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My foodie adventures at AR 2006 conference

Filed under: Events Food Ice Cream
At Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant

At Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant

I had a blast at the Animal Rights 2006 conference. Had I had access to a laptop with internet connection, I would have posted updates on my adventures in this blog daily. Alas, I didn’t. As a result, I am now writing about my experience in entries organized not by day, but by the themes of food, people, schwag, and activism.

Like any veg*n gathering, a highlight of the AR 2006 conference was the food. This entry is about the food.

While the hotel offered a room full of food that catered to our vegan dietary needs, many folks (myself included) opted for the much cheaper options available in the exhibition room. Across from the Viva! table where I was stationed was the Road’s End Organics booth. While I find chreese borderline repulsive, the enthusiastic vegans lined up to score a lunch of grilled chreese sandwiches proved that my tastebuds are in the minority. Over the course of the weekend, I made frequent visits to the booth of a new-agey spiritual vegetarian group. The yummy faux bbq drumsticks, dumplings, fried rice, tofu, and noodles dished out by the group made me a believer!

Sweets were in full effect during the conference.

Temptation ice cream co-owner Ryan and buddy Jay manned a booth and must have served at least 200 waffle cones full of delicious soy ice cream on both Saturday and Sunday. (Each day they sold out within a few hours). Their peach cobbler flavor was out of this world! The chocolate was surprisingly outstanding too.

Satya pulled a trick from its sleeve when the magazine hosted baker Danielle and her Vegan Treats at its table. Everyone, and I mean everyone, waited in line for up to an hour just to sample an assortment of Danielle’s beautiful and delicious cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, brownies, and (*cue drumroll*) donuts. I sampled two donuts—a cookies-and-cream donut and some other sprinkle covered donut I ate too fast to really know what it was. These donuts were unlike any other vegan donut on the market. There was no suggestion that they were muffins or cakes in a donut shape. These were the light and oily sugary kind of donuts you imagine seeing a cop savouring with a cup of joe when you peer into a Krispy Kreme window. These donuts deepened my faith that anything can be veganized by a good enough baker. It broke my heart to learn that Danielle has no plans to ship them to NYC along with all her other goodies. Looks like I’ll be driving to Pennsylvania at least once a month!

Sticky Fingers Bakery was also exhibiting at the conference. It was heart-warming to spy Danielle and Kirsten (co-owner of Sticky Fingers) chatting amiably about how it’s not a competition and it’s just great that there are more vegan bakers out there in the world. Word up!

Each night I left the hotel with conference mates for dinner. I think these may have been the only times I was outside of the hotel.

Friday night, a caravan of cars left the hotel with the single objective of enjoying a comforting meal at Soul Vegetarian & Exodus Carry-Out. Unfortunately, the owner had handed out coupons for the spot during conference, so the small restaurant was teeming with hungry AR activists. I opted to leave and go to the nearby Everlasting Life/ Eternity Juice Bar. There I picked up a platter of wheat loaf covered in bbq sauce, collard greens, and a portion of their truly amazing portion of mac and “cheese” (not to be missed by anyone visiting DC). I also ordered a carrot nog, which I would have thought was great had I not sipped some of my friend’s cashew nog. The creamy drink was hearty and mildly spicy with an underlying flavor of coconut mik that made it easy to see why this drink is a customer favorite.

Saturday night a huge group of us drove to Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant. The food was okay (aside from some horrible sushi), but most impressive was the extent to which the sunflower theme was carried out. A sunflower motif adorned every area of the restaurant, from the curtains, menus, and framed artwork to tchotches like a sunflower costumed baby dolls and teddy bears.

Obviously this post isn’t suitable for more aspirational vistors to the DC area or those who may be free to leave their hotel for more than a few hours a day. Check out Compassion Over Killing‘s for a more comprehensive guide to dining out in DC.


  1. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Mmmmm… vegan donuts. ::drools::

  2. Comment by


    on #


    I just wanted to say thank you! A friend of mine forwarded me your review of the conference and it was really funny and super sweet of you. Come to the bakery and we’ll feed you more doughnuts than you can consume. You’ll be sick of them by the time you leave. I promise!

    Thanks again.

    Vegan Treats, Inc.

  3. Comment by

    frank language

    on #

    I’m encouraged to hear about food that makes it less dismal to be a vegetarian; the other day, I had brunch with a friend who ate eggs benedict [blessed eggs] and generously offered me his fruit cup; there wasn’t much else on the menu I could eat otherwise.

    It’s too bad, though, that the doughnuts won’t be shipped to New York; do you think we can get together shuttle buses [biodiesel, of course] to go out to Bethlehem, PA regularly?

  4. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Donut oil = biodiesel, no? It’s quite a neat little system.

  5. Comment by

    frank language

    on #

    Right; they could give us their spent oil for the return trip!

  6. Comment by


    on #

    Olivia, you really nailed it about the great food at this conference. But, you forgot to mention all the amazing stuff Vegan Essentials was selling, including some caramel chocolate popcorn that blew my mind. Thanks for the Satya Magazine mention… we were psyched to have Vegan Treats at our table too! Thanks to everyone for stopping by our table and picking up a magazine!

  7. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    Oh yeah, you’re right Eric. Vegan Essentials had some kick-ass marshmallows by NYC’s own Sweet & Sara (in vanilla, chocolate, and toasted coconut). That was pretty hot since you can’t get them at too many places right now due to a machine malfunction at Sara’s bakery. (See the Sweet & Sara website for places that may have some left.)

    By the way folks, Eric was one of the people I saw carrying an armload of chreese dip on Friday.

  8. Comment by

    Patrick Kwan

    on #

    I’ll be at the Taking Action for Animals conference who wants to eat with me?!?