Home » 2011 Portland Veg Fest and How I Feel About Food

2011 Portland Veg Fest and How I Feel About Food

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I’m going to put it all out there. Finally. All of it.

Portland Veg Fest

If you have never been to a convention for something that interests you, go! The energy in any given room at any given time is on a constant high flowing palpable frequency range. You can literally feel the buzz of excitement. People are excited, they’re connecting and they’re having joy in their hearts.


This is my fourth week living in Portland and I have loved it from day one. There is a lot to be said about living in a city and always being able to find something interesting to go to any time within reasonable price ranges.

I had a great time experiencing the the Oregon Convention Center for the first time. Very easy to get to using public transportation, a plus. Inside, there was a lot of beautiful and interesting art work to admire.



I forget exactly where I first read about Veg Fest. I think the newspaper, The Oregonian, had an article on Sara Matheny. They mentioned her newly released book, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, and her upcoming appearance doing a chef demo at the Veg Fest. By the way I stayed in that event room practically all day. Chef Demos. Love them.One of my first goals of the day was to sign up for a Northwest Veg membership. I had two motivations. One, I love supporting things I believe in (NPR & WTTW to name a couple). Two, they gave away this ridiculously beautiful bag filled with ‘free’ loot.


Included in my loot bag:

I’m still amazed. A nice mix of stuff I already love and stuff I can’t wait to try.

Part 2: My Feelings on Food

I have a hard time considering myself vegan, vegetarian, and even a raw foodist. I don’t much go for the ‘label’. I think as humans we often think in terms of all or nothing when learning about other people and whatever their habits are. We learn something about them and unintentionally a box is structured around them. I think a flexible band is more appropriate.

I am a person who likes food. Good food and whole food. If it helps people visualize, I would say I eat 98% vegetarian/vegan/raw. I admire vegan and vegetarian ideals but, as with any ideal, the pressure I feel when trying to conform makes me want to push away. It is when I let go of those firm borders that I find myself eating the best and without that self-inflicted guilt.

Here are my takes on the following:

As a whole I do better when I avoid it. From sinus to gas and bloating – these disappear when the cheese disappears. If you are familiar with these symptoms, try cutting out dairy for 6-8 weeks and see what happens. If you are not familiar with that mucus-y feeling in the back of your throat after enjoying ice cream or cheese, pay attention next time. It’s interesting and I didn’t believe the cause-effect on my body until I tried the elimination.

I do like yogurt for the benefit of the live cultures, but only plain yogurt. I don’t eat it all the time but usually I’ll get on a ‘kick’. There are other ways to get live cultures into the diet too. Supplements are readily available at most supermarkets, health stores, and online. Homemade or store-bought raw sauerkraut are also good choices. These live cultures are great for our digestive systems.

I’ll start with the things I can stand. Eggs, seafood and on even rarer occasions chicken. I like eggs and I think they have many nutritional benefits. I hated seafood until my mid-20s due to some negative aversions revolving around choking on bones and the awful smell. The first time fish ever tempted me was funny enough by the smell. It smelled good. My younger brother had cooked salmon fillets on the grill with heaps of white onions, butter, salt and pepper. It smelled fantastic and I couldn’t believe it was causing me to salivate. I tried some and fell in love. Thank you Freddy. 🙂 The rest? I can leave it. The times I do want to eat meat, I try to buy smart. Local and sustainable source preferred.

Processed Foods, Refined Flours, and Sugars:
I think these may be the most important things to reduce and eliminate out of any diet.

There are 4 types of Sugar here, only one of them is the right answer (other correct answers such as fruits, honey, agave, and maple syrup are not shown). Meet Sugar, the Bichon! She is our favorite Bichon doggie in Illinois. She even has her own facebook page.

This is the last time we had processed sugars and flour in our house – circa 2009. Why did I kick them out of our house? I have better skin, feel lighter, and have more energy without them. That’s a great reason!

When I do have something processed, say a slice of frozen pizza, I’ll top it with fresh minced garlic before throwing it in the oven. Then enjoy it for what it is, at that moment, and move on.

Veggies & Fruits:
I am obsessed!!! I love them so much. I love them in smoothies, in salads, in and on crackers, shredded, spiralized, sliced, diced, peeled, grilled, roasted and boasted. I could eat them with a fox, in a box, wearing socks and smiling all while holding rocks.That’s how much.

Part 3: What does it all mean?

So the number one question at Veg Fest was: Are you… vegan or vegetarian or raw foodist or omnivore?

Here’s the fun part. I don’t know how to answer and I don’t think we should have to. I love good whole food and want to share what I love and what brings me joy with YOU! 🙂

If you run into something on this site you don’t feel comfortable eating, let it inspire you to put your own twist on something you love!

What are your thoughts?

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I liked VegFest too, but I was one of the volunteers helping to put it on. There were some really good talks at VegFest, but I missed all the chef demos. Glad you are liking Portland. It is a great place for plant-based food.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Peter. Thank you for volunteering, I had a FANTASTIC first time at Veg Fest! I missed the most popular talks, the rooms became crazy full, but the chef demos, well – I could just watch those all day. 🙂

  2. I would love to attend a VegFest ~ sounds super inspiring and check out that loot (drooling). It was suggested to me a while back that I do an elimination diet and I am thinking fall is the perfect time for this. When I stay away from refined sugar and dairy products, I can definitely tell the difference. It is a step in the right direction for me…I have veered a bit off course since meeting the Brit six years ago, alas. Portland is a foodie paradise, isn’t it?! We are loving it here, as well. So happy to have met you and am looking forward to hearing more of your story! V

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, isn’t the loot fun! I agree with the refined sugars/flours… my skin looks so much better and my stomach feels lighter. I am so glad to have met you too, can’t wait to go for tea or a cuppa. 🙂

  3. Marisa says:

    I love your site. I’ve been enjoying your recipes. I too can’t define myself with one label. The closest I can get to a label is ‘vegan hobbyist’. Making vegan meals is one of my new favorite daily hobbies!

    • michellelfelt says:

      Thank you very much Marisa 🙂 It thrills me that you are enjoying the recipes! Vegan hobbyist makes total sense to me 🙂