Unny Nambudiripad

Unny is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals. Please see his biography.

Vegan Chili Recipe

Warm up a winter evening with root vegetable chili!

Our February 25 3rd Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off is upon us. What better way to prepare for the event than by making and enjoying your own chili? Be sure to check out the rest of our recipes as well.

Ingredients

Isa says, "this recipe calls for 2 pounds of root veggies, so use whichever are available to you. Some of my faves are rutabaga or turnip (they taste similar, so I wouldn't suggest both,) celeriac, golden beats, or parsnip".

  • 2 pounds root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced medium
  • 1 red pepper, diced medium
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup green lentils, washed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
  • Cilantro and lime for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium high heat.
  • Saute onions and bell pepper in oil until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt and cinnamon.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth and the cocoa powder; cook for about 1 more minute, while stirring, to dissolve the cocoa.
  • Add lentils, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and root veggies.
  • Cover pot and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye. Once it's boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until lentils are tender and root veggies is soft.
  • Mix in agave.
  • Add water as necessary to thin out the chili.
  • Taste for salt and seasoning.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor.
  • Serve garnished with cilantrom, scallions and lime if you like. You can also dollop on a little vegan yogurt or soy cream.

Thanks to Isa for sharing this recipe and the accompanying photo with Compassionate Action for Animals.

The importance of consumer advocacy

Since the founding of CAA, we have encouraged consumers to make better dietary choices. I was talking to a sympathizer with our cause, and she asked how consumer education reduces animal suffering and death. I explained that we educate consumers about factory farming and vegetarianism. I told her that if everybody became vegan, there would be no animal agriculture. She told me that would never happen.

I don't concern myself much about whether or not the world will ever become vegan — it's not a question that I think sheds light on how best to advocate for animals today — but was still a bit startled by her question. Looking back on the conversation, I realized I left many gaps in explaining the thinking behind our work and strategy.

There are many ways to create change: we can lobby for better laws for animals at the local state, or national level, we can try to influence the behavior of businesses or corporations, we can conduct social, psychological, political, or philosophical research into the causes and ways to prevent animal cruelty, we can file lawsuits to prevent animal exploitation, we can start animal-friendly businesses, or we can start a pro-animal publication.

All of these methods can be effective, and we work with allies that do a number of these things. I have personally been involved in using many of these methods, and I am likely to use these methods in the future. But here are the primary reasons we have focused on changing consumer behavior:

1. The change we get when we consume fewer animal products, become vegetarian, or become vegan is immediate. Because of the change in our consumption habits, fewer animals are confined in factory farms, and fewer are killed. In my other organizing work outside of animal advocacy, I've worked with activists to pass legislation. Sometimes we were successful in getting the changes we wanted, and sometimes we weren't. When we weren't, the process of advocating for change usually resulted in being better trained, having more resources, and more likely to pass the legislation the next time. But we didn't effect any substantive social change as a direct result of our work — which often consumed hundreds of hours and a lot energy. When we change our eating habits, we are empowered by the immediate impact of our choices.

2. Relatedly, the process of changing our consumption patterns is not about a theoretical vegetarian world, it's about living our values today. We derive a satisfaction that we've become closer to the kind of people we want to be on a day-to-day basis. Our changing eating habits entail changed patterns in grocery shopping, eating at restaurants, and cooking for our families. We change how we celebrate holidays and birthdays, how we mark religious occasions, weddings and funerals. All of these changes emphasize our new values and beliefs today, regardless of any changes that may or may not happen in the future.

3. Changing our consumption habits is accessible. It takes no special knowledge, skills, or resources to change our eating habits. In contrast, making change by influencing a corporation requires understanding how the corporation works and makes decision, who has the power in the corporation to make the changes we want, and an ability to persuade the decision-makers. In contrast, we can simply choose to patronize different restaurants and buy different food at the grocery store to change our eating habits and help animals.

4. Finally, focusing on consumer change empowers us to understand that the world operates as it does — and allows for current cruelties to continue — because we let it. It's not the powerful institutions of agribusiness, corporations, or governments that perpetuate animal cruelty, it's us: we decide, every time we eat, the fate of the animals. It can be overwhelming to realize their fate rests with us, but we must also acknowledge our power.

Focusing our efforts on consumer education is an accessible and effective way to further social change. I've been fortunate to hear numerous stories of people eating fewer animals as a result of our work. Our strategy will help our movement grow and create the success we are looking for.

Vegan For Life

If you want to learn the basics of vegan nutrition, Vegan For Life is the comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable book that you're looking for!

Written by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina, both registered dieticians, Vegan for Life is an easy-to-read guide to meeting your nutrition needs and building a meal plan. Vegan for Life has nutrition recommendations for pregnancy and breast-feeding, kids, and athletes.

Norris and Messina debunk persistent myths about veganism by carefully looking at what the science says. They're not afraid to review all of the research — whether or not a study portrays veganism in a positive light — to come up with recommendations that are trustworthy. You don't need to have a science background to read the book, as it is written for a general audience.

Whether you're a long-time vegan, just getting started, or simply interested in vegan nutrition, Vegan for Life is highly recommended. Get and read your copy today!

Meat Consumption Drops in 2012

A recent column in the New York Times by cookbook author and foodie Mark Bittman was extremely encouraging to advocates of a diet that that supports justice and respect for animals in our world.

The column points out that despite the average climb in meat consumption over the last half century (the average American eats a half a pound per day), in the last several years that number has actually been decreasing. The department of agriculture projects that meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, reaching over 12 percent less than in 2007. While beef consumption has been falling for the past 20 years, only in the last five years have chicken and pork consumption also joined in the decline.

Experts attribute this decline to many factors, including increasing prices due to export markets, increase in feed prices due to ethanol production, and drought.

However, the most impressive factor Bittman points out is that "we're eating less meat because we want

3rd Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off Wrap-Up

Attendees rate vegan chili

We celebrated animal-free chili on Saturday, February 25. Once again, the Cook-Off was incredibly popular!

More than 200 people came to judge chili at our 3rd Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off! Here were the winners:

  1. Holly VerHage
  2. Betsy Born
  3. Diane Adams

Amazingly, the same competitors as last year won first and second place again! Twelve contestants entered their chili this year.

A few of the responses from attendees included:

  • "Helped me appreciate vegan food more"
  • "I am interested in a vegan diet"
  • "Soooo delicious. After 8 years vegetarian, gonna try (vegan)"

Thanks again to Seward Community Cafe for hosting the event. Attendees also enjoyed vegan corn bread and Chili for the 99% donated by volunteers and the Seward Co-op.

Thanks to the generous businesses that donated prizes: Galactic Pizza, Pizza Luce Seward, Common Roots Cafe, and Seward Co-op.

Thanks to Robin Garwood for hosting and to all the volunteers for making this event a success!

Veg Fest Update

Are you ready for the Twin Cities first ever all-day celebration of compassionate living, delicious plant-based food, and thought-provoking speakers?

Twin Cities Veg Fest is happening July 14, 2012, 10am-5pm at Coffman Memorial Union, Minneapolis, MN. Here is some exciting news about the event:

Speakers

Our speakers have been confirmed and they are:

  • Mark Berkson, Professor of Religion, Hamline University, will be speaking on the topic of animals in religion.
  • Scott Heiser, Director of the Criminal Justice Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund, will be speaking about animal law.
  • Shannon Kimball, Humane Educator, Bridges of Respect, will be speaking on the topic of teaching compassion.
  • Erica Meier, Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing, will be speaking about animal rights.
  • Dave Rolsky, Board Member and Co-Founder, Compassionate Action for Animals, will be speaking about how to be an activist.
  • Suzy Sorensen, RD, LD, CDE, Move2Veg, will be speaking about vegan nutrition.

Full bios and topic summaries can be found at

Register for our 8th Annual Banquet

Join Compassionate Action for Animals at our Annual Banquet on April 5, 2012, celebrating fourteen years of advocating for animals.

Please buy your tickets today!

Focusing on action, education, and outreach to inspire respect for animals, CAA touches hundreds of human lives and saves thousands of animal lives. Through the dedicated efforts of CAA volunteers, thousands of leaflets are distributed to increase awareness of the plight of factory farm animals, hundreds of individuals pledge to try vegetarianism, social gatherings are held to bring like-minded people together, and inspirational speakers from across the country educate the public about those who cannot speak for themselves.

The event begins with a reception featuring a selection of delicious hors d’ouevres. During the reception, bid at our silent auction featuring artwork, gift baskets, services from local vendors, and more.

The reception is followed by a gourmet vegan dinner. During dinner, CAA will give a short presentation on our work in 2011 and our plans for 2012. Please purchase your tickets to reserve your meal!

Please buy your tickets today!

Focusing on action, education, and outreach to inspire respect for animals, CAA touches hundreds of human lives and saves thousands of animal lives. Through the dedicated efforts of CAA volunteers, thousands of leaflets are distributed to increase awareness of the plight of factory farm animals, hundreds of individuals pledge to try vegetarianism, social gatherings are held to bring like-minded people together, and inspirational speakers from across the country educate the public about those who cannot speak for themselves.

The event begins with a reception featuring a selection of delicious hors d’ouevres. During the reception, bid at our silent auction featuring artwork, gift baskets, services from local vendors, and more.

The reception is followed by a gourmet vegan dinner. During dinner, CAA will give a short presentation on our work in 2011 and our plans for 2012. Please purchase your tickets to reserve your meal!

Change of Location for Book Club Meeting

We're hosting our first book club meeting, where we will be discussing Farm Sanctuary by Gene Baur.

We've moved the book club meeting to the Van Cleve Recreational Center 901 15th Ave. SE Minneapolis, MN.

A brief overview and introduction of the selected book, Farm Sanctuary by Gene Bauer, will be discussed as well as a demonstration on how to obtain the book through interlibrary loan and other sources. You do not need to have read the book prior to this meeting. Refreshments will also be provided!

The Compassionate Living book club is a great way to get involved with animal rights issues, develop an intellectual understanding of these issues, and build community with like-minded people.

Meatless Monday to start on January 23!

Pioneer Hall will serve an all-vegetarian meal for lunch on January 23 and 30. If you live in the residence halls at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, be sure to check it out and give positive feedback!

Following our successful campaign last semester, students living in the dorms will enjoy an all vegetarian lunch. University Dining Services is having the all-veg lunch for just two weeks to test it out. We need your help to make sure it continues. Here's what you can do:

  • If you live in the dorms, go to Pioneer Hall with a friend on January 23 and 30. Try out the food and let UDS know you want it to continue. You can fill out a comment card, call them at 612-626-7626, email them, or post on their Facebook page.
  • If you know somebody who lives in a residence hall, tell them about Meatless Monday and encourage them to check it out.
  • Everybody can help by spreading the word about CAA's successful campaign, choosing to eat meatless on Mondays, and spreading the word about the growing movement to eat less meat.

Thanks to University Dining Services for making Meatless Monday a reality!

Register to Compete in our 3rd Annual Vegan Chili Cook-off!

Do you have a secret family recipe for chili that can top them all? Can you make it vegan? Then make a big batch and put it to the test on February 25!

Registration is open to compete in Compassionate Action for Animals' 3rd Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off. Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd will be offered and include gift certificates to Galactic Pizza, Pizza Luce Seward, and Common Roots Cafe. Please enter today! Registration is only $20 (non-refundable).

Contestants must bring 15 cups of prepared vegan (no animal products) chili, a list of ingredients, and a crock pot (or something without an open flame to keep your chili warm). Please note that we can only accept 13 entries.

Hosted by Robin Garwood, the chili cook-off is once again a free event open to the public at the Seward Cafe. Enjoy free refreshments, cornbread, and of course, vegan chili. Share a cold evening with warm animal-friendly folks. We packed the cafe last year, and expect a full crowd again.

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Upcoming Events

Saturday, December 29, 2018

December Holiday Potluck: Hotdish

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January Dine-Out: Trio Plant-based

Saturday, February 9, 2019

February Dine-Out: Seed Cafe