Brita Bengtson

Mark Berkson Speaks About Compassion and Animal Welfare in the World’s Religions

Mark Berkson, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair in the Department of Religion at Hamline University. He teaches courses in Asian religions (including the Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist and Hindu traditions), Islam, and comparative religion. Mark received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Religious Studies, his M.A. from Stanford University in East Asian Studies, and his B.A. from Princeton University. Mark’s scholarly work has addressed topics such as religion and non-human animals; Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist thought; death and dying; and interfaith dialogue. His work has been published in numerous books and journals. His dvd/book project, “Cultivating Literacy for Religion,” part of the Great Courses series, was released in 2012. His next project, “Death, Immortality and the Afterlife in the World’s Religions” will be released in 2015.

In this session, Compassion and Animal Welfare in the World’s Religions, we will explore the attitudes toward and treatment of non-human animals in a number of the world’s major religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. While we will discuss the often ambivalent and conflicting perspectives on animals within each tradition, we will focus on the resources that can be found within these traditions to help human beings cultivate greater compassion for animals. We will see that the world’s religions, despite their many differences, all have ways of moving us from seeing animals merely as resources to be exploited to seeing them as relatives worthy of our moral concern, empathy and respect.

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Veg Eating in America

Paul Shapiro is the vice president of farm animal protection at HSUS. He’s played an integral role in numerous successful legislative and corporate campaigns to improve the plight of farm animals. In his role overseeing efforts to pass state laws and corporate policies, he works with lawmakers and major food retailers alike to implement animal welfare reforms in the agricultural industry.

Shapiro founded Compassion Over Killing in 1995 and served as its campaigns director until January 2005. While there, he worked as a farm animal cruelty investigator and led initiatives to end misleading advertising on factory farm products.

Shapiro has been interviewed in hundreds of print, broadcast and online news sources as an authority on farm animal welfare and animal advocacy. He has also published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals.

Paul’s topic at Twin Cities Veg Fest is From the Margins to the Mainstream: Veg Eating in America. Fifteen years ago, many people didn’t know what the word vegan meant, let alone how to pronounce it. Today, little could be further from the truth. From cultural icons like Ellen and Bill Clinton touting the benefits of vegan eating to the popularity of meat-free dining options to the reduction in per capita consumption of meat, it’s clear that this issue has moved from the margins and firmly into the mainstream.

One Girl, Two Cities Goes Veg!

One Girl, Two Cities is a weekly internet radio show hosted by our friend Laura (who is also one of our Social Media Ambassadors). On September 9, Laura hosted a show all about Twin Cities Veg Fest!

In the first half, Laura talked with Unny Nambudiripad, Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals, and Shannon Kimball who is our Exhibitor Logistics Coordinator and also a humane educator for Bridges of Respect.

In the second segment, Laura talked with some of our most anticipated exhibitors at Twin Cities Veg Fest: Kale, Aubry and Kamini from The Herbivorous Butcher and Nicky from Comfort Candy!

Read Laura’s recap here.

If you missed the show, you can still check it out on iTunes here.

Or you can listen here.

Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 7.42.25 PM Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 7.02.32 PM

Healthy Plant-Based Nutrition 101 with Kristina DeMuth

Kristina DeMuth is a Registered Dietitian and a Master’s of Public Health Nutrition student at the University of Minnesota. Kristina is a blogger at Moxie Musing and her Facebook page, where she advocates for a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Kristina spent the first-part of her career volunteering as a dietitian in Haiti, where she focused on the growth patterns and dietary intake of malnourished and undernourished children at an orphanage. Over the course of her time living in Haiti, her role as a dietitian greatly transformed as she started to realize the many social and political influences on the foods being served at the orphanage’s feeding center. Throughout Haiti, highly processed foods (candy bars, chips, sweetened beverages, high sodium seasoned packages called “Maggi”), refined carbohydrates, fried food, and processed meats and animal products were displacing the rich, plant-based native Haitian cuisine. Kristina was determined to help the Haitian people preserve their health with their native foods, and spent much of her time revamping the meals at the orphanage’s feeding center and exploring underutilized plant-foods. Kristina has written a nutrition chapter for “In the Pursuit of Orphan Excellence” by Phil Darke and Keith McFarland.

In 2013, Kristina returned to her life in Minnesota to attend school for public health, where she has learned about social injustice and health disparities here in America and abroad. Kristina recently returned home from Uganda—where she conducted her Masters research project, a qualitative research study exploring the use of the Moringa tree for children’s nutrition. Though much of Kristina’s work is involved in international nutrition, she promotes a plant-based diet as a way all Americans can reclaim their health, prevent chronic diseases, and reduce the impacts of climate change on the global population. Kristina recognizes that our eating patterns in America influence the rapid shift of eating patterns around the world.

Kristina became a vegetarian 12 years ago, and became a vegan in March 2013 while living in Haiti.

Kristina will be speaking about Healthy Plant-Based Nutrition 101. There are many reasons to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet, including the countless health benefits! Plant-based diets are associated with lower rates of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, a variety of cancers, and obesity (Lee, 2014). Despite the benefits of going veg, no dietary pattern will provide optimal protection against chronic diseases and provide you optimal energy unless it’s well-planned. Eating ultra-processed vegan food and skimping on whole- foods, may very well result in a nutrient-deficient, sluggish vegan. Make the most of your plant-based diet, reach your optimal health potential, and learn the tricks and tips of eating a balanced, whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Erica Meier Presents Veg Eating 101

Erica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. Working to expose cruelty to farmed animals and promote vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, COK’s strategic efforts include undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and public education.

Before working at COK, Erica was an animal control officer in DC, rescuing sick, injured, and homeless animals as well as enforcing animal protection laws.

Returning to Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2014 after appearing at our inaugural event in 2012, Erica will be speaking about Veg Eating 101: Building a Kinder, Cleaner, and Healthier World One Meal at a Time. Whether we’re concerned about our health, animals, or the planet, one of the most effective ways we can make a difference is to choose vegetarian foods. Learn why a growing number of people – including former President Bill Clinton, Robin Quivers, and Ellen DeGeneres – are touting the benefits of meat-free eating and how you can get active in your community to put more veg options on the menu in restaurants and cafeterias.

See Erica speak about changing the world at the 2014 Animal Rights Conference:

Twin Cities Veg Fest Wants You

What local restaurants and exhibitors would you like to see sampling and selling delicious food at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014? Let them know by taking a photo of your favorite vegan product, @tagging the company and Twin Cities Veg Fest, and #tagging the photo #TCVegFestWantsYou on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We will repost your image in our Facebook album. If you don’t have a photo to post, be sure to visit the album and “like” all the photos that look good to you.