2018 VegFest Speakers:  

Speaker biographies are below presentation times.  


Presentation Room #1

11:15-12:00: The Rise of the Plant-Based Athlete  Dr. Robert Breakey, U of M Medical School, Family Medicine 20+ Years

12:30-1:15: Radiant Health and Living a Kind Life  Alicia Silverstone, Actress and Plant-Based Advocate 

1:45-2:30: TBD TBD

3:00-4:00: How Not To Die Part 2  Dr. Michael Greger, Nutrition Expert and New York Times Bestselling Author

Presentation Room #2

Noon-12:45: Understanding the Lives of Farm Animals Dan McKernan, Founder and Executive Director of Barn Sanctuary

1:00-1:45: Healthy Gut, Healthy You Dr. Elizabeth Swenor, D.O. Heads the Functional and Lifestyle Medicine Department at Henry Ford Hospital System

2:00: TBD TBD

3:00: TBD TBD

Cooking Demo Rooms 3

11:30-12:15: Room #3 Overnight breakfast oats with granola and  chickpea vegetable roll-ups Chef Debra Walter, Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York

12:30-1:15: Room #4 Creamy kale soup and raw apple-oat crumble  (both gluten, soy, & oil free) Amber Poupore, Owner of The Clean Plate and Cacao Tree Cafe 

1:30-2:15: Room #3 Turning 1 Meal into 3! Open Face Enchiladas, Lettuce Rolls, & Quesadillas Quiana Broden from Cooking With Que

2:30-3:15: Room #4 Breakfast/Brunch Scramble with Seasonal Vegetables and a Chimichurri Sauce  Suzy Silvestre, Owner of Chive Kitchen in Downtown Farmington

Interpreters will be provided for the deaf & HOH


Alicia Silverstone started acting as a child and won a role on television’s The Wonder Years. She was later cast in music videos by the band Aerosmith. Her role in Clueless shot Silverstone to fame. Her latest role was on the TV show, American Women. Outside of her acting career, Silverstone is committed to the causes of animal welfare and environmentalism. Sharing the details of her lifestyle, Silverstone penned the 2009 book The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet which is a vegan cookbook. With the success of her first book, she followed up it up with her second book, The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning. Silverstone also has her own website, The Kind Life


Dr. Michael Greger, MD A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous “meat defamation” trial. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. His latest books— How Not to Die and the How Not to Die Cookbook became instant New York Times Best Sellers. He has videos on more than 2,000 health topics freely available at, with new videos and articles uploaded every day.



Dr. Robert Breakey, MD is a 5th generation graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed his Family Medicine residency at the University of Wisconsin in 1984. He has practiced Lifestyle Family Medicine in Ann Arbor since 1985. He has special interests in health promotion, whole food plant-based nutrition, positive wellness and supporting the natural healing process that we all have within us. He is Chairman of the Board and Head of the Family Medicine Division for Integrated Healthcare Association  (IHA) – a multi-specialty medical group centered in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Dr. Elizabeth Swenor, DO has been practicing medicine for over 18 years. She is an authority on nutrition, Lifestyle, and Functional Medicine, weight management, prevention of chronic disease, and patient-centered care.  She is board certified in Family Medicine and a certified specialist in Functional, Regenerative, Metabolic, and Lifestyle Medicine and Aesthetic Medicine.  She also is credentialed in Medical Nutrition and a certified Health Coach. Dr. Swenor leads the Functional and Lifestyle Medicine Department at Henry Ford Hospital System.  Her practice focuses on educating patients on the importance of whole food plant-based nutrition, and individualized patient care using evidence-based Lifestyle and Functional Medicine practices.  Her vision is to have all of her patients empowered to manage a healthy lifestyle and achieve optimal wellness. Formerly, Dr. Swenor was the founder and chief medical officer of a family medicine practice that focused on Functional and Lifestyle Medicine, nutrition and weight management, and chronic disease management. Prior to medicine, Dr. Swenor was a school teacher and earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.  She was noted for creating a comprehensive elementary science program for rural and underserved students. Dr. Swenor attended Albion College and Michigan State University.  She earned her medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.  She completed her residency in Family Medicine in Pittsburgh, PA.  Dr. Swenor is a member of the Plant-Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG).  She also participates in PBNSG’s physician educational program, Doctors Teaching Doctors.  Dr. Swenor has been a guest lecturer speaking on Functional, Lifestyle, and Preventive Medicine and Whole Food Plant-Based Nutrition at numerous private and public companies, specialty organizations, and healthcare institutions.


Dan McKernan is the founder and executive director of Barn Sanctuary in Chelsea, Michigan. Dan has hands-on experience with farm animals after attending Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Care Conference and is still in contact and receives guidance from Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s National Shelter Director. He is a passionate advocate for animal welfare, environmentalism, and a plant-based diet. Dan is also a seasoned technology and design professional who has built websites and apps for health/fitness companies, nonprofits, technology startups and more. He has worked on projects for Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Unified Relay, Mandela Kids, Boy Scouts of America, and Camp Fire USA.


Paul Chatlin was born in Detroit and has lived in West Bloomfield since 1958. In May of 2013, he was diagnosed with Severe Coronary Heart Disease. His cardiologist gave him two options: bypass surgery or try a Whole Food/Plant Based Diet.  After meeting with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, he decided to try “Plant Based Nutrition”. After just 3 weeks his angina disappeared. His cholesterol levels dropped from 350 to 100 and he lost 65 pounds. And, he felt great!  Paul promised himself that when he felt better he would put together a support group to help others in our community, so he contacted Dr. Joel Kahn who agreed to assist him on the journey. In February of 2014, he held his first Plant Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG) meeting and 123 people attended! Today PBNSG has 4803 members and 65 volunteers. They have started multiple outreach programs and has relationships with the owners of 25 local restaurants. PBNSG has completed working on curriculum change with Medical Students at Wayne State, Eastern Michigan , Oakland University, Michigan State Universities and the University of Michigan medical schools. Held classes for local doctors to learn about the benefits of nutrition before pills or procedures called Doctors Teaching Doctors. PBNSG has over 25 small groups around the state. In 2018 PBNSG will be holding over 46 health and culinary education classes and just finished an 80+ page manual called “Healthier Together” which helps people around the world start their own Plant Based Nutrition Support Group.


Brece Clark is a field educator and animal caretaker at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary. He has dedicated his life’s mission to learning and caring for animals. Brece comes from a long line of dairy farmers and grew up on a dairy farm in mid-Michigan. He began training horses at the age of six, ultimately developing a career in professional horsemanship. He also spent time as a zookeeper at Binder Park Zoological Society in Battle Creek, MI. As his views regarding animals began to change, in 2016 Brece joined Animal Equality where he traveled the country speaking out for animals on the iAnimal campaign tour. He now focuses his activism at the local level, speaking to audiences on the subjects of animal ethics, environmental sustainability, and human health. Brece also helps care for the over 250 rescued farmed animals at SASHA Farm Animal Sanctuary.  


Suzy Silvestre, Chef and owner of the popular Chive Kitchen in downtown Farmington was originally born in California’s Central Valley to Portuguese immigrant parents who worked across the valley’s dairy farms.   Both of her parents were innate gardeners, organizers, cleaners and cooks.  With her roots starting off in the Central Valley she grew up with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. She eventually moved to the San Francisco area where she enjoyed a successful marketing career. Suzy came to Michigan in 2013 and she enjoyed exploring an entirely new path and she came back to the world of food. Although Metro Detroit was entering boom times for good food she still felt like there was a dining experience that she loved but was missing from it all.  From this need to reconnect to her roots Chive Kitchen was born, a vegan restaurant with flavors from Suzy’s formative years, cooked in her personal style, in a chill environment where customers could learn to enjoy good food without meat or dairy.  Suzy focused on vegan food that had the texture and flavor with portions that could satisfy the hardiest meat eater and the public has embraced Chive Kitchen with open arms.


Debra Kleiman Walter is a personal chef with 15 years experience cooking for Detroit’s elite sports figures.  Her journey to veganism began after she married in 1986.  Debra also owns Max’s Granola where she specializes in vegan and vegan, gluten free granola, donuts and other baked goods that are both vegan and gluten free. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and the Natural Gourmet Cooking School’s Vegan Baking Boot Camp. Debra teaches cooking and baking in Huntington Woods to children and adults and anyone else who is looking to learn the joys of healthy, clean eating. You can find Debra at or

Amber Poupore is synonymous with vegetarian cuisine in southeastern Michigan, having worked over a decade at the premier plant-based restaurant Inn Season Cafe; opening her own plant-based establishments, Cacao Tree Cafe, The Clean Plate and a catering business.  Her passion for providing well balanced, enriching and nourishing foods is representative through her involvement and commitment to her clientele and the community.  Amber is involved with educational and instructional classes throughout southeastern MI, including the medical students at prestigious universities and corporations as reputable as GM.  She has recently been featured in the full-length documentary “Eating You Alive” and has appeared frequently on Fox 2 News, Channels 4 and 7, as well as numerous articles in local publications. 

Quiana “Que” Broden, is a renowned vegan food blogger that has 15 years of experience in the food service and entertainment industries, as a personal chef, and food connoisseur, respectively. With existing relationships with local, social and community groups, ongoing relationships with specialty grocers, and her elite clientele, she has pushed forward her mission to teach people how to EAT TO LIVE, by introducing more plant-based meals into everyday lives. Cooking with Que has become the space to allow Vegans and Meat-eaters to coexist. With live demonstrations and living recipes, Cooking with Que satisfies every appetite at the table.