What: Animal Rights National Conference, Part I
Where: Los Angeles, Calif.
When: June 16–20, 2009
Why: To represent VegNews at the annual AR conference
The Scoop: This year’s Animal Rights National Conference brought activists from across the world to Los Angeles for four days of thought-provoking lectures, stimulating conversations, and fast friendships. A lucky group of VN staffers, myself included, made the oh-so-excruciating one-hour flight to the world’s oldest meet-up of its kind.
Joining an array of exhibitors, the team set up shop to meet attendees and spread the VegNews word. Conveniently, our table was sandwiched between the two sole food vendors, Samosa House and SunPower Natural Café. Did we complain about vegan samosas in plain sight, or the generous raw chocolate-cookie samples sent our way? Certainly not.
Friday welcomed an excited crowd, eager to peruse the exhibition room between lectures. I had the pleasure of meeting many of our readers, as well as making friends with some new subscribers. Robert Cheeke of Vegan Bodybuilding fame stopped by and was kind enough to dole out free fitness advice to Kailey and me (upon our request).
After a long day at the conference, it was time for our anticipated outing to the much-hyped vegan fast-food haven, The Veggie Grill. In case you haven’t been, believe the hype.
I inhaled my All Hail Kale salad, and snuck a few stellar sweet-potato fries from the table’s appetizer.
If the food and sunshine weren't enough, I had the pleasure of keeping excellent dinner company: author and blogger Erik Marcus, Mercy for Animals' Nathan Runkle, and the conference’s two Grassroots Activist awardees, Lauren Ornelas and Dave Bernel.
Their awards, among others, were presented at Saturday’s banquet. Attendees in their swankiest weekend wear honored the year’s top activists and organizations, dined on Match Meats entrées, and enjoyed an entertaining celebrity-hosted charity auction. Remember French Stewart? No? What about now? He garnered quite a few laughs from our table, which I wouldn't entirely attribute to the merlot.
The night ended with a mixer at the hotel’s high-dollar bar, combining a local LA Vegan Drinks event with the conference’s nightly reception. Despite the attire and the cocktails’ price tags, the tone was casual, celebratory, and a perfect end to the evening.