Unny Nambudiripad

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

Could You See Yourself on the Twin Cities Veg Fest Planning Committee?

Would you like to be a part of the team that plans Twin Cities Veg Fest 2015? We’ll be holding an orientation session for all interested participants. I’ll do a brief presentation on what’s involved in planning the festival. Then, we’ll answer any questions you may have. Food will be provided. If you’d like to attend the orientation, fill out this Doodle form and let us know what times work for you.

You don’t have to attend the orientation to be considered for the festival committee, and you needn’t commit to planning the festival to attend the orientation. It’s just an opportunity for you to learn what’s involved in putting on our annual celebration of compassion. Please check out our  committee position descriptions and our website on how to plan a festival.

We estimate that nearly 2,500 people attended our recent festival, and next year’s festival is going to be even bigger and better. We’re moving to a larger venue, and we hope to expand the festival activities. We’re getting a lot of attention for our  efforts, getting people to think about their food choices and embrace plant-based options. Of course, to pull off such an ambitious undertaking we need the help of committed, enthusiastic individuals like you. Join the team and help make Twin Cities Veg Fest 2015 great!

Book Review: Veganomics

Veganomic cover image

Have you ever wondered what kind of person reduces their meat consumption, becomes vegetarian, or becomes vegan? And why do they do it? And why do some of them return to their carnivorous ways? Nick Cooney’s new book, Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom, offers some possible answers to these questions.

I met Nick when he spoke at Their Lives, Our Voices in 2010. He talked about the need to use psychology to influence human behavior. Soon after TLOV, he wrote his first book, Change of Heart, which applied this kind of scientific research to his recommendations for activists.

Veganomics is an excellent follow-up. In preparation for writing this book, Nick thoroughly reviewed dozens of surveys that documented why different groups of people did or did not consume animal products. While the steady flow of statistics may have a mind-numbing effect, the conclusions are ultimately illuminating. For example, the surveys unanimously show that animal suffering and human health are the primary motivating factors to reduce meat consumption, but that environmental devastation and world hunger are much less influential.

Unfortunately, even the best research on which the book was based could be much better. Many of the surveys are old, have a small sample size, and limit the conversation to diet, not exploring other forms of activism, such as sharing videos, volunteering, or donating funds. With this in mind, we can assume that these conclusions are not completely accurate, comprehensive, or current.

All in all, the book furthers the conversation about how we can use science to improve our strategy for helping animals. Nick provides clear recommendations for the demographics we should target and the messages that we should send in order to have the most far-reaching effect. Along with that, the survey findings are often amusing or fascinating.

This book is an excellent read for anyone involved in the animal protection movement. I highly recommend it as a useful resource that may take our work for the animals to the next level.





Unny’s Presentation at Animal Rights 2014

Unny speaking at Animal Rights 2014

Last weekend, I presented “How to Plan a Veg Fest” at the Animal Rights National Conference. It was my first time speaking at the conference, and I was honored to have a chance to present what I’ve learned through producing Twin Cities Veg Fest with Compassionate Action for Animals.

Twin Cities Veg Fest has been one of our most successful events. It drew 2,000 people last year, and we received tremendous amounts of positive feedback. People tasted excellent vegan food and were empowered with resources to move towards a plant-based diet. Just as importantly, the festival showed the general public that many people care about animals and are embracing lifestyle changes to help them. At the conference, I shared with other animal protection activists what I’ve learned so that they can do the same thing in their own communities.

I don’t have very much experience with public speaking, but this subject was easy for me to talk about. I’m enthusiastic about sharing what I know, as I see the veg fest as being an effective form of outreach that I hope other communities will try. After the talk, I heard from at least three people who are interested in planning a festival. I couldn’t ask for a better response than that!

Last year, CAA created a website as a resource for other communities interested in planning a veg fest. All of the information from my talk at the conference can be found there. 

How to Plan a Veg Fest

This coming weekend, I’ll be speaking at the Animal Rights 2014 National Conference on how to plan a veg fest. The first thing I’ll mention in my talk is that our organization got a lot of help from other festivals when we started planning our own Twin Cities Veg Fest over three years ago. We’re now inspired to help others who would like to create veg fests in their own communities. With this intention, we here at Compassionate Action for Animals created a website, How to Plan a Veg Fest.

If you’re coming to the conference, you can hear my talk on Sunday, July 13th at 3:30 pm. If you want to plan a veg fest but won’t be attending the conference, please check out the website.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll post an update about my experience at the conference. I look forward to learning from and sharing with our national community of animal advocates.


Behind-the-scenes with Their Lives, Our Voices

Andrew Rockway photo

Their Lives, Our Voices 2014 is a one-day conference that offers both established and aspiring activists an opportunity to develop their advocacy skills and to meet other people who are also speaking out for animals. The conference takes place on Saturday, September 27th, 2014, the day before Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014. In this post, we interview Andrew Rockway, a committee member for the festival who is helping to plan Their Lives, Our Voices 2014.

How did you get interested in advocating for animals?

The majority of my friends, somewhat coincidentally, are vegan, so it’s a natural extension of being politicized by like-minded people.

What have you enjoyed most so far?

About advocating for animals? It’s certainly preferable to the alternative. It’s also nice to meet people who are interested in promoting the needs and rights of animals.

What are you most looking forward to at the Veg Fest?

Lots of food!

You’re planning our conference, Their Lives, Our Voices. Tell me about the conference.

TLOV offers vegans and non-vegans opportunities to enhance their abilities as animal advocates. We have speakers presenting philosophical and ethical arguments related to animal advocacy as well as speakers offering practical information on general activism to develop the hard skills needed to be effective.

Why is it important for activists to attend Their Lives, Our Voices? What will they learn?

TLOV is an excellent opportunity for those interested in advocating on behalf of animals to invest in themselves. TLOV helps activists build new skills, expand their networks, and be reinvigorated in animal activism. Whether it’s learning new strategies for communicating with non-vegans, developing better time management skills, or learning how to build an effective campaign, TLOV offers new information for even the most experienced advocates.

What makes you optimistic about the animal advocacy movement?

Here in Minnesota, at least, tons of young people are interested in becoming effective advocates, taking that next step beyond becoming vegetarian or vegan. It’s great to see young people working hard to build the community that sustains and supports advocacy efforts.

Imagine you’re talking to somebody who isn’t vegetarian and is, um, a little afraid of you. What would you say to them to convince them to come to the festival?


What hobbies do you enjoy (besides devouring tasty vegan food)?

I like to read (lots of things), ride my bike, and now that it’s summer, sit on my front stoop.

What’s a fun experience that you’ve had with a non-human animal?

[Editor: Silence. A goofy guy like Andrew hasn’t had a fun experience with animals? I guess he is goofy and mysterious.]

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Is pizza a vegetable? No? Possibly rainbow chard (it’s so pretty!) or red onions.

This interview was originally published on the Twin Cities Veg Fest blog.

Mistress Ginger Cooks!

Were you unable to come to the release party on Sunday? No problem! The book is available for purchase on Amazon. Here’s a description:

This is not the typical culinary compilation! Foodies of every persuasion will be enticed by Mistress Ginger and her follies in the kitchen. Here is a saucy showgirl who knows that anyone can make and enjoy fabulous vegan food whether it’s a longtime vegan who wears a bunch of kale as a badge of honor or a self-described carnivore who doesn’t know a radish from a rutabaga.

Filled with practical tips for eating better amid a hustle-and-bustle life with recipes that will please anyone, Mistress Ginger Cooks! presents a veritable plant-based paradise for busy people who want to be healthier. Guided by the irrepressible and irresistible Mistress Ginger, readers will learn simple, everyday dishes bursting with flavor as well as a few more elaborate recipes for extra-special occasions. From tips on planning balanced meals to putting together knock-out themed menus, the kitchen has never been so much fun.

Recipes include Par-tay Pate, French Kissed Toast, Blueberry Stud Muffins, Bodacious Tortellonni, Flaming Stir-Fry, and Titillating Tapenade. Best of all, the book features Ginger’s bawdy, good-natured humor, as well as gorgeous color photos of the Mistress herself, throughout.

And if you like what you read, follow Compassionate Action for Animals to hear more from Mistress Ginger (aka Justin Leaf). Soon, Justin will be our new Communications and Events Coordinator.

Community Conversation About Animals at Common Ground

Common Ground Meditation Center is having the following discussion. Our long time friend, Mark Berkson will be speaking at this event.

Community Conversation:  Humans, Animals, and Non-harming

Please join us for our second annual community discussion examining the ethics of our relationships with animals. Last year, while reviewing various Buddhist traditions and their perspectives on the issue, we discussed large-scale examples of animal cruelty in our culture and our impact on them. This year, we will reflect on the supporting causes of both cruelty and beauty in our personal relationships with the animals in our lives, and on how these tendencies impact our decisions in daily life. We are fortunate to have three community members who have been reflecting on the ethical treatment of animals for many years share their insights with us as we reflect on this delicate, significant issue with compassion and forgiveness. Facilitated by Nicole Taras and Tyler Frank.

Date: Sunday, June 1, 12:30 – 3:30 pm.

Location: 2700 East 26th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406.

Phone: 612-722-8260

Announcing our new Communications and Events Coordinator

Justin Leaf

I’m happy to announce we’ve hired Justin Leaf as our new Communications and Events Coordinator.

A long time Compassionate Action for Animals volunteer, Justin has helped plan the Their Lives, Our Voices conference, raised funds, distributed literature, helped with administrative tasks, and much more. He has written a vegan cookbook, Mistress Ginger Cooks, which is being released next month.

Justin has been a professional dancer, a singer, a performer, choreographer, and a yoga instructor. He has organized numerous events and has extensive experience in communications including email newsletters and videos.

Beyond his experience, what excites me about hiring Justin is his commitment to gently helping people embrace compassion.

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Veg Resources

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - Tuesday, December 8, 2020

UMN Student Group Zoom Meeting

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Vegan Recipe Swap!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

18th Annual Vegan Virtual ThanksLiving

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Vegan Recipe Club via Zoom

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Vegan Recipe Swap!