adore and Sea Wolf at the Doug Fir Lounge.

The show was great. Despite the rain coming down outside, we got the munchies. So, we did what normal hungry kids do at around midnight: Order a Thunder-N-Lightning from Sizzle Pie and a couple of doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut (No lines…no lines)! Then, it was time to rest up!

Friday, May 24th! 


Day 1 of VVC began. We got up early, threw on sweats and took a walk down to Case Study Coffee for some vegan treats from Petunia’s Bakery to go with our iced coffees. Then, we headed over to the Portland Art Museum to register. Since the workshops didn’t begin until later in the day, we went back to the hotel to change clothes and take a drive up to N. Portland, because SOMEONE needed to get her Homegrown Smoker on!

We made it back to the museum in time for some of the first day’s workshops and panels including Food Styling and Art of Writing Recipes. There was also a very nice welcome reception at the end of the day with yummies from Veggie Grill, as well as a bit of a keynote address from illustrator and author Nicole Georges. BTW, her new book Calling Dr. Laura is awesome, as is Nicole herself for autographing Artichoke’s copy!

We had a bit of time to take it easy back at the hotel for a hot minute before heading down to the Vegan Mini-Mall. We had a lot of fun, enjoyed great food and did a bit more shopping between Food Fight! Grocery, The Herbivore Clothing Company and Sweetpea Baking Company. A few of us then trekked on foot to The Sweet Hereafter for a bit of dinner and drinks, which was capped off by some interesting stories shared by our cabbie.

And that has been Part 1 of our adventures at Vegan Summer Camp, aka Vida Vegan Con! Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up next!