Speaker Bios

 Vegan Summerfest features experts in the fields of health, nutrition, animal rights, the environment, exercise and other related lifestyle topics,  plus talented chefs.   The following speakers are already confirmed, with more to be added. Please check back for updates. 

These are our 2023 speakers.   We will have our 2024 speakers up later in February.   Thank You!

Michael Greger, MD

A founding member and fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous “meat defamation” trial. His latest book is How Not to Die. More than a thousand of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org, with new videos and articles uploaded every day.

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Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

Adjunct associate professor of medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine; President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; founded the Barnard Medical Center where they work with patients to prevent and reverse diseases through nutrition and lifestyle changes; led numerous research studies investigating the effects of diet on diabetes, body weight, and chronic pain, including a groundbreaking study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes, funded by the National Institutes of Health; authored more than 70 scientific publications as well as 18 books and hosted three PBS television programs on nutrition and health  Visit Speaker’s Website

Kim Allan  Williams, MD, MACC, FAHA, MASNC, FESC

Vegan Cardiologist; completed his internal medicine residency at Emory University, and overlapping fellowships in cardiology, clinical pharmacology, and nuclear medicine at the University of Chicago; board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology and cardiovascular computed tomography; joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1986; served as professor of medicine and radiology and director of nuclear cardiology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine until 2010, when he became the Dorothy Susan Timmis Endowed Professor and chair of the division of cardiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine; In 2013, Williams assumed the position of James B. Herrick Professor and chief of the division of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center;  past president of the  American College of Cardiology

Jane Esselstyn, RN

Jane is a fresh and charismatic voice on the whole food, plant-based diet. She brings her perspective and passion as a woman, nurse, researcher, and mother to creating on-ramps to the plant-based way of life. Jane is an avid and inventive designer of plant-based recipes and the co-author of Be a Plant-Based Woman Warrior: Live Fierce, Stay Bold, Eat Delicious, and The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook with her next door neighbor, mom, and human firecracker -Ann Esselstyn. Jane and Ann present their work, research, and high energy demos around the world- and on her YouTube channel. Jane also created the recipe section of #1 NYTimes bestseller, Plant-Strong, and The Seven Day Rescue, by Rip Esselstyn. And she is co-author of The Engine 2 Cookbook. Women, families and community drive Jane’s work forward. She is the host of the annual conference: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease for Women, which is focused on the power of plants! Jane claims, “Prevention is the new cure, and the most powerful, relevant, and protective medicine available”. With full enthusiasm, Jane co-founded Well, Now! Camp – an activity -filled, creative escape for plant-based women warriors, because vitality rocks! Visit Speaker’s Website

Ruby Lathon, PhD

Holistic Nutritionist, Health Coach & Educator

Dr. Ruby Lathon is an engineer turned holistic nutritionist, after healing herself of thyroid cancer by drastically changing her lifestyle through a plant-based diet. Dr. Lathon was featured in the hit documentary, What the Health and the newly released documentary, They’re Trying to Kill Us. Dr. Lathon now teaches others how to re-engineer their health and live disease free.

Dr. Lathon is an inspirational and sought-after speaker on motivation and natural healing. She teaches other about the benefits and power of plant-based nutrition through health conferences, workshops, vegan cooking classes, consultations and coaching programs. Dr. Lathon served as Nutrition Policy Manager at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, where she developed and led a national grassroots campaign to advocate legislation for more healthful, plant-based meal options in the National School Lunch Program. She is the host of “The Veggie Chest,” plant-based cooking show aired on Washington’s DCTV. In addition, Dr. Lathon also lends her expertise to Body Complete Rx (BCRX), a wellness brand with a complete range of plant-based health and beauty supplements available at The Vitamin Shoppe.

Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT

 The Plant-Based Dietitian, has a BA in Theatre and an MS in Nutrition, bridging her biggest passions for food, presenting, and helping people. She has authored five books, including The Healthspan Solution, Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot’s Guides), and The Vegiterranean Diet, as well as two peer-reviewed journal articles on plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals (in The Permanente Journal and Journal of Geriatric Cardiology), and she is the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine. Julieanna is the co-founder and nutrition director for Efferos, co-host of the podcast, Science and Saucery, and she speaks and consults with clients around the globe. 

Dawn Hilton-Williams

Founder of Herban Eats, LLC and creator of EDD Summits, Dawn Hilton-Williams AKA The Vegucator, is Author of the clinically-endorsed cookbook Flava My Plate: Your Tasty Vegan Guide to Health-Wealth.

A passionate, nutrition-focused plant-based chef, corporate and community educator and food justice activist, Dawn focuses on the mitigation of the systemic health, food access, environmental and chronic disease inequities that occur both disproportionately within black and brown communities.

Featured in numerous, print, radio and podcasts such as: USA Today, Veg News, Live Kindly, Greenville News, Charlotte Observer as well as tv appearances on ABC NBC and CBS affiliate stations, Dawn was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from Beyoncé’s beyGOOD foundation and has been lauded by popular vegan trailblazers; Miyoko Schinner (Miyoko’s Creamery) and Milton Mills, MD as a community change maker.

From inspired media appearances, public speaking and presentations for festivals and organizations like: Adidas, Prisma Healthcare, EDD Summits, Plant-Based Prevention of Disease (PPOD),Richland County Library system, AARP and Bluegrass Vegfest to corporate and community chef demos, health coaching and impactful collaborative partnerships, Dawn’s on a mission to radicalize wellness for good!

Dawn earned a certificate in plant-based nutrition from T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (eCornell) in 2017, a BA in Political Science from Virginia State University in 1992, has been endorsed by numerous board-certified physicians and has owned and operated food-based businesses since 2007.

Robert Breakey, MD

A 5th generation graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School who has.  He has followed a plant-based lifestyle himself since 1977, and has led dozens of seminars on Vegan Health for both lay and professional audiences over these past 35 years. He is the head of his medical group’s “IHA Lifestyle Medicine Institute Disease Reversal” initiative, and is on the Board of Directors for “Plant Based Prevention of Disease” (P-POD). He is also Co-Medical Director with the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group in Southeast Michigan.

Victoria Moran

Featured twice on Oprah, the author of Main Street Vegan and The Love-Powered Diet is director of Main Street Vegan Academy, cofounder of the Compassion Consortium, host of the Victoria Moran Podcast, and lead producer of the documentary A Prayer for Compassion. Her next book will be Age Like a Yogi.

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Maribeth Abrams, MS, CNC

Certified Nutritional Consultant; Certified Holistic Health Practitioner; Certified Lifestyle Educator; author of The 4-Ingredient Vegan and Tofu 1-2-3; NAVS Board Member; Associate Editor Vegetarian Voice magazine; vegan for 20 years; mother of two teens vegan since birth.

Milton Mills, MD

Associate director of preventive medicine with Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM); co-author of PCRM’s report on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Ed Adams

Formerly taught mathematics at a high school and technical college in Wisconsin, and also worked as a student services counselor at the technical college. He developed an interest in line dancing as a hobby and has now been dancing for about ten years. He line dances regularly three times a week and has been teaching line dancing for about two years. Adams lives on a tree farm in Wisconsin and, with his wife Helen, is engaged in conservation. projects benefiting native and migratory birds, animals, and the environment.

Chip Ballew

Juggling teacher; with 20 years experience in the field teaching ball/club/ring/scarf juggling, diabolo, poi, juggling stix and other skill-toys and cooperative games; boomerang, frisbee, kendama, rola-bola, footbag, etc.; co-founder of the Vegetarian Club of the Ozarks; 20 plus years advocating for animals and veganism; vegan for 26 years.

 

Carol H. Barnett, PhD, JD

Co-Coordinator, Rochester Area Vegan Society; provides the recipes, cooking and food sampling for a six-week course in Plant-Based Eating which has reached more than 300 people in the Rochester area; mother of three adult children who are lifelong vegans.

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Ted D. Barnett, MD, FACLM

The “High-Tech Doctor with Low-Tech Solutions.” Diagnostic & Interventional Radiologist and senior partner with Borg and Ide Imaging in Rochester, NY, where he has practiced since 1986. Board-certified in Diagnostic Imaging (1984); board-certified in Vascular & Interventional Radiology (1995); one of the first 204 physicians board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine (2017). Dedicated to transforming the practice of medicine using the principles of Lifestyle Medicine and plant-based nutrition. Founder and CEO of Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Group, (2015); Founder and President, Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute (2017), which licenses a medically-supervised 15-Day WFPB Jumpstart. Teaches a 6-week 12-CME Plant-Based Nutrition course, accredited for physicians by the University of Rochester, which has reached almost 1,000 people in the Rochester, NY area. Co-Coordinator, Rochester Area Vegan Society since 1995; father of three adult children who are lifelong vegans.

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Harold Brown

President, Farm Kind, Ltd.; born and raised on a cattle farm in Michigan and spent over half his life in agriculture including three years in the dairy industry; featured in the Tribe of Heart documentary, Peaceable Kingdom, the Journey Home, his story is one of transformation from animal farmer to vegan animal advocate; works as an advocate for sustainable independent family farms, environmental justice, social justice, and peace through non-violence.

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Jeffrey Cohan

Executive Director of Jewish Veg; writer of The Beet-Eating Heeb, a blog on theology-based veganism; earned Masters of Public Management at Carnegie Mellon University, and BA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkley; former director of community relations, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh; former print and broadcast journalist.

Anne Dinshah

Co-author (with H. Jay Dinshah) of the forthcoming book Powerful Vegan Messages; co-author of Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook; author of Dating Vegans; vice president of American Vegan Society; managing editor of American Vegan magazine; professional rowing coach; lifelong vegan, third generation vegetarian, and mom to vegan son Clint.

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Freya Dinshah

Co-author of Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids!  Teach Yourself to Cook a great new book that inspires kids to make healthy snacks and meals; author of The Vegan Kitchen which in 1965 was the first U.S. cookbook to use the word vegan in the title and espouse the vegan philosophy; lecturer & teacher; lifetime vegetarian (56 years vegan); President of American Vegan Society and editor of American Vegan magazine; inducted to the Vegetarian Hall of Fame

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Mylan Engel Jr.

Professor of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University specializing in animal ethics and environmental ethics; co-author (with Kathie Jenni) of The Philosophy of Animal Rights: A Brief Introduction for Students and Teachers (2010); lead editor of The Moral Rights of Animals (2016); he has developed a common sense approach to animal ethics, which he uses to defend ethical veganism and to argue that animal experimentation should be abolished.

 

Joann Farb

Microbiologist, and former biodecontamination consultant for Pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co Inc. Then an activist and founder of Vegetarians of Kansas City. Vegan for 20 years. Mother of two lifelong vegans. Her first book, Compassionate Souls — Raising the Next Generation to Change the World, was a primer for raising healthy compassionate children. Her newest book, Get Off Gluten aims to help vegan’s learn how getting off gluten can be beneficial, and to help gluten sensitive omnivores discover veganism for their health.

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Sarina Farb

Sarina is a life-long vegan and second generation activist dedicated to making the world a better place. She speaks and writes about growing up vegan and dealing with “pushback”.  Sarina was previously Tribe of Heart’s International Liaison, helping to make the award-winning animal films The Witness and Peaceable Kingdom: The journey Home understandable and accessible around the world. Also a science educator, Sarina is passionate about bringing ethics, holism, and true critical thinking into science curricula. She earned her degree in biochemistry and policy studies at Grinnell College where the also founded the vegan group AACT.

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Lee Hall, JD, LLM

 A 36-year vegan, Lee holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environment & Climate Law from Vermont Law School. Lee has taught animal law and environmental law, and has authored several books, including On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century. Lee penned the “Vegetarian” and “Environmental Racism” entries for the Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice (Sage), and the chapter “Nonhuman Rights and Human Sustainability” for Springer’s Encyclopedia of UN Sustainability Goals (Vol. 12, 2020)—the largest peer-reviewed project ever undertaken on the subject. 

Sharon Jacks, NBC-HWD

Nationally Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach.  Health and Wellness training through Emory University Certified instructor for PCRM’s Food for Life Programs, including Employee Wellness, Weight Management, Cancer Project, Diabetes Initiative, Nutrition Essentials, and Kid’s Health. Founder and Lead instructor for Studio Veg Productions in Murfreesboro, TN.  Specializing in health promoting, delicious, plant-based nutrition and cooking classes. 28+ year passionate vegan cook and activist.  Raised two very healthy young men on a plant-based diet. Certified in Plant Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, Cornell University.Holds certificate in the Wellness Forum Institute’s Diet and Lifestyle Intervention Course, as well as certificates in Men’s and Women’s Health. Director of Interior Design for National Healthcare Corporation, 30 years, specializing in functional design for Alzheimer’s patients.  Visit Speaker’s Website

Ellen Jaffe Jones

Author of Kitchen Divided and Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and co-author of Paleo Vegan; former cooking instructor for PCRM’s Cancer Project for 6 years and a frequent cooking instructor in Florida health food stores; certified personal trainer, certified running coach.

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Kathleen Kinsolving

She is a 30 + year vegan and earned a BFA in Film and TV at New York University’s TIsch School of the Arts.  She has presented film appreciation classes and lectures since 1994.  For the past 10 years, Kathleen has been teaching English at Centreville High School in Northern Virginia, where her students enjoy such literature and films as the anti-hunting short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” and the great avian rebellion in “The Birds.”

Joanne Kong

Nationally and internationally recognized speaker focusing on the ethical, health and environmental impacts of veganism. She is author of If You’ve Ever Loved an Animal, Go Vegan, and has given recent presentations at National Animal Rights Day, Green Food Fest in Jessheim, Norway, Veggie Pride Parade in New York City, and Oakland VegFest. A volunteer and speaker with the Humane Party, her highly-praised TEDx talk on veganism is included in Unbound Project, celebrating noted women around the world who advocate for animals.  A critically-acclaimed concert pianist, she will appear in the upcoming documentary, Taking Note, about vegan musicians.

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Vance Lehmkuhl

Vegan columnist (“V for Veg”) for the Philadelphia Daily News; cartoonist, speaker, piano-player and all-around entertainer; founding member of vegetarian pop band Green Beings; creator of “Edgy Veggies” cartoon for VegNews; author, Joy of Soy (collection of his vegetarian cartoons); illustrator (created NAVS “Food/Friend” T-shirt) and feature writer for Vegetarian Voice.

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Sally Lipsky, PhD

She has a Ph.D. in Education and Certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Knowing the importance of day-to-day food choices in maintaining long-term health and well-being, she educates others about practical ways to implement and maintain plant-centered eating habits. She has authored articles, curriculums for healthcare providers, a monthly newsletter, and the recently published book Beyond Cancer: The Powerful Effect of Plant-Based Eating. Also, she is leader of the Pittsburgh Plant-Based Support Group in partnership with PlantPure Communities.

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Jill Nussinow, RD

,RD

Nutrition specialist with more than 25 years experience, culinary educator and Registered Dietitian teaching at the McDougall Program; author of 3 award-winning cookbooks Nutrition CHAMPS: The Veggie Queen’s Guide to Eating and Cooking for Optimum Health, Happiness, Energy and VitalityThe New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 Minutes and The Veggie Queen™: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment; and the recently released Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in your Pressure Cooker; producer, Pressure Cooking: A Fresh Look, Delicious Dishes in Minutes DVD and starring in Creative Low-Fat Vegan Cuisine DVD

Myriam Parham, RD, CDE

Registered Dietitian; certified diabetes educator; coordinates and teaches programs which promote plant-based lifestyle at the Florida Hospital Zephyrhills; president and co-founder of Florida Voices for Animals, Inc; presented nutrition lectures for Dr. John McDougall’s Publix program in Lakeland, worked on the GEICO research program with PCRM

John Pierre

Personal trainer to top celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs, and his client list has included Ellen DeGeneres and Emily Deschanel; vegan nutrition and fitness consultant who lectures throughout the US sharing the principles of compassionate living to people of all ages; best known for his innovative work helping older adults enhance cognitive functioning, and his fun, yet effective approach to functional fitness; author of The Pillars of Health.

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Kathy Pollard, MS

Research Projects Manager for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), administrating officer of the ACLM Global Sustainability Committee, co-founder of SustainableDiet.com, previous instructor for the T. Colin Campbell’s plant-based nutrition certification course, and Board member of the Plant-based Prevention Of Disease conferences, P-POD. Kathy holds an MS with honors in Applied Clinical Nutrition from NY Chiropractic College and a BA in Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley. Her new book that just came  out in November 2023, is called Eating Does It: Healing Ourselves and Our Planet with Food. Articles and more at KathrynPollard.com.

Tim Radak, RDN DrPH MPH

Academic Coordinator and Core Faculty for the Public Health PhD program at Walden University, where he has taught public health courses since 2010.  He previously served as Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetic Internship Director at Appalachian State University, Senior Research Program Manager for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, and Director of Nutrition for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.  He has been credentialed as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2000, and earned his doctorate in Public Health Nutrition at Loma Linda University. He has authored or co-authored 15 articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed scientific journals, written several textbook chapters, and contributed to and participated in television, radio and newsprint media as an expert on various public health and nutrition topics. His research interests include:  the relationship between plant-based diets and reduced risk of chronic diseases;  epidemiology of chronic diseases;  essential fatty acids requirements and metabolism;  behavioral strategies for lifestyle modification;  body composition;  and nutritional assessment methodologies.

Roberta  Schiff,  MS

She has been presenting at Summerfest for over 10 years. She lives in Rhinebek NY where she is a health educator, nutrition counselor and coordinates Hudson Valley Vegans, planning events and educational outreach activities.

Alyssa Sikora

For the last 18 years, she  has practiced a variety of yoga to include Yin, Vinyasa, and Iyengar yoga. She is now a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT) and Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) 500 through Yoga Alliance. She connected with the Iyengar philosophy because of its emphasis on anatomy and philosophy. The Iyengar method also helped advance her personal practice. Alyssa has studied with Senior Iyengar teachers such as Arun, Randy Just, Nichole Baker, Rebecca Lerner, and Abhijata Iyengar. In addition to yoga, Alyssa had a 10 year career working for the government. Alyssa has a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and a Master’s degree in international relations. Alyssa was also a Food for Life Instructor through PCRM for many years, and is a certified vegan chef through the Rouxbe Cooking School. Alyssa has traveled all over the world, but now calls Colorado home with her husband and two children. When Alyssa is not gardening, making DIYs, or cooking vegan food, she teaches yoga and homeschools her two kids.

Kay Stepkin

Kay opened and ran Chicago’s first modern-day vegetarian business, The Bread Shop, from 1971-1996. The Bread Shop was a 100% whole-grain bakery, with an adjacent bulk food store and a restaurant across the street. The restaurant is still open, now owned by two former employees.

She incorporated Go Veggie!®, a not-for-profit, in 2001 and, through it, hosted Dine Outs, Turkey-Free Thanksgiving dinners, potlucks, cooking classes and an 8-segment televised cooking show: Go Veggie!® with Kay.   For over 4 years, she then wrote The Veggie Cook, a syndicated biweekly vegan column for the Chicago Tribune.

Go Veggie!® is now DBA the National Vegetarian Museum, which opened as a travelling exhibit in Chicago and suburbs in 2017.

Michael Taylor

He  is a business executive with 33+ years’ experience selling complex and high-level projects to executives, engineers, influencers and users. Understanding the art of the sell, support and how a customer buys is critical to success. Michael uses these same principals in successful “selling”/converting people to veganism and with a high degree of success in keeping them vegan. He travels in North America, South America and Europe for business and also contributes to VegWorld Magazine as the restaurant “critic.

Marcella Torres

Professional meal planner, dancer, PhD student in mathematical biology, and mother to a thriving vegan child; half of the husband and wife team of competitive bodybuilders behind Vegan Muscle and Fitness, where they have shared their training and nutrition tips, recipes and more since 2009; co-owner of Richmond, Virginia’s only plant-based personal training studio, Root Force Personal Training, which seeks to promote a fit and active plant-powered lifestyle and shatter the perception that strength and athleticism can’t be achieved with a plant-based diet – the mission: to generate as many fit vegan role models as possible to get the message across that a plant-based diet isn’t a handicap in the world of athletics – it’s an advantage!

 

Derek Tresize

Three-time natural bodybuilding champion and WNBF pro bodybuilder; A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology; half of the husband and wife team of competitive bodybuilders behind Vegan Muscle and Fitness, where they have shared their training and nutrition tips, recipes and more since 2009; co-owner of Richmond, Virginia’s only plant-based personal training studio, Root Force Personal Training, which seeks to promote a fit and active plant-powered lifestyle and shatter the perception that strength and athleticism can’t be achieved with a plant-based diet – the mission: to generate as many fit vegan role models as possible to get the message across that a plant-based diet isn’t a handicap in the world of athletics – it’s an advantage!

 

Blake Tumbleson

Meet Joe-Vegan. A life-long consumer of meat, sea food, and dairy until the age of 46, Blake did the “possible” and completely changed his diet, and his life. Signs of cardiovascular disease struck fear of an early death from his stressful and unhealthy life. He discovered the right baby-steps by doing just a little something each day. Losing over 50 pounds and easily keeping it off for the past 9 years through a vegetarian and later vegan diet, he’s learned to integrate a healthy lifestyle into a busy work and family life. Just an average Joe who became vegan…JoeVegan!

 

Robert C. Victor

Former Staff Astronomer at the Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, where he served for over 30 years; he still designs and produces occasional issues of their monthly Sky Calendar, and writes on sky watching for theCoachella Valley Independent, and for the California and the Michigan Science Teachers Associations; he received the Clifford W. Holmes Award for his “Major Contribution to Popularizing Astronomy,” and the Shiny Apple Award from Palm Springs Unified School District for sharing his passion and knowledge of the sky with students and parents.

 

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