TBT | Biting Off More Than I Thought I Could Chew

Cover for 1st VVC Talk

Nearly four years ago, I was on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and I was about to do something I had never done before: I was going to walk into a room and host my own talk at a conference.

LIBRARY: Biting Off More That You Should Chew, a Discussion
Ryan Patey
Veganism is not perfect. This is no surprise to some, but to many it’s a reason to attack. Racism, fat shaming, and other forms of oppression are often used in defense of the voiceless, in turn harming other important movements. This discussion aims to illustrate some of these issues and foster conversation on how they can be addressed.

At that moment, I was questioning just why I had even applied to host the talk at the second Vida Vegan Conference in the first place, and I was also questioning why exactly the three lovely people behind VVC had decided to approve my application. Sure, I had sat on panels in their previous conference, and I was due to sit on some at this conference as well, but why did any of us think I was capable of captaining a ship on my own?

To be honest, I had always taken comfort in the knowledge that being on a panel meant I could simply be the one to make witty quips and self-deprecating comments after the actual experts I was sitting next to gave the real important statements. It worked fine the first year I was a part of VVC, and it worked well for me in the past at a music conference.

Then, I had to do something different.

I, the little magazine publisher from the far eastern reaches of Canada (a whole other country!) for some reason wanted to try my hand at more than just one-liners, and it seemed like I had been granted the privilege to do so.

Of course, being given the okay to host a talk and actually having people be interested in said talk are two different stories. Well, in this case, they’re going to be one story, but I still needed to make the point somehow.

Lend Me Your Ears

Given the picture that leads this piece, you know that folks showed up, and I’m so incredibly grateful that they did. Along with the fact that those in attendance chose to check out a talk that clearly wasn’t going to involve food blogs, photography, or the lighter vegan subjects, it was also scheduled at the same time as an incredibly popular (and, not surprisingly, emotional) panel discussion on body image (funny enough, I spent most of the weekend frantically trying to finish the next issue of T.O.F.U., which was set to focus on the same topic) and a recipe creation and testing talk by Terry Hope Romero. Yes, that Terry Hope Romero.

I Got By With a Little Help From My (Future) Friends

Despite feeling like an ill-prepared impostor, the talk that I purposely crafted as a discussion to ensure I didn’t have to memorize things and also to allow others a chance to speak about issues that they most likely would have more experience with than me went well. No, that’s not just my own opinion based on the fact that I survived and no one threw anything at me, people actually blogged about it. Weird, right?

Better yet, a large number of the people who were in attendance turned into great friends of mine, and I feel like our time in that room discussing serious issues faced by the vegan community played a part in making that happen. Personally, I can’t think of what else I could have wished to come out of my first talk, and it remains a special moment for this and numerous other reasons.

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