Wild, Wild West – ExpoWest 2015

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This morning when I woke up the air temperature in Ithaca, New York was -20° F. This was the actual temperature, not the wind chill or “feels like.” This was it. The nose-hair-freezing, finger-numbing, water-bottle-in-your-car-exploding, actual temperature. So, I thought it was the perfect time to blog about my upcoming trip to California!

Go west, young vegan.

ExpoWest, held from March 6-8th in Anaheim, California, has called my name. In addition to soaking up some much-needed sun (even if it’s only 50° there … that is still 70° warmer than where I am now), I am honored to be working with the team at Miyoko’s Kitchen on expanding their already very successful vegan cheese company into a broader wholesale market. While most of my time will be spent there, I am also going to finally meet some of my other contacts established over the years since starting this blog.

Specifically (and I hope I am not leaving anyone out), I am thrilled to meet my friends from VioLife who are using ExpoWest as a launching pad to finally bring their amazing products to America (from Greece). Over the past two years I have built such a valuable relationship with this company and am so looking forward to meeting face-to-face. If you’re going to ExpoWest, I highly recommend you to visit their booth and sample their products.

I also can’t wait to meet Justin and Emily from BeyondMeat! I’ve been a Brand Ambassador for over two years (although I think they call them Super Fans now) and I’ve been such a huge (super) fan of all their products. Last year they exhibited with an actual full-scale Taco Bell restaurant as their tradeshow booth so I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with this year!

Other companies on my “must-see” list are also the companies that have been with me every step of the way toward my transition to veganism:

… and … there are no words that can describe the anticipation I am feeling about finally meeting, in person, so many of my fellow vegan bloggers (ironically, some of these first meetings are going to be with east coasters):

First timer like me? Then you have to download the “Insider’s Guide to Natural Products Expo” from the wonderful Whitney Lauritsen, aka Eco-Vegan Gal. This is the complete guide to the Expo. Written by a seasoned expert, Whitney has attended for nine years and provides “all you need to know … Expo.” Judging by the size of this event, we can all learn a thing or two (or ten or twenty, if you’re me) from this new e-book.

There are also business meeting, contacts, and connections I will make while there (which is actually the point of the trip). And, of course …

Food. Endless and endless amounts of food to sample. I do think it’s kid of ironic that everyone I know is SO excited to go to a natural products expo … only to load up on junk food.

I don’t think anyone is going to try apples.

Are you going? Comment here or send me an email … would love to meet up with other Expo-pros or newcomers — like me!

Go vegan.

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Ivy League Vegan Conference: @Cornell University

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For the past three years the Ivy League Vegan Conference has moved from one Ivy League University to the next (Princeton … Yale … UPenn) and now, in the event’s fourth year, it’s landing in my backyard: Cornell University (Ithaca, New York).

This one-day event feature speakers, special vegan dining options (by our favorite Chef Tony), a vegan career fair, and tabling for vegan companies and organizations (like www.ThankTankCreative.com). In fact, ThankTank Creative is assisting with marketing the event as well as taking event photographs (these photos in this post are by ThankTank Creative).

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There are numerous reasons this event will be a huge success. Cornell Dining has been ranked very high for vegan offerings; Ithaca, NY, ranks very high for being “vegan friendly”; and this year’s keynote speaker is none other than T. Colin Campbell, leading plant-based nutrition scientist and co-author of The China Study.

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How do you top all this? How about a talk by vegan chef and cheese genius Miyoko Schinner (of Miyokos Kitchen). She is traveling from (warm and) beautiful Fairfax, California to talk about the changing times she has personally witnessed for vegan businesses since starting her first vegan business back in the 80’s.

Ever dreamed of starting your own vegan business? Miyoko Schinner shares an insider’s perspective on launching vegan companies, including her artisan vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Kitchen, and explores where they are headed and how they impact the world.

Other speakers include: Dr. Gary Wu, Master Chef James Corwell, Amber George, Vlad Chituc, Sherry Colb, and Michael Dorf (Sherry and Mike are close friends and professors at Cornell). This event is open to the public (costs less than $15 … which is amazing) and open to non-vegans and vegan-curious. Registration can be done online, here … hope to see you there!

Go Vegan.

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Miyokos Kitchen Launches New Website (and ThankTank Creative was there …)!

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MiyokosKitchenFullSiteI first met Miyoko Schinner at the Vegetarian Summerfest two years ago. That was a huge turning point for me as a vegan. As with many before me, cheese (especially creamy, rich, artisan cheese) was something I was not looking forward to giving up. During this event, Miyoko conducted a demonstration and tasting of her amazing culinary skills and actually performed a miracle … she made vegan cheese right before my eyes (in one instance, she made mozzarella … which, on its own is not an easy task). I was immediately in love.

So, years later when I started my vegan marketing and design firm, I knew I wanted to work with Miyoko as she launched her incredible collections of vegan cheeses (referred to as cultured nut products because of California state law) to the world.

Interesting to note, that mid-way through the design and programming of the site, Miyoko was invited to New York to speak at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen (about 40 minutes from where I live). Being the amazing woman that she is, she drove to have dinner with us in the pouring rain and got to be a part of one of our last-minute vegan potlucks. Needless to say, I became somewhat of a hero that day since she also traveled with three wheels of cheese. Plus, I got to introduce her to the Ithaca Vegan Mafia and take her on a post-rain walk around Cornell campus. It was a really nice evening.

So, today MiyokosKitchen.com finally launches. With the help of ThankTank Creative and a huge team effort, MiyokosKitchen.com is open for business. The new site (which is still in its “organic” stage) features collections of cheeses that will satisfy anyone … especially omnivores. What I am most excited about, beyond having had this opportunity to be a part of history, is that Miyoko’s cheeses are so good … SO good … that they will help so many thousands of people take that next step toward veganism.

And that makes the world a better place.

Follow Miyoko’s Kitchen on Twitter and Facebook and go buy some cheese!

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