The very next morning kicked off the beginning of the conference. The organizers gave us a few hours to gather ourselves in the morning and stop by registration to pick up our swag bag. Now, listen. I do not want to downplay just how ridiculously extravagant, kickass, and HEAVY this bag was… but we’ll get to its contents in a later post. 😉
Before heading to registration, my housemates and I stopped by Prasad for breakfast. Located within a swanky yoga studio, Prasad offers the healthiest of fare, with the most quality ingredients. Fresh juices, smooties, and teas are accompanied by a menu of hearty bowls, wraps, and raw foods.
I opted to order the Chili Scramble: roasted garlic chili, chipotle tempeh, dark greens, spinach, avocado, pepitas, quinoa, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno cashew cheese. Wowza! This was a seriously wonderful breakfast – so savory it could have easily been lunch. Smoky, hearty, creamy, spicy… truly fantastic.
We were greeted at the Portland Art Museum, the location of the conference, by the registration table and local heart brand coffee. Yum! Pair that with So Delicious French Vanilla creamer and I was a happy camper. We stashed away our swag bags and made our way into the exhibitor hall/gauntlet.
There were so many of the well-known vegan food companies present, as well as more local businesses and treats, that it was all very overwhelming to take in at once! Here are some of the highlights:
Bob’s Red Mill was giving away samples of their grains.
Uptons Naturals offered coupons-a-plenty and also donated some gluteny treats to one of the lunches provided.
Wayfare Foods was passing out samples of all of their goodies, including ice cream!
Pacific Northwest Kale Chips gave out samples and they were BOMB. Nothing like a good, cheesy kale chip.
Chicago Vegan Foods’ Teese made a presence and totally handed me two packages of cheese when I mentioned that I hadn’t tried the stuff because it isn’t available in Ohio! Also: Dandies!
Missionary Chocolates, local candy makers, offered samples of their luscious truffle flavors… this was a dangerous table.
Heidi Ho Organics set out samples of their slice-able cheeses and creamy nacho dip, mmm.
So Delicious really took the stage with their table devoted to handing out samples of their new vegan milk products. Um, they also brought an entire freezer chock-full of non-dairy ice cream treats, no biggie.
The best part? The exhibitor tables were there the entire weekend, happy to offer a yummy sample to whomever dropped by during the day.
As we began our first classes of the conference, I grabbed a snack of Earth Balance’s Aged White Cheddar Puffs… sinful! I could eat my body weight in these. It was a nice snack during the afternoon classes, all of which were intriguing and pretty spectacular.
Immediately following the reception, our bellies’ protests were ignored as we all made our way to this VVC’s pop-up shop: Gorditas and S’mores Social at the vegan mini mall! We purchased the following yums from Food Fight!: hard shell taco with Upton’s Naturals chorizo style seitan, tomato, and lettuce – all wrapped in a heaping portion of Food for Lovers‘ Vegan Queso and topped off with a final wrap of a flour tortilla.
For dessert? S’mores with Dandies vegan marshmallows. Dessert, part deux? Sweetpea Baking Co. sold traditional and gf GIANT ice cream sandwiches. So incredible, there just simply aren’t words.
With our bellies stuffed and eyelids drooping, we needed a place to sit and socialize. A group of us made our way (walking a few blocks) to Hungry Tiger Too, a fabulous restaurant with many vegan options. We sat for a few hours while the restaurant buzzed, sipping on our beverages, recapping what we’ve done so far, and planning our must-sees and must-eats for the rest of the weekend. I was joined by Taylor, Kaitlin, Rebecca, Sadie and Joe of the Intrepid Herbiores, Jared, and Bianca. We couldn’t all fit at one table and there were many more conference-goers around.
Like Dawn, who was showing off her adorable brussels sprout tat!
By the time we got our food, my stomach had made a tiiiiiiiny bit more room, and so I stuffed some vegan corn dogs and fries in it. Another cheat on the gf goal, yet – vegan corn dogs, c’mon! I did end up sharing, but savoring this nostalgic treat was truly wonderful.
By this point, I was waddling instead of walking. We made our way to Lovecraft Bar, a local goth-themed bar, to meet up with Amber (Chef Amber Shea) and her hubby, Matt. After a beverage, we were ready to catch some zzz’s in preparation for the second day of VVC!