Please check back here regularly for more updates on speakers who will be coming from around the globe to join local speakers and vegan activists from Nepal and Bhutan at the Himalayan Vegan Festival. “Some of the fantastic speakers include:”
KEEGAN KUHN (USA)
(Award Winning Documentary Filmmaker)
Keegan Kuhn is the award-winning co-director and producer of the highly acclaimed documentary feature films Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio) and What the Health (executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix). Both movies are considered among the most influential vegan films ever made. Kuhn also recently directed They're Trying To Kill Us (executive produced by Chris Paul and Billie Eilish) and Running for Good: The Fiona Oakes Documentary (executive produced by James Cromwell). As the owner and operator of the digital film production company First Spark Media, he has dedicated his life to producing films addressing social justice issues.
KUNTAL JOISHER (India)
(Vegan Mountaineer and Two-time Everest Summitter)
Kuntal Joisher is the first vegan to climb to the top of Mount Everest, which he incredibly did not do just once, but twice! Through his trekking, he works to dispel myths about nutrition and a plant-based diet. He is equally passionate about raising awareness about the health benefits of veganism for both people and the planet. As a respected photographer, Joisher’s work has been published in National Geographic, BBC Earth, The Outdoor Journal, Himalayan Journal, and many other magazines globally. He is the winner of the prestigious Kutch Shakti, Kutch Ratna, and Kutch Kohinoor Awards in India.
DR. LEANNE CAMPBELL (USA)
(Whole Food Plant-Based Nutrition Advocate)
Dr. LeAnne Campbell is the President of T. Collin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for the benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. She has over 30 years’ experience as an educator and has directed several not-for-profit organizations globally. Dr. Campbell authored The China Study Cookbook and is the editor of The China Study All-Star Collection and The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook. She currently lives in the mountains of the Dominican Republic where she directs the Global Roots Education Center. Through her work, she partners with US educational institutions to coordinate initiatives exploring the power of food.
DR. SUSIANTO TSENG (Indonesia)
(World Vegan Organisation Founder and Doctor in Nutrition)
An icon among Asia’s vegan activists, Dr. Susianto is the president of the World Vegan Organisation. He is a doctor in Nutrition from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia (Summa Cum Laude). Dr. Tseng is a world-renowned expert on tempeh, having authored several books on the fermented soybean food including The Miracle of Tempeh and Tempted by Tempeh, earning him the nickname, the King of Tempeh. His other literary works include The Miracle of Vegan, Vegan Nutrition for Pregnancy, and Vegan Nutrition for Children. Dr. Tseng is an activist and global speaker and has held leadership positions in various international vegan organizations.
FIONA OAKS (UK)
(Global Vegan Marathon Runner and Animal Sanctuary Founder)
Fiona Oakes is a longtime vegan and a 4-time world record marathon runner. She was the subject of Running for Good, a documentary feature film by award-winning director Keegan Kuhn. The film documents her attempt to set a new global record in competitive endurance racing in the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km race through the Sahara Desert. She holds several records, including being the fastest female in elapsed time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole. Oakes operates Tower Stables Animal Sanctuary, which cares for more than 450 rescued animals daily. Her mission is to promote a compassionate way of living while breaking vegan stereotypes.
DR. SETO MULYADI (Indonesia)
(Vegan Educator and Child Psychologist)
Dr. Seto Mulyadi is a child psychologist, activist, and vegan educator. He speaks at events across Indonesia to promote the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. He has dedicated almost a decade to advancing the cause of veganism in the country. Affectionately known as Kak Seto, he is one of Indonesia’s most famous family television show celebrities and advocates for child welfare. Dr. Mulyadi is also the chairman of the country’s National Commission for Child Protection and cooperates with the government, the Department of Health, and the Department of Education & Culture to promote child protection and rights, and advocates for veganism and health.
KEN SPECTOR (USA)
(Principal Marketing and Ideas Man, HappyCow.net)
Ken Spector is the marketing, ideas man and a key principal at HappyCow. An award-winning online platform, HappyCow was founded in 1999 to help people everywhere to find vegan, vegetarian, and healthy food around the world. Winner of eleven Veggie Awards in the USA, HappyCow currently lists over 50,000 businesses in more than 175 countries serving millions of online viewers each month. Spector has consulted or worked in upper management for numerous companies including Microsoft, Hollywood.com, Eco Vision Packaging, and LivingECO.com. He is dedicated to living a vegan, holistic, sustainable lifestyle and currently lives in Los Angeles.
SURESH P SHARMA (Nepal)
(Vegan Activist, WVO Chair Nepal, and Director of VegVoyages Himalayas Vegan Tours)
Suresh is the Nepal chair of the World Vegan Organisation and co-founder of the Nepal Vegetarian Association. As the director of Himalayan Operations at VegVoyages Vegan Adventures, he organized and led the first international vegan tour group in the country. Suresh has travelled extensively in the region, leading hundreds of holistic tours. He holds a master’s in Sanskrit and Oriental Philosophy and once received the prestigious Gold Medal and Bidhya Bhushand Padak in Philosophy, felicitated to him by the first President of Nepal. Suresh dreams of building a peaceful society in Nepal by promoting veganism and hopes to make Nepal the world’s best vegan destination.
RENEE KING-SONNEN (USA)
(Rowdy Girl Sanctuary Founder and Advocate for Compassionate Farming)
Renee is the founder of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and Rancher’s Advocacy Program, which she founded after witnessing the cruelty of ranching at her husband’s ranch. She has appeared on various TV channels including CBS, ABC, RFD, and Animal Planet explaining how she turned the former beef cattle ranch into a sanctuary. Renee has inspired and coached many American rancher families in the move to sustainable ranching models that are good for the planet, animals, and farmers, and free from killing. Renee formerly worked as a professional musician and owned a wellness spa, where she was a certified yoga instructor and Ayurveda practitioner.
DR. ZEESHAN ALI, Phd. (USA)
(Specialist at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
Dr. Zeeshan Ali is a program specialist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, founded by Dr. Neal Bernard, one of the foremost medical doctors advocating for a vegan diet. Dr. Ali uses his knowledge of chronic disease, nutrition, and Indian culture to develop their 21-day kick-start India program. He also writes scientific reviews and articles on non-animal-based research methods. He received his doctorate degree from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University (Germany), and a postdoctoral fellowship at University Piemonte Orientale (Italy). Dr. Ali’s work focuses on reaching physicians, healthcare professionals, and researchers, and advocating for policy changes to prevent chronic diseases through plant-based nutrition.
CHEF JAJAH (Thailand)
(Vegan Master Baker, Veganerie Founder, and Vegan Restaurateur)
Chef Jajah is a master vegan baker and founder of Veganerie, the leading vegan restaurant chain in Thailand. She is credited with popularizing the term ‘vegan’ in Bangkok since opening her first outlet in 2014. Veganerie currently has 6 branches across the country. Jajah’s dishes are also low-calorie, low-sugar, and cholesterol-free and are offered alongside gluten and nut-free options. As an expert in vegan cooking, she also developed the plant-based menu at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, Oman. Her talent for creating tasty and healthy vegan food has won the attention of non-vegan food critics as demonstrated by her several prestigious food awards.
PALAK MEHTA (India)
(Vegan First Founder and CEO)
Palak Mehta is the founder and CEO of Vegan First, India’s leading publication and digital media platform for all things vegan. She started Vegan First in 2016 to promote the plant-based ecosystem in India, and organized the Vegan India Conference in 2019. Palak also runs her own show on YouTube, The Palak Mehta Show, where she aims to unearth the hidden gems and silent beings who have contributed to the spiritual treasury of the country. Palak is also vice-chair of the India chapter of the World Vegan Organisation.
ANGEELA SHRESTHA (Nepal)
(Founder of Project Humane Nepal and Compassionate Education Advocate)
Angeela Shrestha is the founder of Project Humane Nepal, which educates over 23,000 students and community members annually on animal welfare and changing behavior towards street dogs. Shrestha was honored by the Clinton Global Initiative University at their annual conference in 2015 for her ‘commitment to action’. Passionate about helping animals in Nepal, after grad- uating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, she moved back to Kathmandu to start ‘Project Humane Nepal’ with the goal of educating kids about street dogs and animal welfare.
ABHISHEK SINHA (India)
(CEO of GoodDot, India’s leading homegrown mock meat brand)
As co-founder and CEO of GoodDot, one of India’s largest homegrown mock meat brands, Abhishek Sinha focuses on making vegan meat affordable to the general public through shelf-stable mock meats, vegan food trucks, and fast food outlets. Sinha’s mission is firmly rooted in the Indian concept of ahimsa (non-violence), and he seeks to provide ethical, healthier, and environmentally friendly alternatives to meat that does not compromise on taste. GoodDot has won several prestigious awards for providing healthy, affordable and cruelty-free vegan food products, including PETA India’s Trailblazing Business Award in 2017.
SHIVYA NATH (India)
(Author of The Shooting Star, Vegan Travel Writer)
Shivya Nath is the author of the bestselling travel memoir The Shooting Star. The book charts her adventures from a steady 9-to-5 job to a nomadic vegan life, living with indigenous communities worldwide. In 2013, Shivya gave up her apartment, sold most of her belongings, and has since been living out of two bags. She documents her journey on her award-winning travel blog, and is a leading advocate for offbeat, vegan, and sustainable travel. She has appeared on the cover of National Geographic Traveller Magazine India and has been featured by The Washington Post among travel influencers changing how we think about the world.
SHRISTI SINGH SHRESTHA (Nepal)
(Animal Rights Advocate, Vegan Activist and Vice-President, Animal Nepal)
Shristi is a key animal welfare campaigner at the community and policy level for several leading animal rights organizations in Nepal. Her journey began when an abandoned calf died in her arms, which made her become vegan. Shristi’s goal is to create a country where all living beings are treated with respect, kindness and granted their freedom. She is currently involved in an initiative to ban elephant riding and exploitation in Nepal permanently. Shristi is also Vice-President of Animal Nepal, which works through interventions, animal rescue, research, education, campaigns, and advocacy to create protective rights for animals.
DOLLY VYAS-AHUJA (USA)
(Animal Activist and Vegan Documentary Producer)
Dolly Vyas-Ahuja is an animal activist, public speaker, and vegan documentary producer. Her upcoming feature film, The Land of Ahimsa, encourages Indians to adopt the vegan way of life. One of Vyas-Ahuja’s goals is to encourage India’s temples to become cruelty-free and ban the use of dairy products. She has spoken at a variety of venues and events around the world, including the World Vegan Conference in New Delhi, Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, LA Reggae Veg Fest, Vegan Radio, Rice University, and the Consulate of India in New York.
KAJOL SETHIA (Nepal)
(Vegan Dairy Nepal Co-founder)
Kajol Sethia is a vegan entrepreneur, advocate, and the co-founder of Vegan Dairy Nepal. She started the business after seeing a gap in the market for plant-based dairy and honey alternatives. With humble origins in the family kitchen, her products now can be found at restaurants and markets in several cities throughout Nepal. Sethia has been approached by global hotel chains and plans to hit supermarket shelves outside of Nepal in the coming year. As an advocate for veganism in Nepal, she was the first person in the country to win PETA Asia’s Outstanding Activist Award for her work with animals and activism.
MAY KAIDEE (Thailand)
(Award-Winning Chef, Restaurateur and Cooking School Owner)
May Kaidee is a cookbook author, and the owner and head chef of May Kaidee East Broadway vegan restaurant in Manhattan. Her journey began some 20 years ago when she began working at her aunt’s vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok, where she subsequently quit animal products and developed her own recipes, sauces, and pastes. May now runs cooking schools and restaurants that have won multiple awards. She also lectures at events, tutors master chefs, and has her own film on Thai vegetarian cooking. May has made television appearances globally, and was personally selected by His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium as Thailand’s best chef.
ZACHARY LOVAS (USA)
(Vegan Travel Program & Project Coordinator)
Zac is the co-founder of VegVoyages Vegan Adventure Tours and the VegVoyages Foundation. He spends his time sharing his passion for animals, traveling, local vegan food, and bringing people together by bridging cultural gaps throughout the 8 different countries VegVoyages trips go to every year. In 1990, Zac left America to work on a film in Asia where he has been living and working ever since. Based out of Jakarta (Indonesia), Zac spends most of the year living out of his suitcase exploring local vegan cuisines while coordinating vegan cultural exchange groups and promoting vegan activism across the continent, his home for the past 3 decades.
SHARA NG (Hong Kong)
(Vegan Activist & Founder of the Hong Kong Vegan Association)
Shara is the founder of the Hong Kong Vegan Association and has been a vegan activist in Hong Kong since 2006. Shara is also the founder of Meat Free Hong Kong – a program under the Hong Kong Vegan Association that started in 2009 as a meet-up every Monday (Meatless Monday) to enjoy vegan dishes in various vegetarian restaurants across the city, which has now grown to include weekends as well, with over 5,700 members. Shara is also the founder and organizer of the Hong Kong VegFest in collaboration with nine Hong Kong veggie organizations. The VegFest attracts over 6,000 visitors each year, and helps many vegan businesses to promote their products. As one of the Hong Kong Vegan Association education programs, Shara publishes GOVEG magazine to help promote a plant-based diet in Hong Kong and China.
Dr. Vythilingam Pillay (Malaysia)
(Physician Doctor, Vegan Motivator)
Dr. Vythilingam Pillay is a medical practitioner. Apart from practicing Allopathic medicine his interest is in Plant-based Nutrition. He is a Plant-based Lifestyle advocate. Changing the mindset of patients and moving away from allopathic medicine to NO medicine and advocating balanced plant-based food to keep our body and mind balanced. He is a vegetarian since 1984 and vegan since 2008. Now he is into Plant-based Nutrition.
KARMA DENDUP (Bhutan)
(Founder of Jangsem Monday (Meatless Monday Bhutan), Animal Advocate, Film Director & Producer)
Karma Dendup is the Founder and Executive Director of the Meatless Monday campaign in Bhutan known as Jangsem Monday. In addition to focusing on individual pledges for people to be vegan on Mondays, the Jangsem Monday campaign also has been successful in convincing over 66 schools, as well as numerous NGO’s to also take the Jangsem Monday pledge. The goal will eventually be to create awareness and urge all institutions, hotels, and restaurants to go meatless on Mondays. For Karma, this is the first step in encouraging a plant-based diet for people to follow regularly for the sake of people, animals, the environment, his country, and the planet. In addition to being the Executive Director of Jangsem Monday (Meatless Monday) and an advocate for a more compassionate planet, Karma Dendup is a media producer who before becoming Head of Production at the Bhutan film and media company Reflection Films, was a TV host and producer with the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, where he was also awarded a national award for his documentary during the 2nd Annual Journalism Awards.
PERIK RINPOCHE (Nepal)
(Founder of Dharmaprabha Foundation, Vice President of WVO Nepal)
Perik Rinpoche is the Founder of the Dharmaprabha Foundation and the Vice President of WVO Nepal. He educates people through Interactive Program on Non-Violence by Dharmaprabha Foundation. He is a fully qualified Buddhist Teacher belonging to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. He completed a Master's degree in Buddhism at Ngagyur Nyingma Institute of Mysore, South India. He has been active from the initial days of animal rights campaigns happening in Nepal and has been a former executive member of SPCA Nepal. He always has been strongly advocative in Social Media about Animal rights and Veganism. He also has been producing music and short movies related to either Buddhism or Veganism.
DR. MUHAMMAD UMAIR ARSHAD (Pakistan)
(Vegan Advocate & Nutrition Expert)
Dr. Muhammad Umair Arshad is the Founder and Director of Food Science and Nutrition at the Government College University Faisalabad, Pakistan, and is a passionate advocate for a plant-based diet. His area of expertise includes the functional role of plant-based food components in the management of appetite control and diabetes. He also serves in Pakistan’s regulatory scientific authority panel, and is actively involved in the formulation, and execution of food standards and regulations promoting plant-based diets for better nutrition. As a leading voice of the vegan community in his country, Dr. Arshad is the World Vegan Organization’s Chair for Pakistan where he actively works with student groups and entrepreneurs, to expand vegan ideology for a better human ecosystem in Pakistan.
DR. KARUNAS ZHU (Taiwan)
(Vegan Activist & Founder of Taiwan Vegan Academy)
Dr. Karunas Zhu is the Co-founder of World Vegan Organisation. For decades Dr. Karunas Zhu, a life science graduate from NTU (National Taiwan University), has dedicated himself to promoting the vegan lifestyle, anti-aging, vegan nutrition and vegan industrial study and research. He founded the Taiwan Vegan Academy in 2016 and coordinates various plant-based promoting programs across Taiwan every year both on a regional as well as national levels.
DR. IAN SINGLETON (UK)
(Wildlife Conservationist & Zoologist)
Awarded the Officer of the Most Excellent Order (OBE) of the British Empire for his services to the Environment and Conservation, Dr. Singleton is the world’s foremost expert on the Sumatran Orangutan, and is leading the fight to save them and their habitat. A zoologist, he joined with the Swiss-based PanEco Foundation and Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari in 2001 to establish the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP). As director of the SOCP, he, and 90+ local staff, rescue captive orangutans and return them to a life in the wild, conduct field research, monitor closely the last remaining Sumatran orangutan populations in an effort to protect their habitat, and have developed the incredible Orangutan Haven sanctuary! The Haven is a solution for orangutans that can't be returned to the wild due to health reasons where they can live out their days, and be ambassadors for improving people’s perceptions of nature, promote animal welfare, and raise awareness to the public on the impact of their decisions on the environment. Dr. Singleton is looking forward to sharing with local conservationists his experiences on protecting endangered species and their habitats.
COURTNEY GARZA (USA)
(Editor-in-Chief, VegWorld Magazine & Vegan Social Media Strategist)
Courtney Garza is a passionate vegan who brings her love for journalism, creativity, helping local businesses, and animals together with her compassionate social media agency, Sprinkles Creative, that aids veg-conscious businesses with their branding strategy. Courtney also owns and operates VEGWORLD Magazine, an international vegan lifestyle publication, as the Editor-in-Chief to curate and promote plant-based stories about vegan products, services, and individuals from all walks of life.
JENNIFER TAN SOK LIM (Singapore)
(Vegan Activist & Chair - World Vegan Organisation Singapore)
Jennifer Tan Sok Lim was officially appointed as Ambassador-At-Large of the World Vegan Organisation (WVO) and also the Chair of WVO Singapore. In 2019 she was voted as one of the Top 10 Chinese Vegans in China. Besides promoting veganism in Singapore, she also frequently travels overseas to provide support to local vegan activists in their respective countries in her continuous efforts to help promote veganism. In early 2020 she set up the first pioneer Vegan Club in Jit Sin High School, the top school of Malaysia. Jennifer has also been creating and developing new vegan recipes for the past 39 years, and has assisted the food industries, and restaurants, in “veganizing” their recipes and products.
PAUL PORNTHEP SRINARULA (Thailand)
(Vegan Activist & Motivational Speaker)
Paul Pornthep SriNarula is the founding president of BIVA (Bangkok International Vegan Alliance), a holistic health and vegan educator, motivational speaker and digital talk show host. A vegan for the past 35 years, Mr. SriNarula has been instrumental in growing the vegan movement in Bangkok, and regularly undertakes vegan educational and outreach programs in institutions and communities not only in his home city of Bangkok, but also throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia.
KARIN OLSEN (USA)
(Vegan Promoter, Writer and Certified Plant-Based Health Coach)
Karin Olsen is the founder of Plant Power Productions, a company focused on promoting a whole-food/plant-based/vegan lifestyle. Karin believes food is medicine and is passionate about helping people heal through plants-not-pills. She is a freelance writer and reviewer, and consults with VegWorld Magazine in editorial, marketing and sales. She is a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and continues studies in functional health coaching. She also teaches cooking classes, and is earning culinary certifications through Rouxbe’s Professional Plant-Based Certification Course and Matthew Kenney’s Food Future Institute. She has practiced Bikram Yoga for 30 years and is a certified yoga teacher.
DR. VIDYA CHAKRAVARTHY (India)
(Vegan Ayurvedic Doctor & Nutritionist)
Dr.Vidya is an award winning plant based ayurvedic doctor (Summa cum Laude) clinical nutritionist, speaker, blogger and writer. She was awarded "Ayurvisharada" for academic excellence. During her clinical practice in the USA, she was conferred the prestigious Vagbhata Award by AAPNA (Association of Ayurvedic Physicians of North America). Dr.Vidya through her enterprise Promotive Health and Nutrition conducts events, health awareness camps, talk shows and support groups for vegan transitions. She is currently working on several projects like veganizing a restaurant chain in India with 110 restaurants and social experiments to understand the food system of different countries. She loves teaching and mentoring, and conducts training programs on plant based nutrition, ayurveda and responsible medicine.
PAUL EYERS (UK)
(Vegan Travel Writer & Luxury Hotel Vegan Consultant)
Paul is co-founder of Vegan Food Quest and a long time contributor to A Luxury Travel Blog. Based in Siem Reap, Cambodia he has visited and written about more than 130 luxury hotels and resorts throughout the region in an effort to raise awareness and increase plant-based food options at luxury hotels. His vegan friendly luxury hotel and resort reviews on Vegan Food Quest are very popular and the largest of its kind. He consults and offers training to F&B teams, and menu consultancy regarding vegan diets. He has helped hotels, resorts and restaurants understand and meet the demand from the ever-growing number of vegan travellers. In collaboration with the WVO Vegan Sister City hospitality industry workshop series at The Himalayan Vegan Festival, Paul looks forward to helping hospitality managers in Nepal and Bhutan make their luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants more vegan friendly, and more marketable, for the growing number of vegan travelers.
JAYA LAXMI RAI (India)
(Vegan Food Consultant, Product & Recipe Developer, Founder of Granny's Bowl online Vegan Meal Delivery)
Jayalaxmi is a vegan food consultant and product developer, with a passion for veganizing the most challenging of recipes. In 2016, she started Granny's Bowl, dedicated to her grandmother who was a symbol of silent strength and a master chef, an online/cloud kitchen vegan food delivery service delivering fresh homemade vegan meals daily to people across Pune, India. Granny's Bowl has earned a reputation for customising meals to suit their customers needs and being able to veganise almost everything. Some of her signature dishes and customer favourites include Mock Meat Biryani, Raw Vegan Tiramisu, Vegan Mac n Cheese and the Tofu Zinger Burger among others. Jayalaxmi also specialises in dishing out raw vegan starters, mains and desserts, raw vegan cakes, oil-free meals as well as multi-cuisine vegan catering. In addition to running Granny's Bowl, Jayalaxmi conducts a range of vegan workshops across India and consults for existing or new restaurants helping them add vegan dishes to their menus. She also collaborates with Promotive Health & Nutrition run by Dr.Vidya Chakravarthy running workshops & developing vegan products.
DR. SAILESH RAO, PH. D. (USA)
(Founder of Climate Healers, Human, Earth & Animal Liberation Activist)
Dr. Sailesh Rao has over three decades of professional experience and is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated towards healing the Earth’s climate. A systems specialist with a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Dr. Rao worked on the internet communications infrastructure for twenty years after graduation. During this period, he led the transformation of early analog internet connections to more robust digital connections that also ran ten times faster. In 2006, he switched careers and became deeply immersed, full time, in solving the environmental crises affecting humanity. Dr. Rao is the author of two books, Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies and Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis, and has been involved with numerous documentaries tackling climate change. Dr. Rao is a Human, Earth and Animal Liberation (HEAL) activist, husband, dad, and since 2010, a star-struck grandfather. He is currently working tirelessly on behalf of his generation to fulfill a pinky promise to his granddaughter, Kimaya (seen in the photo), and her generation that the world will be largely Vegan and well on the way towards a sustainable, thriving future before she turns 16 in 2026.
VINITA CONTRACTOR (India)
(Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Vegan Cooking Teacher)
Vinita Contractor is a Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach. She is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist from American Fitness Professionals & Associates, USA and has completed the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from eCornell and T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, New York. She has been featured several times in publications such as Mumbai Mirror, Midday, Asian Age, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Live Mint, VeganFirst, LBB etc. Vinita offers nutrition and lifestyle coaching programs which focus on various aspects of health such as providing a sound health & nutritional foundation, on-going support to her clients and has worked with people with cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, PCOS and thyroid issues. She has founded The Leaf E-academy to make healthy cooking and eating accessible for everyone. Though Vinita is based in Mumbai, she has conducted over 125 in-person and online workshops and demos in cities in India, Indonesia, Singapore and the UK. Vinita’s specialties include vegan Satvic food and Fermented Foods – which she looks forward to sharing with everyone at the festival.
BHAVNA KAPOOR (India)
(Plant-based Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach)
Bhavna Kapoor is one of the first health coaches specialising in Plant based nutrition in India. As a certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York, she specializes in plant-based nutrition and cooking. She has 30 years of training in Iyengar Yoga and is deeply devoted to the study and practice of healing through natural food and living. She integrates all her learnings - of plant based nutrition, natural hygiene, yoga and mindfulness into a uniquely holistic approach to health. Bhavna’s personal experience of healing severe gut issues through a plant-based lifestyle awakened in her the desire to spread and share this lifestyle. A prolific writer and blogger, her work and recipes have featured in major dailies such as Mumbai Mirror, Mid-Day, The Times of India, and The Week. She has hosted a health show on Radio One (Mumbai) and has an online cookery Show called ‘Healthy Vegan Cooking with Bhavna Kapoor." Bhavna runs a bi-yearly retreat in the Himalayas called Nurture.
DR. NANDITA SHAH (India)
(Author, Vegan activist,Founder Director of Sharan)
Dr. Nandita Shah believes that we can be our own best doctors most of the time. She is the founder of SHARAN, www.sharan-india.org, an Indian Vegan organization devoted to building a culture of health and disease reversal through food. She received the Nari Shakti Award 2016 in recognition of her work in the field of health and nutrition and is the author of Reversing Diabetes in 21-Days, an Amazon India #1 bestseller in endocrinology.
JESSIKA AVA, MS, MPA
(Grants Program Director, ProVeg International)
Jessika is Director of Grants Program at ProVeg International where her work expands global vegan advocacy efforts through grantmaking and strategic capacity-building efforts. To date, her work with ProVeg has strengthened and expanded the advocacy of nearly 200 organizations in over 60 countries. Jessika’s niche lies in coordinating global projects, quantitative evaluation, and guiding philanthropic support. Her notable experience includes NGO management, international grantmaking, biostatistics, and Asian street animal welfare. She holds an MS in Biostatistics, an MPA in Nonprofit Management and Program Evaluation, and a BS in Biology.
DR. HARSHA ATMAKURI (INDIA)
(Documentary Filmmaker, Vegan & Animal Rights Activist)
Dr. Harsha Atmakuri left his job as Drug Safety Physician and Medical Writer back in May 2018 to become a full-time independent Animal Rights Activist to fight ‘oppression’ done to the most innocent victims in the world – Animals. He raises awareness about the violence that humans inflict on other sentient beings as part of our social condition through our lifestyle, primarily through our dietary habits. He does various forms of awareness campaigns on Veganism and Animal Rights. In addition to producing, directing and editing short documentaries regarding veganism and animal rights, he also promotes animal rights and veganism through public outreaches, lectures in colleges and institutions, designing digital outreach posters, providing research and analysis, writing articles and conducting interviews. Harsha's upcoming feature documentary film on animal rights will be premiered at The Himalayan Vegan Festival. He's also the founder of the photoblog - Vegans Of India.
AVIRAM ROZIN (INDIA)
(Vegan Environmentalist & Founder of Sadhana Forest)
Aviram Rozin is a vegan environmentalist living with his family in Auroville, Tamil Nadu. He moved to India in 2002, and a year later founded Sadhana Forest. The family settled on a barren piece of land and slowly, with the help of many volunteers, turned it into a vibrant Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest. Their dedication to veganism and their low-carbon footprint lifestyle have inspired many. Aviram’s vision is to reclaim barren lands around the world by establishing indigenous, drought-resistant food forests. He especially enjoys starting new projects and building relationships with local people. In the last few years he has been involved in scientific research in the fields of biodiversity and biomineralization of carbon. Aviram is a member of the Global Restoration Council and a board member of the Foundation for World Education.
SETH TIBBOTT (USA)
(Founder of Tofurky and Turtle Island Foods - the world's pioneer in vegan food products, and Tempeh Expert)
Seth Tibbott is Founder of the world famous Tofurky and Turtle Island Foods company, which he built and grew over almost 40 years from a $2,500 startup into a family-owned global brand worth over $100 million. A pioneer in the meatless food industry, Seth developed his company keeping true to his environmental and animal advocacy beliefs. The Tofurky brand includes over 40 different vegan, cruelty-free food products from the ever-famous Tofurky and vegan sausages, to vegan sandwich slices, vegan ham and non-dairy cheeses, which are sold in 27,000+ stores worldwide. As a family-owned company, Seth has enabled Tofurky to continue its original vision and commitment to "purpose over profit" supporting animal rescues, sanctuaries, and environmental organizations, and maintaining a business that contributes to society rather than takes from it. A master tempeh maker, enthusiast and advocate, Seth has also been making his own tempeh from scratch since 1980 and looks forward to sharing his knowledge and love for tempeh with others attending the festival.
MADHAVI KOLTE, SANJEEV NAIK & AAKASH ZURE (INDIA), JULIE WAYNE (FRANCE)
(Environment & Sustainable Agriculture Advocates)
After the success of the “Pune Health and Sustainability Conference” (under the banner of “Climate Healers of Pune”) at the end of 2019, the conference’s co-organisers, Madhavi Kolte (sculptor and environmentalist) and Julie Wayne (photographer, environmentalist and animal rights activist), understood the necessity of creating a grassroots, pan-Indian organisation to address the deleterious effects of animal agriculture specifically in India, to propose solutions to these crises and to create a practical, replicable and sustainable agricultural model (via Urvarasa) that answers the question: “What could our food system look like when we include all sentient beings in our moral framework?” Madhavi and Julie were joined by Sanjeev Naik (software engineer and environmentalist) and in January 2020, Jeeva Bhavana was born. In January 2021, Madhavi, Sanjeev and Julie were thrilled to welcome Aakash Zure (computer engineer, animal rights activist and agriculture enthusiast) as the Project Coordinator of Urvarasa.
DR. ANNE H.J. LEE (South Korea)
(Author, Researcher and Director of plant-based ‘Temple Food Academy)
Dr. Anne H.J. Lee, educated in Canada (PhD in Geography and Environmental Management; MBA specialized in Food, Hotel and Tourism Management) currently is the Managing Director of the plant-based ‘Temple Food Academy’ (The Philosopher Chef’s Table)in South Korea. Anne works with the temple food master, Venerable Jeongkwan, addressing eco-friendly, old-fashioned eating-well practices in order to serve the world in which all people in the globe live together harmoniously. Anne collaborated on a research report book published and funded by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) where she edited the entire research project and wrote the Introduction Chapter (Citation: ‘World Tourism Organization and Korea Culture & Tourism Institute, Case Studies of Traditional Cultural Accommodations in the Republic of Korea, Japan and China, UNWTO, Madrid, Spain). Recently, she published a research article in the Journal of Gastronomy and Tourism: TEMPLE FOOD AS A SUSTAINABLE TOURISM ATTRACTION: ECO-GASTRONOMIC BUDDHIST HERITAGE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH KOREA (2020). Her ongoing research is focused on transforming the global food system through sustainable, plant-based eco-friendly eating practices in the context of regional tourism development through place branding.
VENERABLE JEONG KWAN (South Korea)
(Buddhist Nun & eco-friendly, plant-based promoting Chef)
Venerable Jeong Kwan was selected as one of the Plant-forward Global 50 by Eat Forum and Culinary Institute of America. Known as ’The Philosopher Chef’ by the New York Times, she has made influential insights into the field of Buddhist temple cooking methods focusing on the future of sustainable eating practices. Her cultural approach to eco-friendly eating practice has been shaped over centuries and handed down based on the foundation of Buddhist philosophy and is appropriate for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. Although first and foremost a Buddhist nun, not a chef, she has had great opportunities to be involved in Buddhist temple food cooking practices ever since she became a nun at the age of 17. Jeong Kwan, appearing in Chef’s Table Season 3 by Netflix, has been featured in the screening of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. Since then, much of her philosophical wisdom in temple food cooking and eating practices have been spread out to the world. The Baekyangsa monastery, Chunjinam hermitage has received a great number of visitors from many parts of the world. Jeong Kwan has been reported in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Independent, The Sunday Morning Herald, EATER, and Food & Wine, among others.
DR. DEEPANI JAYANTHA (Sri Lanka)
(Elephant Veterinarian & Human-Elephant Conflict Expert)
Dr Deepani Jayantha is the Elephant Specialist and Country Representative at Elemotion Foundation. She is a dedicated conservationist and is a graduate of the University of Peradeniya in veterinary management of both captive and wild elephants at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science. Deepani has done extensive research, projects, and publications, for well over a decade, that include post-release monitoring studies of the rehabilitated and released wild juvenile elephants of the Elephant Transit Home. She works closely with villages and communities to promote Human Elephant Co-Existence and to mitigate Human-Elephant conflict. She is also involved in community conservation and education projects to promote welfare of Sri Lankan captive elephants and responsible tourism.
MARLY WINCKLER (Brazil)
(Founder of Brazilian Vegetarian Society & Former Chairperson of the International Vegetarian Union)
Marly Winckler is the founder of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, and was the President of the BVS from 2003 to 2015 (she’s now the Honorary President). By profession, Marly is a sociologist and translator who has translated more than 60 books including the groundbreaking vegan activism books Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and Becoming Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis, among others. She created “Sitio Vegetariano”– the first webpage on vegetarianism in Portuguese–and the first discussion lists on vegetarianism in Portuguese and Spanish: veg-brasil and veg-latina. She was also the Chairperson of the International Vegetarian Union from 2011-2014 / 2018. Marly has been Vegetarian since 1983 and is a prominent vegan activist. She organized the 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress held in 2004.
YUKARI IWAMOTO (Japan)
(Yoga & Sound Healing Artist, Designer, Co-founder of Tokyo Vegan)
Yukari Iwamoto is a certified Zuddha Yoga teacher and sound healing artist whose passion is to promote an ethical, mindful and creative way of living in harmony with nature. She takes people on a journey to a deeper meditation through her holistic approach of pranayama breathing, inspiring yoga asanas and healing sounds with a Tibetan singing bowl and a hang drum. She is also a co-founder of Tokyo Vegan, a not-for-profit organization that supports the vegan community to grow through holding social events and participating in vegan-related policy meetings with the Ministries of Japan and the All-party Parliamentary Group "Veggie Giren" / Vege Council. She holds a master's degree from Royal College of Art in UK.
EIKO AZUMANO (Japan)
(Director, Japan Vegetarian Society (JPVS))
Vegetarian since 1999, Eiko is a polyglot simultaneous interpreter (she speaks Japanese, English, Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese and little Romanian) and a tour guide in Kyoto, Japan. She wrote her fist book "A Little Book of Zen" in 2020. In her seminar, she will share with you the wonderful world and history of Japanese Zen, Cha-No-Yu tea ceremony, Shojin-Ryouri Zen Vegan foods since 13th century, Zazen Zen meditation, Karesansui Zen garden, and an amazing connection with Tibetan buddhism. Eiko will bring a peace of Zen from Japan and hoping that the participants shall enjoy and learn about Zen teachings accompanied with the finest incense and Gyokuro green tea from Uji, Kyoto!
NAMGAY ZAM (Bhutan)
(Journalist and Social Justice Activist)
Namgay Zam is an well-known independent multimedia and multilingual journalist in Bhutan. She is a passionate advocate for social justice, equal rights, mental health and animal rights. Zam is a Fulbright Humphrey Fellow at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an Asia 21 Young leader. She is currently the executive director of the Journalists’ Association of Bhutan, and host of the award-winning show, Let’s Talk About It. In addition to being an acclaimed journalist in Bhutan, Namgay has also reported from South Africa, Germany, India and Nepal.
TASHI PAYDEN TSHERING (Bhutan)
(Founder & Executive Director of Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals, Bhutan)
Tashi Payden is the Founder and Executive Director of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals) Bhutan. An avid animal rights activist, she constantly works to improve the lives of animals throughout the kingdom. In the 1990’s, after a campaign was set forth by the government on the advice of the WHO to adopt culling as a means of controlling stray dogs to prevent the spread of rabies, Tashi approached the Mayor of Thimpu and suggested sterilization and vaccination as an alternative to culling. Her idea was welcomed and an effective and compassionate program of vaccinations, spay and neutering was enacted with the assistance of the National Animal Hospital. In 1999, the RSPCA was established with the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. The society, which Tashi founded and oversees as its Executive Director, has worked tirelessly to create a better future for the stray dogs of Bhutan and to protect and care for all animals in the Himalayan kingdom.