The Speakers Bureau provides a database of VN DPG members who have expert speaking experience on plant-based nutrition issues on a wide range of topics listed below. To view topic descriptions and objectives, hover over the topic.

Available Speakers


Ryan Andrews, MA, MS, RD



Ryan D. Andrews (ryandandrews.com) completed his education and training at the University of Northern Colorado, Kent State University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Columbia University. He teaches at Purchase College, is a reviewer for Insider, is an adviser with Precision Nutrition, and recently wrote Swole Planet: Building a Better Body and a Better Earth. You might have seen him in Time, Parade, Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Health, Greatist, Buzzfeed, or The Beet. Ryan has over 1000 hours of experience volunteering on farms and with food recovery organizations. And he has taught over 300 hours of trauma-informed yoga at Silver Hill Hospital. Ryan currently resides in Massachusetts.

  • Eating to Prevent the Apocalypse


  • Describe the current environmental burdens we face related to greenhouse gas emissions, water resources, and land degradation.
  • Identify how livestock production, wasted food, and agricultural practices can influence the environment.
  • Recommend at least three dietary adjustments that have a positive influence on a sustainable planet.


Linda Arpino, MA, RDN, CDN, FAND


Linda Arpino’s tag line is “Sustainable Nutrition for You and Your Planet.” She is a registered dietitian and holds two Fellow: Leadership of Neurological Disorders and in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Linda Arpino is CEO and Founder of her private practice. Life Focus Nutrition, LLC with offices in New York and Connecticut. Her focus in practice is plant-based nutrition for chronic disease prevention. Her practice includes diverse culinary eating patterns. She served on EAL work groups and was a contributing author and presenter at FNCE on “Health Nutrition Guidelines for Children” and Pediatric Overweight Guidelines.”
Linda is an accomplished international speaker and frequently sort to speak at AND affiliate meetings nationwide. She is currently President Elect of the Connecticut AND and Delegate of the VNDPG for the past six years. Linda received her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Nutrition at Syracuse University and Masters in Nutrition Education at New York University.
As a savvy author throughout her career she has numerous publications including contributing author in a published medical text: “Digestive Gastroesophageal and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease,” by Craig Zalvin, MD and her chapter entitled: Reflux Cure Transitioning to a Plant Based Diet from SAD: Standard American Diet and contributing author of “Clinical and Cost Benefit of Medical Nutrition Therapy by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for Management of Dyslipidemia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” published in Journal of Clinical Lipidology. She mastered her first publication at The International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. Her first plant based culinary book has over 300 recipes entitled, “Eat Fit, Be Fit: Health and Weight Management Solutions” Another publication is “Recipes for Health: Cooking Curriculum for Young High Functioning Adults with Autism.” She serves on ANDs School Vegetarian Lunch project and lead author in creating vegetarian menus for ANDs nutrition care manual.
Ms. Arpino is quoted multiple publications in media, journals and an invited guest on television and radio programs.
Linda Arpino speaks on evidence-based nutrition topics and below is a example of popular topics available or create a request:

  • Plant based Diet for Chronic Disease Prevention


  • Basic nutrition principles for chronic disease prevention and how our food choices can impact our health.
  • Nutrients and benefits of fiber in plant-based foods.
  • Ways to create lifestyle changes to improve long term health.
  • Harness Your Brain Power Through a Plant-Based Diet


  • What nutrients to assess starting at birth and through the lifecycle that impact brain health.
  • Identify medical conditions that impact the brain.
  • Learn how to create nutrition education materials to sustain the brains vitality and be culturally sensitive.
  • Streamlining Nutrition Resources to Focus on Plant Based Meals for Diverse Cultures
  • Benefits of Plant based Nutrition for Health, the Planet and Budget


  • Review key factors driving food insecurity and dynamics to foster change.
  • Discuss evidence of plant-based diets in weight management, diabetes, and dyslipidemias.
  • Learn how to create nutrition resources to enable nutrient dense affordable meals for chronic disease prevention.
  • Building Sustainable Food Systems for You and Your Planet


  • Identify definition and justification of sustainable food systems.
  • Cite key factors for global warming in food systems.
  • List innovative changes now and in the future and how that could impact 2050.
  • Plant based Nutrition in Pediatric Weight Management for Diverse Cultures.


Sherene Chou, MS, RD

Instagram - @eatsustainablefoods
Web - sherenechou.com

Sherene is an award-winning dietitian and chef focused on sustainable food and plant-based nutrition. She served as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit focused on serving low-income seniors, empowering former foster youth, formerly incarcerated, and formerly homeless individuals. As a USC Trojan, she was excited to co-create USC Keck Medical School’s first nutrition selective for med students, the Culinary Medicine Selective. In 2017, she received the Excellence in Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Leadership Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and in 2018, she was recognized by USC Keck Medical School for Outstanding Teaching Contributions.

Currently, she works as a consultant focused on building sustainable nutrition initiatives with plant-based brands, co-developed the first Certificate of Training on Sustainable Food Systems for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, teaches at California State University, Los Angeles and USC Keck School of Medicine. Sherene serves on two boards as the Chair Elect for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vegetarian Practice Group and as the Nutrition Advisor for the Plant Based Foods Association. Sherene has a M.S. in Nutrition from California State University, Los Angeles, B.S. in Public Policy and Business Law from USC, and Chef’s Training from the Natural Gourmet Institute.

  • Racial Equity and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Food Security and Building a Sustainable Food System
  • Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Plant-Based Foods


Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT


Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, The Plant-Based Dietitian, has a BA in Theatre and MS in Nutrition, bridging her biggest passions for food, presenting, and helping people. She has authored five books, including The Healthspan SolutionPlant-Based Nutrition (Idiots Guide) 2E, and The Vegetarian Diet, and two peer-reviewed journal articles on plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals, one for the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology and the other for the Permanente Journal. She was the host of What Would Julieanna Do?, TEDx talk presenter, co-host of the Science and Saucery Podcast, Facebook Watch’s Home Sweat Home, and instructor for the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program. She’s appeared on HarryThe Dr. Oz Show, and The Steve Harvey Show. Julieanna is a Registered Dietitian, and she counsels clients, speaks around the world, and shares a plant-based diet message of health and happiness.

  • Food is Medicine: Simple Steps to Fill Your Plate with Delicious Food


A whole food, plant-based diet has been associated with myriad, significant health advantages. But transitioning to this new way of life may be overwhelming initially, as you learn this new language and your habits are being formed. From shopping to meal planning and stocking your kitchen to supplement needs, Julieanna will dive deep into practical solutions to make eating delicious, nutritious plants effortless. This lecture covers how to get the most of what a plant palate proffers.

  • Mediterranean Diet: Lessons From A Plant-Based Dietitian


The Mediterranean diet has been considered the gold standard dietary pattern for decades, and with good reason: it has been linked with lowered risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. In this talk, Julieanna demonstrates why olive oil, fish, and red wine are not the secret to health and longevity, but, rather, that by focusing on whole-plant foods that promote long-term wellness and ideal weight management, you can reap the benefits of the most researched and beloved diet—made even healthier.

  • Let the Myths Stop Here


Despite major technological advances in health and medicine, nutrition remains one of the most misinterpreted and confusing sciences of our generation. From carbs and protein to metabolism and weight loss, clashing opinions and mayhem in the media have resulted in mass misunderstanding of this most crucial, life-altering information. In this lecture, Julieanna will demystify some of the most pervasive myths and clarify just how simple nutrition really is.

  • Veganism: How to Turn the Hottest, Most Important Trend Into A Long-Term Lifestyle


With an exploding marketplace, booming consumer demand, and increasing accessibility, veganism has reached an unprecedented crescendo. This presentation celebrates the successes of the vegan movement, point out the potential pitfalls of the modern vegan diet, and offer a comprehensive, simple plan to optimize nutrition for the healthiest long-term lifestyle.

  • Corporate Wellness, Optimal Nutrition For Real Life


Life is busy, filled with schedules, work, family, friends, and more. Where does health fit in? In order to maximize productivity without compromising your most important asset – your health – it is crucial to consider some basic tenets for wellness. In this workplace seminar, we will tackle confusing health myths, taboos, and secrets; deep dive into the importance of nutrition and diet; and touch on other key lifestyle factors, such as exercise, sleep, and mindful living, that influence long-term health. With simple scientific background information, practical tips for applications, and an interactive, fun discussion, participants will leave feeling empowered and eager to implement easy, but significant lifestyle changes.


Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO


Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, CSO is a nationally recognized media Registered Dietitian. A nutrition and health writer, she owns Seattle-based concierge nutrition practice, Champagne Nutrition® LLC where she helps clients optimize their health and wellness with an integrative approach. She specializes in vegetarian and plant-based diets, ketogenic diets, integrative/holistic nutrition, oncology nutrition, supplements, alcohol and health, nutrition for physical activity and nutrigenomics. Ginger also enjoys talking to dietitians about professional development, improved communication, and social media strategy.

Ginger has spoken around the country as well as internationally to large audiences. She enjoys bringing energy, humor and storytelling to her presentations, creating an interactive and engaging experience for the audience. Deeply evidence-based, she is able to speak to audiences with varied backgrounds, bringing people together through open-mindedness and inclusion.

Ginger serves as adjunct clinical faculty at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health teaching master’s level nutrition students. She is the Director of Communications for the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She holds degrees from the University of Washington and Bastyr University.

Find her on Instagram and Facebook @champagnenutrition and Twitter @gingerhultinrd

  • Hot Trends in Plant-based Nutrition
  • Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet: Eating Less Meat
  • How to Adapting Your Favorite Recipes to be Vegetarian or Vegan
  • Plant-based diets and Cancer: How Dietary Change Can Help


Suzanne Ickes, RDN, LDN


My expertise is the ability to help people understand complex nutritional concepts and then empower them to improve the quality of their life. I have worked in nursing homes, hospitals, health bureau, private practice, worksite wellness, research and development, dialysis centers, food services, and behavior health centers. I study both western and eastern nutrition. I have worked with thousands of people and have presented hundreds of lectures and cooking demos. People enjoy my presentations because I have the background and desire to present information in an engaging and fun manner.

I currently work for Sodexo as a clinical dietitian with in-patient services for the Lehigh Valley Hospital Network in Pennsylvania. Because of my previous experiences, I am frequently called upon for public speaking and television interviews, and I have recently been asked to expand/transition my role at the hospital to include sustainability and wellness.

I authored the book “The Soluble Fiber Solution”. This book is based on information I gathered during my private practice. Clients where able to lower their LDL cholesterol as much as 60 points in 6 weeks by altering their saturated fat and soluble fiber intake. Visit me at LinkedIn.

  • Cholesterol reduction is easier with a plant-forward diet.
  • 5 minute meals - Vegetarian, delightful, and no microwave - no kidding!
  • How to eat to best handle stress - Learn how what you eat effects your hormones.
  • How to plan plant-based meals that are balanced and keep you from feeling hungry.

Want a different topic? Contact me to discuss possibilities.


Meghan Jardine, MS, MBA, RDN, LD, CDCES


Meghan Jardine, MS, MBA, RDN, LD, CDE, is the associate director of diabetes nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C. –based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventative medicine, especially better nutrition, and higher standards in research. Mrs. Jardine works PRN as a clinical dietitian providing medical nutrition therapy for Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, Texas.

The presentations Mrs. Jardine provides focus on the health benefits of plant-based nutrition specifically focusing on diabetes, weight management, and the microbiome. Mrs. Jardine has developed a plant-based nutrition curriculum for DSMES which is available to dietitians who teach in either an American Diabetes Association (ADA) Education Recognition Program or a Diabetes Education Accreditation Program by Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists.

Mrs. Jardine is the editor of The Educator’s Corner for Practical Diabetology, a professional journal providing busy physicians and diabetes educators with straightforward, practical information to enhance the care and treatment they give their patients with diabetes. She also serves on the editorial board of Diabetes Spectrum a publication of the ADA.

Mrs. Jardine earned her bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from the University of Maine and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Texas Woman’s University.  She also has a master’s in business administration from the University of Dallas.

  • Plant-Based Nutrition for Diabetes


  • Discuss benefits of a plant-based diet in terms of diabetes control and weight management based on observational and randomized controlled studies.
  • List the plant-based mechanisms influencing body weight, insulin resistance, and diabetes risk.
  • Describe various strategies for success when providing plant-based nutrition education and counseling.
  • Plant-Based Diets and the Health of the Microbiome in Diabetes


  • Describe the development and function of the human gut microbiota and its influence on health.
  • Describe the factors that contribute to dysbiosis and how this leads to metabolic dysfunction and chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, and other disorders. 
  • Explain how nutrition and other healthy lifestyle behaviors can improve the composition and metabolic activity of the microbiota and the health of the host.
  • Plant-Based Eating for Diabetes on a Budget


  • Describe the current environment of food access and food insecurity and how this contributes to diabetes and related comorbidities. 
  • Describe how plant-based eating can improve health and be affordable. 
  • List actions registered dietitian nutritionists can take to improve diet quality in patients with food insecurity.
  • A Plant-Based Toolkit to Invigorate Your DSMES Practice


  • Review evidence on the use of plant-based eating patterns for diabetes.
  • List the plant-based mechanisms influencing body weight, insulin resistance, and diabetes risk.
  • Implement a plant-based curriculum into their diabetes self-management education and support program to improve patient outcomes.


Reed Mangels, PhD, RD


Reed Mangels, PhD, RD is a Nutrition Advisor for the non-profit, educational Vegetarian Resource Group as well as nutrition editor and a regular columnist and Nutrition Editor for the quarterly publication, Vegetarian Journal. She is a co-author of The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets (2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions) and of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2009 and 2003 position papers on vegetarian diets. She is a past Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She has written numerous articles and book chapters for professionals and the public on vegetarian nutrition in the life-cycle. Reed has authored several books for the public including Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy and Simply Vegan. She is retired from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she was an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Nutrition. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.

  • Vegetarian Nutrition for Infants, Children, and Adolescents


  • Provide examples of acceptable sources (dietary and/or supplement) of key nutrients for vegetarian infants, children, and adolescents.
  • Discuss potential health benefits and concerns related to vegetarian diets in infancy childhood, and adolescence.
  • List strategies that may be used when providing dietary counseling to parents of vegetarian infants, children, or adolescents or to vegetarian children or adolescents.
  • Vegetarian Pregnancy and Lactation


  • Describe important nutritional considerations for vegetarian women who plan to become pregnant.
  • Provide examples of acceptable sources (dietary and/or supplement) of key nutrients for vegetarian women during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Identify potential health benefits and concerns related to vegetarian diets in pregnancy and lactation.
  • Healthy Aging for Vegetarians, Vegans, and others Choosing Plant-based Diets


  • Describe ways in which nutrient requirements or primary sources of nutrients differ for older vegetarian adults.
  • Explain significant results of research related to older vegetarians and low-meat consumers.
  • Identify ways in which vegetarian or plant-based meals could be incorporated into existing menus in long term care facilities or congregate meal settings while meeting regulatory standards.
  • Vegetarian Diets for Women: Benefits and Considerations


  • Describe the evidence for vegetarian diets’ role in modifying risk of cardiovascular disease in women.
  • Identify dietary factors that affect the risk of osteoporosis in women and ways that dietary modification can reduce risk.
  • Describe the influence of components of a vegetarian diet on the risk of dementias, iron-deficiency anemia, PMS, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes in women.
  • Vegetarian Diets and WIC


  • Describe key nutrients for vegetarians at various stages of the life-cycle (pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy, and early childhood).
  • Identify acceptable sources of these key nutrients including those found in foods available through the WIC program.
  • Illustrate ways to maximize the nutritional benefits for vegetarians of the WIC program through food choices.
  • Develop strategies for educating WIC participants about benefits of meatless meals and about nutrient needs of vegetarians.


Vesanto Melina, MS, RD

Web: https://nutrispeak.com

To add value to your next conference or meeting, book this best-selling author, award winning speaker, and Registered Dietitian for an informative, compelling, and entertaining seminar. Vesanto Melina, MS, Registered Dietitian is co-author of 14 books, now in 10 languages, that are widely viewed as the classics in plant-based nutrition. She is an internationally known speaker (10 countries). She is lead author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics last Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets (2016). Her books include Becoming Vegan (Comprehensive and Express Editions) and The Kick Diabetes Cookbook, and in 2023, Plant-powered Protein will be released, (all co-authored Brenda Davis, RD). Vesanto has taught nutrition at Seattle’s Bastyr University and at the University of British Columbia.

  • Plant Protein: Perfect for People and the Planet

This presentation by dynamic dietitian and author, Vesanto Melina, addresses these topics. In a plant-based diet: Can you get enough protein? Even for an athlete? What are recommended intakes at various stages of the life cycle? Can you get the tastes you like? Can it be delicious and easy? What vitamins do you need to consider? What’s an overall food guide? Vesanto is lead author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ current Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets. She is co-author of award winning books that are the classics on plant-based nutrition. Her book: Plant-powered Protein, co-authored with Brenda Davis and Cory Davis, will be released in 2023.

  • Unleashing the Power of Plant-based Diets

How can we reduce our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cancer? What are links between dietary choice and chronic disease? What are the impacts of dietary choice on climate change: C02 emissions, water and land usage, water pollution, and land acidification? Exactly how can we eat to stay in optimal health, support the health of the planet, and have your meals taste great?

  • Healthy, Delicious, and Easy. Plant-based Eating

For those whose diets are shifting in a plant-based direction, or are considering going plant-based? What are the benefits? What supplements should you consider? Can you get enough protein? Can an athlete be plant-based? In this presentation, you will learn how to incorporate plant based eating into your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. This can work whether you are a gourmet chef, a novice in the kitchen, or mainly a restaurant eater. And, your meals can be delicious!

  • Plant-based Nutrition for Optimal Health

Join award winning Registered Dietitian Vesanto Melina, co-author of bestselling books: Plant-powered Protein, The Kick Diabetes Cookbook, Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition, The New Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Raw, Raising Vegetarian Children, The Raw Food Revolution Diet, The Food Allergy Survival Guide, and Cooking Vegan, for a comprehensive overview on how to keep yourself in superb health on a plant-based diet. Enjoy an update on protein power from plant foods, bone building without a drop of dairy, getting reliable sources of vitamin B12, including the good fats in your menus, and keeping your blood sugar level between meals without resorting to vegan junk food.

  • Update on Vegetarian, Vegan, and Raw Nutrition

Enjoy recent highlights in the world of vegetarian, vegan, and raw food nutrition and a few of the topics people wonder about. These include, on a plant-based diet:

  • Where will I get my protein?
  • What are iron rich plant foods for babies, children, (and everybody else)?
  • Are carbs good or bad?
  • Is soy good or bad?
  • Will a vegetarian diet make me healthier?
  • Can I get tasty food?


Virginia Messina, MPH, RD


Virginia Messina, MPH, RD has more than 25 years of experience in the field of vegetarian and vegan nutrition. She is a founding member of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and serves on the group’s newsletter editorial board. She has twice co-authored the Academy’s Position on Vegetarian Diets and is the co-author of papers on plant-based nutrition and soyfoods nutrition.  Ms. Messina is co-author of three popular books on vegan nutrition: Vegan for Life¸ Vegan for Her, and Never Too Late to Go Vegan. She also co-authored the first vegetarian textbook for health professionals, The Dietitians’ Guide to Vegetarian Diets, now in its third edition.

She serves as an advisor to a number of non-profit organizations that produce educational materials on vegetarian diets, is a regular contributor to online health magazines and websites; and speaks about plant-based nutrition at events for both the public and health professionals. 

Prior to focusing her efforts on vegan nutrition, Ms. Messina was on the faculty of Central Michigan University, where she taught courses on general nutrition, lifecycle nutrition, and nutrition education to dietetics students. She has worked as a public health nutritionist in rural Michigan, was a dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; and was director of nutrition services for George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

  • Good Nutrition from Plants: Meeting Nutrient Needs on a Vegan Diet
  • Healthy Vegetarian Diets for an Aging Population
  • When Your Client Wants to Go Vegan: Tips for a Successful Transition to an All-Plant Diet
  • Hot Topics in Vegan Nutrition: Soy, Anti-nutrients, Fats, Choline, Omega-3 Fats and More


Jill Nussinow, MS, RD


Jill Nussinow is a culinary educator, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the author of four cookbooks. Her award-winning cookbooks feature plant-based recipes and include The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment, The New Fast Food, Nutrition CHAMPS and her most recent, and most loved by the public book: Vegan Under Pressure. Jill is a pressure cooking (think Instant Pot), vegetable, fermentation and mushroom expert. She has been helping people achieve better health through teaching them about improved nutrition through food. Jill has been teaching people about plants and how to cook with them for the past 30 years.

She has spoken to many groups over the years for professionals such as Registered Dietitians at state meetings, and public groups at health clubs, vegetarian festivals and events, in hospitals and for other health care organizations, on a wide variety of nutrition and health topics. Jill loves to engage the audience with stories and humor to drive home the nutrition and health message and have it stick.

Jill is an adjunct culinary instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, teaches for the McDougall program and is a frequent cooking teacher and guest nutrition lecturer at Rancho La Puerta, as well as teaching cooking at various venues throughout the United States. Nothing makes Jill happier than teaching people how to cook and eat well and sharing her thoughts and food and health philosophy. She believes that her success stems from her passion and love of good health and how she infuses love into everything that she does. Her website is https://www.theveggiequeen.com.

  • Taking Your Diet from SAD to GLAD: Learning to Eat the CHAMPS
  • Planting Seeds of Change: Starting with Your Plate
  • Spice Up Your Life with Herbs, Spices and Other Plants
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets
  • Your Gut, Your Health: Prebiotics, Probiotics and more
  • Optimal Plant-Based Eating for Brain and Body Health
  • It’s Not a Fad, It’s a Trend: Plant-Based Eating is Here to Stay


Alison Ozgur, MAT, MHS, RDN, DipACLM



Alison Ozgur is a registered dietitian nutritionist and wellness expert with advanced training and expertise in whole food, plant-based nutrition. Since 2010 Alison has specialized exclusively in plant-based nutrition and in 2012 she co-authored her first book, Go Beyond Good: The Trail to a Lifetime of Health and Vitality! That same year she was invited to join the online instructor team at the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, which has evolved into her current role as Director of Wellness Programs. To date, she has taught thousands of students about the unlimited health benefits of whole food, plant-based nutrition. She is also a certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Alison is a forever teacher and is grateful to have shared her wellness and nutrition expertise at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, where she taught nutrition and culinary workshops and lectures and provided private nutrition counseling. She incorporates lifestyle medicine practices into her teachings to help her clients achieve optimal wellness and balance. Throughout her two-decade career as a registered dietitian, Alison has expanded her love of health and wellness as an author, college instructor, middle and high school health teacher, certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, and registered yoga teacher. Alison is currently working on her second nutrition and wellness book.

Alison completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Western Michigan University. She holds a Master of Health Science degree from Saint Francis University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Concordia University.

  • Stress Less-Eat Less


  • Learn the unlimited health benefits of whole food, plant-based nutrition
  • Understand the link between stress and chronic inflammation
  • Create an action plan to decrease risk of chronic disease


Sharon Palmer, MS, RDN


Known as The Plant-Powered Dietitian, Sharon has established an award-winning career in the field of plant-based nutrition and sustainability. One of the most widely recognized registered dietitians in the world, Sharon is an accomplished writer, editor, blogger, author, speaker, professor, advisor, and media expert. In particular, she has gained recognition for her expertise in plant-based nutrition and sustainability. Sharon has authored over 1000 articles in a variety of publications, including Better Homes and Gardens, Oprah Magazine, and LA Times. Her book The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today (The Experiment, July 2012) was a critical success, which was followed by her second book Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps & 125 Delicious Recipes in July 2014. Her latest book, California Vegan: Inspiration and Recipes from the People and Places of the Golden State, will be published on March 1, 2021. And she’s currently working on her fourth book on plant-based eating due for publication in 2022. Sharon also has contributed to several book chapters on nutrition and sustainability. She serves as the nutrition editor for Today’s Dietitian, associate faculty in the MS of Sustainable Food Systems Program at Prescott College, judge for the James Beard Journalism Awards, nutrition consultant for several organizations such as AICR and Oldways, and co-founder of Food and Planet. Sharon presents frequently at conferences, and is a weekly contributing nutrition expert in the media, including print, online, radio, podcasts, television, social media, videos, and film. Sharon enjoys organizing farm and sustainability tours across the world, including her collaboration on her Italian Alps Sustainability Food Tour. Sharon recently completed her Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in Vermont. And she still has time to blog every day for her popular online community (400 K members strong and growing) at The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Living in the sustainability mecca of Ojai, California with her husband and two dogs, Sharon enjoys tending to her own organic garden, visiting the local farmers market, volunteering in local environmental organizations, and cooking for friends and family.

  • Optimal Health through a Plant-Powered Diet

Description: Learn about the health and environmental benefits, as well as strategies, for a plant-based diet.


  • Identify health benefits linked with plant-based diets.
  • List plant proteins that can replace animal proteins on the plate.
  • Synthesize strategies for helping people eat a plant-based diet.
  • Cultural, Traditional Plant-Based Diets

Description: Gain inspiration for healthy, delicious plant-based diets based on food traditions from around the globe.


  • Identify global food culture characteristics.
  • Examine health benefits of plant-based diets from around the world.
  • Incorporate strategies for plant-based food traditions into healthful eating patterns.
  • A Plant-Based Anti-Inflammatory Eating Style

Description: Turn to plants to reduce the negative impacts of chronic inflammation on health.


  • Identify root causes of inflammation.
  • List foods that reduce and increase chronic inflammation.
  • Provide methods of reducing inflammation with plant-based foods.
  • Debunking Myths on Plant-Based Eating

Description: Learn about the science behind common myths surrounding vegan and vegetarian diets.


  • Identify key myths about plant-based eating popular among consumers and health care professionals.
  • Provide evidence-based information and resources that clarifies misperceptions on plant-based eating.
  • List key strategies to educate consumers on healthful, balanced plant-based diets.
  • Lean, Green Plant-Based Eating

Description: Discover the sustainability and health benefits of a plant-based diets.


  • List health benefits of a plant-based diet.
  • Identify ways that plant-based eating can help the environment.
  • Incorporate more eco-friendly plant-based foods into a daily diet.

  • Plant-Based Culinary Workshop

Description: Learn strategies for bringing more plant-based menu options to the plate, including culinary demonstration (if possible).


  • Identify nutrient-rich, plant-based foods that are the cornerstone of healthful diets.
  • Explain science-based health benefits for plant-based eating patterns.
  • List strategies for incorporating more plant foods into cooking and meal planning.

  • Let Plant Proteins Shine

Description: Discover the latest science on how plant proteins fit into a healthful diet, including strategies for including them on the plate.


  • Identify various plant proteins and nutrient profiles.
  • Assimilate scientific research on benefits of plant proteins.
  • List strategies for incorporating more plant proteins into diets.

Sheetal K. Parikh, MS, BSc. BSDN (Hons), RDN, LDN, FAND


Sheetal Parikh has been very passionate about plant-based nutrition since her childhood. She holds two Bachelor of Science degrees and one Master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. She brings her unique experience and skills in the nutrition world by blending eastern and western cultures with innovative plant-based recipes and diets. She specializes in Plant-Based Nutrition, has been a vegetarian all her life, and promotes vegetarianism and its health benefits with a holistic approach and diverse perspective. Since 2019 she has been an author of "Vegan and Vegetarian Diets" for the Nutrition care diet manual from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). She has been involved with setting standards for the RD Exam (Passing Score Study Task Force) and the Item Writing Workshop for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).  She served on the Advisory Board Committee for Diversity and Inclusion for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some positions that she served with Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group are Florida State Coordinator, Diversity Liaison, Treasurer, and present Chair-Membership Services. She achieved the feat of being a BSDN Advisory Board Member for Keiser University; the institution from which she graduated and won an award for Outstanding Student of the year in 2017 from the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And just recently she was recognized as ‘Fellow’ assigned a designation for AND. At present, she works as the Corporate Dietitian (North America) as Malnutrition Analyst for Morrison Healthcare and also counsel’s patients and clients on the importance and advantage of eating Plant-Based foods for their health and the earth’s well-being. She is proficient in creating new plant-based recipes, designing techniques for happy & healthy cooking, and preparing appetizing meals for her clients, family, friends, and colleagues. She lives with a motto of, “You are what you Eat."

  • Indian Culture, it’s Plant Based Diets and Culinary Traditions 


  • Participants to learn and understand Indian culture and its geographical significance of foods and spices
  • Participant to learn terms and techniques to cook Indian cultural plant-based foods
  • Tips and recommendations for RDs consulting Indian culture patients and clients
  • Herbivorous Culinary Crafting-Quick and Easy Dishes Presentation and/or Cook Along


  • Understanding of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for vegan, dairy-free vegetarian, egg-free vegetarian
  • Outline healthy sources for plant-based macro and micronutrients in daily diets
  • Conduct plant-based teaching kitchen showcasing healthy, yummy and quick recipes


Gita Patel, MS, RD, CDE, CLT, LD





Gita partners with individuals and organizations that need the science of nutrition translated into a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. Gita retired as a certified diabetes educator 12/31/18 after 15 years of practice as diabetes educator. Gita is an author of “Blending Science with Spices: Tasty Recipes & Nutrition Tips for Healthy Living” and has presented at local, state and national conferences. Gita was one of 4 finalists in the Cooking Light (magazine) healthy cook of the year contest. Gita is recipient of Cyndi Reeser Outstanding State Coordinator of the Year 2009-2010 from VN DPG; Recognition of service VN DPG 2006-2007; Emerging Dietetic Leader 2005 for outstanding professional contribution Certificate of recognition NH AND; Certificate of Training in Leadership 1/13-16/2005 AND; Served on the Diversity Committee 2004-2006. Gita received Certificate of Appreciation from Asian Indians in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2018. In 2020 Gita was recognized as the “Outstanding Dietitian of the year 2020” by the NH Academy of Nutrition and dietetics. Gita lives in NH where she has a private consulting practice. She came from Gujarat, India in 1972 as a graduate student at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Gita can be reached at gita@feedinghealth.com and www.feedinghealth.com.

  • Diabetes and Inflammation: Inflammatory Effects of Foods and Chemicals
  • Hormonal Help: Functional Foods for Women of Reproductive Age through Menopause
  • Benefits of Plant Foods for Feeding Health
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets
  • Whole-Foods Plant Based Approach for Optimum Health


  • Discuss the impact of the environment on human health
  • Understand the functions of the microbiome and liver in human health
  • Identify the bioactives in plant foods and their role in human health
  • Impact of Environmental Pollution on Human Health: How Plant Foods Help


  • Discuss the impact of the environment on human health
  • Understand the functions of the microbiome and liver in human health
  • Identify the bioactives in plant foods and their role in human health

Learning Need Codes:

  • 8018 Environmental, agricultural & technological influences on food systems
  • 2080 Microbiology, food toxicology
    2090 Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals
  • 2100 Nutritional biochemistry
  • 2010 Botanicals, phytochemicals

Performance Indicators:

  • 7.2.1 Applies knowledge of biological, environmental, physical or chemical properties that may cause food and water to be unsafe for human consumption.
  • 1.8.5 Recommends sustainable diets and meal plans that are healthy, culturally relevant, accessible, economically fair and affordable, and respectful of their impact on land, water, air and energy use
  • 8.4.1 Gains an understanding of integrative and functional medicine models and interventions and how these models and interventions are applied to nutrition and dietetics service
  • 10.4.1 Identifies classifications of nutraceutical pharmacological agents and the action on the body.
  • 8.1.4 Integrates knowledge of macro- and micronutrients for digestion, absorption and metabolism throughout the lifespan in practice
  • 4.1.2 Interprets and integrates evidence-based research and literature in decision-making.

    CPE Level II


Roman Pawlak, PhD, RD


Associate professor at East Carolina University

Authored: “In defense of vegetarianism,” and “Vegan mother and her baby.”

Authored other related books, including a title “Vitamin B12. Combating the epidemic of deficiency.”

Published research findings about vegetarian/vegan participants in such journals as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, European Journal of Nutrition, Nutrition Reviews, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Served on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ expert panel on vegetarian nutrition.

Co-author the Vegetarian Toolkit for the Academy of Nutrition and Diet.

Authored position statements on vitamin B12 for such organizations as the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group.

Lectured on five continents in such countries as Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Poland, Israel and Japan.

Presented research findings during the 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition at Loma Linda University.

Developed and teach a college Vegetarian Nutrition course.

Conducted webinars on vegetarian diets and vitamin B12 for such organizations as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American Academy of Lifestyle Medicine.

Conducted ground rounds on vegetarian nutrition for medical schools.

  • Why do vegetarians and vegans develop heart disease?
  • Vitamin B12 status of vegetarians and vegans? 
  • Most common dietary myths among vegetarians and vegans
  • Clinical insight into vitamin B12
  • Alzheimer’s disease prevention
  • B12, metformin, and diabetes 
  • To vegan or not to vegan, while pregnant, breastfeeding, or feeding children 
  • Planning an optimal plant-based diet


Tricia Psota, PhD, RD


Tricia L. Psota, PhD, RDN is a nationally recognized and trusted food and nutrition expert. She specializes in research, policy, communications, entrepreneurship, chronic disease prevention and treatment, and plant-based nutrition. She is the Managing Director for Nutrition on Demand, a Washington, DC-based boutique consulting firm, and an adjunct faculty member for George Washington University’s online Master of Public Health program. Recently, she co-founded and served as Executive Director of Victus Health and Wellness Center, an innovative, evidence-based, multidisciplinary practice that created a culture of health in their community. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Community College of Philadelphia and worked at USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate communications. Before USDA, Dr. Psota was the Assistant Director of Research at the Uniformed Services University’s Center for Health Disparities, a Metabolic Clinical Research Dietitian at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and an Outpatient Dietitian at the National Center for Weight and Wellness. 

Dr. Psota is proficient at translating complex science into easy-to-understand guidance through engaging presentations and communications. She has been featured in print, on radio, and on TV. She is a published author, including five book chapters and numerous peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. She has held numerous positions within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics including Editor-in-Chief of the Research Dietetic Practice Group (2018-2020) and serving on the DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Board of Directors (2012-2017). For the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, she was the Resource Coordinator from 2016-2017 and the State Coordinator for DC and Virginia from 2013-2015. She has been a member of the National Speakers’ Bureau since 2013.

Dr. Psota received three degrees from The Pennsylvania State University, including a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and a Doctorate in Nutrition. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @NutriciaPsota.

  • The Moxie of Plant-based Diets Against the Myths
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets: Implementing Recommendations
  • The Ins & Outs of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Powered by Plants: Understand & Translate the Science for Your Clients 
  • Nutrition Entrepreneurship: Qualifying Characteristics & Lessons Learned


Amy Richards, PhD, RDN, LDN


Amy Richards was born in Deadwood, South Dakota, grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota, became a vegetarian in 1995, and has been vegan for over 10 years.   She is an assistant professor and directs the DPD program at the University of Tennessee at Martin.  She has served as president of the West Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on two occasions, has served twice as the statewide student group advisor for Students of the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and is currently the VN DPG State Coordinator for Tennessee.  Dr. Richards teaches Advanced Nutrition, Nutrition Assessment and Counseling, Nutrition and Disease, Medical Nutrition Therapy, Sports Nutrition, and Maternal and Child Nutrition as well as a few additional courses.  Past awards include:  Outstanding Educator of the Year Award from the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Tennessee at Martin Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Service; the The Bachtel/Holbrook Advising Award (awarded nationally to one collegiate chapter honor society advisor by Phi Upsilon Omicron; and a teaching and scholarly activity award from the university.  Amy’s most recent publication is: Evaluating hours of sleep and perceived stress on dietary cognitive restraint in a survey of college students published in the Journal of American College Health, June, 2019.

  • Menu planning for vegan patients/students/customers: diet basics, nutrient requirements, cost control, and customer preferences
  • Benefit or risk from the vegan and vegetarian diets: What does the scientific evidence show?
  • Vegan and vegetarian diets: Trend, fad, or pathway to a healthier life and planet?
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets


Mark Rifkin, MS, RD


Mark Rifkin, MS, RDN, is the Senior Food and Agriculture Policy Specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, where he advances sustainable plant-based diets through policy and advocacy. He holds Master's Degree in health education and environmental science & policy. He specializes in plant-based diets and their implications for sustainability, policy and health, as well as their practical applications for various segments of the population and across multiple settings. He is the author of the 2023 peer-reviewed article Nutrition policy critical to optimize response to climate, public health crises. Mark is also a reviewer of the 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Paper on vegetarian diets. He previously served as the VNDPG Policy and Advocacy Leader, as well as State Policy Representative and Consumer Protection Coordinator for the Maryland affiliate.  He is currently Delegate for the Maryland affiliate. Before joining the Center in 2022, Mark worked for six years in nutrition policy for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Before his career in nutrition policy, he provided nutrition counseling and group presentations in private practice and other settings. In his former occupation, he worked in local environmental health for over fifteen years.

  • Skills For Guiding The Skeptical: Plant-Based Diets For Omnivores
  • It's All in the Genes: Going Beyond Milk and Eurocentric Bias Toward a New Calcium Context
  • The New Obsessions Over Sugar, Oil and Salt: Hot Trends or Nutrition Risks?
  • The Sustainable Diet Debate in the 21st Century: Plant-Based or Local?
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets


Constance Roark, MBA, MS, RDN


Constance Roark is a registered dietitian nutritionist and veteran marketing and communications professional. She is passionate about making plant-based eating approachable in all of its forms and living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Her unique combination of marketing experience and nutrition expertise has enabled her to help numerous brands, in industries ranging from natural food CPG, commodity boards, to foodservice, develop high-impact plant-forward products, nutrition strategies, and communication solutions.

Constance strives to empower individuals and organizations with balanced information based on facts. Her broad experience - including her time in private practice, as a nutrition writer and columnist, and through her consulting practice, CMR Solutions – uniquely positions her to bring a holistic perspective to her audiences.

Currently, Constance works as an advisor for Sterling-Rice Group providing nutrition strategy and communications for a variety of clients. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as the Public Relations and Marketing Co-Chair, and as the Co-Chair for the Colorado Dietitians in Business and Communications DPG. She worked as a volunteer for LiveWell Colorado’s Longmont Worksite Wellness Collaboration Task Force, and as a nutrition educator for Cooking Matters, a Share Our Strength organization.

Constance has a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University, an MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Leeds School of Business, and a B.S. in Business Management with a minor in Biology from San Jose State University.

  • The Power of Ancient Grains and Plant-based Nutrition


  • Describe and define the category of grains commonly referred to as Ancient Grains
  • Understand the unique nutritional benefits of Ancient Grains and the role they can play in helping individuals meet nutrients of concern associated with certain disease states and/or restricted diets.
  • Understand the broad range of culinary uses and applications of Ancient Grains
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets

AnnaMarie_Rodriguez_Updated 1-25-24.jpg

AnnaMarie Rodriguez, RDN, LD, FAND


AnnaMarie has worked as a nephrology dietitian for over 25 years in a variety of settings from clinical to pharmaceutical including clinical, sales, education, and renal medical affairs. She is currently an Independent Consultant, the owner of Nutrition Directions LLC, and employed by Pentec Health as a Renal Clinical Retention Specialist. She has served and chaired several boards including the South and Central Texas National Kidney Foundation Medical Advisory Board, San Antonio Council of Renal Nutrition, Renal Practice Group DPG, Wisconsin Council of Renal Nutrition, and Vegetarian DPG Speaker Bureau. Currently, she serves on the Academy’s Quality Management Committee, WI/IL/N.CA State Coordinator for VN DPG, Region One Ambassador for DIFM DPG, a board member of the Plant-based Prevention of Disease organization, VN DPG Past Chair, Managing Editor for the VN DPG Newsletter, and the Professional Education Chair for WAND. She is a Master Gardener, a lifelong learner, and a public speaker since 2000. Her passions include halting the progression of kidney disease through nutrition education.

  • Kidneys and Kale: Preventative Kidney Care with Plants


  • Evaluate, interpret, and integrate currently available evidence on inclusion of plant-based foods in nutrition care for those with CKD and ESKD
  • Implement plant-based protein in the nutrition care for those with CKD to slow the progression of CKD to ESKD while optimizing biochemical parameters and quality of life
  • Recognize the disadvantages of CKD associated with health inequities and food insecurity, and how nutrition intervention can alleviate risks
  • The Science Behind Plant-Based Nutrition and Chronic Kidney Disease


  • Evaluate, interpret, and integrate currently available evidence on inclusion of plant-based foods in nutrition care for those with CKD and ESKD
  • Implement plant-based approaches to preserve kidney function and ameliorate the deleterious health effects associated with kidney disease
  • Assess the growing evidence that supports plant-based nutrition with favorable biochemical parameters while acknowledging opinions supportive of former nutrition interventions
  • Individualized Nutrition Care in Kidney Disease: Shifting to Plant-Based


  • Identify health benefits of plant-based nutrition and kidney disease based on currently available evidence
  • Implement strategies of a gradual transition to plant protein while addressing food insecurity and health inequities with consideration of the challenges of both CKD and ESKD
  • Review the implications associated with modified plant foods and the role in both menu planning and biochemical outcomes




Geeta Sikand is Director of Nutrition at the University of California Irvine Preventive Cardiology Program and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (Cardiology Division) at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.  Geeta is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Fellow of the National Lipid Association (NLA). Ms Sikand has authored many book chapters and research publications and is the recipient of many awards. Ms Sikand is the recipient of the 2019 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Medallion award and the 2019 SCAN Excellence in Cardiovascular Nutrition Practice Award. 

One of Ms Sikand’s focus of research is to study the clinical and cost benefits of medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians for the management of dyslipidemia and cardiometabolic risk factors.  Ms Sikand’s meta-analysis reported that multiple visits with the dietitian led to improvements in dyslipidemia and cardiometabolic risk factors such as weight, blood pressure and diabetes in 5,704 patients with dyslipidemia. The second is “Role of Functional Foods in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes.”

Ms Sikand is the recipient of the 2019 Dolores Nyhus Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award from Californian Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,  2019 Presidents Service Award from National Lipid Association (NLA)/ Pacific Lipid Association, 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy’s Indians in Nutrition and Dietetics Member Interest Group, 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the Dietitians’ in Health Care Communities, and the Academy’s 2001 Mary Huddleson Award for making the highest contribution to the dietetics profession with publication of her two seminal studies on the clinical and cost benefits of medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians for the management of dyslipidemia and cardiometabolic risk factors. 

Ms Sikand is Director, Cardiovascular Health sub-unit of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition (SCAN) Dietetic Practice Group.  Ms Sikand is Co-chair of the NLA Nutrition Task Force and coauthored the “2015 National Lipid Association Recommendations for Patient-Centered Management of Dyslipidemia.”  Ms Sikand serves on the Boards of the NLA and the Pacific Lipid Association.   Ms Sikand co-chairs the NLA South Asian Workgroup dedicated to the prevention of heart disease in South Asians.

  • Do Plant Based Dietary Patterns Decrease Cardiovascular Risk and Increase Longevity?
  • Vegetarian Meal Planning: How to get it right?
  • The Power of Plant Proteins
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets