I was about 20th in line when the doors opened for the first day of the two-day conference. The space at 82 Mercer is a marvelous brick expanse divided into three long rooms. All three were filled with booths displaying the most wonderful of vegan products. Among my favorites were:
The Vegan Bodega – The proprietor was on hand to give samplings of seaweed caviar by Cavi-Art (among other things), which was delicious. Since I was the first to visit his table, I had the added feature of having a camera woman film me shoving a caviar topped cracker into my pie hole.
Vaute Couture – The lush feel of some of their jackets made my heart palpitate. They use fabrics made from recycled fibers and their catalog is filled with pets! Love at first sight.
Pure Food and Wine/One Lucky Duck – The booth was run by some very charming women, who graciously allowed me to ramble on then gave me some vegan macaroons.
Who doesn’t love free delicious cookies?
Moo Shoes – Loved several pair but was so disappointed at the cost. Sandals for $88 (on sale from $110) is just too much for my budget.
Light and airy, the space had a very inviting feeling to it. My most favorite things about the venue were the enormous windows that let in all kinds of natural light and which seemed totally appropriated for the convention, and the lighting in the bathroom. (Yes, I get excited when the bathroom lighting doesn’t make me look like the Bride of Frankenstein.)
My least favorite things were the stairs leading into the convention and the almost total lack of places to sit down. With an almost healed Achilles tendon injury, standing on my feet for two days and walking down the stairs was painful. I didn’t find the elevator until the second day.
The Seed Experience itself was amazing. I spent the morning at a panel discussion on vegan blogging and activism. I finally met JL Fields of JL Goes Vegan (whom I’d been reading since she began her blog) and Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw (whom I’d only started reading a couple of months before). I also made a new acquaintance in Yoli Ouiya of Yoli’s Green Living. The discussion was fun and informative and definitely worth attending, especially since each of the three women had a different perspective on the art and business of blogging.
Another panel featured Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, founders of the non-profit Our Hen House discussing the transition to veganism. Their talk was full of helpful tips for the beginner and included audio and visual aids for those of us with short attention spans. My favorite tip was when they let people know that transitioning didn’t have to be all or nothing, that gradually changing to a vegan diet was better than not changing it at all.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman was also there to give the keynote address “Winning the War Against Cancer.” Always an interesting speaker, he also had a booth featuring his new line of packaged vegan foods. Unfortunately, there were no samples, or if there were, they were gone when I got there.
I had also been looking forward to seeing the documentaries since there is always more to learn about how our government is backing the food industry. I was able to attend Forks Over Knives, which I’d seen before but forgotten, The Lunch Hour, which was making its New York debut at The Seed, and the one I’d been waiting to see, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I have actually seen this film 11 times now but I had been set to interview Joe Cross, who created the film, after the Q & A. I love this film. It gives a lot of good information without being preachy, it’s fun and encouraging, and in the end you feel uplifted. Unfortunately, we were informed at the start of the film that Joe had been held up in Europe and couldn’t make it. I debated whether to stay and decided to go ahead because of my ankle and the availability of a chair. I was so happy I did. There were more new and potential vegans in the audience than I’d thought there would be and this is a great film for beginners, as well as the experienced, and watching Joe’s journey is a great motivator.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film, Joe Cross is an overworked Australian financier who’d become very overweight and developed a skin condition that required talking over a dozen pills a day. After seeing 6 doctors who couldn’t find a cure for his ailment, he decided that his unhealthy diet must be the key. Under the guidance of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Joe spends 60 days on a juice fast while driving across the U.S. Along the way, he meets a truck driver named Phil who has the same skin disease, but is much more overweight. Phil eventually starts down the veggie path with Joe’s help.
At their first meeting, Joe gives Phil an Australian rugby shirt in a size XXL and tells him that’s the goal. As the documentary got near its end, we watch Joe taking his morning run on the beach. The camera pans down to his feet, which changes into feet running on snow. The camera comes up and reveals that it’s Phil, running through his neighborhood after getting healthier. The audience was split between gasps and “awww.” A few minutes later, we see Phil jogging again, this time in the rugby shirt. The audience went wild. It was amazing!
I think that moment, more than any other, summed up The Seed Experience for me. This was an event about people who want to make the world better for both animals and humans, and who are here to encourage each other along the path. It was a remarkable feeling to know that everyone in the room at that moment was overwhelmed with joy over Phil’s transformation.
The Seed Experience is an event not to be missed. Next year, wherever you are, do anything necessary to attend. Just wear comfortable shoes.
Photo credit: Fiannawww.twitter.com/veganfarmgirl