Vegans In Vegas, a conference designed for vegan and veg-interested men, is wrapping up today. It’s been a long weekend of excellent presentations and tasty meals. The schedule was complete with cooking demonstrations, a poker class, men’s fashion advice, vegan body building, nutrition info and more.
The conference description was basically this: ‘From TV advertising and mass media, to friends and family, there’s enormous pressure on men to conform to the standard American diet and live “inside the box.” Let’s face it, being a vegan man can be rough. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a veg mecca, there’s a good chance you occasionally feel like a bit of a pariah. VinV is being organized to help give men of all ages and backgrounds – regardless of their current dietary status – an opportunity to learn from leading experts in the fields of health, nutrition, fitness, and activism, while meeting new friends and enjoying the world famous Las Vegas nightlife and entertainment.’
It was a huge undertaking that required massive amounts of preparation, funding, and social finesse. I applaud all the people involved in this event. They managed to do a great job in making it all come together.
I had the good fortune to attend a couple lectures myself, even though as a woman I’m not the target audience for this conference. In fact, there were plenty of woman at the event, in case anyone was worried this event was going to be a vegan “sausage fest.” Ryan Henn, the organizer of Vegans In Vegas, opened up the event to women as soon as he saw the interest, although he kept the main focus of most presentations geared towards men.
I attended Jack Norris‘s talk about Vegan Outreach and staying helthy as a vegan. He talked a bit about how VO is reaching young people and enlightening them to veganism. He showcased some vegan leafleters (kindly, he added my group Vegas Veg). And he talked about how easy it is to spread compassion: just spend an hour passing out leaflets to people in a busy place. You will likely inspire a couple people to go vegan, vegetarian, or reduce their meat consumption. The ripple effects of that one short hour’s worth of work can have major impacts on animal’s lives as well as on the environment.
In the health depeartment, Norris focused on: vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, Omega 3s, soy, and protein. Although most of the nutrition talk and questions afterwards were about superfoods and micronutrients, I personally still believe the best route to health is to take a ‘bigger picture’ approach. Vegan nutrition details are interesting and can be helpful, but I worry that many people can’t see the forest through the trees.
Earlier in the conference, I attended a presenation by Nathan Runkle, Founder and Executive Director of Mercy For Animals. His talk was likely similar to the humane education that MFA does in high schools and colleges, but modified for an adult audience of men. Nathan combined humor, compassion, repulsion, and style into one savvy presentation.
Overall, I only have a few criticisms of this event. First, it was scheduled on the same weekend as World Fest, an outdoor vegan event in the LA area. If you don’t know, most Vegas tourists come from LA, and many vegans who live in Vegas go to LA as a vegan respite (since LA has more vegan restaurants). So Vegans In Vegas forced many people to choose between two exciting vegan events in their locale. An unfair choice since both were so exciting!
Second, as a woman I felt a little excluded. Well, that was sort of the point and I understand. But that also meant that I was less excited about it than I should have been and thus less inclined to promote it. That’s a shame. I would suggest for the future that the event is marketed more as something for all vegans and vegan-curious folks with one day’s worth of lectures targeted just for men. That way, it would appeal to a broader group of people without diluting the concept of male bonding too much.
Again, an event like this required lots of preparation, funding, and some special social skills. It really was a significant effort and I think all the people involved in this event did a great job.
To learn more so you can plan for next year (crossing fingers it will happen again next year), check out these other prior articles about Vegans In Vegas:
- Vegan Bachelor Party
- For the Vegan Men in Your Life
- Vegans in Vegas Preview
- Speakers for “Vegans in Vegas” Event Announced!
- Brace Yourself: Your Man Might Be a Vegan
- Vegans in Vegas male-centric conference announces speakers
- Three Awesome Things That You Need to Know if You Are Vegan
- Vegans in Vegas Woo Hoo