New Orleans Veggie Fest Home Humane Society of Louisiana

NOLA Veggie Fest

A Project of the Humane Society of Louisiana

2014 Speakers

2014 Speaker Lineup




Author & Educator

Vesanto Melina has taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia and at Seattle’s Bastyr University. She is co-author of eight bestselling books on vegan nutrition and foods which are now in eight languages and have sold two thirds of a million copies. She is author (with Brenda Davis) of the new (and award-winning) Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, Becoming Raw, and The Raw Food Revolution Diet (also with Cherie Soria) Vesanto co-authored the joint position paper on vegetarian diets of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietitians of Canada.

Websites: and


Author, Personal Trainer & Athlete

is “The Veg Coach,” aka “The Broccoli Rep,” because – as she puts it – “Who else is?” The author of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, and the just released, wildly popular, Paleo Vegan. Ellen is an inspiring motivational speaker and vegan lifestyle coach, who also teaches healthy cooking classes. She is a rare accomplished endurance and sprint runner. In the W60-64 age group, she is currently 7th in the US in the 1500 meters, 10th in the 400 meters, 16th in the 200 meters and 19th in the 100 meters. She has placed in 67 5K races or longer for her age group since 2006, including 4 Senior Grand Masters awards. Ellen keeps racing to show that you can do it “just” on plants.



Chef Inge Bothma is a chef instructor for the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Academy and has continued to work in the culinary field for 8 years. Inge has experienced many facets of the culinary world, from working in restaurants such as Hudson’s on the Bend, Lakeway Spa & Resort and University Of Texas. In 2007, she founded Happy Vegan Baker, a company which continues to thrive through one-on-one service at the local farmer’s markets. While building Happy Vegan Bakery she took a managing position with Seton Family of Hospitals. Working in the kitchen at Seton Northwest, she brought about healthier changes in their menus and developing more plant based options such as Meatless Mondays. Sharing plant based foods with the general public has been the focus on Inge’s culinary career, In addition to her love of food, Inge enjoys traveling, indulging in new experiences and involvement in the local food movement.


Dominique Adansi-Bona’s (formerly Sid & Dom’s)

After being diagnosed with a rare lung disease (which affected her ability to breathe, even with minor activity) Dominique looked first to nature to find her cure and her balance. She was drawn to vegetarianism and then to live foods. “I used to call live foods raw and uncooked, but the truth is that they have already been perfectly prepared for consumption by the sun. They are Sun cooked foods…Today I am a Vegan Cooked and Sun Cooked Chef.” Says Adansi-Bona, “I love making Live Pies and sharing them with the larger community. Music is the universal language. Love makes the world go round, and food brings us together.”


Vegan Personal Trainer and Triathlete

Ivan Blazquez is a drug-free champion pro bodybuilder, pro physique athlete, personal trainer, triathlete and also writes nationally for OnFitness magazine. He will be featured in Vegan Health and Fitness magazine in July. Ivan goes against popular bodybuilding tradition by ignoring the still prevalent practices of steroid/drug usage, bulking up, low carb diets, etc. Ivan’s approach is unique in that it is 100% health-focused . He also has a growing social media following on his YouTube channel that includes videos on plant-based recipes, motivational workouts, competitions, v-logs, etc. Ivan has been a vegan since the summer of 2013. Academically, he holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of New Orleans and has had several research papers published in academic journals. Attendees will learn about his nutrition plan, training regimen and the superior benefits of the vegan health and fitness lifestyle.


Owner, Breads On Oak

In 2011, Sean and his wife Chamain, found a location on Oak Street and opened Breads On Oak, which features wild yeast organic breads, including its signature Old World Miche, as well as organic vegan pastries, tarts, sandwiches & soups. Sean O’Mahony has always been passionate about bread baking. Sean learned the art of bread baking when he began working in a French bakery about 25 years ago. He supplemented his experience by studying under French Master Bakers and World Champions at the French Pastry School, graduating with honors. Aside from studying the art of bread, Sean was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, and has been an independent PeopleSoft Financials Consultant for the past 20+ years. He received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Kennesaw State and his MBA from Tulane University.



Meagan Simone is a singer, songwriter, artist, vegan chef and poet. A classically trained singer, she studied music at the top-flight music programs of both the University of New Orleans and Virginia State, where she obtained her B.A. in Music and her M.A. in Media Management. Meagan Simone has performed on Showtime at the Apollo, auditioned for American Idol, and most recently won Song of the Year at the 2013 Virginia Reggae Awards for her single Fire, released in November 2013. She is currently a finalist for the 2014 Virginia Reggae Award, in the category of Favorite Artist of The Year.


Pastry Chef, Breads on Oak

Jessica Ragan-Williams has loved baking since she was in the kitchen with her mom as a little girl. In 2009 Jessica decided to make a career move from television production to professional baking. She attended The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in Cambridge,MA where she studied under a French Master Pastry Chef and several inspiring professional chefs.

Jessica’s first professional pastry job was in a chocolate boutique in New Orleans. She excelled in chocolates and craved learning more. Since she began working at Breads on Oak in 2013, she has utilized her knowledge of classic french pastries to create vegan desserts.

She is local to the New Orleans Metro area, and has lived in New Orleans for the majority of her adult life.



Ed Rhinehart, Executive Chef at Seed, New Orleans’ newest all-vegan restaurant, has extensive experience in the culinary world. From his roots teaching at Nicholls State University, to attaining executive chef positions at several restaurants, Ed’s expertise ranges from raw food preparation and nutrition, to various “farm to table” efforts. In his 18 years of pursuing his culinary goals, Ed has maintained a personal policy of staying “green” in business. He has earned a reputation as a dependable and driven leader in his field.


The Nutrition Company, Owner

Catherine Wilbert is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Nutrition Consultant, Culinary Nutrition Expert & nationally recognized Wellness Expert. Helping others reach their fitness goals and find new quality of life through health and nutrition has always been a passion for Catherine. This commitment to fitness is not only evident through her dozen bodybuilding titles, which include three national championships, but through her promotion of health and wellness through everything from seminars to national television segments. Through individual consultation, Catherine educates people on the importance of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of illness. She successfully works with people in everything from weight loss to wellness.


Elliot BarronELIOT S. BARRON
Louisiana Congressional candidate, Green Party



An unabashed Who Dat from Bayou Lafourche, Joshua once weighed over 400lbs, but he was able to transform his life through running and adopting a plant-based diet. Pictured here competing in the 2014 Crescent City Classic, Joshua will share his inspirational story as a member of our Recovery Panel.



Co Organizer, March Against Monsanto, New Orleans and Co-Founder, For Dat!

James Stull grew up living on and building small family farms. By age 14 his family had built its third farm, a 40 acre peach orchard in east Texas. After leaving the farm and moving to the suburbs, he became reconnected with his food after learning that his 4 year old son was highly allergic to red dye #40 found in processed foods. He moved back to the country and managed a small sustainable living/spiritual campground in Plant City, Florida until moving to New Orleans in 2010. He was inspired to join the efforts against GMO foods by taking part in the March Against Monsanto. He now co-runs that march twice a year and has co-founded a non-profit called For Dat!, an organization for food advocacy and sustainability and a vehicle to assist other advocacy and social justice groups.



Chef Anne Churchill opened Bhava in early November on Chartres Street. She previously created the vegan menu at Feelings and has cooked on tour with Dave Matthews, the cast of Glee and Melissa Etheridge.


Other special guests to be announced!