First time at SXSW? Check out Mad Betty’s post How to Get Through SXSW
Interested in trailers in South Austin? The South Austin Foodie has a brand new guide
First time at SXSW? Check out Mad Betty’s post How to Get Through SXSW
Interested in trailers in South Austin? The South Austin Foodie has a brand new guide
This year organizers of South By Southwest Eco were nice enough to give me a free pass to attend the conference. Although I’ve been to the interactive, music, and film conferences quite a bit over the last few years this was my first time attending the new-ish eco. I went full throttle into attending as many panels as possible on everything that I am interested in. I loved learning about the potentials of 3D printing, technology that’s helping wildlife, the importance of storytelling in the movement, and how the first refugees and victims of climate change are trying to save their own lives. The eco conference is supposed to combine scientists with technologists and industry leaders to create solutions to climate based problems. In the past, people have asked me to do a panel on veganism and the environment but I didn’t feel like I was enough of an expert on the topic…until I went to sxsweco.
At first I was surprised by the lack of programming on the topic of veganism, especially since there was a whole theme of food and agriculture. I was even more surprised that the v word hardly came up! Only one panel I went to mentioned eating vegan to help the environment, and that was the panel about in-vitro meat, beyond meat, eating crickets for protein and 3D printing. I guess one of the best parts about the whole experience was learning how naive I am about what people actually know about meat production in our world and that there are so many opportunities for education. At one panel they showed just one image of the pollution caused by one factory farm and the entire room gasped. I wanted to just print out articles, studies, statistics, and infographics and start handing them to people. I heard over and over again about urban farming and vertical farming and plans to not over fish the sea, and plans to detox the sea, and that there is so much plastic in the sea, and that throwing out a half of a pound of ground beef is the same as taking a 90 minute shower, and how the tides are rising are displacing so many people, and weather uncertainty, and what can we do to make a difference. And then I heard the chatter from out-of-towners about how much they loved Texas barbecue and which place would they try next. I saw them lining up at the cheap hamburger stand across the street. I expect that at interactive and the rest but I really thought people traveling to a conference on the environment knew about the impact of cheap beef.
I didn’t know it was a secret that the easiest way anyone in the world can make a difference is to give up eating animals, at least most of the time. Livestock production accounts for over 50 percent of greenhouse gases on the planet! People are losing their homes because we can’t give up hamburgers.
I was reminded the population is growing at a staggering rate. We have to make as much food in the next 40 years as we did in the last thousand. Urban farming will never solve this problem, there are too many people and not resources in urban areas. At one panel I went to an engineer said that vertical farming was a pipe dream, an idea that is perpetuated by cool graphics. I learned that the poorest people in the world are farmers and that 50 percent of them go hungry while the urban farm movement here in the US encourages this as the only possible direction. I’m not saying urban farming doesn’t have a place, I love going to the farmer’s market and I grow kale in my backyard but it will never be enough to make a global difference. Especially when it comes to animal “farming”. Raising animals for food takes infinitely more resources. If people could happily live on subsistence farming those same people wouldn’t be cutting down the rainforrest to make way for cash crops that feed animals. The model of grass fed cows will never work to feed our growing population. As long as people are eating meat at the rate we do there will be factory farms and ag sprawl which is much worse for the environment than urban sprawl.
The only way we have a chance to continue life as we know it is eat a lot less meat. Most people on the planet have to go vegan most of the time. The sooner we stop being so selfish about our traditions and tastes the sooner we will be able actually start saving the planet instead of just deluding ourselves that someone else will come and save us.
The biggest threat to the planet is business as usual.
South by Southwest Interactive is one of the most amazing conferences I’ve been to. Every year I’ve gone I’ve been shocked to become hopeful again about the future after attending. Last year I went to so many panels about sustainability and community that I started to believe a future where we are all peaceful and happy is possible. One thing missing from all the talk about creating a better world was our attitudes towards animals and last year it was the darkest spot for me. I truly believe that if people really understand how animals are treated in our society change is possible. A couple of years ago Laura Beck from Vegansaurus & Jezebel and I did a talk at SXSW about Internet Activism. We had a great conversation with vegans from all over the world and we have learned a ton since then. We are hoping to do a full on presentation this year! I know it’s a pain to vote for things but we would love a thumbs up or a comment on our proposal to make it happen. Our plan is to present original research on what kind of activism campaigns are the most effective and which ones are huge failures. It’s not just about likes! Except for when it is….as in right now…voting for us. So please take a second and DO IT.
Our SXSW reunion won’t be as great as the following story, but it will be pretty damn great.
Here’s what you need to know:
Vegan food can be found in every part of the city, I have a comprehensive list of every option I know of in Austin, a vegan Austin tour if you want to explore our many food options, a sxsw guide and a brand new late night guide in case you don’t want to be bothered and just need to eat now (or later). Don’t try and subsist on free beer you are bound to regret it.
Counter Culture will be open until midnight during the music fest, it’s an all vegan full service restaurant on the Eastside on Caesar Chavez. They are going to have music on friday and a St. Patricks day party Sunday.
Cheer Up Charlie’s is going to have day parties every day, this vegan bar also on the Eastside is home of Arlo’s which has the best veggie burger and tons of other treats at their adjoining trailer park.
Music Promoter Brooklyn Vegan will also have day parties every day with free vegan breakfast tacos from Pink Avocado Catering Company and free food for lover’s nachos!! and on Friday Mr. Natural will be giving away Food for Lovers Queso as well!
If you can’t make it out of downtown you can now try Sweet Ritual‘s ice cream at Counter Culture and in milkshakes at the Hideout right on congress. But if you are in Hyde Park they are going to have caramelized banana splits on special!
Most exciting to me is the Beagle Freedom Project’s benefit showcase. This is a cause that is very close to my heart because I live with two beagles and learned that they are the most common dog used in animal testing because they are so sweet. If that doesn’t break your heart I don’t know what will! The BFP rescues dogs that would have otherwise been killed when the experiment was over and finds them homes to live out the rest of their lives instead. Seeing these videos of beagles seeing the grass for the first time will make you want adopt beagles and give the project all of your money, and you should! They are going to have free parties every day at the Free Now Showcase so go and have fun!
I have been having a blast at the interactive and film conference so far. Highlights have included being inspired by the 100 year starship project, seeing Marcon Maron ask James Franco about General Hospital and then later seeing my friend chase the latter down an ally at 4am yelling “MR. FRANCO”, #tacos, getting my picture with LeVar Burton, and seeing a gigantic decal of grumpy cat glaring over the 6th street revelers. I learned that smiling almost instantly makes you happier physiologically from a scientist and that we don’t tell our children “the future can be better” anymore from an astronaut. I went to a panel about universal love where we were all instructed to concentrate on loving the person next to us and while i was doing that the person next to me left! Harsh! Right now I’m sucking down a free sweet tea vodka and writing this post on my phone (so south by) so i hope you were able to bear with me.
I had the best time at the fest this year. Our official talk went great and I got to take Laura from Vegansaurus to all my favorite spots in town. I bet we turned hundreds of people vegan…. maybe not all that day but perhaps it planted a seed for some.
I ate and drank like I was on vacation. Which I guess I kind of was since I had the week off from work.
I made peanut butter cocopuff treats, well I guess technically they were coco “blast” treats. The recipe was from Kittie and I will make them again for sure.
I also saw a lady walking her pig outside of the Alamo Drafthouse and yelled at her until she stopped so I could pet it and take a picture. Please note, if you are going to walk by me with a little piglet you better not be in a hurry.
Now I am so tired from 10 days of music, films, parties, free drinks, and comedy that it is a real struggle to be back at work. I am so jealous of McPuppenstein who is probably doing this as I type this.
I love Austin Texas, I feel so lucky I get to live here.
*VOTING IS CLOSED*
thanks so much to all who voted/tweeted/facebooked/upvoted/blogged/etc
Please take a minute and vote for my panel idea at SXSW if you haven’t had a chance yet! I want to bring some of the best vegan bloggers to Austin!
Here is the description: A surge of vegan bloggers has been using the internet to make change in the way people think about animals through new forms of activism. VeganMoFo (the vegan month of food) and worldwide Vegan Bakesales to raise money for causes and promote veganism are just some of the ways that we are breaking out of the stereotypes of the past and creating a revolution. Learn creative ways to promote your message and engage your community on & off the web and more about food activism and using your culinary skills to promote compassion.
Our second bake sale for earthquake relief was a huge success! Brooklyn Vegan had a day party at Club De Ville and Action for Animals & Veg Austin set up a table to get people to try vegan baked goods, donate money, and learn about veganism. It was a lot of fun! I was, once again, totally overwhelmed by the amazingness of our fellow Austin bakers. Liz made these amazingly cute cookie monster cupcakes that were a huge hit.
They were especially appreciate by two vegan boys.Kristen of Sugar-Skull made some oatmeal cream pies blew a lot of minds, Dianne made some MUCH appreciate gluten free pumpkin bread and Sarah made some cookies and cream cupcakes that were popular too.
In other news, I don’t think I mentioned that I bought a house!I haven’t been blogging because I have been madly painting, packing, and moving while trying to keep my sanity (I have to admit some of it is lost forever). I have been eating out for several weeks now while the kitchen was a mess and I can’t wait to start cooking again! I have a gas stove now which makes everything cook SO FAST and I realized I have way too much kitchen stuff, certainly more than anything else.
I want to share, too, that I found the best realtor in the world Nanette Labastida. If you live in Austin (or want to move here because it is so great) I can’t recommend her highly enough. She helped me so much throughout the whole process and found me a fantastic deal and was basically one of the hardest workers I have ever dealt with in my life. And she is vegan and even helped with the bakesales and made a mean cookie. I can’t thank her enough but I will try!
I am so lucky to be surrounded by such fabulous people! Thank you everyone who donated their time and baked goods! Oh, and I did make it to a couple shows.and I snuggled with a dog or two ps this horrible green carpet is out of my life forever! Wahoo!
For the past 5 years I have been a volunteer at the South By Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival. This year my volunteer crew was dissolved (since no one shoots on film anymore) and I almost let the laziness take over. See, I am lucky enough to have a job where we get Spring Break off and it falls during the festival and with the beautiful weather it was hard, very hard, to not go with my true nature and spend the week, blissfully, in my hammock, doing yoga, and taking the dogs on epic hikes. But another part of my nature is taking advantage of things that are free, and watching movies, learning about technology, and enjoying music. In the end I decided to participate and it was so much fun. The first part of the week I spent seeing movies.
Some of my favorites were Moon, a low-budget but wonderfully acted science fiction. I was really excited to see this because I love sci-fi but I am not into big-budget independence day-type movies that saturate the market. Indie Sci-fi is lot more interesting but a lot more difficult to make well without a budget. This one was great, the effects and set design were very believable and the premise was really interesting and original. The direction and the acting made it a really enjoyable and thought-provoking flick.I also enjoyed Sebastian Gutierrez’s Women in Trouble. It was one of those movies that makes you really happy independent film exists, or rather independent video in this case. You seldom see women characters in a mainstream movie and this one had at least 10 main characters that were women. Off the top of my head the only interesting female movie characters I can think of…. I can’t think of any, really. They mostly exist in TV (hello Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica) but they exist in real life as well (hello every lady I know) so it is disappointing that in movies women are only ever sex objects or family members. This was a movie where the women were either professional sex objects or mothers, daughters, and sisters and yet they managed to be dynamic multi-dimensional, entertaining characters as well. And it was really funny! Women are never funny without being over the top emasculating bitches in movies so this was a real switch.It was sometimes confusing for me because it was shot on video with a lot of porn actress characters so I kept expecting the sex to start any second but it never did. Well, there was one very disturbing scene involving a story about sex but you will have to see the movie to learn about that. Instead, there was scene after scene of women in L.A. living their lives.
I always enjoy the animated shorts but I especially liked the stop motion animation “Sweet Dreams“. It was original and fun and, I think, even had a message although it starred a cupcake. I wonder if the filmmaker, Kirsten Lepore, is vegan?
Another film that I missed but really wanted to see and thought I should inform you all about is the movie Mine. It won the best documentary category but I was working my volunteer shift when it was on and missed it. It follows the story of dogs that got left behind in hurricane Katrina and then got adopted by new people. The hurricane survivors eventually found their dogs and a legal challenge ensued. What a nightmare. I hope it gets released and if it does I am going to see it. I love dogs.
One political doc that I did see and really enjoyed wasthe Yes Men Fix the World. If you haven’t heard about these guys, check out their first documentary, “The Yes Men” they are a couple of corporate pranksters who got their start making fake websites for places like Halliburton and then waiting to get invited to conferences and giving hillarious presentations. They are really funny and the movie even ends on a hopeful note.
I had one moment when I was a little bit star struck during the Q&A for Observe and Report. I really like Seth Rogen and everyone from Freaks and Geeks because it is the greatest tv comedy in the world but I probably would have passed if it he hadn’t been there along with one of my heroes, the funniest woman I know of, Anna Farris. I first fell in love with her in the creepy movie May but she completely won me over in the only girl stoner movie, Smiley Face. If you have ever enjoyed a stoner movie please check this one out, it is so hilarious and she plays a stoner better than anyone. I really enjoyed getting to see her!Finally, I learned a lot about mushrooms and mushroom culture in Know Your Mushrooms. First, I want to mention that I didn’t even know there was a such thing as mushroom culture, and for a while I lived in the heart of it in Olympia Washington. I wish I would have learned about foraging for wild mushrooms then! It looks like so much fun and tasty. It ended with a beautiful sequence of time lapse mushrooms growing and then we got a Q&A where I learned that it is supposedly really easy to grow your own mushrooms.
I didn’t attend the screening that had free mushroom pizza but I did try some new things in Austin, until I ran out of money. Alin over at Pulling it Together raves about Lulu B’s little trailer and I have been wanting to go there since it opened, the hours just don’t mesh with my schedule but with a week off I finally got to go and I tried the tofu vermicelli bowl.It was really fresh testing with the cumber, greens, vegetables, and basil. The tofu was seasoned nicely and was the perfect texture, and perhaps best of all is that it was really a lot of food for a very low price so I will be coming back for sure! I want to try the avocado sandwich mmmm sandwich.
Halfway through the week my sister came to town which has been great. Dan has spent the week as her intern and is hoping to land a spot in the organization.
She is tough to keep up with! I don’t usually hang with people that consider going home at two am an early night. Her first day in town we saw some bands at Habana where they were offering free pancakes.
Did you know they have pancake batter in a spray bottle now? I don’t know if it is vegan but regardless I wasn’t about to try it. Instead, Sistah Smurf bought me lunch and I got the vegetarian platter. They have the best salsa in town and I am going to try and recreate the yucca fo’ sho’.While we were there I got to here the band Brothers and Sisters and they were really good.
I also got to see Erykah Badu at Auditorium shores which was followed by the always fantastic Explosions in the Sky which were followed by explosions in the sky.It was a good week.