My Week at Vegan Academy

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With fellow student Renee: a yoga teacher and Ayurveda practitioner from Boston.

Would you like to go to the academy in February?

That was how my mom’s email started last summer. 

Then you can come back and teach us everything. 

That was her sign-off.

Perplexed, I looked at the newsletter that my mom had forwarded to me. It was an update from Victoria Moran on her latest work in the vegan community, starting with the recent graduation of 15 students from her “Vegan Academy”, where she trains students to become Vegan Lifestyle Coaches and Educators.

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Victoria talking to us about setting up a good food demo.

At first, I was puzzled. How would I have any use for being a life coach? After all, I already had a career. And what is a coach, anyways? The doubts were initially swirling through my mind. But just as I was about to write my mom back and tell her I wasn’t going to do it, I couldn’t write the words. Something — some small piece of intuition — kept telling me I needed to go. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became about the idea. Although I knew little about what I was getting into, I blindly sent in my application with both excitement and trepidation.

I still had trepidation as the week of the coarse neared. Would I gain anything from it? Would I like the other students? Would I be able to put what I learned into practice? But any doubts or questions I had going in soon dissipated, almost as soon as I walked through the door. As the week went on, I was so amazed and inspired by the things I was learning, the people I was meeting, and the paths all of the fellow students were on. While I will outline some of the amazing speakers throughout the course, one of my favorite things about the experience was meeting so many amazing people from around the world. It was spiritually nourishing to be around so many passionate, funny, knowledgeable and kind people.

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A dynamic duo: Victoria and Fran Costigan before Fran’s presentation.

The Main Street Vegan Academy was an intensive, crazy, information-packed crash-course in vegan nutrition, fashion, media, writing, speaking, and animal advocacy. If anyone is interested in helping others adopt a vegan diet or lifestyle, I highly recommend this course! We had wonderful speakers during the course — many whose work I have admired and followed for quite some time. My highlights — and the whole course was a highlight, really! — are outlined below:

  • I loved hearing Fran Costigan talk to us about vegan pastries . She is an expert on everything from the art of putting on a food demo, to the pros and cons of different types of vegan sweeteners. I purchased her dazzling book Vegan Chocolate, which has a 5-Star rating on Amazon! I couldn’t help perusing her book and it is as beautiful as it is mouthwatering!
  • We visited Vaute Couture and talked to founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart about her business and passion for animals. She was inspiring (have I used that word enough yet?) and super cute! I loved learning about how her vision was shaped by her love for animals from a young age. Plus, I bought a gorgeous ethically-made vegan winter coat — perfect for cold Michigan winters! For those curious, I bought the Emily in Insulated Moleskin, pictured at the bottom.
  • Speaking of fashion, we had an informative yet bleak look into animal exploitation in the fashion industry from Joshua Katcher of the Discerning Brute and Brave GentleMan. Joshua was a wealth of knowledge and living proof that ethical living and high fashion are not mutually exclusive!
  • JL Fields came to speak to us about her life as a vegan blogger and consultant. I have long been a fan of JL and meeting her and hearing her speak at the academy only made me more of a fan. She was hilarious, knowledgeable, and simply lovely!
  • LaDiva Dietitian Marty Davey was a wealth of knowledge about vegan nutrition. I loved her truly informed and pragmatic approach to nutrition information.
  • Michael Parrish DuDell, author of the book Shark Tank (based on the ABC show), imparted his knowledge about marketing, while also sharing some insight into the environmental implications of eating meat. He was so engaging and shared some secrets into the how of being engaging.
  • Sharon, co-founder of Big City Vegan, talked to us about using social media to build a practice. She was a wealth of tips and knowledge.
  • Robert Notter is considered a coaching guru and shared his secrets into building a successful business and practice. Plus, he was so down-to-earth, even with his great success.
  • And I can’t forget about the main reason we were there, Victoria Moran, who was simply delightful, knowledgeable and just plain awesome!
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Vaute Couture’s Leanne telling us her story.

Finally, I am so excited to use all of the information I learned to better serve all of you! As a now *certified* lifestyle coach and educator, I am so excited to use some of those tidbits to be a better blogger and advocate on this forum and out into the world. And now that I’ve gone to Vegan Academy, I can *finally* get my vegan superpowers!!

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Rocking my new Vaute Couture coat and feeling great!


  1. says

    Hi Beth,

    You are SO AMAZING. I miss you already and could not wait to come here and see everything and then I saw US!!! 2 VEGAN Super Girls on the front page! I will never forget how you walked into the kitchen on the first day of MSVA and saved my life by so naturally and perfectly chopping apples and walnuts- that I had made a mess of- into a beautiful masterpiece. You are my Vegan Super Hero. I have a bunch of little gatherings to attend soon and plan on taking your recipes with me. I will keep you posted.


  2. Beth says

    Renee — You are so sweet! So great to hear from you. I was sad I didn’t get the chance to say bye. It was amazing having you in class, and it was my pleasure to cut the apples for you ; ) So excited to check out your website and hear what wonderful things you have in store for all the tweens and teens who will be lucky to have you as a teacher and mentor. You are my Ayurveda/yoga/spiritual superhero!

    Charlie – I am still not sure what my superpower actually is. Massaging kale? Chopping apples (see above)? Stay tuned….

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