We have a great line up of speakers for this year’s festival! All speakers are in the Mississipi Room on the 3rd floor of Coffman Memorial Union.

10:30am – Kristina DeMuth

Kristina DeMuth

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. 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.

11:30am – Paul Shapiro

Paul Shapiro

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Veg Eating in America

15 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.

About Paul

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.

12:30pm – Erica Meier

Erica Meier

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.

About Erica

Erica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing (COK), 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.

1:30pm – Mark Berkson

Mark Berkson

Compassion and Animal Welfare in the World’s Religions

In this session, 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.

About Mark

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.

2:30pm – Taylor Radig

Taylor Radig

Stories from the Inside: My Life as an Undercover Investigator

will explain how I became an investigator, including the lonely and emotional life we endure. I’ll share some stories of the animals I worked with at some of these farms. Finally, I will tell you my story of being maliciously charged with animal cruelty and outed after an investigation I did of a calf raising facility in Colorado.

About Taylor

Taylor worked as an undercover investigator for national animal advocacy organization, Compassion Over Killing. Working closely with their legal team, she went into facilities to expose the ugly truth of animal agribusiness, and to share the stories of animals in factory farms. In the summer of 2013, Taylor documented egregious abuse of newborn calves at a Colorado farm. Shortly after turning in her footage that showed workers and supervisors abusing the calves, Taylor was ironically charged with animal cruelty and had her identity outed by the Sheriff’s Department. Taylor has traveled the country sharing her story and more importantly the commonplace abuses of animals she witnessed in factory farms.