Emily

Who is Dr. Milton Mills?

Dr. Milton Mills is coming to the Twin Cities to speak at the Cut the Cheese event at French Meadow on December 6. Learn more about his extensive career in plant-based nutrition, dairy-free advocacy, and more here!

 

A Medical Career

Dr. Milton Mills is a graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine.

Milton transitioned to a plant-based diet when he was a teenager and noticed physical benefits almost immediately.

He is the Associate Director of Preventive Medicine with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Throughout his career, he has published several research journal articles dealing with racial bias in federal nutrition policy and co-authored PCRM’s report on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

He serves as the Race & Nutrition Specialist and Board Adviser for A Well-Fed World.

He trained as an internal medicine physician and now works as an intensive care unit doctor in Washington D.C. and Fairfax Hospital in Virginia.

 

An Advocate for Plant-Based Eating

Dr. Milton Mills was interviewed by Marla Rose, Vegan Feminist Agitator.

He was featured on What the Health, a documentary from Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the same directors of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

Today he shares his perspective on the effects of eating animal products as well as a variety of other topics including what the Bible says about Veganism, Are Humans Designed to Eat Meat? and more.

He was interviewed by Responsible Eating and Living about Rethinking Food.

He’ll be appearing at the 2019 Plant-based Prevention Of Disease Annual National Conference.

 

Meet Dr. Mills in Person

Milton Mills, MD is a prolific and passionate influencer and advocate for plant-based eating for athletes and non-athletes alike and we’re so excited to have him visit the Twin Cities this December! Learn more about him on Switch4Good’s website and be sure to mark your calendars for the Cut the Cheese event on December 6 at French Meadow!

Meet the Vegan Thanksgiving Planning Committee!

Behind every event is a team of folks who are working to make sure every detail is set––and we’re so grateful for year’s team! Meet Henry, Rae, and Taylor, members of this year’s Vegan Thanksgiving Planning committee. We’ll let them tell you a bit about their involvement with the event and what they’re grateful for this season. If you got tickets and attend the event this Saturday, make sure to stop by and meet them!

 

Henry Patterson

When was your first CAA Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck?

This will be my first CAA Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck.

What have you focused on planning for the event?

I’ve worked on Social Media updates via Facebook primarily and have focused on how to create a successful and fun event.

What’s something you’re looking forward to about this event?

To be around a like-minded community of vegans with compassion for animals.

When you’re not volunteering with CAA, what are you doing?

Consulting and project management for manufacturers mostly. My clients are pretty broad from a steel company who makes grain bins to a caterer who prepares school lunches, meals on wheels, etc.

What’s one thing you’re grateful for this year?

Good friends and family.

 

Rae Hermeier

When was your first CAA Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck?

This is my first CAA Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck and I’m really excited to be a part of the planning.

What have you focused on planning for the event?

Since this is my first time helping to plan a CAA event, I’ve been focused on learning how past events have been run, and what has worked in the past as well as what needs improvement. I’ve enjoyed working as a team to accomplish everything that needs to get done.

What’s something you’re looking forward to about this event?

I’m really looking forward to connecting with members of our local vegan community. I’m also excited to try all of the yummy vegan foods!

When you’re not volunteering with CAA, what are you doing?

When I’m not working or volunteering with CAA, you can usually find me in the kitchen. I love cooking up creative vegan dishes and trying out new recipes! I also like to play video games in my spare time.

What’s one thing you’re grateful for this year?

I am extremely grateful to be a part of our local vegan community. It reminds me that I am not alone, and makes me feel empowered to help the animals in any way that I can. I’m also incredibly grateful for my boyfriend, who is always supportive of my vegan lifestyle.

 

Taylor Borgman

When was your first CAA Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck?

This will be my first one and I’m so excited!

What have you focused on planning for the event?

I have been gathering the supplies for the event, and I’ve been putting together a music playlist for the event.

What’s something you’re looking forward to about this event?

Seeing everyone together and enjoying the different foods and each other’s company!

When you’re not volunteering with CAA, what are you doing?

I am currently a student at the University of Minnesota so most of my time is spent studying for midterms, but in my free time, I like to explore the great outdoors and spend quality time with my dogs, friends, and family.

What’s one thing you’re grateful for this year?

I am most grateful for my close friends and family. They support me in everything I do (including my volunteer work with CAA and choice to be vegan) and push me out of my comfort zone. They also serve as wonderful role models and I’m thankful to have them in my life.

 

Although tickets to the event are sold out, we’ve got a couple of open volunteer spots open for this year’s 16th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck this Saturday! Bring a dish to share and have fun at the event! Sign up to volunteer here.

Dotsie Bausch is coming to the Twin Cities!

Dotsie Bausch is coming to the Twin Cities this December! For those who don’t know about Dotsie, we put together a little introduction for you.

 

A professional cyclist

She originally took up cycling while she was on a healing journey from an eating disorder and a drug habit, leading to her love for cycling.

Dotsie had a long and prolific professional cycling career, winning a medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, eight US national championships, two Pan American gold medals, and setting a world record.

Continue reading

Thank you for your support on Give to the Max Day!

Thanks to you, we surpassed our original $6,000 goal as well as our $10,000 stretch goal and raised $10,340 for the animals on Thursday!

Your gift supports our work of creating lasting change for farmed animals through sharing their stories and how plant-based eating helps them on social media, e-newsletters, and direct outreach done year-round by our volunteers through our programs and events, including Twin Cities Veg Fest.  

Your gift will go toward supporting creating lasting change for the animals through:

  • Our Wholesome Minnesota program, which focuses on increasing the availability of plant-based food in institutions
  • Launching a mentor program that will provide one-on-one diet change support for individuals
  • Training volunteers who will continue to expand our educational video outreach and leafleting programs
  • Bringing over 10,000 people to Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019!

Thank you for your generosity and support in creating lasting change for individuals and institutions in our communities.

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Phil!

Meet Phil Martens, a strong advocate for the animals who is always up for a conversation. He’s the founder of G-Werx® Fitness and has been a volunteer with CAA since 2008. 

Phil started volunteering with CAA because he hoped to make a difference. “I wanted to do something and looked for a volunteering community promoting vegetarianism––I was a vegetarian at the time––and I reached out to CAA and said, ‘Hey, do you guys need any help? I’d like to do something more than just not eat animals, maybe help other people figure out what I’ve learned.’”

He’s enjoyed volunteering with Veg Pledge, a program encouraging people to try out living plant-based for a week. “You get to encourage people and ask, ‘Hey, what do you have to lose? What’s this going to hurt for you to just not eat animals for one week?’ and talk to them about it,” said Phil of the program. “People say, ‘Hey, I’ll give it a shot, why not?’ and that’s a lot of fun and rewarding.”

In addition to Veg Pledge, Phil has also volunteered with pay-per-view video outreach, Bridges of Respect, Twin Cities Veg Fest, and more. He considers video outreach to be an important part of animal rights activism, noting, “[an outreach event] doesn’t get everybody, but there’s always somebody who walks away from it that is changed forever.”

“I think most of us think or thought, ‘I could never give up cheese,’ or, ‘it would be hard to give up eggs,’ or whatever, but in the end, the price that’s paid for these is not worth it,” said Phil.

 

Developing advocacy

Throughout his plant-based life, Phil’s advocacy for the animals has changed. “Back in the day, I didn’t talk to people [about being vegan]. I kept it to myself, because often people would lash out or ask questions and I didn’t feel I knew enough about to give answers to.” 

“But then something changed. I started educating myself on every aspect of animal agriculture,” said Phil. Everything indeed––from environmental impacts including resource use, climate change, species extinction, deforestation, pollution, and superbugs, to cruelty and abuse inflicted on animals, health impacts, and more. “It is the most horrific industry in every way.”

Today, Phil is ready for any question and conversation. After extensively researching the whys to live a plant-based life, “I can talk to anybody whether hostile or friendly and remain calm and unflustered. There’s an answer to anything anybody has to say and it leads to the same conclusion––we shouldn’t be eating animals.”

 

Supporting a plant-based fitness community

As for his community at G-Werx Fitness, “Everybody knows I’m vegan,” said Phil. Throughout the years as a trainer, Phil has enjoyed hearing about his clients’ lifestyle changes and plant-based adventures. He now enjoys answering any questions they have. “I’ve had many clients who have come and said, ‘You know, I’m doing a meatless Monday or I’m vegetarian now,’ or they come and say, ‘Oh my goodness I made a cashew casserole. It was 100% vegan and I can’t believe how good it was!’” Phil loves joking back, “Vegans eat more than grass and it can be great!”

Although living a veg-friendly lifestyle isn’t the primary focus of his business, when asked by clients looking for a protein boost, Phil recommends plant-based protein brands like Vega or Garden of Life and says stay away from whey. “The whole delusional protein craze started in the fitness industry,” Phil explains. “It started based on a symbiotic relationship between the fitness magazines writing stories hyping protein to help whey distributors who were taking out full-page ads in their mag. It had nothing to do with reality. The meat and dairy industry picked up on this tactic and high protein requirements become part of the national health narrative, but nobody was talking about protein 20, 30 years ago. It wasn’t an issue. And nobody has ever been hospitalized for a protein deficiency unless they were starving to death.” 

Phil’s passion and expertise in the fitness industry shine. He developed and patented a unique workout system and machine that are used at three G-Werx locations. And he definitely utilizes the platform, making sure to keep himself available to answer questions his clients may have about being plant-based. “I have the opportunity to talk with people about it regularly because of what I do,” said Phil. 

He has advice to those looking to make more plant-based choices in the long term, and to those coaching others make the change. “Learn more about all of the reasons to be vegan because the more facts you know, plant-based choices become clear as the right choices.”

Are you interested in volunteering? Sign up for our volunteer list today and keep an eye on our website and social media for more events and ways to get involved with the growing Twin Cities plant-based community.

What is World Vegan Month?

Kicked off by World Vegan Day on November 1st, World Vegan Month is celebrated globally as a time recognizing how far the vegan movement has come, how accessible living plant-based and vegan can be, and as a time to encourage veg-curious to adopt or explore veganism further through trying new restaurants, recipes, and exploring ideas. It’s also a time to consider and acknowledge how beneficial this lifestyle can be to the environment, our communities, and the animals.

The celebration of World Vegan Day began in 1994, in commemoration of the Vegan Society’s 50th Anniversary.

The Vegan Society was founded in November 1944 by David Watson, Elsie Shrigley, and four other non-dairy vegetarians. The group felt that there was a need for a more accurate word to describe them, finally settling on ‘vegan’, or “the beginning and end of vegetarian.” In 1949, Leslie J. Cross noted that the society lacked a definition of veganism (separate from the definition of veganism that was already in existence), leading to the definition of veganism as seeking “an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.”

The definition underwent another evolution in the 1980s, now being:

[…] a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

–– The Vegan Society

The earliest practitioners of vegetarianism and veganism lived over 2,000 years ago, including Pythagoras of Samos and the Buddha. By the time David Watson died at age 95 in 2005, there were 250,000 self-identifying vegans in Britain and 2 million in the U.S.

Today, veganism continues to spread. As of 2017, six percent of Americans identify as vegan (that’s roughly 16 million people). Compared to one percent in 2014, that’s a huge growth! The number of plant-based options available in the market is also increasing dramatically.

 

Celebrations are happening around the world

 

How can I celebrate World Vegan Month?

  • Incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try out a new recipe for lentil chili, pumpkin mac and cheeze, or create one of your own!
  • Have a plant-based potluck with friends and mark your calendars for our 16th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck on December 1.
  • If you’re working on reducing or limiting your own animal product intake, try out a plant-based analog to dairy or meat––there are a number of awesome makers of vegan cheeses and meat-free meats today, including our local The Herbivorous Butcher and Punk Rawk Labs. You could even try some tempeh by Tempeh Tantrum!
  • Connect with those most impacted by the farming industrial complex by visiting a farm sanctuary. We’re lucky to have a number of sanctuaries local to the Twin Cities doing important rehabilitative and educational work, including Farmaste Animal Sanctuary, Spring Farm Sanctuary, Rooster RedemptionSoulSpace Farm Sanctuary, and more.
  • Watch a documentary with friends! There are so many documentaries out there today covering topics like our societal dependency on consuming animals, the health impacts of a plant-based diet, and the environmental impact of our consumer tendencies, including The End of MeatCowspiracy, Earthlings, and Forks Over Knives.
  • Share your story of compassion and change with us this season!
  • Raise awareness. Lend a book on plant-based living to a friend or leave a few leaflets or a magazine in a public waiting room. You never know who might pick it up!
  • Download the VeGuide app, developed by the Vegan Society to get you started (or to continue) on your vegan journey!
  • Support local, plant-based, Twin Cities businesses! One great way to get to know the Twin Cities vegan scene and celebrate fall is coming up this Sunday––come to the Plant Based Showcase at Lake Monster Brewing! Read more about the vendors on our blog.

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Abraham!

You may have met Abraham Rowe at one of our events or on our blog. Since 2016, Abraham has been heavily involved with CAA, volunteering at our annual banquet, our chili cookoff, postering, potlucks, town halls, Twin Cities Pride, pay-per-view video outreach, food giveaways, and more. In April 2017, he joined our board and then became Board President.

Abraham found out about CAA through a vegan speed-friending event held in a basement in Minneapolis about a week he moved to Minnesota in 2016. “I actually met Laura Matanah (CAA’s Executive Director) there and we started talking about CAA and really connected.”

Throughout his time with CAA, he’s had a chance to see the many faces of outreach and impact CAA has on the Twin Cities community. He’s also helped shape our work.

“As a volunteer, I always liked pay-per-view because you could talk with people about what they saw. Many people are deeply impacted by seeing cruelty footage,” said Abraham. “The reality is that around 90% of the meat sold and consumed in the United States is factory farmed and seeing that up close is super shocking for people.”

“I like the idea of us having a model for food policy work [with Wholesome Minnesota] where we train people who already have trusted relationships with people with institutions to basically make the change themselves in their own community. It’s been really cool to see so many advocates in that space and people get really excited about ways they could bring it into their schools and hospitals.”

Something CAA did last year was a giant strategic planning process led by Laura as she joined the organization as Executive Director. “I think now, we have a very clear vision of what our path is moving forward and where we’re trying to be and what that will look like. I look forward to that being implemented and realized.”

This November, Abraham will move to New York City for his work with Mercy For Animals. He will, however, continue to be involved with CAA.

Abraham runs Mercy for Animals’ US and Canadian Corporate Campaigns Program. His work focuses on getting restaurant companies to adopt animal welfare policies in their animal supply chains to ban cruel practices used on farmed animals.

“The reality is that corporations have the power over the lives of hundreds of millions of animals and an individual company choosing how to source its animal products can completely change the lives of these animals and reduce their suffering and that’s really important to me. It’s not the end goal, but it’s also important to do what we can in the meantime for these animals,” said Abraham.

Animal rights groups noticed that they were targeting corporations individually with separate campaigns throughout the 90s and early 2000s with little action on the corporations’ part.

“One would be going after Costco to try to get them to ban gestation crates, one would be going after Domino’s to try to get them to add vegan cheese––and none of them worked,” said Abraham. “The thing that ended up getting these companies to make these massive transitions was every single animal rights group getting together and saying, ‘We’re all going to do this one thing right now and focus on that,’ and we successfully did that in the US with battery cages for egg-laying hens. The vast majority of the supply of battery caged egg-laying hens will be gone by 2025 when the companies follow through with their pledges and now we’re doing it with chickens raised for meat.”

“Right now, we’re arguing against corporate greed and that’s not an argument that is won often. We can’t become too complacent and just assume that things will work out because there’s cheap plant-based meat in the future,” says Abraham. “It’s going to be a hard fight to get there.”

Personal or consumer boycotts as well as larger campaigns targeting corporations add up to massive collective change for the lives of animals.

“It’s incredibly important to support local community animal advocacy groups like CAA that are interested in nonviolence and are meeting people where they’re at, being compassionate and kind towards others, and demonstrating that this is an accessible, cheap, and pleasant lifestyle,” says Abraham.

“Something that CAA does that’s really unique is it’s focus on empowering individuals to become leaders in their community, to step up and organize events for themselves or host events or take on a committee role. Twin Cities VegFest this year was entirely organized by this volunteer committee, and that’s really cool to see that many volunteers come together to put on this massive event. I like that CAA does individual outreach and then institutional outreach with programs like Wholesome Minnesota because I think that can have a really big impact too.”

“I think the reality is that the blame for factory farming existing lies in for-profit companies wanting to become more efficient and make more money, ultimately, but I also think we have to recognize that we both have to be pushing against that corporate power and one of the best way to do that is consumer boycotts which is essentially what veganism is, it’s a boycott of corporate structures that profit off of using animals in that way.”

His advice for students looking to start a student group? “Get connected. Email a national group or an organization like CAA and ask for resources because there’s a ton of people around who are excited to help and will help. Don’t try to do it alone.”

Abraham plans to visit the Twin Cities regularly and will continue being involved with the CAA Board. He’s looking forward to learning more about the NYC vegan scene and trying out new restaurants, but he’ll miss the Twin Cities scene as well, including May Day Café, Muddy Waters, The Herbivorous Butcher, and On’s Thai Kitchen.

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We’re so glad to have Abraham on our board of directors and look forward to seeing how his work in animal advocacy shapes a kinder, happier future for farmed animals.
Are you interested in becoming a member of our board of directors? For more information, contact Laura Matanah at laura@exploreveg.org.

Winter is Coming and so is the Plant Based Showcase

Looking for one more opportunity to feast on plant-based food truck eats before winter comes?

Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 11, 1:00 – 5:00pm for the first ever Plant Based Showcase at Lake Monster Brewing. It’ll be like a mini Twin Cities Veg Fest!

Featuring food vendors and other plant-based entrepreneurs at Lake Monster Brewing, this event is for all––veg and veg-curious.

All three vegan Twin Cities food trucks (Reverie Cafe + Bar, The Herbivorous Butcher Food Truck, and The J. Mobile) will be there to satisfy your sweet, savory, and possibly even your breakfast tooth before going off to their deep winter slumber.

In true festival fashion, continue celebrating the vibrant and growing Twin Cities plant-based scene with a growing list of vendors, including:

  • Coconut Whisk Baking Co. creates simple and clean vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly baking mixes. Their core beliefs that food connects people, that no one should miss out due to allergies or lifestyle choices, and supporting and giving back to the voiceless is what powers their sweet mission.
  • Crepe & Spoon is a vegan ice cream and crepe shop in Northeast Minneapolis. They design seasonally-inspired savory crepes and sweet dessert crepes alongside a rotating selection of handcrafted ice cream, relying on high-quality and local ingredients.
  • Ethique Nouveau is a Minneapolis-based boutique dedicated to providing their customers with unique, high-quality designer products that do not rely on animal testing, ingredients, skins, or furs.
  • Kelska Blu is an online vegan boutique that carries natural, handmade, vegan, and cruelty-free home goods, bath and body, skincare, hair care, and accessories.
  • Noble Soap Gallery is a maker of all natural, sustainable, handmade vegan soap based in NE Minneapolis. They are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, offering free bicycle delivery to anyone in Minneapolis and using biodegradable labels and packaging.
  • PLNT BSD creates comfortable and stylish apparel using vegan materials and ink that is not tested on animals. Their aim is to start more conversations about the benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle by spreading their positive messaging.
  • Prairie Vegan Pies focuses on pies, but they also fulfill custom orders for cakes, cheesecakes, tarts, and cookies. Everything is made from scratch and is 100% vegan!
  • Rawr Organics created the Rawr Bar, the ultimate vegan, paleo-friendly bar with a mission to support and feed starving children. Made with eight high quality, organic ingredients, this protein-packed bar will keep you fueled and satisfied throughout the day.
  • Robin Asbell is a plant-based chef, author, and instructor located in the Minneapolis area. She has authored eight books and speaks about whole grains and eating well to various groups throughout the year.
  • Sweet Root Mpls creates dairy-free and vegan desserts, focusing on using organic, fair trade, non-GMO, natural ingredients, and food dyes whenever possible.
  • Tempeh Tantrum hand makes fresh East Javanese-style tempeh in small batches for the Twin Cities and beyond. Starting with local organic soybeans, they culture them and follow a customized fermentation process that transforms the soybeans into a firm, savory cake that can be cooked in a variety of ways.
  • Vegan East creates vegan cakes, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, quiche, rolls, and cheesecakes, with several gluten-free options. They have locations in uptown Minneapolis and downtown White Bear Lake.

The Plant Based Showcase will take place rain or snow and is zero-waste. Lake Monster has plenty of space to keep you warm and dry. We encourage you to bring your own utensils and reusable napkins.

Lake Monster Brewing has a parking lot and overflow street parking. The majority of their beer is vegan, except for their Murmur Milk Stout, Raspberry Berliner, and Sour Red. Attending the Plant Based Showcase is free, but all of the vendors are selling food or goods. Cards are accepted but cash is preferred.

Compassionate Action for Animals is a proud co-sponsor of the event. Volunteers are needed to help staff the CAA table. If you’d like to help out, please contact laura@exploreveg.org.

Invite your friends and keep up-to-date on the Facebook event page.

October SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary Visit

London the pig

On Saturday, October 13th, U of M students and other CAA community members had the exciting opportunity to tour SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary and interact with their residents.

SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary is in New Richmond, WI. Located about 45 minutes from Minneapolis, SoulSpace is a local farm sanctuary doing the crucial work of rehabilitating farm animal rescues and educating their surrounding communities about the impact of industrialized animal agriculture.

Upon arrival, the visitors met Kara Breci, founder and executive director of SoulSpace. Kara founded SoulSpace about three years ago after retiring from the St. Paul Police Department due to an injury. Since its start, the sanctuary has grown to house 45 rescued farm animals and be supported by over 100 volunteers. Each year, the sanctuary hosts a number of events to raise awareness about cruelty against farmed animals and to show others how to live in a more compassionate way.

Frederick and George greeting Kara, the sanctuary’s founder

Kara led the group around the facility to meet some of the sanctuary’s 45 animal residents. Each one has a unique story, which Kara was delighted to share with the visitors.

The tour met London the pig, whom Kara described as the “sassiest resident,” and Frederick the sheep. Frederick spent the first three months of his life in a trailer with a litter of puppies. All were so neglected that the puppies chewed off one of his ears. Today, Frederick loves to eat bananas and still thinks he’s a dog instead of a sheep.

Visitors also met Wally, another one of the sanctuary’s rescued pigs. Wally made headlines about 19 months ago after jumping out of a truck headed to a slaughterhouse in South Dakota. Luckily, Wally did not suffer any major injuries and is now very happy in his new home at SoulSpace.

SoulSpace visitors talking with Amos

Throughout the tour, Amos, a 24-year-old donkey curiously followed the group around the sanctuary. In his younger years, Amos was forced to give rides to children and later became a companion animal. Today, he enjoys taking selfies with visitors at SoulSpace.

The group encountered many more animals as well, including hens, roosters, peacocks, ducks, turkeys, dogs, and a cat. Kara explained that each animal has their own personality, and often surprise people with how friendly and affectionate they are.

At the end of the tour, Kara explained that the goals of the sanctuary are to educate others about cruelty against farmed animals and to encourage individuals to make more compassionate choices. Kara and the SoulSpace residents aim to show their visitors that farm animals have a lot in common with some of the more familiar companion animals and hope that this will encourage people to consider more closely the impacts of their food and lifestyle choices.

One of the most amazing things about this sanctuary is how friendly and loving all the animals are. Each one was ecstatic to receive visitors, which shows that farmed animals have much more in common with companion animals than most people think.

Each day, sanctuaries like SoulSpace receive housing requests for newly rescued animals. As it currently stands, there is not enough sanctuary space to give care to all of the animals that need it. The more people that are aware of this issue, the more support the sanctuaries will receive, and others will begin to spread the message of compassion toward animals.

Right now, sanctuaries need our support. SoulSpace and other spaces like it prove that education and compassion really do make a difference in the lives of their residents, visitors, and the billions of farmed animals currently living in abusive and inhumane conditions.

SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary hosts tours every Saturday along with camps, volunteer workdays, and many other events. Visit soulspacesanctuary.org for more information on how SoulSpace is continuing their quest to save farmed animals from cruelty.

Anna Lake Animal Sanctuary Grand Opening

Mark and Dini with their daughter

Meet Mark Opsahl and Dini Pederson-Opsahl, the owners, co-founders, and operators of Anna Lake Animal Sanctuary, Minnesota’s newest farm sanctuary. Located in Underwood, MN, the sanctuary is devoted to providing a caring home to their residents through rescue, adoption, and education.

Established in 2017 as a microsanctuary, Anna Lake Animal Sanctuary quickly grew in size and is now home to 18 chickens, 6 ducks, and 3 cows.

What is a microsanctuary? A microsanctuary is a space that works to rescue animals on a smaller scale than larger sanctuaries. The Microsanctuary Resource Center (MRC) began the Microsanctuary Movement, outlying a set of core values and practices that many microsanctuary owners agree with, including:

  • practicing ethical veganism
  • rejecting the idea of “humane” animal husbandry and exploitation
  • no breeding residents
  • maintaining an environment of respect and collective liberation

Mark and Dini strive to honor their grandparents while evolving the lessons they learned from them––Dini was raised in Minneapolis by her grandparents, while Mark was raised in a farming community. Dini’s grandmother was the first female animal control officer in the United States and an active advocate for marginalized and underrepresented groups in the country while Mark’s grandfather and father were both lifelong farmers.

When we met, I told Mark I loved animals,” said Dini, “but neither of us were vegan.”

Mark and Dini became vegan shortly after moving back onto his family’s farm. “I always wanted chicken companions, and I told him let’s get some chickens,” said Dini. She quickly went vegan after adopting the chickens, recalling, “Once we got them and fell in love with them, it didn’t feel right that we were eating chicken.” Mark went vegan shortly after her.

They began to look for additional opportunities to help farmed animals, which lead them to explore expanding the work they were already doing––to provide a safe living and rehabilitation space for more animals.

They decided to honor and evolve their family’s legacies, continuing the farm in Mark’s grandfather’s name and giving it a new life and purpose as Anna Lake Animal Sanctuary.

Starting a sanctuary has not been without its ups and downs. They’ve received some pushback from local farmers and family about starting a sanctuary in Underwood.

“We’ve also had a number of friends who have reached out to us with questions about turning vegan themselves,” said Dini, adding that they’ve also answered a number of questions about starting sanctuaries. “We’ve been really trying to help mentor a few people.”

Dini’s advice for someone looking to start a sanctuary? Know your limits and start small. “Make sure you can do it yourself,” says Dini. “If you can take in one chicken and do it in an apartment or home, start with that and do that. I really am an advocate for microsanctuaries. Take in a chicken or two as a rescue and learn their needs really well and grow from there.”

Starting small adds up to a big difference, especially for the lives of rescued animals who no longer live their lives in constant fear and pain.

The sanctuary’s grand opening is this Saturday, October 20th from 12:00pm – 3:00pm. They’ve invited up a number of vegan Twin Cities-based businesses as well as some local to Underwood that are willing to try their hand at veganizing some fall favorites. 

Admission is free, donations are appreciated. All donations made will go directly towards supporting their residents this winter. Anna Lake Animal Sanctuary is located at 26329 County Highway 35 in Underwood, MN 56586. For more information, visit their Facebook event page or their website.

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