Speaker & Panel Room



You can see our 2017 speakers below and our 2017 Panelists HERE.

If you are interested in speaking or participating in a panel for our 2018 event, please email Sandi Swiss at chicagoveganmania@gmail.com.

Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

Main Speaker Stage Schedule


10:30 | Yoga With Gopi OM (Nicole Sopko)

Yoga as You Are

Being part of a group of like minded people is powerful! Join Gopi Om (Nicole Sopko) for a short morning yoga session to move your body, notice your breath, and start your day on the right foot. No special clothing or materials are needed for this class and we will work standing up or seated in a chair throughout. This class will introduce yoga postures, breathing, and mantra all available to you just as you are now.

11:00 | Nicole Sopko

Yoga and Veganism

Yoga is so much more than the postures with which many of us have become familiar. The teachings of yoga include profound and proven techniques for approaching life and it’s many complexities. Join Gopi Om (Nicole Sopko) for this workshop illuminating the ways in which yogic philosophy encourages and supports the ethics of a vegan diet. In this talk, we’ll discuss the foundational principals of traditional yoga and how veganism fits right in. If you have no experience of yogic philosophy, this talk will be a wonderful introduction to the true depth of yoga. For those with experience in the philosophical teachings of yoga, this talk will illuminate the deep connections between yoga and the practice of veganism.


12:00 | JL Fields

Keepin' in Real: Five Easy Ways to Eat Vegan

1:00 | Marla Rose

Five Simple, Powerful Strategies for Thriving as a Vegan

2:00Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

Black, Mama, Scholar: On Motherhood, Black Feminism, and the Vegan Foodscape in 'PostRacial USA (Before and During and Era of Trump)


The Impact and Influence of Historical Racial & Ethnic Bias on US Dietary Guidelines and Government Food Support Programs

4:00Anita Krajnc

Bearing Witness to Animals

About Our Speakers

 Nicole Sopko   Nature Yoga Sanctuary

Gopi Om (Nicole Sopko) first discovered yoga by chance and was instantly intrigued. She attended her first teacher training with the sole intention of learning more about the practice, but discovered the teachings of yoga to be so transformational that she couldn't keep them to herself and began teaching in 2005. Shortly after, her practice grew immensely due to the discovery and subsequent influence of her beloved Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra, who gave her the name Gopi.

Gopi has completed the advanced level (500 hour & 800 hour) Life of a Yogi teacher trainings at the Dharma Yoga Center in New York with Sri Dharma. She feels blessed to have received and to carry on his teachings. She strives to live every moment as an offering to the divine and to pass on the teachings of yoga as they have been generously shared with her. She is a vegan of nearly 20 years who knows that veganism was her first yogic practice in embracing compassion for all beings. A believer in the power of yoga as a lifestyle, Gopi feels that a playful yoga practice enables a person to approach the more mundane aspects of life with a lighter heart and a more accepting attitude. Her yogic journey has played a big role in her life and she feels lucky to have the opportunity to share that journey with others.

Gopi is the owner/director of Nature Sanctuary in Chicago and Yoga Trek Center in Oak Park, IL. Additionally, she works alongside her life partner, Dan, in the operation of his natural foods company, Upton's Naturals, and vegan cafe, Upton's Breakroom.

JL Fields is the founder and culinary director of the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy. She is a Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator, Food for Life instructor, chef instructor in the culinary program at the University of New Mexico-Taos, personal chef, career coach, and a corporate consultant offering wellness training, brand representation, and strategic planning services.

JL is the author of the revised and updated Vegan Pressure Cooking: More Than 100 Delicious Grain, Bean, and One-Pot Meals Using a Traditional or Electric Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot® (Fair Winds Press, January 2018), The Vegan Air Fryer: The Healthier Way to Enjoy Deep-Fried Flavors (Vegan Heritage Press, June 2017), and Vegan Pressure Cooking: Delicious Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes (Fair Winds Press, January 2015), co-author of The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook: Over 100 Plant-Sourced Recipes Plus Practical Tips for the Healthiest, Most Compassionate You (Ben Bella, December 2017) and Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet (Da Capo Lifelong Books, July 2013) and co-creator of The 3-Month Real World Vegan Meal Plan. She produces and hosts the weekly radio program Easy Vegan and writes the monthly vegan dining review for the Colorado Springs Gazette.

 Marla Rose   Vegan Street

Marla Rose

Vegan Street

Marla Rose is an award-nominated journalist, columnist and author as well as the co-founder of Chicago VeganMania. Since 1995, Marla has dedicated her life to building vegan culture and community. Besides writing most of the content and managing social media for Vegan Street, she is the co-founder of Vegan Street Media, which produces marketing, design, social media and communications for progressive businesses and organizations. In 1999, she was the founding chairperson of EarthSave Chicago and produced five day-long conferences called the Conference for Conscious Living, which ultimately evolved into Chicago VeganMania. In 2007, she launched a blog, Vegan Feminist Agitator, and has since published hundreds of essays and interviews with vegan leaders, activists and culture builders. Marla and her partner, John Beske, were honored as Mercy for Animals’ Activists of the Year in 2009. 

 A. Breeze Harper   Sistah Vegan

A. Breeze Harper

Sistah Vegan

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a diversity strategist and analyst with Critical Diversity Solutions and the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project.Dr. Harper has a PhD in Social Science with emphasis on leveraging diversity challenges for social impact. She holds a MA in Educational Technologies (emphasis in black feminist theory, social impact, and educational technologies) from Harvard University, where she received the Dean’s Award for her masters thesis work. She earned her BA in feminist geography from Dartmouth College and received the Innovative Thesis award for her work on heterosexism in rural geographies. She has 10+ years career experience as a diversity and inclusion consultant, ranging from curriculum development, to conference planning, to research and reporting, to publishing books and articles. Harper is also an accomplished writer.

Dr. Harper created and edited the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society. Her most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

In 2016, Dr. Harper’s latest book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the 'Post-Racial' Ethical Foodscape will be released. You can learn more about her professional work at www.criticaldiversitysolutions.com and her publications atwww.abreezeharper.com 

 MILTON MILLS, MD  Associate Director of Preventive Medicine,  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


Associate Director of Preventive Medicine, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Milton R. Mills, M.D., serves as Associate Director of Preventive Medicine for the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a North American group
of doctors and laypersons dedicated to promoting improved health care, better
and more appropriate nutrition, and higher standards in medical research.
Dr. Mills practices outpatient clinic-based medicine in Northern Virginia and works
as a Critical Care physician with Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia and United
Medical Center in Washington DC. His varied experience specializing in Internal
Medicine and HIV disease, and in the relationship between nutrition and chronic
diseases has made him extensively knowledgeable about the unique healthcare
needs of minorities, the challenges of practicing medicine in inner cities, and the
special medical and nutritional requirements of HIV+ and AIDS patients.
As an African-American physician focusing on preventive medicine, Dr. Mills has
delved into some of the environmental and societal influences affecting the health
of African Americans and other racial/ethnic minorities. Dr. Mills has lectured and
given research seminars across the United States and in Mexico and Canada on
such topics as the negative impacts of meat and dairy consumption on human
health; nutrition and HIV/AIDS; nutrition and cancer; and the dietary needs of
various ethnic groups.
Dr. Mills, who graduated in 1991 from Stanford University School of Medicine,
began working with AIDS patients while still in school. He also served as student
body president of the medical school, founded the Minority Students' Alliance,
and worked as Editor-in-chief and Managing editor of the Stanford Medical School
newspaper. He did his internship at the University of California-San Francisco, and
completed his residency training at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington,
Dr. Mills' papers on race and diet have appeared in the Journal of the National
Medical Association.

 Anita Krajnc   Toronto Pig Save

Anita Krajnc

Toronto Pig Save

Anita Krajnc is co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, which was started in 2010. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Her  was based on the role of scientific knowledge and public education in building international environmental regimes. Krajnc has been Assistant Professor at Queen's University. She has also been a media democracy activist and a writer. She was an aide to Charles Caccia, former Minister of Environment.

She had been charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs in a slaughter truck on the way to Fearman's Pork Inc. slaughterhouse, located in Burlington, Greater Toronto Area on June 22, 2015. She was later found not guilty of criminal mischief on May 4, 2017, judging that a crime had not occurred because simply giving water to the pigs did not constitute interference "with the operation, enjoyment or use of" the pigs by their owners as argued by the Crown.