More than 180 volunteers helped us welcome approximately 5,000 visitors to Twin Cities Veg Fest on September 18. Best of all, 98% of visitors surveyed enjoyed their experience! We are deeply grateful to the exhibitors, sponsors, presenters, donors, volunteers, attendees and staff who made the day celebratory and transformative.
Our sponsor VegFund put together the festival survey participation and tabulated results. Based on responses we see that the event was a resounding success. We also gained insights to help with future planning.
When asked their reason for attending, three quarters stated they wanted to learn about or try new vegan products. Almost half of respondents said that socializing and/or entertainment were key factors. This shows that we need to keep the event both informative and fun.
And the results show we have been successful with that. Almost all reported satisfaction with the festival—with 70% very satisfied. And over 99% plan to attend next time. This indicates that we met their desires.
We reached new people and helped make a change. Half of attendees were not vegan but around one third plan to go more plant-based in future! Interestingly, 66% report that sampling vegan products was what influenced that decision. Closely followed by visiting booths and talking to vendors and workers/volunteers. And almost half will share what they learned with family and friends.
That’s a big win for their health, the planet and the animals! Knowing that it has such a positive impact is what brings us together to host this event. The volunteers, vendors, speakers, and musicians together make this all possible.
Trent Nelson asked us to work with him to design a shirt that he could wear in the Twin Cities Marathon on October 3. We love his commitment to running, the animals and the planet. He shared his story:
“I went vegan accidentally back at the start of 2021. My kid went vegetarian and I told them that I would try it for a week. I started watching YouTube videos around animal ethics to figure out where I should draw the line between what I eat and what I don’t eat. By the end, I was convinced that I should go vegan. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to, but I wanted to at least try to go as close to vegan as I could. I was surprised by how easy it was to find different stuff to eat…. and I was soon loving it. After three weeks, I felt absolutely fantastic and could feel it in my running. That fall, I ran my first marathon in five years. I’m still loving it today. For animals. For the earth. For people. Go Vegan!!”
The long wait is over! We now know which restaurants got awards in the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge.
The ceremony was held at the Twin Cities Veg Fest on September 18. Twenty nine restaurants participated in the challenge and there was a special award for each one based on comments made by diners. The ratings of diners determined the top three spots.
Winners of the Vegan Chef Challenge:
1. Reverie Cafe + Bar — Korean BBQ Mock Duck Tacos
On our recent tour of Farmaste Animal Sanctuary we met so many wonderful animals! It is hard to single any of them out but there was one that melted many a heart: Blue. She is a sweet, beautiful, five year old Katahdin sheep.
She has been living at Farmaste for over five years. She was rescued at two months old in June of 2017. Blue was Farmaste’s first rescue! She arrived with a deformed front leg that needed to be amputated. They were told they would only have 2-3 years with her—thankfully that has proven untrue!
Prior to Farmaste, Blue was being kept by a farmer for breeding even though she only had use of three legs. A young woman and her mom talked the farmer into letting her go to rescue. We are all very thankful they did!
Blue loves people and is accepting of all. She impresses everyone due to her incredible strength. She particularly loves playing and getting scratches.
On September 3 at the Minnesota State Fair Twin Cities Veg Fest did a take over of the Cambria Kitchen in the Creative Activities Building for a full day of plant-based cooking demos and tastings. These first of a kind demos were from 9:30-6 pm and featured Twin Cities Veg Fest vendors. The cooking demonstrations were by Reverie Cafe +Bar and Coconut Whisk.
Mistress Ginger joined us as an emcee and made the day even more glamorous and fun! CAA hosted the event and shared information on the festival. Of course we also shared some tasty samples!
Hundreds were reached with our eight demonstrations. Many additional passers-by were also exposed. This was a key opportunity to share our message about plant-based eating with a new audience. All while attracting these fair goers to our festival!
This summer CAA was thrilled to have two summer interns from South High School: Stephanie Osornio Orduna and Muniratu Shaibu . They worked with our Community Organizer Tamuno Imbu to assist with a variety of projects over their two months with us. Their salaries were paid by the Earn While You Learn Summer Program.
During the interview Kali talked about his history with Life Juices and his vision for his company and the community. He and the co-hosts, Coco and Lala also promoted the festival and the Minnesota State Fair Cooking demos and lauded CAA’s work. All three of them have common cause in promotion of healthy eating in communities of color and spoke to this issue.
Kali shares: “ We believe everyone should have access to organic, healthful, flavorful beverages…I want to make it convenient for people, to raise the level of consciousness where it comes to health, and to prove that [black neighborhoods] are a viable market for juicing.”
Coco and Lala state: “As healthy living advocates on a mission, we aim to promote cleaner eating habits among communities of color that have long been plagued by deep-rooted stigmas. Our goal is to make healthy eating fun, quick, easy and relatable for those who have been led to believe clean eating equates lack of flavor. It’s no secret heart disease disproportionately affects black men and women. Shocked by these alarming statistics, we’ve united forces to launch our healthy eating platform.”
Coco and Lala have several platforms including: Keeping Up With Coco & Lala, their Facebook cooking show as well as this radio show, Healthin’ It Up with Coco & Lala.
Kali shares their commitment to bringing better health to the African-American community and is doing so through his business, Life Juices. You can find the juices in select retail locations or on the streets in their MobileJuicery. And at Twin Cities Veg Fest and the State Fair cooking demos!
If you are like many of us, it was a mad rush to try and sample as many of the 29 dishes entered in the Vegan Chef Challenge by the end of the challenge. There were so many fantastic entries and so little time! We hope you got to try lots of them!
Now is the time to weigh in on the competition. Who will be the top dog in the challenge? What other prizes will we give out? You get to help make the call. You have until September 5 to rate your meals. Join the 1,000 plus votes already received. We will tally them up and announce the winner at the Twin Cities Veg Fest on September 18.
There are other benefits to rating your dish. For every vote you will be entered to win a gift card from our participating restaurants. We will randomly select a winner each of the first five days of September. And the person who votes for the most dishes by the end will also get a prize. Might you be a winner? Vote now and see.
In addition to the ratings we often get comments on the dishes. We share them with the restaurants to give them feedback. Here are a few of the comments to give you a taste of the many yummy options in the competition:
If you are curious about vegan cooking, this club is for you! Each month participants make three recipes from popular cookbooks then share their reflections with the group. Novice to expert cooks are welcome, as are interested non-cooks. Registration not required.
You may download the recipes using the link below or pick them up at East Lake Library, 2727 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406. Printed recipe packets are available at the library’s Safe Pick-Up Station. Simply check in with the greeter and ask for the Vegan Recipe Club packet. If you would like contactless pick-up, please call the library during open hours and request curbside service.
The cookbook selection for September is The Good Berry Cookbook by Tashia Hart
Over the last several months we have done blogs on some of our Twin Cities Veg Fest volunteers. Now that the time is coming close to the big day (September 18!) we want to recognize a few more of this hard working team:
Nathan Gaut is currently assisting the Chairs of the Festival. After 5 years of festival planning and as a past chair for several years (and a current board member), Nathan is perfectly suited to help support the two Chairs for this year: Breanna Knutson and Katelyn Maddox.
When asked about what he loved about volunteering with CAA he cites the CAA community with its many “cool people who are just as passionate about animal welfare as me.” Planning the festival is a lot of work but he states that “To be together working towards a common goal of inspiring people and building a sense of community makes all the work worth it.”