Our Exciting Speakers


The Gentle Barn - Ellie Laks

We are proud to present Ellie Laks – representing our sponsor, The Gentle Barn – as a guest speaker at VegFest!

The Gentle Barn is a national organization that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted animals, and heals people with the same stories of abuse and neglect. They have three locations in Santa Clarita, California; Nashville, Tennessee; and Dittmer, Missouri (just an hour southwest of St. Louis)!

Ellie is an expert in healing orphaned and sick animals, like puppies with Parvo and calves from veal crates. She invented her own “Gentle Healing Method” that allows old, sick, injured, and terrified animals to fully recover, using a mixture of Western medicine, holistic healing modalities, holding therapy, and lots of love.


She has also hosted hundreds of thousands of at-risk, inner city, and special needs children, war veterans, seniors, victims of domestic violence, and those in recovery from drug, alcohol, and gang affiliation. It is her goal to build Gentle Barns in every state in America, “Teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other, and our planet.” Head over to the Speaker Area at 1:00 pm for "Being Gentle" with Ellie Laks.



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Ellie with a beautiful turkey friend.

Wayne with an adorable beagle buddy.

Direct Action Everywhere - Wayne Hsiung

We're excited to present Wayne Hsiung as a speaker for St. Louis VegFest 2019! Wayne is co-founder, former lead organizer, and lead investigator of the grassroots animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere - DxE.


As a former corporate lawyer Wayne has done extensive research on animal welfare laws, as well as animal exploiting industries. As an investigator he has uncovered criminal animal cruelty within animal agriculture, the fashion and entertainment industries, and animal research.

Join us at 2:00 pm in the Speaker Area for an impassioned speech from Wayne, "How Frontline Activists are Sparking an Animal Rights Revolution," and be sure to stop by the Direct Action Everywhere - St. Louis, MO booth! Our city's chapter will also be at the festival with videos of DXE's investigations and rescues, and personal stories of taking direct action for animals.

Check out DXE's website for more information.



Bad Ass Vegan - John Lewis

Last year he was our Emcee; this year he’ll be speaking about justice. Let’s welcome back John Lewis, AKA Bad Ass Vegan!


John Lewis is a fitness guru, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker who was raised in Ferguson, Missouri. He is passionate about fitness and health, and genuinely wants to help others achieve a happy and healthy lifestyle.

In the past few years John has teamed up with “What the Health” creators to produce a film of his own, “Hungry for Justice.” In this film John will share hidden truths about our food system, as well as his own personal journey to a healthy lifestyle.


Come to the speaker area at 3:00 pm, and hear more about John’s story and his upcoming documentary.


Check out John's website for more info:




Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine - Dr. Jim Loomis

Presenting Dr. Jim Loomis from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Dr. Loomis is a St. Louis native, who has served as team internist for the St. Louis Rams football team and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, as well as tour physician for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Before joining the Barnard Medical Center, he practiced internal medicine at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, where he was also the director of Prevention and Wellness. In addition, he was on the clinical faculty of the Department of Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.


Come hear his speech, “Food as Medicine: The Transformational Power of a Plant-Based Diet” at 4:00 pm in the Speaker Area, and let’s give him a warm welcome home!

Check out PCRM's website for more information.