Veggie Fest Speakers

Attend free talks by internationally recognized health and nutrition experts, offering the latest research and tips for leading a healthier and happier life.

Keynote Speakers

Sant Rajinder Singh

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

Head of Science of Spirituality

Two Powerful Talks on Meditation:

1. Being Healthier and Happier

2. Meditation and Healthy Living

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

About the speaker

Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj is respected throughout the world as an internationally recognized spiritual Master of meditation on the inner Light and Sound, leading to inner experiences, self-knowledge, and realization of the Divine. He is the spiritual head of Science of Spirituality (SOS), known in India as Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission (SKRM), featuring over 3200 centers in 50 countries. Sant Rajinder Singh Ji earned his B. Tech Degree in Electrical Engineering from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, India in 1967 and received his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from IIT Chicago, Illinois in 1970, where he was awarded a special IIT Fellowship. He then went on to have a distinguished career in science, computers, and telecommunications. For his accomplishments in the fields of peace and spirituality, he received a Distinguished Leadership Award from IIT Chicago in November 1998. Known for his scientific approach to spirituality, he explains the relationship between science, spirituality, and meditation, making it easy for people to understand and practice themselves. The meditation technique, known as SOS Meditation, is one whereby the practitioner can have a firsthand experience of the inner Light, affirming that there is something that lies beyond this physical world. He is author of numerous books translated into over 50 languages, DVDs, and CDs sharing this practical method of meditation. Books available by the author are Detox the Mind, Meditation as Medication for the Soul, Inner and Outer Peace through Meditation, and Empowering the Soul through Meditation. His booklet, Building Bridges through Meditation, contains the speech he gave at the United Nations in May 2016. He has received numerous honors, awards, and tributes for his work toward peace and unity and has been warmly welcomed during his tours by civic and social leaders who appreciate his message of spiritual upliftment, peace, and service to humanity.

Talk title: Speakers

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University

Confirming a Centuries-Old Meaning of Nutrition for all People

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Campbell has been a pioneer in the science of human health for more than 60 years. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, an author, researcher, and rock-star of the vegan world. Dr. Campbell’s advocacy of a low fat, “whole food, plant-based diet” has made him a celebrity in the alternative health and food industries. He is best known for his work on the China Study, one of the most comprehensive studies of health and nutrition ever conducted. He is author of The Future of Nutrition (2023), Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition (2014), and the Revised and Expanded edition of The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health (2016).

Talk title: Speakers

VeggieFest Speaker Julie Varughese

Dr. Julie Varughese, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Programs, Americares

Coping in Times of Crisis: A Global Perspective

Dr. Julie Varughese, M.D.​

About the speaker

Dr. Varughese oversees the organization’s health programs for people affected by poverty or disaster, including its work with the uninsured in the United States, its Emergency Response Team and its global distribution of more than $1 billion in medicine and medical supplies to an average of 85 countries annually. She also oversees Americares primary care clinics in Colombia, El Salvador, India and Connecticut and oversees a team of medical experts that reviews offers of donated products from over 200 pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, ensuring items are used safely and effectively by the organization’s health care partners around the world. Board certified in infectious disease, internal medicine and pediatrics, Dr. Varughese earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and a medical degree from Rush University in Chicago, Ill., where she completed her residency training. She also completed an infectious disease fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

Talk title: Speakers

Exceptional Speakers

Dr. Kenny Duggal

Dr. Kenny Duggal, M.D.

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Fuel & Flex: Building your Body Armor for a Stronger Tomorrow

Dr. Kenny Duggal, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Duggal is Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and serves as the Director of Physician Development for Medrina, the largest Physiatry group in the United States. He received two bachelor degrees in the fields of Finance and Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He went on to obtain his medical degree at Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL and completed his residency training in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from Rush University Medical Center, where he currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He practices Physiatry within the sub-acute rehabilitation environment throughout the Greater Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana. He heads the Service Leadership Institute for the Institute for Meditation and Inner Harmony and is the lead health and fitness consultant for the Innergy App, a comprehensive wellness app which strives to help people lead happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives. He is a contributing author to the best-selling book Meditation as Medication for the Soul. He regularly lectures on the benefits of a plant-based diet, meditation, and a healthy and active lifestyle. He is a dedicated husband and father to his wife and 2 children. He speaks English, Spanish, Hindi, and Punjabi.

Talk title: Fuel & Flex: Building your Body Armor for a Stronger Tomorrow

VeggieFest Speaker Dr. Terry Mason

Dr. Terry Mason, M.D.

Urologist and Health Champion

Do You Really Want to be Well?

Dr. Terry Mason, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Mason has served as the national chairman of urology at the National Medical Association, and as the Midwest regional chair for the Chicago’s National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer. Dr. Mason, a member of the Cook County Physicians Association, is retired from his position as COO for the Cook County Department of Public Health. He has had a distinguished career spanning 30+ years as a Urological Surgeon. For over 20 years he’s hosted a weekly radio health talk show—Dr. in the House with Dr. Terry Mason—promoting a healthy lifestyle. He was also featured in the groundbreaking film, Forks Over Knives, which reveals the impact of the vegan diet on athletes and their ability to recover from injury.

Talk title: Do You Really Want to be Well?

VeggieFest Speaker Baxter Montgomery

Dr. Baxter Montgomery, M.D.

Cardiologist and Lifestyle Expert

Heart Failure: an Integrative Solution

Dr. Baxter Montgomery, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Montgomery is a Board Certified Cardiologist, professional healthcare keynote speaker, and lifestyle expert with more than two decades of experience helping individuals overcome severe chronic illnesses.

In his talks, he provides critical insights of the underlying causes of the vast majority of chronic illnesses. These insights empower individuals to make the necessary steps towards optimizing their health. Practical approaches are shared to allow for actionable steps to be taken by the audience. Lastly, Dr. Montgomery provides inspiring words of wisdom that serve as motivational stimuli to his audience to take action with the information provided.

Dr. Montgomery’s keynote presentation style is informative, entertaining, and engaging as he explains complex medical conditions in a way that the audience can easily comprehend. He creates interactive sessions with audiences of nearly any size with thought-provoking comments, rhetorical questions, and a warm sense of humor.

Talk title: Heart Failure: an Integrative Solution

VeggieFest Speaker Sara Sukumar

Dr. Saraswati Sukumar

Barbara B. Rubenstein Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University

Ageless Outer & Inner Beauty: The Role of Diet, Exercise, and Meditation in Prevention of Cancer & Heart Disease

Dr. Saraswati Sukumar

About the speaker

Dr. Sukumar (Barbara B. Rubenstein Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Johns Hopkins, and Professor of Pathology, JHUSOM) joined her first faculty position at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA in 1988 and then moved to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1994 to assume the position of Director of Basic Research at the newly formed Breast Cancer Research program at the cancer center. She was promoted to Professor in 2001. Her lab has developed several commercial tests for detecting cancer and monitoring the response of patients undergoing therapy. She has also developed a rapid, automated test for detecting cancer in women with suspicious breast lesions in low- and middle-income countries of the world. Similar tissue and blood tests are under development in different countries in Africa for detecting colon and cervical cancer.  She is passionate about her research on prevention of cancer using natural products and spices. She is a firm believer in the positive power of meditation and a vegetarian diet.

Talk title: Ageless Outer & Inner Beauty: The Role of Diet, Exercise, and Meditation in Prevention of Cancer & Heart Disease

VeggieFest Speaker Deepa Deshmukh

Deepa Deshmukh, MPH, RDN

Functional & Integrative Nutrition Specialist

Lose Weight without Cravings, Counting, and Restricting

Deepa Deshmukh, MPH, RDN

About the speaker

Deepa Deshmukh (MPH, RDN, CDE, BD-ADM, Functional & Integrative Nutrition Specialist) is co-founder of DuPage Dietitians LLC and has been recognized as a “Top Ten Dietitians” in the country! For almost 20 years, Deepa has helped hundreds of people lose weight, reverse and manage their diabetes, and reduce their cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Deepa’s overarching goal is to help her patients be more productive at work and at home, have energy to enjoy life, eat foods without feeling guilty and sick, and no longer depend solely on medications to manage their health. She has been working with the underserved communities and minorities to help improve their nutrition literacy and self-care skills!

Talk title: Lose Weight without Cravings, Counting, and Restricting

How to lose weight without restricting or counting calories; identify which foods help crash cravings; learn how to lose weight while sleeping and more.

VeggieFest Speaker Tim Fior

Tim Fior, M.D.

Founding Partner of the Center for Integral Health.

Youthfulness at any Age

Tim Fior, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Fior has been practicing Family Medicine and Homeopathy in the Chicagoland area since 1988. He is the co-founder and current president of the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association, a founding partner for the Center for Integral Health, and Adjunct Faculty at National University of the Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Fior is a contributor to the book, Meditation as Medication for the Soul, and has been meditating and a lacto-vegetarian for over 35 years.

Talk title: Youthfulness at any Age

The foods we eat, the lifestyle we choose and our activity level all contribute not only to our health, but how we experience or avoid the typical issues associated with aging. Dr. Fior will use the wisdom gained by looking at the blue zones where people live the longest to show how we can live a life of health and vitality at any age.

VeggieFest Speaker James Gruft

Dr. James H. Gruft, M.D.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine

How to Achieve Pain Reduction and Wellness

Dr. James H. Gruft, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Gruft is one of the most forward-thinking pain management specialists. He is the author of From Pain to Wellness: Getting Help and Finding Freedom from Chronic Pain and founder-director of From Pain to Wellness, LLC based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Dr. Gruft is board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (P.M.& R, F.A.A.P.M.R) and Pain Medicine (D.A.B.P.M.). Voted as Best Doctor by a nationwide survey of doctors, Dr. Gruft is respected by physicians throughout the country as one of the premier pain specialists practicing today. Dr. Gruft is a vegetarian, and his health center is vegetarian friendly. He is versed in functional medicine which uses nutrition to address medical issues. A gifted and highly sought-after guest lecturer and speaker, Dr. Gruft has presented to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation on “Comparison of the MOMC (Modified Orientation Memory Concentration)” and as guest lecturer for the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Cincinnati on “Comprehensive Management of Chronic Pain,” (among other engagements). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a Diplomat of the American Board of Pain Medicine, and member of American Academy of Pain Medicine. As assistant professor at Rush Medical College, he received a Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Teacher of the Year for exhibiting the highest quality of teaching to physical medicine and rehabilitation residents. He earned the Golden Apple Award in recognition for excellence in teaching and training at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife and their two children.

Talk title: How to Achieve Pain Reduction and Wellness

VeggieFest Speaker Linda Kordich

Linda Kordich

Co-Founder of the Juiceman Company with husband Jay Kordich

Juicing for Life—the Missing Link

Linda Kordich

About the speaker

Linda Kordich (co-founder of the Juiceman Company with her husband Jay Kordich, Wellness Coach, and author) has been a vegetarian since 1966 and Vegan since 1990. She has been coaching and teaching juicing since 1974 and was the co-founder of the Juiceman Company which was responsible for inspiring millions of people on television for several decades.  She married Jay Kordich in 1981, known by millions as the Juiceman and Father of Juicing for 36 years until his death at 93 in 2017. She was also the co-author of Jay’s #1 New York Time’s best-selling book, the Juiceman’s Power of Juicing which sold several million copies as well as being responsible for selling millions of juicers throughout the USA. She’s been on many national tv talk shows and radio programs inspiring others to juice and live a plant-based diet.  Since then, she’s produced, designed and published their beautiful book, Live Foods / Live Bodies and their multimedia Living Health Program, as well as producing her Juicing Masterclass to help inspire others to become juice therapists.  She’s now 68 years old and the mother of two boys, 38 and 40, who are both committed vegans.

Talk title: Juicing for Life—the Missing Link

VeggieFest Speaker Steven Lome

Dr. Steven Lome, M.D., D.O., R.V.T.

Lifestyle Medicine, Plant Based Diets and Heart Disease

Dr. Steven Lome, M.D., D.O., R.V.T.

About the speaker

Steven Lome, DO, RVT, is a plant based, lifestyle medicine board certified cardiologist located in Monterey, CA. He graduated in 2004 from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL. He is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, vascular medicine, lifestyle medicine, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology and cardiac CT. Dr. Lome is also a registered vascular technologist (RVT) and registered physician in vascular interpretation (RPVI). He is the sole author of LearnTheHeart.com now a part of Cardiology Today. Currently, he is the Chief of Cardiology at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and the medical director of MMG Cardiology. He founded Plant Based Nutrition Movement (PBNM.org), a Chicagoland based nonprofit organization promoting plant based diets. He is the author of HeartStrong.com, a free online “do it yourself” lifestyle medicine program for heart disease prevention/reversal. He also has an active YouTube channel “Dr Steven Lome–Lifestyle Medicine.” Active with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Lome was a speaker at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine in Washington, DC in August 2023. He is also a member of the American College of Cardiology nutrition work group. He successfully resuscitated two runners during the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in November 2022 which captured worldwide media attention. The two runners, Greg and Michael, have been using that experience to further promote lifestyle medicine and heart disease prevention and For now follow a 100% plant-based diet. He is married to his wife Helen, a family medicine physician, and they have six 100% plant based children ranging from ages 6 through 17.

Talk title: Lifestyle Medicine, Plant Based Diets and Heart Disease

VeggieFest Speaker Carlos Lozano

Carlos Lozano, Esq.

Lawyer and former diplomat of Colombia

Seven (Spiritual) Secrets of the Vegetarian Diet (Siete secretos (espirituales) de la dieta vegetariana)

Carlos Lozano, Esq.

About the speaker

Carlos Lozano, a lawyer and former diplomat of Colombia, has held a variety of jobs that have helped him develop a wide range of skills. He spent 10 years serving as Consul General and Counsellor of Colombia in the Middle East –six in Egypt and four in India. Carlos moved to live and work in the United States in 1999 and retired pensioned in 2009. For more than 50 years he has been collaborating to spread the simple but powerful technique of SOS Meditation, under the direction of three Spiritual Masters in over 40 countries in North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Carlos Lozano’s commitment is to balance worldly duties with spirituality and share with humanity the benefits of meditation to the body, mind, and soul.

Talk title: Seven (Spiritual) Secrets of the Vegetarian Diet (Siete secretos (espirituales) de la dieta vegetariana)

VeggieFest Speaker David Martinez

David Martinez, M.S.

Special Education for the Blind and Educational Administration

How to Deal with Stress and Be Resilient (Como Lidiar con el Estrés y Ser Resiliente)

David Martinez, M.S.

About the speaker

David Martinez has a Master’s degree in Special Education and Educational Administration as well as clinical administration with an emphasis on visual impairments. He is currently employed as an Orientation & Mobility Instructor for the Los Angeles Unified School District, working with blind students. He has helped edit and contribute to professional publications for the American Foundation for the Blind. While working on his degree, David founded a meditation club and co-facilitated workshops on the benefits of meditation and the vegetarian diet.

Talk title: How to Deal with Stress and Be Resilient (Como Lidiar con el Estrés y Ser Resiliente)

Learn simple and effective practices to help you deal with stress in a positive way and develop resiliency.

VeggieFest Speaker Matthew Raider

Dr. Matthew Raider, M.D.

Your Fountain of Youth: GEMS for Health

Dr. Matthew Raider, M.D.

About the speaker

Matthew Raider MD has been a practitioner and teacher of geriatric medicine for over 40 years.  Aside from the aging process and its modification, Dr. Raider’s special interests include endurance fitness training, vegetarian nutrition and the health effects of meditation.

Talk title: Your Fountain of Youth: GEMS for Health

VeggieFest Speaker Louis Ritz

Dr. Louis A. Ritz, Ph.D.

Neuroscientist, Emeritus faculty at the University of Florida

Our Brain on Meditation

Dr. Louis A. Ritz, Ph.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Ritz is an emeritus faculty member of the Department of Neuroscience within the University of Florida College of Medicine and the McKnight Brain Institute. For many years, his focus was on medical and graduate education. He was course director for Clinical Neuroscience, taken by second year medical students, and is co-author of the textbook Medical Neuroscience. He is also director of the campus-wide Center for Spirituality and Health at the University of Florida, which offers workshops, academic programs, and interdisciplinary research ventures exploring the impact of spirituality on health. For the undergraduate Honors Program, Dr. Ritz directs two courses, “Spirituality and Health” and “Neurotheology.” The honors students named Dr. Ritz the “2018 Honors Professor of the Year.”

Talk title: Our Brain on Meditation

VeggieFest Speaker Dr Natalie Santiago-Brown

Dr. Natalie Santiago-Brown, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Pediatrician

10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Veganism for Your Family

Dr. Natalie Santiago-Brown, M.D., F.A.A.P.

About the speaker

Dr. Santiago is a board-certified pediatrician with over 15 years of experience in community health. A vegetarian for 35 years and a vegan for over a decade, Dr. Natalie is dedicated to helping families transform their health and their lives with a nutritious, delicious, plant-based diet. In her talk, she will discuss the top ten reasons why you should consider a plant-based, vegan diet for you and your family. She will address questions about nutrition for children and expectant or lactating mothers, how to incorporate healthy meals into your family’s diet, and how to handle living with non-vegans / vegetarians.

Talk title: 10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Veganism for Your Family

She will address questions about nutrition for children and expectant or lactating mothers, how to incorporate healthy meals into your family’s diet, and how to handle living with non-vegans / vegetarians.

VeggieFest Speaker Arjan Stephens

Arjan Stephens

President of Nature’s Path Organic Foods

Eating Mindfully, Living Vibrantly: A guide to healthy & sustainable choices

Arjan Stephens

About the speaker

Arjan Stephens (President of Nature’s Path Organic Foods, Artist and Conservationist) serves as the President of Nature’s Path Organic Foods, North America’s largest certified organic plant-based breakfast and snack food company. Arjan is dedicated to promoting conscious consumerism, particularly in the realm of food. He believes that our forks and wallets are powerful tools for positive change, with regenerative organic agriculture serving as the catalyst to transform the world for the better. Arjan has been instrumental in driving Nature’s Path mission including initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and support organic farming communities. He loves gardening and volunteering at the Science of Spirituality Meditation & Ecology Center in British Columbia.

Talk title: Eating Mindfully, Living Vibrantly: A guide to healthy & sustainable choices

VeggieFest Speaker Rimjhim Duggal Stephens

Dr. Rimjhim Duggal Stephens. M.D., R.H.N.

Health and Nutrition Strategist at Nature’s Path

Powering up with Plant Protein: Nutritional Superheroes for Kids

Dr. Rimjhim Duggal Stephens. M.D., R.H.N.

About the speaker

Dr. Duggal Stephens is a champion of health. As a Health and Nutrition Strategist, she keeps us on the cutting edge of nutritional advice and health initiatives. Trained in medicine at Manipal University and the University of the West Indies, Dr. Duggal Stephens has always been drawn to healing through food. She went on to study nutrition science after completing her medical degree, and since then, her extensive knowledge has allowed her to help many patients manage their illnesses for which food was often a common denominator. She acts as a wellness guide both within our community and in the wider world. Dr. Duggal Stephens and her husband, Arjan Stephens, co-created Love Crunch granola and spearheaded Nature’s Path’s “Bite4Bite” initiative, through which up to $1 million is annually donated to food banks in need. A skilled teacher and writer, Dr. Duggal Stephens is also a lifelong meditator and has contributed to Meditation as Medication for the Soul. In her spare time, she mentors a global young adult group that focuses on ethical leadership, service, and conscious living.

Talk title: Powering up with Plant Protein: Nutritional Superheroes for Kids

VeggieFest Speaker Mark Young

Dr. Mark Young, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus at the University of Central Florida

Meditation for Anxiety & Stress

Dr. Mark Young, Ph.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Young is Professor Emeritus at the University of Central Florida. For nearly 20 years he worked as a therapist in various settings including community mental health, private practice, college counseling centers and corrections. He is the author of five textbooks including the widely used, Learning the Art of Helping, now in its 8th edition. Dr. Young is co-founder of the UCF Marriage and Family Research Institute.  Since 2003, the Institute has provided couples and relationship education for more than 15,000 individuals. Dr. Young has been honored with a number of awards including the Distinguished Mentor awards from ACA and ACES. He is a Fellow of the American Counseling Association. Currently, he writes and conducts research on the psychological effects of meditation.

Talk title: Meditation for Anxiety & Stress

VeggieFest Speaker Orellana and Iza

Dr. Guillermo A. Rodas Orellana, M.D. & Dr. Jeanneth A. Rangles Iza, M.D.

Doctors in the Master's program in Acupuncture of the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar

Nutrición Holística / Holistic Nutrition

Dr. Guillermo A. Rodas Orellana, M.D. & Dr. Jeanneth A. Rangles Iza, M.D.

About the speaker

Dr. Guillermo A. Rodas Orellana and Dr. Jeanneth A. Rangles Iza are medical doctors graduated from the Central University of Ecuador. They currently serve as professors in the Master’s program in Acupuncture at the Andean University Simón Bolívar. Additionally, they teach Pharmacology and Research at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. Their mission is to support the community through education, fostering a holistic approach to health and disease, implementing integrative medicine, promoting good prescribing practices, and advocating for the rational use of medications.

Talk title: Nutrición Holística / Holistic Nutrition

Veggie Fest Speakers

Attend free talks by internationally recognized health and nutrition experts, offering the latest research and tips for leading a healthier and happier life.

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