2023 Indy Vegfest PRESENTERs

Amanda Reninger

Owner, Sea Salt & Cinnamon
Amanda Reninger is the owner of Sea Salt & Cinnamon, a vegan food company based in Muncie, Indiana, and has been vegan for over 10 years. After having very high cholesterol in their 20's, Amanda and her partner, Kyle, went vegan for their health. Learning about ethical veganism and relating their love of animals to that, was the next step that helped them decide to make commitments to being fully vegan, and they haven't looked back since. As a classically trained musician, Amanda found a connection between music and baking and often says, "music is all math with a creative component and baking is all math with a creative component, so it just makes sense to me." She started Sea Salt & Cinnamon in 2014 and has grown the business from "just her and some cupcakes" to having a full team, a storefront and a strong wholesale reach all over the state of Indiana. The Sea Salt & Cinnamon mission is to invite people into compassion for themselves, others and the animals we share this planet with. They have done this through supporting their community in Muncie, and throughout Indiana. Amanda has been featured on "Where is Sherman?" Fox59's show, multiple times, as well as other local Indy stations, and Sea Salt & Cinnamon has been recognized by Indy VegFest voted Best Bakery in Indy multiple times. She was also awarded the 2022 Indiana Small Business Development's Woman Owned Business of the Year. Amanda & Kyle live near Downtown Muncie with their rescue fur babies, 6 cats and 3 dogs.

Anne Mitchell

Mindfulness Practicioner
Anne Mitchell is a vegan animal rights activist and daily mindfulness practitioner and has spent more than 30 years in a caregiving career. Anne knows how important it is for people who advocate for animals, the planet and human health to be present, grounded and better able to navigate all that life offers or throws at us.

Corey McDaniel

Owner, The Food Architect
My name is Corey McDaniel, also known as The Food Architect. I am a classically trained Chef turned alkaline Vegan committed to the enhancement of my community through the proper preparation of fresh flavorful plant-based soy-free dishes, Yoga (physical fitness), and most importantly public service. In 2011 I graduated from the Chef's Academy becoming a Certified Chef. I had always loved food and believed I was a health nut (due to my sports and weightlifting background) until I really learned more about food. Becoming a chef showed me the old saying was true, "a chef is a person’s first doctor". The new knowledge I gained of food opened up a new world of understanding. Now seeing the affect food choices and availability has on a community mentally and physically, I have made it my personal goal to be a "doctor" to those that need help. I have been fortunate to work at a number of restaurants across the country. I helped open Wala in Detroit, MI in 2012, and then worked in Atlanta and Savannah, GA until returning back to Indianapolis to open a food truck in 2014. From working in this industry I would often encounter homeless people hanging out by the dumpsters. It was against restaurant policy to give them food we were throwing out due to insurance issues. So even if people were waiting for food, we would have to place the food in dumpsters, and then let the homeless people get it out. It was sad to see. It seemed to literally take their dignity away. I vowed when I started my own business things would be different. In 2014 I started a feed the homeless initiative. For over 3 1/2 years now I have tried my best to feed 50-75 of our homeless residents each week. The cost for me to do this is approximately $1.75/person. I am paid each week for my time and energy by the love and gratitude exchanged from my homeless friends and the universe alike....and nothing else. I realized a long time ago, the distance between the “have” and “have nots” is not as big as we would like to believe. Each of us are just a few checks from being homeless ourselves. We must appreciate what we have been blessed with and through that, do our part to be a blessing to others. In 2011 I started to look deeper into the food I was prepping and preparing due to prior health issues. In 2005 I was diagnosed with MRSA. After my initial treatments I believed I was “cured”, only to find that whenever I ate chicken a MRSA outbreak would follow. I subsequently learned that the hormone-filled, pesticide-eating chicken I once loved was now the primary source of my problems. I started to notice issues with the quality of meat products bought, cooked and distributed by major suppliers. At first this really surprised me until I remembered something my Granddaddy once told me, “Just because you can eat it, doesn’t mean you should.” I had always been a picky eater. At around 10 years old I stopped eating chicken off the bone. I remember biting into a drumstick once; there was something about me ripping the flesh away and seeing the muscle fibers and tendons pop that grossed me out. At the age of 15 I stopped eating pork due to the influence of Malcolm X and the understanding of how close a pig’s structural make-up is to a human’s. By the time I was 17 years old, I was mentally ready to become a vegetarian, however my need to gain muscle mass to play college football stifled that thought. I was told without eating meat I would never get the vitamins and minerals I needed to excel physically on the field. It took years for me to disprove this idea. Each medicine used today is derived from a natural substance, even antidepressants. Chefs were the world’s first doctors and food was man’s first medicine. It is a known fact that feelings are created by chemical changes in the body. That’s right, your anger, love, lust, and even depression can be simplified into a chemical formula. That’s why in today’s time so many people dealing with depression are on some form of medication to help. Over the past 10 years a large and ever-growing body of evidence shows a well-balanced 100% plant-based diet is ideal to reach optimum human health. Wholegrains, beans, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are foods that provide all the essential nutrients that we need not just to survive, but to reach the bodies and mental clarity most long for. Under the parameters of our western diets, we eat too much protein. Excessive protein consumption has been linked to a number of serious health problems. Studies show that balanced vegan diets provide sufficient amounts of protein, and increase the consumption of the fruits and vegetables needed to maintain and increase our overall health. You have been lied too. You have been taught wrong. The reason we, as a whole, suffer so much mentally, physically, and emotionally are due to the way we have been taught to eat. There is a reason our country’s food and drug regulations are handled by the same administration. In 1970, Henry Kissinger said, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” Throughout Urban, inner-city, lower income, brown and black neighborhoods, we are struggling. We are eating ourselves into psychosis, depression, obesity, hyperactivity, sexual deviancy, and more due to a lack of education and resources. In too many cases we are unable to engage in and maintain healthy relationships due to chemical coaching from the food we eat. We are being fed and medicated in a manner that leads to declining behavior placing us at the mercy of a bias system. There’s an epidemic today of our children being labeled “special needs” and “problem kids” due to overstimulation and altered reasoning resulting from everyday sugar-filled food choices. We are a nation full of drug addicts, addicted to salt, sugar, flesh, blood and the emotional connection to them. In our current economy, Illness causing foods, the doctor visits, medications, and the insurance associated with it is needed, and looking at our current food standards is wanted. Sickness is big business. In the same manner the slave master made money off the blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors, this food/medical industry today is doing same thing. Yet what was once forced on us we now happily accept and perpetuate ourselves. Knowledge is not power. The application of knowledge however is. Once you know better it’s your responsibility to do better.

Dr. Lisa Harris

CEO, Eskenazi Health
Dedicating her career to improving health care for vulnerable and underserved populations, Lisa E. Harris, M.D., has practiced medicine for 30 years at nationally recognized Eskenazi Health. Today, Dr. Harris serves as Eskenazi Health’s chief executive officer, leading one of America’s essential health care systems that also serves as a vital training ground for the Indiana University School of Medicine. In addition to her leadership role at Eskenazi Health, Dr. Harris remains actively engaged in patient care, research and teaching. Long before national health care reform took shape in America, Dr. Harris concentrated Eskenazi Health’s resources on prevention, health promotion and primary care, asserting that the greatest opportunity to improve the health and vitality of a community is to keep people well in the first place. She is intensely focused on improving access to patient-centered, comprehensive, community-based primary and mental health care, health promotion and effective chronic disease management. And, as past chair of America’s Essential Hospitals (formerly the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems), Dr. Harris has nurtured the organization’s strong presence on Capitol Hill, advocating for our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Also an active and engaged leader in the local community, Dr. Harris serves as president of the board of directors of the American Red Cross of Indiana, as well as on the boards of directors for the Regenstrief Institute, Julian Center, Second Helpings, MESH (Managed Emergency Surge for Healthcare), and the inaugural board of directors of the Patachou Foundation, focused on providing healthful food to homeless children. She also serves on the boards of United Way of Central Indiana and the Christian Theological Seminary and served as the 2015 chair of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative. In 2009, Dr. Harris helped successfully lead a campaign seeking voter approval for a new Wishard Hospital campus. Prior to the 2009 special election calling upon voters to approve the construction, Dr. Harris helped build coalition of community and business leaders and participated in more than 200 meetings to share information about the project. An astounding 85 percent of voters said yes to the referendum; in 33 precincts, not one opposing vote was cast. In 2011, the organization received a $40 million gift from Indianapolis couple Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, in honor of whom Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County named the new hospital facilities. The Eskenazi Health campus opened in December 2013 and is among the first and largest hospital campuses in the United States and the first in Indiana to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification.

Evan Black

DJ Stylistic
Evan Black, also known as DJ Stylistic, is a local DJ here in Indianapolis. Stylistic has been DJing around Indianapolis for about 11 years and is a DJ instructor at Deckademics DJ School in Broad Ripple. He has been a DJ for the Indiana Pacers for the last 5 years. Stylistic has been a vegan for about 11 years now. Outside of DJing, he is an advocate for educating people of color on plant-based diets and veganism.

Nancy Zhang

Plant-based Nutrition Advocate
Nancy Zhang is an incoming high school senior at Carmel High School, and a passionate advocate for plant-based options in K-12 schools and beyond. As a teen interested in nutrition, Nancy discovered the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle for human health a few years ago, and has since been involved in the plant-based advocacy space. After noticing the lack of diversity in vegetarian/vegan options at her school, she has collaborated with her school's food service team to implement nutrient-dense, plant-based options in her cafeteria. Additionally, as a member of the Plant-Powered Youth Steering Committee, she has helped plan and present at a USDA listening session advocating for increased access to plant-based lunch options in schools. Nancy has lobbied on capitol hill for increased access to plant-based options in schools, and for the reduction of factory farms in the U.S. In addition, she and the rest of the committee met with the executive office of the president, and the USDA to further advocate for policies to improve on these pressing issues. Nancy is a nutrition advocacy intern at the nutrition security non-profit, Balanced, where she is creating a student advocacy guide, as well as hosting a plant-based exploration event at her local library. Also an active member and vice-chair of the Federal Plant-Based School Food Advocacy Coalition, she leads a youth-centered campaign; Nancy is passionate about centering youth voices in conversations where they matter most.

Ratat Rayay

Visual and Performing Artist
With over a decade of experience in the art industry, this Ratat has mastered the delicate balance between creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of holistic living. As a visual and performing artist, Ratat’s unique creations blend imaginative elements with vibrant colors, thought-provoking concepts, leaving audiences awestruck and inspired. Ratat takes an unwavering stand as a devoted advocate for holistic living, having embraced the transformative power of veganism, health and wellness. A loving and dedicated mom of Three. Passionate about empowering women, she has built a thriving community through hosting camping trips for over 100 women. Ratat also serves as the Vice President of the National Hook Up of Black Women Indianapolis Chapter, a non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting and supporting the Black community.

Robert Grillo

Director, Free From Harm
Robert Grillo is an activist, author and speaker for all species. He is also the founder and director of Free from Harm, a nonprofit dedicated to helping advance a plant-based food system. He founded Slaughter Free Network in 2018 to build a grassroots movement for a plant-based future and to challenge the dominance of animal agriculture. As a communications professional for over 25 years, Grillo once worked on large food industry accounts where he acquired a behind-the-scenes perspective on food branding and marketing. His book, Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture, explores the powerful narratives driving our culture of mass animal consumption. Other published works include contributions to The Humane Hoax, Caged: Top Activists Share Their Wisdom on Effective Animal Advocacy, and Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice. In addition, Grillo writes articles for Free from Harm and curates work from other leading authors.