As many of you know I’ve been focusing more on the fitness side of my business. This means that I’m giving more talks and fitness classes at conferences and vegfests. I had the opportunity to do both of those at this year’s Vegetarian Summerfest, hosted by NAVS, instead of a cooking demo like last year. Cooking is still a passion of mine and I do love getting people excited about cooking up their own meals. But broadening my horizons is the name of the game this year!
Last year’s Summerfest was so much fun I really wanted to go back this year. Thankfully, they were happy to have me and gave me the opportunity to give two talks and hold two bootcamp classes. The first talk was on meal planning, the second on weight training and why it rules, then Saturday and Sunday I gave early morning bootcamp classes and people actually came to workout at 6:30 am! I had a blast making people sweat and exposing many to HIIT (high intensity interval training) for the first time!
The food is always a big bonus about this conference. You can imagine the excitement that endless rows of vegan food brings and not having to ask if it’s vegan is priceless! Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion runs the show and plans out the delicious menus with the help of his assistant, Chris Jolly, who runs the raw food bar. You will not go hungry! If anything you may gain 5 pounds. There are gluten-free and oil-free options available for every meal. I dabble in all the sections because my diet has #nodogma, and happily eat the desserts as well.
Some options at the raw bar are pictured to the left; the massaged kale salad and nacho cheese sauce were my favorites of this night. The creamy brazil nut soup with basil was my favorite on the first night. Other highlights were the “meat”balls, key lime mousse, and raw tacos. The raw food bar is probably the most popular because it’s all so unique and most people aren’t going to make elaborate raw foods for themselves at home.
I did not get enough photos of the food unfortunately because it went into my face very quickly! Some of my favorites of the cooked food: I loved all the soups, the tempeh reuben was amazing, I rarely ate breakfast because I don’t normally eat it at home but definitely enjoyed the pancakes, tempeh bacon, and breakfast potatoes on the last day. Each night there is a party with more tasty treats.
I didn’t go to many talks this year, which I’m a bit disappointed about. There were so many great speakers I had never seen before. Glancing at the program gave many options for classes including those on healthy eating and diet, on animal rights, compassionate living, health oriented classes like reversing diabetes and weight loss tips. There really is something for everyone here! When you are teaching each day yourself it can be hard to fit in more stuff. Last week I was rear-ended, though it was a minor car accident it left me with a huge migraine on the first day that had me in bed for hours. I never get sick so when I feel anything short of awesome I turn into a big baby!
Another great thing about conferences is connecting with like-minded people. I hung out with the ladies above at all our meals and throughout the conference and we had so much fun! I’m so grateful for the friendships that blossomed at Summerfest and all the friendly people I met. One thing I would like to see in the future is a greater range of age groups there. I didn’t find many people around my age and I know the 30/40-somethings crowd would have so much fun. So if you are reading this and in my age group consider coming to Summerfest next year!
What do you love about vegan conferences? Share with us in the comments!
Since I’m going to India in September/October I don’t have anymore speaking engagements on my calendar until Portland VegFest in November. If you’d like me to speak at your local vegfest or conference be sure to put in a good word for me with the organizers! I’d love to come to your city next year!