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Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 4

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Michelle Shaw

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Welcome and Accessibility Coordinator, and before I state anything else, it’s important to identify that we are occupying the original homeland of the Dakhota and Anishinaabe people. Recognizing my role in that as a white woman and being inclusive of all of the incredible communities we have is important to me. Plus, it’s part of the volunteering that I do when I’m not helping to organize Twin Cities Veg Fest. Looking at diversity intentionally from every angle as a planning committee is something that we are working on. Whether that be reaching out to potential vendors and sponsors that are BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color), or musicians. Or perhaps we need to be making sure people have the resources to participate in Twin Cities Veg Fest in the first place by partnering with NEON and Appetite for Change. Or it’s possible we may need to look at it in a different way by bringing part of the festival TO a community rather than expect them to come to us. 

Like in the case of North Minneapolis, we can’t expect people to travel all the way to Harriet Island for food that might be completely out of their comfort zone. Working two jobs and putting food on the table might take precedence over getting there too. So what do you do? The first step is to create relationships with nonprofits and community members in that part of the community, and work with them to create an event that will be right there in North Minneapolis. We hope you’ll join us for that event on the evening of August 29 for Green is the New Black: A Plant-based Pop-up Market at Breaking Bread Cafe with some Twin Cities Veg Fest vendors and a few new ones. I’m really excited about it, and we want you all to be there!

It’s also my job to make sure we are making the festival as accessible as possible. That means different things for different people. For some, it’s about making sure people who have a hidden disability (like myself) have a place to sit at different parts of the festival because they need to take a break. For others it might be needing a sensory space to get away from the noise or it might mean needing to have all of the vendors facing the sidewalk so that they can easily access them all. Plus, if someone needs to bring their service or therapy animal, we have a space for them to rest and get water. Disability parking is another accommodation. The other piece is we need to make sure everyone knows we have all of these accommodations, so check out our website to find out what they are. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I first started volunteering back in 2017 when I helped out with the cooking demos and sharing samples with people. Laura and I were talking about ideas I had for accessibility for 2018, and suddenly, a new role for Twin Cities Veg Fest was born. However, I first started going to the festival back when it was a really small event in the basement at the University of Minnesota. For a few years anyway, there’d be samples of Peanut Butter Company’s White Chocolate Wonderful and all their other yummy concoctions. Even better, they’d have coupons! I have no idea what year that was, but if Unny can determine what year we were able to move around freely without much of a crowd, I’m guessing it was one of the first. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I’m really excited about Green is the New Black: A Plant-based Pop-up Market on August 29. Cheese curds at Radical Eats and chicken wings at These Wingz? from Chicago are two of my festival favorites! Also, this will be the first year that we have American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for our cooking demos and speakers, and I’m really happy that we can partner with Fairview to offer ASL. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I had a couple friends in college who were vegetarian, but it was really my senior year in college that did it. In 1992, I traveled to Moscow, Russia, with a group of people taking supplies for orphanages and hospitals. The Russians could hardly afford any food at all and were so skinny, yet we were being fed like royalty with horsemeat and borscht. I was absolutely repulsed and ate very little on that trip but a couple cheeseburgers at McDonald’s. When I got back to the United States, that experience made it easy for me to stop eating every kind of animal. At that time, I still didn’t understand how the dairy and egg industries were contributing to murder. I thought it was merely confinement and limiting freedom (which was still enough to make me stop eating them). But as time went on, I learned that the males were quickly killed after birth (since they couldn’t be used for producing eggs or milk). Or they were kept alive for a few months and inhumanely raised as broiler chickens or calves for veal before being slaughtered. For me, it was all about the animals and eliminating their suffering. I had to stop using animal products in every part of my life and that included feeding my dogs a veg diet too (which they love love love!). It’s startling how much of an impact eating animals has on the planet, though, and it’s only in the last year that I started learning what those facts really are. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

Oh boy! My dogs would say I spend too much time on the computer. Buddie always stands on me and gives me kisses when it’s time to take a doggy break, so he and Speckles are definitely the highlights of my day. I’ve been on disability for a long time, so I’m starting to figure out what I can physically do again, if it’s not teaching in the classroom anymore. Volunteering to stop Line 3 in northern Minnesota is important to me, in addition to teaching people about the connection between the foods we choose to eat and how that impacts climate change. In other words, please eat plant rich foods and check out Drawdown for environmental reasons to add to reasons of compassion for animals! I also spend some time engaging with environmental justice issues like collaborating with local Indigenous people to create a land acknowledgment statement for cities and nonprofits to use at the beginning of their meetings. The most recent issue that has come up is the Rights of Nature for the Mississippi River. If we could give the Mississippi the same rights we have as people or the same rights a corporation has, that would be incredible. As a teacher, I was always teaching my students the skills for changing the world, and without that path in life, it’s taken me a long while to figure out what my purpose is. I’m pretty sure I’m getting there now. 

Laura Matanah

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role is to support the chair and assistant chair with both the big picture of the festival—helping it expand and become more impactful each year,  making sure that the committee as a whole is tracking the nitty-gritty details, and ensuring that the festival supports CAA’s mission to help people embrace their empathy for animals and move towards a plant-based diet.  This year I’m especially focused on improving our sponsorship packages and relationships, as well as our support of volunteers.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I was hired just before the 2016 festival, so got to see that festival day-of behind the scenes. 2017, the year we moved outside, was my first year helping to organize the entire thing.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

My favorite part of the festival is the sheer joy of having an entire festival focused on a compassionate lifestyle, and how happy everyone there is. This year there’s going to be a lot that’s new:

  • Music will become central to the festival experience, and the after-party is going to have some truly awesome and more well known bands
  • Speakers will get more attention as they’ll be on the main stage, alternating with music
  • Cooking demos will have an exciting new set up with bleachers looking down on the action
  • Sponsors and volunteers will get access to an indoor rest and relaxation area, and there’s a great new set of sponsorship benefits, including lunch delivered to your booth
  • Greyhounds available for adoption will join us, and there will be many new food options like wood fired pizza and waffles

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

The fabulous community at Compassionate Action for Animals, CAA, opened my heart to animal suffering, and empowered me to start speaking out to end it.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

Biking, board games, books, and hanging out with family and friends.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

The 2019 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award Goes To…

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award.

We’ve created this award to recognize a person, organization, or business in our community whose amazing work is pushing the ball forward for animals. This year we’re giving the award to Shannon Kimball and the Bridges of Respect program. This volunteer-run program has provided free humane education presentations in the Twin Cities for twenty years.

Students pose with program leader Shannon Kimball (top right) after a presentation.
Shannon speaks about the Bridges program with help from volunteers at the Compassionate Action for Animals annual banquet.

The program has reached over 38,000 students since its inception. After a presentation about the program at the Compassionate Action for Animals banquet, one guest came up to program leader Shannon Kimball and said, “You presented to my class at Century College—and what I learned helped me commit to a vegan lifestyle!”

Students after a Bridges of Respect presentation with plant-based food samples

Originally started by Freeman Wicklund, the program was taken over by Shannon Kimball several years later, and is now a program of Compassionate Action for Animals. Compassionate Action for Animals will present Shannon with the award at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019 on September 15 at Harriet Island Park. The award presentation will take place on the So Good So You Main Stage just after a performance from singer-songwriter Mary Bue. 


This award honors the memory of animal lover Kenny Feldman. He thought animals were to be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. Kenny was a close friend of Compassionate Action for Animals co-founder and first Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad. He inspired Unny to become an activist. Sadly, we lost Kenny to suicide 19 years ago. From that tragic loss, we were moved to establish this annual award to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who strive to create a more compassionate world.

The Feldman family wants to thank CAA, Unny Nambudiripad, and current Executive Director Laura Matanah for helping preserve Kenny’s memory and continuing his legacy of being an animal lover and activist in animal rights campaigns. To find out more about Kenny, visit the Remembering Kenny Feldman Facebook page.

Vegan Recipe Club — Preparing for August

If you attended our first Vegan Recipe Cookbook Club in July, thank you. If you didn’t attend and are not sure what it is or who it’s for check out our first blog post.

Our next Vegan Recipe Cookbook Club meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 6:30pm at the East Lake Library. This month’s recipes are simple and easy to make. You can pick up the recipe pack in person from the library or download them here for use at home.

This month we will explore a few more recipes from “The Vegucation of Robin” by Robin Quivers and Rachel Holtzman and we’ve also picked a cookbook from Angela Liddon, of the Oh She Glows Blog—one of her first recipe collections, “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” from 2014.

The chilled cucumber mint soup is perfect for the summer heat we’ve been experiencing in the Midwest.

The Vegucation of Robin is as much a personal lifestyle book as it is a collection of recipes. It shouldn’t be lost to anyone that the subtitle of her book is “How Real Food Saved My Life.” Robin Quivers’ switch to a vegan or plant-based diet was a fundamental part her health-improvement goals. While going through the recipes, you may notice that some of the ingredients might be hard to come by at our typical midwest grocery store or farmers market. This might force us to substitute a few of the ingredients for items more readily available near us or during the season. Below is a list of where to look for some of the more difficult to find ingredients.

  • Fennel Bulbs — normally available at Trader Joe’s
  • Cara Cara Orange — at most Cub Grocery stores
  • Pomegranate seeds — at most Cub Grocery stores (with pre-packaged items)
  • Blood Oranges — Lund Byerly’s (in season)
  • Also get to know the produce manager at your favorite grocery store, they might just order that hard to find item for you.

If you decide to try the Fruity Freezer Pops optional recipe this month, small paper cups make great disposable molds for your freezer pops.

Have fun trying any of the recipes and come to the meeting on the 20th to tell us what you learned and share your knowledge with other interested cooks!

“The Vegucation of Robin”

Quivers, Robin, and Rachel Holtzman. The Vegucation of Robin, 2013
At Amazon.com

optional

  • Scallion – Tomato Tofu Scramble, page 211
  • Fruity Freezer Pops, page 221

“The Oh She Glows Cookbook”

Liddon, Angela. The Oh She Glows Cookbook, 2014
At Amazon.com

optional

Reflections on the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

Each year, the Animal Rights National Conference is held to connect animal activists so that we can share experiences and victories from the past year, ideas, and more with each other. We are a growing movement, and there is always room for us to work better together to change the lives of animals and the world for the better.

Read on to hear about some of the reflections and experiences our group had at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference.

________________

Julie with Justin at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my second year attending the conference. I find the experience of being around hundreds of like-minded advocates incredibly energizing and inspiring. One of the most memorable pieces of the conference for me was a session by Mercy for Animals called Measuring and Evaluating our Impact. This session gave me ideas for how we at CAA can quantify and communicate the real change we are making for farmed animals. After the conference ended, we visited Poplar Spring Sanctuary to enjoy some much-needed time with the animals. It was the cherry on top of an amazing vegan sundae!

Julie Knopp

Yunuén with a resident at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

On July 25th-28th, I was privileged to attend the 10th Annual Animal Rights Conference. I mean it when I say this: it was a life-changing experience. 


I’ve been vegan for over seven years now. This whole time, I felt that I was doing “enough” in my vegan lifestyle—simply by not: consuming, wearing, buying, or using products tested on animals when in fact, veganism is more than just that. There’s politics and realities behind veganism that I feel have always been right in front of me, but I never stopped to listen or acknowledge them. I’ve always been the passive activist that occasionally shares the realities in the cruelties behind animal consumption or exploitation. My friends and family know that I don’t consume any animal products, but I haven’t gotten in depth as to the the big question, “But why not?” The workshops and plenaries helped me learn how to answer those questions and how to live by it. The love and passion that other vegans shared during the conference rubbed off on me and helped me strive to be on “their level.” I used to say that we should advocate for the voiceless, but I learned that just because we can’t speak or understand an animal’s language, doesn’t mean that they’re mute. It simply means that we just need to stop, breathe, and listen. The hands-on workshops, along with the #ImNotLovinIt Campaign silent protest I participated in was exhilarating. My original reasoning behind adopting, adapting, and transforming my life into veganism wasn’t just due to the yummy vegan foods. Knowing me, I love to fight for what’s right and and thankful for CAA sponsoring my attendance at the Animal Rights National Conference. They added fuel to the fire that ignites within me for my Animal Friends and Mother Earth. 


If you’re considering attending next year’s Animal Rights National Conference (ARNC), PLEASE communicate your interest to Laura Matanah, CAA Director. You will NOT regret it.

Yunuén Ávila

Lydia with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my first time attending the National Animal Rights Conference. It was extremely rewarding to learn about the different facets and methods of activism in the animals rights movement. I also really enjoyed getting to meet people from different walks of life, who all shared a common passion. It is an experience that I am grateful to have had, and I hope to continue attending Animal Rights conferences in the years to come! 

Lydia Green

Josh with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

As a first-time attendee to the conference and as someone new to the movement, I enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and sense of community that was present. I was surprised by how accessible leaders of organizations were, many making themselves available to chat between sessions. It created a sense of immediacy to their causes, such as Shirley McGreal’s International Primate Protection League, where I was able to talk with her directly about the work she’s doing with primates. I feel that after the conference I am more prepared to speak to the causes I am fighting for and left with a clearer idea of how to find my path forward as an individual activist and volunteer promoting animal rights. 

Josh Truong

On returning home after the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

Each year, the Animal Rights National Conference is held to connect animal activists so that we can share experiences and victories from the past year, ideas, and more with each other. We are a growing movement, and there is always room for us to work better together to change the lives of animals and the world for the better.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing reflections from other volunteers who attended this year’s Animal Rights National Conference. We can’t wait for you to hear about their experiences at the conference and what they learned!

________________

Written by Laura Matanah

I always appreciate the chance to connect with and learn from animal activists from around the country, sharing both our joys and sorrows. I also really enjoyed being at the conference with Abi, Lydia, Yunuén, Julie and Josh, and getting to hear their reactions and perspectives.

I learned a lot from the VegFund sponsored Strategic Communications workshop and Aph Ko’s plenary speech on new perspectives on animal rights that I’ll apply to our work.

The successes we’re experiencing as a movement in getting vegan products to go mainstream is inspiring! 

Laura Matanah and Unny Nambudiripad accepting the VegFund Award

It was also inspiring to receive VegFund‘s award for CAA’s vegan activism with past director Unny Nambudiripad, and to have the 119 projects that we’d completed with their support over 10 years recognized.

I left with lots of energy to work with you to keep the momentum rolling!

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 3

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Lydia Green

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Sponsorship Coordinator. My primary focus is to recruit sponsors from past and new exhibitors as well as research and pursue new sponsorship opportunities. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

This is my first year volunteering with the Twin Cities Veg Fest and I was looking for options to get more involved. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

This is my first time volunteering, and I’m looking forward to a fun and successful Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I was drawn to the vegan lifestyle for a number of reasons—animal rights, the environment, and health. About four years ago, I essentially went vegan overnight after watching a speech by Gary Yourofsky

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I work full-time for a local nonprofit. I also enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and traveling. 

Fred Tio

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m coordinating the electrical needs for the festival. My focus for this year is to design a new electrical plan, as we are using different areas of Harriet Island park. This gives us the opportunity to use permanent power and eliminate the use of generators.

My goal is that this new electrical design can be easily expanded to serve the growing needs of the festival. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I simply asked if they needed help with the electrical for last year’s festival and I had a few friends also helping.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival?

For several years I was involved with the Jaycees. They did all kinds of projects, the biggest was the Tunnel of Terror. My favorite parts of the are the food and friends.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

About four years ago I watched Forks Over Knives and changed diet with in a week. Six months later I joined a meetup group called “Everyone Vegan”. From there I met others in CAA.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

In my working life, I’m an electrician. In my spare time, I’m the treasurer for my local 12 step Intergroup. I enjoy camping, getting on my bicycle during the warm weather, and spending time with my new partner Suzanne and other folks in the vegan/plant-based world.

Emma Cameron

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role is the Non-Foods Exhibitor Coordinator. I recruit and follow up with all potential exhibitors, ranging from animal non-profits, to clothing vendors, and more!  

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I got involved through seeing the Facebook post advertising the recruitment of folks to the planning committee. This is my first year helping out with Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I’ve actually never been to the festival before! My first time attending will also be my first time helping to plan it. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I was drawn to helping animals when I was 15 years old in 2008, which led me in quick succession to try vegetarianism, veganism, and then becoming more active for animals through volunteering. Fun fact: I was first motivated to take animals off my plate when I watched videos of undercover investigation footage from Mercy For Animals, and I now work full-time at the organization in campaigns! 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

As I mentioned above, my career is in animal advocacy—I currently work at Mercy For Animals. I’m also a passionate long-distance runner, in the form of training for ultramarathons. I had a 50 mile race in mid-July and then my first 100 mile race slated for October of this year!

Arthur Goldstein

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

As CAA’s Tech lead, I help ensure that the website is running.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

As Outdoor Activities volunteer, I plan to set up volleyball and other sports and games at the festival. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I told Laura that I thought there should be volleyball at the festival. I set it up in 2018. I’m not sure yet what will be different but am open to suggestions. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

My uncle helped inspire me to become a vegetarian. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a software developer and am involved with Toastmasters. I like to visit New Jersey where I lived for many years and want to be doing more outdoors.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

Photos from the ARC + CAA Annual Vegan Potluck

We had a great time at the ARC/CAA Vegan 4th of July Potluck at Minnehaha Falls earlier this month! Over 140 people attended, enjoying great food and conversation.

Big thanks to The Herbivorous Butcher, who donated their awesome vegan brats and burgers for all to enjoy at this event.

At the event, we celebrated the work that has been done in the Twin Cities community as well as nationally and internationally to further the animal rights movement in the past year, including the launch of the Animal Rights Coalition-supported Fur Free Minneapolis campaign and school districts adding plant-based meals through Wholesome Minnesota and individual outreach. We are grateful for this time to come together as a community with ARC and celebrate all things vegan in the Twin Cities and look forward to next year!

Enjoy photos from the potluck below—thanks Maya Ulrich for documenting the event and to all of the volunteers that made it possible! While we wait for next year’s potluck, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming events including Twin Cities Veg Fest on September 15!

Where to Eat When You Find Yourself in Iowa City, Iowa for 28 Hours

Written by Theresa Zingery

On a recent snowy (!) April Saturday my husband and I drove down for a brief weekend trip to Iowa City as he was doing a talk on Sunday morning. We only had 28 hours there but I was seriously worried about being able to find vegan options to even support me for that short time! I didn’t need to worry. On the way down, as we rushed to avoid the incoming winter storm, I did a quick search on Happy Cow on my cell phone and found lots of great sounding options. Since we were only there for three meals I had to make choices. What follows is an outline of the happy finds I made for each of my meals:

We were arriving around noon on Saturday so I hunted around to find the best option for lunch. Trumpet Blossom came up with the highest Happy Cow rating (4.5) so I checked out their web site. Lo, and behold I found out that they were having their 25th Anniversary celebration that weekend and that included live music during brunch on Saturday! Sweet! We drove directly there as it was too early to check into our hotel. It is in a rather nondescript building near downtown but the inside has the most spectacular old wood bar taking up one side of the venue. There were a good number of tables and while it was busy we didn’t have to wait. The food and drink selections at this all-vegan restaurant were extensive and there were even things for my flexitarian husband to love. The food was all tasty, well presented and unique. They even had falafel waffles! I had the vegan florentine and my husband had the soup and cornbread (which he let me save for breakfast the next day!). Both were great. They are known for their tempeh Reuben.

Our next choice was to go for dinner at the Big Grove Brewery since no trip is complete for my husband without a brewery tour. And this brewpub is highly rated and has a large vegan selection (pubs there can actually make and serve meals!). We walked into this gigantic space and were unable to find a seat as it is so popular. They have a large, lovely outdoor patio filled with many fire pits but the weather was not ideal for sitting outside (the snow hadn’t made it there but cold drizzle had!) We left and made this our Sunday lunch instead. At that time it was still busy but we got seats. The staff recommended the sesame ginger Cauliflower wings and I took their recommendation. I was not disappointed. The beers were also excellent making this place a hit for my husband and me! 

Saturday night dinner we went to Mellow Mushroom which is the closest outpost of this mostly southeastern pizza restaurant chain. They have a cute, whimsical hippy era decor—this one complete with an alien abduction of a cow mid-restaurant. The selections for the pizzas and calzones were pretty vegan-friendly with a wide assortment of veggies including tempeh and tofu toppings with Follow Your Heart Vegan cheese. There are several specialty combos they were glad to customize to be vegan but I went with a “design your own” pizza. There were also a few salad options.

Afterwards, I did a carousel ride on a carousel right outside the restaurant with very cute animals in addition to the traditional horses!

My last stop before heading out of town was downtown to see the historic area and the famous Prairie Lights Bookstore—right around the corner was  Molly’s Cupcakes which had several vegan options which I grabbed for the road. All and all a very satisfying trip with lovely vegan eating options.

_________________________________________________

Have you gone on a trip recently? We want to hear about it! Guides like VegGuide.org and happycow.net are great to start planning a trip, and so are tips on how to make and keep your trip to somewhere vegan from folks who have visited prior.

Let us know if you’d be willing to share your trip and some of its highlights with us at info@exploreveg.org.

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 2

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Sal Kravik

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Twitter coordinatorMy goal is to create more excitement for the festival through updates and engagement/interaction with prospective attendees, sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors out there in the Twitterverse.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

After attending my first Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2012, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. Unny must have sensed that because he recruited me while attending a mutual friend’s dinner party and I joined the planning committee in 2013.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I love seeing the festival attendance grow every yearespecially now that we have more space to accommodate everyone. Speaking of accommodating, I also love that the festival is more inclusive and accessible than ever.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle? 

Motherhood and feminism! Seventeen years ago I was lovingly growing a little human inside my own body when I learned of the immense suffering of dairy cows. I couldn’t imagine the horror of having my own baby taken away from me moments after he was born, never to be seen again, and then being hooked up to a milking machine indefinitely like female cows in the dairy industry are. Mother cows cry for their babies and the babies cry for their mothers, just like humans. I knew I could never be okay with supporting that kind of cruelty, no matter the species, so I removed animal products from my diet the day my son was born.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I love to travel! Traveling means I get to try new restaurants, co-ops, markets, recipes, and flavors. I am also very focused on staying healthy, which includes getting outside to do a lot of biking and hiking while the weather is warm. 

Nathan Gaut

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am the committee chair for this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest. I help coordinate the other committee members and run the meetings. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I have been involved with the festival for the past few years. I started off as Exhibitor Coordinator in 2017 and have been chair for the 2018 and 2019 festivals. My involvement started off as an attempt to get more involved in the vegan activist scene after moving to the Twin Cities.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I love just looking out over the sea of people mid-day. It is still incredible to me that over 9000 people have an interest in plant-based food and took time out of their day to celebrate, eat vegan food, and learn more! This year, we’re really upping our game with the music aspect of Twin Cities Veg Fest. We have some amazing bands lined up. And all the music is going to be set on a much bigger stage and have a much larger presence. We even have some bigger names featured at our first ever outdoor after party!

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I’ve been vegetarian almost my whole life. And for that I have to thank my parents for supporting and encouraging a toddler who didn’t like the taste of meat to make compassionate choices. At the time they were not vegetarians! That eventually morphed into becoming an ethical vegetarian. In college, I looked more into the ethics behind animal products and went vegan shortly after. My decision to be vegetarian and vegan was always because of a compassion for animals first and foremost. But the health and environmental benefits are other great reasons that have helped keep me inspired!

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a graduate student studying synthetic biology at the University of Minnesota. I’m currently working on the first steps towards making artificial systems that resemble cellular life. Outside of that, I love being outdoors, be that on a motorcycle, camping in the forest, on a sailboat, or just drinking beer on a brewery’s patio.

Cecilia Burke

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

Zero Waste Coordinator. My goal is to have as close to zero waste as possible for the whole event!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I heard of Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2016 while I was a grad student at the University of Minnesota looking for veggie/vegan events and groups. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I have volunteered as a Zero Waste volunteer for two years. My favorite part of the festival is seeing how many people are there experiencing vegan food. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I decided to try being vegetarian when I moved to Minneapolis in 2016. The less animal products I ate then less I wanted to eat them, and now I can’t imagine going back. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a Speech Language Pathologist and I work in schools in the Metro Area. I love game nights, soccer, cooking, and Netflix! 

Dustin (on left) with friends

Dustin Cahill

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

This is my second year managing the WordPress site for the Twin Cities Veg Fest. Staying on schedule so that the website is updated throughout the lead-up to the festival, not just in the last final few weeks prior, is my goal this year.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I started last year, after beginning to serve on CAA’s Tech Team.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year?

When the committee meeting seizes on a new idea for the festival and everyone is excited about it, that’s rewarding to be a part of. I’m looking forward to the evening events being in further fleshed out this year.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I’ve never heard a strong argument for any other ethical/dietary “lifestyle,” so getting there was more about putting my ethics into practice. Having a partner that was vegan helped a lot. Meeting new, thoughtful friends through volunteering with CAA also made it easier.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I abuse the public library system to find great film, horror and science fiction novels, and comics. I also run, volunteer a couple places, sleep in the sun with my cats, and binge video games. I do AV support at a metro-area community college to collect a paycheck.

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Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

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