Speakers 2019 (page under construction)

Meet these experts on health, plant-based nutrition, and the environment.
Many books will be available for purchase and authors will sign copies at VegFest.

Caldwell Esselstyn

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. from Western Reserve University. In 1956, pulling the No. 6 oar as a member of the victorious United States rowing team, he was awarded a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was trained as a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and at St. George’s Hospital in London. In 1968, as an Army surgeon in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Dr. Esselstyn has been associated with the Cleveland Clinic since 1968. A Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Esselstyn organized in 1991 the first National Conference on the Elimination of Coronary Artery Disease, held in Tucson, Arizona. In 1997, he chaired the Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease, which brought together more than 500 physicians and health-care workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In April 2005, Dr. Esselstyn became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. Among numerous other distinctions, he received the American College of Lifestyle Medicine 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Esselstyn’s scientific publications number over 150. In 1995, he published his benchmark long-term nutritional research arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients. That same study was updated in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. In July 2014 he reported the experience of 198 participants seriously ill with cardiovascular disease. During 3.7 years of follow up of the 89% adherents to the program, 99.4% avoided further major cardiac events.

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife, Ann Crile Esselstyn, have followed a plant-based diet since 1984. Dr. Esselstyn presently directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

VegFest gratefully acknowledges Lexus of Mishawaka's sponsorship of Dr. Esselstyn's presentation.

Ellen Jones

Ellen Jones

Ellen Jones is a nationally ranked sprinter and currently first in the state of Florida for her age group in all 6 track events from the 50-1500 meters. She's placed in 155 5K or longer races for her age group since 2006 "just" on plants. As a certified personal trainer and running and lifestyle coach, she loves helping others bust vegan myths. Tapping into 18 years as an Emmy-winning TV investigative reporter watching her mom, aunt, and both sisters get breast cancer, she's the author of 6 myth-busting books including Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, Vegan Fitness for Mortals, and Vegan Sex.

Ellen was voted PETA's 2014 Sexiest Vegan Over 50 and was also included in a list of "Women Who Stand Up for Animals Daily." The popular blog, Vegan Street, recently chose her as their "Vegan Rock Star."

Anne Dinshah

Anne Dinshah

Vice President of the American Vegan Society and Managing Editor of American Vegan magazine, Anne Dinshah is a vegan author, speaker, and professional rowing coach. She co-authored the book Powerful Vegan Messages with her late father, H. Jay Dinshah. As founder of the Society, Jay led the modern vegan movement in America influencing many people with his message of dynamic harmlessness. Today Anne brings the message to a new generation with a gentle, entertaining way of communicating in her own style. She is the author of Dating Vegans and several cookbooks, one of which she co-authored with her mother, Freya Dinshah.

Nekeisha Alayna Alexis (credit: Dinesh Wadiwel)

Nekeisha Alayna Alexis

Nekeisha Alayna Alexis is an independent scholar and activist with wide-ranging interests in race/racism, human and animal oppression, intersectionality, and co-liberation with other animals; and Christian ethics and theology concerning other animals.

The Trinidadian native and former New Yorker received her Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University with a focus in Africana studies. She also received a Masters of Arts: Theological Studies degree with a concentration in theology and ethics from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. At the close of last year, she was a keynote speaker at both the New Directions in Animal Advocacy conference at University of Sydney and at the Animaladies II conference at University of Wollongong, Australia. Her most recent essay, "There’s Something About the Blood: Tactics of Evasion in Narratives of Violence" was published in the edited collection, Animaladies: Gender, Animals and Madness (Bloomsbury, 2018). She is eagerly awaiting the release of "Re/Considering Animals: A Black Woman’s Journey" in For PoC By VoC (Sanctuary Publishers, 2019), and "Thinking Species" in A Handbook on Animals (Routledge, 2019).

In addition to her academic work, Nekeisha is involved in local organizing around other animals and other social justice concerns. She is the co-founder and long-time organizer of the Jesus Radicals, a network exploring connections between anarchist politics and liberative Christianity; co-founder and co-organizer of Downtown Soul Art and Music Series, a showcase for local, original artists in Elkhart; and a member of the leadership team for Vegan Michiana. When she's not writing, speaking, or doing her day job, she performs with a local dance company and with her music and poetry project, rebel noire; and sings karaoke in divey but lovable places.