Dr. Milton Mills

Dr. Milton Mills

A past speaker at Rochester VegFest, Milton Mills, MD will be returning to Rochester—via Zoom—to give the ground-breaking lecture he premiered at Vegan Summerfest 2019, a talk which has become even more urgent in the light of current events.

WHAT: Milton Mills, MD will speak on The Impact of Historical Racial Bias on the Health Profiles of Communities of Color

  • WHEN: Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 7:00 PM
  • WHERE: By Zoom
  • COST: Free, with suggested donation.  Sign up here

Milton Mills, MD is a Black physician who has worked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to redress racial inequities in dietary recommendations. Dr. Mills is an intensivist (critical care/ICU) physician, actively practicing in the Washington, DC area. He speaks on a wide variety of topics, including the microbiome, the connection between diet and cancer, human anatomy and plant-based diet, and what the Bible has to say about diet, as well as connections between the civil rights movement and veganism. Dr. Mills’s discussion of the legacy of racism and its impact on the health of communities of color is not to be missed!

This event is co-sponsored by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute and the Rochester Area Vegan Society.

Jonell Belcher-Chudyk



Jonell Belcher-Chudyk, LCSW, AASW is the founder and executive director of Mockingbird Farm, a 501(c)3 farm animal sanctuary in Byron, NY (35 minutes west of Rochester). Jonell is also a therapist in private practice, primarily working with children, veterans (she is also a veteran herself) and their families who have experienced trauma or struggle with depression, anxiety, grief and loss. Jonell has found the unique bond between humans and non-humans to be incredibly powerful and healing when mutually respected and nurtured. Jonell became a published author in the field of human-animal interaction in 2010, and received scholarship to attend the University of Denver’s Master’s program at the Institute of Human Animal Interaction through DU’s Graduate School of Social Work.

In addition to operating the farm sanctuary and her private practice, she has given lectures on animal behavior, human- animal interaction, the field of animal assisted therapy and ethical considerations of animals in our lives. She also provides pro-bono counseling to individuals struggling with the loss of their animal companions, and evaluating comfort in the final stages of animal’s lives. Jonell has also developed workshops for veterinary clinics regarding compassion fatigue, burn out and self-care for veterinarian’s, residents, clinical fellows and support staff.

Jonell spends her days in gratitude physically and emotionally caring for the most vulnerable and oppressed sentient beings of our society. She and her husband Joe are currently raising their 3 year-old daughter Audrey at Mockingbird Farm, where Audrey has joyfully grown up with many baby goats and chickens being rehabilitated in the farmhouse!

Mockingbird Farm is a vegan oriented sanctuary and forever home to 23 animals who have been rescued from a life of neglect, abandonment, surrender or abuse. In a perfect world, sanctuaries wouldn’t need to exist, but because they do, Mockingbird Farm sets out to compassionately integrate humans into the lives of rescued animals in order to heal their physical and emotional trauma.

Animal Rights as Transformation

Jonell will be speaking about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma for animal rights activists and advocates, how to care for yourself in a world that doesn’t [always] understand veganism, the most recently published literature in the field of human-animal interaction, real stories of mental health transformation (both human and non-human) through our relationships within species, and how you can make an impact.

Dr. Chris Hirschler


Chris Hirschler is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education at Monmouth University. Chris founded Plants for Peace at Monmouth University, directs faculty-led programs in Guatemala and Costa Rica, produces YouTube videos, blogs for One Green Planet, and he has been published in Society and Animals (2011), Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition (2014). Chris is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist, athlete, and frequent national and international conference presenter.

The Dimensions of Wellness:
Lessons from a 20-year vegan journey

Dr. Chris Hirschler, Associate professor and chair of Monmouth University’s Health and Physical Education department discusses the Six Dimensions of Wellness in the context of a 20-year personal and professional vegan journey.

Tim Kaufman



Tim Kaufman was diagnosed with  Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in his early twenties.  He was in chronic pain most of his life. By the time he had reached the age of 37 he was addicted to fentanyl, alcohol, and fast food. At over 400 pounds he was unable to perform simple daily tasks. He had many chronic health issues and was almost immobile. He had lost his interest in life and had almost given up. Tim started a journey to regain his health. He started to change one small thing at a time. He is now an athlete that thrives on a plant-based whole food lifestyle and leads a healthy, happy, productive, and very active life that is free of all medications he was once on. His passion is to spread the message that anyone can transition to a healthy, active lifestyle and dramatically change their life regardless of their current situation or size.

Tim has appeared on podcasts from around the world and has been filmed for upcoming movies. He has been featured in Runners World Magazine, Good Morning America, Today, People, The Buffalo Newspaper, and many other media outlets.

Tim uses his platform as an international speaker to educate, inform and motivate people about plant-based nutrition, fitness, addiction recovery, overcoming physical challenges, and emotional and spiritual wellness.

Find him at “Fat Man Rants” and Fat Man Foods

Finding the Road to Health and Wellness

Tim will be sharing his journey as he lost 200 pounds and gained his health back through a whole food plant-based lifestyle and the challenges he faced during the journey.

Kevin Lahey & Ben Le Roi

We are very excited to welcome Kevin Lahey and Ben Le Roi as speakers at Rochester VegFest.  In addition to their dedicated activism, they have a podcast – check it out!  They will be speaking about the excuses people have to not go vegan, and how to get involved.  In addition, they’ll have a table for people to stop by and learn about many ways to help animals.

Audio of their talk is now available – click here!


The Livegan PodcastThe Livegan Podcast is dedicated to learning from inspirational guests and discussing how to be a more effective activist within the growing animal rights movement. Kevin and Ben firmly believe every individual is capable of making a significant difference with their own unique skill set. Their guests originate from various backgrounds, professions, and possess different approaches, all with the same goal in mind; how to save as many animals as possible and create a vegan world.

Kevin LaheyKevin Lahey is an ex undercover investigator with Mercy For Animals And Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth. Collectively, he has more than 3 years of undercover investigative experience, including working in Korea’s dog meat industry and USA’s hog, dairy, and poultry industries. He was the 2016 recipient of the Mercy for Animals award and is working on an upcoming book. He has a Master’s in Philosophy focused on veganism. He resides in Toronto with his wife and daughter.

Ben Le RoiBen Le Roi is an animal rights activist from Southern Ontario’s farm country. He has participated in many forms of activism from vigils, marches, disruptions, cubes and various forms of outreach. He was the creator of the Scary Movie Challenge, which gained worldwide attention, and is one of the founders of Nation Rising, an initiative designed at pressuring the Canadian government to end the subsidizing of animal agriculture. He resides in Southern Ontario with his two daughters.

Speciesism Recap

Our Dinner and a Movie event Friday night was a huge success!  Fifty-five people came out for Greek spreads and bread dip (thanks for the donation, Voula!), Buddha Bowls from Red Fern, and cupcakes from Happy Cakes, followed by a showing of Speciesism: The Movie, and then a talk by its director Mark Devries.  Thank you to everyone who attended, everyone who bid in the silent auction, and to the item donors.  Thank you to Cam F. Awesome for MC-ing and Mark Devries for bringing his film and speaking.  We were glad other VegFest speakers Mike Stura, Kerry Graff, Ted Barnett, and Jo-Anne MacArthur could attend.

Thank you to Jack & Meg for donating two tickets. Thank you to organizers and everyone who helped out or brought stuff either to use, eat, or donate: Mary, Bubbie, Deb, Kim, Darren, Mike, Leanne, Robyn, Varun, Andy, Michael, Rosemary, and Ted. People helped in so many big and little ways I can’t possibly list everything everyone did.

Dr. Joshua Keeler

Come and hear Dr. Joshua Keeler speak at Rochester VegFest!  Dr. Keeler is a chiropractor who promotes a plant-based diet for optimal health.

Dr. Joshua Keeler is a board certified Doctor of Chiropractic, who graduated with honors from the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca, NY. He has also received additional certifications in Graston Technique and Myofascial Release.

As a result of his unique ability to rapidly diagnose, treat and eliminate acute and chronic pain conditions such as plantar fasciitis, TMJ and back pain, Dr. Keeler’s many patients have described him as a “miracle worker,” and a “superhero.”

Combining hands on treatment with practical education about body mechanics and plant-based eating, Dr. Keeler has helped his patients to shed years of pain, fatigue and frustration to feel the best they have in years.

Early in his career, Dr. Keeler spent two years working at the Cardiac Catherization Lab at the University of Rochester, where he witnessed, firsthand, the devastating impact of the typical American diet on the human heart. This experience inspired him to deeply study the science behind nutrition and its role in creating chronic illness and disease.

Dr. Keeler has become a passionate educator on the benefits of a whole-food plant-based lifestyle. His expertise, contagious enthusiasm and ability to impart scientific knowledge in a down-to-earth fashion have made him increasingly in-demand as a speaker in the medical community, on college campuses and in the general public.