My first Virtual Vegan Potluck that I participated in last October sent me into a tizzy of sorts. Not necessarily because of cooking or posting a recipe. But because here on the East Coast of the U.S. we were bracing for Hurricane Sandy to push her nasty self up the coast. No one knew then how bad, how long or what the power (or lack of) situation would be. Luckily we were spared here in Washington D.C. all but days of dark dreary cold rain. So what I remember of my first Potluck was not being too sure how things would play out and then wondering if I would have electricity to cook or light enough to take photos. I didn’t know Annie Oliverio at all. Or Somer or Jason. And I was pretty nervous about showing off anything Vegan back then as something that anyone else on the planet might actually want to cook for themselves. What I did know was that everything I’d seen on the Virtual Vegan Potluck site looked really fun and cool. I wanted to meet, if only virtually, my fellow Vegan bloggers. And I wanted to be a part of it in my small, self-doubting way no matter what the weather or my mood might bring. So I signed up. The nasty weather swept by, my camera came through for me and I gained a bunch of new ‘virtual’ friends that I’ve grown to love and rely on for advice and concern in my Vegan lifestyle.
So what the heck is a Virtual Vegan Potluck anyway?
Creator and Organizer of the Virtual Vegan Potluck events.
Annie took a few precious minutes of her wildly hectic days leading up to this fall’s Potluck to answer some basic questions for me about the events and let us inside her head a little. She’s an inspiration to healthy living and I’m proud to be able to share more about her and the Virtual Vegan Potluck event coming up on November 16th.
The Potlucks occur 2 times per year, in the Spring and then late Fall. They last 24 hours but the preparations have been churning up for months already in Annie’s world. I asked her recently to tell us a bit more about herself and the events.
Canned Time – So how long have you been Vegan, or a Vegan Blogger? And what is the Virtual Vegan Potluck (V V P )? Can anyone sign up?
Annie - “I’ve been vegan since February 2011 and started my blog in October of that same year; my two-year anniversary was the 21st - hard to believe! The simplest way to describe the VVP is: it’s a blog circle. The slightly more complicated explanation is that a whole bunch of food blogs from around the globe share a plant-based recipe on a chosen day. Each blog links to the blog ahead of it and behind it in the “chain” so that readers can go easily from one recipe to another. The Potluck starts with Appetizers and ends with Desserts. For a visual explanation, check out my video(s) here And, YES! I encourage both vegans and non-vegans to participate – it just makes the Potluck that much more interesting and fun. All one needs is a blog and of course, the recipe needs to be animal-free. “
Canned Time - This is your forth Virtual Vegan Potluck coming up next month. How did it all get started for you? Did you think it would get this big?
Annie - “It started with a comment left on the wonderful blog, In Pursuit of More. I wrote that it sure would be fun if we could all get together for a big party. I thought about that idea for a while and realized that though it wouldn’t be physically possible – why couldn’t we make it happen virtually? I felt very nervous about that first blog post I wrote asking my blogging friends if they wanted to create a Potluck together. I figured that one or two people would respond but that would be about it and I’d be left feeling very red-faced. I was so thrilled with the resoundingly positive response. It was a great example of how wonderful this community is.”
Canned Time - You must get some great ideas for food from all those recipes. Do any stick out from past events though that were really crazy or just memorable posts?
Annie -“ Oh my goodness. Every Potluck I say the same thing: I’m blown away by what my fellow foodies create. I admit to having a special interest in the desserts. This category really seems to shine with bloggers trying to outdo everyone else. Interestingly, appetizers also seem to bring out the creative in people.”
Canned Time - So how different is the event next month from your first VVP? Much bigger obviously.
Annie – “I had no expectation of getting anyone to sign on for the first Potluck and it was a huge, happy surprise when the response was so positive. None of us really had any idea of how it would work so it was pretty casual and haphazard. No special website, of course. No sign-up form. I wrote very long and detailed (and I’m sure boring and confusing) blog posts explaining how it would work – and for the most part – it worked out pretty well.
Now it’s all very official and each Potluck I learn something new for the next one. I think we’re more organized this time around and have made a few changes that I hope will make it easier and more enjoyable for all of us. I also have great help behind the scenes – including you, Angela . Thank you!”
Canned Time – Do you ever have trouble deciding what your own post should be for that day?
Annie – “I do – but I try not to stress too much because in a way I feel as if it’s about what everyone else is bringing. I know my fellow bloggers go all out to bring something really special to the Potluck. My own little rule is that I have to do a different course for each Potluck. This time I’m bringing a soup – and the post is 95% done – so I am feeling good!”
Canned Time – What was the biggest techie problem you’ve had from past VVPs?
Annie – “There are actually two…the first is conveying the idea of posting at the same time all around the world. It’s really a simple matter, but stopping to think about me posting at 11 pm while somewhere else in the world someone is posting at 3 pm – it can be hard to wrap one’s head around it. The second problem is getting bloggers to get their links to go where they need to go. That’s the thing I spend most of my time doing on the day of the Potluck – emailing bloggers to let them know their links are “broken.””
Canned Time – Lots of bloggers involved with each event. Have you ever had problems with everyone ‘playing nice’ with each other?
Annie – “I’ve never had a problem. The blogging community in general and the vegan blogging community specifically is incredibly open and supportive. The cool thing about the Potluck is we have some very big and popular blogs signed up, but we also have folks who are just starting out and trying to build a readership. I love that the Potluck brings bloggers of all stripes together. Additionally, we have non-vegan bloggers and they totally get it. I think one year we had someone use honey, but it just wasn’t a big deal. It’s the spirit of it that is important.”
Canned Time – And what does Kel do for 2 months a year while you’re glued to the keyboard?
Annie – “No matter what time of year it is, Kel can most often be found puttering – quite contentedly – in his garden. He knows that meal times and tea-times never get forgotten; he’s very patient and supportive and always asks, “How many have signed up?” He’s my Number One fan and he stays up with me the night of the Potluck to make sure my post goes live at the proper time.”
Canned Time - Veganism seems to be on an upward trend in the news and popularity these days. Have you had problems getting family or friends accepting how you live since going Vegan? Annie – “I’m really excited about the increased popularity of plant-based eating. You wouldn’t notice it here in Oklahoma, of course, but there are definitely more options out there.
My own personal experience is that most of the people around me feel that I follow an extreme diet – one of deprivation. Anyone who is vegan knows this isn’t true, but it’s very difficult to convey that to non-vegans. There is a belief that being vegan involves complicated ingredients and lengthy food preparation. The truth is, eating plant-based is as easy or as complicated as one wants to make it.
On the whole, family and friends respect my choice. I do wish I could convince certain family members that going plant-based would be life (and health) changing. That ain’t gonna happen. And, in the end, I have to respect their choices.”
Canned Time - Are there any Animal Rights aspects to the event, besides the obvious that it’s all Vegan?
Annie – “Not yet. But I have been thinking about an idea of asking participants to donate a couple of bucks when they register; the proceeds would go to a shelter or animal rights organization that was selected (by vote) by the participants. Not sure how I would roll that out, but it’s definitely a possibility and would add a really nice dimension to the Potluck.
Another idea is to create a VVP cookbook consisting of selected recipes from several Potlucks. The proceeds of the sale of this e-book would be donated to a non-profit organization that would be selected (by vote) by the participants.”
Canned Time - An event like this, especially one that grows each year, takes so much time and effort but you must have a favorite part of it. What is the fun aspect for you. What makes you keep going each year? Annie – “I am totally tickled post-Potluck when I get messages from participants saying they had a blast and they can’t wait to do it again. That is what keeps me doing it.”
Canned Time – Those of us familiar with your site have heard so much about your dog-buddy Ike through the years. Please tell us that he doesn’t suffer as a result of a huge Vegan event? Still have time for his long walks in all the mayhem?
Annie – “Thank goodness for Ike and his walking requirement because it gets me off of my duff, away from the computer, and outdoors. He absolutely has to get exercised otherwise – like me – he gets antsy and grumpy. So, yes, we keep up with our long pasture walks.
Thanks, Angela, for giving me this venue to share what the Potluck is all about. I can’t wait for November 16!!”
And I thank Annie for providing us with such a fun and inspirational event every 6 months. The Virtual Vegan Potluck really has developed into a wonderfully educational and special time for all the participants. If you haven’t signed up to join in on the fun be sure to do so soon. Sign up ends on November 9th. You can go directly to the sign up page here.
Thanks Annie!! See you on November 19th
My pictures in the post were taken this past weekend at an Agricultural Park in Montgomery County, MD. We’re smack dab in the middle of season transition here in D. C. Fall leaves covering the ground but some of the heartier flowers still hangin’ in there. The Park has a number of farm animals that were retired from farms now living out their days in the park. Its a nice way to spend the day walking and sharing in all the natural surroundings if you’re ever in the area.
Have a safe week everyone. And be sure to sign up for the Potluck if you can ♥
- Fresh Basil Biscuits with Apple Pie Jam
- Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream