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VegFest Lecture Photos

2016 Schedule of Events and Speakers

Room 1 – Presentations    

11:15     Introduction to VegMichigan
Jeff Hampton, Master of
              Ceremonies, VegMichigan
              Board Member

11:30     Escaping the Dietary
              Pleasure Trap

              Dr. Doug Lisle, co-author
              of The Pleasure Trap:Mastering
              the Hidden Force that
              Undermines Health and

12:30    Activate To Liberate:
             The Vegan Revolution
Simone Reyes, breakout star of
             Oxygen’s reality show “Running
             Russell Simmons” and
             community activist

1:30      THE BETTA LIFE
John Salley, former Piston, NBA
             champion, host of several TV
             shows, and wellness advocate

2:30     The Power of Our Plates:
            Saving Animals at Every Meal
            Nathan Runkle, founder and
            president of Mercy for Animals

All Day – Raw Plant-Based Food Chef
Jason Wrobel, host of Cooking Channel TV series “How to Live to 100,” will be available to discuss information and sign his new book all day. He will not
            be presenting.


For more info about presenters, click on their name:


Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning veteran television news journalist and author – See more at:
Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning veteran television news journalist and author – See more at:
Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning veteran television news journalist and author – See more at:
Anya Todd is a licensed, registered dietitian specializing in vegan nutrition. – See more at:

Room 2 – Cooking Demonstrations

12:00   Vegan Cooking Made Easy
Vera Hampton, nutritionist,
            vegan cooking instructor,
            VegMichigan board member

1:00     Vegan Carrot Cake with
            Cream Cheese Frosting

            Bekah Galang, Avalon
            International Breads,
2:00     Michigan Chili with          
            Red Onions & Mustard
            Cumin Aioli
Suzy Silvestre, Chive
            Kitchen, Farmington    












Simone Reyes

Simone Reyes

Simone Reyes was the breakout star of Oxygen’s reality TV show “Running Russell Simmons” and became an overnight hero in the animal rights community. She has been dubbed “The Gloria Steinem of Animal Rights.” She has been entertainment mogul Russell Simmons right-hand woman since high school and has often been affectionately referred to as the “Boss” by Simmons himself. She was recently promoted to Director of Television Development at Simmons’ Def Pictures media company.

Simone is a 20+ year vegan and has been a grassroots animal rights activist for most of her adult life. She boldly shed her clothes for PETA’s “Rather Go Naked” demonstrations and Stray Cat Alliance and has used her voice in countless media outlets to speak out in support of animal liberation. She is a well-known speaker on animal rights at events such as The Seed in NYC, WorldFest, and the National Animal Rights Conference alongside the founding leaders in the animal rights movement. Simone’s TEDx talk has inspired many viewers to try veganism and to re-think their treatment of animals. PETA’s Animal Rahat Sanctuary in India was officially given a new name, “Simone’s Place,” in honor of Simone’s tireless dedication to the animal rights cause.

Last year, Simone traveled to Taiji, Japan as a Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian to report on and document the atrocities of the dolphin drives. She shared those experiences in various media outlets including HLN/Jane Velez-Mitchell’s show. She, along with Russell Simmons, penned an open letter to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and President Obama urging them to consider attaching the plight of the dolphins who migrate through Japan to the passing of the Trans Pacific Partnership; this letter was signed by dozens of celebrities including Cher, Oliver Stone, Charlize Theron, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Cameron Diaz, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others.

Simone has been honored by Mercy for Animals for the work she has done to put the plight of farm animals in the public’s consciousness. She has been featured in print and online at Star Magazine, OK! Magazine, Inked magazine, Our Hen House, PETA, Supreme Master TV, VegNews, Vegetarian Times, True Cowboy Magazine, and countless other publications and blogs. She has appeared on television shows and movies, including Extra, Entertainment Tonight, Dogs In The City, MTV News, Sky vs. Sky, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The L Word, The L Word Special, The Wendy Williams Show, and most recently Simone played herself on HBO’s “Enlightened.”

Simone also serves on the board of Social Compassion in Legislation. She is a regular contributor to websites Global Grind, Hello Giggles, and One Green Planet. Simone uses her voice to inspire, motivate, mobilize, and guide people who care about the treatment of animals but don’t know where to begin to create real change for them. She is the author of Astrology for Dogs, Astrology for Cats, and her most recent book, Slaying the Lesbian Bed Death Dragon (AND Being the Coolest Girlfriend on the Planet While You’re At It!): The 30 Day Guide To Re-Claiming Your Lover. She lives in Los Angeles with her senior rescued blind Japanese Chin, Hubbell Yoda, who is her best friend.

Nathan Runkle

Nathan Runkle

Nathan Runkle is the founder and president of Mercy For Animals (MFA). Raised on a farm in rural Ohio, Nathan has long had a deep connection with farmed animals. After a local farmed animal abuse case involving a piglet slammed headfirst into a concrete floor during an agricultural project at a nearby high school, Nathan founded MFA to give “food” animals a much-needed advocate in his local community. Since founding MFA over a decade ago, Nathan has overseen the organization’s growth into a leading national force in the prevention of cruelty to farmed animals and promotion of compassionate food choices and policies. Nathan works closely with MFA’s diverse group of members, supporters, and employees to develop and fulfill objectives within the organization’s four areas of focus: education, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and undercover investigations.

A nationally recognized speaker on animal advocacy, factory farming, and veganism, Nathan has presented at colleges, conferences, and many other forums from coast to coast. Through his work with MFA, Nathan has been an outspoken advocate for animal rights. He has been featured in hundreds of television, radio, and newspaper interviews, including: ABC’s World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20; CNN; National Public Radio; USA Today, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune.

Nathan has worked alongside elected officials, corporate executives, heads of international organizations, academics, farmers, celebrities, and film producers to pass landmark farmed animal protection legislation, raise public awareness about vegetarianism, and implement animal welfare policy changes.

VegNews magazine has recognized both MFA and Nathan for making substantial contributions to the vegetarian movement, naming Nathan one of the “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians” and one of the country’s “Top 20 Activists Under 30 Years Old,” and twice naming MFA “Non-Profit of the Year.” In 2009, at the age of twenty-five, Nathan became the youngest person ever inducted into the US Animal Rights Hall of Fame.

John Salley

John Sally

Most can achieve a goal and be pleasantly satisfied with their results, but to continually create new tasks to accomplish and to reinvent your self is the mark of a versatile and motivated individual. It is the definition of father, athlete, actor, entrepreneur, talk show host, philanthropist, wellness advocate, vegan, and champion: John Salley.

A proud native of Brooklyn, New York, John found a love for basketball at an early age. He accepted a basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech to play for legendary head coach Bobby Cremins. From there, Salley went on to become a 15-year NBA veteran and was the first NBA player to win four championships with three different teams. During the 1980s, Salley was a member of the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” squad. Salley went on to Chicago playing with Michael Jordan as part of the Bulls 1996 championship team. In 1999, Phil Jackson invited Salley to come to Los Angeles to provide experience and leadership to the 1999-2000 Lakers’ championship team.

After his retirement from the NBA in 2000, Salley explored several opportunities in both television and film. John’s film credits include Bad Boys (1 & 2), and Eddie and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Confession of a Shopaholic. John has served as host for numerous awards shows and was also the host of The John Salley Block Party on 100.3 “The Beat” Morning Show in Los Angeles. John recently hosted the Reunion Shows of VH-1’s #1 rated show, Basketball Wives.

John spent seven years serving as the co-host of the Emmy-nominated, critically-acclaimed The Best Damn Sports Show Period on Fox Sports Net. He was also the host of the sports talk show Ballers on BET. John is the head of his own production company, John Salley Presents, Inc., where he uses his uncanny ability to find unique and interesting people and projects for television, film, and Internet. In April 2011 until recently, John hosted his own talk show Game On! airing on The Reelz Channel. In addition, John was a co-host on The Car Show, airing on Speed Channel. John has also been the MC for numerous corporate and charity events.

John is actively involved with Operation Smile, PETA, and the fight against diabetes. In addition, John is involved with PCRM and visited Washington, D.C. to speak to Congress about the Child Nutrition Act, asking members to support legislation that would increase vegetarian options in meals served in public schools.

John has adopted a plant-based (raw vegan) lifestyle and is a frequent speaker at VegFest’s across the USA. As a Wellness Advocate, one of John’s main missions in life is to continue to educate people on the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle through better eating habits. With a passion for real food, wine, and spirits, John is a partner in the label “Vegan Vine” in partnership with Clos LaChance Winery. John has contributed articles to Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and LA Confidential. You can follow him on Facebook John Salley, Twitter and his website, John currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Dr. Doug Lisle

Doug LisleDr. Doug Lisle received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and taught at Stanford University before becoming the Director of Research for the TrueNorth Health Center in Northern California.  He is the co-author of The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness.  Dr. Lisle also serves as the psychologist for The McDougall Wellness Program, and is in private practice in Santa Rosa, California.  He is the founder of a new perspective in motivational psychology called Esteem Dynamics.





 Jeff Hampton

JeffHamptonJeff Hampton is a graduate mechanical engineer with a minor in environmental sciences from Michigan State University. He developed his love for the environment at a young age, growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, and became involved in Dune Preservation and Restoration projects. Long before it was fashionable to be green, Jeff designed and built his solar heated and cooled house. Snug and warm in the middle of February, cool in August!!!

Fifteen years ago, Jeff adopted a vegan, plant-based, lifestyle for health reasons. As he studied the benefits of this lifestyle, he discovered the enormous, detrimental impact of the standard American diet (S.A.D.) on the environment: animal agriculture is a curse on our planet. That is the bad news.

The good news is that making the shift to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle can have an enormous and immediate counter balance, making spaceship earth a far more hospitable place to live.

Jeff is an award-winning presenter and competitor in the Toastmasters, International Speech Contest. Jeff’s presentations are entertaining, lively, and engaging. Yes, it is possible to combine these elements into a presentation about food choices and the environment, detailing the impact of factory farming on various ecosystems, land, water, and air.

Change your life; save the planet; one bite at a time.

Jeff is a valued member of the Board of Directors for VegMichigan. He will start off an exciting day at VegFest with welcoming remarks and an introduction to VegMichigan and VegFest. Jeff will also warmly welcome and introduce our nationally-acclaimed speakers. 

Bekah Galang

Bekah Galang

Bekah Galang graduated from Michigan State University where she studied sustainable food communities. Since then, she has continued her studies through traveling, working on farms and in kitchens, brewing beer, and, of course, eating. She has held several positions in local food systems work, in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Currently she works with Avalon International Breads sharing the Hearth and Soul of Detroit through tasty special operations, as well as with other projects around the city including Slow Food Detroit- Central City.

Vera Hampton

Vera Hampton is a member of the VegMichigan board of directors. She has a degree in nutrition and practiced nutrition counseling for many years. Vegetarian most of her adult life, she has been vegan 12 years. Her passion for cooking and baking started at an early age in her grandmother’s kitchen and continues today. She learned how easy it is to convert any recipe into its vegan counterpart and she enjoys sharing her love of vegan cooking at the Veg 101 cooking classes she conducts at Whole Foods (Rochester).

Jason Wroble

Jason Wrobel

Detroit-born chef Jason Wrobel dishes up a sublime fusion of food and humor to help you live to 100. He focuses on whole foods and big flavors as the host of the Cooking Channel TV series How To Live to 100.  Jason turns up the heat on powerful ingredients proven to increase your longevity and serves them up as culinary masterpieces.

With an emphasis on radical simplicity and artful presentation, he imbues his ecstatic food creations with the energy of fresh and organic produce. The healing properties and outrageous tastes of his dishes have rendered his recipes hands-down favorites among celebrity clients and regular folk alike. J-Wro fans Woody Harrelson, Jeremy Piven, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, John C. Reilly, Flea, Steve Buscemi, Isabelle Adjani, and Russell Simmons consistently rave about his delicious and innovative culinary creations.

After graduating from the Living Light Culinary Institute and earning certification as an Associate Raw Food Chef and Instructor, Jason went on to apprentice with the industry’s finest and most revered talents in New York City, Detroit, and Los Angeles. As Executive Raw Food Chef at the award-winning Café La Vie in Santa Cruz, California, Jason highlighted the amazing local produce from northern California’s central coast, taking innovative simplicity to soaring new heights. His other career highlights include winning the inaugural World’s Best Raw Ice Cream Competition in Los Angeles and being the first vegan chef to present at the prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival.

Jason hosts the popular YouTube channel The J-Wro Show showcasing healthy recipes, lifestyle transformation tips, and epicurean entertainment. His first DVD, Simple Vegan Classics, a global bestseller, has taught thousands of people how to prepare easy and nutritious raw plant-based foods.

Jason is releasing his first vegan cookbook and healthy lifestyle guide, Eaternity: More than 150 Deliciously Easy Vegan Recipes for a Long, Healthy, Satisfied, Joyful Life, with Hay House in April 2016.

Suzana Silvestre

Suzana Silvestre is a transplant from California with Portuguese heritage and a background in business marketing.  With the support of her husband, family & friends, Suzy decided to leave the corporate world and follow her passion for vegan cooking. Her dream was to open a restaurant that appeals to all food lovers. Her recipes bring western European flavor to each unique dish and her laid-back & sunny Californian attitude is reflected in the comfortable atmosphere of Chive Kitchen. Suzy enjoys eclectic music, exploring metro Detroit and sharing wine and laughs with good people.

Note: Information is subject to change.

Save the Date VegFest 2107

Save the Date for VegFest 2017 Sunday, April 30th, 2017