You are cordially invited to attend
United Poultry Concerns’ Eighth Annual Conference
On the topic of
2019 Conscious Eating Conference: What are the Most Compassionate Choices?

Saturday, March 2, 2019, Berkeley, California

Conference Host: United Poultry Concerns

United Poultry Concerns

Conference Synopsis: The Conscious Eating Conference brings expert speakers from across the country to Berkeley, California to share their ideas about the best food choices we can make for the planet, ourselves, and other animals. This year we will explore the future of food, hear about the changing ethics in agriculture, and have a lively debate regarding the innovation of cell-based meat. You don’t want to miss this exciting day of information exchange and advocacy support!

Location: David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(Near the UC Berkeley Campus)

Date: Saturday, March 2, 2019

Registration Opens: 9am

Program: 10am - 5pm

Fee: FREE for students with IDs. $25 pre-registration for all others. $35 at the door the day of the event.

Food: Registration includes a continental breakfast of vegan pastries & fruit, delicious vegan lunch, and all-day coffee & tea.

Online Registration

2019 Registration Closed

For Free Student Registration: Please email

Or send check or money order to:
United Poultry Concerns, PO Box 150, Machipongo, VA 23405

Conscious Eating Conference Schedule of Speakers
Saturday, March 2, 2019, Berkeley, California

9:00 am
Registration Opens
10:00 – 10:50 am
Renee King-Sonnen, Rowdy Girl Sanctuary
Transforming Tradition & Cultural Mores in the Heart of Texas
10 minute break
11:00 – 11:50 am
JoAnn Farb, author and activist
Under Pressure -- Social Justice Progress Amidst Societal Group Coercion
10 minute break
12:00 – 12:50 pm
Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns
The “Ethics” of Eviscerating Farmed Animals for “Better Welfare”
12:50 – 2:00 pm
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Cell-Based Meat Debate

Resolve: Cell-Based Meat is Good for Animals

For the Motion: Bruce Friedrich, Good Food Institute & Leah Garces, Mercy For Animals
Against the Motion: Vasile Stanescu, PhD & John Sanbonmastu, PhD
10 minute break
4:10 – 5:00 pm
Panel Discussion, Question & Answer Session

Bios and Presentations of 2019 Speakers

Transforming Tradition & Cultural Mores in the Heart of Texas

With Renee King-Sonnen
10:00 – 10:50 am
Renee King-Sonnen

Join us for the unbelievable story of a multi-generation Texas cattle rancher’s wife's compassionate transformation to not only a vegan diet, but saving all her animals destined for slaughter. Renee King-Sonnen created Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, an oasis of kindness in the heart of Texas. Renee will share stories of the animals she has come to know and love, reveal how social media was essential to her story going viral, and tell us about the groundbreaking Rancher Advocacy Program assisting other ranchers to make the compassionate choice and transition away from animal farming.

Renee King-Sonnen was born and raised in Houston, Texas and is the founder of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. Renee and her husband, Tommy, owned a cattle ranch in Angleton, TX. She fell in love with all the farm animals on the ranch, but after witnessing time and again the ranch’s baby calves going to the sale barn, she became distraught about the inherent cruelty of the ranching business. She went vegan and began her pursuit of a dream to open a farmed animal sanctuary. As a result of her transformation, their story has been seen all over the United States on CBS, ABC, RFD, and Animal Planet. Rancher families reached out to and related to Renee, and it wasn’t long before the Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP) was born. RAP is on a fast pace to help animal farmers transition to sustainable business models that are good for the planet, the animals and the farmer.

Under Pressure -- Social Justice Progress Amidst Societal Group Coercion

With JoAnn Farb
11:00 – 11:50 am
JoAnn Farb

Working in the pharmaceutical industry, JoAnn Farb saw good people enabling harmful things. Although most of us think we’d have spoken out against culturally sanctioned injustices of the past that are so obvious to us today, we underestimate how susceptible we may be to social pressure, and how it can keep us from even seeing what is harmful. By comparing our cultural norms to past oppressive mindsets, we are less likely to be the people that future generations will ask, "Why didn't they do something?”

JoAnn Farb is a former microbiologist with a global pharmaceutical company, a nutrition educator, the mother of two lifelong vegan daughters and the author of Compassionate Souls -- Raising the Next Generation to Change the World. JoAnn is working on her third book, Gluten – The Science that Explains the Popularity of Paleo, Low-Carb and Keto, which answers why some people fail to thrive on plant-based diets, and how those who already avoid gluten can best reduce their future risk of chronic disease. She has a website and blog at

The “Ethics” of Eviscerating Farmed Animals for “Better Welfare”

With Karen Davis
12:00 – 12:50 pm
Karen Davis

What if scientists could create chickens and other farmed animals whose “adjustment” to industrial confinement consisted in their inability to experience their own existence? As long as they don’t “feel” anything, is this ethical? What if the chicken’s brain could be scientifically expunged by, say, genetically removing the chicken’s cerebral cortex? Some researchers and animal welfarists equate removing brain, sensation, and body parts of factory-farmed animals with the “removal of suffering.” I will examine this claim and present my own opinion of the ethics of evisceration as an animal “welfare” advantage.

Karen Davis, PhD is the president and founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization and sanctuary for chickens in Virginia that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Karen is the author of More Than A Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and Reality; Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry; and The Holocaust and the Henmaid's Tale: A Case for Comparing Atrocities. She has been inducted into the National Animal Rights Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Liberation.

Cell-Based Meat Debate

2:00 – 4:00 pm

As innovations in modern food production continue to emerge, one potential product, that isn’t even on the market yet, is getting a lot of attention. Cell-based meat (also called cultured meat, in-vitro meat, slaughter-free meat, lab-grown meat, and clean meat) is gaining prominence. Sometimes called cellular agriculture, cell-based meat uses cells from a living animal and grows them in a culture medium that provides nutrients. The growing cells are stimulated on a periodically moving scaffold to mimic muscle movement. The end result is a commercial meat product.

Some animal advocacy organizations, as well as animal agriculture heavy hitters like Tyson foods, are investing in the research, viability, and marketability of cell-based meats. But as the technology becomes more of a possibility, others in the animal rights community have raised red flags. The debate over cell-based meat and whether we, as animal activists, should be putting our time and resources into this innovation is gaining traction. We feel that animal advocates need to know more about this emerging issue and are hosting a debate with leading experts on the subject.

Join us for a lively debate on cell-based meat at the Conscious Eating Conference 2019.

Resolve: Cell-Based Meat is Good for Animals

Moderator: Hope Bohanec, UPC

The Debaters:

For the Motion
Bruce Friedrich, Good Food Institute
Leah Garces, Mercy For Animals

Against the Motion
Vasile Stanescu, PhD
John Sanbonmastu, PhD

For the Motion
Bruce Freidrich

Bruce Friedrich is executive director of The Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit organization that promotes innovative alternatives to industrially produced animal products. Bruce has penned opinion pieces for USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Bruce is a popular speaker on college campuses and has presented repeatedly at most of the nation's top universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT. He has coauthored two books, contributed chapters to six books, and authored seven law review articles. Bruce graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law and Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College. He also holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Economics.

Leah Garces

Leah Garces is the president of Mercy For Animals, founder of Compassion in World Farming USA, and author of the forthcoming book GRILLED: Turning adversaries to allies in the fight to change the chicken industry. She is an animal advocate who has partnered with some of the largest food companies in the world with a mission to end the exploitation of animals for food. Her work has been featured in many national and international media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Vice Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune among others. She’s a contributing author to The Huffington Post and Food Safety News. Leah serves on the advisory board of Encompass and Seattle Food Tech. She is also the mom of three incredible kids.

Against the Motion
Vasile Stanescuu

Vasile Stanescu received his PhD in the program of Modern Thought and Literature (MTL) at Stanford University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Communication at Mercer University. His current research interests include locavorism, humane meat, invasive species, the linkages between food and colonialism, and the intersection between environmentalism and animal studies. Vasile is co-senior editor of the Critical Animal Studies book series published by Rodopi/Brill and the former co-editor of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies. He is the author of over 20 peer-reviewed publications on critical animal studies, and his research has been recognized by The Woods Institute for the Environment, Minding Animals International, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Culture and Animals Foundation, among others.

John Sanbonmatsu

John Sanbonmatsu, PhD is associate professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. John's work in critical animal studies probes the nature of speciesism as a mode of production (particularly as it intersects with capitalism). His articles and essays have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and other venues. In addition, he is the editor of the book, Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (2014), and author of The Postmodern Prince (2004). At present, he is at work on a new book, The Omnivore's Deception, about the ecological crisis, the myth of humane meat, and the troubling nature of our relations with other animals.