Blog

You can subscribe to our blog using our RSS feed.


Eat Like a Million Bucks: Roberto Martin’s New Vegan Cooking

If you want to eat like a vegan superstar but can’t afford takeout, much less your own personal chef, Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking: 125 Easy, Delicious, Real Food Recipes is the book for you. Roberto Martin’s collection of recipes spans the gamut from quick and easy to super fancy and dispels the myth that vegans can’t eat well on a budget.

Rather than relying on convenience foods like mock meat and dairy, Roberto shows that, with the proper technique and seasonings, wholesome, affordable ingredients such as beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and mushrooms can be turned into culinary masterpieces. His Eggplant Parm can be perfectly battered and fried up to be crisp and tender with surprisingly no fuss. He shares with the world the magic of besan (garbanzo) flour, a lesser-known vegan wonder food. He uses this for his “lobster” quiche, which was hearty and packed with flavor. Martin graces the reader with treats stemming from his Mexican heritage, such as his tofu soyrizo and a showpiece: Albondigas (the Spanish word for “meatballs”) Soup.

Albondigas Soup
Albondigas Soup

Martin does all of this with little to no assistance from pre-packaged, processed foods. He even offers up some of his own recipes for all those little ingredients we love to eat but often hate paying for, like ketchup, sour cream, pickles and other condiments. While some of Martin’s recipes may be a bit advanced for the novice plant-based eater, he eases the reader into trying out new things by beginning the book with a chapter of DIY basics, staples, and starters. His fast, cheap, simple recipes for condiments such as vegan mayo and barbecue sauce (which is great since honey-free versions are increasingly hard to find) make these foods suddenly within reach for novices and those with processed-food phobias.

On top of all that, he provides detailed instructions on how to make the perfect flaky, crisp vegan croissants, which could probably convince just about any veg-inclined individual to pick up a copy of Roberto’s Vegan Cooking post-haste.

EG Nelson is a community funding coordinator by day and a bicycle enthusiast, competitive baker, and advocate for queers and animals at all other times. She is a co-founder of Queer Bike Gang and can be found riding around Minneapolis where she lives with a cute boi and three cats. Learn more at haygurlhaycafe.com. image001

Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award

We’re pleased to announce the 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 The Herbivorous Butcher, our local meat-free butcher shop.

After a few short years of selling their vegan goods at farmer’s markets and pop-up events, The Herbivorous Butcher is about to open their own storefront in Northeast Minneapolis. They’ve already made headlines around the country and world. Here’s why: they make incredibly tasty and interesting plant-based “meats,” they’re opening the first vegan butcher shop on the continent, and they have a fun, creative, and positive approach to their business.

This is exactly what our movement needs: energetic advocates who are creating solutions. As people replace their animal-based foods with Herbivorous Butcher’s delectable vegan foods, fewer animals are killed for food. Hooray!

This award honors the memory of animal lover Kenny Feldman. He thought animals should be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. Kenny was a close friend of mine and inspired me to become an activist. Sadly, we lost him to suicide 16 years ago. From that tragic loss, we are moved to establish this annual award to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who strive to create a more compassionate world.

We will present the award at the Twin Cities Veg Fest Pre-Festival Party on October 30.

Bridges of Respect: Balancing Perspectives

Our humane education program, Bridges of Respect, has reached over 800 students so far this year. The program conveys values of respect and compassion for animals. Class time usually allows us about an hour with the students. We showcase a variety of plant-based foods. We also share the stories of our personal transitions to vegetarianism, the pitfalls and the benefits of a plant-based diet, the availability of plant-based foods, and resources for change.

The presentations we offer cover a variety of animal protection topics. Students participate in the presentation, taste vegan food samples, and sometimes take notes for a test or other assignment. We’ve recently received our first presentation request for the fall semester, and it’s from an Animal Management class at Blaine High School.

We first started working with this class last spring. The course explores small animal care and career opportunities. It also has a rights and welfare section that talks extensively about animals that are farmed, vivisected, and hunted. More specifically, it highlights how those practices benefit humanity. When we sat down with the teacher, he told us that he thought that the textbook and lesson plans are very biased in favor of those industries. He was stuck with it though and wanted us to provide another viewpoint. Looking through the materials, we could see what he meant. The textbook would approach each topic with a poorly constructed depiction of the animal rights position in a paragraph or two, and then spend the remaining eight paragraphs defending the use of animals. It also didn’t take long for the animal protectionist to be painted with a broad brush stroke — credited with sabotage, property damage, and even terrorism.

Photos in the textbook were provided courtesy of the Farmer’s Exchange, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Agriscience, and the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station and represented animal agriculture in the best possible light. The photo depicting veal production, for example, didn’t show a calf immobilized and chained by the neck in a wooden stall, as is the case for most calves in the industry. Instead, they were pictured in outdoor pens with sunshine and a mountainscape. The caption reads: ”Veal calves are kept in individual stalls so they can receive individual attention. Disease is kept to a minimum and farmers are able to feed and care for the calves more efficiently. The economic welfare of the farmers depends on the proper care and treatment of their animals.”

Another photo shows hens in battery cages. These cages are one of the most restrictive of all housing methods used by factory farms. As many as a dozen birds are crammed in a wire cage that measures less than the width of one bird’s wing span, but there was no mention of this in the textbook. Here is their description of battery cages: “Laying hens are kept in cages under controlled environments that increase the efficiency of the laying operation. Each hen receives adequate feed and water. Eggs, a valuable part of the diet for many Americans, are available at affordable prices because of the efficiency of these operations.” Though it is true that these intensive farming operations produce cheap eggs, the other statements are suspect, especially in light of many undercover investigations that reveal otherwise.

The textbook also tells impressionable students that: “Farming in the United States is not controlled by large corporations. Of the 2.2 million farms in the United States, 97 percent are family-owned and operated; only 7,000 are non-family-controlled operations.” Their source for these numbers was dated 1988 and fails to mention that the three percent of farms that aren’t small family farms are in fact factory farms and contain the vast majority of animals raised for food.

The teacher wasn’t really sure where to go from there, what to say or which videos to use. He wanted to show a more balanced perspective, and that’s where we came in.

The teacher allotted time for us to provide three presentations for his students. We shifted the focus to a more moderate view of animal protection with examples of peaceful activism, community building, and personal growth. We also presented a detailed overview of the ways in which animals need our help most. No less than a dozen students, about half of them, hung around after class to speak with the presenters about how to get involved, eat more plant-based foods, find cruelty-free products, and more. We played a variety of films for students, including the Mercy for Animals’ eye-opening expose “Farm to Fridge,” clips from Peaceable Kingdom, a documentary about the Farm Sanctuary, and a 20/20 Special titled “Almost Human” that focuses on a chimp named Booee who knows sign language but was sold to a lab. We also gave the teacher a Discovery documentary that discusses the emotions of animals. The film, titled Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry, resonates powerfully with students. We frequently use clips from it in middle and high schools.

The teacher even has us rewriting some of the handouts to reflect animal protection in a fair light. These handouts are already in use, counteracting the decades-long presence of industry-produced resources designed to protect profits and stifle progress for animals. In this way, they serve the same purpose as the dangerous ag-gag laws aimed at censoring documentation of routine practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The teacher now refers to Bridges of Respect as an important part of his curriculum. We’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet with these students at Blaine High School for more than three hours and are looking forward to meeting the new students in the fall. To make informed choices, students need all of the information. From what I’ve seen, students appreciate honesty and will often look for ways to help when they recognize that there is a need. They will make decisions that reflect their values and ultimately make a difference for animals.

What Happened at the August Board Meeting

CAA’s August board meeting began with a report from our Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad, about some recent successful outreach events CAA has been engaged in. We leafleted at the Warped Tour and ran a pay-per-view event at Twin Cities Pride. Unny also reported on CAA’s presence at the national Animal Rights Conference in Washington D.C..

As we transition to a new internal website used to plan events and projects, a lingering worry has to do with whether we will be able to export content from this site if we find ourselves needing to make a change down he road. While there is no built in option to do this, it appears that Dave Rolsky (our treasurer) will be able to write a software program that can do this for us. Good thing we have someone with computer programming skills on the board!

We next turned our attention to the complex business of evaluating the effectiveness of our programs. Unny and Justin (our Communications and Events Coordinator) had discussions around these issues with leaders in this area at the Animal Rights Conference. One of the suggestions we look forward taking up was the idea of engaging in dialogue with members of our target audience about how to help them make more compassionate food choices. Once we have good information about those needs, we can tailor our programs to meet them. We also decided to continue making use of existing research (for example, Nick Cooney’s excellent book Change of Heart) to inform our outreach and communication efforts.

We revisited the question of board member recruitment and we decided that we will announce opportunities for volunteer board members through the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. We also decided to explore the possibility of recruiting folks from across the country who work successfully on the kinds of issues that are central to CAA’s mission.

Our next board meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, November 5 at 6pm. You should consider being a part of that meeting if you’re interested. If you’d like to participate, contact Unny Nambudiripad at unny@exploreveg.org.

Compassionate Times, August 2015

Opening Hearts, Changing Minds

written by Linda Pope, CAA Volunteer at Twin Cities Pride 2015

My 13 year old son and I were among the many CAA volunteers and staff working the pay-per-view table this June at the Twin Cities Pride Festival. We offered attendees one dollar to watch a short segment of the documentary, Farm to Fridge.

It was a very successful event in that 540 attendees watched the video. One reason we were able to reach so many people was because volunteers had multiple tablets set up for viewing, and they were continuously in use.

In between viewings, we had many heartfelt conversations with viewers and other attendees who were curious or wanted to learn more about the disconnect between what happens on factory farms and industry’s heavily funded efforts to manipulate the public’s understanding of factory farming. Others were eager to share that they were vegetarian or vegan too. Some people simply thanked us for what we were doing.

Continue reading

Animal Rights National Conference 2015: Inspiration and Fun

Two staff members and four volunteers from Compassionate Action for Animals (CAA) traveled to Washington D.C. earlier this month for the Animal Rights National Conference. Over the course of four days, we got to experience all that this annual conference has to offer, including a variety of inspiring presentations, lots of delicious vegan food, dozens of exhibitors, and the opportunity to network with others who advocate for animals.

As CAA’s Executive Director, I gave a talk about how to plan a veg fest. Referring to our guide to plan a festival, I showed others how they can start a festival in their own city. I also helped organize a lunch for veg fest planners from around the continent. Dozens of festivals were represented, and we were able to share our experiences so that we can improve the quality of festivals everywhere. We’re undertaking this collaboration to ensure that our own Twin Cities Veg Fest can have the biggest impact for the animals. It’s also great to share what we’ve learned, to help other festivals overcome their obstacles. Collectively, these festivals can make a big difference for animals, reaching hundreds of thousands of people and showing them how fun and meaningful compassionate living can be.

CAA volunteer and co-founder Dave Rolsky gave a talk about how to use collaborative technology to run an animal advocacy organization. Dave is a professional software developer, and his experience includes making user-friendly websites. He’s an expert on the variety of simple and useful online tools to get our work done, and he was able to share his technical know-how at the conference.

While our participation in the conference was exciting, so was witnessing the state of the Animal Rights movement. This year’s conference was the largest one yet, with more than 1,600 attendees. It’s also exciting to see how strategic, results-oriented farmed animal advocacy organizations are growing, and we were able to develop meaningful relationships with activists around the country that will help us do our work. These activists are creating videos about factory farming, publishing leaflets, and conducting research on how to make our movement more effective.

Following the conference, I took a trip to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary where I got to spend the day meeting rescued animals. It was perhaps the most inspiring part of my trip, getting to see the life behind the eyes of these animals, my reason for being on this path and for speaking up for their right to be free. I’ve returned to Minnesota feeling motivated to bring what I’ve learned to our Twin Cities community, to strengthen our group, to get our message out there, and to make a difference for the animals that still need our help.

Vegan Main Dish Competition at the State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is coming up soon, and they’re hosting their 4th annual Vegan Main Dish Competition. Your favorite original vegan recipe could be the winner. This is a fun way to participate in the fair while sharing how awesome vegan food can be. Register to enter the competition by tomorrow, August 11 at 4:30pm.

The judges are looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare dishes that supply a complete protein. The entries will be on display in the Creative Activities Building, and the winner will receive a ribbon, a check, and vegan cookbook.

The category is listed as lot #1110 on page 39 in the Creative Activities Booklet. Check it out and enter to win!

What Happened at the June Board Meeting

We began CAA’s June board meeting by briefly reviewing and unanimously ratifying the budget for the coming fiscal year. We have a growing interest in assessing our work as an organization, so we decided to have a look at donation history to begin to get a better sense of the impact of our fundraising efforts. We’ll take a look at that history at our next meeting.

Board members were then introduced to the new website where organizational information will be collected. Because of its ease of use and integration with Google services, we feel this new site will offer lots of advantages over our current wiki for everyone involved in CAA’s work.

Our discussion then turned to the difficult task of assessing the extent to which CAA should get involved in campaigns like promoting Meatless Mondays. Traditionally, CAA has focussed on organizing outreach events (like leafleting and pay-per-view) and community building events (like the Chili Cook-off and the Twin Cities Veg Fest). We see campaigns like Meatless Monday as potentially powerful ways to help reduce the amount of suffering animals endure on factory farms as well. While these campaigns can generate a lot of energy, it happens that support for them among volunteers can fade over time. In view of this, we considered the possibility of allocating more staff time to work on these efforts and drawing up contracts between staff and volunteers that lay out clearly in advance the amount of time being involved in these campaigns will require of volunteers.

We also discussed board recruitment. Board members are central to helping shape CAA’s work and we are currently looking for new board members to join us. You should consider coming to a meeting if you’re interested. Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 25 at 6pm. If you’d like to attend, contact Unny Nambudiripad at unny@exploreveg.org.

Vegan Food at Twin Cities Pride

The 2015 Twin Cities Pride Festival comes to Loring Park on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10:00am to 6:00pm each day. As you take part in the festivities, you might like to know where you can find the vegan food options. Here you go!

All of these food options appear to be vegan or vegan upon request. We recommend that you check with the vendor if you want to be sure that all ingredients are plant-based.

Wide World of Foods

  • Falafel (deep fried patties from ground chickpeas and fava beans served in a pita) $6
  • Lebanese Salad (garlic, oil, mint and lemon tossed in lettuce served in a pita) $5
  • Tabouli Salad (cracked wheat bulgar, parsley, tomatoes, green onion served in a pita) $6
  • All sandwiches are available in a bowl for those who are gluten-free or do not want pita bread.

Marin

  • Vegan Cobb Salad Wrap $12

Wholesoul: A Lavender & Sage Eatery

  • Organic Sweet & Red Potato Fries

Que Viet Concessions

  • Bubble Tea (mango, passion fruit, strawberry)
  • Vietnamese iced coffee

Whole Foods Market

  • Bento Boxes (veggie & hummus or fruit & yogurt) $5

El Burrito Mercado

  • Walk A Taco (vegetarian option available) $6
  • Mango (freshly peeled and on a stick) $5
  • Roasted corn $4

Juice So Good – Green Nelly the Juice Truck

  • Cold-pressed juices

As we honor the diversity in our community and consider how we can treat others with kindness, it’s a good time to widen that circle of compassion to include farmed animals. We’ll be doing pay-per-view outreach all weekend, offering festival attendees a dollar to watch a short video about factory farming. You can find our booth between the dog park and the tennis courts. Stop by and say hello!  If you’d like to volunteer to help out, contact Unny Nambudiripad at unny@exploreveg.org.

Happy Pride!

Champions Fueled with Vegan Food and Compassion

I recently interviewed vegan runner Aaron Zellhoefer about his experience competing in the Ragnar Relay Race with an all-vegan team on May 8 and 9, 2015. Their success goes to show how a compassionate, plant-based diet can fuel top-notch athletes.

JL: Congratulations on winning the Ragnar Relay race! Is it true that your team of vegan runners took first place?

AZ: Out of 526 teams, our team, the Strong Hearts Vegan Power (SHVP) A Team came in 4th place. In our coed division, there were 332 teams, and we came in 1st place.

JL: Tell us more about the race. Where is it and what’s the course like?

AZ: Ragnar Relay is an overnight running event for teams of 6 or 12 runners. There are 15 courses spread across the United States, and each of them is around 200 miles long. Our team ran the Cape Cod course, which is incredibly beautiful. We started in Hull, Massachusetts and ended in Provincetown. We ran through very quaint towns that date back to the early 1600’s and still resemble that time period.

JL: How was your team formed?

AZ: A call was put out on Facebook for vegan runners. SHVP has done two previous Ragnar races, but they really wanted to make a mark this time. There was so much interest that we were able to sign up 36 vegan runners and make three teams. Each team had two drivers, so there were a total of 42 of us. We were all vegan. Because we had so many runners, the team captains decided to put together a competitive team. Hence, the SHVP A Team was formed.  We had some really amazing runners. I felt intimidated by the level of strength on the team.   Two of our team members, Scott Spitz and Micah Risk, had been on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine in the months leading up to the race. We also had our strongest runner, Laura Kline. Laura is soft-spoken and kind, the sort of person who does not generally make her presence known. Yet she is a beast on the race course; representing the United States, Laura won the gold for her age bracket in the International Duathalon Competition in Australia. She averaged six-minute miles.

JL: Wow, sounds like an powerful team. Plus, they had you! How do you train for an athletic event like this? What do you eat to help support your stamina and strength?

AZ: I have always trained by trying to do as many miles as possible before a race. I think most runners will agree that miles matter most. Then, there is recovery from those miles. The night before the race, the Boston Vegetarian Society hosted a talk with Matt Ruscigno, a dietitian and nutritionist. Matt talked about the health benefits associated with vegan running. His main point was that there is not one specific food that vegan runners should eat. He said that all you should be doing is eating a variety of healthy vegan foods and that the rest will follow.

JL: When and why did you go vegan?

AZ: I went vegan in December of 1997. I was involved in the punk rock movement, and, despite the yelling and screaming, there were a lot of messages in the songs. It was great to go to punk rock shows and see so much activism. Environmentalists, feminists, wobblies (workers rights activists), and animal rights activists would go to shows and share information about issues of concern. I was already vegetarian and read up on why someone should go vegan. I saw it as a natural continuation of my reasons to be vegetarian. The reasons were spot-on for the environment, human rights, health, and especially animal welfare and animal rights.

JL: How did you get into running?

AZ: I got into running my freshman year of high school. I enjoyed nothing more than getting out on a running trail and leaving all of my worries behind. I enjoyed the natural beauty of my surroundings. It would make me appreciate what I have.

JL: What was the race like for you? How much of it did you run?

AZ: Each runner had three legs to run. I ended up running a fourth leg for a teammate who was not feeling well. I ended up running 16 miles at roughly a 6:30 pace. I have another Ragnar race in Utah coming up. This will be my eighth 200-mile relay race. I think I’ve been able to do these races so well partly because of healthy eating and training.

JL: What was it like winning the race with your team?

AL: The SHVP A Team all wore shirts that read “Vegan for health, the environment, but most importantly, for the animals. VEGAN POWER!” We wanted to get the name out there and we did. We got a lot of chuckles when we showed up. But, after some of the other runners realized how well we were doing, those chuckles turned into conversations. The race was a 189.3 mile race. Our team did it in 21:54:46. That’s a 6:56 pace for almost 200 miles. It was a fantastic time, and we got the word about veganism far and wide.IMG_0472

Get Involved

Subscribe to our weekly update:


Donate

Volunteer

Veg Resources

Upcoming Events

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Twin Cities Veg Fest Data Entry Party!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Student Dine-Out: Wally’s Cafe

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Vegan Food Giveaway

Saturday, October 20, 2018

October Dine Out: Eureka Compass Vegan Food