On a sunny and very hot Friday this past April, I attended the Vegan Women Summit (VWS) in downtown Los Angeles. The all-day event took place at the City Market Social House and brought together 800 vegan female powerhouses, from entrepreneurs and visionary icons to activists and celebs, and I was stoked to be there representing Green Queen Media.
The brainchild of founder Jennifer Stojkovic, VWS is the world’s first community dedicated to celebrating and supporting vegan career women and from all accounts, the event was a huge success. No matter where you turned, you could feel the purposeful, mission-aligned energy—the energy you feel when you’re in the same room with a group of people who share your principles, values, and beliefs.
A cornucopia of female-founded vegan brands
If, like me, you love to discover vegan brands and products, then VWS was a happy finder’s paradise. Many of the most exciting names in alternative protein were there including Ripple Foods, Miyoko’s Creamery vegan butter and cheeses, MeliBio’s plant and fermentation-based bee-free honey and Dr. Bronner’s new vegan fair-trade chocolate.
Beyond food, you could browse vegan beauty products by Chella and cruelty-free shoes from Sylven New York, connect with the abillion app’s team, take a selfie at Daiya’s experiential booth or recharge at the Celsius outdoor lounge.
The main outdoor area was set up with food trucks and picnic tables. For breakfast there was vegan chicken and waffles by Atlas Monroe. At lunch, guests could taste OmniFoods new vegan seafood. A happy hour featured TiNDLE’s vegan chicken and Plantcraft’s new pepperoni.
Inspiring talks and panels
Apart from exciting new products, the day featured an impressive line-up of inspiring speakers.
We got to listen to women like Leilani Gayles, Chief People Officer at Impossible Foods, and Karuna Rawal, Chief Marketing Officer at Nature’s Fynd, speak about how to build a socially impactful business. Joanne Lee Molinaro, aka The Korean Vegan, actress Danielle Monet and The Luxury Vegan’s founder Dominique Side discussed modern feminism and culture.
With so many interesting topics, it was hard to pick a favorite panel, but in the end, the dream team of kickass businesswomen moderated by Miyoko Schinner had me at hello. Atlas Monroe’s CEO Deborah Torres, Tamearra Dyson, CEO of Souley Vegan, Everything Legendary’s co-founder Danita Claytor – looking fabulously fierce in a hot pink suit – and Margaret Coons, CEO of Nuts for Cheese, talked candidly about the ups and downs of their journeys as women entrepreneurs and what it took to turn their dreams into successful female-owned vegan businesses.
The most inspirational quote of the day came from Tamearra Dyson, who recently beat Bobby Flay in his Food Network show Beat Bobby, “You gotta go in the direction of your fears.” That really spoke to me because it’s something I strive to do in my life. For a number of years, I would pick something I was fearful of, like skydiving or rock climbing, and I would do it on my birthday as a way of celebrating the day.
The icing on the vegan cake? I got to sit down with Emily Deschanel and chat with her about Green Queen, vegan food & eateries, and her activism. She was the nicest and totally game when I asked to say hi to our readers on camera (if you check out our stories, you may have spotted the video on our feed).
Top foods I tasted
As always, I love to spotlight my food reviews and while everything I tasted at VWS was delicious, here are my top 3.
1. Libre Foods Bacon
As I walked into VWS, I was immediately hit by an overwhelming smell of bacon. All the years of living next to neighbors who cook animal bacon triggered my usual response of “Urghhh, disgusting.” It took my body a second to catch up with my mind and process the sensory experience correctly. Yes, it smelled just like bacon, but no, it wasn’t disgusting because it was vegan bacon. As I stood right in front of the Libre Foods booth, I gave myself permission to enjoy the smell of the fermentation-based fungi bacon. The smell isn’t the only impressive thing about it. The appearance, the texture, and the taste are also all there, down to the strip of fat running alongside the “meaty” bit. It was served on a pancake with maple syrup, and it officially bumped Hooray Foods bacon to #2 on my list. Can’t wait for it to be available in the US!
2. The Vurger Co. Mayo
I have been very vocal about Eat Just’s decision to scratch their line of mayos and salad dressings to focus solely on JUST Egg. I very much miss great-tasting vegan mayo. If you’re looking for a real contender in the plant-based condiment category, look no further than The Vurger Co. I tried the original mayo first and I got that perfect greasy tasty mouthfeel you get from conventional mayo. I could imagine right away how great it will taste with my fries. (Yes, I’m one of those European wannabes who like their fries with mayo instead of ketchup.) I tried the Smoky Bacon mayo next, and it really delivered that smokey bacon flavor you’d expect from any mayo called Smoky Bacon. The Vulger Co. full range of mayos also includes Garlic & Herb and Spicy Cheezy. If you’re in the US or UK, you can buy it online via their website.
3. Wicked Kitchen’s Chocolate and Red Berry Ice-Cream Cone
Wicked Kitchen’s Chocolate and Red Berry Ice-Cream Cone is a showstopper. The red berries really compliment the chocolatey ice cream that comes in a crunchy gluten-free maize cone. There’s something about eating ice cream in a cone that puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like a kid walking around Disneyland for the first time. In other words, I need this in my life every day this summer so it’s a good thing Wicked Kitchen’s just launched their Ice Dream product line at Kroeger stores in the US – Berry White Sticks, Chocolate Almond Sticks, Chocolate and Red Berry Ice-Cream Cones and ice cream pints in 4 flavors: Cookie Dough, Mint Chip, Vanilla and Chocolate.
“We Are All In This Together”
The day ended with keynote speaker Alicia Silverstone, best known for her generation-defining role in the film Clueless, who talked about why she became a vegan, an animal rights activist, and an author. I was sad the day was coming to an end. It was empowering to hear all the female speakers share what it was like for them to make it, as not only a woman, but as a vegan woman. I had goosebumps and was often teary-eyed listening to some of the personal stories that paralleled mine. The biggest takeaway from VWs for me is the realization that I’m not the exception. I’m not alone and I’m not the only one working towards a kinder, better world. We are all in this together.
All images courtesy of VWS.