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 completed his education and training at the University of Northern Colorado, Kent State University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Columbia University. He’s written hundreds of articles on nutrition, exercise, and health, authored Drop The Fat Act & Live Lean, A Guide to Plant-Based Eating, and co-authored The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual. You might have seen him in Time, U.S. News and World Report, Muscle & Fitness, Parade, Good Housekeeping, Good + Well, Men’s Health, Rodale Organic Life, Greatist, Precision Nutrition, Buzzfeed, Relevant, Furthermore from Equinox, Alan Aragon’s Research Review, or VegNews. He has experience on farms, in food waste recovery, in nutritional counseling, and in school lunch programs. Currently, he teaches at SUNY Purchase; he is an adviser with Precision Nutrition; he offers online nutrition/exercise coaching; and he teaches trauma-informed yoga at Silver Hill Hospital. For more about Ryan, go to ryandandrews.com.

  • 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 advocates, “Sustainable Nutrition for You and Your Planet.” She holds a Fellow in Leadership of Neurological Disorders and Fellow of 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.

Ms. Arpino is the current AND Delegate for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice group, and author in a newly 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. Additional authored publications include: 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 in October 2018, her plant based culinary books include:  “Eat Fit, BE Fit: Health and Weight Management Solutions” in 2009;  “Recipes For Health: Cooking Curriculum for Young High Functioning Adults with Autism” in 2013.  With for passion for plant- based nutrition, she serves on ANDs School Vegetarian Lunch project and lead author in creating vegetarian menus for ANDs nutrition care manual.

Ms. Arpino authored multiple publications in media, journals and is an invited guest on television and radio programs.  She served on EAL groups and was a contributing author to ANDs and presenter at FNCE on “Health Nutrition Guidelines for Children” and Pediatric Overweight Guidelines.” She is an expert on reimbursement for private practice and was past chair of ANDs Coding and Coverage Team, NYSAND board as legislative chair and NYS media spokesperson to name a few.

Ms. Arpino received a Baccalaureate degree in Clinical Nutrition from Syracuse University and her Master’s degree in Nutrition Education and Community Nutrition from New York University.

Linda Arpino speaks around the world on evidence-based nutrition topics including plant-based diets for chronic disease prevention with sustainable-foods systems.

  • Reflux Cure Transitioning to a Plant Based Diet from SAD: Standard American Diet
  • Creating Plant-Based Nutrition Materials to Support Diversity & Food Sustainability
  • CAD Reversal with a Plant Based Diet
  • Harness Your Brain Power Through a Plant-Based Diet
  • Key Considerations in Vegetarian Nutrition for Children and Teens
  • Academy’s Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets


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 president of the Greater Seattle Dietetic Association, chair-elect of the Member and Student Advisory Committee in the Academy, past president for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and past chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She was awarded Emerging Dietetic Leader in Washington State in 2020.

  • Hot Trends in Plant-based Nutrition
  • Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet: Eating Less Meat
  • Adapting Your Favorite Recipes to be Vegetarian or Vegan


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 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.


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 and 3rd 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 recently 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.


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



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. To date, she has taught thousands of students about the unlimited health benefits of whole food, plant-based nutrition.

Alison is a forever teacher and is grateful to share her wellness and nutrition expertise at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, where she currently offers nutrition and culinary workshops and lectures and provides private nutrition counseling. She incorporates lifestyle medicine practices into her teachings to help her clients achieve optimal wellness and balance. She is currently in the process of completing her certification as a Lifestyle Medicine Professional through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

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.


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


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


Any request to speak without pay, or with pay from a non-Academy org, must be approved in advance.

Dietetics is a second career for Mark Rifkin, who previously spent fifteen years working in the field ---literally. He literally traversed the fields (and forests and subdivisions) of a suburban Maryland county, protecting environmental health though inspections of water wells and septic systems. In the mid-1990s, he returned to college for a graduate degree in Health Education and then began dietetics coursework, becoming an RDN in 2005. He began his dietetics career in private practice and in a FQHC in a severely underserved Baltimore community. He currently works in nutrition policy. A vegan since 1986 (long before the advent of the internet and social media), Mark likes to joke he walked uphill both ways in the snows of July just to get to the natural food store to buy soymilk. Mark is now shifting his career focus toward application of plant-based diets for sustainability, a return to his original roots of concern for the environment. He expects to complete his second graduate degree in Environmental Science and Policy at Johns Hopkins in 2022. He is also highly active in the dietitian community and is a former Board member of the Vegetarian Nutrition DPG as well as the Maryland affiliate, where he served three terms in various policy positions.

  • Skills and Behaviors For Guiding The Skeptical: Plant-Based Diets For Omnivores
  • It's All in the Genes: Is the Conventional Treatment for Lactose Intolerance Evidence-Based?
  • The New Fat Phobia: Hot Trend or Nutrition Risk?
  • 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, RDN, LD, FAND



AnnaMarie has worked as a renal dietitian for over 20 years in a variety of settings from clinical to pharmaceutical including sales, education, and renal medical affairs. She is currently employed by Pentec Health as a Renal Clinical Case Manager and as an Independent Consultant. She has served and chaired a number of boards including the South and Central Texas National Kidney Foundation Medical Advisory Board, San Antonio Council of Renal Nutrition, Texas Hill Country Patient Awareness Days and Kidney Walks, Renal Practice Group DPG and Wisconsin Council of Renal Nutrition; in addition to serving on advisory committees for local symposiums and building annual Hill Country Education Days while living in TX. Currently she is the Chair for Vegetarian DPG Speaker Bureau and the Wisconsin/Michigan State Coordinator for Vegetarian DPG. She is a Master Gardener and is focusing on her Master’s degree while working on several other certifications through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in addition to peer reviewing and coauthoring additional projects related to renal and renal/plant-based nutrition ranging from nutrition support to CKD education materials.  She has enjoyed presenting for peers since 2000 and in collaboration appreciates inspiration and diversity.

  • Patient-Centric Nutrition: One step at a time to a plant-based plate!
  • The Science of Plant-Based Nutrition and Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Plant-Based Nutrition and CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease): Incorporating Dietary Changes


Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD


Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian with two nutrition degrees, including graduate training at Loma Linda, one of few accredited universities promoting plant-based diets. He is the past-Chair of the Vegetarian Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been actively involved with both veganism and plant-based nutrition for nearly 25 years.

Matt has contributed to a number of books including:

  • Appetite for Reduction, with Isa Moskowitz
  • No Meat Athlete, with Matt Frazier
  • Cacao, Superfoods for Life, with Joshua Ploeg
  • Plant-based Sports Nutrition, with Enette Larson-Meyer, Phd, RD

As a public health professional Matt has worked with students, teachers, and parents in resource-limited schools, taught community college, oversaw garden and cooking programs, consulted with private clients, and ran a diabetes-prevention program utilizing plant-based nutrition.

He is a regular speaker on a variety of nutrition topics, focused on getting useful, practical information to the audience. Additionally, Matt has competed in marathons, ultramarathons, ironmans, and ultra-distance cycling races around the world, including a non-stop 500-mile bike race through Death Valley. Matt has been to all 50 states and over 40 countries, and currently calls Los Angeles, California home.

  • Sports nutrition
  • Practical tips for eating a more plant-based diet
  • Nutrients of need in a vegan diet
  • Plant-based diets and positive health 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