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Friday, December 14, 2012

Linky Dinks

What's new, friends?

The weather in beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida, has been much warmer than I would expect for this time of year. I'm not asking for "winter" (HELL NO), but I want cardigan weather, dammit!

I'll always rather be hot than cold, though. Always.

I don't do much celebrating for Christmas, but you know what warms my heart? Palm trees decorated in holiday lights. Gets me every time.

"The first vegan wedding in India" - Congrats to the compassionate couple!

Wow! Nomadic Matt shares this profile of a 22-year-old who saved $18k to travel the world! Color me inspired.
"I remember when you said one of the most brilliant things ever: “Everyone says I’m running away.” If only they knew, right? Yeah, you’re running away from fear and absurdity, but unlike the people who tell you this, you’re the one embracing your life."

BIG CONGRATS to Jasmin and Marianne of Our Hen House on expanding into a FULL ONLINE MAGAZINE! It looks amazing!

Whether you're a fancy pants photographer or you just like goofing around with a camera or your iPhone, check out Photojojo. They have really fun camera gear, plus they share really cool photo project ideas.

Speaking of photography, check out the "Metropolis" project by Martin Roemers.
“I am taking photographs of crowded places where you notice not only the city’s dynamic character but also the individual making his way in the big city. Specifically, I’m looking at the small stories of the street vendor, the commuter, the passer-by, the market stallholder and other pedestrians who populate the street or are a part of the traffic. I present this by photographing busy locations from above,” Roemers wrote in his article for the New York Times back in May.

Speaking again of photography, do you have a stellar shot from your travels? Contiki Vacations is looking for fabulous photos for their brochures. If you have a pic worth $500, enter their One Life. One Shot! Contest.

This man be cray-cray:
In what is probably the longest, most arduous piece of reportage ever undertaken, Paul Salopek, an experienced writer for the Chicago Tribune and National Geographic, is embarking on the astonishing task of retracing the journey taken by early man tens of thousands of years ago.

Beginning in the exotic surroundings of the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia, Salopek will take an estimated 30 million steps, reaching his destination seven years later, three continents away at the most southerly point of South America.

19 Ways to Reduce Homesickness Abroad, via Go Overseas

And finally, check out this easy no-peasy video from my blogger buddy, Jaime, of Save the Kales! She whipped up some almost-raw vegan pizza dip for Veg News TV.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Desperately Seeking Sushi

Over the summer, my pal, Lisa and I were determined to get ourselves to a legit sushi joint. Somehow, I had never gotten proper sushi since moving to Tampa Bay. I'd only picked up sub-par rolls last minute from Whole Foods, Publix, or Greenwise. Their sushi is decent, but nothing to write home (or blog) about.

I set to the Googles and did an exhausting search of veggie-tastic sushi menus in our neck of Tampa. I finally settled on Samurai Blue in Ybor City. Let's go!

Lisa started out with a cup of miso soup.

And we split a large salad. (This was just my portion!) The ginger salad dressing was fab!

And now the rolls. I ordered avocado, shitake mushroom, and the veggie roll, which contained asparagus, avocado, cucumber, carrot & shitake mushroom.

veggie roll

The veggie roll wasn't as flavorful as I was expecting from so many vegetables packed into one little space. Lisa and I ended up splitting another avocado and shitake roll.

The atmosphere in Samurai Blue is small and trendy but comfy. High ceilings, brick walls. They were playing some pretty great music (in my opinion - alt-rock and some indie) and the service was great. Our server was very friendly and helpful with answering some questions we had about the menu.


About a month later, a gaggle of us went to Soho Sushi after a long, sweaty day at Tampa Bay Veg Fest. I didn't take any pictures (it was a long, long day), but the sushi was great! The restaurant is much larger than Samurai Blue. Soho also offers habachi fun. I can't remember what rolls we ordered, but everything was really good and fresh. I would definitely return to Soho Sushi!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Linky Dinks

Since you're already scouring the interwebs for Cyber Monday deals, why not take a break and check out these fun links?

Planning a trip to Sweden any time soon? A fellow hungry vegan traveler sent me the link to this sweet Google Map she created, highlighting all the veg-friendly spots.

Smaggle went to India with non-profit, World Vision India. Eye-opening!

via Smaggle, Edenland also toured India. What an experience!

Hobo Siren is schlepping around the some countries. (Love the pic of her with the camel.)

Travel the world? The whole world? This article from The Onion tells us to calm down a bit and rethink a minute.

I like WTF Should I Do With My Life? But this guy? Not so much.

Ugh, I want THIS to be my life RIGHT NOW!

For my snowy-weathered-friends, Mackenzie wrote this nice piece on wintertime bicycling at her blog, Whatever Gatsby.

And now this, just because.

"If I had my life to live again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner." — Tallulah Bankhead

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's Vegan at... TGI Fridays

In short: not much.

My cousin and her family happened to be in Orlando this week. On a night that worked out for all of us, we met up for dinner at a TGI Fridays near Disney, where they were all staying.

Naturally, this would not be my first choice, but I cared more about visiting my badass cousin than eating anything fancy. However, it was my cousin who chose it (in a rush), and she has a list of food allergies. We were in for a treat!

As soon as we were seated, my cousin asked for the gluten-free menu. The server handed her an allergen menu, which was handy for me, too. This menu listed everything that was in everything: dairy, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soy, etc. I should have taken a picture of this menu. Each allergen was listed as a symbol, and hot damn, almost every menu item had multiple symbols next to them. Even their hummus platter (which you would assume would be vegan minus the dollop of bullsh*t yogurt sauce on top) contained shellfish! My cousin and I wondered if TGI Fridays was just covering their arse extra, to be safe (even all of their fries were listed as containing wheat, dairy, eggs, shellfish, etc.), but we had an inattentive server, plus it was pretty busy, so we didn't pull out our food detective badges and magnifying glasses.

What did I get? Not a naked salad. And let me tell you something about their dressings: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM CONTAINS DAIRY. Even the balsamic vinaigrette. Most of them also contain eggs. And no, they don't offer oil and vinegar on the side. You either get the nasty secretion-filled dressings, or you get nada. Which is what happened to my cousin.

I was surprised to see that their vegetable sides were vegan as-is, so I ordered them both, specifying no butter or cheese, etc. just to be on the safe side. The two veggie sides are "steamed broccoli," and "sauteed vegetable medley." (Broccoli had no allergen symbols, and the "vegetable medley" only contained soy.) I received...

a small plate with 4 large pieces of broccoli, and another small plate with about 6 pieces of zucchini.

Don't get too excited now.

Like I said, I cared more about spending time with my cousin than feasting on some gorgeous platter of food, so it was no big deal. Plus, she and I bonded over our dietary no-nos.

SO, if you find yourself at TGI Fridays, or any other similar chain restaurant, ask for the allergen menu and marvel at the nothingness!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heaps of Thanksvegan Recipes!

ACK! It's almost Thanksgiving! Hopefully you know what the heck you're gonna make/eat/serve, but if not, here's a quick round-up of vegan noms, from simple to elegant to downright sexy. I look forward to reading about everyone's Tofurky Day! (And yes, I will also be sharing my feast!)

Scroll down on this link for some classic Thanksgiving flavors with a raw vegan twist.

Listen, I've been vegan for most of my life now, but I was never a big fan of salads. It's hard to get excited about a bowl of leafy raw veggies when there are so many other awesome foods to eat! HOWEVER, these salads would give me a case of the good wiggles.

Forks and Beans always has such cutie patootie things on her blog. Check out her kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes here. (It's totally not just for kids, though.)

Angela from Oh She Glows is such a classy dame. Check out her round-up of GORGEOUS holiday recipes, as well as some tips on having a stress-free holiday amongst meat-eaters.

The fine folk at Catskill Animal Sanctuary offer these lovely holiday recipes.

Thanks, Vegetarian Times! How to Tackle a Squash. My preferred method? Get someone else to do it.

STOP EVERYTHING and someone please cook one of EVERYTHING off this round-up and send it my way! (Then ya best believe I'll be givin' thanks!)

Okay, food aside (just for a moment!), vegan warrior, Jenny Brown shares some tips on surviving Thanksgiving as a lone vegan.

Check out this new site from Mercy for Animals, Pardon A Turkey. Learn fun facts about turkeys, grab some yummy vegan recipes, and pledge to "pardon a turkey," and be entered to win some goodies from Tofurky, Field Roast, or gardein!

What are you serving up for Thanksgiving? Got some rockin' recipes? Share them in the comments!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vegan Food for Thought

--- from Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals by Carol J. Adams

Friday, September 14, 2012

Linky Dinks

Well, hello there! Surprised to see a post from yours truly, I'm sure. To be honest, folks, I've lost my writing mojo lately. Well, I lost the mojo awhile ago, actually, and then life decided to serve me up a big ol' mess of new challenges to overcome. (Thanks, universe!) It's okay, it's okay... Doors are shutting, doors are opening, I'm climbing out of windows... I GOT THIS. It's time for some freshness in my life, some sassy sweet changes. Changes are coming to the blog, too, but I can't reveal too much of that just yet. It's still gonna be a little quiet around here* for a little while, but goodness is a-comin'. In many ways. Always. For all of us. Ya know?

In the meantime, here are some cool links I've read 'round the Interwebulars lately. Enjoy!

The Vegan Butcher guest posted on Fat Gay Vegan about her vegan in-flight meal on Air Canada. Tofu scramble in the sky?! Yes, please!

If you're planning a vegan wedding (soon or, you know, in your dreams), check out Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings. Heaps of great ideas there! (Speaking of weddings, I can't wait to read Amber Shea CRAWLEY's full recap of HER vegan wedding! CONGRATS, AMBER!)

O' Canada! Yummy vegan treats from Canadaland.

This song is required listening on my next road trip. Doesn't it pull your soul toward the road? Or is it just me? I think it's the "ooh, ooh, ooh!" part.

via Our Hen House: How to be vegan at Walt Disney World.

Well, son of a Bea Arthur. Did you know you can turn in the proofs of purchase on Amy's products for swag?! I wish I had found this link sooner. I'd have every PIECE of that swag by now!

Ashlee Piper from wrote this sweet post on how to stay easy, breezy, beautifully vegan while traveling for work.

No joke: growing up, Fran Fine (the star character of the STELLAR TV show, "The Nanny," played by Fran Drescher) was my role model. My heart SANG (in my best mock-nasally voice) when I heard that she is now eating gluten-free AND vegan!

* But no matter how quiet it gets on the blog, the Hungry Vegan Traveler Facebook page continues to be active. Check it!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Madam Swaps-a-Lot

I'm quite proud of myself. I participated in TWO snail mail food swaps in August, AND I sent out my packages BEFORE the shipping deadline, and now I'm posting about the packages I received BEFORE the end of the month! Sometimes I astound myself.

First up: The vegan food swap via The Verdant Life. I received a package from Denise from A Family of Foodies.

After reading Denise's lovely letter, I dove into the bulging Trader Joe's bag.

Denise sent a nice variety of goodies! I plan to share the candies with some of my kiddos at work. I'm going to follow Denise's suggestions and use the Tajin spice mix on jicama and cucumbers with lime juice. (Gosh, that sounds good.) She also suggested crushing the Sea Tangle and adding it to chickpea (not-tuna) salad. I've never added seaweed to chickpea salad before, but I've been known to be a bit adventurous. The tea is a welcome addition to my tea stash. I love all things chai! And any and all vegan bars are super appreciated, as they are great to eat on the go.


Next up, I received a "breakfast box" from Martha via the Lean Green Bean's Foodie Pen Pals swap!

Martha said she was thrown for a "minor loop" when she learned that I'm gluten-free and vegan. She said she read on my blog that I missed breakfast during every single day of Vegetarian Summerfest (an early riser, I am not), so she sent me a box of breakfast goodies!

More tea for my tea stash (there's no such thing as too much tea), gluten-free pancake/waffle mix, coconut milk, date paste, and raspberry syrup. This pretty much means that I need to have a brunch party soon.


If you're interested in participating in any of these swaps, be sure to check out their respective links up above. Happy swapping!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Women's Equality Day

This is not a political blog, but with today being Women's Equality Day and the Republican National Convention kicking off here in my beloved city, I can't help but feel a little political.

It was on this day, in 1920, that women were finally given their right to vote. Less than 100 years later, we are still fighting for ALL of our rights. We've come a long way, but we cannot forget the hard battle fought by those who came before us.

And looking ahead, this is totally me in 40-ish years.

Take time today to be thankful - and I mean, truly thankful - for what you have, wherever you are. With that gratitude, stand up and speak up for the rights you still deserve, as well as the rights of others.

Now if you'll excuse me, there are a couple of storms on the way.

Friday, August 17, 2012


(And by "rumble," I mean read this installment of Linky-Dinks!)

Ginger.ous shares 6 items to help "ward off travel funk." My day-to-day purse may be the size of a horse's feed bag, but it does NOT contain many of the items she lists here. Also, the one time I tried dry shampoo, it turned my hair grey and no amount of brushing would change that.

7 Tips for Cheap, Long Term Travel: There’s one thing you absolutely must have if you want to hit the road for an extended period of time: a willingness to make it work. It’s most definitely not going to be an easy ride and you will have moments where your plan is nonexistent and your funds are lingering in negative territory. But those moments—the ones that cultivate resourcefulness and resilience—are precisely why travel changes you as a person. They also make for the best stories down the line.

Three decades of selling crap - Happy birthday, Diet Coke!

whatever, gatsby wrote some fun posts about her journey from Boston to Florida for the summer. Check her out. She's adorable!

Jersey City Vegan writes an open letter to Lady Gaga regarding "Furgate."

Sad news: Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, PA, was burglarized. Link includes contact # for anyone with info.

Triple-Decker Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge? Um, YES PLEASE.

How ALL animal shelters should be:

What has rocked your e-socks this weekend?

Monday, August 13, 2012

What a Crock!

Last month I dusted off the ol' Crock Pot for the first time in several months. Crock Pots are really great. They're perfect for super-busy and/or lazy people, and for people who like mysteries or surprises. When trying out recipes for the first time, you never know until 6-8 hours later how it will turn out! I tried a few different recipes for the first time last month, all yielding different results.

breakfast quinoa (recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker)
Verdict: Disgusting. The texture was AWFUL. It was mushier than mush. I added cinnamon and maple syrup, but that didn't get around that awful, regurgitated-like mouth feel. I ended up tossing this out.

I failed to photograph the other Crock Pot dishes I tried out that week (I was dog-sitting at the time, pooches win), but here's a breakdown of the rest of that week's experiments:

Caribbean Mango Black Beans from The Vegan Slow Cooker: AWESOME! I love this recipe! I actually had to go out and buy specific spices for this, which was exciting!

Spicy Black Bean Chili from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Not at all spicy, but still very good. Freezes well.

Hominy-White Bean Chili from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: AWESOME!! I'd made this before, but it had been awhile. Love this recipe! Also freezes well.

Stepping away from the Crock Pot for a moment, I want to share with you another recipe that I tried out. Remember when Dr. Oz had That Vegan Episode awhile back? Jasmine from Our Hen House made a (much-too-brief) appearance. (Seriously, why didn't Dr. Oz interview her?!) Anyway, one of the women who appeared on the show was talking about her black bean brownie recipe. Vegan, flour-free, no added sugar, blah blah blah. It sounded promising.

I have a terrible tendency to NOT read recipes all the way through. Most of the time, things end up okay, but in this case, it was a horrible experience. I was pleased to discover that I had ALL of the ingredients on hand that the recipe called for. Perfect! So, I set to work, dumping all the ingredients into my friend's Vitamix.

Now I'm about to share an opinion that I know is greatly debatable, but just remember that it is simply my opinion: Vitamix sucks. I was "raised" on Blendtec. Blendtecs have hella convenient programmed settings, it has a higher horsepower, they're easier to use, and in my opinion, they just work better, plain and simple. It took me FOR-F*CKING-EVER to blend all of these ingredients in the Vitamix. After about an hour (only a slight exaggeration), I poured the mixture into the pan, which was a super messy experience. (Another observation: Vitamixes are too damn deep and narrow!)

Once it was all nice and neat in the pan, it looked pretty good!

Now time for another horrible step in this hellish recipe: It "bakes" in the oven at 200* for AN HOUR AND A HALF.

WHO THE HELL HAS THAT KIND OF TIME?! Did I also mention that, by the time the Vitamix finally blended everything, it was nearly midnight?! I was none too happen with this recipe, and ya best believe I was cursing Dr. Oz's name. How could he endorse such an inconvenient recipe?! Clearly, he had never made it himself.

I guess it worked out, though, since it would take me another hour (another slight exaggeration) to clean out that God-forsaken Vitamix. (Blendtec or go home, people.)

After an hour and a half, the brownies were not brownies. It was still pudding. I upped the temp slightly and let them bake for another half hour. After the additional 30 minutes, there was a nice cooked-looking "crust" on top, but it was 2am and I was deliriously tired, so I pulled the pan out of the oven and let it set on top of the stove.

The only thing this recipe does right is in calling the brownies "fudgy." But really, this was more like FUDGE than BROWNIES.

Look at this mess.

The flavor was...okay. Nothing amazing. For a vegan, no-sugar, no-flour FUDGE, this would be okay, but I KNOW that there are easier and simpler recipes out there for a such a treat.

Hooray for kitchen adventures!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

June 2012 Vegan Swap Reveal

Holy guacamole, I did it again: waited too darn long to update this blog. I've actually had a pretty big, honest blog post on my mind grapes, but that's not happening today.

Today I'm going to FINALLY post about the goodies I received from Adriana from Vegan Corner, via The Verdant Life's vegan package swap!

Shiny, happy goodies (holding hands?)

These bars were chewy-tastic, like bars of nougat!

This cactus jerky was interesting! I loved its salty, smoky flavor, and it wasn't as tough as, say, Stonewall's Jerquee. Still, jerky is TOUGH. Is that why they call it jerky? Because you look like a jerk(y) when you're eating it?

I love little snacks like these because they're perfect for taking along with me to work. Just toss it in my bag and go.

Apple chips (yum!), agar agar (gotta do something fun with that! Adriana's flan, perhaps?), and more random teas for my tea stash. I love having a wide variety of teas on hand.

Thank you, Adriana!

**The Vegan Corner currently has an indiegogo fundraiser happening. They're trying to create the ultimate, worldwide vegan guide. Check it out HERE.**

I took July off from online swaps, but I'm back in swapping action in August. Hopefully it won't take me as long to post my goodies. Life, man, I'm tellin' ya!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Linky-Dinks & What-Nots

Roll out the red carpet because it's time for some LINKS!

Vegetarian Summerfest, according to other people...

Dreena Burton was one of the presenters at VS, but that didn't mean she missed out on ANY of the fun. Check out her experience on her site, Plant-Powered Kitchen.

Heather of Healthy Eating Starts Here focused her recap on the healthier side of VS. She created a cute video, too!

Speaking of videos, here's another GREAT visual recap:

I met the gal behind Beans Not Bambi at the Summerfest tweet-up (Hi Christin!) She summarizes a very touching story that Victoria Moran (the vegan pixie, as I like to call her) shared during one of the plenaries.

I also had the utmost pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Jaime of Save the Kales! What an absolute doll! She's blogged some bits and pieces of her Summerfest experience as well.

And now onto the other goods!

How to Travel Alone via Persephone Magazine

How to Travel the World also via Persephone Magazine

Less than three months until the 3rd Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest! Keep up with all the hub bub on the TBVF Facebook page.

Avoiding illness while traveling via Go Overseas. Do you have any terrible sick-while-overseas stories (that you're willing to share)?

Writer's block? Oy, do I feel ya. This post from A Beautiful Mess gives some nice, cozy suggestions of places to get inspired.

My darling blogger buddy, Adjoa, recently left Tampa for Minneapolis (SAD FACE!). One night we were chatting about all the greatness that will happen when I head up to visit her next year, and I said, "I wonder if there's a Veg Fest up there." She said she didn't know. Then, I swear to you, the very next day, I stumbled upon a link for the Twin Cities Veg Fest, which I promptly forwarded to Adjoa. She went and wrote this very nice recap post on her own blog. Check it out!

A Decade of Advice from Hobo Siren.

What rocked your Internet socks this week?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vegetarian Summerfest 2012: Tips & Lessons Learned

Since I had never been to Vegetarian Summerfest before, I did not know the ins and outs or what to expect, especially as far as prices and lodging. The full registration (5 days), plus airfare, added up to almost a thousand dollars. It's a hefty price tag for sure, even if it's an "all-inclusive" trip. (Hell, I could stay at an all-inclusive in the Bahamas for cheaper!) But ya gotta figure it's not just a room and a ton of food, it's also entertainment and workshops and non-stop learning. I think it all evens out.

But now that I've "been there, done that," I have some tips and perspective to share with you.

There are hotels within a few minutes of the campus. If you split a room with a few people, that would save you some cash. However, now that I know how jam-packed the days of VS are, I would lean more toward staying on-campus. The days are long and they start early and run late. Staying on campus would be far more convenient, even with a couple of hotels being a few miles away. But, if you're trying to save some cash, hotels are certainly an option, as well as camping.

And let's talk about the dorm rooms. I shared an air-conditioned room with my friend, Amber, in the Living Learning Center ("the LLC"), which is where 99% of the sessions/workshops take place. This was hella convenient and would be my #1 choice as far as buildings to stay in. All of the rooms in all the buildings, though, have linen service. Linen service, in this case, means bedding and tiny, tiny towels. The VS registration desk gives you a bar of soap upon arrival. That's it. If you're picky about your bedding situation, bring whatever makes you more comfortable. I can manage to sleep under most circumstances, so I was fine. The towels, though, made me crazy. Amber and I laughed when we realized that what we thought were hand towels, were actually bath towels, as in, for your whole body. Between that and the tissue paper-thin toilet paper, we made a late-night run to the nearby Wal*Mart and bought cheap (but large) bath towels and better quality toilet paper. Those two things made our stay much more comfortable.

Depending on where you stay, you may or may not have a private bathroom. If this bothers you, take that into consideration when you book your room. If you book a non-air conditioned room, you may want to bring or obtain a fan at some point.

But really, you'll spend very little time in your room. It's essentially only for sleeping and bathing. The rooms aren't glamorous, but that's okay. You're not here for 5-star lodging. You're here to get inspired.

There are two different registration packages to choose from: full registration (all 5 days of the event) or the weekend registration (Friday through Sunday). ALWAYS GO FOR THE FULL REGISTRATION. You'll definitely get "more bang for your buck." I am so glad I sprung for the full 5 days because those 5 days FLEW BY so fast, I can't even imagine how just 3 days would feel. Probably like I blinked and missed it. The three days will be even shorter if you fly in later in the day on Friday. Plus, because people are catching flights at all different times on Sundays - presenters included - many sessions get canceled. Sunday hardly counts as a day of activity. As a matter of fact, I didn't attend a single session on Sunday (because Jenny Brown canceled, and because we had a flight to catch). We had time to grab a to-go lunch from the cafeteria and jet out. So, make it worth your while and go for the full five days.

The food is EXPENSIVE and there's so dang much of it. If you can work out an a la carte deal, do it. Whenever I return to VS, I would be fine with ONLY paying for dinners.

I'm terrible at packing for a trip. This is a fact about me, it's something I cannot seem to change, but I really overpacked for this trip.
What you're seeing in that picture are all of the clothes that I packed, but never wore. They include:
two swimsuits - I was excited to learn that we had access to the campus pool, but learned upon arrival that it was not near our dorm building, nor did we have time to swim while the pool was open. It was either swim, or get inspired at a workshop. The choice is obvious.
work-out clothes - extra t-shirts and tank tops, sports bras, yoga pants, 1 pair of sneakers... Who was I kidding?! Yoga sessions started around 5 or 6am (HA!), and there were other fitness classes sprinkled throughout the day, but again: I could either do a yoga session, or go to a workshop with an awesome vegan activist. Gonna go with the activist! We also had access to the school's fitness center, but that was in the same building as the pool. It was inconveniently located, plus there was NO TIME! I got plenty of exercise walking from session to session every day.
"nicer" clothes - I packed nicer tops and a dress (as well as a pair of "nicer" sandals), in case I felt I needed to classy it up a notch. Pfft. No one was dressing up! It's super casual. Anyone is certainly welcome to dress up if they want, but the majority of attendees were wearing jeans and t-shirts. Wear whatever makes you comfortable (always). With the seemingly endless feedings at VS, I recommend loose-fitting clothes and stretchy pants. Leave the skinny jeans at home!
A hoodie and two cardigans - Oh, Florida people. "We're going up north! It might get cold!" I wasn't cold for one single moment! In fact, it was shweaty-balls hot most days at VS. Considering most activities take place indoors, you're protected from all elements. If you naturally run a little cooler than most people, are sensitive to air conditioning, or whatever, then yes, bring a light jacket or something so you're comfortable. I did not run into this problem one single time.

Despite the extra shoes, I wore flip-flops every day of VS, except our arrival day. Since I overslept so often, it was quicker to just slip on some flippy-floppies, plus it was too damn hot to put on socks and shoes. I love flip-flops, anyway, but hitting the pavement hard every day, schlepping from session to session, was no treat for my feet. Oh well.

Some of you may recall, either from the blog or Facebook, that I've started bringing veg starter kits with me on flights to leave in the seat-back pockets. For this trip, I decided to up the outreach a notch. I brought three different kinds of starter kits, as well as stickers, which my traveling friends and I had fun placing in the in-flight magazines. (I wish I had pictures of Joan's strategic sticker placement. She was good at this!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Beautiful People of Vegetarian Summerfest

Aside from having a steady rotation of varied delicious vegan meals catered to me every day, the other totally awesome part of Vegetarian Summerfest was the people. The lovely, compassionate, vegan people from all over the place. Let me introduce some of them to you.

One of the best sessions I attended was about public speaking, by Victoria Moran. I had never met Victoria before, but of course, I knew who she was. This workshop was amazing. If I could be half the entrancing speaker that Victoria is, I'd be pretty rockin'.
I call her The Vegan Pixie. I swear, this woman sparkles.

I caught Chef AJ twice: first for a packed cooking demo (delicious!), and then again for the hows and whys of an "unprocessed" diet. Her cooking demo was a stitch. AJ always has such a great presence and I love her candid way of speaking, but she also sang two plant-based songs and did a headstand. A chef, singer, performer, published author, stand-up comic... Is there anything this woman can't do?!

I had the divine luck of meeting Rae Sikora before we even got to Johnstown. We ran into her at the airport and we happened to have room in our giant rental car for her to hitch a ride with us. We were all on the edge of our seats the entire ride to VS, listening to her amazing stories about all the amazing things she does to help animals and promote kindness and compassion and understanding. Rae is a beautiful, beautiful soul, on a local and international level. (Seriously, this woman is a bad-ass vegan Mother Teresa.) I feel so blessed to have met her. She was a presenter at VS, as well as a vendor, and sought after by practically all attendees. When it came time for us to snap a photo together, it was her suggestion that we do a jumping shot (and I'm ALWAYS game for a jumping picture!).

Another favorite session was with Joseph Connelly (founder of VegNews Magazine), about traveling as a vegan. He had some technical difficulties at the beginning of his session, unfortunately, but once he got started, I was all ears. He mostly talked about his travels around India, and I was enthralled. I wished his session could have been two or three hours longer. I could listen to his stories and look at his pictures for hours. Also, he reminded me of my beloved late uncle, Michael, in the way that he spoke and carried himself.

Other Amazing People Who Were Not Photographed Or Were So Horribly Photographed That I Could Not Share the Photos

* My new friends at for the Animals Sanctuary in New Jersey. They were selling really great buttons and jewelry (and we all walked away with at least 10 buttons each, I believe). We became fast friends with Tyler, Claudia, and Theresa over the week. Looking forward to when our paths cross again!

* The lovely mother-daughter duo with The Fanciful Fox! I had met them for the first time at CT Veg Fest and it was great to run into them again.

* Milton Mills gets some serious cool points for wearing a Tampa Bay Veg Fest t-shirt to Vegetarian Summerfest. (He spoke at the very first TBVF!) Needless to say, the vegan crew from Tampa were greatly amused to spot a TBVF shirt in the crowd!

* I befriended fellow blogger, Jaime of Save the Kales! What an absolutely darling! We talked (blog) shop a bunch, she sat with us at lunch despite our absurd conversations while eating, and we shared lots of laughs.

* The star of the event was Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. She spoke at one of the plenaries and I guarantee that she had the undivided attention of however-many-hundreds of people were in attendance for it. She's an amazing speaker and her stories and explanations and reasoning are just... sensible. In my own outreach, I tend to stumble over my words. I feel so much in my heart and I have a lot that I want to share, but then words don't come out as eloquently as I'd like. (See? I can't even explain how amazing her speech was!) We were all so excited to catch her early-morning workshop on the morning of the last day of VS, and then bummed when we learned it was canceled (she had to leave early due to an emergency at the sanctuary). The Tampa crew and I all agreed that when her new book, The Lucky Ones, comes out in August, we'll read it for book club in September. Can't wait to get my mitts on a copy of that book!

There were so many lovely people at Vegetarian Summerfest, and the time goes by so quickly, that I could not possibly have met them all. I'll try to next time, though.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Last of the Summerfest Grub

Oy -- I didn't mean to take a week and a half off from blogging. Life happens, man! I always share fun nuggets of... fun... on the Hungry Vegan Traveler Facebook page. If you don't already "like" it, then by all means, go do that right now. I'll wait.


Great! Now I'm going to pick up where I left off, which was recapping Vegetarian Summerfest, which I attended for this first time this year. As I mentioned, food was in no short supply. I've had many people ask me about the food, and my answer is more or less always the same: On average, there were two items at each meal that I absolutely loved, and the rest was "meh." That's pretty good, considering this was a buffet with enough food to feed over 700 people, and despite the fact that they had badass vegan chefs creating the menu and overseeing the kitchen, the people actually making the food were your average industrial kitchen crew. In fact, at meals, my friends and I would occasionally chat up some of the kitchen staff and ask what they thought of the food. Every single one of them that I talked to had NO IDEA what they were cooking or serving! And many of them needed some reassurance and coaxing to try the food, too.

Try it, you might like it!

But let's get to the food pics.

One day at lunch (or was it dinner? It's all a gluttonous blur), they had a potato bar, which was pretty awesome. The chive-sour cream was wiped out quick, so I utilized this really awesome peanut sauce. It went well with the rainbow slaw, too. A good peanut sauce pretty much goes with everything.

This dinner plate is holding quite a variety. At 10:00, you see kale salad with guacamole, to the right of that are two AMAZING raw nachos (wish there were more of those!), followed by some sloppy carrot cake, with a slab of tofu topped with tomatoes, spinach, and Daiya.

And then there was more dessert: a fruity chocolate cake on top of Temptation cookie dough ice cream. I was so excited to see Temptation! I used to be able to buy that in Kansas City.

And that's it for the meals of Vegetarian Summerfest 2012! I'm not sure if I mentioned this already, but I didn't make it to a single breakfast (they only served it from 7:30-8:30am and I am NOT a morning person). Amber and I stockpiled snacks and fruit in our room, but it's not like we were EVER hungry enough to eat any of it.

Coming up next: the PEOPLE of VS!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Portland Or BUST! VVC 2013

Nothing's gonna stop me this time.

Early bird registration for VVC 2013 opened while I was traveling back from Vegetarian Summerfest to Florida. I was sitting at the Atlanta airport, thinking, It'll probably sell-out by the time I get home. Imagine my surprise when I finally made it home, got online, and discovered that there were just ten spots left at the early bird price. I snatched one up just in time!

Are you going to VVC 2013?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Linky Dinks & What-Nots

Happy Friday, everyone! I have a busy weekend ahead of me, so I'm taking a break from my Vegetarian Summerfest recap and sharing some Linky-Dinks and What-Nots with you! In case you're new to Hungry Vegan Traveler, from time to time I'll share links from around the Interwebs related to veganism and/or travel, as well as a few other things I think are cool (see above Youtube video of a drunk guy singing Seal to his cat). I often share links and pictures and cool things on the HVT Facebook page, but since I don't want to spam your feed, I save many links for these posts. Enjoy!

Lonely Planet author, Leif Patterson, shares some US Road Trip tips. My favorite:
Don’t wear a souvenir state t-shirt until you’re at least two states away from where it was purchased.

Vegangela is back! And I can't wait to read all about her 3-month trip around New Zealand and SE Asia.

From Mighty Girl: What Makes Hawaii Different from the Mainland. (Now I have Hawaii on the brain.)

A lake of Pepto-Bismal in Africa? Not quite...

This video made me cry and cry.

Yes and Yes posted a great piece on traveling with friends (and how to survive!).

Feather from Vegan Around the World shared some tips on how to help budget international travel.

Our Hen House interviewed Ashley Maier of Connect the Dots, which is "a project that aims to help people make the connections between all forms of oppression and well-being, including that of non-human animals and the environment. We hope to build bridges between the movements that address human rights, animal rights, and environmental justice." I totally with them on that.

If you're in the heat wave zone, you'd better check out this weather forecast (especially if you live in Virginia).

What exciting things do you have planned for this weekend?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cake for Breakfast // Sticky Fingers at Summerfest

Although breakfasts were included in our registration, Amber and I never made it to a single one. We stayed up between 2:30 and 3:30am most nights, and with breakfast only being served from 7:30-8:30, it just wasn't going to happen. (Besides, we were never hungry after the previous day's meals!)

However, one day, we kind of did have breakfast. We went to the 10am food demonstration by Doron Petersan of Sticky Fingers vegan bakery in Washington, DC. You may recognize her name or face as the gal who won Cupcake Wars TWICE.

The theme of her demo was coconut. But for us, it was breakfast.

mis en place

We knew from experience that food demonstrations filled up fast. (You'll read about Chef AJ's soon.) Even though we were up late the night before, Amber was up at 9am and down to the demo room by 9:20 to secure seats. She almost dragged me out of bed at 9:20, just before leaving, and I quickly showered and pulled myself together. I was in the shower when she left our room, shouting, "I'm gonna save us seats, but you better not be late and make me look like a jerk!" before walking out the door. I think I breezed into the demo hall by 9:50, just as other people were starting to give Amber the Evil Eye for saving two seats in the front row.

Doron talked about how she went vegan, how she started Sticky Fingers, her Cupcake Wars experience, and writing a book, as well as answered questions about baking throughout.

On the menu: coconut-lemon cookies, coconut cream pie, and "almond joy cake," which was coconut cake with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut and almonds for garnish.

I expected the cookie to be crisp, but I was pleased to have my teeth sink into the cookie rather than snap. At first taste, it was a delicate coconut flavor, but then that burst of lemon shone through. A delightful cookie!

The coconut cream pie was pretty great, especially with that strawberry slice, but that cake, y'all. THAT CAKE.

When I get married, THAT will be my cake. This is saying a lot, folks, because I've always considered myself a strict peanut-butter-and-chocolate ONLY when it comes to desserts, and I've never hated coconut, but it was also never my favorite. This cake, though, takes the...cake. Yeah.

We all received recipes for everything that was made in the demonstration, and the recipes can also be found in Doron's book, Sticky Finger's Sweets, 100 Super-Secret Recipes. (She explained that the "Super Secret" part of the title is a joke toward chefs/restaurants that refuse to reveal their recipes or precise ingredients, whereas the recipes in her book are the EXACT same recipes they use in the bakery.)

And guess what immediately followed this demo? LUNCH!