We’re winning in more ways than one!

Last month, Compassionate Action for Animals announced the first annual Twin Cities Veggie Awards, a new program that acknowledges the best of the best of veg-friendly businesses in the Twin Cities.

For this first round of awards, we gathered a panel of five of our community members to choose the five winners. Each of the recipients received acknowledgement on our blog and a framed certificate.

Here they are:

The blog also lists all of the thirteen businesses in the Twin Cities that offer only vegan products as well as a list of eleven of the finalists, veg-friendly businesses that offer a great selection of outstanding vegan options. Though these finalists didn’t win the award, we wanted to be sure people know about them and support them.

Of course, the real winner is our community. This shift toward having more vegan options in the marketplace is undeniably gaining momentum, and we take it as a sign of great things to come. This consumer demand for more vegan products means fewer animal products being purchased and, ultimately, fewer animals suffering.

We can feel like we’re winning in that regard, for sure! And if you’d like to celebrate, I hope you’ll join us for our next festive event, Summer Soirée: A Benefit for Twin Cities Veg Fest on Wednesday, July 27 from 7 to 10pm at the award-winning Reverie Cafe + Bar. This is a great way to support Twin Cities Veg Fest, celebrate with the community, and enjoy all the amazing vegan nosh that Reverie has to offer. Reserve your tickets today!

Amazing vegan nosh at Reverie; photo by Sam Thompson
Amazing vegan nosh at Reverie; photo by Sam Thompson

Best wishes,

Justin Leaf

Communications & Events Coordinator


Have you seen the new Twin Cities Veg Fest animation?

Check it out! This fantastic animation was created by Sydney Terwey, Cade Isaacs, and Hai Lo, who were all students at The Art Institutes International of Minnesota. They used their time and talents to share their enthusiasm for Twin Cities Veg Fest, and we love what they came up with.

After helping to create this animation, Sydney went on to intern with us at CAA in the spring of 2016. We’re very grateful for all that she contributed to the organization during that time.

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016 will take place on Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, from 11am to 4pm each day. Share this video and let your friends that they can now save the dates for this fun festival!

Twin Cities Veggie Awards 2016 — Winners Announced!

Compassionate Action for Animals is pleased to announce the winners of our first annual Twin Cities Veggie Awards!

We’ve created this program to recognize Twin Cities businesses that support the compassionate community by offering outstanding vegan products. We want to acknowledge and thank them for their service, and we want to be sure that you know about them. We encourage you to give your support to these exceptional veg-friendly establishments so that they continue to thrive.

Here are the winners of the 2016 Twin Cities Veggie Awards along with a testimonial from each of our five panelists. Drum roll please…

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Easy Egg-Free Baking

A shorter version of this article was included in the most recent edition of Twin Cities Veg Living, the CAA magazine. Here is the complete version, with even more tips on egg-free baking.

Did you know that often you can simply leave eggs out of a recipe and have great results? Not ready to try that just yet? We’ve got you covered. Consider this a primer on egg replacement for vegan baking. You can search online for endless resources giving you greater detail. It’s easy to veganize a recipe once you understand why the eggs are used.

  1.     They add moisture and richness.
  2.     They work as a leavening agent.
  3.     They work as a binder.

Each of these plant-based foods replaces one egg:

  •     1 tablespoon to ¼ cup applesauce
  •     1 ripe banana, mashed
  •     1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons boiling water
  •     1 tablespoon EnerG Egg Replacer mixed with ¼ cup boiling water
  •     1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds with 2 to 4 tablespoons of boiling water
  •     ¼ cup mashed potatoes
  •     ¼ cup blended prunes
  •     ¼ cup cooked blended pumpkin
  •     ¼ cup mashed silken tofu
  •     1 tablespoon vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice with 1 teaspoon baking soda

Now let’s test-drive your new skills. Try this recipe as it is and then try it again using another egg replacement option. Let the tasty fun begin!

Chedda Jalapeño MuffinsChedda-Jalapeno Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

These delicious muffins offer up a great combo of nondairy cheese and heat. You will find “chedda cheeze” and jalapeños through and through with every bite. Either eaten alone, with a robust salad, or with a hearty vegan chili, these muffins land just right on the palate.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder ¾ teaspoon baking soda ¾ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon EnerG Egg Replacer ¼ cup boiling water ¼ cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup unrefined sugar 1 cup nondairy milk, plus more as needed 1 ½ cup shredded nondairy cheddar cheese shreds ½ cup minced canned or fresh jalapeño chile

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and into a medium bowl and set aside.

Put 2 tablespoons of the boiling water and the egg replacer in a small bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick and gelatinous. Add additional water as necessary. Set aside.

Mix the oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg replacer and continue to mix until well combined.

Alternating in small amounts, add the dry mixture and the nondairy milk to the wet mixture, stirring continuously until all of the dry mixture and nondairy milk have been added and a batter has been formed. If the mixture is too dry or thick, add up to 1/3 cup additional nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. The batter will be thick. Add the nondairy cheese and chile and mix until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Let the muffins rest in the muffin tin for about 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Sit back and enjoy alone or with friends. These muffins will stay fresh up to 1 week when stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Variation For even more flavor, replace the unbleached all-purpose flour with 1 cup spelt flour, 1 cup oat flour, and 1 cup rice flour.

AmyLeo Barankovich, a passionate vegan chef, began cooking for a family of ten at the age of 13 and has since been delighting family, friends, and colleagues with creative, delicious wholesome food. She founded The Vegan Pantry: Where Taste Meets Grace, offering private and public cooking classes, personal chef services, vegan coaching, and restaurant consulting. Learn more at veganaffairsmn.com.

Vegan Recipes from the 2016 Annual Banquet

Our 2016 Annual Banquet was popular for many reasons, but perhaps the most drool-worthy aspect of this yearly fundraiser was the gourmet meal.

The menu had an Italian theme and was created by volunteer Jared Rolsky. Many additional volunteers helped with food preparation, and by the end of the night lots of people were talking about how good and filling the food was.

You are certainly welcome to try your hand at making these plant-based dishes at home. Here are the recipes:

Thanks again to all of our volunteers who helped to prepare the food and to The Herbivorous Butcher who sponsored the event by donating their vegan Italian sausage and nondairy mozzarella.


10 Veg-Friendly Spots to Dine Out for Life

Thursday, April 28 is the 22nd annual Dining Out for Life event in Minnesota. When you dine at one of the 200 participating restaurants on that day, a portion of the proceeds benefits The Aliveness Project, an organization that serves HIV-positive Minnesotans with a comprehensive array of programs.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite participating restaurants that offer good vegan options. We’ve included what percentage of proceeds will be donated to the Aliveness Project, which mealtimes apply, and what the restaurants have to offer.

  • Pizza Nea
    • 50%
    • Lunch, Dinner
    • Authentic Italian cuisine featuring pizza made with vegan meats and cheeses from The Herbivorous Butcher
  • Birchwood Cafe
    • 35%
    • Dinner
    • Fresh food with down-home appeal
  • Moto-I
    • 35%
    • Dinner
    • Ramen and sake house offering Japanese cuisine with many vegan options
  • Pizza Luce (all locations; dine in only)
    •  35%
    • Lunch, Dinner
    • Vegan pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and more
  • The Wedge Table
    • 35%
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Cooperative cafe and market with lots of vegan options
  • May Day Cafe
    • 25%
    • Breakfast, Lunch
    • Cozy cafe with awesome vegan scones, cookies, burritos, and more
  • Vo’s Vietnamese Restaurant
    • 25%
    • Lunch, Dinner
    • Vietnamese cuisine with very vegan-friendly menu
  • Ginger Hop Restaurant
    • 20%
    • Lunch, Dinner
    • Asian cuisine in swanky setting
  • Galactic Pizza
    • 20%
    • Lunch, Dinner
    • Vegan pizza and nondairy cheesecake
  • Hard Times Cafe
    • 20%
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    • Collectively owned diner with lots of vegan comfort food

Dining Out for Life offers a fantastic opportunity to support people in Minnesota living with HIV and to make compassionate meal choices at the same time. With 200 restaurants participating in Minnesota, you’re sure to find excellent vegan options on many of the menus. Use your dollars to make a difference!

Compassionate Times: Twin Cities Veg Living, Issue 2

We’ve just published the second issue of Twin Cities Veg Living, and we’re very excited to share it with the world.

This annual 12-page magazine is a way for us to share who we are and what we do. You’ll find that our campaigns, programs, values, and mission are represented in its contents. Along with that, the magazine is a useful resource for those moving toward a plant-based diet. It features information that’s especially relevant to those who live in the Twin Cities area, and it shows how veg-friendly our community is becoming.

If you haven’t seen the magazine yet, you can find it at our tabling events throughout the year or read it online.

Continue reading

The 2016 Annual Banquet in Pictures

Thanks to all who joined us for the 2016 Annual Banquet on Saturday, April 9 at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul. We had a great time celebrating 18 years of advocating for animals in the Twin Cities and hope you did, too.

This fundraising event featured a gourmet meal, a silent auction, live music, a presentation by one of our volunteers, and lots of schmoozing with others in the compassionate community.

Special thanks to the following individuals and businesses who helped to make this event a major success:

Also, thanks to the many individual volunteers who offered their time and talents in both helping to organize the event and doing the behind-the-scenes work that helping the event run so smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Enjoy the slideshow above with photos taken by volunteer Abbi Dempsey. Maybe you’ll see yourself in there!

Meet the Newest Member of the Fundraising Team!

Hannah Marie Patzer just recently joined Compassionate Action for Animals’ Fundraising Team. We’re happy to have her on board. Let’s get to know this superstar volunteer!

Hannah grew up in a small town in southwestern Minnesota and then majored in music at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Guess what! Hannah sings opera. Her rich mezzo-soprano voice can be heard amongst the voices in the local choir Exultate. She also has a tattoo sleeve on her left arm featuring an array of fruits and veggies. And this tattoo-slinging opera singer is a volunteer for CAA. Now how did that happen?

A couple years ago, Hannah was dating a vegetarian guy who never talked with her about why he was vegetarian, but she wondered, “What’s that all about?” Then one day, she watched just a small portion of the documentary Food, Inc. Just seeing the image of live baby chicks moving down a conveyor belt, all squished and scared, Hannah resolved to go vegetarian. In the few days that followed, she read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and went vegan. Soon after, she moved to the Twin Cities, where she found lots of vegan options. Hannah says, “It’s been smooth sailing ever since.”

Not long after moving to the area, she began volunteering for CAA. One of her favorite volunteer positions has been server for the Annual Banquet because it gave her the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people. (By the way, you can sign up to volunteer at our Annual Banquet on April 9.)

Hannah looks forward to developing her skills for leafleting and pay-per-view, though she finds conversations in outreach situations a little more intimidating.

Of all of our CAA events, Hannah loves potlucks the most because they offer that vital sense of community. She says, “It can feel like there aren’t as many vegans around unless you purposely put yourself in a community of vegans.”

So why did she recently join the fundraising committee? “I just want to do more. All this is happening to animals, and what can I do? I understand that without fundraising you can’t have a nonprofit. It’s an integral part of CAA, and it’s fun to see the inner workings. I like being around people who are bouncing ideas off each other. Leadership and creativity are areas that I want to build on and being on the fundraising committee will open up opportunities for that.”

When she’s not advocating for animals, Hannah works as a receptionist at a private equity firm in downtown Minneapolis. In her free time, she loves reading, alternating between books about animal agriculture and novels. She also enjoys lifting weights, seeing friends, and going out to eat.

Speaking of food, what are Hannah’s favorites? Preparing food at home, she loves a standard stir-fry with whatever she has in her fridge. “Everything tastes good together. Throw in some Braggs Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast and you’ve got a deliciously cheesy mess of vegetables.”

Her favorite restaurants include French Meadow (She recommends the Zen Salad, the Tempeh Reuben with fries, and the vegan special — always amazing!), Pizza Luce (Her favorite is The Rustler!), and the Thai restaurant Sen Yai Sen Lek (She loves any of their vegan options!).

When asked about her stunning tattoo sleeve showcasing fruits and veggies, Hannah says, “People look at my arm and say, ‘Oh, that makes me want to go and eat a raspberry.’” To them, she retorts, “Good, you should never eat an egg again.’”

Ha ha! We like her compassionate style and good sense of humor, and we’re so happy to have her join us on the Fundraising Team.

You’re welcome to join us, too! Our next Fundraising Team meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 at the CAA Community Space from 7 to 8:30pm. You’re welcome to check out the meeting even if you’re not officially on the committee. If you’d like to attend, email Unny Nambudiripad at unny@exploreveg.org.

Meet Our New Bookkeeper!

Though Brita Bengtson just started a new part-time staff position as Bookkeeper with Compassionate Action for Animals, she’s been volunteering with the group since 2011 and a making a difference for animals long before that.

Brita went vegan in the 90s when she was about 15 years old. Looking back, she laughingly calls it “The Dark Ages of Veganism” and can relate to a buzzfeed-type list on the VegNews website called “You Know You Were Vegan in the 90s If…”.

Long story short, there weren’t nearly so many vegan specialty foods available back then. According to Brita, the only vegan cheese available was called “Vegan Rella” and was made out of Irish moss. (What?!)

When asked what made her go vegan, Brita says, “That’s a hard question for me because I don’t remember — and that’s not because of the B12 deficiency.” LOL! Did we mention Brita has a hilariously dry sense of humor?

No, she doesn’t have a B12 deficiency, but she does have a lot of compassion for animals. She’d always felt a sort of moral conflict about eating animals and naturally moved away from eating meat by the time she was 12 years old. Then at an Earth Day festival, she found a little booklet called What’s Wrong with Eating Animals, which also revealed the problems with the egg and dairy industries. That’s when she went vegan.

Fast forward about 15 years to 2011. Plant-based food options were on the rise, and veg fests were popping up everywhere, including right here in Twin Cities. Brita was inspired by the idea of the veg fests, as they reach thousands of people in one day and make compassionate living out to be what it really can be: fun and delicious. It was then that she jumped into volunteering for CAA, taking on the role of Advertising and Media Outreach Coordinator for our first annual Twin Cities Veg Fest.

Since then, Brita has been a vital organizer for the festival. She moved on to be the Social Media Coordinator a couple years later and has done a phenomenal job with the festival’s Facebook and Instagram pages. She sees social media as a good opportunity for free advertising, and, with her savvy approach to online communications, she has brought lots of positive exposure to Twin Cities Veg Fest and ultimately to our mission to help the animals.

When she’s not helping out with CAA, Brita has a job helping people with disabilities with their daily activities. She also enjoys finding creative ways to make vegan food and has three cats: Precious, Chibi-san, and Mr. Biscuit.

As an animal advocate, Brita is always contemplating how she can be more effective. That’s one reason she appreciates working with CAA; as an organization, we’re always thinking about how we can do better for the animals.

Her commitment to the cause has her always learning new things. It’s this passion that led her to apply for the part-time position as Bookkeeper for CAA. We’re grateful that she is taking on this new behind-the-scenes role; these kinds of administrative tasks are really instrumental to the stability and longevity of the group. It’s also wonderful when we can hire someone whose heart is so much in the work.

Welcome, Brita!

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Veg Resources

Upcoming Events

Thursday, March 28, 2019

March Dine-Out: Midtown Global Market

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Bridges of Respect – April 3, 2019

Friday, April 5, 2019

Pay-Per-View Video Outreach

Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019 Pancake Potluck Feast

Sunday, April 7, 2019 - Saturday, April 13, 2019

Twin Cities VegWeek 2019