Vitamix Indoor Speaker Stage Line-Up
We are delighted to welcome the following speakers to Vegfest Guelph 2016.
Krista Hiddema serves as the managing director, Canada, for Mercy For Animals, overseeing corporate outreach, media relations, and MFA’s efforts to help effect governmental policy changes in Canada. A passionate vegan chef, Krista also loves to show family and friends the true joy and abundance of vegan cuisine.
She will be introducing each of our Vegfest Guelph 2016 speakers and sharing stories about the vital work that Mercy for Animals undertakes.
From Butcher to Vegan Body Builder: A Story of Transcendence
Fraser Bayley has an unusual story – having gone from being a mentally ill butcher to a passionate vegan advocate and bodybuilder. In a struggle to overcome serious mental illness (including bi-polar disorder, ADHD (a learning disability) and severe social anxiety), Fraser chose to walk away from the butchery industry for good. He never realized how health, fitness and Veganism would then come together as transform his life in many amazing ways. Today Fraser operates an online vegan health and fitness brand called Evolving Alpha with his wife Lauren, which helps other vegans and curious non-vegans get healthy, fit and strong via a range of plant based, vegan nutrition programs and coaching options.
“I remind people on a daily basis, to be the kind of vegan you would have wanted to meet – before you became vegan. When we can lead from that place, we can change lives and help so many animals in the process. Part of my health and fitness motivations within Veganism is to be a strong walking billboard for this beautiful lifestyle. Because so often once someone see’s that change is possible on the outside, they change on they change on the inside too. To help others transcend old beliefs and limitations and take part in this rapidly growing movement.”
Fraser will be sharing his unusual story about going from butcher to vegan. Why he made those changes, the struggles, the triumphs and the emotional journey that ensued. He will also discuss the best ways to get strong, healthy and fit as a vegan and how to share your vegan message in a way that reaching many and inspires people to take massive action to change their lives.
Project Animal Farm
Sonia attended Dartmouth College, where she studied Economics, Government, and Public Policy. Upon graduating with multiple honors and recognitions, Sonia worked at an investment bank on Wall Street. Later, her volunteer vacation at a dairy farm turned into the beginning of a global expedition into the secretive animal agriculture industry. The story of her unprecedented quest is Project Animal Farm (2015), a book that aims to make the world a better place for all of its inhabitants.
Sonia has been interviewed in dozens of media outlets, including Salon, Vice, Toronto Star, Boston Globe, and Maclean’s. She is also a frequent radio and TV guest. She has spoken in front of thousands of people over the course of dozens of talks at major conferences, festivals, universities, bookstores, and libraries. Sonia is available for speaking engagements and for media interviews.
During her talk, Sonia will discuss her observations, insights, and ideas to change the lives of farm animals. She will also answer audience questions, read from Project Animal Farm, and sign copies of the book.
Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal Consuming Culture
Robert Grillo is the director of Free from Harm which he founded in 2009. As an activist, author and speaker, Grillo focuses awareness on the animal’s experience and point of view, drawing on insights from sociology, psychology, popular culture, ethics and social justice to bridge the gap between humans and other animals. As a marketing communications professional for over 20 years, Grillo has worked on large food industry accounts where he gained a behind the scenes perspective on food industry branding. He is currently working on a new book about how popular culture uses a variety of fictions that appeal to our beliefs about farmed animals and animal products, heavily influencing our food choices. The book is based on the presentation he’ll be sharing with our Vegfest audience.
“We often here that we are what we eat, but we rarely, if ever, consider the powerful forces shaping our food choices. Billboards, Facebook ads, buses wrapped in signage, TV commercials, Netflix movies, web news posts, cooking shows, food courts, Pandora radio, Whole Foods “feel-good” product displays, “farm- to-fork” restaurant brands. In any given day, we face a deluge of fictions fabricated by the multi-billion-dollar food marketing industry which seeks to influence our purchasing decisions.”
This visually engrossing presentation reveals how the powerful forces of popular culture inform our food choices, often without our even knowing it. In this fictional world, animals are willing participants in whatever role we assign them. Grillo presents 23 of the most common food fictions by showing us concrete and recognizable examples of each. Recognizing these fictions for animal advocates and the public at large is essential for making informed food choices as well as the first critical step in disempowering institutionalized animal exploitation.
Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter
Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time
Unlikely care-givers Steve and Derek got a whole lot more than they bargained for when the designer micro piglet they adopted turned out to be a full-sized 600-pound sow! Their funny, heartwarming, and utterly charming best-selling book Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time (2016) shows how families really do come in all shapes and sizes. In the summer of 2012, Steve Jenkins was contacted by an old friend about adopting a micro piglet. Though he knew his partner Derek wouldn’t be enthusiastic, he agreed to take the adorable little pig anyway, thinking he could care for her himself. Little did he know, that decision would change his and Derek’s lives forever. It turned out there was nothing “micro” about Esther, and Steve and Derek had actually signed on to raise a full-sized commercial pig. Within three years, tiny Esther grew to a whopping 600 pounds. After some real growing pains and a lot of pig-sized messes, it became clear that Esther needed much more space, so Steve and Derek made another life-changing decision: they bought a farm and opened the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, where they care for Esther and other animals in need. Join Steve and Derek as they share some of their adventures–from reluctant pig parents to farm-owning advocates for animals. They will also talk about the power of social media for animal activism and inspiring change, the Esther effect, the farm, the book, and more!
The Hope(lessness) of a Vegan Future
Calvin Neufeld is a vegan transsexual and a self-described speaker, writer and thinker. He is the founder of Purposeful Publishing House, editor and publisher of Suffering Eyes: A Chronicle of Awakening (2014) by Franceen Neufeld, and author/illustrator of Sanctuary: A children’s story for all ages (2014), all of which raise funds for farmed animal sanctuaries through the Suffering Eyes Project.
A vegan future is the ideal that motivates our efforts as animal, environmental and health advocates. But like a merry-and-not-so-merry-go-round, many of us find ourselves in a fretful cycle between the inspiration of hope for the future and the withering of hope in the present; driven one day and despairing the next as we shed our droplets of kindness and awareness into an ocean of indifference. With readings from Suffering Eyes: A Chronicle of Awakening, Calvin Neufeld will explore the paradox of the hope(lessness) of a vegan future, exposing both its relevance and irrelevance, and ultimately freeing us from dependence on hope altogether.