View Full Version : AVS Conference in Summertown, TN?

04-20-2005, 10:09 AM
Is anyone going to the American Vegan Society's Summer Conference in August? Has anyone ever been to any of their conferences? Has anyone ever been to The Farm in Summertown, TN? (Does anyone even know what I'm talking about? :) )

I'm really interested in attending, but I would like to hear from anyone who's been there and done that.

04-20-2005, 10:24 AM
I haven't the foggiest clue to which you refer, but sounds like a good time. Have a link?

04-20-2005, 10:33 AM
Here's a link for the American Vegan Society:
www.americanvegan.org (http://www.americanvegan.org) and here's the link for The Farm, an intentional veg*n community here in Tennessee: www.thefarm.org/ (http://www.thefarm.org/).

According to my AVS newsletter, the conference will feature speakers like Joanne Stepaniak, Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina, Louise Hagler, and many others. There are also social events, of course - I think there's even a fashion show. It does sound like a good time. I really, really, really want to go, but I'm kind of afraid I won't fit in or something. But, I figure if I'm going to go to anything like this, I may as well go to one that only a couple of hours away.

04-20-2005, 02:23 PM
I thought they weren't doing any more of those. I went one in 1999 in Boulder, Co. It was great. I was able to meet some great people.

That was their last one as far as I knew. Then there was the World Veg Congress in Toronto 2000 after Jay's death. They've only been doing small gatherings in Ney Jersey since then I think.

I say go. Why not? What else are you going to do? Go meet some people and learn some things.

07-06-2005, 02:18 PM
I'm just bumping this thread in the hope that some of you VRFers are planning to attend.

08-17-2005, 02:32 PM
Ok, so I've had a couple of days to process my thoughts about the conference, and I thought I'd share. It was an Experience, and not necessarily in all pleasant ways. The basic format was this: breakfast, seminars, lunch, cooking demo, seminars, dinner, seminars. The majority of the talks were about nutrition. I got some really useful information from these, but after the 3rd or 4th one, I'd had enough of discussions about B12 and about micronutrients that I can't even pronounce. My favorite speaker by far was Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns. Let me tell you, she is passionate about chickens! I was fortunate enough to sit next to her at a couple of meals and got an earful about some of the dumb, but cruel things that people do to birds - chicken rodeos, turkey drops, etc. We were all sitting around the table hanging on to her every word, trying our best to understand the mind-boggling array of atrocities that humans inflict on other animals for "fun". If you ever get the chance to see her/talk to her in person, I would highly recommend it. The chickens (and turkeys, geese, etc.) are lucky to have her on their side.

My second favorite speaker was someone from The Farm (I've already forgotten his name, unfortunately) who spoke to us about Ecovillages - both on The Farm and around the world. Fascinating stuff! I don't think I'd ever want to live in a specific community like that, but there were lots of techniques and ways of living that could easily be adapted to city life.

The one speaker that I absolutely did not like was Alan Goldhamer, co-author of The Pleasure Trap. I bought the book before I knew that he was on the schedule; I never would have handed over my hard-earned money for something that he contributed to otherwise. I didn't have a problem so much with his message as with how he conveys that message. In short, I thought he was a jerk. At best, he is a fast-talkin' salesman who likes to dole out criticism but doesn't want to hear it (he managed to cut off anyone who tried to ask too many questions or bring up unfavorable issues about his True North fasting program).

As for the cooking demos, I wasn't overly impressed with any of them except for Cherie Soria's (sp?) "Raw Desserts" demo. She made a chocolate layered torte that was great! The secret ingredient is avocado, which I never would have guessed. The recipe is easy enough that I will probably make it often, assuming that I can find evaporated cane juice at Wild Oats or somewhere.

I had the same problem with the other cooking demos that I had with the food in general throughout my stay - I didn't like 90% of it. There were no options about what was/was not put on our plates (although a couple of us got rebellious toward the end), so all of the meals (except breakfast) were pretty much take it or leave it. I spent a lot of time picking detested foods out of my plate (they put the dreaded cucumber in everything!) and giving away my desserts. Add that to the fact that I was turned off by some of the food service techniques (there was one woman, in particular, who rejected serving utensils in favor of handling everyone's food with her bare hands), and, food-wise, it was a looooong five days.

With all of that said, you would think that I had an absolutely miserable time. While there were definitely some low points, I have to say that the saving grace for the entire trip was the wonderful people who attended the conference. My primary purpose for taking this trip was to find out if vegans really exist (outside of the internet :)), and lo and behold - they do! I managed to interact with just about all of the attendees. There were a handful of people that I really connected with, and that made all of the difference in the world. Unfortunately, none of them live anywhere near me. Sigh. However, for those five days, we had a blast!

I've been trying to determine if I would be willing to attend another of these conferences. At this point, I'm inclined to say, "No". As long as this post is, it doesn't even begin to cover all of my thoughts about the experience. I may try the NAVS Summerfest next year (everyone at the AVS conference was raving about it), but I think I may be done with the AVS conferences. Although, if I knew that certain people would definitely be in attendance, I'd be all for it.

So anyway, those are a few of my thoughts, in case anyone cares. :)

08-17-2005, 02:41 PM
i care! :) thanks for filling us in!

i'm glad you got to meet karen davis. she sounds like an awesome person. epski blogged about her recently and i remember thinking she sounded great then... nice to hear another rave about her.

sorry some parts were so bleah, but i'm glad you got some good stuff out of it at least. thank you for the recap!

08-17-2005, 08:23 PM
I care, too! Thanks for sharing, LazyGirl. Sorry the food situation was not so great, but it's nice that you made some new friends and learned a cool cake recipe! :)