Emily

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 2

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Sal Kravik

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Twitter coordinatorMy goal is to create more excitement for the festival through updates and engagement/interaction with prospective attendees, sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors out there in the Twitterverse.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

After attending my first Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2012, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. Unny must have sensed that because he recruited me while attending a mutual friend’s dinner party and I joined the planning committee in 2013.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I love seeing the festival attendance grow every yearespecially now that we have more space to accommodate everyone. Speaking of accommodating, I also love that the festival is more inclusive and accessible than ever.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle? 

Motherhood and feminism! Seventeen years ago I was lovingly growing a little human inside my own body when I learned of the immense suffering of dairy cows. I couldn’t imagine the horror of having my own baby taken away from me moments after he was born, never to be seen again, and then being hooked up to a milking machine indefinitely like female cows in the dairy industry are. Mother cows cry for their babies and the babies cry for their mothers, just like humans. I knew I could never be okay with supporting that kind of cruelty, no matter the species, so I removed animal products from my diet the day my son was born.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I love to travel! Traveling means I get to try new restaurants, co-ops, markets, recipes, and flavors. I am also very focused on staying healthy, which includes getting outside to do a lot of biking and hiking while the weather is warm. 

Nathan Gaut

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am the committee chair for this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest. I help coordinate the other committee members and run the meetings. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I have been involved with the festival for the past few years. I started off as Exhibitor Coordinator in 2017 and have been chair for the 2018 and 2019 festivals. My involvement started off as an attempt to get more involved in the vegan activist scene after moving to the Twin Cities.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I love just looking out over the sea of people mid-day. It is still incredible to me that over 9000 people have an interest in plant-based food and took time out of their day to celebrate, eat vegan food, and learn more! This year, we’re really upping our game with the music aspect of Twin Cities Veg Fest. We have some amazing bands lined up. And all the music is going to be set on a much bigger stage and have a much larger presence. We even have some bigger names featured at our first ever outdoor after party!

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I’ve been vegetarian almost my whole life. And for that I have to thank my parents for supporting and encouraging a toddler who didn’t like the taste of meat to make compassionate choices. At the time they were not vegetarians! That eventually morphed into becoming an ethical vegetarian. In college, I looked more into the ethics behind animal products and went vegan shortly after. My decision to be vegetarian and vegan was always because of a compassion for animals first and foremost. But the health and environmental benefits are other great reasons that have helped keep me inspired!

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a graduate student studying synthetic biology at the University of Minnesota. I’m currently working on the first steps towards making artificial systems that resemble cellular life. Outside of that, I love being outdoors, be that on a motorcycle, camping in the forest, on a sailboat, or just drinking beer on a brewery’s patio.

Cecilia Burke

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

Zero Waste Coordinator. My goal is to have as close to zero waste as possible for the whole event!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I heard of Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2016 while I was a grad student at the University of Minnesota looking for veggie/vegan events and groups. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I have volunteered as a Zero Waste volunteer for two years. My favorite part of the festival is seeing how many people are there experiencing vegan food. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I decided to try being vegetarian when I moved to Minneapolis in 2016. The less animal products I ate then less I wanted to eat them, and now I can’t imagine going back. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a Speech Language Pathologist and I work in schools in the Metro Area. I love game nights, soccer, cooking, and Netflix! 

Dustin (on left) with friends

Dustin Cahill

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

This is my second year managing the WordPress site for the Twin Cities Veg Fest. Staying on schedule so that the website is updated throughout the lead-up to the festival, not just in the last final few weeks prior, is my goal this year.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I started last year, after beginning to serve on CAA’s Tech Team.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

When the committee meeting seizes on a new idea for the festival and everyone is excited about it, that’s rewarding to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the evening events being further fleshed out this year.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I’ve never heard a strong argument for any other ethical/dietary “lifestyle,” so getting there was more about putting my ethics into practice. Having a partner that was vegan helped a lot. Meeting new, thoughtful friends through volunteering with CAA also made it easier.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I abuse the public library system to find great film, horror and science fiction novels, and comics. I also run, volunteer a couple places, sleep in the sun with my cats, and binge video games. I do AV support at a metro-area community college to collect a paycheck.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

2019 Pride Outreach in Pictures

Every year, CAA sets up a table in Loring Park for two days, where we leaflet and conduct video outreach on behalf of animals, which reaches many people along the way. We had a blast at this year’s Twin Cities Pride Festival!

Pride is an ideal venue for sharing our message of compassion. The festival itself celebrates and is committed to expanding the circle of compassion to include the LGBTQ community and the people we reach there tend to be especially open to the idea of opening their hearts to the plight of farmed animals. After watching the video, one attendee said, “I wanted a burger, now I just want fries.”

A volunteer said, “Some of my best conversations were with people who said they ‘couldn’t watch the video’—this led to some easy cognitive dissonance about ‘if you can’t watch it happen, should you really be comfortable eating it?’ Lots of people committed to making small, better choices.”

Over the course of the weekend, we gave away more than 1,500 leaflets sharing the truth about animal agriculture and compassionate living and got more than 520 views from individuals and groups of viewers—wow!

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with outreach and to Emily Nyberg for taking these photos!

Diet and Climate: Where’s the Beef?

the world map painted onto two human hands

When I became a vegetarian in 1992, it was all about the animals. I love animals and had never really thought about the fact that their lives were being brutally taken to give me life. I mean, how could we with fun e/McDonald’s songs that we sang on the school bus and kitschy commercials from Wendy’s that had my classmates joking around in the cafeteria with one another by asking, “Where’s the beef?” 

While I knew I was still contributing to animals’ suffering by being a vegetarian, I didn’t quite understand how I was still causing them to die until I learned what happened to the male calves and chickens when they were born. So a few months later, I transitioned to being vegan. The environmental and health reasons for being vegan were extra bonuses.

A Destructive Industry — For All

However, when I actually started doing research last year on how much environmental destruction is being caused by animal agriculture, I realized this wasn’t just an afterthought at all. This could also be a primary reason why people choose to eat a plant-based diet, or at the very least, a plant-rich diet.  

For example, did you know that agriculture uses 18% of our fossil fuels? If you’re buying an electric car to keep fossil fuels in the ground, changing our diets is actually more affordable and accessible for everyone. Also, in the United States alone, 87% of our freshwater is used in agriculture, and that number is a staggering 70% worldwide. Factor in the water contamination of pesticides and the antibiotics that are given to the animals, and how much is actually remaining for human consumption? 

And then there’s the fact that the dairy and meat industries use 38% of our land throughout the world. Think about how much of that land could be used for reforestation, carbon sequestration and even feeding the world. 

In 2010, the United Nations came out with a report that recommended people change to a meat and dairy-free diet. At that time nine years ago, the meat and dairy industry was responsible for “9% carbon dioxide emissions, 37% methane, and 65% nitrous oxide” (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2010). In 2019, those percentages have increased, with the latter two gasses being 25 and 300 times more poisonous than carbon dioxide. 

With those kinds of numbers in mind, last October the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shocked the world with their revelation that in 12 years, it will be too late to turn things around. In fact, we need to be in the process of turning them around within the next couple of years so that we aren’t raising the temperature of our planet any more. With all of this critical information, I was determined to start making a difference in my community by focusing on the connections between food and climate change.

Community Change Adding to Global Change

So as a part of the Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC), which is a city commission that advises Mayor Frey and City Council on environmental issues, I formed a subcommittee on food and climate change. Some things I’m starting to work on are changing the ordinance so people can grow food on their boulevards, getting free community gardens into every city park, and being a part of the creation of the Food Action Plan

In 2013, CEAC helped with the creation of the Climate Action Plan, which is a roadmap for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. At that time, there was no mention of food in the plan, which is why it’s critical that it’s being added now. 

Homegrown Minneapolis is hosting meetings for the public to be a part of, and the next meeting is July 24 at Eastside Neighborhood Services, with the topic being Diets and Community Demand. If people show up en masse to show we care about all the impacts of animal agriculture, including the fact that Plant-Rich Diet is the number 4 solution (out of 100) for reducing carbon dioxide in our world that was identified in a report called Drawdown. Researchers from around the world proposed a comprehensive plan filled with 100 significant and existing solutions to reverse climate change. 

The Plant-Rich Diet is Part of the Solution

Plant-Rich Diet was the solution that a few of us from Compassionate Action for Animals were working with when we wrote up a proposal for MN350 to add it as a solution to their newly formed Solutions Team last year. This was not an easy road, and it was difficult to understand objections to a solution that would encourage people to do the thing that the organization was created for, reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

However, if you look at environmental organizations around the country, it is very rare to find one that is willing to take on a plant-rich diet (even plant-based is now seen as a bad term, and don’t even get me started on how people react to “vegan”). With that being said, I’m thrilled that the MN350 Solutions Team is now able to work on Plant-Rich Diet as a part of our campaigns. 

We Need YOU!

BUT, and this is a big BUT, we need YOU there! We need people who are concerned about the environment and diet to show up at our meetings so that our committee of two or three can be a committee of ten or twelve and start getting things done. We need environmental nonprofits to see that community members care about animal agriculture and how it impacts our planet every moment of every day. 

So what can you do to make a difference, other than eating a plant-rich diet?

  • Join me on the Food and Climate Change Subcommittee for the Community Environmental Advisory Commission. We’ll meet once a month, with a time to be determined. My contact information is below.
  • Come to a Community Environmental Advisory Commission meeting, and let us know that you are concerned about the impacts of food and our environment. If you have specific ideas as to what we can do at the city of Minneapolis level, bring those too. Our meetings take place at a different location each month so check our website. 
  • Attend one or more of the Food Action Plan meetings! 
  • Join MN350’s Solutions Team! We meet every other Thursday at the MN350 office in South Minneapolis, and our next meeting is July 18. Check out our website for more information!
  • Educate others about the impacts of eating animal products. Encourage them to try at least one thing to make a change, whether that be eating smaller portions of meat, participating in Meatless Monday or going completely plant-based. (Oh, and please let the grass-fed beef eaters know that it isn’t as rosy of a solution as they’ve been taught to believe.)
  • If you or someone else does need a mentor for changing your eating habits, Compassionate Action for Animals has a program to help you make small changes or big ones. Whatever you want to do, that’s what they’re there for!

I’m super excited about inviting you all on this journey with me, and if you have any questions, please send me an email at michelle.shaw@exploreveg.org.

Just as the animals need us to save them, the planet needs us too, and we can’t afford to wait one more minute to rise up and act.

Keiko’s Kitchen brings alkaline food to the Twin Cities

Written by Maya Ulrich

Mykela Jackson, the owner of Keiko’s Kitchen, has a vision which has become her business’s slogan—to create “real food for the soul.”

With her pop-ups, she is working to break down traditional soul food into creative, colorful, and accessible plant-based dishes that the black community can try—in a way that is not confrontational or offensive. 

Jackson recognizes that the food the black community often has access to commonly perpetuates food oppression dating back to slavery in America. “I want to bring awareness that the foods that we are eating and are readily available to us are not good for us,” Jackson explains, noting that she hopes to create food that supports nutritious eating and healthy lifestyles.

Jackson believes that by breaking down the traditional idea of soul food the black community can build progressive relationships with each other and with the foods they eat. To accomplish her goal, she started collaborating with Breaking Bread Cafe. Breaking Bread’s food advisors helped her develop a schedule to host Keiko’s Kitchen pop-ups at the cafe while still maintaining her day job and other responsibilities.

Jackson has also helped open up the door for other vegan entrepreneurs to partner with Breaking Bread, helped increase vegan options at the cafe, and she has also helped money go back into the black community by supporting the development of black-owned businesses. In fact, she has just signed a residency contract with Breaking Bread for every other Thursday starting August 1st.  

Mykela follows the Dr. Sebi diet which, in addition to being vegan, states that natural alkaline plant foods and herbs can control acid levels in the body and prevent disease. Jackson sees this diet as the key to health because it uses the power of food to transform communities, both through physical health and environmentally sustainable foods. 

In addition to supporting the alkaline movement, Jackson is trying to make her business as holistic as possible. Initially, her business was formed on the basis of health and breaking away from the chains of oppression and white supremacy. However, as she continues to grow Keiko’s Kitchen she wants to make animal advocacy and environmental activism even more a part of the business’s mission. 

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 1

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

As the festival has grown in size, so has the committee! Over 20 people are working on this year’s festival to make sure that every detail is taken care of.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Suzy Sorensen

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

Coordinating speakers to get new info out to attendees! Hope to inform and motivate those at Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I was on the planning committee for the precursor, Their Lives Our Voices (TLOV) conference, not sure how many years ago! But have continued to be part of the event in some capacity ever since. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I love the great positive energy! So many kind-hearted, open-minded folks in one place. That’s been a constant! 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I met a lobster and it changed my life. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

Keeping up with my business, Move2Veg Nutrition. But also puppy sitting, reading, traveling, enjoying the garden and its wildlife! 

Mitch Thompson

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am this year’s assistant chair. There was a lot learned from last year’s successful move to Harriet Island. With a better understanding going in this year of the space, we will have an even better festival in 2019.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I volunteered early on and things just grew from there. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival?

Just seeing it come together and the constant flood of people makes all the work worth it. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

My wife. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

I am very busy these days, first working in the film/tv industry. I serve on several boards, including Compassionate Action for Animals (which puts on Twin Cities Veg Fest). The other boards are the HumanistsMN, and DEMO (Diverse Emerging Music Organization). I also play drums in a band called Umbrella Bed that I also help manage.

James Peña

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

As Volunteer Co-Coordinator, I am responsible for recruiting, training, and organizing volunteers working at this year’s festival.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I attended Twin Cities Veg Fest for the first time in 2017 and decided to become a volunteer in 2018.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

My favorite part of the festival is that it builds community among like-minded people and raises awareness of the vegan movement.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I am thankful for the recent surge of plant milks and other specialty foods that have helped me make the switch after being vegetarian for a decade.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

My interests include leftist politics (I highly recommend the Vegan Vanguard podcast), working out, and taking naps. 

Shannon Lasnetske

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role in the committee is as Volunteer Co-Coordinator, so James and I have been setting up the website for volunteers so that they can easily sign-up there to volunteer with us. We will also be organizing volunteers when we get closer to the event and working with them on the day of the festival.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

This is my first year being involved with the Twin Cities Veg Fest! Last year I attended the festival for the first time and I loved it so much. This time I’m so excited to actually be a part of it. I got involved through Laura, who I had met through events with CAA on the University of Minnesota campus.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I haven’t helped out with organizing the event before, but my favorite part of the Twin Cities Veg Fest is, of course, all the food! I think that this year there will be even more people then there have been in the years before, which is really exciting. It’s always great to see so many vegans and vegan vendors, so I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out this year.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

When I was 17 I read a book called “Skinny Bitch” and it ended up being all about veganism, which I had never really heard about before. I ended up doing my own research and felt that I had no choice but to adopt a vegan lifestyle after everything I learned. Going vegan was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

I’m studying! I study chemistry, French, and Arabic at the University of Minnesota. This summer I’m taking classes as well as working as a medical scribe and volunteering in the hospital whenever I can. I love going to the lake and spending time with my friends, but most of my time this summer has been spent in the library for sure!

Sam Barba

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am Music Coordinator for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019. My main focus is greatly increasing the focus of the music aspect of the festival, growing the volume of attendees, making sure everything on the main stage runs smoothly, booking acts, and creating an incredible event out of the After Party!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?

2019 would be my first year! I reached out to Laura, Nathan, and Mitch, desiring to bring my expertise to the table, and help grow the music aspect of the festival. I’ve worked in music fest production for five years, and want to start marrying that community with the vegan community. My hope is to introduce more people to the vegan community, open their minds to a new lifestyle, and create lifelong vegans and activists.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

I have not helped with this event in past years, but I am incredibly excited to announce that the music will be growing dramatically from 2018. Most people I talk to didn’t even realize there was music last year. It was a small tent stage, with a 4 track mixer. This year, we will be renting out the Target Stage and making the live performances a much stronger focal point of the fest.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

When I was 16 years old, a woman gave me a PETA2 DVD at Vans Warped Tour. I had no idea what it was, watched it when I got home, fell down a nearly 4-hour rabbit hole of a documentary, and the rest is history.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to? 

For my day job, I am an Executive Account Manager for an amazing company, called Modern Coin Mart. We are the #1 source in the world for Scarce and Rare Collectable Coins.

My side hustle and passions include a production team I partner in, Romerdome Familia, doing music festivals throughout the summer, and homegrown events through the winter. This winter, we will be airing live on local television! I also play in two bands, Sammy Strings & The Can of Bliss, and The Bad Shine.

Lastly, I spend all of the rest of my time, loving my companion animals, protesting and volunteering for animal advocacy, am a Board Member for Rooster Redemption Animal Sanctuary, and of course, enjoy spending time with my lovely girlfriend, Ashley Riddle; of which I am so proud! She is the Program Director for Animal Rights Coalition and works so hard for animal advocacy.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

Bringing Veganism to the Minnesota State Fair

Written by Florence Brammer

When I moved to Minnesota in the early ’80s, one of the first things I grew to love was the Minnesota State Fair.  Though never a farm girl myself, I was born and raised in Indiana and enjoyed entering Indiana State Fair creative activities competitions as a 4-H’er in the 1960s.  

When I moved to Minnesota from New York, I was happy to learn that adults could participate in the creative competitions of the Minnesota State Fair, and promptly began entering baked goods and other creative activities entries on an annual basis.

In 2010—as a direct result of attending the third Compassionate Action for Animals’ “Their Lives Our Voices” Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference—I made the decision to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet and lifestyle.  

After making the decision to be vegan, I immediately began to lobby the Minnesota State Fair to include a vegan baking category to its competitive baking categories. While the fair officials declined to create a vegan baking category, they did agree to create a Vegan Main Dish category, beginning with the 2011 fair.

What’s the Vegan Main Dish contest?

As only the second state fair in the country as of 2011 to have a competitive vegan cooking category (Iowa was the first), the Minnesota State Fair’s decision received wide and favorable attention in local and national press.

The number of entrants has grown annually, and thanks to the creation of this category and the participation of fair fans, thousands of fairgoers are able to see the wide-ranging appeal and variety of plant-based, cruelty-free main dishes.

How to enter

Entering a vegan main dish in the state fair is free, easy and fun. And you might even win a ribbon, a small stipend and—if you are the first-place winner—an additional special prize, the Twin Cities’ own Robin Asbell’s newest vegan cookbook, Vegan Meal Prep: A 5-Week Plan with 125 Ready-to-Go Recipes.

All the information you need to enter can be found here. Look at Special Contest #1085 for all the details. Pre-registration is required by August 6.

See you at the Fair!     

Vegan Recipe Club – A Few Hints for July

Written by Henry Patterson

Planning on coming to the Vegan Recipe Club on July 16? Here are a few hints for some of the selected recipes to get you started:

Purple Potato Salad with Whole Grain Mustard from “The Vegucation of Robin” on page 136

July is the start of the Potato season, and August is typically the peak but you can still find Purple Potatoes around town.

At this time of the potato season you might find the purple potatoes to be on the small size, so consider doubling the quantity from 4 to 8 depending on the size of potatoes you find.

Check your local farmer’s markets starting June 29 to see if they are readily available.

I found purple potatoes in a variety pack at Lund & Byerly’s (Terrific Trio – Little Potato Company brand). I’ve been told variety packs with purple potatoes are also available at Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen a variety pack from Melissa’s Gemstone Potatoes which also has purple potatoes. You may only find 4-5 small purple potatoes in the variety packs, though. If you can’t find something in the store, check with the produce manager at your local grocery store, they might be able to order for you to pick up locally.

Blueberry Cobbler with Lime and Coconut from “Whole Food Heaven in a Bowl” on page 124 (optional recipe)

The original recipe is vegetarian, not vegan. Here are some substitutions we recommend to make it vegan (and gluten-free!).

Replace the 1/2 cup unsalted butter with one of the following:

  • 1/2 cup of Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup of refined coconut oil, softened

Replace the 1 cup of whole milk with one of the following:

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup of other non-dairy milk (i.e. almond, soy, rice milk, etc.) look for unflavored or plain varieties

Replace the optional ice cream/whipped cream with one of the following:

  • Vegan ice cream, (Soy Dream, Rice Dream or something similar)
  • Vegan Whipped Cream, Reddi Whip makes a few non-dairy whipped creams (almond and coconut, etc.)

If you’re planning on making the recipe gluten-free:

Replace the 2 cups of whole wheat self-rising flour with a gluten-free flour blend OR try out this gluten-free flour blend recipe:

  • (Whisk together all of the following)
    • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
    • 1 cup sweet rice flour (Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour works well, and is available at most Asian Markets, and some larger grocery stores)
    • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour (tapioca starch)
    • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder 
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bridges of Respect Turns 20!

Bridges of Respect provides free humane education presentations to schools and community groups of all ages in the Twin Cities metro area. The current Humane Education Team includes Christine Coughlin, Kathy Coughlin, Freeman Wicklund, and Shannon Kimball.

For a presentation at the School of Environmental Studies, students watched the documentary Cowspiracy, learned about veganic agriculture, and looked at how living lower on the food chain can be the most sustainable for us all.

In 2018, the team brought 38 presentations to over 1100 students, presenting six out of their seven presentation topics. Their presentations cover topics ranging from our society’s use of animals in entertainment to food. Circle of Compassion, Our Food Our World, Beyond Violence, and Animals in Entertainment are the most popular presentations and can be tailored for audiences from primary to postsecondary school age, curriculum, and time available.

Shannon Kimball was the Program Coordinator of Bridges of Respect from 2005-2018. He became involved with CAA around the time he met Freeman Wicklund, former Program Coordinator of Bridges of Respect, when Freeman came into his store to print and laminate some posters for the program in 1998. Shannon became involved with CAA’s outreach and the Bridges Program gradually, before becoming a Humane Educator in 2003.

In 2005, Shannon focused on reworking the presentations down to a strong core of topics that would be sustained by a growing team of volunteers.

Using critical thinking to cultivate kindness

Bridges of Respect has been connecting with young people and showing them how they can use critical thinking to make kind choices since 1999.

“I want to leave people with a sense of urgency without destroying their outlook on the whole world,” said Shannon with a little laugh. “I get kinda tired sometimes of being the bearer of bad news. I can see the looks in some kids faces––no matter what age group I’m with––when they start to get a grasp on the realities of how bad it is out there and that we really do need their help.”

The presentations encourage students to critically think about the use of animals in our society and honoring humanity’s values of compassion, responsibility, mercy, and empathy.

Each Bridges of Respect presentation ends with a brief overview of plant-based nutrition along with ways to eat more plant-based if the students are interested in giving it a try. This information is typically something students will not receive in class, and if they do, it’s usually a very brief overview.

“We always come back to ethics and compassion as our main message, but we also include health and environmental issues,” noted Shannon. Classrooms that have requested Bridges presentations range from biology to ethics to nutrition and beyond!

Changing lives one classroom at a time

The end of each presentation also includes another favorite: samples of vegan meats, cheeses, and milk. In 2018, Bridges gave shared over one thousand food samples, reaching 570 students. Food samples really help show how easy (and delicious!) plant-based eating can be.

One of the questions he frequently gets in classes is ‘What about conscientious omnivorey? If we’re nice to animals, isn’t that good enough?’ To which Shannon answers, “Any action is commendable if we’re trying to reduce suffering for animals but it’s more of a milestone than an endpoint. The vegan community has built more infrastructure than conscientious omnivores. What I mean is that if I hop on a plane and ask for a vegetarian or vegan meal, chances are they’ll know what I mean whereas if I said I was a conscientious omnivore they wouldn’t know what I was talking about and that’s because groups like Compassionate Action for Animals have been there building structure and community that makes it easier for people to move in the plant-based direction.”

For more information or to schedule a free presentation for your students or organization, please email info@bridgesofrespect.org. You can also support Bridges of Respect’s outreach and longevity by making a donation or getting involved as a presenter.

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