Cleveland VegFest 2018 Speakers



Making a Difference for Animals at Any Age

2:15pm - 2:45pm in Main Speaker Stage

Genesis Butler is an 11 year old ethical vegan and great grandniece of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. She became a vegan at the age of 6 after finding out that mother cows have their milk stolen for humans. Genesis became an animal rights activist shortly after when she felt there was more she could do to help animals besides not eating them. Since then, Genesis has attended various demonstrations and marches to protest against animal testing, entertainment venues that exploit animals, rodeos, and slaughterhouses.

Genesis is featured in Vegan: Everyday Stories and the upcoming film The Invisible Vegan. In addition to attending demos, Genesis speaks at various vegan and non-vegan events sharing her message of compassion for all animals and the importance of going vegan. In 2017, Genesis became the youngest TEDx speaker when she presented a talk on healing the planet by going vegan. This year, Genesis will be launching her non-profit, Genesis for Animals, where she will be raising funds for animal sanctuaries around the world so they can continue to save the lives of animals.



Oppression in the Food System

3:15pm - 4:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

From football to food justice, David Carter aka the 300 Pound Vegan, played for major NFL teams including the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Cowboys. During his professional football career David discovered the other side of pros sports; injuries, prescription medication, and excessive eating to maintain 300 plus pounds on his 6’ 5” frame. One fateful evening, watching the documentary Forks Over Knives changed his personal and professional life. David abandoned meat and dairy, and embraced a vegan lifestyle.

For the past three years and counting David has used his NFL connections to spread the word about his mission to build awareness and educate the masses living in “food deserts” globally. “Food deserts” are defined as areas deprived of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.

David has a multi-tiered career in food justice activism, film production, modeling (recently signed to Wilhelmina Modeling Agency), public speaking, and music festival production. David is currently developing a documentary in partnership with Uninterrupted––Lebron James’ digital content platform––and recently signed a book deal with Serendipity Literary Agency to develop two books; a memoir and cookbook.



Shepherds of the Sea: How Direct Action can Save the Oceans

4:15pm - 5:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Born in Sweden, Peter Hammarstedt, 33, sits on the Board of Sea Shepherd Global and is Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia. He is the captain of the marine conservation ship ‘Bob Barker’ and is featured in the popular Whale Wars show on Animal Planet. As the Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global, Peter oversees the development of programs to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing around the African continent.

In his fifteen years with Sea Shepherd, Peter has sailed the seven seas, from the foreboding Antarctic to the treacherous coast of Labrador, using direct action to save as many lives as possible from illegal whaling, sealing and destructive fishing practices.

Peter is the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal for Humanitarian Service.



Party Food Tips from the Self-Proclaimed World's Best Host

3:15pm - 4:15pm in Food Demo Stage

David Huffman has been called many things in his life but, when his best friend called him a “Bitchy Vegan Homo,” he decided to wear that name with pride. Known for his sweet tooth, he loves to cook for family and friends. If he had a dollar for every time someone ate one of his treats and said, “I’d never know this is vegan,” Huffman would be loaded. This Bitchy Vegan Homo is looking forward to sharing his passions for vegan cooking and animal welfare with the world through his new online cooking show under that same moniker. He lives in Cleveland with his four crazy cats, giant dog and handsome fiancé.



Vegan Family Values: How veganism made me a better wife, mother, and person

5:15pm - 6:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Tabatha James is an Atlanta vegan blogger and the founder of The Sensible Vegan. She is a wife, mother, and children's book author. She was recently featured in Health Magazine regarding her vegan lifestyle, health, and weight transformation.

Tabatha is an avid researcher and loves reading and watching educational documentaries regarding food, nutrition, and protecting animals. She has also been featured in Mothers Against Dairy and Black Vegans Rock.

She describes herself as a "sensible vegan" with a mission to educate and inspire others to explore a plant based, whole foods diet and advocate to keep all animals free from harm.



Live to Serve: The Compassion Connection

6:15pm - 7:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Joy Karuna is the founder and director of Lasa Sanctuary located in Jefferson, Ohio. Driven by her "love all, serve all" motto, she founded Lasa in 2012 with the mission to inspire compassion for all beings, provide sanctuary to animals in need, and to help heal the world through unity and kindness. Now home to over 170 animals, Lasa Sanctuary embodies vegan ideals through service offering a safe space for connection, advocacy, and authentic living.



Unrolled Sushi: Gunkan, Temari, Nigiri and Sushi Donuts

5:15pm - 6:15pm in Food Demo Stage

Personal chef Da'Ves Malone is a Dayton-based chef with a transcending vision to bring a healthy plant based diet to her clients. She owns Sprouting Dreams, a 100% plant-based/vegan catering and personal chef services company. It was founded in 2010 and built under the fundamentals of holistic vegan cuisine with clean organic ingredients.

Chef Da’Ves moved to New York City in 2012 to attend Natural Gourmet Institute and participated in a work study program. Throughout the work study, she began to train alongside Chefs with different cooking techniques, skills and backgrounds to help her grow in the industry. The Chef developed an understanding of how good food connects us to the environment. She has experience in cooking at NYC restaurants, as well as hosting cooking classes and held pop-up dinners throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Currently, Chef Da’Ves is continuing her goal to bring health and healing to the global community with highly thought out dishes.



Soyfood controversies: Sorting through the science

11:15am - 12:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Messina, PhD, MS, is the executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute and an adjunct associate professor at Loma Linda University. He has been studying the health effects of soyfoods for 30 years having published ~100 peer-reviewed papers on this topic. Dr. Messina has given over 600 presentations in 52 countries and is the chairperson of the editorial advisory board of The Soy Connection, a quarterly newsletter that reaches over 250,000 dietitians and other health professionals.



Cake Making 101

1:15pm - 2:15pm in Food Demo Stage

After deciding to follow a vegan diet over two decades ago, Doron was left craving traditional guilt laden foods. She was determined to unlock the secrets of creating their animal-free counterparts for everyone to enjoy.

With a degree in nutrition and food science, Doron brought memories of favorite treats to vegan reality. Everything Doron does is so she can eat, create, cook and feed. Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, established in 1999 is the bakery cafe which brought the dream of sweet decadence to life, and to the masses. The team boasts winning the Food Network's Cupcake Wars twice, with all vegan recipes.

But one cannot live on cupcakes alone. Sister restaurant, Fare Well, a bakery+diner+bar, opened in the summer of 2016, serving veggie-centric comfort food in a casual setting.

Residing in DC with her husband, son and furry-family, she works rigorously to balance her love of food, cycling, and wine.


Christopher-Sebastian McJetters

Race, Class, Species

1:15pm - 2:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Christopher Sebastian (McJetters) is an author and lecturer who lives in Central Europe, London, and New York City. Sebastian is a staff writer at Vegan Publishers, part-time lecturer on speciesism at Columbia University, and social media manager of Peace Advocacy Network. He focuses on examining how speciesism exacerbates anti-black racism, queer antagonism and classism throughout western society. His work has appeared in the anthology Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice edited by Dr. Will Tuttle, Dr. Breeze Harper’s Sistah Vegan Project, UK-based Barefoot Vegan magazine, and on Striving With Systems in collaboration with Brenda Sanders (PEP Foods), Charlotte Eure and Triangle Chance for All microsanctuary co-founders Justin and Rosemary.”



Soulful Tasty Tacos

11:15am - 12:15pm in Food Demo Stage

Vegan Vicki is owner of Urban Sweetness vegan catering, author of 30 Days Vegan, and tied for "Best Vegetarian" chef at the Cleveland Garlic Festival.

Vegan Vicki grew up in Cleveland, Ohio but has strong roots planted deep in the South. Vegan Vicki spent many summers in the kitchen watching and learning traditional cooking methods from her family. She has focused her talents on developing and perfecting vegan recipes to not only please the palate but to also feed the vegan soul. Vegan Vicki's commitment is to change the way you think vegans eat.


Kim A. Williams, Sr., MD, MACC, FAHA, MASNC, FESC

Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease: Taking the DIE out of DIET

12:15pm - 1:00pm in Main Speaker Stage

Dr. Williams is Chief of the Division of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center and specializes in cardiology, prevention, and cardiac imaging. He has served on numerous national committees and boards including serving as the President of the American College of Cardiology, President of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Black Cardiologists. He is also the founder of the Urban Cardiology Initiative in Detroit, Michigan to reduce ethnic heart care disparities, and continues community-based efforts in Chicago at Rush. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Dr. Williams has over 30 years of experience as an educator, researcher, and physician.