Food justice advocate, author and vegan chef Bryant Terry. Paige Green photo

Food Justice is the theme of the day-long Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances on Jan. 15 at Bates College in Lewiston, where nationally known food justice advocate, author and vegan chef Bryant Terry is to deliver the keynote address.

In 2015, the James Beard Foundation presented Terry with a leadership award for his work to create “a healthy, just, and sustainable food system.” Terry won an NAACP Image Award in 2021 for his book “Vegetable Kingdom.” The Bates MLK Day events are free and open to the public, although space is limited. Terry speaks at 9 a.m. in the Gomes Chapel.

“In a world racked by environmental calamity, economic inequality, war and rapid technological change, eating is also inseparable from questions of justice,” said Tyler Harper, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Bates who co-chaired the event planning committee with Justin Moriarty, a lecturer in theater and the technical director of the Department of Theater and Dance. “The MLK Planning Committee chose this year’s theme not only because it is topical but because food is inherently interpersonal, interdisciplinary, and intercultural.”

At 1:15 p.m., Terry, who has written and edited six books about food, will give a cooking demonstration. Tickets to this event are already sold out.

Terry, who lives in San Francisco has lectured in Maine before. He spoke at Colby College in 2023, and in 2009 he gave a talk at Space Gallery in Portland, after the publication of his first book, “Vegan Soul Kitchen.”

The day includes a number of other speakers and workshops, as well. During the 1:15 p.m. workshop sessions, author Alicia Kennedy, a widely published food writer and former editor at New York Magazine, will deliver her thoughts via Zoom on the significance of including joy in food justice conversations. Kennedy’s 2023 book “No Meat Required: The Cultural History & Culinary Future of Plant-Based Eating” chronicles the past 50 years of resistance to animal-centric eating in the U.S.

At 3 p.m., a workshop will explore the topic of “Expanding the Definition of Maine Food,” with “Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook” authors Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz (they’ve recently founded Community Plate) and cookbook historian Don Lindgren. Also at 3 p.m., Bates seniors Madeleine Lee and Ruby Forde will lead a workshop titled “What Even is ‘Ethnic Food’?,” where they will invite participants to share their perspectives on cultural cuisine.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

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