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Speakers for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014!

Taylor Radig

This year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest offers a number of moving presentations by both local figures in the movement and visiting speakers from out of town. These presentations cover the gamut from informative seminars on plant-based nutrition to eye-opening discourse on the treatment of animals in religion to moving firsthand accounts of what happens on factory farms.

The speakers include:

  • Mark Berkson, Ph.D., Professor and Chair in the Department of Religion at Hamline University
  • Kristina DeMuth, registered dietician
  • Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing
  • Taylor Radig, former undercover investigator
  • Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection, Humane Society of the United States

Here’s a bit more about what you can expect from a few of them:

For a glimpse of Paul Shapiro’s talk, listen to our recent podcast interview and learn why he thinks the animal protection movement is winning, what led him to going vegan, and what was the most influential presentation on the subject of farm animal protection that he ever heard.

Paul Shapiro
Paul Shapiro

Professor Mark Berkson, a local leader in the animal advocacy community, will be exploring the attitudes toward and treatment of non-human animals in a number of the world’s major religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Former undercover investigator Taylor Radig was the most recent addition to the schedule. Those of us who attended the Animal Rights National Conference last month got to hear Taylor Radig speak about her experience as an undercover investigator filming animal abuse on factory farms. We were profoundly moved by Taylor’s firsthand account of the cruelty she witnessed and thought her powerful story should be shared with our Twin Cities community.

Stayed tuned for blog posts previewing what Kristina DuMuth and Erica Meier will present at the festival.

We are excited to bring these five amazing speakers to Twin Cities Veg Fest this year. Since we expect well over 2,000 people to attend the festival, these presentations will reach many new people with a message of compassion.

The festival is free to attend and will take place on Sunday, September 28, 2014 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

To hear more speakers, register for Their Lives, Our Voices, an animal advocacy conference happening on Saturday, September 27, the day before the festival.

Minnesota State Fair – Vegan Guide

corn on the cob

This article was originally featured on the blog Accidentally Meatless on September 2, 2013.

When my fiance decided to stop eating animals and animal products (go vegan), we thought vegan pickings would be slim at the “Great Minnesota Get Together” (State Fair). To our delight, blogger Midwest Vaygun had our back. She had several years of “gorging” at the state fair in the name of providing vegans a list of fair food options. Thank goodness for upstanding Minnesotans willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of our communities. Also, thank you to my parents, friends, and fiance who helped compile the list below. With that said, please do confirm for yourselves that these dishes are vegan and note this list is not comprehensive. In other words, we got full!

Minnesota State Fair Food Guide for Vegans

Our Top Five

There’s a lot to do at the fair, but these delectable treats are worth the $12 entrance ticket alone!

1. Corn Roast (located near the Grandstand) Hold the butter, enjoy nature’s food on a stick in its summer glory. This is a perennial favorite of many.

2. Produce Exchange’s Sweet Dreams Peach (located across the street from the International Bazaar) Before you judge this as not adequately deep-fried or on-a-stick to qualify as fair food, I dare you to tell me you’ve had a better peach. I dream of these peaches all year. Thus, they are aptly named.

3. Fresh French Fries (2 locations: between Adventure land and the Mighty Midway and in front of the Senior Center, west of the Agriculture building) Deep-fried, crisp salty goodness in a bucket. Made with fresh potatoes. There are many imitators, but none compare. The owners of these stands are probably millionaires because the crowds who line up for this must include anyone who likes french fries.

4. Harry Singh’s Vegetarian Roti with Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce (southeast corner of the Food Building) Mild mannered when wrapped in its warm roti shell, this bad boy up  is delicious with a splash of the hottest hot sauce you’ve probably ever had. With the already flavorful curried chickpeas, this is a great meal option. We liked it better than the doubles, but they’re cheaper and smaller if you just want a taste.

5. MN Apples’ Frozen Cider Pop and Fresh Apple Sauce (in the west hall of the Agriculture building) The State Fair is one last summer party before kids head back to school and the leaves start to change. Make the transition to Fall a little more comforting with this refreshing Mr. Freeze-popsicle cider that serves as a bridge between the seasons. And the apple sauce is better than anything you’ll find in a jar at the store. Perfectly portioned and priced at less than $2 each.

Honorable Mention:

Farmer’s Union’s Iced Coffee with a Splash of Soy Milk (near the front gate, west side of Dan Patch) If you get to the Fair early or need a caffeine boost, the Farmer’s Union booth serves J&S Bean Factory coffee which tastes great and offers Pacific Natural Foods’ barista blend soy milk (my favorite non-dairy milk for coffee drinks)

The Goods

We liked but just didn’t love these options.

1. Strawberries & Creme (Randall and Underwood near the kidway) We couldn’t believe our eyes, but the staff confirmed that the whipping cream is nondairy. The strawberries were slightly tart and cool with a generous dollop of rich, sweet nondairy cream.

2. French Meadows Brown Sugar Scone (Carnes and Underwood) It was more flat than the other scones, almost cookie-like. The flavor was good and made us hope they carry it in store year-round. I don’t suspect it will ever have the crazed following that leads to long lines waiting for the cronut-doussiant, but you can at least people watch the line while enjoying the scone and a coffee.

3. Hamline Dining Hall Pomegranate Pizzazz Sorbet (near the Visitor Center on Dan Patch) Refreshing and cool with the iconic Izzy’s mini-scoop on top. Service was inconsistent, but the sorbet was great. Izzy’s is a favorite local ice cream shop that offers soy ice cream and sorbet options for vegans.

4. Spring Grove Sodas Rhu-berry Soda (on Nelson near the DNR building) We Minnesotans love our rhubarb, but this soda was a little sweeter than we hoped. Heavy Table, which runs a State Fair food tour (not vegan) raves about the lemon sour and thought the rhu-berry and lemon sodas were good offerings.

Vegan Mecca: International Bazaar

You’re more likely to score vegan options if you check out the International Bazaar, located on the south side of the fairgrounds. Here are a few tantalizing options:

1. Island Noodles (located in the last row near the stage in the bazaar) Wok-fried soba noodles in a garlic ginger sauce with lots of veggies are a solid meal option. Major bonus points for slicing fresh veggies into each batch. Mmmm…wok-fried broccoli.

2. Cinnamon Roasted Almonds (located a few stalls down from Island Noodles) They were handing out samples and claiming nondairy and gluten-free. If you’re nuts for nuts, give them a try but ask about honey first.

3. St. Martin’s Olives’ Olives on a Stick (same row further from the stage) More vegan-friendly food on a stick. They’re olives stuffed with garlic, peppers, onions and sun-dried tomatoes.

4. Holy Land (Southeast corner of the International Bazaar) They offer a ton of options including falafel, tabbouli, hummus, grape leaves, and veggie samosas. Solid food and very generous portions.

5. Los Ocampos Guacamole and Chips (on the eastern edge of the International Bazaar) The guacamole is served in a generous two-thirds cup portion freshly made with lime, tomatoes, onions, and avocados. If you go earlier in the fair, you’ll see Burrito Mercado in this spot. They offer a chili and lime dusted fresh mango on a stick. We’ve heard it’s phenomenal.

The Fried

I am not crazy about fried foods. It seems that this makes me an anomaly at the fair. Not to bias the choices, I offer a separate category for the fried items here.

1. Preferred Pickles’ Fried Pickles (southwest corner of Dan Patch and Liggett near the Mighty Midway) Cajun and perfect offerings are vegan if you hold on the ranch dipping sauce. We didn’t check to see if the chocolate dipping sauce was vegan because that combo didn’t sound good anyway. The hot sauce was a tasty addition.

2. Sonny’s Spiral Spuds’ Potato on a Stick (northwest corner of the Food Building) Vegan on a stick option! Another fun way to eat a fried potato, but if you’re only going to do one potato option make it the french fries. If you come with an army, get the potato tornado which is a massive amount of potatoes on a stick and definitely made to share.

Others we didn’t try

Even with a team of six hungry people, you’re not going to get through all the fair’s options.

1. Dole Whip (located across the street from French Meadow) Nondairy soft serve with fruit or a pineapple juice float.

2. Veggie Pie’s Frozen Grapes on a Stick (south wall of Food Building)

3. Fried Green Tomatoes (on Dan Patch by Crossroads and The Garden)

Warning: The eggplant fries and eggplant tacos at the Sonora Grill have egg in the breading.

236,197 people were at the Minnesota State Fair when we were on an absolutely gorgeous Sunday, setting a new attendance record!

The 2014 Minnesota State Fair runs August 21 through Labor Day, September 1. We cannot guarantee that all of these options will be available at this year’s fair, and the locations may have changed. You’ll have to explore the fair for yourself to discover what plant-based options are available this year.

Compassionate Times: August, 2014

keynote speakers

Animal Rights National Conference 2014 Wrap-Up

Since 1981, the Animal Rights National Conference has been offering a place for animal rights activists and others interested in the welfare of animals to network and learn more about the movement. The 2014 conference took place in mid-July in Los Angeles and had a number of high-profile speakers and insightful workshops.

Compassionate Action for Animals was fortunate to have several volunteers and staff members attend the conference this year, and we wanted to catch up with them to learn more about their experiences. This year, we had some veterans and some first-timers attend the conference, and we’ll take an inside look at the experiences of both.

Interview with Dave

Dave Rolsky
Dave Rolsky

First, we caught up with Dave Rolsky, a co-founder of Compassionate Action for Animals, to talk about how the conference has evolved over the years and how he’s seen the movement itself shift over the years.

CAA: Can you tell us a bit about your overall experience at the 2014 Animal Rights National Conference? What is your main motivation for going to the conference each year? What do you hope to gain from attending?

Dave: I had a great time at the conference this year. I sometimes feel like we’re a bit isolated from the larger movement here in Minnesota when we see so much activity on the coasts. Of course, that just means our work at Compassionate Action for Animals is that much more important!

For me, the conference is all about networking and connecting with the larger movement. The conversations I get to have with people at the conference are probably the most useful thing for me as an activist. I talked to a lot of people this year, both people who’ve been in the movement a long time and those who are new to it. It’s great to hear about what people are doing around the country.

I also attended some really interesting presentations. One of my favorites was hearing what Ari Solomon from Mercy For Animals had to say about social media. I also bought some vegan Omega-3 DHA supplements after hearing Jack Norris and Ginny Messina talk about vegan nutrition. If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to check out Jack’s site and follow his recommendations for diet and supplementation as a vegan.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed the donuts sold by Donut Friend in the exhibitor hall. I probably enjoyed them a little too much. This, of course, is not what Jack recommends, so don’t blame him.

CAA: What is the biggest change you’ve seen at the AR conference since you’ve been attending?

Dave: The conference itself is fairly similar, but the attendees are changing a lot. Our movement is growing in size, and this was the biggest conference ever at 1,200 people. I also see a lot more professionalism, both from people employed in the movement and from volunteers. The movement is really starting to embrace the idea that we need to measure our work, rather than just doing what feels right. This is something that CAA strongly believes in, and we’re planning on launching a small research project focused on our own work in the near future.

CAA: As someone who’s attended the conference several times, who do you think would benefit from attending the next one?

Dave: As I said above, for me the conference is more about networking than about the presentations. If you’ve been active for animals for a long time, I think the conference is a great opportunity to find out what other people are doing, and just to connect with other like-minded individuals. Many of the presentations at the conference tend to focus more on the basics, so I think more experienced activists might find some of them less interesting. That said, there are always new things to learn, unless you’re an expert in every possible area of activism.

Of course, if you’re new to these issues, the conference is great for you too. The networking opportunities are just as important, if not more so. You never know who you’ll meet that can help you become a more effective advocate for animals. The same goes for the presentations.

Personally, I wish I had started going to these conferences much earlier in my time as an activist. I didn’t go to my first conference until nearly ten years after I first got involved in these issues. I strongly encourage any new CAA volunteers who are passionate about these issues to consider joining us at next year’s conference.

Interview with Kealy

Kealy Holds a Hen at Chicken Run Rescue
Kealy Porter

We also had the pleasure of talking with Kealy Porter, a Compassionate Action for Animals volunteer, who was a new conference attendee this year.

CAA: Can you tell us a bit about your overall experience at the 2014 Animal Rights National Conference?

Kealy: I had an amazing time at the Animal Rights Conference. It was sort of overwhelming not only to try and take everything in that was going on, but also to feel so much camaraderie with so many people I have never even met before. I was eager to learn as much as I could from all the animal advocates, so inevitably it was exhausting, but nonetheless extremely worthwhile.

CAA: As someone who hadn’t been to the conference before, what about the conference met your expectations? What didn’t?

Kealy: I expected there to be a large resource of people and thus knowledge to be shared, along with many diverse organizations. This was definitely lived up to at the conference. For some sessions with guest speakers I expected there to be a bit more cohesiveness on the topic of the session, but since some speakers have worked with very different organizations or hold very different viewpoints, at times the focus of the session seemed a bit disjointed.

CAA: What drew you to the conference? What did you hope to gain from attending?

Kealy: As a person pretty new to activism, I was hoping to learn from the work of more experienced animal advocates. I also wanted to start networking with activists, as this is really important for the movement and also for me personally as I want to continue advocating for animals. Last but not least, I really also wanted to raise my level of hope for the future of all animals. It is really easy to become discouraged and pessimistic about whether we are making an impact, so I really wanted to gain a larger sense of community in order to rejuvenate my tenacity to help animals by realizing that so much progress has been made, and especially that we are not alone in this fight.

CAA: For you, what was the most beneficial part of the conference? Were there any speakers in particular who stood out?

Kealy: There were so many parts that were beneficial that it’s hard to choose! If I had to, I would say the session about feminism’s place in the Animal Rights Movement. Several women spoke, including Lisa Kemmerer and Lauren Ornelas. All of them stated what feminism meant to them and connected the oppression of women to the oppression of animals. It further solidified my own values when it comes to ecofeminism, and it gave me hope that these important discussions will continue in the animal rights movement.

CAA: If you attend the conference again, is there anything you want to do or see that you didn’t get to this time? Is there anything you’d do differently?

Kealy: Since there was so much going on, I did feel the need to rest a lot, and I ended up missing out on some important talks. I would definitely plan my time more thoroughly so that I can balance learning with resting.


It was great talking with Dave and Kealy about the conference, and it’s interesting to see the differences in their experiences. If one thing is apparent, it’s that the animal rights movement continues to grow and that the activists involved are becoming more and more passionate about what they do.


Chickens Buried Alive on North Carolina Factory Farm

COK image

In late June, Compassion Over Killing (COK) released undercover footage showing birds being buried alive at chicken factory farm in North Carolina. Just recently, COK learned that the local authorities have decided not to file charges.

Read the COK update and see the video.

In response this update from authorities, Curt Albright, a resident in North Carolina, started a petition seeking justice for these birds. It went live on August 6th and has so far received over 140,000 signatures!

Do something today to let the authorities know that this treatment of chickens is unacceptable and that these factory farms should be held accountable for this egregious cruelty.

Sign the petition!

Share the COK Facebook post!


Each of us has the power to be a voice for the animals.

Veggie Options for a Balmy Backyard Barbeque

Barbeque Potluck on August 22nd!

Here in Minnesota, we’re having unprecedented summer weather: not so hot and not so humid. Perfect for a backyard barbeque! And how convenient that Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a barbeque potluck on Friday, August 22nd at the home of Suzy Sorensen, 1099 Lombard Ave in St. Paul from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

If the thought of a barbeque conjures an unappetizing image of charred animal flesh (aka hot dogs and hamburgers), we’ve got good news for you. At our potluck, we’re taking animals off the menu and replacing them with a variety of colorful, flavorful plant-based options. Bring on the Tofurky!

Bring a vegan dish, either something to throw on the grill or perhaps a side dish or dessert. You can grab something ready-made from the store or you can make your own. Looking for ideas? We’ve got you covered. How about one of these fabulous options:

Lentil Burgers

Homemade Vegan Hot Dogs

Lime Grilled Avocados

Grain-Free Mixed Berry Crisp

Herb Pesto Pasta Salad

Bourbon Maple Baked Beans

BBQ Portobello Sliders

Take a moment to RSVP to our Facebook event and share with bring your friends. This potluck is a great way to show your omnivore friends that a vegan barbeque can rock with good food and friendly company.


Seward Cafe: A Vegan’s Dream Come True

tacos and torta

In case you haven’t heard, Seward Cafe may be deemed a vegan’s dream come true. And lucky you, Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a dine out at this veg-friendly haven on Wednesday, August 13th, 6:30 – 8:30pm.

Choosing from their menu, a person eating a plant-based diet won’t be at a loss for tantalizing dinner options. Their selection of comfort-food classics like burgers, brats, and nachos can all be made vegan. (And let’s not forget about the baked goods. Please, more chocolate chip banana bread!)

These monthly dine outs are a great opportunity to get to know others in the animal-friendly community, and they also give us a chance to discover all of the best veg-friendly dining options in the Twin Cities. Weather permitting, we’ll sit on their back patio and enjoy the evening sun. Food, friends, and balmy breezes. Sounds like a dream!

RSVP on the Facebook event page and share with your friends.

Help Promote Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014!

Twin Cities Veg Fest flyer

Can you believe that our Twin Cities Veg Fest is happening in just less than two months? It’s true. Our third annual festival celebrating compassion is happening on Sunday, September 28th, and we hope to make this year’s the best and biggest one yet. Of course, we want as many people to attend this event as possible. Here are some ways that you can help get them there:

  • Talk to your friends in person! The best way to get new people to the festival, to have them learn about wonderful plant-based foods, is direct person-to-person conversation.
  • Use social media! Follow and share our Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest pages. Also, invite your friends to Twin Cities Veg Fest using our Facebook event. Use the the hashtags #TCVegFest2014 and #CelebrateCompassion whenever posting about the festival.
  • Put up posters! We have four sessions planned. Let us know if you can come. We will provide food.
    • Saturday, August 16th and Saturday, September 6th from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. We will meet at the CAA office, 2100 1st Ave S, Suite 200, Minneapolis.
    • Monday, September 8th and Thursday, September 11th from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. We will meet on the 2nd floor of Coffman Union, University of Minnesota, 300 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis.
    • If you want to put up posters but are not available on those days, email your mailing address to, and he will send you a handful of posters and flyers. Alternatively, make an appointment to pick them up at the CAA office.
  • Hand out leaflets at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, September 2nd and Thursday, September 25th.
  • Subscribe to the our e-newsletter, the Weekly Update, which will include lots of exciting news about the festival in the weeks to come. Forward the emails to your friends, and encourage them to attend.

For University of Minnesota students, in addition to the two on-campus postering sessions listed above, you may also:

  • Announce the festival at the beginning of class with your professor’s permission. Many professors will let you make a brief plug, but this announcement would be especially suitable for philosophy, nutrition, or environmental classes. Contact us for flyers to give your classmates or if you are not sure about what information to include with the announcement.
  • Flyer in the dorms on the university campus on Tuesday, September 23rd.

Can you think of another way to get the word out? Let us know!


Hath not a rabbit the capacity to feel?

"I am not meat."

Whole Foods Market recently began a pilot program to sell rabbit flesh in its stores. Rabbit flesh is being sold in 5 out of 12 geographic regions, including our Midwest region. Rabbit protection groups from around the country have been in dialogue with Whole Foods Corporate about this issue, but at this point they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to get Whole Foods to reconsider rabbit flesh sales.

You may be wondering how the sale of rabbit flesh warrants protest when so many other equally-sentient animals are tortured, killed, and sold as food everyday. Here are the key points that the House Rabbit Society would like you to consider:

  • Whole Foods is artificially creating the demand for rabbit flesh by awarding large financial grants to rabbit farmers.
  • They are sourcing from rabbit farms in Iowa and Missouri, the two states that have passed Ag-gag laws that make it illegal for undercover investigators to document abuse behind factory farm walls.
  • Rabbits (like poultry) have almost no protections under the law. Farmed rabbits suffer horribly from birth to slaughter.
  • None of us wants to see an entirely new animal flesh successfully marketed and consumed.
  • In comparison to some other farmed animals, rabbits are very small in size. As they are so small, many more individuals will die to satisfy a manufactured interest in eating rabbit flesh.
  • Rabbits are the third most popular companion mammal in the United States and are regularly rescued and sheltered alongside cats and dogs. By creating a culture of violence against rabbits, Whole Foods will make every aspect of helping rabbits in rescues and shelters harder.
  • Whole Foods is trying to normalize the idea of eating a popular companion animal.

The Rabbit Advocacy Network is organizing a Day of Action for Sunday, August 17th at the Whole Foods Market in St. Paul, 30 Fairview Avenue South, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. You are welcome to attend this peaceful demonstration with the goal of 1) informing customers of this pilot program and 2) urging shoppers to speak up to Whole Foods by filling out comment cards, speaking to management, sending emails, or writing letters. You are also welcome to sign the petition.

This cause presents an opportunity to show rabbit-lovers and Whole Foods shoppers that we don’t draw distinctions between how we treat one species and another, whether they be dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, fishes, cows, pigs, turkeys, or any other sentient being. Widening our circle of compassion beyond those animals that we know, we begin to understand how all are deserving of our kindness.

For more information about the upcoming demonstration at Whole Foods Market, contact Amy Ramnaraine, the local contact for the Rabbit Advocacy Network, at

Their Lives, Our Voices 2014


Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting Their Lives, Our Voices 2014, our fifth animal advocacy conference on Saturday, September 27th on the University of Minnesota campus at Hanson Memorial Hall.

This inclusive, hands-on conference empowers activists in their efforts to help farm animals. Two tracks of informative lectures and facilitated discussions showcase diverse topics and perspectives within our movement. In addition, the conference offers attendees the opportunity to network with other activists from both the local and national scene. Visiting speakers include Erica Meier from Compassion Over Killing and Paul Shapiro from The Humane Society of the United States.

Attendees from TLOV 2013 in discussion

The registration fee is offered on a sliding scale, making this high-quality conference extremely affordable. Register today! With your participation, this year’s TLOV will be the best the best yet.

Please note that Twin Cities Veg Fest is happening Sunday, September 28th, the day after the conference. If you’re visiting from out of town, you’ll want to stick around to enjoy this popular festival showcasing delicious food, cooking demos, and inspiring speakers. It’s free to attend and a great opportunity to celebrate all things veg.

Join the Lit Distribution Team!

Vegetarian Starter Guide

Do you want to help get the word out about the importance of going veg but don’t have much free time to volunteer? I know how you feel. I used to leaflet at outreach events for Compassionate Action for Animals but became busy with other activities. I didn’t have as much time to volunteer but still wanted to help in some way.

Then, while walking near downtown one sunny day, I encountered a news stand stocked with Vegetarian Starter Guides and was curious to know who stocked it. I asked around and discovered that CAA volunteers distributed these guides throughout the city. Aha! Here was something I could easily jump into doing.

Dropping off literature at coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, and other locations can be a convenient way to volunteer. Most us pass by these places during our daily commutes. When we take a moment to leave some outreach literature at these locations, we make it possible for others to learn about the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Research has shown that most people care about the well-being of farm animals. Seeing a Vegetarian Starter Guide is a visible reminder of farm animal issues and only reinforces these shared values. Additionally, research has shown that 12 million people in the United States are very interested in moving towards a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian Starter Guides equip people with the basic information needed to go veg confidently and effectively.

I’ve been dropping off this kind of literature at co-ops, news stands, and coffee shops for several years now. Often, the pamphlets disappear in a few weeks before I revisit the location. Someone once even contacted CAA office requesting that more guides be dropped off since they had run out. This person had wanted to share the Vegetarian Starter Guides with friends. Clearly, our community wants this information.

Feeling strongly about this outreach method, I’ve been recruiting others to be a part of it. If you are passionate about creating a more veg-friendly community right here in Minnesota, you can join our Lit Distribution Team. Email me at, and I’ll give you the lowdown on how to get started. Together, we can take compassionate action for animals!