Conference Synopsis: Our 2020 Conscious Eating Conference brings expert speakers from across the country to Berkeley, California to share their ideas and experiences. This year we explore overlapping oppressions with these questions: How is speciesism entangled with other forms of oppression? How do different forms of oppression prop each other up? What is the best way for us to represent veganism and animal advocacy that recognizes multiple, overlapping oppressions? How do we create supportive alliances?
Please join us for this exciting day that includes the Animal Rights Herstory Paneldetailing the struggle for animals and animal rights since the 1980s.
Conscious Eating Conference Schedule of Speakers
Saturday, February 29, 2020, Berkeley, California
Bios and Presentations of 2020 Speakers
In “Comparing Atrocities: Pros, Cons and Paradoxes,” Karen Davis argues that parallels can be drawn between incommensurable atrocities affecting both human and nonhuman animals, but that we need to be selective in our use of parallels. She further argues that while every experience is incommensurable, each unique experience paradoxically expresses the larger fabric of life to which no single individual or group can lay claim as the sole proprietor. While African-American enslavement, the Native American genocide and the Holocaust represent unique historical phenomena for example, they can also transcend these phenomena to function more broadly and thus hold promise for a more enlightened and compassionate future.
Karen Davis, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. Inducted into the National Animal Rights Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Liberation, Karen is the author of numerous books, essays, articles and campaigns. Her books include A Home for Henny; Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless ‘Poultry’ Potpourri; Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry; More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality; and The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities. Karen’s latest book is For the Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation – Essays on Chickens, Turkeys, and Other Domesticated Fowl.
The resurgence of white nationalism in the 21st century has been observed in many ways, but few have documented how it shapes our relationships with other animals. In this lecture, Christopher Sebastian will provide key examples of how the alt-right uses animal exploitation as a calling card, the manifestation of gastro-nationalism, and why solidarity with other animals is necessary to collectively resist discrimination and bigotry against all persons irrespective of species membership.
Christopher Sebastian McJetters is the director of social media for Peace Advocacy Network, he sits on the Advisory Council for Encompass, he is senior editor at Vine Sanctuary Press, he is co-founder of VGN, and he lectures at Columbia University in the Department of Social Work for the graduate course POP: Power, Oppression, and Privilege. He primarily focuses on animal violence and how it influences anti-black racism, queer antagonism and class discrimination throughout the global west. His work has appeared in the anthology Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice edited by Dr. Will Tuttle, and in Dr. Breeze Harper’s Sistah Vegan Project, among others.
lauren Ornelas is Food Empowerment Project’s founder and serves as the group’s executive director. lauren has been active in the animal rights movement for more than 30 years. She is the former executive director of Viva!USA, a national nonprofit vegan advocacy organization that Viva!UK asked her to start in 1999. While lauren was the director of Viva!USA, she investigated factory farms and ran consumer campaigns. In cooperation with activists across the country, she persuaded Trader Joe’s to stop selling all duck meat and achieved corporate changes within Whole Foods Market, Pier 1 Imports, and others, and she helped halt the construction of an industrial dairy operation in California. lauren was also the spark that got the founder of Whole Foods Market to become a vegan. In addition, she served as campaign director with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition for six years. Watch lauren’s TEDx talk, The Power of Our Food Choices.
Multi-oppression analysis has been available for at least 40 years; but as the animal rights and vegan movements promoted the voices of white men, those analyses were silenced. Recent studies have shown that whites take up more climate space than people of color, but whites in the vegan movement also take up more theoretical and conversational space. Trying to be an antiracist vegan feminist involves decentering whiteness in theory and practice. This is important because we cannot untangle attitudes towards the other animals from white supremacist beliefs and misogyny. White male supremacy and settler colonialism constructed perceptions about land, people of color, gender, and the other animals, while valorizing forms of animal protein (including dairy and eggs) over plant protein. For whites, decentering whiteness requires being aware of our own white privilege and how the animal rights and vegan movements often maintained white privilege rather than disturbing it.
Carol J. Adams is a feminist-vegan advocate, activist, and independent scholar and the author of numerous books including The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. Carol is also the author of books on living as a vegan, including Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Vegan Diet (with Patti Breitman); Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian’s Survival Guide; and How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even if You Never Want to Be One. She is the author of the training manual, Pastoral Care for Domestic Violence: Case Studies for Clergy - for Christian Audiences - Training Manual. She has a Masters of Divinity from Yale University.
Growing up in inner-city Washington DC at a time when drugs, poverty, and the prison system were consuming black lives, Jasmine C. Leyva was not in a landscape that fostered animal rights as a priority. In fact, she was introduced to animal rights from an adversarial space— these white people care more about animal lives than black lives. And to reinforce that idea, she only saw white people associated with the movement. Ironically, she moved to Los Angeles, transitioned to veganism and directed The Invisible Vegan, a documentary that champions animal rights. Jasmine will share how she reconciled her past beliefs and went from adversary to advocate.
Jasmine Leyva is a filmmaker, an actress, and the creator of the film The Invisible Vegan. The Invisible Vegan is a 90-minute independent documentary that explores the problem of unhealthy dietary patterns in the African-American community, bringing to light the health and wellness possibilities enabled by plant-based vegan diets and lifestyle choices. The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old black actress and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Over the past seven years, Leyva has committed herself to veganism, both in lifestyle and research. This documentary offers both historical and contemporary perspectives on the dietary trends among African-Americans, showing how intertwined histories of slavery, twentieth-century socioeconomic inequalities, and the rise of Big Food have led to the increased consumption of and dependence on meat and processed junk, and fast food.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen is a queer black trans vegan activist, blogger, and photographer. Pax is agender and goes by the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their. Pax has volunteered for food justice organizations, preparing and distributing vegan-friendly food to the needy. They believe that free access to healthy plant-based food should be a universal human right. Their approach to animal rights activism is based on the standpoint that animals are people, not property, and that veganism is a social justice issue, not a diet. Pax manages the Black Vegans Rock Instagram page. Pax blogs at the funcrunch files about gender and social justice issues. They volunteer as an editor for Wikipedia and are on the Board of Directors of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco.
Patti Breitman is a cofounder of Dharma Voices for Animals and the director of The Marin Vegetarian Education Group. She is also on the advisory council of JewishVeg. She is the co-author of numerous books including How To Eat Like A Vegetarian (Even If You Never Want to Be One); Never Too Late to Go Vegan; and Even Vegans Die (with a foreword by Dr. Michael Greger). In 2016 Patti was honored to receive the Lisa Shapiro Award for Unsung Vegan Heroes.