Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

VeganMania 2014!

            I’m sorry for the delay in an update.  We finally went on our vacation to both Ecuador and Peru in September and it was a blast!  I enjoyed myself a lot more than I was expecting despite a few bumps in the road along the way.  I shall be updating about the food and sights in another entry but I’m still in the process of editing my nearly 4,000 photos that I took while there.  A bit overboard?  Perhaps, but when everything I saw was amazing it’s hard not to take a photograph.
Just a few of the vendors

            Today, I figured I’d update about this year’s 6th annual VeganMania that was held on the 11th.  It was our 4th time going to the event and the 3rd time since they moved the event to the Broadway Armory.  I always look forward to the event for a number of reasons.
I quite enjoy the speakers that they have each year.  There’s always a broad spectrum of speakers – someone for everyone to listen to.  My wife knows more about the ‘famous’ vegans in the community and even though she tells me about them, without a face or direct exposure to the people she’s talking about, I have the same blank face your dog has when you say anything more complex than “sit” or “treat” to him/her.  It never fails that each year there’s some speaker she knows about and I respond with, “Who was that?” This is followed by a confused look on her part but that’s because she doesn’t understand why I couldn’t automatically recall some name she mentioned six months ago. (I have the memory of a goldfish…)  However, after sitting through the talks, I always come away with new people in the community to appreciate.
In the past I’ve enjoyed talks given by – but not limited to – Jenny Brown (from Woodstock Farm Sanctuary), Dr. Oppenlander (author of the fantastic book, Comfortably Unaware), Erin Red (host of Red Radio), Kristin Lajeunesse (of the Will Travel For Vegan Food blog), and Ellen Jaffe Jones (speaker, author, & athlete; wrote Eat Vegan on $4 a Day).
David Robinson Simon

This year was no exception.  The 1st speaker we caught was David Robinson Simon, lawyer and author of Meatonomics.  My wife has the book but I haven’t been able to read it just yet – an issue I plan to correct very soon.  Surprisingly, I did remember my wife telling me about the book and the author before we showed up.  See?  A broken watch can be right, after all!  Mr. Simon touched upon a few points that he expands on in the book.  For example, he talked about how the meat and dairy industries work with the government in a myriad of ways including their effective lobbies in Washington.  He also discussed the true cost to taxpayers for that hamburger you buy at that golden arches burger joint.  The talk was fascinating and despite vaguely knowing the issues addressed in the talk, it is alarming to hear cold, hard facts coming from someone who obviously put a lot of work into the research and cares about the topic.  I’ll talk about the book in-depth once I read it.  Stay tuned!  Needless to say I highly suggest checking out his book!  It will blow your mind.
Left to right: Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer

            The next speakers were the hosts of Our Hen House, Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.  Again, I knew of them thanks to my wife listening to their podcast.  Other than recognizing the name of their podcast I didn’t really know what to expect.  They gave a talk on what struggles a newbie might have in the world of veganism.  It wasn’t necessarily a topic that concerned me since it’s been awhile since I’ve been a newbie vegan, but it was quite funny and you could totally feel the enthusiasm the two had talking to the audience and for sharing their experiences with veganism.  After the talk I told my wife that there was yet another podcast I would have to start following.  Check it out!

Another reason I love VeganMania is the food, d’uh.  Every year I stuff myself with as much food as I can when I’m there.  There are around a dozen or so different restaurants and other vendors who have dishes for you to try in the food court.  And everything looks and smells so good!  I try to vary my selection when we get there but sometimes there are a few favorites we just have to visit.  I’ll sometimes try something from the Chicago Diner or Native Foods Café since I love their food but then I try to get something from one or two other vendors (at least).  This year, I tried some soft serve ice cream from Temptation, a gyro-like plate with BBQ seitan bits from another vendor, a salad from Native Foods Café, a raspberry chocolate cupcake from Chicago Diner, and a few bites from food my wife had, too.  Besides the main food court there were a few businesses set-up through the main room that were giving away samples of their products.  My stomach was quite happy by the end of the day.
My seitan gyro

My wife's kale burger - so good!

My salad from Native Foods Cafe.

Tofurkey samples, which were so good!

Yet another reason I go is to refuel my vegan batteries.  I’ve said it before but it’s cool to be around others like you when you’re in a relatively small minority of the larger population.  Everyone seems to be in a good mood when they’re there and the vibes are infectious, which, given the current state of the world, I should probably avoid catching to be on the safe side.  It’s very cool to see vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious all come together in one place.
My swag!  Too much?

Lastly, probably my favorite reason for going is all the vegan merchandise.  My wife and I are suckers for funny and/or in-your-face bumper stickers.  I never thought I would be one of “those” people when I was younger but I can’t deny that I am.  I love watching people in my rearview mirror as they read the stickers and either shake their head or laugh or take pictures of their favorite ones.  I picked up just two this year but I think they make good additions.  The “eat humans” sticker is from Action for Animals and the “humane meat” one is from Herbivore.  I also like my vegan message shirts that I sometimes get.  I’d go broke if I bought everything I wanted to get while there.  I picked up a t-shirt from Compassion featuring an elephant breaking out of chains with the caption, “Animals Are Not Property”.  It’s pretty b.a.
All in all, a very fun time!  I can’t wait for the next one.
Sorry for the lack of decent pictures.  I was using my phone’s camera this year and the quality kind of shows.  I’ll step up my game with the next entry!  Until then, keep calm and vegan on!

You can not only find Compassion HERE but on Twitter at: @compassionco
You can not only find Herbivore HERE but on Twitter at: @herbivorecc
You can not only find Action for Animals HERE but on Twitter at: @action4animals
You can find David Robinson Simon a number of ways online like HERE.  Follow him on Twitter at: @meatonomics
You can also find Mariann and Jasmin from Our Hen House a number of ways online like HERE.  Follow Our Hen House on Twitter at: @ourhenhouse
For the skinny on VeganMania, go HERE.

I’ve mentioned a few others here before but:
You can find Erin Red on Twitter at: @erinred
You can find Ellen Jaffe Jones on Twitter at: @EllenJaffeJones

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