New Orleans Veggie Fest Home Humane Society of Louisiana

NOLA Veggie Fest

A Project of the Humane Society of Louisiana

2016 Speakers

2016 Speaker Lineup




Jane Velez-Mitchell is an acclaimed television journalist, author and one of the nation’s most prominent spokespersons for animal rights. For 6 years she hosted her own show on CNN’s Headline News and is often seen commenting on high profile cases for networks such as E!, TrueTV, CNN and others. She has dedicated herself to several causes and to exposing crimes against “people, animals and the environment.” In November 2014, she launched Jane UnChained, a social media news outlet focusing on animal advocacy. The winner of four Genesis Awards, she is particularly known for her veganism and for promoting animal rights, which she has called “the social justice movement of the 21st century.”


Dr. Baxter MontgomeryDR. BAXTER MONTGOMERY
Dr. Baxter D. Montgomery is a Board certified cardiologist with years of experience in the latest medical practices and nutritional health. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Texas in Houston, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) and the founder and president of the Houston Cardiac Association (HCA). Having seen many patients suffer the consequences of chronic heart disease, Dr. Montgomery founded the Montgomery Heart & Wellness Center in 2006 with the mission to reverse and prevent life-threatening illnesses in Houston, Texas. The center is a state-of-the-art wellness facility complete with all the technology and resources to provide comprehensive medical and wellness care. Combining his medical practice with a food-driven lifestyle intervention, Dr. Montgomery introduces patients to a novel food classification system that helps reverse chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes without medications or surgeries. He has refined this process over the past 10 years with profound positive results in severely ill patients. He is also the author of The Food Prescription for Better Health, a comprehensive guide for reversing chronic illnesses.


DJ DAN DAYOur MC and host – Vegan classic rock DJ, Dan Day, from Baton Rouge’s Eagle 98.1



Contrary to popular belief, vegan cuisine in New Orleans is not a new, trendy, hip, 20-something craze that’s sweeping the Marigny one transplant at a time. 64 year old New Orleans native, Chef Amina Dada, or ‘Mama Mina’ to her loved ones, has been a vegan chef since the 80s. Early on, she had noticed the unhealthy trends surrounding black communities and the food we eat. After moving to San Diego in the 70s and discovering the benefits of macrobiotic dieting, she decided to come home and do something about it. After 10 years as a vegetarian, Chef DaDa constructed the idea to take New Orleans style cooking and replace the animal products with plant-based ingredients. When she cooks vegan red beans, she replaces the pig fat with a cup of peanut butter; when she makes her veggie gumbo, she uses seaweed and other sea-grown vegetation to imitate the sea-food taste. Says DaDa, “I will put my vegan red beans and rice up against any out there.”


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.


15-before-and-after-Josh-LajaunieJOSHUA DAN LAJAUNIE

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.



Rebecca Lang started her food journey as one of the founding members, and a volunteer at the first New Orleans’ CO-OP started in the French Quarter. She studied the environment relating to food and decided to start the community gardening program at Mid-City Green Project (now called The Green Project). Mid-City Green was the first group in the city of New Orleans to establish an organic garden in a public school. Following the adventures in community gardens, she spent two years creating a facility so that teachers of the Healing Arts could have a place to give workshops for professional CEUs. In the location – coincidentally called The Healing Arts Center, many years earlier and in Mid-City – a monthly CO-OP was established to support the local community. Rebecca is also a freelance writer, and presents workshops and seminars on food, politics, and anti-consumerism.



Chef Anne Churchill opened and operated the highly-acclaimed vegan restaurant Bhava 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.


Jessica Blanchard; Balance Yoga & WellnessJESSICA BLANCHARD

Jessica Blanchard founded Balance Yoga and Ayurveda in New Orleans in 2008 to offer yoga, ayurveda and pranayama to the New Orleans community. She calls it “the result of dedication, grace, and authentic yoga coming together in a union of like minded spirits.”



A proud husband and father of two girls, Richard Hanley, Jr. is CEO/founder of Hanley’s Salad Dressings. Hanley’s originated in 2012, when Richard discovered that his favorite salad dressing could only be found in restaurants and in cookbooks – not on shelves. After a few salad parties, where family and friends voted on their favorite recipe, he brought the winning recipe to the local farmer’s market and it has been selling out ever since. Now Hanley’s is in over 300 retail stores throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas – producing over 250K bottles by hand in their first 24 months, then scaling to a fully automatic process in the New Orleans area.


Liliana Ruiz Healy
Health Coach with Holistic Approach, Plant-Based Cook & Baker, South of Eden Owner



It’s Your Life Magazine is a free, digital natural living magazine. Its mission is to help others live happy, healthy lives naturally, by combining the mind, body and soul.



Emilie is a full-time public relations student at Louisiana State University and vegan blogger at Emilie has lived “down in the bayous” of south Louisiana her whole life, but found a passion for eating whole, unprocessed foods 3 years ago, eventually going vegan last year. She loves to cook, exercise, and pet as many dogs as she possibly can. Emilie hopes to become a certified holistic nutritionist. She was also recently crowned Miss LSU-USA and plans on using her platform to spread the message of healthy living and the benefits of a plant-based diet.


Interim General Manager, New Orleans Food Coop
at the New Orleans Healing Center

Brittany Baird is an operations and management consultant who has dedicated
her life’s work to assisting cooperatives and and natural foods stores. Since her first job sweeping the floor of the local health store, Brittany has been developing a keen understanding of the natural foods industry. Over her career, she has worked a Store Manager of Big Bear Natural Foods, Grocery Manager of Weavers Way Co-op, as well as General Manager of both the Belfast Food Co-op in Belfast, Maine, and Creekside Food Co-op in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Brittany is honored to work with value-driven businesses and is in awe of the power co-ops have to revolutionize their local economies and create cultures of community.



Julie is a bona fide Yogi who loves the joy of simply being in the moment with breath and body. She keeps busy sharing the news that you can transform yourself any time, any age, any place and at any size – one breath at time. Julie teaches internationally and is Nationally Certified 200RYT, CTT, CHPLN, Aromatherapy & Ayurvedic Practitioner and Yoga Alliance Education Committee Member. Dial 602.741.0654 /


Lexi O'Sullivan

The Flour Garden offers handmade jewelry and healing crystals, along with info about vegan lifestyles, gardening and much more.



Dr. James was born and raised in New Orleans. He graduated from Jesuit High School in 2004 as a football letterman and then attended LSU where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Fitness Studies in 2009. While at LSU, James worked as a Student Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach for the LSU Football Team and Men’s Basketball Team. He was also the captain of the LSU Rugby Team and spent a summer playing rugby for the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. James then spent the next four years at Life Chiropractic College in Atlanta, earning his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree. He moved back to New Orleans in 2014 where he started his own practice, Life Chiropractic; he enjoys playing guitar, camping, gardening, yoga, and spending time with his lovely girlfriend, Pamela.



You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to prepare and enjoy great plant-based foods. Lorretta Duplantis shows that cooking with veggies is something everyone can explore and enjoy. A food designer and motivational speaker, Loretta spices up everything she does with her own Cajun flair. She’s the author of the cookbook, Angel Food for Our Souls, which she describes as a combination of great food for your body, heart and soul.


Other special guests to be announced!