“For People, Animals & Our Planet”
Advocates Of A Veganic Whole Plant Lifestyle + Anything That Leads People In That Direction.
We Are A 100% Vegan Organization.
more about us
How can i help?
Connect with us via social media, attend our vegan events and donate.
None of this would be possible without the fantastic board members, selfless team and partners.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike is just an ordinary guy with a passion for human health! He has always taken interest in wondering why so many people suffer from chronic poor health conditions, many of which end up making folks lives miserable and lead to untimely death. Mike always tends to do things a little bit differently than most folks and never stops questioning.
Denise began her non-profit leadership work as the President of her COA. She leads projects and analyses financial data as a Senior Systems Analyst at Freddie MAC. Denise began her Plant-based journey after Mike encouraged her to read The China Study in 2017. Denise lost her beloved Aunt and Grandmother to diabetes and watched several family members struggle with breast cancer. She’s committed to educating people about a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t exploit animals and is better for the environment. Since switching to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet, Denise has lost 20 pounds, has resumed running and recently won first place in her age group in a competitive 5K!
TEAM of DIRECTORS
Director of Fitness & Health
Lifestyle & Fitness Coach with a speciality in helping busy professionals with high stress levels overhaul their lifestyles on a limited schedule. After a near death scare with two unexplained blood clots, and pulmonary embolism I was inspired to grow my knowledge in plant based wellness. Since turning away from doctors, and healing in 16 month my vision is to help educate, and inspire on the possibilities of living both PLANT BASED and STRONG!
Dr. Brian Taschner
Director of Lifestyle Medicine and Food Certification
Dr. Taschner has been practicing Cardiology in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida since 2005. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Florida where he was accepted into the Junior Honors Medical Program, and later graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1998. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Virginia Commonwealth University where he served as Chief Resident of Internal Medicine, and subsequently completed his Cardiology Fellowship at Saint Louis University where he was the Chief Cardiology Fellow.
DR. RONALD KNAUS
Director of Aging Gracefully With Gusto
Dr. Ronald Knaus is a psychiatrist in Saint Petersburg, Florida. He received his medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
Shara "ShaR4" Dee
Director of Music
Shara’s interest in music began at an early age by having both parents as music teachers; her mother a pianist and music teacher, her father a songwriter and guitarist. With training in piano and music theory, she began composing songs at the age of 13, performing live on the piano at different events throughout her teenage years. Shara fell in love with the plant-based movement in 2016 after seeing videos of animal agriculture thanks to Mercy For Animals. She stopped eating meat right then and there and then learned about the dairy and egg industries. In 2017, she declared that she would be vegan from then on. She started a blog and Facebook page called Vegan Living Today and is currently working on a Vegan Cookbook, along with helping coordinate Vegan Festivals.
Co-Director of Animal Rights
Brad Talbott is an avid musician and Fort Myers Organizer for the international Anonymous for the Voiceless movement. Brad has helped organize public art demonstrations along with others around the state of Florida in order to educate the public about the positive effects a plant based diet can have on your health, the environment, and the animals we share this planet with. He has had experience with hosting musical events as President of music club at Florida Gulf Coast University in addition to hosting and assisting local open mic nights throughout the community.
Co-Director of Animal Rights
Justin is the co-founder of the Fort Myers Anonymous for the Voiceless Chapter. Anonymous for the Voiceless is an organization that hosts public demonstrations in which its members show the public videos of factory farming conditions and have conversations with the public about the subject of animal rights. Justin has been helping members of the public reach a vegan conclusion in their thought process about animals since November of 2017. In order to increase his effectiveness in creating a kinder world for animals, Justin has attended numerous academic trainings and lectures spanning across the subjects of societal change, individual behavioral change, animal ethics, and nutrition. In addition, he spends much of his free time studying debates, ethics, environmental science, and nutrition that relates to animal agriculture.
Director of Parenting and Activism
Shannon’s journey toward animal liberation really got going Thanksgiving Day, 1996, when she was just 9 years old. After she saw footage showing what happens to animals in order for them to end up on our plates, she never ate another animal again and immediately became an activist, stickering packages and holding demos outside of supermarkets. After about 2 decades of eating a vegetarian diet, Shannon was made aware of the atrocities occurring in the dairy industry — she had never heard this information before. She also watched Cowspiracy on Netflix and then made the decision to transition to a Vegan Lifestyle overnight. Shortly after, she found out how horrendous the egg industry is, another one she had been supporting during all that time as a vegetarian. Shannon now understood why those “crazy vegans” weren’t eating cheese or eggs — they weren’t so crazy after all. She got right back into activism — this time with more knowledge, more reasons, and an incredible amount of inspiration from her son, VeganEvan (who decided to go vegan the same day, even though she tried talking him out of it)! Shannon is fighting for the animals and for Evan’s future. She quit her job in 2017 to advocate, educate, and activate full-time. Shannon and Evan travel all over doing outreach & actions for the animals. They are in the process of starting up a new non-profit organization, the Animal Liberation Action Squad. Shannon is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator.
VeganEvan is a passionate and talented young animal advocate committed to creating a healthy, compassionate, and regenerative world. He is President & Spokesperson for Animal Hero Kids and also a spokesperson for the Solutionary Species movement. VeganEvan has spoken in front of large audiences at several major events throughout the country including the What the Health-Cowspiracy Conference, Central Florida Earth Day, the Animal Liberation Conference, Tampa Bay VegFest, the National Animal Rights Conference, Asheville Vegan Fest, VegFest Oahu, and many more!! He has been awarded the Russell Simmons Creative Animal Hero Kids Award, and in 2016, he earned PETA’s Cutest Vegan Kid award. More recently he was awarded the Shining World Leadership Award for Compassion from the Supreme Master Ching Hai Association. VeganEvan is a voice for the animals everywhere he goes! He enjoys leafleting, protesting, doing marches, Open Rescue, disruptions, and making videos and rap songs! Evan also participates in Anonymous for the Voiceless Cubes of Truth and Vigils with the Save Movement wherever he travels. Most of all, he loves visiting all of his rescued friends at the sanctuaries where they are happy, safe and free from harm.
Xylo Zohn Smith-Pajares
Director of Mindfulness
Xylo Zohn Smith-Pajares, also known as XYZo, strives to uplift, educate, and inspire everyone with whom he interacts. He is currently finishing his undergraduate career at Florida Gulf Coast University, studying Contemplative Studies & Entrepreneurship, with plans to open healing centers. In addition to instructing hundreds of Yoga classes throughout his time at FGCU, he has been an event facilitator & community organizer, playing a key role in several events of many kinds. He is tremendously excited to continue sharing his passions with the greater community through Veg Fest!
Chadwin Taylor has experienced a dramatic weight loss journey and discovered that his son has autism — both which have led him to a vegan lifestyle. Although he claims to be no guru in the world of fitness, special needs or vegan nutrition, Chadwin offers a humble perspective on taking personal responsibility over the lives we live and the world we shape. One choice at a time, he has reshaped his relationship with food, with animals, with Mother Earth and has learned his most valuable lesson from his 6 year old son — unconditional love.
Food and Nutrition Advisors
CeCe Chen, a native of New Hampshire, is a mother, wife, helicopter pilot and certified health coach specializing in plant-based nutrition. CeCe earned her certification in Plant-Based Nutrition at the Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell under Dr. T. Colin Campbell, as well as certification in Health Coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
She is the managing director of PlantPure communities Plant Pod Transform Health & Fitness. In addition to being a plant-based nutrition advocate, she also received her Barre certification at Exhale in New York City. She is the owner of The Wandering Moose Coffee and Gift Shop and Vertical Ventures Aviation located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
CeCe specializes in supporting individuals to make positive changes to lifestyle and nutrition based on a whole foods plant based diet and regular fitness. She coaches individual, group, and corporate clients through fitness sessions, workshops, cooking classes, and grocery shopping tours.
CeCe resides with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, Haley and Dillon, in Sugar Hill, NH.
I am positively crazy about plant-based nutrition, and my goal is to share what I’ve learned with every living soul who eats. This is not always a popular path on which to walk, but I know this is right for me and for the planet. One of my happiest moments on this journey was reading an article in a large, well-respected medical journal, asking physicians to recommend a plant-based diet to all patients.(1) Beth 2017 in blue apron holding book.
I ate everything for the first 47 years of my life, and like so many others, until I had a health crisis, I was not motivated to change anything. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, because I had the opportunity to make some changes. I had painful arthritis-like symptoms in my feet to the point where I could not comfortably wear shoes. Living in Vermont, I knew shoes were not optional, at least not in the winter! Arthritis “ran in my family,” with older relatives having knees and hips replaced. I was far too young for these aches and pains, so I started reading. What I discovered changed my life. I did some online reading, and then picked up the book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I discovered that arthritis did not run in my family; cheese ran in the family! I eliminated dairy products, and within seven months, my feet were back to normal. I was elated! Then I was angry… angry that this was not common knowledge. I purged my kitchen of all animal products and went on a binge… an educational binge. Read more here https://positivelyplants.com/
Rohini Bajekal is a nutritionist (MA Oxon, MSc Nutrition and Food Sciences, Dip IBLM/ BSLM) and an International Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional. She provides evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle advice to her clients, focusing on a whole food plant-based approach. A keen recipe developer, Rohini is passionate about making delicious, affordable and healthy plant-based meals. She is a Cookery Teacher at Made in Hackney, the UK’s only plant-based local community cookery school and charity.
As a women’s health advocate, Rohini is Brand Manager for Women for Women’s Health (WfWh), a voluntary service set up to empower women of all ages to make lifestyle choices that will help improve their own health as well as that of their families. Find out more about Rohini and her work at www.rohinibajekal.com or follow her on Instagram for daily nutrition tips. You can also reach her via email at email@example.com.
Cyd Notter is a graduate of the Center for Nutrition Studies, a certified instructor for The Starch Solution and other dietary courses, a past newspaper columnist, and the founder/author of The “Plan A” Diet. She offers a variety of health and cooking classes, provides nutritional coaching on both individual and corporate levels, speaks to local groups, and has worked with school district employees and a hospital’s fitness center. Her book, titled The “Plan A” Diet, released in October, 2019.
Dr. Michael Klaper
Michael A. Klaper, M.D. is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He received postgraduate training in internal medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, and orthopedics at University of British Columbia teaching hospitals in Vancouver and obstetrics at the University of California at San Francisco. He has practiced acute care medicine in Hawaii, Canada, California, Florida and New Zealand and for the past 35 years us been focusing upon health-promoting food and lifestyle choices to help prevent the need for hospitalization and surgery.
A long-time radio host and a pilot, Dr. Klaper has served as nutrition advisor to NASA’s programs for space colonists on the Moon and Mars. He makes the latest information on health and nutrition available through his website, DoctorKlaper.com, where visitors can find the latest nutrition information through his numerous articles and videos, subscribe to his free newsletter, “Medicine Capsule” and support his “Moving Medicine Forward” Initiative to get applied nutrition taught in medical schools.
Dr. Nitu Bajekal
Dr Nitu Bajekal, MD is a Senior Consultant ObGyn in the UK with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a Fellow of the Royal College and recipient of the Indian President’s Gold medal.
She is one of the first US board-certified Lifestyle Medicine Physicians in the UK. She has written the women’s health module for the first UK University based plant based nutrition course.
She is the founder of Women for Women’s Health, a voluntary service set up to educate, energise and empower women to make lifestyle choices to help improve their own and their families’ health.
Dr Bajekal is passionate about educating women, providing reliable medical and lifestyle information for the general public, doctors, workplaces and schools.
She is a committed vegan, personally benefiting from this lifestyle.
Dr. Rajiv Bajekal
Mr Rajiv Bajekal is an experienced Orthopaedic Surgeon with an interest in spinal surgery.
He was appointed Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in 1998 and has been working in London at the Royal Free London NHS foundation Trust since 2002. He has published widely and lectures Nationally and Internationally besides being a Senior examiner for the FRCS Orthopaedics.
In 2016 he had some personal health problems and had put on a lot of weight with time in the UK. He and his wife researched diet and nutrition and he embarked on a way of living a healthier life with compassion and care for the environment. In the process, he lost 25 kg of weight, reversed his prediabetes and found a new zest for helping patients live a healthier life,
He decided to study lifestyle medicine as a lot of the disorders affecting people nowadays are lifestyle related and he and his wife (Consultant Gynaecologist) both studied and passed the Diploma examination in Lifestyle Medicine conducted by the American board of lifestyle medicine, He and his wife Nitu are now certified lifestyle medicine practitioners with a Diploma from the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine- by far his proudest achievement.
Lifesyle medicine is a relatively new approach to the management of chronic diseases as a result of widespread recognition that conditions such as Coronary Heart Disease, Hypertension, Diabetes etc. are totally preventable and can be reversed or ‘cured’ by changes in lifestyle, because they are in fact caused largely by lifestyle especially dietary excesses.
There is little doubt that conditions such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiac problems, Eczema, Asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and indeed even a lot of Cancers are related to lifestyle of the patient. Until now, these were often blamed on ‘bad genes’ or unavoidable.
While the ill effects of smoking, overuse of alcohol, stress and lack of sleep are more clearly accepted by patients, they are often sensitive about their diet and most believe they have a ‘healthy diet’, based on what they have read.
Chronic health conditions cannot be managed purely by medication. That is a very naïve way of looking at it. Real change though must come from the patient. A lifestyle medicine practitioner is trained to give guidance, motivate, monitor change and assist the patient in a quest for better health. He and his wife now practice medicine hoslistically- looking at the causes and prevention of chronic illness while at the same time treating problems. They also lecture on lifestyle medicine and prevention of long term ill health.
Mary Ann Parsons
Mary Ann is the co-founder of SWFL Veg Fest in 2017, and has been the Project Manager for the past 3 Festivals. Before retirement, Mary Ann was a Manager at Lucent Technologies Bell Labs, has a degree in teaching and an MBA. She is currently a Lee County Master Gardener and teaches the University of Florida’s program “Florida Yards & Neighborhoods” – environmentally friendly landscaping. She founded the group “SWAG” (Safe Water Advocacy Group) which is working with the City of Cape Coral, Florida. She is a certified instructor for CHIP – Complete Health Improvement program She promotes veg*ism for human health, for the planet, and because it’s one of the most effective ways to help animals.
Founder of Hallway Stories. Advocates for feeling good. Believes that when we feel good we experience more in life and when we experience more in life we share more with others and when we share more with others from a place of feeling good then we inspire, empower and become the light!
DR. NICK BORJA
Dr. Nick Borja was born and raised in Miami and graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He trained in general surgery at Parkland Hospital and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Borja now focuses on helping to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases through evidence-based lifestyle modification. His preventive medicine practice guides clients towards an active, plant-based lifestyle to reach their best health. To that end, Dr. Borja offers one-on-one counseling, plant-based cooking demonstrations, and other interactive events for the community. To learn more, please visit nickborjamd.com
Ariel Hoover, M.A. is a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, trained in Pittsburgh in 2017 and again in 2019 in Atlanta with climate leaders from around the world, and is co-founder of the Lee County Climate Reality Project. She was an educator in public schools as well as an instructor at Tufts University in Boston in special programs. She considers this work to be the most important of her life.
Affiliated Music Artists
Senator Jaiz is an experimental electronic ambient artist. He is also the composer and audio point person for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in the Digital Media department. Being a steadfast vegan for four years, he uses his music to help spread the word on the wondrous benefits of veganism to our bodies, spirits and the world.
His experimental music is so varied, it does not fit in any single category. He is a product of his influences, which include Jean-Michel Jarre, Gary Numan, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack, and let’s just say this list could get pretty long so we will leave it there.
Senator Jaiz’s music is geared for the glorious soundtrack we call life. The elevated quality of his work means it can be a backdrop for your day to day, or even a forefront to help get you through tough times. He is loved by many including gamers, film makers, manga/anime fans, readers, students, and all other dreamers who want something different for their music.
Watching the Blue Gators play is a musical journey. While some songs may have a similar feel each song is unique. This is a multi-genre band that includes Blues, Classic Rock, Funk, Americana and Latin Fusion in their mix. Joe Scherben brings his love for music to the lineup and you can hear the different influences from his favorite artists including Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull and Eric Clapton. He and his wife Kalena have played together in a number of different groups over the years but with this band they have allowed their creativity to take the stage. Collaborating with Patrick Russell on drums the group creates a familiar but fresh mix of songs that are easy to love.
Labeled by indie radio stations as, “Tribal Blues”, Treblehawk is so much more. They capture the sound of tears falling in the river, the smile of a dog, the weeping of trees in a forgotten forest, the heartbeat from a mothers belly. Weather it is one of their innumerable original compositions, or their spin of current or past favorite, Treblehawk puts music to the longing in your soul and gives emotion a melody. CLICK HERE to find out more.