VegFest London is so excited about this year's speaker lineup! There is a massive amount of knowledge, wisdom and passion among them and we couldn't be happier that they'll be rocking our stages come November 10. Without further ado...here they are! (Check back later in September for the schedule.)
Genesis Butler is an 11-year-old animal rights advocate who went vegan on her own when she was 5. Genesis has attended numerous demos to protest against animal testing and entertainment venues that exploit animals. At the age of 10, Genesis presented a TEDx talk on animal agriculture and its destruction of the planet. She is featured in Vegan Everyday Stories and The Invisible Vegan. In 2018, Genesis established her non-profit organisation, Genesis for Animals, to raise funds for animal sanctuaries around the world. She also speaks regularly at various vegan and non-vegan events discussing the benefits of veganism.
In Genesis’ talk, she will share her vegan journey and will provide insight she has learned along the way that will inspire others to live a compassionate life and advocate for animals whether you are 3 or 93!
JOHN 'BADASS VEGAN' LEWIS
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977, John grew up in St. Louis, MO. At a young age of 13 John found himself at 315 pounds, but through hard work and dedication he lost the weight and excelled in football and basketball. He continued his streak of athletic excellence throughout his high school and college years in McCluer Senior High in the heart of Ferguson, MO. and Harris-Stowe State College respectively. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, he later went on to pursue his MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. John’s education in business coupled with his love for health and fitness gave him the ability to start his venture – BadAss Vegan.
As a well renowned fitness expert, John Lewis has spent over a decade in the health and fitness industry. John is highly passionate about not only his own health and fitness, but that of others as well.
In addition to his extensive knowledge in body sculpting and contouring, what makes John one of the top national fitness consultants is his creative ability to understand and live a vegan lifestyle while maintaining a physique that is commendable. In essence, he is able to cater to a diverse group of individuals and his services are highly sought after as he masterfully creates and develops personalized, unique and healthy life changing plans.
Toni Okamoto is the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, the popular website, food blog, and meal plan that shows you how to save dough by eating veggies. She’s also author of The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook. Plant-Based on a Budget has been featured in Reader’s Digest, US News and World Report, and more. Toni’s also a regular presence on the FOX affiliate in Sacramento, where she teaches viewers how to break their meat habit without breaking their budget, and was featured in the popular documentary What the Health. Toni is a burrito enthusiast, and spends her free time swing dancing across the county.
Toni will talk about how affordable, easy, and delicious eating a plant-based diet can be, how you don’t have to shop at specialty grocery stores or restock your pantry with all kinds of unfamiliar products and substitutes, and, most of all, how you don’t have to sacrifice time, taste, or money in the pursuit of healthier, tastier eating.
Instagram and Facebook: @plantbasedonabudget
James Wildman is the Humane Educator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. Since 2007, James has given over a thousand presentations at over a hundred different schools and universities in South Florida, teaching respect and compassion for animals and the environments we share. These presentations have reached over a hundred thousand people, empowering youth and adults to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. His "101 Reasons to Go Vegan" video has been translated into 18 languages and has over 4 million views total on YouTube. James was also featured in the 2017 documentary Food ReLOVution. He has worked with youth for 20 years, and in 2006, he obtained a master's degree in Humane Education.
James’ talk, 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, is a humorous and honest look at diet and culture that highlights the benefits of a plant-based diet for our health, the environment, and the welfare of animals. It’s an ethical examination of our food choices designed to empower people to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. A 10-minute version of the presentation was recently posted on Facebook and has generated over 40 million views.
Camille Labchuk is a leading animal rights lawyer, and executive director of Animal Justice—Canada’s only animal law advocacy organisation. Under her leadership, Animal Justice fights legal cases in courtrooms across the country, works to pass tough new animal protection legislation, and ensures laws already on the books are being enforced.
Camille’s work includes filing false advertising complaints against companies making misleading humane claims, like Canada Goose; documenting Canada’s commercial seal slaughter; and exposing hidden suffering on farms and zoos through undercover investigations.
Camille is a frequent lecturer on animal law, and her work has been featured in countless media stories.
Most people are outraged by stories about animal abuse, yet paradoxically, Canada has the worst animal protection laws in the western world. But with animal issues currently grabbing news headlines, it has become impossible for the legal system to ignore their suffering. Camille’s talk will explore the legal status of animals in Canada, how each of us can play a role in improving the laws protecting them.
Twitter: @CamilleLabchuk, @AnimalJustice
Instagram: @camillelabchuk, @animaljustice
Susie Coston is the National Shelter Director of Farm Sanctuary and has been working with animals used in food production for over 23 years. Besides overseeing the caregiving team at all of the Farm Sanctuary’s shelters Susie has worked to advance individualised medical care and treatment and made tremendous strides in the field of farm animal medicine. She shares her wealth of knowledge with other farm animal advocates acting as a mentor to many peers who have started their own sanctuaries. Susie strives to create a world where animals are seen as the complex individuals they are.
Susie will talk about the role of farm animal sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are not just about rescue, since with over 56 billion land animals slaughtered worldwide annually we cannot rescue our way out of this problem. But what we can do is tell the stories of the victims of animals in food production and pull them out of those billions and show their individuality.
Yoda is the chef and owner of Yoda’s Kitchen - the small but mighty plant based catering company! She’s been cooking in London and area for 11 years and took her love of vegetables and compassion for animals to the next level when she decided to launch one of South Western Ontario’s first plant based catering companies. She’s working on a cookbook memoir and loves spending her spare time writing, reading and playing with her dog.
Chef Yoda will be talking about aquafaba - the magical bean water than you can use to replace eggs in a variety of recipes. Aquafaba is a relatively new discovery, and is hard to believe how it works until you see it with your own eyes. Come learn how to use it as a replacement for eggs in sweet & savoury applications, and watch as Yoda turns chickpea water into beautiful meringues!
Twitter and Instagram: @yodaskitchen
Caterina Lindman is a retired actuary, with over 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. Caterina is recognised as a leading actuary in Canada and internationally in the area of climate change research and sustainable healthcare through whole-food plant-based nutrition. She led the volunteer committee that helped develop the Actuaries Climate Index. She is also involved with Actuaries for Sustainable Healthcare, a group that educates actuaries about the benefits of whole-food plant based nutrition as a way to prevent and reverse chronic disease. Eating plants is also a key way to mitigate carbon emissions, sequester carbon and preserve biodiversity.
Caterina will be talking about why eating a whole-food plant-based diet is kind for our planet, in comparison to our current, industrialised, animal-based food system.
For 29 years Amanda made judgements, evaluations and demands on those around her without realising she was contributing to violence in the world. After working an ‘adult job’ for a few years she went into a ‘what is this all for?’ cocoon and emerged as a penniless, hippie who decided to hitchhike across Europe, India, Canada and the US on a quest to learn about peace. After causing her family a few sleepless nights and minor heart attacks she is here today to talk about how we in our everyday words and actions can build empathy, connection and peace.
Come to Amanda’s talk to cultivate empathy and connection from a focus on meeting needs rather than the cultural prescribed framework of punishment, rewards and enemy images. Discover the latent judgements, evaluations and demands in our everyday interactions and get in touch with the actions and words which enrich life and grow peace.