At Twin Cities Veg Fest 2012 we will have a day of great talks by expert speakers on law, religion, nutrition, animal advocacy, and more.

If you are deaf and would like to attend any of these talks, please contact us so we can find a sign language interpreter. If you are an interpreter who like to volunteer at the event, we’d love to hear from you.

All talks will take place in the Mississipi Room on the third floor of Coffman Memorial Union.

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10:30 – Get Active for Animals, Dave Rolsky

Dave Rolsky of Compassionate Action for Animals will share some tips and suggestions on being an effective activist. The focus of this talk is on getting active for animals. We’ll cover a variety of things you can do by yourself or with a friend that don’t require a big organization or a lot of money.

If you’ve ever thought you wanted to get active for animals but you didn’t know how, this talk is for you.

Dave Rolsky, Board Member and Co-Founder, Compassionate Action for Animals

Dave Rolsky is a co-founder and board member of Compassionate Action for Animals. He has been active with CAA since their inception in 1998. Recently, his primary focus in the organization has been event planning, including helping organize CAA’s conferences, this Veg Fest, fundraising, financial management, and doing geek stuff for the organization.

In his day job, he is a computer programmer, and the creator of free software used by people and organizations around the world. He put his programming skills to work for the animals by creating VegGuide.org, a world-wide guide to veg-friendly food and shopping co-sponspored by Compassionate Action for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, and Vegan Outreach.

In his free time, he enjoys reading speculative fiction, mangling spoken Chinese, and eating delicious vegan food, especially dessert.

11:30 – Animal Law 101: Working on behalf of farmed animals – an uphill battle, Scott Heiser

In this talk we will trace the origins of animal welfare laws and demonstrate a major policy shift over the last 150 years—a shift that has resulted in billions of farmed animals enduring a life of suffering (what passes as “good animal husbandry” may surprise you). We will review the current federal and state laws applicable to farmed animals and we will also discuss the farmed animal industry’s response to undercover investigations documenting current practices (i.e., ag-gag laws and other efforts to silence critics).

Scott Heiser, Director of the Criminal Justice Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Having served as an Oregon prosecutor for more than 17 years (nine years as a deputy district attorney and over eight years as the elected district attorney of Benton County, Oregon), Scott has prosecuted thousands of cases, ranging in severity from aggravated murder to shoplifting. Scott consistently took a strong position in all of the animal cruelty cases he handled and he quickly developed a reputation for being an impassioned advocate for animals.

After signing-on with ALDF in 2007, Scott now leads ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program in providing a full spectrum of services to law enforcement and prosecutors all over the United States who investigate and litigate animal cruelty cases. Scott and his team (with over 60 years of prosecution experience between them) regularly provide training to law enforcement officers and prosecutors across the country on how to achieve the best possible outcomes in animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions.

Scott frequently lectures on all issues related to animal cruelty prosecution and is a member of the adjunct faculty at Lewis and Clark Law School where he teaches a criminal law & procedure class specifically tailored to animal cruelty prosecutions. Scott and his wife have one dog and two cats. In addition to spending time with their canine and feline family members, Scott and Liz also enjoy sailing, whitewater kayaking and scuba diving.

12:30 – Vegetarian Eating 101: Building a kinder, cleaner, and healthier world, Erica Meier

Whether we’re concerned about our health, animals, or the planet, one of the most effective ways we can make a difference is to choose vegetarian foods. Learn why a growing number of people – including former President Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, and Ellen Degeneres – are touting the benefits of meat-free eating and how you can get active in your community to put more veg options on the menu in restaurants and cafeterias.

Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing

Erica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing (COK), a non-profit animal advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Since 1995, COK has worked to end the abuse of animals in agriculture through undercover investigations, public outreach, litigation, and a variety of vegetarian advocacy programs. COK’s accomplishments include ending the egg industry’s use of the misleading claim “Animal Care Certified,” successfully working with BOCA foods to stop using eggs, and airing 30-second pro-veg commercial nationwide. Before working at COK, Erica spent four years as an animal control officer in D.C., rescuing sick, injured, and homeless animals as well as enforcing animal protection laws.

1:30 – Faith and Food: Comparative Religious Perspectives on Animals, Compassion, and the Meal on our Plate, Mark Berkson

This talk will explore the resources that different religious traditions provide for developing a strong ethic of animal welfare. The focus will be on Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. While the record of most of the world’s religions on animals is mixed, I will argue that all religions, at their best, can provide us a framework to see non-human animals not as resources to be used, but rather as kin, as beings with whom we share a great deal and to whom we must extend compassion and concern. Since most people in the world are influenced by their religious traditions, we must understand these traditions in order to inspire people to action and create a better world for animals.

Mark Berkson, Professor of Religion, Hamline University

Mark Berkson is a professor in the Department of Religion at Hamline University. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and Humanities from Stanford University, and teaches courses in comparative religion, Islam, and the religious traditions of East and South Asia. He also teaches a seminar entitled, “Resources or Relatives: The Ethical Status of Non-Human Animals.” His scholarly work has addressed topics such as comparative religious thought, death and dying, and interfaith dialogue. Last year, he organized a panel on animal welfare activism at Hamline University and presided over a roundtable session on animals and religion at the annual American Academy of Religion conference.

2:30 – Our Food, Our World, Shannon Kimball

When you were in high school did you feel like you could change the world? See for yourself the power of humane education in local schools by delving into an important part of everyone’s daily lives – food! As a regular addition to sociology, ethics, food preparation, family consumer science, and health classes around the Twin Cities, Our Food Our World is a thought-provoking presentation perfect for Veg Fest. This is an opportunity to think critically and explore the differences between a factory farm and a family farm, examine a variety of different foods, and have some fun. With audience participation, people are put to the test to get more involved as we discover the impact our food choices have on animals and ourselves. Plus, free food samples!

Shannon Kimball, Humane Educator, Bridges of Respect

Shannon Kimball works with Bridges Of Respect, the humane education program of Compassionate Action for Animals. Humane education examines the challenges facing our planet, from materialism and ecological degradation to human oppression and animal exploitation.

Shannon regularly presents at colleges such as, the University of Minnesota, Normandale College, and St Cloud University, as well as dozens of middle and high schools including The School of Environmental Studies. He has presented for thousands of students ranging from 6th grade language arts classes to college ethics courses and is a certified Minneapolis public schools volunteer. He has also worked with students with behavioral disorders, after school clubs, English as a second language students, and provided adult programs in humane education

3:30 – Your Powerful Plate: Nutrition Basics for Plant-Based Eating, Suzy Sorensen

Every time you eat you can make a powerful, positive choice! You can reduce animal suffering through one simple choice – plant-based eating. If you aren’t sure how to get started, join Suzy to learn what you need to know about creating a balanced plate! During this presentation, you will become familiar with plant-based protein sources and strategies to meet calcium, B12, iron, and other nutrient needs. We will review compassionate alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs. Get off to a great start with this helpful information!

Suzy Sorensen, RD, LD, CDE, Move2Veg

Suzy Sorensen RD, LD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator specializing in plant-based nutrition. She owns Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling serving long-term vegetarians and vegans, as well as those simply interested in moving toward a healthier eating style.

After 30+ years of standard American diet, a scuba trip for lobster hunting introduced Suzy to the fantastic lives of underwater creatures.

This up close and personal view of the rich lives of animals began her journey to vegetarianism and, eventually, veganism. As she became active in the Twin Cities veg community, Suzy recognized a need for accurate vegetarian & vegan nutrition information. Move2Veg is an opportunity to support those who want to meet their nutritional needs through plant-based eating.

Suzy also serves at the MN State Coordinator for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group promoting health and well-being based on the latest nutritional research.