CAA's 2009 Annual Review
In 2009, Compassionate Action for Animals organized a larger Their Lives, Our Voices conference, continued outreach through leafleting and tabling, and expanded the vegetarian community.
Please read about our 2009 accomplishments below. You can also download the PDF version of the 2009 review.
"A lot of organizations compete for our time and resources. I choose to support Compassionate Action for Animals because they’re an efficient and extremely effective player in the critical work to reduce the suffering of farm animals. CAA makes smart decisions about priorities and where to focus their resources, and I see consistent impressive results from their programs."-Val Stoehr, Compassionate Action for Animals Donor
Compassionate Action for Animals remained a vital presence in the movement to reduce animal suffering. Among our numerous activities and achievements, we held our second annual Their Lives, Our Voices (TLOV) Conference, organized a lively Thanksgiving potluck, held our sixth annual Veg Week, and distributed thousands of pieces of literature to concert and event attendees.
2009 also marked the transition from Gil Schwartz to Ben Kutschied as Director of Volunteer Programs. An integral contributor to programs such as TLOV, Veg Week, and the No Battery Eggs Campaign, Gil possesses a talent for motivating volunteers, as well as an admirable work ethic. His successor, Ben, has an impressive resume as well. In 2006, he helped organize the Twin Cities Turkey-Free Thanksgiving Potluck; he also founded the Upright Egg Theater Company, a green theater company. According to Ben, “To me, the suffering of an animal is no easier to ignore than the suffering of a human being.” We are fortunate and thrilled to have Ben on board with CAA.
Another significant development in 2009 was our expansion to a new off-campus office in Minneapolis, which serves as a meeting and work space for our increasing number of non-student volunteers. While continuing to maintain a significant presence at our on-campus office, this expansion enables us to accommodate the growing needs of our volunteers and staff.
Since its inception in 1998, the mission of Compassionate Action for Animals has been to inspire respect for animals and promote vegetar-ianism. These goals were accomplished in 2009 through the following methods: outreach, education, and community building.
Outreach for Animals Week took place during October; this was an innovative outreach and fundraising event designed to educate the public about farm animals and vegetarianism. Volunteers raised pledges and then spent three or more hours leafleting, primarily at concerts and college campuses. The focus was on leafleting because it is estimated that for every hundred leaflets distributed, at least one person will make the switch to vegetarianism. When one considers that the average person consumes 2,400 animals in his or her lifetime, leafleting becomes even more important. Inspiring one person to reduce or eliminate their meat intake can potentially save thousands of animals. In addition to Outreach for Animals Week, CAA members leafleted at approximately two dozen other events.
Another example of community outreach that we performed this year was our Summer Food Giveaway. We offered samples of vegan burgers and ice cream sandwiches for the public to try. Similar to our cooking classes, we believe that by introducing people to tempting vegan foods, they will discover how simple it is to find vegan alternatives to any meals or snacks they currently enjoy.
"Compassionate Action for Animals inspired me to change my lifestyle to better serve the earth and animals. I never realized how easy vegetarianism could be and how great it could make me feel. I was standing in line at a bagel shop and saw the Compassionate Action for Animals display. They were showing video footage of factory farms and right then I decided that I didn't want to be a part of that cruelty." -Grace Kelly, former University of Minnesota-Twin Cities student
The second annual TLOV Conference expanded upon the previously successful conference held in 2008. Over 200 attendees from around the country were present. Speakers included farm sanctuary pioneer Lorri Bauston, author and activist pattrice jones, vegan body builder Kenneth Williams, Executive Director of Compassion Over Killing (COK) Erica Meier, and more. TLOV included 50 presentations over the span of one weekend, as well as workshops, discussions, and an abundance of delicious vegan food. As this was an all-inclusive conference, we aimed for affordable registration costs, and made accommodations for out-of-town guests to lodge with local members.
“And I really can’t say enough good things about TLOV 2009. It was a truly inspiring and well-organized event. You guys all deserve a huge pat on the back and a month-long vacation.” Erica Meier, Executive Director of Compassion Over Killing
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In 2009, Compassionate Action for Animals merged with Bridges of Respect, a humane education organization that has delivered over 1,000 presentations regarding the relationships of human beings with animals and the environment. This merger provides excellent opportunities for CAA volunteers to speak to students and convey their passion for animal rights. Furthermore, our Spring Speaker event this year was "Christian Reflections on Animal Welfare," which consisted of a film and discussion. This thought-provoking evening focused upon the topic of animals in correlation with the Bible and Christianity.
Another strategy we utilized to educate people was through cooking classes, in which we focused on combating the stigma that vegan food is difficult to prepare, and to demonstrate to people how flavorful and simplistic vegan food can be. Throughout the year, we held themed-classes, including “vegan breakfast foods,” “vegan cooking on a budget,” and “quick and easy vegan cooking.” Oftentimes, people considering a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are preoccupied with what they will cook when they transform their eating habits, and classes such as these are designed to alleviate those concerns.
Veg Week was a tremendous success, kicking off with speaker Dr. Jonathan Balcombe,
research scientist and author. Veg Week also consisted of a film screening - The Emotional World of Farm Animals, a vegan cooking class, a vegan potluck, a brunch dine-out, and a tour of a local chicken sanctuary. Furthermore, twenty-two local vegan friendly restaurants and businesses were kind enough to offer discounts at their establishments for two weeks, with a “Pledge to be Veg” Card.
"I am truly saddened by the production and consumption of animals as food, but feel mostly powerless to change it. The work of CAA gives me some hope and supporting the organization gives me some power." -Jan Gonder, Compassionate Action for Animals Donor
VegGuide.org, the community-maintained website that provides worldwide listings of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, grocers, and other businesses, continued to flourish in 2009, as Compassionate Action for Animals and Mercy for Animals jointly launched a new version. The website has listings in over 70 countries, and is exceedingly helpful and user-friendly. As this is a community-maintained website, we encourage consumers to add entries and reviews, therefore assisting others who are seeking cruelty-free establishments in their area. In order to expand the scope of the website, Compassionate Action for Animals united with Mercy for Animals to publicize the website on a more national level. It is always very satisfying when we are able to partner with organizations with similar missions, and due to our joint efforts, resources such as VegGuide.org have expanded to more places all over the world.
“VegGuide.org, with nearly 10,000 listings in the US and Canada, is the most comprehensive site on the web for finding vegetarian and vegan food in North America…VegGuide.org is also well on its way to becoming the premiere site for worldwide vegetarian and vegan eating.” Kedar Deshpande, Compassionate Action for Animals Volunteer
In maintaining the tradition of extending its positive, cruelty-free ideals to the community, CAA was instrumental in providing notice to the general public that a strong vegan community thrives in the Twin Cities. We held nearly ten dine-outs, half a dozen potlucks, and nearly one dozen “Vegan After Dark” events. Typically held monthly, Vegan After Dark is a popular event in which we choose a vegan friendly location such as a bar or restaurant, and spend the evening eating, drinking, and socializing. This is a great way for people who are curious about CAA to meet members of the group, regardless of their “veg” or “non-veg” status. As we like to say, “You don’t have to be vegan to hang…you only have to be up for a good time!”
2009 signifies another fantastic year for Compassionate Action for Animals. Our numerous volunteers, generous donors, and strong community of compassionate consumers have enabled us to reach and motivate a wide variety of people. Such connections will undoubtedly have positive implications for the future, primarily by reducing suffering for those who cannot speak for themselves: animals.
2008 By the Numbers
- Held our second "Their Lives, Our Voices" animal advocacy conference. Over 200 participants engaged with prominent national speakers, enjoyed great vegan food, and met fellow activists.
- Introduced our message of compassion to 15,000 youth across Minnesota through leafleting and tabling.
- Organized over 20 community-building events, including potlucks, dine-outs, cooking classes, and celebrations for our volunteers and donors.
- Received 500 pledges during Veg Week from people committing to be vegetarian or vegan for a week.
- Mailed out over 4,500 vegetarian starter kits.
- Over 1,168 new users joined VegGuide.Org and 2,567 new entries were created.
- Mailed out over 7,000 vegetarian starter kits.
- Received over 1,130 unique visitors per day and 3,200 new entries on VegGuide.org.