Inspiring day 1 at Portland VegFest


Read about Emotional day 2 at Portland VegFest

Day 1 at Portland VegFest

One of those very long conference days where I haven’t had a moment to myself and very little reflection time. Been up since 5 a.m., exhausted—of course. Left at around 6:45 a.m. from Bend, and it took us about 3 hours and 45 minutes to get to the convention center because we took a wrong turn, and then had to find the hotel. The first sessions started at 11, so unfortunately we started the day starving and trying to cram in as many free samples as we could for breakfast before the first session. And I’ve felt behind ever since.

There will be plenty to recap later, but there were lots of interesting sessions today, including one by Neal Barnard, M.D., founder and president of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which my friends got into and said was excellent, but I missed because the room was maxed out by the time I got over there. (It was the largest room there, and it may have taken the organizers by surprise. Hopefully they’ll estimate capacity better next time because it was pretty disappointing and there were probably at least 30 more people wanting in. But with larger numbers every year, and 3300 people today, I’m sure it’s quite a feat.)

As a happy consequence of not being able to see Dr. Barnard’s talk, I got to see Alan Roettinger’s Speed Vegan cooking demo, one I had wanted to see last year. Alan was a last-minute fill-in this year, but he was very entertaining and dispensed copious amounts of philosophical banter before, during, and after his actual cooking demo.

I was introduced to Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president, in the afternoon, and then attended his talk immediately after. In spite of the mixed feelings I have about HSUS, Wayne is a very good speaker, which is probably also what makes him an effective lobbyist in his very political position.

The highlight of the day though, was not even a VegFest event, but a side event at Red and Black cafe, hosted by Free in the Field NW Animal Retreat and Rescue. They brought Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance for Animals, into town to speak and he gave a very powerful and captivating 2-hour-long talk about his experiences as an animal activist. I don’t have the energy to do it justice tonight, but it affected me deeply, especially as he showed footage taken from vivisection lab rescues featuring the animals who were horribly and permanently maimed—physically and psychologically—by pointless torture under the guise of useful medical experiments. It’s important to remember that this type of thing still happens today, in addition to the horrible abuses of the factory farming industry. It can be quite depressing to think that fellow human beings are capable of treating other creatures this way. But very inspiring when you meet somebody who has risked his life and liberty many many times to do something about it.

It’s been fun running into so many new friends here—even though we don’t live in Portland, we know so many people in the vegan community now! Unfortunately, the mini Vida Vegan Con reunion dinner we hoped to have never came together, because some of us wanted to attend the Chris DeRose talk and meet up later, and later never got firmed up. But there’s always tomorrow.

2 responses

  1. I so wanted to go see Chris DeRose! However, I didn’t know about his talk until after I already had other plans but the VegFest was amazing.

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