You can subscribe to our blog using our RSS feed.

CAA’s New Magazine – Now Published!

The 2017 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living has been published! This is the third edition of our annual 12-page magazine that’s used for outreach purposes–to encourage people to embrace their empathy and move toward a plant-based diet.

Print copies of the magazine are available at CAA Community Space and will be distributed for free at CAA events throughout the year. You can also view the magazine online.

This year’s edition has a variety of engaging articles and images. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • An introductory letter from our new executive director, Laura Matanah
  • A guide to eating a plant-based diet on a tight budget
  • An article about the animals at SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary
  • A recipe from The Herbivorous Butcher
  • An article about Paula and Nathan Huerkamp, CAA volunteers
  • A guide to the best vegan baked goods in the Twin Cities
  • An article about two local vegan restaurants, J. Selby’s and Reverie Cafe + Bar

As Communications Coordinator for CAA, I served as editor for the magazine and had the privilege to work with a number of individuals who contributed to the process in a variety of ways.

We are very thankful to all of these volunteers for generously sharing their time and their talents in the creation of the magazine:

  • Caleb Blodgett
  • Nathan Heurkamp
  • Paula Heurkamp
  • Lola Levin
  • Juliana Lillehei
  • Yash Patel
  • Linda Pope
  • Brooke Reynolds
  • Dave Rolsky
  • Shelby Schouweiler
  • Isabelle Welp

Also, many thanks to these businesses and organizations for supplying content:

At these vegan-friendly establishments, we had a number of contacts who were especially helpful. Here’s a shout-out of gratitude to each of them: Amanda Bergeron-Manzone, Kara Jean Breci, Matt Clayton, Casey Muir-Taylor, Brooke Reynolds, Jeffrey Therkelsen, Laura VanZandt, and Kirstin Weigmann.

Also, we’d like to thank our graphic designer, Stephen Magner, for his work designing the layout not only for the magazine but also for our recently published 2016 Annual Report.

We hope that this magazine provides enjoyment and inspiration for whomever finds it, ultimately making the world a kinder, more compassionate place through our everyday choices.

Correction: Please note that on page four of the printed magazine, J. Selby’s address is misprinted. It is located in St. Paul, not Minneapolis. We encourage our Twin Cities community to support J. Selby’s. Please stay tuned to their website and Facebook page to get updates on when they will open.

The 2016 Annual Report

What did Compassionate Action for Animals accomplish in 2016? Check out our 2016 Annual Report and read all about it.

The annual report gives you the scoop on all of our 2016 programs, events, activities, and their impact. Through a combination of outreach, education, and community building we honor our mission to encourage people to embrace their empathy and move toward a plant-based diet. The annual report also includes a financial statement, showing our income and expenses for the year, as well as acknowledgement to all of our top donors.

Thanks to all of you who support our work through your donations, volunteerism, and event participation. We truly could not do so much without our community of dedicated animal advocates.

We hope you will stay involved and increase your participation in 2017 and beyond. Our movement is making tremendous progress, but there’s much further to go. The animals need us to raise our voices and do what we can so that their stories are heard. Together, let’s continue to grow our movement and live our compassion.

Meet Our New Board Member – Chris Homsey

Our board of directors has recently added a new member, and what a boon for CAA! Chris Homsey is a dedicated animal advocate who has volunteered for CAA since 2013. Over the past few years, she’s taken on a number of leadership roles with the organization, and with each position she’s demonstrated professionalism, intelligence, and kindness. Let’s get to know her better here.

Chris is no stranger to animal agriculture. She grew up on a crop farm in southern Minnesota, and the nearby neighbors had dairy cows and raised pigs for meat. Knowing the pigs would become food, Chris says she stayed detached, distancing herself from them as individuals. Then, later in life, after moving away to the Twin Cities, she caught a bit of a slaughterhouse exposé on TV. Seeing the grisly reality of factory farming, she decided in that moment never to eat meat again. Being a food scientist who had worked in product development, she was familiar with the idea of vegetarianism, though veganism still seemed extreme to her.

She maintained a vegetarian diet for many years, and her transition to veganism began after visiting Farm Sanctuary in New York and meeting the rescued animals in person. Then, after attending a conference about factory farming in 2011 (and being impressed with the all-vegan menu served during the conference weekend), she made the final switch, cutting cheese and ice cream from her diet—those things that were the hardest for her to give up.

In 2013, Chris dove head first into volunteering for CAA; her first volunteer position was cooking demo coordinator for Twin Cities Veg Fest. What a job! But as a food scientist, she was familiar with project management and working with food, so it wasn’t such a stretch for her skill set.

And now after a few years of being a committed volunteer and donor, she’s joining the board of directors. Why? “I like the idea of having input in CAA and its direction. It’s a great organization and I like the philosophy of gently encouraging people to move toward a veg lifestyle.”

Chris values the way CAA creates a sense of community, especially with recidivism being such an issue. She says, “I didn’t have a lot of vegans in my life, so just to feel supported and not alone was so important.”

Chris is also hopeful for our movement, just looking at how mainstream plant-based milks are becoming. And cheese substitutes are getting better and better, though she says there’s still room for improvement. “Food science will get us there!” Coming from a food scientist, that sounds especially promising.

Interested in becoming a member of our board of directors? For more information, contact Laura Matanah at





Date and Location for the 2017 Twin Cities Veg Fest – ANNOUNCED!

Save the date!

Twin Cities Veg Fest

Saturday, September 9, 2017

11am – 5pm

Como Park, St. Paul

Yes, Twin Cities Veg Fest will now be an outdoor festival!

Since 2012, we’ve hosted the festival at Coffman Memorial Union, and it’s been a wonderful space for us to reach the community. Every year, we have more and more people show up for this celebration, from about 1,200 people the first year to more than 4,000 last year. We want to keep it growing so that we can reach even more of the general public. To do that, we simply need more space. Bigger indoor venues, such as the Minneapolis Convention Center, are cost-prohibitive and don’t allow for us to bring in our own food. Deal-breakers!

Hosting the festival outside at Como Park is not only affordable but also allows us to share lots of amazing vegan food–a prerequisite for this compassionate celebration. Sure, we’re taking our chances with the weather, but the possibility of reaching more people makes that a risk worth taking. Following in the footsteps of other outdoor festivals, such as the Twin Cities Pride Festival, we’re sure that we can make this a successful, crowd-pleasing community event with the potential to grow beyond our wildest dreams.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about the festival later this year, but we just wanted to make sure you get it on your calendar now.

The 8th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off in Pictures!

Our 8th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off was a huge success! According to our survey, ninety-four percent of people left wanting to try more plant-based food. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out in various ways, the cook-off contestants with their delicious chili recipes, and everyone who attended to enjoy the food, the competition, and the community. Get a glimpse of the fun in the slideshow below!

Also, we’re pleased to share the recipes for the two winning chili dishes:

Our next big event is the 2017 Annual Banquet. We hope you’ll join us for that. Get your tickets soon!

Join us for the 8th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off!

Sample homemade vegan chili at our 8th Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, February 18 from 7 to 10pm at St. Catherine’s University in the student center (Coeur de Catherine) on the third floor in the Rauenhorst Ballroom. It’s free to attend and everyone is welcome, whether they’re omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan. The event is co-sponsored by Advocating for Animals, a St. Kate’s student group.

The food goes fast, so be sure to arrive right at 7 for best selection. We’ll have two categories: bean-based and meatless meat. The first guests to arrive will get to take their pick of which set to sample and rate! Continue reading

Bridges of Respect in 2016

As we wrap up this school year and begin preparing for another, let’s take a quick look at what Bridges of Respect, CAA’s humane education program, has accomplished in 2016. It’s notable that all of this progress was made by dedicated volunteers.

Students Reached

More than 1,700 students were introduced to a variety of animal protection issues that they may not have been aware of otherwise. This is a remarkable fifty percent increase over last year! Most of our presentations revolved around the foods we eat and the way animals are affected, but we also presented on these topics:

  • How animals are used in the entertainment business
  • How animals are used in the science industry
  • The correlation between violence toward animals and violence toward other human beings
  • The great apes and the threats they face
  • Environmental issues

One teacher at Century College thanked us, shook the hand of the presenter, and simply stated, “You say it better than I can.”

Improved Curriculum

Our curriculum has been redesigned to allow for more student participation and to be more academically rigorous. We’ve developed a variety of video splices, assignments, and handouts defining key terms to further engage students in the subject matter. Some teachers are now showing their students full-length documentaries like Cowspiracy before we come to give our presentation.


To increase the benefits we offer to the classroom, we’ve partnered with others to develop initiatives to engage students in community projects, share resources, and support each other’s work. Some of the organizations that we’ve partnered with this past year include Factory Farming Awareness Coalition, Vegan Outreach, Mercy for Animals, Education Minnesota, and St. Cloud University.

Volunteer Nathan Huerkamp preparing vegan food samples

Vegan Food in the Classroom

We usually provide vegan food samples such as Tofurky sandwiches and almond milk, but we stepped out of our comfort zone this year and took a chance on sharing some different vegan foods with classrooms that have full kitchens. For an early morning class, we made pancakes and described how to make them vegan using bananas instead of eggs. For a class just last month, we prepared a mini vegan Thanksgiving meal just before the holiday. CAA volunteer Nathan Huerkamp donned his chef uniform and whipped up some Field Roast Celebration Roast with a dollop of mashed potatoes and gravy for more than a hundred students that day. Leftovers were quickly claimed by the LGBTQ after school club.

Inspiring Students

Teaching students about farmed animals can be a tricky topic. Students at high school age are developing both intellectually and emotionally, and though we want to leave them with a sense of urgency to get involved, we also don’t want them to be overwhelmed with disturbing information about how farmed animals are treated. Students are developing their own sense of identity and understanding of how the world works. We want to provide accurate information that will allow them to make their own choices about the foods they eat and to foster compassion for all animals. We don’t tell students what to choose; we teach them that their choices matter and then give them the tools to take the next steps.

Students after a Bridges of Respect presentation

Bridges of Respect is one of CAA’s key programs, and we would love your support to keep it going. Please make a contribution today and help us reach our year-end goal of $10,000 by December 31. All of these funds are matched 2-for-1, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. We would very much appreciate your support for CAA’s humane education efforts in the Twin Cities.

Give for the Animals Today!

Dear friend of the animals,

What a monumental year it has been at Compassionate Action for Animals! Thank you for being a part of our team of animal advocates, making plant-based food, compassionate fellowship, and humane education available to the Twin Cities community.

Please help us reach our year-end goal of $10,000 by making a gift to CAA in the month of December. Your contributions will be matched 2-for-1, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. That means we can raise an additional $20,000 to help farmed animals!

Continue reading

Meet Our New Executive Director!

Just a couple weeks ago, Compassionate Action for Animals announced that a new executive director had been selected. Laura Matanah will begin working with CAA in December with a one-month training period alongside Unny Nambudiripad, the current executive director.

Unny announced last July that he would be stepping down from the position in January 2017, and since then our hiring committee has been devoted to finding the right person to take his place, someone with a combination of nonprofit leadership experience, fundraising know-how, and good people skills. Plus, this person would have to have an outstanding passion for animal advocacy and an understanding of our diverse Twin Cities community. We are delighted to have found in Laura Matanah a candidate who captures all of these qualities and more.

Perhaps you’ve seen Laura at some of our CAA events over the past few years. She and her wife Sarah have been active members of the community, attending dine outs, potlucks, and our annual banquet. Laura also has experience volunteering with CAA’s pay-per-view outreach, sharing our message of compassion for animals with members of the general public. Her motivation to apply for the position was based on the impact CAA’s work had on her. She says, “CAA’s incremental approach is what enabled me to fully acknowledge the depth of farmed animal suffering and become a committed vegan. CAA also led me to become an animal advocate in my personal life.”

Laura (on the right) and Sarah at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016

The majority of Laura’s nonprofit experience comes from her tenure as executive director for Rainbow Rumpus, an organization that began as a small group of volunteers who wanted to create great stories for kids from LGBT-headed homes and grew to be the primary publisher of LGBT family fiction worldwide, run by a combination of paid staff and volunteers.

To achieve this remarkable growth over a period of eight years, Laura recruited, trained, and inspired volunteers; worked with the board to create and implement individual donor fundraising plans; and ensured the organization consistently achieved its program goals. She worked with board and staff members to expand their impact by developing strategic plans, logic models, and systems for evaluation; built and maintained relationships with institutional partners; managed finances; and supervised staff.

In addition to this extensive nonprofit experience, Laura also has experience as an elementary teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools. Of special note, during her time at Pratt School, Laura was a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, which provided vision and support for high-quality instruction through a racial equity lens. She played a key role in initiating a program to begin centralizing the voices of families of color at the school and in leading professional development to help teachers address their own unconscious bias.

And now what does Laura envision for CAA? We’ll let her tell you in her own words:

I think the change in leadership is a chance for all of us to look at the organization with fresh eyes. Here are some questions I’m considering:

  • How well do our programs and mission align?
  • How effective are we at getting people to change their diets?
  • Are there new strategies we want to incorporate?
  • Do we want to engage in other types of animal advocacy or talk more about the impacts of animal agriculture on wild animals, people, and the earth’s ecosystems?
  • How much do people from a range of racial and cultural communities feel welcome, participate, and share their talents?

I think it’s my job to support the community in developing processes to examine these questions, gather data, and make plans. That, of course, is a longer-term project. In the short-term, maintaining and growing CAA’s wonderful programs is my highest priority. It’s clear to me that in order to do that we need to expand our donor base, our board of directors, and the Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee. Also, in light of current events, the welcome of our multicultural community seems more important than ever.

From the moment my wife Sarah and I got involved as volunteers, I was struck by CAA’s number of programs, volunteer commitment, and community energy. Participating in CAA’s events and becoming part of the vegan community has been a huge source of joy to me.

During Twin Cities Veg Fest, I was delighted to meet a 2nd grader Ivy who goes to Folwell, which houses the International Fine Arts Program I taught in, and to see 4th-grader Johanna, who was one of my students at Pratt. I’m excited to connect with families who are part of CAA.

I can’t wait to become a full-time animal advocate and get to know everyone in the community better.

We are excited to welcome Laura to the team. Her genuine warmth, collaborative spirit, and passion for the movement are the ideal ingredients for the future success of CAA.

Laura and family
Laura (on the right) with Da’Jon, Sarah, and Tajah

So what does Laura do when she’s not advocating for animals?

You’re likely to spot me walking our dog Houdini in the Seward neighborhood where we live. I bike, cook, read, play board games, and work with Sarah on turning our yard into a pollinator-friendly perennial garden. My spiritual life is supported by involvement with Twin Cities Friends Meeting (Quaker), Friends in El Salvador, and the Common Ground Meditation Center. I enjoy time with our 18-year-old twins, Da’Jon and Tajah, who are moving into the world of work and independence. I also enjoy snuggling with our six-toed cat Mitzi.

Laura will be at our 14th Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck on November 19. You can meet her there and at the same time join in our annual celebration of gratitude.

Get Involved

Upcoming Events

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Town Hall Meeting 1

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Town Hall Meeting 2

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Provide Vegan Food Samples for Students – April 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 Annual Banquet and Reception

Friday, May 19, 2017 - Sunday, May 21, 2017

CAA Camping Trip – May 2017