Meetups Start Here

by Sarah on January 28, 2012 · 7 comments

In Austin, I was incredibly lucky to get quickly tapped into a very vibrant food blogger community. With the only food blogger alliance of its kind in the country forming while I was there, as well as a food scene very accepting of food bloggers, and eager to utilize them as a means for publicity, it was easy for me to connect with other ‘foodies,’ and make lots of great connections to like-minded people.
Oh, and I got a lot of free meals out of it, too. 
[Let’s not forget that.]
Having recently received a few invites to Austin Food Blogger Alliance events that I, despite still being “on the list,” would obviously not be able to attend, I’d been feeling the need to find a healthy food community (not to be confused with a community focused on healthy food) in Charlottesville. Spontaneously, I joined the “Healthy Eaters” Meetup Group, which, I didn’t realize at the time, is actually a Health Starts Here Meetup group, formed by Whole Foods to help educate and encourage people who’ve adopted the Health Starts Here diet, or are trying to incorporate parts of it in to their lives.

The first event on the calendar for the year was a celebratory one, to recognize membership of 100+ in the group. The evening promised a sampling of foods, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, who also believe in the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating espoused by essentially-vegan Health Starts Here program: Whole Food,* Plant-Strong, Healthy Fats, and Nutrient Dense.
*Not to be confused with Whole Foods.

But despite all of that…I was really just excited about the hummus.*

*Seriously, y’all, this Cava Mezze oil-free hummus is amazing. I mean, maybe not as amazing as my own, also oil-free, Rosemary Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, but certainly requires less clean-up. :)

I actually almost didn’t go to the meet-up. Even though you put me in the center of a social situation and I flip on like a lightbulb, eager to entertain and schmooze (but not in a sleazy way) with everyone I meet, most evenings after work/school I just want to go home, curl up in my bed, and hang out with a bowl of cereal, my computer, and my stuffed bear Fred.

But as I have to pass Whole Foods on my way to and from work every day (torture, honestly), I figured I should stop, work on some blogging from the cafe, and just see what it all was about.

And even though I said I wasn’t going to eat since I have been suffering from some (most likely report card and grading stress-induced) stomach upset meaning I could only stand to eat oat bran and bananas for almost three days….how do you pass up FREE Whole Foods?

Did I mention there was vegan pizza involved?^
 ^Oh goodness me, this was incredibly yummy, even at room temperature. The base was a vegan pesto; that was topped off with roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts, and just the tiniest bit of vegan cheese. [For me, that was perfect, as I have never been a cheese head.]
My effusive ramblings to some of the other people there regarding my current “vegan with benefits” way of eating, and discussion of a smattering of my most favorite vegan creations caught the ear of the Healthy Eating Specialist and head of the Health Starts Here cooking classes, who asked if I might be interested in doing some classes at the store. I’m sure you can imagine the reaction that provoked. [Hint: Imagine if the insides of a person turned into a thousand exclamation points that danced the jitterbug.]
I guess the moral of this story is that you CAN find like-minded foodies wherever you are (even if they are older, younger, wealthier, healthier). It just might require a little more effort on your part. The potential for free food is really just a bonus. :)
Speaking of meet-ups and like-minded invididuals, if you are in Virginia and can travel to Charlottesville on Saturday, February 11th, I’m organizing a “Virginia is for Bloggers” Meet-Up! If you’d like to attend, please e-mail me at
Free food is not promised. But fun is.
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Jenn @ Peas and Crayons January 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You're 5-6 hours away from me! =) Thats not that bad considering I drive 2 hours to go to WF in Raleigh =) When I drive to DC this spring/summer I'll totally meet you in Richmond for lunch 😉

Lauren January 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

all these eats look fab :)

teeneatlive January 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

First of all, the Whole Foods in Cville is absolutely amazing and I am really jealous I only get to go when I am visiting my grandparents. Second, we were actually thinking about coming down to Cville that weekend so if you are willing to have a teenage blogger, I would love to join if we end up coming down that weekend!

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean January 28, 2012 at 5:04 pm

jealous! i wanna come to blogger meetup.

Fran@BCDC January 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

That sounds like such fun! I'll have to check Meetup to see if there are any in my area!

Maria January 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm

For obvious reasons, I won't be able to make this (also, I'm not really blogging much anymore), but you know that if I was in VA during that time, I'd be there with bells on. January 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm

SO excited about the Virginia is for Bloggers meet up! It's going to be so fantastic! And I'm glad you decided to go to the event :) it sounds like a fun time!

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