Meet the Chili Cook-Off Planning Committee!

Meet the team behind the 10th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off!

Emma Cameron

What’s your role on the Chili Cook-off Committee? I’ve been coordinating the volunteers, making regular posts to the CAA and TCVF social media pages (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) advertising the event, and otherwise doing tasks that come up!

What else have you been up to this winter? This winter has mostly been about moving from Madison to Minneapolis! I started working for Mercy For Animals this past summer, working remotely. Given the remote nature of my role, I considered making a move to a few different cities, and ultimately went with Minneapolis. Since December, I’ve been getting settled in, meeting people, and exploring the vegan offerings of the Twin Cities.

What’s your favorite outreach event outside of the chili cook-off? I’m not sure that I have enough experience to say yet, but I imagine it will soon be the Twin Cities Veg Fest!

Do you have a favorite kind of chili, topping, or side? If I make chili, I love to add some type of corn chip topping, and I prefer to stick to the bean-based varieties, as opposed to those with mock meats. I also think it’s absolutely essential to serve cornbread with chili!

Luna with two residents of SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary

Luna Guo

What’s your role on the Chili Cook-off Committee? Marketing consultant and helping to plan the overall event.

What else have you been up to this winter? Everything! Dancing, horses, skating––I’m always doing something. I like to keep myself active and busy.

What’s your favorite outreach event outside of the chili cook-off? Twin Cities Veg Fest is kind of amazing, and by kind of I mean really. I love having all the delicious food in one spot and connecting with other people and the different organizations at the event.

Do you have a favorite kind of chili, topping, or side? I love making chili with all sorts of mock meats. You can have toppings and sides? I’ve been eating it all wrong then! [A note from CAA: We’d like to assure you that there is no wrong way to enjoy chili, whether you enjoy with toppings, sides, or sideless.]

Maya with Amos of SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary

Maya Ulrich

What’s your role on the Chili Cook-off Committee? My role is student outreach and general communication between the student union and CAA.

What else have you been up to this winter? My life as a student is pretty active. I have been running all over campus trying to keep up with all of my commitments. I am working at the Weisman Art Museum, volunteering with Friends of the Free Arts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Aurora Center, and I’m an intern for Take Action MN. Honestly, staying busy has been the only thing keeping me warm in these cold winter months.

What’s your favorite outreach event outside of the chili cook-off? I really have enjoyed bake sales on campus in the past, but tabling and pay-per-view is always pretty great. You really get to connect with the Compassionate Action for Animals community.

Do you have a favorite kind of chili, topping, or side?I really like doing simple bean-based ones, because they are cheap and easy to make. Sometimes I’ll throw in some tofu too!

Volunteers make the Chili Cook-Off happen (and get in free)! Sign up here to get involved as a volunteer or get your ticket here to this year’s cook-off. See you on Saturday, February 23 at 6:00 pm!

Vegan Valentine’s Celebrations

Whether you’re into simple gestures or going all out for a friend, loved one, or yourself, the Twin Cities have many ways to celebrate love compassionately this week.

In case you’re a last-minute planner, we compiled a list of just some of the vegan Valentine’s specials and celebrations going on around the cities.

Make a Valentine’s stop at a vegan restaurant!

If your style is a dinner out, support local businesses as they host vegan Valentine’s date nights on February 14. Some of the specials we’ve seen include:

From left to right: Franco Holder, Mistress Ginger, and Joey Clark.

Let’s Misbehave – Mistress Ginger’s 6th Annual Valentine’s Cabaret, February 13 and 14 at LUSH

Special discount ticket offer for Mistress Ginger’s 6th annual Valentine’s show!

Let’s Misbehave
Mistress Ginger Sings Cole Porter
TONIGHT Wednesday, February 13 & tomorrow, Thursday February 14
7:30pm (Doors at 7pm)
LUSH, 990 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis

VIP $25 – Includes reserved seating plus a glittering gift bag of vegan Gingersnatch Cookies
General Admission $15 – Use promo code Ginger5 for $5 off!
Get your tickets in advance at LUSHmpls.com

Note that VIP ticket sales close 24 hours before showtimes.
Promo code Ginger5 is only valid for general admission tickets purchased online.

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1929. Mistress Ginger, our venerable cabaret queen, has unearthed a treasure trove of delicious Cole Porter tunes for your Valentine’s amusement. With Franco Holder on piano and special guest Joey Clark, Ginger takes you on a vintage musical journey from a chic penthouse in Manhattan to the Café de Paris. Revel in the music of one of the twentieth century’s greatest — and gayest — composers, whose songs are famously full of glamour, wit, passion, and the permission to be naughty. Let’s do it! More info at junkyardcabaret.com.

Staying in?

  • If you missed their Valentine’s Dinner for Two, you can still pick up something sweet or savory from The Herbivorous Butcher to feature in your Valentine’s meal. Check out their daily menu here and mark your calendar for the reairing of their Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives episode on February 15 and 16 (because what’s more romantic than Guy Fieri eating a vegan deli sandwich?)
  • Seed Cafe put together an awesome post with three different menus you can make at home that are sure to satisfy whatever kind of craving you have this week. Check out their Valentine’s Dinner 3 Ways here!
  • Check out recipes for some of the most delicious looking vegan Valentine’s desserts on Vegan Faux Ever as well as some quick tips about what to check for if you’re buying a treat store-bought.
  • Not into baking? Vegan East has you covered with all of the sweet treats you could dream of!

And don’t forget our annual Valentine’s Bake Sale!

Although Valentine’s and Galentine’s will have passed, there’s no rule that says you can’t keep spreading the love around! Treat yourself with a vegan dessert made by one of our baketivists at our Galentine’s Vegan Bake Sale, Monday, February 18 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at Coffman Memorial Union.

Meet Our New Board Member – Henry Patterson

CAA welcomes Henry Patterson to our board of directors. Read on to learn more about him, his various projects, and how he got involved with CAA and working for the animals.

Throughout his career, Henry has worked primarily as a project manager and consultant in manufacturing for various technology projects including early medical films and x-ray equipment for 3M, data storage and backup, and CD-ROM, as well as a furniture company. “I started out in engineering in 3M, doing summer internships during college, worked part-time permanent, and then got a permanent job in the Twin Cities.” His work brought him from Minnesota to California and then back to Minnesota.

Most recently he’s been working with startups in addition to his non-profit work. An alum of St. Thomas Academy (STA),  he’s fairly active with the school and their STA Connections group. He also serves on the board of the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center in the Friends of Lake Elmo Sunfish Lake Park, which opened June 2018.

At home, he spends time with his two Basenjis, Lokan and Emi, and enjoys taking photos––in the summer, he’s been trying out drone photography.

Journey to veganism

Henry started his journey to being vegan when he lived with his brother in California. His brother was in law school at the time and became vegetarian after reading, Diet for a Small Planet. “I said, ‘Make a case for why I should go from being an omnivore to vegetarian,’ which he did.” His brother also recommended that he read the same book. “I would say 99% of my diet went from being an omnivore to primarily vegetarian diet, which I maintained for several years.”

After moving back to Minnesota, he went completely vegan. “I realized that there were more products available to make it easier, more options at places I could eat, most restaurants I could call ahead and find out what was on the menu if it wasn’t clear––it became a lot easier.” The hardest thing to eliminate? “Cheese was really the only thing I was still having that was keeping me on a vegetarian diet was cheese. I started going to classes in the Twin Cities to learn how to make vegan cheeses. Between that and reading stuff, I really saw no reason not to switch to vegan.”

“I think I’m a lot more aware and conscious of the environment around me, how important the footprint that we have on the planet and the things that we do, how much waste we have and how we treat the planet and animals on the planet. I started to see the suffering more and I want to do something to stop that.”

Involvement with CAA, joining the Board

Henry first got involved with CAA after attending a few Twin Cities Veg Fests. He’s been involved with the planning committees for both the 2018 Vegan Thanksgiving and 2019 Vegan Chili Cook-Off.

As a new board member, Henry wants to support CAA’s mission through expanding the reach of our mission and increase exposure. “You want to get more people more exposure and help on how to maintain the diet, how they can continue to make progress. I think I can help there and that’s where we need to put some effort.”

“What I’ve seen that’s given me a lot of hope for the future are companies like The Herbivorous Butcher and J. Selby’s. I never thought I’d actually see something like them in the Midwest and in Minnesota,” said Henry. “We still have a long way to go, but it’s really exciting to see the growth of the Twin Cities and in my mind I’ve sort of grown with it and I’m encouraged that there’s a lot more things we can do, a lot more we can expose people to.”

Interested in joining CAA’s board of directors? Our board meetings are open to prospective members. If you are interested in attending a board meeting, email board@exploreveg.org to find out when the next board meeting will take place.

Responses to Dominion

Dominion is an eye-opening film that many people don’t want you to see. Fortunately, Director Chris Delforce does, and he created an incredible documentary that exposes the ongoing atrocities committed by modern animal agriculture. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, Dominion is a hard-hitting documentary that has won multiple awards for its writing, directing, and music.

For some, realizing the origin story of what we once called food is a difficult process with many stops along the way. Dominion is a two-hour wakeup call to those still consuming animal products as well as to those who are not. In anticipation of the Twin Cities premiere screening of the documentary this weekend, we compiled some of the reviews the film has received.

This film will be one that switches on the lights… challenging an ignoble atrocity that masquerades as an “industry.”

Philip Wollen Philanthropist, former Citibank VP via Dominion Website

This is the most important film you will ever watch. This documentary is a shocking expose of hidden violence behind our food system. Dozens of people had to step out of the theater where I saw it in San Francisco because they could not face the actual real-life footage of what happens behind the walls of animal farms and slaughterhouses. The filmmaker had his house raided by the Australian government and faced repeated threats for releasing this footage. This documentary is going to turn the world upside-down.

Julianne Perry via imdb (10/10)

The filming techniques are staggering in their construction and the crew’s unwavering commitment to reveal the darkness is worthy of the utmost admiration… The film’s core value is to make us think about our relationship with the animal kingdom and assess the power we use (and abuse) but more than that, through the viscera stained graphic footage and lingering power, Dominion exposes how we need to grow, we need to improve and frankly, we need to wake the hell up.

Jack Bottomley via UK Film Review

This documentary will open your eyes to the truth about the ‘food’ you choose to eat. It explodes the myth of ‘humane slaughter’, show the reality of ‘free range’ and every day farm practices and animal agriculture in Australia, but common around the world, as well as some other practices that occur in other countries to bring us in the West, our ‘creature comforts’ like down pillows and fur coats.

The undercover footage that was bravely obtained by activists and painstakingly put together for this film, along with the drone footage, has some of the most moving and powerful scenes portraying the suffering and horror that is the life and death of farmed animals.

Especially if you still consume animal products, have the courage to watch this film and see if your choice to do so really stacks up as a good reason to do something that requires so much suffering, and creates so much waste, greenhouse gases and poor human health outcomes.

Kali via imdb (10/10)

Whatever your views on eating meat this film will surely make you think hard about the life choices you make and what we can collectively do to be kinder to the animals we share this world with.

Michael Phillips via imdb (10/10)

To experience Dominion for yourself, join us this Saturday at 1pm in Coffman Memorial Hall for the Twin Cities premiere screening. Learn more about the screening here and buy tickets here.

How to respond to those “what if” questions

Written by Kerri Newcomer

“What if you were stranded on an island and you had to eat animals to survive?”

“What if a chicken just ran up to you, laid an egg, then ran off? Would you be okay with eating the egg?”

“What if there was a cow that really needed to be milked? It would hurt the cow to not milk it. Would you drink milk then?”

If you’re a vegan, you’re likely to have been asked a question like this at some point in your life. When I first adopted a vegan lifestyle, I seemed to get several questions like these per day. Usually, they were fairly easy to answer: I would eat whatever the animals eat. I wouldn’t eat the egg. I would do what I could to help the cow, but still not drink the milk.

Over time, though, it can become annoying and tiresome to answer. Maybe it’s because of the absurdity of the scenarios these questions are constructed around, or maybe it’s because they are desperate to find a situation where the consumption of animal products is unquestionably okay. Either way, it’s always a good idea to avoid being outwardly frustrated when faced with these questions.

While it’s possible that the person asking you this may be trying to mess with you, it is also very possible that they are genuinely curious about the specifics of being vegan.

I’ve found that the best way to handle these questions is to recognize that all of these implausible situations ultimately have the same underlying question: “Is there any situation where you would eat meat or animal products?” or in other words, “How far does this ‘vegan’ thing really go?”

Depending on the context, this can sometimes seem mean spirited. These questions are designed to find a loophole or gap in ethical and moral beliefs. Essentially, they’re trying to ‘break the vegan.’

Instead of getting defensive, annoyed, or entertaining the ridiculous situation specific to the question, try to calmly answer that underlying question. The response I typically give is:

No. I would not eat or drink animal products under any feasible situation because I am morally against the exploitation of animals and I do not want to consume animal products.

Connecting to your ethical or other “why” helps reinforce your own personal answer to questions about how far your veganism goes. Find what your personal answer to that question might be and practice being confident in speaking it. This should hopefully provide an answer to any question in the “What if…” style.

And if you find yourself in the position of being asked a question like this by someone, consider whether or not it’s a situation where you might feel comfortable inviting the person to join you for a plant-based meal or activity. A little bit of conversation and community can go a long way in creating more understanding in friends and family about why living your lifestyle is important to you.

If you are someone, currently plant-based or not, who has asked this type of question in the past, don’t worry. It may have been a frustrating ask but it’s in the past. In the future, though, if you’re really wondering about the limits of someone’s lifestyle choices, just cut to the chase and ask, “Is there a situation where you would eat meat or animal products?” and they’ll tell you. No further questions needed.

Volunteer Shoutout: More from Volunteers

Whether you’ve been involved with one program or event or many, thank you for sharing your time and passion with the animal rights, plant-based movement!

This week’s Volunteer Shoutout features a few more stories from volunteers about their CAA experience. We’re grateful for the TLC they’ve put into growing and strengthening our community.

Recap of 2018, Looking Ahead to a Strong 2019!

It’s no secret that 2018 was a huge year for the vegan, plant-based, and animal rights movements around the world. The availability of plant-based, cruelty-free foods increased globally and in the US, protections for animals expanded with the passing of Proposition 12 in California and a vote to end greyhound racing in Florida. 

In Minnesota, over six (vegan!) restaurants opened or went entirely vegan, three all-vegan food trucks started driving around the Twin Cities, and Twin Cities Veg Fest became the largest veg fest in the Midwest! And we can’t forget to mention that Minneapolis was named Veg News’ 2018 City of the Year.

CAA’s mission is to encourage people to embrace their empathy for farmed animals and move toward a plant-based diet. We do this through increasing awareness of farmed animal suffering, building community with plant-based eating, and nurturing advocates in the Twin Cities region. Our work is made possible by your support.

We aimed toward raising $24,000 in December 2018 to continue expanding our work for the animals. While we didn’t reach that goal, we came so close––raising $23,800!––ensuring that we will be able to have a strong start in 2019. Here’s a quick recap of what we did this year and where we’re headed in 2019:

  • We brought in about $30,000 more in individual donations than planned during 2018; this will go towards building a reserve and the eventual hiring of a community organizer to expand our work
  • Attendance at Twin Cities Veg Fest grew over 28% from 2017 to 2018––thanks to your support, we can continue to work toward creating the most exciting veg fest in the Midwest for a growing attendee base
  • Bridges of Respect continues to provide humane education for students around the Twin Cities metro––we can’t wait to see where they go this year
  • We launched Wholesome Minnesota in January 2018 and were awarded a grant from A Seed Of Change to continue expanding this work to bring plant-based food to institutional cafeterias in 2019
  • Just this December, we began the Explore Veg Mentor Program, which will connect mentees looking to make a veg change in their life with mentors excited about helping them make this transition and connect with the Twin Cities plant-based community
  • We’ve got a number of events planned for a strong start in 2019 with a variety of ways to get plugged in––stay updated on our blog and events page

We are so grateful for the record number of new donors this year as well as our past and current donors. We are deeply grateful to co-founder Matt Mackall for his exceptional year-end matching gift, which will create a lasting legacy for the animals.

Finally, we extend a huge thank you to all who shared their stories, volunteered, and donated in 2018. You make this work for the animals possible and we can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in 2019.

Dulceria Bakery, your new home away from home

Dulceria Bakery is a new immigrant, woman of color-owned bakery creating high-quality artisanal pastries, cakes, and desserts with a Mexican twist. Dulce Monterrubio opened her storefront in 2018 after selling her pastries at the Linden Hills Farmers Market and other pop-up events. Today, she uses her space to focus on building a community of intersectionality and inclusivity for her customers, employees, and partners all while serving up incredibly delicious Mexican pastries.

Sanchez Brown and Yunuén Ávila, program coordinators of our new Explore Veg Mentor Program have frequented the bakery since its open.

“My wife was born in Mexico and is a proud Mexican woman and she loved every bit of everything they had,” Sanchez wrote of his experience visiting with Yunuén, noting, “They have Conchas, Empanadas, Pan De Muerto, and sooooo much more! They have a bunch of vegan and gluten-free options and everything is AMAZING.”

As her bakery has grown into its new space, Dulce took a trip to Mexico last winter to complete a five-week intensive course at Escuela de Gastronomía Mexicana, a culinary school that focuses on traditional Mexican cuisine, as well as explore the vegan bakery scene in Mexico City.

She’s taken her expertise and run with it, creating innovative twists on classic pastries. Everything in their bakery is clearly labeled as vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise and a large selection of delicious pastries are available daily.

Dulce’s work goes far beyond creating delicious food. “The staff was patient, knowledgeable and insanely kind. They treat every single customer in the same way and I left in a better mood than when I came in,” exclaimed Sanchez. “I recommend this place, not just for the treats, but to experience every facet of the business because it’s all fantastic.”

Every Saturday, Dulceria hosts a pop-up from local businesses that don’t yet have a space of their own. Dulce plans to add lunch items to their regular menu. If you’re looking for a filling sweet or savory treat, try one of their warmed empanadas in store!

Another plus? They take online orders! “Use their website to order anything ahead and they’ll have it all ready for you at the date you choose!” Sanchez added, “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better!”

Dulceria Bakery is located at 1839 E 42nd Street in Minneapolis. In the winter, they are open 8:00 am – 2:00 pm Wednesday through Sunday and closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Meet Our New Board Member – Mitch Thompson

CAA welcomes Mitch Thompson to our Board of Directors. Mitch joined the CAA board in December 2018 after working intensively on the Twin Cities Veg Fest 2018 planning committee earlier last year. When he’s not working with CAA, Mitch works in the Twin Cities video production industry managing equipment rentals and is the drummer/manager for internationally known local ska-band Umbrella Bed.

A lifelong Minnesotan and longtime Minneapolis resident, Mitch went veg for a combination of health and ethical reasons. “I surprised myself and everyone else when I became a vegetarian in my mid-twenties. What was even more surprising to everyone was that I never wavered from it,” Mitch said. “I grew up in a meatpacking town and it was almost like I turned away from a religion.”

Stories about family and friends parents being “rotated off the kill-line” because they became desensitized to killing resonated with Mitch as a teenager as a horrifying situation––and that was only addressing the human part of the equation.

“It always felt wrong to me,” Mitch continued, “I would see those big semi-trucks loaded with livestock. I could see their eyes, hear them, and it broke my heart. Looking back, I knew it was something I didn’t want to support. I was lucky to end up in environments later on that allowed me to take the first steps on a personal level to stand for a different way to view the world.”

He maintains the core values of an organization like CAA will be critical positions for humanity to adopt more broadly to continue on.

“We really don’t have an excuse anymore for how we treat the so-called ‘beasts,’” he said. “So much about what is wrong in the world can be either directly link to the overeating and production of animal products or indirectly in the mindset that needs to exist to let it happen. We will never evolve into a better species if we don’t move away from this and we really do need to evolve a bit more if we are going to make this whole thing work out.”

We’re excited to welcome Mitch onto the board and are grateful for the time and passion he’s put into our events so far. If you see him at an upcoming outreach or community event, be sure to say hello!

Interested in joining CAA’s board of directors? Our board meetings are open to prospective members. If you are interested in attending a board meeting, email board@exploreveg.org to find out when the next board meeting will take place.

CAA in 2018 – What A Year!

What a huge year for the plant-based, animal rights movement! California passed Proposition 12, which will require an increase of space for farmed animals and result in cage-free conditions for animals living across the country. More and more plant-based options are being developed and carried by retailers recognizing the plant-based trend, increasing widespread availability for consumers.

In Minnesota, Minneapolis was named Veg News’ City of the Year, over nine plant-based restaurants opened around the Twin Cities metro, and two more went vegan!

We welcomed a record number of attendees at this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest, had a blast at all of our events, revealed a new brand identity, and launched not one but TWO programs this year––Wholesome Minnesota in January and just yesterday, the Explore Veg Mentor Program!

From community building to outreach and activism, our growing community is special. Change for the animals starts with supporting compassionate, plant-based choices and if 2018 is any indication, we can accomplish a lot together.

We hope you’ll enjoy remembering everything that we’ve done together this year while watching our 2018 Year in Review video and that you’ll join us at our last event of the year––our hotdish-themed December Holiday Potluck, this Saturday the 29th from 12–2pm at the Matthews Park Recreation Center. If you haven’t already, please consider giving today to help continue strengthening and expanding our work for the animals and a growing plant-based community. 

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, April 16, 2020

CAA UMN Zoom Meeting

Saturday, April 18, 2020 - Friday, April 24, 2020

Twin Cities VegWeek 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Vegan Recipe Club via Zoom