Talks and workshops

We are delighted to bring you an exciting line-up of passionate and capable guest speakers from around the country who are looking forward to sharing their stories and expertise with you.

10:15am – The Vegan Kickstarter: Kickstart Your Health

Katarina Tawiri

Katarina runs the award-winning nutrition education and cooking class programme that provides an innovative approach to diet-related chronic diseases in a socially fun and entertaining environment. Designed by physicians, nurses, and registered dietitians, Food for Life promotes healthful eating based on the latest scientific research.

Kickstart Your Health is the first of a four-part series of classes. During this 60-minute introductory class, you will learn about the science behind plant-based eating, how to create a menu plan, a shopping list and how to read food labels. It includes a Vegan Starter Kit (with lots of recipes) and other literature will set you up for success on your journey to vibrant health.


Katarina’s passion for growing and eating plants is the thread that is woven through the fabric of her life. It started during her childhood in Switzerland, where she often cooked for her family and at school camps. At 15 she decided to become a vegetarian. At 18 she undertook a year-long apprenticeship in self-sufficiency. French cuisine and gardening were part of the curriculum. At 20 she began a four-year apprenticeship in farming, which taught her about growing food and faced her with the reality of animal farming.

In February 2020, Katarina started her wholefood plant-based journey and in 2021, she became a member of Evidence Based Eating (New Zealand). Two years later, she graduated as the first Food for Life instructor in New Zealand, certified by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

11:30am – Possums are as Kiwi as Fish and Chips

Dr Emily Major

Possum Advocacy and the Potential for Compassionate Conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand. Dr Emily Major is a vegan academic activist who has dedicated her life to helping alleviate cruelty and violence towards nonhuman animals… particularly those species deemed as ‘pests’.

Her recent doctoral dissertation, ‘Possums are as Kiwi as Fish and Chips’: Possum Advocacy and the Potential for Compassionate Conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand, was chosen as one of the University of Canterbury’s Graduate Success Stories for 2023.

Emily is actively working on publishing research from her thesis and continues to educate the public through various outreach opportunities, such as this presentation with the Vegan Expo, and through her research activism blog, Framing Speciesism. She stays sane through the company of her four rat friends who like to distract with their cheeky antics.

12:30pm – The health benefits of a whole food plant based diet

Dr Mandy Bergstrom

A doctor based in Southland, Mandy is passionate about preventative medicine and addressing the various risk factors that contribute significantly to our leading causes of death and disease.

“Diet is the number one risk factor for early deaths worldwide, yet it is often not sufficiently addressed in our hospitals, practices or even medical schools. We owe it to our patients to provide them with accurate and up-to-date knowledge to help prevent and potentially reverse chronic diseases, which is why I am promoting a whole-food, plant-based diet.”

Mandy is also part of the team working with Evidence Based Eating (NZ).

1:30pm – How to save thousands a year on your groceries without going dumpster diving.

Olivia Bell

Olivia has been living a plant-based life for over 27 years and has extensive international experience. She shares insights on how to buy nutritious vegan wholefood on a budget, stock your pantry, store food properly to reduce food waste, and cooking tips. Olivia also introduces her vegan cooking class and GreenSaver blog. Go in to win a cooking class for 2 people valued at $60.

  • How to save time and money while living vegan
  • Vegan essentials for your pantry and fridge
  • Shopping tips that will save you money
  • Cooking tips that will save you time
  • Travel tips for eating vegan food on the go
  • Information on community resources such as the fruit and vegetable coop
  • And a brief intro into the vegan cooking class that we have set up

Olivia’s cooking class and GreenSaver blog

2:30pm – Nutrition basics: Vegan edition

Rebecca Dent

Rebecca will take you through the basics of good nutrition, what vegans need to specifically pay attention to, and tips on how to put this into practice. She will cover how to build a balanced meal, vegan-specific vitamin and mineral considerations, what supplements are helpful and worth your time, and also bust some common vegan nutrition myths. If you’re feeling lost or confused about where to start with improving your nutrition, Rebecca will provide you with a framework that helps you determine your next best steps.



Rebecca (she/her) became vegan for animal rights and environmental reasons, but she didn’t have much knowledge or support about how to transition to a healthy, sustainable vegan diet. Years later, she has recently gained a degree in Human Nutrition and is now an associate registered nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand. Combining her own personal experience with evidence based information from her studies, Rebecca enjoys supporting people in their transition to a vegan diet, and also helping more experienced vegans to improve their nutrition. She completed her work placement for her degree with the Vegan Society of Aotearoa New Zealand’s 21 Day Try Vegan Challenge, and is now the challenge’s project manager. Rebecca aligns with Health at Every Size principles, and works as an eating disorder recovery coach/support worker at Recovered Living NZ, a nutritionist at @notes.from.a.nutritionist, and teaches night classes in nutrition with Risingholme.

About the Vegan Expo

Originally launched in 2007 as the Vegetarian Expo in Christchurch, this inspiring annual food and lifestyle event has continued to demonstrate growth and popularity for the past 16 years and is now held nationally.

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