The 5th Annual Conscious Eating Conference

The 5th Annual Conscious Eating Conference was held Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California. The David Brower Center is a beautiful facility with a Platinum LEED rating that houses numerous non-profit and social enterprises, a conference center that serves the “green event” industry, and yearly hosts 25-30 museum-quality exhibitions focusing on environmental issues.

The David Brower Center


5th Annual Conscious Eating Conference

The program promised an interesting day, vegan food, and a chance to talk to represenatives from activist groups as well as make new friends. I registered, got my hand stamp, picked up my program, and enjoyed the vegan pastries and coffee (with almond milk).



hand stamp 2
Paw print stamp and my Liberation band, a fork transformed into a symbol of non-violence.

Time to get started. We all headed to the Goldman Theater.


Hope Bohanec: The Humane Hoax

Hope Bohanec is the author of the book The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat? and Projects Manager for conference host United Poultry Concerns.

United Poultry Concerns

Hopes book

There is no way to raise and slaughter animals for meat in a humane way.There are inherent cruelties in any animal farming for profit, and deceptive labeling practices to sell the practices to consumers.

I was surprised to learn that dairy is the number one commodity in California. That California Happy Cows campaign? The dairy industry is every bit as cruel as the meat industry.



Edita Birnkrant: Free-Range Ranching and Animal Agriculture’s Devastating Impact on the Environment & Wildlife

Edita Birnkrant is Campaigns Director of Friends of Animals, an international non-profit animal advocacy organization.

Friends of Animals

Edita 2
Edita Birnkrant
Edita 3
A plant-based diet is the only way to sustainably feed the world’s human population.

Did you know that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has designated 2016 as the Year of Pulses? Pulses are lentils, peas and beans.

International Year of Pulses

Pulses are highly nutritious, contribute to food security, foster sustainable agriculture, promote biodiversity, and are delicious!

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 12.07.37 AM

Check out some recipes.

Pulse Recipes

Robert C. Jones, Ph.D.: How Not To Be Vegan

Philosophy professor Dr. Jones speaks on animal ethics and is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Museum of Animals and Society, a place on my must-visit list.

National Museum of Animals and Society

His book New Critical Perspectives on Veganism will be out later this year.

Dr. Jones is not suggesting we not be vegan (he’s been vegan since reading John Robbins’ Diet for a New America in 1987), he is advocating for revisionary political veganism that is aspirational, inclusive, and intersectional. Veganism is something you work at, something in your head that manifests in your behavior.

Robert 3

Robert 6.jpg

Michael Bedar, Christopher Locke, and Ruby Roth: Fiction and Children’s Author Panel

writers 3
Hope Bohanec introduces writers Ruby Roth, Christopher Locke, and Michael Bedar.

Ruby Roth is a leading author and illustrator of vegan and vegetarian books for children.

Her approach to vegan activism is to start with what you are good at, get better at it, and use that to make a difference.


Ruby 7
Using what you are good at as a platform for vegan activism.

Christopher Locke writes animal rights fiction. His series The Enlightenment Adventures starts with Persimmon Takes on Humanity, which I can’t wait to sit down and dive into.

Christopher Locke

Christopher 1.jpg

The keys to animal rights fiction:

  • Changing the world through imagination
  • Characters that care about and take on issues
  • Page-turning adventure
  • Must care about the pictures
  • Accurate depiction of what animals go through

I’m already in love with Persimmon!


Michael Bedar is co-director of the East Bay Healing Collective. His new novel, Sweet Healing, is ultimately about the meaning of wellness and healing as it chronicles one character’s exploration into holistic approaches to diabetes.

Michael 1

Sweet Healing


Vegan lunch and time to visit the various animal organizations’ tables. It was also a chance to explore the Brower Center.

lunch line
Lining up for lunch.
Basic but hearty.
(Vegan) cake makes everything better!

Up the stairs at the Brower Center is a lovely outdoor patio.

ceiling sculpture
Looking down on my way up and out to the patio.
The view from the upstairs patio.

pattrice jones: Mad Cows, Queer Ducks, and Unconvetional Sheep: What I’ve Learned About Intersectionality from Animals at VINE Sanctuary

VINE (Vegan is the Next Evolution) Sanctuary welcomes and facilitates alliances among animal, environmental, and social justice advocates and makes connections between animal exploitation and other forms of  oppression.

VINE Sanctuary

pattrice 1
pattrice jones inspires the audience to a standing ovation speaking on the intersection of sexism, racism, and speciesism.

Donny Moss: Our Virtual World: Impacting Videos to Help Animals

Grassroots activist Moss made the critically acclaimed 2008 documentary Blinders about the horse-drawn carriage trade in New York. He has since created, an online animal rights magazine, and is a leader in the efforts to get the New York Blood Center to take responsibility for the chimps that experimented on and then abandoned in Liberia.

Their Turn

Donny 4

Donny 7

Grassroots activism:

  • Pick approach that works for you
  • Don’t criticize other approaches; each approach has its pros and cons
  • Exit your comfort zone
  • Take ownership

Karen Davis, Ph.D.: My Personal Path and Rocky Road to Thinking Like a Chicken

Dr. Davis is the founder of United Poultry Concerns and one of the eloquent speakers from last year’s conference who inspired me to enroll in my doctoral program of humane education. As she says, go out and inspire and educate others as you have been inspired and educated. I’m taking those words to heart.

Karen 5

Dr. Davis also speaks of  “trying to climb inside the skins of the animals we are speaking for”. Among the beautiful chickens she has known personally are Viva, Gabby and Felix.

Instead of “go vegan”, she suggests the phrase “go animal-free” as it brings in the animals and liberation. Being vegan is not about food, it’s about making a better earth.

Karen 8

We ended the day with many of the speakers returning for a question and answer session.

panel 2

And of course, I couldn’t leave without buying a couple of books.


Thank you to UPC for hosting, all of the wonderful and thought-provoking speakers, the vegan food providers (those pastries were the best), and the David Brower Center. I hope to attend again next year! And now I have a date with Persimmon and her friends.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s