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

Jeff Johnson – 10:30am

Jeff Johnson

The Ethics of Eating Animals

In this talk we will critically examine some of the common defenses offered in favor of eating animals. We will discuss a few of the prominent positions and arguments philosophers have offered on both sides of the ethical issue of eating animals. And we will explore ways our ordinary ethical concepts can be brought to bear on the issue.

About Jeff

Jeff Johnson is an associate professor of philosophy at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, where he regularly teaches courses that touch on food ethics and on the ethics of eating animals in particular. Jeff also volunteers for and serves on the board of directors of Compassionate Action for Animals.

Christine Coughlin – 11:30am

Christine Coughlin

How We Can Combat Factory Farm Abuses

The political muscle of Big Ag and the factory farming industry may seem impossible to combat, but our movement is achieving victories and more are on the horizon. Learn about winning strategies and how we can work together to build our power for change.

About Christine

Christine Coughlin is the Minnesota state director for The Humane Society of the United States. Granddaughter of a dairy farmer and native Minnesotan, she has been active in the field of animal protection since 2002, with a focus on grassroots legislative campaigns and electoral advocacy. Christine has served on animal welfare policy task forces for the City of Minneapolis, initiated the biannual publication of MN’s Humane Scorecard, and founded Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, serving as president and executive director until 2014.

Toni Okamoto – 12:30pm

Toni Okamoto

Going Vegan Made Easy

Toni will be sharing ideas to challenge misconceptions of the general public regarding veganism, including: not sacrificing time, taste, money or culture in the pursuit of healthier and more compassionate eating. Be ready to learn tips on meal planning, money saving, and time-efficient cooking that are perfect for those with families and busy schedules!

About Toni

Toni Okamoto is the Founder of the highly successful blog, Plant Based on a Budget. She dedicates her life to bringing awareness to farmed animal issues, along with lack of food accessibility and nutrition education in low-income and communities of color. Through Plant Based on a Budget, Toni combined all of these passions to create one of the fastest growing vegan food blogs, reaching over 4 million views in its 3 years of existence. Her blog has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Huffington Post, Colorlines, US News World and Report, and many other international news sources. Toni’s love belongs to feline companion, Yosha, and a sweet Angus calf named Stanley.

Mikael Nielsen – 1:30pm

Mikael Nielsen

Inspiring Compassion – Putting Our Ethics on the Table

Mikael will give a brief overview of Mercy For Animals, as well as a quick history of factory farming in the United States. He will discuss the current situations facing farmed animals today and how MFA’s work is helping to improve those conditions and reduce suffering. He will touch on recent investigations and the changes to animal welfare that have resulted. He will conclude the presentation with things we can all do to prevent cruelty to farmed animals through our daily actions. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

About Mikael

Mikael Nielsen serves as the National Volunteer Coordinator for Mercy For Animals and is responsible for recruiting and training activists throughout North America, assisting with the development of MFA’s effective advocacy resources, and serving as MFA’s spokesperson in the greater Chicago area. He has been veg for over 18 years and active in animal protection since 2002. He has worked with a variety of groups to promote veganism and educate the public about the benefits of a plant-based diet, including Chicago VeganMania and Chicago Veggie Pride Parade. Mikael began volunteering for MFA in 2006 and was hired on as staff in 2012.

Suzy Sorenson – 2:30pm

Suzy Sorensen

Easy Vegan Nutrition

Compassionate eating is as easy as 1-2-3!

If you’re ready to move to plant-based eating, this is your opportunity to gather tips and tools to plan simple, balanced vegan meals!

We’ll also touch on nutrition recommendations, health benefits of plant based eating, reliable nutrition references, and how to get the fuel you need to feel your best without breaking the bank. Whether amateur chef or heat-and-eat master, you can be a great example of compassionate living!

About Suzy

Suzy is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator who is passionate about plant-based nutrition. Thirteen years ago, a scuba diving trip provided an opportunity to observe the fantastic, rich lives of underwater animals, motivating her to move to veganism.

Though making a change for compassionate reasons, she soon learned about the positive impacts on health and the environment as well.

As a dietitian choosing plant-based eating, Suzy recognized the need for accurate vegetarian and vegan nutrition information in a world of information overload. To this end, she has served at the state and national level for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Five years ago, she opened her own nutrition practice, Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling, as an opportunity to support those who want to meet their nutritional needs through plant-based eating.