Chicago Vegan foods – Dandies!

Thank you to Chicago Vegan Foods for sending us 200 sample packs of Dandies vegan marshmallows!

I bet you thought we couldn’t cram anything more into those SWAG bags but our donation coordinator Martha was undaunted by the challenge.  The remaining bags of marshmallows will be handed out as prizes around the festival, so try out the Feed-a-Vegan beanbag toss or check out the games at the new Teen Tent!

Laughing Gull Chocolates

We are so glad Laughing Gull Chocolates will have a booth at VegFest this year!

They sell ethically-sourced artisan chocolates that are made in their shop on East Main St. and have many vegan options available including most of their drinks, select truffles, dipped fruits and chocolate bark. They also run chocolate making workshops that can be done with vegan ingredients.

Jonell Belcher-Chudyk



Jonell Belcher-Chudyk, LCSW, AASW is the founder and executive director of Mockingbird Farm, a 501(c)3 farm animal sanctuary in Byron, NY (35 minutes west of Rochester). Jonell is also a therapist in private practice, primarily working with children, veterans (she is also a veteran herself) and their families who have experienced trauma or struggle with depression, anxiety, grief and loss. Jonell has found the unique bond between humans and non-humans to be incredibly powerful and healing when mutually respected and nurtured. Jonell became a published author in the field of human-animal interaction in 2010, and received scholarship to attend the University of Denver’s Master’s program at the Institute of Human Animal Interaction through DU’s Graduate School of Social Work.

In addition to operating the farm sanctuary and her private practice, she has given lectures on animal behavior, human- animal interaction, the field of animal assisted therapy and ethical considerations of animals in our lives. She also provides pro-bono counseling to individuals struggling with the loss of their animal companions, and evaluating comfort in the final stages of animal’s lives. Jonell has also developed workshops for veterinary clinics regarding compassion fatigue, burn out and self-care for veterinarian’s, residents, clinical fellows and support staff.

Jonell spends her days in gratitude physically and emotionally caring for the most vulnerable and oppressed sentient beings of our society. She and her husband Joe are currently raising their 3 year-old daughter Audrey at Mockingbird Farm, where Audrey has joyfully grown up with many baby goats and chickens being rehabilitated in the farmhouse!

Mockingbird Farm is a vegan oriented sanctuary and forever home to 23 animals who have been rescued from a life of neglect, abandonment, surrender or abuse. In a perfect world, sanctuaries wouldn’t need to exist, but because they do, Mockingbird Farm sets out to compassionately integrate humans into the lives of rescued animals in order to heal their physical and emotional trauma.

Animal Rights as Transformation

Jonell will be speaking about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma for animal rights activists and advocates, how to care for yourself in a world that doesn’t [always] understand veganism, the most recently published literature in the field of human-animal interaction, real stories of mental health transformation (both human and non-human) through our relationships within species, and how you can make an impact.

Dr. Chris Hirschler


Chris Hirschler is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education at Monmouth University. Chris founded Plants for Peace at Monmouth University, directs faculty-led programs in Guatemala and Costa Rica, produces YouTube videos, blogs for One Green Planet, and he has been published in Society and Animals (2011), Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition (2014). Chris is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist, athlete, and frequent national and international conference presenter.

The Dimensions of Wellness:
Lessons from a 20-year vegan journey

Dr. Chris Hirschler, Associate professor and chair of Monmouth University’s Health and Physical Education department discusses the Six Dimensions of Wellness in the context of a 20-year personal and professional vegan journey.

Flour City Nut Grind

We are so excited to welcome Flour City Nut Grind to VegFest!  They will be selling their artisanal vegan cheeses and maybe some sauces.