top of page

Jenny Brown

​Mainstage Speaker:
"More Than MEATS the Eye"

Jenny Brown is a nationally renowned animal rights advocate, author, and farmed animal sanctuary founder who previously worked in film and television. An experience in Texas documenting stockyard conditions undercover led her to change course and dedicate her life to farmed animal advocacy. Jenny’s story has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, CNN, The Diane Rehm Show and more. She is the author of The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals. 
(Learn more at

Watch Jenny Brown VegFest 2019 presentation HERE

H.S. Udaykumar, PhD

Mainstage Speaker: "A Plant-Based Diet Is Crucial to the Future of All Life on Our Planet"

Udaykumar (Uday) is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa. His expertise is in the field of Energy and Computer Modeling of Flows and Energy Processes. He has studied and taught on issues related to Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability in the US and abroad for more than a decade. He has also worked on energy sustainability and environmental problems in rural India.

​Based on his experiences in India and his studies of climate change, Uday adopted a plant-based diet about 10 years ago. This came from realizing the connection between our diets and climate change, but he now views veganism as a means to solve many other connected problems, including health, social and environmental justice, food security and the future of the biosphere. His talk will seek to connect the dots between climate, energy, food and planetary survival.

Watch H.S. Udaykumar VegFest presentation  HERE


Dr. Sharon Collins

Mainstage Speaker: "It Is Time"

Dr. Collins is a plant-based physician from Cedar Rapids. She has been practicing functional and integrative medicine for over 35 years, including for pediatric patients.

Dr. Collins determined to stop eating meat when she was 14 years of age. However, because of pushback from her parents, she was unable to do so until she graduated from high school. The personal research she did solidified in her the fact that she was on the right track, and when she was ready for college, she was sure she would only build on what she already knew once she got into medical school. However, what she encountered was opposition to any discussion about diet and lifestyle. She was told by several of the professors that diet had very little to do with disease, and that disease had more to do with genetics and the consequences of pathologic microorganisms.

In her frustration, and to prove her professors wrong, she also enrolled in the Masters of Nutrition program at the College of Human Nutrition while she was in her second year of medical school. She learned a lot during her year in this program, and she continued to use and recommend food as a part of healing and health. After graduating from medical school, she began work as an MD in pediatrics. Dr. Collins chose pediatrics because she felt she had a better chance of impacting the immediate and future health of her patients. 
Dr. Collins has been a health consultant for both adults and children since 2014, when she left her pediatric practice. She is appalled by the state of the health of many adults, but she is not surprised based on their lifestyles. Dr. Collins believes that if we want to promote health and reverse disease, we must make evidenced-based nutritional decisions. She challenges patients to live more purposefully disciplined lives in order to avoid the pitfalls that occur when people live without restraint and without intention. 

Watch Dr. Collins VegFest presentation HERE

Preston Moore


​VegFest 2019 Emcee

Preston has served as the Iowa State Director for the Humane Society of the United States since May 2018. Since then, he has worked alongside advocates to pass (or stop) dozens of local ordinances, state laws, and federal laws to help make the world a better place for animals.

Before joining HSUS, he worked for a regional humane society where he established and grew many programs that assisted thousands of animals. He also helped lead the organization through the largest animal neglect seizure in Iowa's history. 

To learn more about HSUS’ work in Iowa, or to get involved, visit or their state Facebook page at


Nikki & Jeff Grim


​​Cooking Demo: Vegan Dips from Scratch

Through separate but connected plant-based journeys, Nikki and Jeff Grim have grown together through their commitment to veganism. With continuing research, this commitment is expanding to include all aspects of their lives, including Nikki’s shop, Atomic Salon, which is Eastern Iowa’s only vegan hair salon. Both the Grims volunteer at Iowa Farm Sanctuary, a safe haven for rescued farm animals, they have a soft spot for all animals. Nikki and Jeff have many of their own rescues. In addition, Nikki is a local yoga therapist who offers in depth knowledge about plant-based living and movement. 

As self-proclaimed foodies, the Grims spend their free time teaching vegan cooking classes and catering small, local events. They really enjoy sharing their love of plants with others! Follow their food blog, Veggie Reaper

One day this duo will have a food shop of their own to pursue all their passions and continue spreading the vegan vibes. Their mission is to show everyone that plant based foods are anything but boring. 

Carolyn Howe


Cooking Demo: Fast and Easy Vegan Cooking

Although Carolyn has no formal culinary training, she loves experimenting in the kitchen and cooking vegan dishes for friends and family. She is a popular chef at Vegan Community of Eastern Iowa plantluck events, and is happy to share her experience and tasty recipes in an effort help others pursue a happy, healthy, cruelty-free lifestyle. 

Carolyn's family became vegan over eight years ago. Once they started, they never second guessed their decision. Carolyn and her husband Bob live on 28 acres, where they have a large garden and grow their own organic produce. Along with their two daughters who live nearby, Carolyn and Bob enjoy educating themselves and staying current with the latest research on vegan living.

Some of Carolyn's recipes are available HERE. She'll be cooking up some brand new recipes this year, so don't miss out!


Beth Pelton


Breakout Session:
"But Where Do You Get Your Protein?"

Beth Pelton is a Certified Health Education Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, 1st Degree Nia Black Belt Instructor, Ageless Grace Educator, and is a graduate of the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. 

An associate professor emeritus in health promotion and dental hygiene at the University of Iowa, Beth is the owner and an instructor of Body Moves Fitness and Wellness Center in Coralville, a studio dedicated to providing functional fitness programs and educational classes that enhance the dimensions of health for adults, especially adults ages 50 and better.

Visit Beth's table in the Vegan Marketplace during VegFest to chat and learn more about Body Moves Fitness and Wellness Center!

Joy Wilde

Breakout Session:
"Effective Animal Activism in Iowa"

Joy Wilde was born and raised in Iowa, and has loved spending time with other animals all her life. She volunteered at an equestrian center as a kid, mucking stalls in exchange for time with the horses. In her early 20's, Joy was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a rare stomach disease. Eliminating animal flesh from her diet improved her quality of life more than any prescription medication could. In 2015, Joy met her husband, Ace, who educated her on the horrors of the dairy and egg industries. Together they became activists. Joy has now been vegan for nearly 5 years.

Joy and Ace are board members at Iowa Farm Sanctuary, and are part of the team that founded the nonprofit in 2016. Joy is also an organizer for Des Moines Animal Save and 7-to-1. She leads activism workshops and spends most of her time giving educational presentations all over the state of Iowa.


Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors!

VegFest of Eastern Iowa is an event by the Vegan Community of Eastern Iowa, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

bottom of page