Vegan Eats in Northfield, Minnesota

In advance of our trip to Little Acorn Sanctuary, we asked Northfield-based vegan Erica Hoops about vegan eats in the small Minnesotan town. Read on to get their scoop on what you can try next time you find yourself an hour directly south of the cities!

Written by Erica C. Hoops

Being vegan in a small rural town can be quite a struggle, but in Northfield, Minnesota, there are many tasty options! Aside from the well known fast food options, like Taco Bell, Subway, and Domino’s, there are several small businesses with diverse palettes to make your next weekend trip to Northfield a tasty one.

El Triunfo, a Mexican restaurant with eat in and take out options, is a Northfield favorite. Items on their menu like beans and rice, burritos, and tacos can be veganized! All you have to do is ask for a burrito or taco to be “vegan” or ask for the beans and rice with no cheese. They also have amazing guacamole (though this item isn’t always available, so be sure to ask). Perhaps the most important note about El Triunfo is their green sauce; it’s vegan, it’s spicy, and the first serving is free.

Recommended Order: Vegan Burrito with Green Sauce and Chips and Guac

Tanzenwald Brewing Company brews their beers on site and has a German inspired menu that can be veganized very easily! Any of their brats and burgers can be swapped with the vegan patty or vegan dog. They have plenty of pickled and fresh veggie toppings to add on top, and their buns are also vegan! Vegan sides include chips, waffle fries, tater tots, sweet potato fries, and more potato-based goodness.

Aside from their brats and burgers, their Fried Brussel Sprouts are amazing, but be sure to the order with walnuts and tell them to leave off the aioli. Tanzenwald recently got rid of their vegan aioli, so their only vegan sauces are ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce.

Recommended Order: Vegan Brat with Onions and Fried Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts (hold the aioli)

Hideaway Coffeehouse is a cafe with a couple of vegan food options. They have a Vegan Wrap that comes with a side of either kale salad or tortilla chips, and they have appetizer of Chips and Pico de Gallo. When it comes to coffee, they have soy and almond milks regularly, and sometimes have vegan baked goods from other local businesses!

Recommended Order: Vegan Wrap with Kale Salad

Tandem Bagels is a bagel shop with build-your-own vegan options. All of their bagels are vegan (except the few with cheese baked into the dough), and their avocado spread, hummus, and black bean spread are all great bases! They also have a variety of fresh veggies to add to your order. Other vegan options include overnight oats (make sure to double check what milk was used––they tend to rotate which kind is used), special baked goods (noted on blackboard), fruit, and (very occasionally) vegan cream cheese! They also have non-dairy milk for coffee drinks.

Recommended Order: Garlic Bagel with Avocado, Black Bean Spread, Tomato, and Sprouts

Chapati is an Indian restaurant with a few vegan options that are clearly noted on their menu. Three main dishes, the Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes in onion-tomato sauce), the Bindi Masala (Sauteed okra with onion and garlic), and the Chana Masala (chickpeas in onion-tomato sauce) are all vegan! They come with a bowl of rice to share with the table, so one dish is usually enough to feed two people. Their salad appetizer is also vegan, but their naan is not, because they use butter instead of oil.

Recommended Order: Aloo Gobi and Bindi Masala (rice included) to share

Tokyo Grill is a Japanese restaurant with vegan vegetable rolls and appetizers! They have an avocado roll, an AAC roll (avocado, asparagus, and cucumber), the Mr. Peanut roll (avocado and peanuts), a mixed veggie roll, a veggie tempura roll, and a sweet potato roll. Their tempura batter doesn’t include eggs (I’ve asked), so their vegetable tempura appetizer is vegan. Their Agedashi Tofu (ask for no bonito), Edamame, Seaweed Salad, and Rice are also vegan. Their miso soup might be vegan, but when I asked last, they weren’t sure, so proceed with caution.

Recommended Order: Seaweed Salad, AAC roll, and Avocado Roll

Other restaurants like Applebee’s and Fielder’s Choice have options that can be veganized, but some vegans in Northfield have had troubles getting straight forward dietary information from those establishments.

Not feeling any of the options outlined above? Check out the Just Food Coop in town! They have a soup and salad bar during lunch time, other ready-made options, plenty of microwavable vegan meals, as well as some vegan cheezes, spreads, and fruits.

Meet the team behind our 21st Annual Banquet!

We want to extend a big thanks to this year’s banquet planning committee! This year’s committee included Rae Hermeier, Lucia Skinner de Gregorio, Abraham Rowe, Henry Patterson, and Phil Martens, who worked closely with Executive Director Laura Matanah to organize this event which raised over $10,000 to support our work for the animals!

We connected with Abraham, Lucia, and Rae before the banquet to learn a bit more about what they worked on while planning the banquet, what they were most looking forward to, and more!

Lucia Skinner de Gregorio

Lucia with Mona

What drew you personally to veganism? In my studies—which revolved around gender, feminism, and sexuality—I explored the nature of hierarchies. The idea really resonated with me that the foundation upon which hierarchies are altogether built is the idea that the human species is inherently more valuable than any and all other life. It so happened that as I was exploring this realization, I was diving deeper into the intricacies of intimacy as they evolve in one’s relationship to an animal companion, my dog Mona. It became quickly apparent to me that I could no longer reconcile my authentic and wholehearted love for her with my consumption of and disrespect for other nonhuman life. The peace of mind that follows taking the steps toward a more compassionate life is a beautiful thing. I’ve been meat-free for 2 years and vegan for a year and a half, and have never looked back.

How did you get involved with CAA and what was your first CAA event? I was friends with Abraham Rowe, then-president of the Board, and he graciously extended the invitation to me to acquaint myself with CAA and its mission. I attended a retreat for the Board to get to know its members, and it was a wonderful fit! I am fortunate and grateful to be a part of this community. 

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I assisting with atmosphere and logistics planning. I’m focusing on ensuring the space is a visually and acoustically warm and inviting one.

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? This is my first! 

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? The community—being in a room full of folks who are passionate about inclusion, compassion, and justice for all life.

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? Gearing up for summertime! Particularly getting excited to spend more substantial time adventuring with wonder-dog Mona. 

Rae Hermeier

What drew you personally to veganism? Initially, when I became vegan, it was for health reasons. I was overweight, and a person I follow on YouTube ate a vegan diet 6 days a week to help her stay healthy, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I ended up losing about 60 pounds total over a couple of years! During that time, I was eating plant-based during the week, and eating animal products on the weekends. But as I researched recipes and vegan videos on YouTube, I started coming across videos on animal welfare. I remember specifically watching one called “Farm to Fridge” and I remember being so horrified at the treatment of the animals (especially the pigs really got to me), that I decided I couldn’t ever eat animal products again. I already didn’t have any animal products at home, I only ate them when I went out to eat, so it was actually a fairly simple transition for me.

How did you get involved with CAA and what was your first CAA event? The first CAA event I actually attended was the Annual Banquet in 2018, so I guess this is my one year anniversary! After that, I started getting involved with volunteering and attending more events and I’ve just fallen in love with the community and the organization. 

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I’m coordinating the volunteers for the banquet. I really enjoy being able to connect with other CAA volunteers, so heading up the coordination of the volunteers is perfect for me. 

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? I think my favorite event to organize has been this one — I feel a bit more familiar with the tech and the process this time around. My favorite event to attend/volunteer at was Twin Cities VegFest last year.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? I’m most looking forward to the presentation. I missed it last year because we had to leave early to get to another event. 

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? For work, I run a group home for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health disorders. I also teach CPR/AED/1st Aid courses for the American Red Cross. In my spare time, I enjoy backpacking, camping, hiking, playing video games, reading, and cooking up tasty vegan food. 

Abraham Rowe

Abraham with George at SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary

What drew you personally to veganism? I think for me, while I’d been interested in veganism long before this, I worked at a farm sanctuary during the school year and summer in college, and realized how amazing so many animals are!

How did you get involved with CAA (and what was your first CAA event)? I’m not sure honestly! I think a potluck or dine out?

What is your role on the Banquet Planning Committee? I’ve been getting auction items to make sure that there are awesome things for our guests to see!

What has been your favorite event to organize with CAA so far? I always lov eTwin Cities Veg Fest! I love how many people it brings in from outside the community, and how many different vendors, organizations, and people it brings together.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s banquet? I’m always excited for the food!

Besides volunteering with CAA, what are you up to these days? I moved to New York and am working on new animal advocacy projects here! But I miss Minnesota dearly and am excited to be back for the banquet!

We were so fortunate to be in the space at Harriet Island before the great melt took it over—here’s what the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion looks like now, just a week after our banquet! Big thanks again to Rae, Abraham, Lucia, Henry, Phil, and Laura for your work to plan another fun banquet!

Thanks for taking the Twin Cities VegPledge!

Closer to the start of Twin Cities VegWeek 2019, you will receive an email containing a link to download your VegPledge card that can be used to receive discounts at vegan businesses in the Twin Cities, April 7-13, 2019. You can also pick up a printed VegPledge card at our 2019 Vegan Pancake Potluck on Saturday, April 6.

And don’t miss these Twin Cities VegWeek events:

2019 Vegan Pancake Potluck – Saturday, April 6 (The VegWeek kick-off event!)
Little Acorn Sanctuary Tour – Saturday, April 7 (sold out!)
• Advocacy: Food Giveaway – Wednesday, April 10
• Advocate Training: Effective Online Communications – Wednesday, April 10 (more info TBA)
• April Dine-Out at J. Selby’s – Thursday, April 11
Advocate Support: Free Yoga and Meditation – Friday, April 12

More info about these events can be found here.

Also, be on the lookout for an email from us every day of Twin Cities VegWeek. We’ll have lots of fun tips to motivate you to keep your pledge.

We hope you’re excited to have an awesome VegPledge experience! Please let us know if you have any questions along the way!

Best wishes,
Laura Matanah & Emily Nyberg
Compassionate Action for Animals Staff

Try Veg this Twin Cities VegWeek (April 7-13)

Twin Cities VegWeek 2019 is Sunday, April 7 through Saturday, April 13!

At the heart of your VegWeek experience is the Twin Cities VegPledge. It’s YOUR chance to try out more plant-based eating and become a better animal advocate!

Make a difference for the animals like Betty when you pledge to go veg!

Take the Twin Cities VegPledge today!

Get started with a pledge to go either vegetarian or vegan for the week of April 7. If you’re already vegan, pledge to get at least five friends to take the VegPledge.

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Twin Cities Veg Living Issue 5 is Here!

Minneapolis was named the City of the Year in Veg News’ 2018 Veggie Awards and it’s no wonder––the Twin Cities compassionate community has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years.

Want to learn about the health benefits of a plant-based diet? How to get a mentor to support you while going veg? The work sanctuaries around the Twin Cities are doing? Learn about many of the all-vegan businesses that opened and the businesses that went vegan in 2018 alone?

We’ve got the scoop on all of this and more for you in the new issue of Twin Cities Veg Living, our annual outreach magazine. Read it online or grab a physical copy for yourself and a friend who might be considering going veg at any of our events throughout 2019.

If you know of a place that could host some magazines, let us know. We’re happy to get some there, or work with you to distribute them. Join us in making 2019 another Year of the Vegan!

Time for thanks

We want to extend a huge thank you to the following individuals who wrote, took photos for, edited, and proofread this year’s magazine: Laura Carroll Photography, Jacquelyn Cortopassi, Coco and Lala, Erin Hudson, Emily Kampa, Julie Knopp, Laura Matanah, Marina Nyberg, Carol Ottoson, Suzy Sorensen of Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling, Laura VanZandt, and Theresa Zingery.

We’d also like to thank the following vegan businesses and sanctuaries for contributing photos and supporting this issue: Crepe & Spoon, Fig & Farro, The Herbivorous Butcher, Little Acorn Sanctuary, Seed Cafe, Trio Plant-based, and Vegan East.

Read TCVL Issue 5!

If you want to support the creation and distribution of Twin Cities Veg Living and other CAA outreach tools, please make a donation to CAA today.

Update: It has come to our attention that Radical Eats MN was launched in 2018, So Good So You opened a new location in 2018, and that a St. Paul vegan business was re-branded as a bodega in 2018. The owner of the third business, which we have promoted in the past, has asked that we not mention his name or his business again. We are not mentioning his name or his business here out of respect for his wishes.

We have worked to resolve concerns related to the magazine with the parties involved and plan to have a board member be part of the magazine’s review process going forward.

The 2018 Annual Report

Read all about what Compassionate Action for Animals accomplished this past year in our 2018 Annual Report!

The annual report gives you a broader view of our 2018 programs, events, activities, and impact. Through a combination of outreach, education, and community building we encourage people to embrace their empathy and move toward a plant-based diet, and we achieved remarkable success in 2018. The annual report also includes a financial statement, showing our income and expenses for the year, and an acknowledgment of all of our top donors.

Thanks to all of you who support our work through donating, volunteering, and participating in our events. We truly could not do so much without our community of dedicated animal advocates.

The movement made explosive progress in 2018 and this year is being called the “Year of the Vegan,” but there is still work to be done. The animals need us to raise our voices and do what we can together so that their stories are heard. Together, let’s continue to live more compassionately and grow our movement in 2019 and beyond!

Volunteer Shoutout: Meet the U of M CAA Chapter Co-Presidents!

Meet Jessica and Maya, co-presidents of the University of Minnesota CAA Student Group. Between studying for classes, leading CAA student group meetings and events, and more, these two are working toward making their dreams for themselves and the animals happen! Get to know a little bit more about both of them below.

Jessica Burks

Jessica with Izzy, a 15-year-old sweetheart she rescued December 2018.

What are you studying at the U? I am majoring in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies.

What drew you personally to veganism? I was a vegetarian for many years, and I was drawn to veganism when I learned that cows, like all mammals, only produce milk in response to pregnancy. (I grew up thinking that cows just made milk—because that’s what cows were “for.”) As a very passionate feminist, I was motivated to go from vegetarian to vegan because of my strong belief in body autonomy—I don’t believe that animals bodies exist to produce dairy and egg products, and I believe that it is a gross violation of animals’ rights to have their bodies used and exploited for profit.

How did you get involved with CAA? I first learned about CAA when I saw the painting on the Washington Ave bridge! I attended my first meeting as a freshman and loved the sense of community that the student group provided. 

What are three tips you would share with a friend transitioning to a plant-based diet?

  1. Start slow—in my experience, a slower transition is more sustainable long term than an overnight switch (although all ways of transitioning to veganism are valid and commendable)! I recommend giving yourself some time to explore vegan options and find out what you like so that you’re prepared to make the transition in a healthy and manageable way.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new things! While vegan substitutes are great (vegan burgers, anyone??) I encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and discover the huge and delicious world of vegan cuisine! A few of my favorite vegan cooking channels on YouTube are The Happy Pear, Sweet Potato Soul, and Caitlin Shoemaker/frommybowl.
  3. Know why you’re doing it. For me, my dedication to reducing animal suffering has kept me strong and devoted to my vegan lifestyle.

Do you have a favorite CAA event? I love the bake sales! We have such a good time getting together to bake vegan goodies (and of course taste testing to inspect quality). Maya and I love being creative with icing and decorating cookies and cupcakes.

What are your plans for the next year? Next year will be my senior year since I’m graduating a year early. I’m hoping to have a career in the nonprofit field after graduation, specifically within advocacy and anti-oppression based work. As for the student group, I hope that we continue to grow, recruit new members, and spread the vegan love on campus!

Maya Ulrich

What are you studying at the U?I am majoring in psychology and art and minoring in sociology and social justice. 

What drew you personally to veganism? I was drawn to veganism because of its environmental sustainability. I knew I wanted to do as much as I could to reduce my carbon footprint, and I love animals!

How did you get involved with CAA? I had a friend who was in CAA and invited me to join. My first actual event was the May Day parade that we marched in. 

What are three tips you would share with a friend transitioning to a plant-based diet?

  1. Don’t quit if you cheat or accidentally eat something that isn’t within the parameters of your plant-based diet.
  2. If you’re ever struggling with maintaining your plant-based diet, make a list of why you chose to do it in the first place.
  3. Find your community! It makes it so much easier to maintain if you have friends who are plant-based too.

Do you have a favorite CAA event? My favorite event by far was the Vegan Chili Cookoff. It was so much fun and the turn out was really great. I also love the weekly meetings. 

What are your plans for the next year? I’m just going to continue to stay active on campus, and I hope to continue to grow our student group through both activities and people. 

Are you a University of Minnesota or Augsburg student? We have CAA chapters at both schools and you’re welcome to join! Visit our student group page to learn more about meeting times or our volunteer page to get involved.

Your Sneak Peek at the 2019 Annual Banquet Silent Auction!

If you’ haven’t heard yet, we’re throwing a party on March 23—Drake’s Drinks Celebrating 21 Years of Compassionate Action for Animals to be exact—which will include delicious food and drink, gorgeous views of the St. Paul skyline, and a silent auction benefiting our future work for the animals––to encourage others to embrace their empathy and move towards a plant-based diet.

From our Bridges of Respect humane education program (now in its 20th year!) to our annual Twin Cities Veg Fest, we reach tens of thousands of people every year with a message of compassion. As a result, more and more folks are making everyday choices that ultimately have a profound impact on the lives of farmed animals.

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Photos from the 10th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off

The 10th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off was a blast! Over 250 attendees savored vegan chilis of bean and meatless meat varieties and were introduced to animal protection, environmental, and food waste issues.

Many thanks to all of the contestants (including those in our brand-new Professionals category) for providing amazing vegan chili for all to share while enjoying friendly competition. You showed how delicious, satisfying, and easy to prepare vegan food can be.

The three winners of this year’s Cook-Off by category are:

  • Bean Based: Jenny Newgard aka Contestant 9
  • Meatless Meat: Marina and Liberty Kirkeide aka Contestant 13
  • Professional: Reverie Mobile Kitchen aka Contestant 6

This event would not have been the success it was without the support of our stellar volunteers and Chili Cook-Off planning team. Thank you for your support with planning, setting up, cleaning up, making extra chili, and more––THANK YOU!

Thank you to Reverie Mobile Kitchen and Farmaste, who generously donated to the evaluation gift basket. We’d like to extend an additional thank you to Farmaste, Spring Farm Sanctuary, SoulSpace, Little Acorn, Fur Free Minneapolis, Mighty Earth, and the Food Recovery Network for their support of the event and information they provided to guests!

Finally, thank you to everyone who came to join in the fun. Whether you are new to vegan food or have been a part of the local vegan community for a long time, we hope you found inspiration and support in moving further down the path of compassionate living.

We hope you’ll join us at our Annual Banquet, otherwise known as Drake’s Drinks Celebrating 21 Years of Compassionate Action for Animals at the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion at Harriet Island Park on Saturday, March 23. With a gourmet vegan dinner catered by Gorkha Palace, delicious certified-vegan cocktails by Drake’s Organic Spirits, and cupcakes from Vegan East (it wouldn’t be a party without cake!), you won’t want to miss this. Get your tickets today!

Grow Baby Grow! – Growing Up Vegan Part 1

Written by Suzy Sorensen, RD, LD, CDE

Are plant-based diets ok for babies? You bet they are! The AND says “Appropriately planned…vegan diets…are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and for athletes.” (1)

But, remember that infants are not just little grown-ups! During the first year of life, babies have unique nutrition needs to support accelerated growth and development.

A parent’s milk (breast milk) is the best food for infants and it’s the only food needed from birth until 4-6 months. Balanced vegan diets can meet the needs of older babies.

If baby is not able to breastfeed, commercial iron-fortified formulas should be used. Currently, soy formula is the only reliable, safe vegan option. 

At 4-6 months old, babies start to show they are ready to try solid foods! They can keep their heads upright and sit with little support. 

The first food is typically baby cereal fortified with iron and zinc diluted with breast milk or formula to a thin consistency. As baby grows, it can be thicker. Often soft fruits and vegetables are added next. These can be pureed or fork mashed at home, and store-bought baby food can be a convenient option. 

For safety, add in just one new food every 3-4 days to identify any food sensitivities.

As baby gets better at chewing, pasta and soft-cooked grains, soft bread, sweet potatoes, cereal, and crackers can be added. At 7-8 months, add in cooked and mashed or pureed beans, lentils, tofu, and non-dairy yogurt if desired.

Babies need enough calories and fat to support normal growth. Items like hummus, avocado, tofu, and cooked dried fruits can offer a boost. Calcium can come from calcium set tofu, fortified juice or yogurt, and dark leafy greens like kale and broccoli.

To avoid choking risk, foods like nuts, nut butters, grapes, chunks of veggie dogs, whole beans, and popcorn should not be given to babies.

Infants often need to be fed every hour or 2. After starting on solids, babies will need at least 3 small meals and 2-3 small snacks daily to meet their needs. 

Ideally, baby will sit at the table with a parent who can model healthy eating at meal time!

Sample menu for 10 month old vegan baby: 

Breakfast: ¼ cup fortified baby cereal with 4 oz breast milk/formula & 2 TBS mashed banana

Snack: ¼ slice soft bread & 4 oz breast milk/formula

Lunch: ¼ cup fork mashed lentils, 2 TBS steamed chopped kale, 2 TBS applesauce, 2 TBS quinoa, 2 TBS mashed avocado, 4 oz breast milk/formula

Snack: 4 oz breast milk/formula

Dinner: ¼ cup cubed tofu, ¼ cup fortified baby cereal, 2 TBS fork mashed sweet potato, 2 TBS peaches, 4 oz breast milk/formula

Snack: 6 oz breast milk/formula

Breastmilk or infant formula should continue during the first 12 months. It is not safe to use plant-milks (like plain soy or almond milk) or homemade formulas as a substitutes. They do not have the right nutrients and do not have enough of many vitamins that a growing baby needs for health.

Supplemental B12 and Vitamin D are recommended for infants along with iron starting at 4 months. Always discuss with baby’s doctor before starting a supplement.

(1) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Please note: This information, while accurate, does not provide an all-inclusive feeding plan and is not intended to substitute personal medical advice. It is intended to offer guidance only. We recommend working with a registered dietitian to help meet any specific questions you may have.


Suzy Sorensen is a Twin Cities-based Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who is passionate about plant-based eating! She has a Certificate of Training in Vegetarian Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and opened Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling in 2009 to support those interested in plant-based eating. For more information, visit move2veg.com.

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Upcoming Events

Saturday, July 18, 2020 - Saturday, October 10, 2020

Veg Up the Market! – Saturdays July 18 – October 10, 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020 - Monday, August 31, 2020

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Vegan Recipe Club via Zoom

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Vegan Recipe Swap!