Meet Janessa, Jess and Michele! These optimistic, energetic and funny girls are the three founders of the popular vegan bloggers conference Vida Vegan Con.
When you decided to hold the first Vida Vegan Con, did you ever think “OMG, this is never going to work!”
Janessa: I knew, from the very first kernel of it forming, that Vida Vegan Con would be successful. I never knew what kind of success it would be, or what kind of communities would spring up and form, or the myriad ways it’s proved far more rewarding than I ever thought. I had no idea what Vida Vegan Con would be, but I believed in it wholeheartedly and was (and am) fortunate to work with two people who feel the same. The conference is about people uniting and forging connections and creating new inspiring projects. I could never have imagined the way it became what it is; it took a life of its own, for which I’m so very grateful.
Jess: Nah, it was probably something like…“This is going to be amazing!”
Event organization is not easy. What’s the most challenging part of putting on the event? What part do you enjoy the most?
Michele: We know how high expectations are for Vida Vegan events, and especially for a conference of 300-plus attendees and speakers–that’s a lot of different high expectations. The hardest part is meeting as many of those as possible. Entertaining, feeding, educating, and inspiring that many people for three days and nights is a tall order. The three of us are constantly weighing dreams and logistics to aim as high as possible, yet not so high that it all falls apart. Oddly enough, that’s sort of the best part too, feeling all these extra arms growing from your body to handle the juggling act.
The most enjoyable part, really, is the community we see from VVC, both during and between events. We’re a little international family, all helping one another make the world a little better for animals, people, and the earth itself. How cool is that?!
Jess: The most challenging part? Getting a caterer to comprehend coconut chia pudding. The most rewarding? Seeing our attendees freak out with glee over chia pudding.
Unsurprisingly, there’s lots of vegan friendly goodies at VVC. Do you get a chance to sample all the food? Or are you too busy running around?
Jess: I suppose that’s a paradox of being a VVC organizer. I love, love, love vegan food and want to try everything, but there’s no stopping! It’s makes meals and trips the three of us take outside of the fabulously busy weekend even more exciting, right?
Michele: No kidding. Even if we did have time, I’m too nervous to eat!
If you could have any vegan speaker come present at Vida Vegan Con, who would it be?
Janessa: Honestly, someone I haven’t heard of or met yet. There are so many inspiring people out there, living the vegan lifestyle. I’d love for some of these people who may not have a wide audience to get out there and share their skills and passions.
I travelled from “exotic” Canada to attend VVC in Portland in 2013. Have you heard of anyone coming from a significant distance to attend?
Jess: We have attendees from all over the world! It’s pretty wild when registrations open and you notice one from the UK, another from Thailand, another from Australia, and plenty from all across North America. All are welcome! Just wait until we take the show on the road. I’d love to hold VVC events anywhere & everywhere, sampling vegan food specialities across the globe!
Favorite piece of kitchen cookware?
Janessa: Tongs. Vitamix. Juicer. Anything that makes tacos easier to put in my mouth.
Jess: Yeah, I super puffy heart my Vita-Mix. And my cast-iron pans. They make such a world of difference! And lately, I’ve switched from a French press to a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker that makes my mornings swell.
What’s your go-to vegan snack or guilty pleasure?
Michele: I know I speak at least for myself and Janessa here when I say popcorn. There’s simply never enough popcorn. You have no way of knowing I’m not lying, but I’m eating popcorn right now.
Jess: Lately, it’s homemade, spicy pickled carrots and cucumbers. I can’t stop.
Any pets around your home?
Jess: I have three giant cats that I consider roommates: Huxley the elder, Zelda, and my girlfriend’s cat, Brian.
Michele: After losing my babycat of 16 years, I recently adopted two black kittens, Musashi and Lady Eva Von Sassipants. They’re zany little idiots right now, but I adore them all the same.
Current album on repeat?
Michele: My spring album was Ride’s “Nowhere” (Polar Bear might be one of the 10 greatest songs ever written), but summer always means a steady stream of Beastie Boys.
Any good books you’ve read recently?
Janessa: I just finished The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. It’s about an unlikely relationship that develops between a scarred Jewish girl and a very old man who may or may not be a Nazi, and the developments and stories behind them. Very good.
Jess: I’m all about speculative, post-apocalyptic science fiction, particularly if there are crazy infections, zombies, aliens, strong female characters and a sense of humor. Two books that really held my attention this summer, even if they didn’t necessarily hit all of those elements but a at least a few of them are Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh and the Wool Omnibus anthology by Hugh Howey.
Michele: I just re-read for the gazillionth time Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. (My Team Vida beet tattoo is partially dedicated to it.) And now it’s back to the “Game of Thrones”/”A Song of Ice and Fire” books.
What’s keeping you busy right now?
Janessa: I’m traveling around Europe and SE Asia on an extended trip. Eating all the vegan food and missing all the tacos. Follow my travels on Instagram @janessapk.
Michele: Aside from writing and hustling a living, work has begun on docs and spreadsheets for the next Vida Vegan Con, some one-day intensives, and other events that we’re pretty excited about exploring. In the next few years, expect to see a lot more Vida Vegan, in a lot more cities.
Jess: Making those pickles. And curries. All summer long.
Want more? You can follow Vida Vegan Con and it’s founders here:
Janessa: www.epicuriousvegan.com, @Janessapk on Instagram, @Janessapk on Twitter
Michele: www.vegtasticvoyage.com, @Vegtasticvoyage on Twitter
Jess: www.comesconewithme.com, @JDfunks on Instagram, @GetSconed on Twitter
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