There are dozens of posts about Vida Vegan Con 2013 out there, and I encourage you to read them. Especially read Lazy Smurf’s and Joanna’s posts. Pretend I’m in the background cheering them on, which I was. So instead of a recap, which others have done much better than I could anyway, here are five things I learned at Vida Vegan Con.
1. Be negative. If you look in the archives of Lone Star Plate, you’ll notice I’m almost unfailingly positive about veganism in Texas. Up to now, if I didn’t like a vegan restaurant, business, or product, I just didn’t write about it. Grant Butler, food writer for the Oregonian, says that hurts my credibility. A writer who likes everything isn’t believable, and beyond that, it hurts veganism if we call bad food good. I haven’t gone as far as writing sparkling reviews of bad food, but you’ll notice I just never mention certain vegetarian and vegan restaurants. So here on out, look for more critical reviews.
These will be difficult to write, partly because I need to be exceedingly fair. Grant recommended visiting a restaurant you don’t like four or five times before writing about it. It’s also difficult because these restaurants are part of our community. They hold fundraisers and parties. They donate to our bake sales. If I’m not out-and-out friends with them, I’m certainly friendly.
Read the Gay Vegans’ notes on the restaurant review session.
2. Incorporate animal activism into your writing. I’m unapologetically a baketivist. Writing directly about institutionalized animal abuse isn’t my strong suit. But that doesn’t mean I can’t bring animal activism into my writing more often. Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House gave a presentation about how to subtly bring animal activism into vegan food writing.
The suggestion that resonated most with me was to speak as if your audience already knows about animal abuse. You don’t have explain what a battery cage is, but you can mention that vegan recipes are fantastic because they taste great and allow you to bake without using battery cage eggs. Leave it up to the reader to find out what a battery cage is.
3. MoFo doesn’t need to be complicated. I always debate about participating in Vegan MoFo because I worry that I can’t blog twenty times in a month and keep to the mission of this blog, which is write about vegan life in Texas. MoFo often opens me up to writing more about my personal life than about Texas veganism in general. But by the end of the Vegan MoFo panel, I was fired up to participate again this year. The blogs I like best myself are the ones that show a lot of personality. You can’t do that without writing about your personal life.
One of the big points of the workshop is that a MoFo post doesn’t need to be elaborate. It doesn’t need a recipe. And I think remembering this will help me mesh MoFo with my usual writing. This year, instead of a big grand theme that I can’t carry out (50 best dishes in Texas, eek!), I’ll try to scale down to something more manageable.
There will be official MoFo themes this year, which we came up with in the workshop. I’m really excited about them and can’t wait until we can share them with everyone. Sews Before Bros recapped the MoFo Workshop.
4. Tofurky quiche is amazing. There were a lot of new products to try in the exhibitor hall at Vida Vegan Con. The Tofurky quiche is the one that blew me away. I was also pleasantly surprised by the reformulated Nayonaise. Who’s up for a mayo taste off?
5. We have a fantastic vegan community in Austin. I went to a session on community building, and, while it was lead by a really accomplished group of vegans, I found myself thinking, “Well, we do that.” Or, “So-and-so from Austin is a great example of how to do that.” As I said in my last post, Austin has a serious group of activists and vegan business leaders. It’s time to stop thinking of ourselves as amateurs.
There are rumors that the next Vida Vegan Con might be in Austin. Personally, I’d rather visit another city. I’ve already eaten most of the food in Austin. But if it does come here, I’ll be excited to share how awesome our city is with the rest of the world.
The entire community building session can be viewed here: