A taste of the 2022 Annual Banquet

Jodi Gruhn speaking at CAA’s Annual Banquet

At Veg Out!: CAA’s Annual Casual Banquet 2022 we had several speakers. Some were volunteers and some were staff. Jodi Gruhn has been both. She is now the Wholesome Minnesota Coordinator and has been a Twin Cities Veg Fest volunteer as well.

In addition to sharing a brief update on recent Wholesome Minnesota accomplishments she shared her personal journey. She had been looking for more in life. An encounter with a Twin Cities Veg Fest ad led her on a journey. First to attend the festival. Then to volunteer. And now to helping increase the amount of plant-based food being offered in Twin Cities institutions.

If you missed her inspiring talk at the banquet or want to relive it we have shared the text below:

Hi. I’m Jodi and I work for Wholesome Minnesota, one of CAA’s outreach programs. At Wholesome we work to increase the number of plant-based options in Minnesota institutions. For the last year I’ve been focused on Minnesota schools which have been consistently serving meals throughout the pandemic. 

We’ve had some great success with Richfield Public Schools committing to being 20% plant-based by 2025. Thanks to Yosan and the students at Macalester there will be more plant-based options at Macalester as well. While this is all very exciting news, it’s not what I’m here to talk with you about today.

I want to start with a question. Has there ever been a time when you’ve wanted to try something but allowed obstacles like money, time, family obligations, etc… to overrun your desire? Now a second question, when you’ve had that feeling of wanting to do something and pursued it, what were the feelings you experienced? Just shout them out.

Empowered. Happy. Proud. Accomplished. Satisfied.

These words and many more describe my experience the day I became involved in CAA.

Let me explain.

A few years back I had two little kids at home, worked an unfulfilling corporate job and felt I had no time for myself. Every week I’d pick up the City Pages and look at all the events, concerts, and theatrical performances that I would not attend that week. I’d often feel sorry for myself- I was too busy for fun, too busy for a hobby, too busy to enjoy my life…

One week I saw an ad for something called Veg Fest. As a vegetarian I was curious so I noted it in my calendar knowing full well I wouldn’t go. But when the day arrived, I did go. I walked around, had my first experience seeing a Mistress Ginger performance and watched the cooking demos. Then I went home happy I’d gone and thought that was it.

But that wasn’t it.

Something shifted inside of me that day. 

Within a couple months I was plant-based and a few months after I found myself at the CAA office having joined the Veg Fest Planning Committee. I’ve been a CAA volunteer ever since. 

That day seemed like just a regular day, but it was, in fact, transformational.

–        I discovered a life in true alignment with my values

–       I experienced a catalyst to creativity in the kitchen 

–        I found what I was meant to evangelize.. which gave me permission to eventually change my career path

Now it’s come full circle. I work for CAA and I love it.

So, why not listen to that inner voice or longing and try that thing that’s calling you. Whether it’s for the environment, health, the animals (especially the animals) or anything else. If you don’t take that chance, you might never know who you were meant to be. 

CAA changed my life and nurtured me to be an advocate and change maker- for that I am forever grateful. 

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