Chicago VeganMania 2014

Chicago VeganMania hall

It was a feeling of connection, of being in the right place with like-minded people. On Saturday, October 11, about a dozen Minnesotans went to Chicago VeganMania 2014. This event is similar to our Twin Cities Veg Fest in that it has exhibitor booths, cooking demos, speaker presentations—but, well, it’s in Chicago. And it’s a little bigger. The event drew 4,000 to 5,000 people. We arrived early before the doors opened and enjoyed the beautiful weather waiting in line outside as locals handed out fliers and coupons to those in the crowd.

Where do you start at an amusement park? That was the feeling I had. There was so much information, so many things going on all at once. We visited some of the exhibits during the first hour. There were T-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, soaps, cosmetics, non-profits, toys, popcorn, nachos, and books. One of the book tables was even selling Mistress Ginger’s cookbook! (Mistress Ginger is local to the Twin Cities and gave a cooking demo at our own festival a few weeks ago.)

The hardest part was choosing what to do. Cooking demonstrations, speaker presentations, and panel discussions were all offered at the same time. We sampled a cooking demo – Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones –  to learn how to be “primal.” (I enjoyed a raw veggie salad.) We caught the last few minutes of a presentation with Robert Cheeke, the vegan body builder. (He made me want to go work out.) And we saw an interesting panel on the intersection of animal rights and other causes.

And then it was time for the food court. This is where it really hit home that I was in an all-vegan event in a city with numerous vegan restaurants. How do you choose one meal when a number of restaurants including Ras Dashen Ethiopian and Arya Bhavan Indian are all tempting you with their delicious vegan eats? We could choose from soul food, pizza, kale burgers, vegan buffalo wings, and so much more!  The dessert options included Sandi Swiss cupcakes, Chicago Vegan Foods soft serve ice cream, and Robin’s Frozen Fantasy raw ice cream. How does one choose?! The answer: you eat more than one meal.

Not everyone at VeganMania was vegan. I spent an hour staffing our CAA table and invited passersby to watch the 5-minute video showing some of the horrors of factory farming. One woman sat there sobbing as she watched. At the end, she said, “I’m so glad I’m already vegan.”  Most of the viewers were not vegan but said they wanted to be or were transitioning. The key thing was that many of the 4,000 to 5,000 people were either vegan or showed an interest in moving towards a plant-based diet.

The weekend was amazing not only because VeganMania was amazing but also because Chicago offers numerous vegan dining options abound in Chicago. For example, the after party at Dimo’s Pizza was another opportunity to eating more than once; the vegan slices included a Hawaiian slice, mac and cheese pizza, and even lasagna pizza, with a free vegan brownie for dessert if you posted a picture of their restaurant on social media. I was in Chicago for a total of about 36 hours, during which I ate at three different restaurants AND at the VeganMania food court. (I’m ready for that workout now!)

This weekend felt right to me. Respect for animals was a given. Veganism was normal, and I felt very much at home.

Bring Meatless Monday to the University of Minnesota

Pleading for Meatless Monday

The current state of the University of Minnesota dining halls, while diverse and comprehensive in most aspects, could do much more to encourage and enable a vegan or vegetarian diet. Not only is their lack of veg options a frustrating hindrance to vegetarian and vegan students who are required to purchase a meal plan, but it is also a significant road block for other students exploring the health and global benefits of adopting a plant-based diet.

For this reason, Compassionate Action for Animals has launched an exciting campaign to bring Meatless Monday to University of Minnesota dining halls. Over 146 campuses worldwide follow the guidelines for Meatless Monday, asking students to refrain from consuming meat and reducing the meat served in their dining halls one day a week. We think that the University of Minnesota should join the growing number of higher learning institutions that are giving students the opportunity to explore vegetarian options.

You can help make this campaign successful. Here’s how:

Sign the petition! It only takes two clicks from here to sign, and then you’ll have the option to share the petition via social media. Please do!

Like our Meatless Monday Facebook page! Support our online presence and share the posts with your friends.

Get informed! Learn more about Meatless Monday and understand why it’s such a great thing.

The university will listen if we can show them that there’s a lot of support for Meatless Monday. With the recent Meatless Monday Proclamation for Minneapolis, this campaign is clearly part of a growing trend. Now it’s your turn to show your support. Be an ambassador for the campaign and help spread the word in whatever ways you can. Programs like Meatless Monday support the transition towards a plant-based diet and help to create a more compassionate world for all beings.

Pay-Per-View Pays Off at Twin Cities Veg Fest!

Our pay-per-view outreach efforts at Twin Cities Veg Fest paid off. In exchange for a dollar, almost 200 Twin Cities Veg Fest attendees watched a five-minute excerpt from Farm to Fridge. After viewing this powerful movie exposing the lives of farmed animals, participants received a pamphlet packed with ideas for cruelty-free eating. Through this outreach effort, we can show how everyone has the opportunity to make compassionate choices rather than supporting the industries responsible for millions of animals living and dying on factory farms.

Most participants were speechless after the viewing. Many were shocked but expressed their gratitude. They were not only thankful to have a better understanding of where their meat, dairy, and eggs come from, but they were also thankful to the volunteers who shared the video with them.

Anna and Candace, a couple festival attendees, remarked that the video gave them a lot to think about. Anna eats a vegetarian diet and was moved to consider adopting a vegan diet. She had the opportunity to talk to one of our volunteers about nondairy alternatives to cheese. Candace, an omnivore who cares about the welfare of animals, remarked that she is concerned about the vague and misleading “free range” labels.

Anna and Candace
Anna and Candace

At Compassionate Action for Animals, we value any steps taken towards a plant-based diet. Whether it’s participating in Meatless Monday or having one plant-based meal a day, whenever we choose not to buy meat, eggs, and dairy products, we decrease the demand for those products. As more individuals opt for vegetarian fare, fewer animals will be raised and killed.

Jessica and Ryan, another couple who stopped by the pay-per-view table, have been vegan for a couple years. They initially went vegan for health reasons, but have since realized the ethical motivations for choosing a plant-based diet. Both commented that they feel better as well as stronger. In fact, Ryan is a certified personal trainer and competes as a heavyweight body builder at 250lbs. He said that going vegan was the best thing he’s ever done for his fitness and body building career. He not only feels stronger and recovers faster from workouts, but also feels great that going plant-strong is also the most compassionate choice.

Jessica and Ryan
Jessica and Ryan

If you’d like to get involved with pay-per-view outreach opportunities with CAA, contact Grace Van Susteran at grace.vansusteren@exploreveg.org. If you haven’t already, watch the video and share with your friends. Videos such as this one are powerful tools for getting others motivated to take action for animals.

Autumnal Comfort – Vegan Cooking with AmyLeo


AmyLeo Barankovich will be serving up some delicious autumn-inspired dishes at Valley Natural Foods at 13750 County Road 11 in Burnsville, MN on Wednesday, October 8, 6:00 – 8:00pm.

If you want to serve a delicious season meal or one for the holidays or simply have a great family meal without spending hours in the kitchen, this menu will delight you, your friends, family, and guests. These classic dishes with a hint of nostalgia will satisfy the desire for comfort food during the cold winter months.

For only $10 (Vally Natural Foods co-op owners) and for $15 (non-owners) you will get:

  • Lots of recipes to take home: Mock Chicken Ala Queen, Sour-Creamed Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, and Almond-Crusted Pumpkin Pie with Cashew Cream, and Sesame Steamed Kale
  • Samples of all the dishes prepared to eat during the class! You will not leave hungry!
  • 10% off coupon for your next visit at Valley Natural Foods

Register today! 15 people must be registered by noon on Monday, October 6 or the class will be cancelled and all attendees refunded and/or notified.



Twin Cities Veg Fest in City Pages and on Fox 9 News

Word has gotten out! Twin Cities Veg Fest is happening this Sunday, September 28, 10:00am – 4:00pm at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. This family-friendly festival is free to attend and offers vegan food, cooking demonstrations, speaker presentations, a variety of exhibitors and more!

We expect to draw 2,500 attendees to our third annual Twin Cities Veg Fest, open to vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike. Record numbers! The popularity of this event is evident in some of the press we’ve been receiving:

City Pages recently posted a glowing preview of what you can find at the festival and said that “you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy.”

Also, one of our four chefs who will be giving a cooking demo at the festival made an appearance on Fox 9 News last week. Mistress Ginger showed how to make a Tie-the-Knot Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie and managed to veganize anchorman Tom Butler in the process. The self-proclaimed “pink-haired showgirl” will be showing how to prepare three simple yet delicious recipes from her cookbook at the festival at 3pm.

If you can’t make it to the festival on Sunday, be sure to tune in to Fox 9 News at 10:15am that morning as Elise Armani, a CAA volunteer leader, gives a three-minute interview about the exciting new Meatless Monday proclamation for Minneapolis.

What’s more, the Twin Cities Veg Fest Facebook page has nearly 10,000 likes! We are trying to make it to 10,000 by Sunday. Please visit the page, “like” it if you haven’t already, and then share it with your friends.

And speaking of your friends, you had just better bring them to the festival on Sunday. Come one, come all! Come, celebrate compassion!


Meatless Monday Proclamation for Minneapolis!

Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon, a member of the Minneapolis City Council, recently issued a proclamation urging residents to observe Monday as “Meatless Monday” to improve their health, protect animals, and protect the environment. The proclamation recognizes that if Minneapolis residents ate meat-free just one day a week, they would save more than 1.2 million animals from factory farms each year and support the city’s efforts to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions.

Cam is a longtime vegetarian and has been a member of the Minneapolis City Council since 2006. In his time on the City Council, Cam has focused on ecological sustainability, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, and social economic justice. Cam is the most recent city official to support Meatless Monday, an international campaign aimed at reducing our carbon footprint and lowering rates of preventable chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Stop by Twin Cities Veg Fest this weekend to learn more about Meatless Monday. Cam will announce the proclamation at 9:45am by the entrance to the Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union. At the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to sample delicious vegan food and learn about how you can easily incorporate meatless meals into your weekly routine.

How are you getting to Twin Cities Veg Fest?

Twin Cities Veg Fest is coming up on Sunday, September 28, and do you know how you’re getting there?

First, where is it? Again this year, the festival will be held on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in Coffman Memorial Union, located at 300 Washington Avenue Southeast in Minneapolis, MN 55455. You can walk, bike, or use transit instead of driving to the festival. Please see maps and directions from the University of Minnesota’s website.

Driving and Parking

We’ve created a custom Google Map for the festival that includes driving paths from the nearest highways. If you’d like to plot your own course, set your GPS for 300 Washington Ave SE in Minneapolis.We recommend parking in the East River Road Garage behind Coffman Union. Take the elevator to the top floor then head across the nearest street and up the stairs to Coffman.


You can reach the university campus from many different directions by using public transit, including the Green Line of the light rail system and the bus, including the 2, 3, 6, and 16. Check out the Metro Transit website for a trip planner, maps, and schedules. Your destination for the trip planner is 300 Washington Ave SE in Minneapolis. Please note that express routes are not available on the weekends.


Biking to the university is easy and there are many bike racks by Coffman Union. See the UMN biking info page for details, including maps showing available bike lanes.

However you get there, just travel safely and look forward to all the Twin Cities Veg Fest has to offer. The festival begins at 10:00am and goes until 4:00pm. We look foward to seeing you there.



Twin Cities Veg Fest is for EVERYONE!

Twin Cities Veg Fest

Twin Cities Veg Fest is happening on this coming Sunday, September 28, 10:00am – 4:00pm at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota. This festival is truly for everyone. Sharing the wonders of all things vegan, we welcome not only those who consider themselves vegan or vegetarian but also (and most enthusiastically!) omnivores.

The festival is free and designed to be fun. We want as many people to be there and to experience how choosing vegan food doesn’t have to mean depriving one’s self of nourishing sustenance, sensory pleasures, or a joyful community. We have all of those things in a big way, as the festival goes to show.

We are offering an array of activities at the event, and attendees can pick and choose what they’d like to experience. Choose from:

  • Food, food, and more vegan food, either free samples or larger meals for purchase.
  • Cooking demos geared for those new to vegan cooking, with foods likely to appeal to the omnivore palette.
  • Speaker presentations ranging from information nutrition basics to harrowing stories from a former factory farm investigator.
  • Numerous exhibitors, all representing like-minded organizations and companies.
  • Pay-per-view. Watch a five-minute video about factory farming in exchange for a dollar.
  • And more!

Our most recent edition of our monthly podcast Exploring Veg reveals how one omnivore enjoyed last year’s event. In fact, she now considers herself a devotee of the nondairy cheese from Punk Rawk Labs, a local company who was a big hit at last year’s event and will be exhibiting again this year.

Remember, Twin Cities Veg Fest is free to attend! If you’re veg, bring your omnivore friends and family. They’ll be welcomed and have much to explore. If you’re omnivore, please join us and discover some wonderful new options, some of the ways to expand your diet to include more plant-based foods. All of us can come together at Twin Cities Veg Fest to discover and appreciate how varied and vibrant our compassionate community can be.


Exploring Twin Cities Veg Fest – Part 4

Mel Schneider

In this final podcast of a four-part series devoted to Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014, Compassionate Action for Animals’ Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad interviews Mel Schneider, a Minneapolis resident who attended the festival last year. We welcome everyone at the festival, vegan, vegetarians, and omnivores. Mel is an omnivore. Listen to the podcast to learn more about her experience and why this celebration of compassion is truly for everyone.

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014 will be held at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota on Sunday, September 28th, 2014. The festival is free to attend and presentations from visiting speakers, delicious food samples, a variety of exhibitors, and cooking demos. Join us and celebrate compassion!

One Girl, Two Cities Goes Veg on September 9th!

One Girl, Two Cities image

CAA volunteer Laura Van Zandt is not only a volunteer for Compassionate Action for Animals, but she’s also a host of the popular internet broadcast series One Girl, Two Cities. During the show on September 9, Laura will talk to some key figures about the upcoming Twin Cities Veg Fest, including festival planning committee members Unny Nambudiripad and Shannon Kimball. She’ll also be talking to the folks from The Herbivorous Butcher and Comfort Candy, two vegan food vendors who’ll be showcasing their cruelty-free eats at the festival.

RSVP to the Facebook event, share with your friends, and then tune in to learn all about Twin Cities Veg Fest. Watch it live on the internet broadcast station Sizzlin 99.9. If you aren’t available to listen to the live broadcast, a podcast version will be available on iTunes the next day.

One Girl, Two Cities airs live every Tuesday from 7:00 – 8:00pm on Sizzlin 99.9.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

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