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Now Accepting Applications for a New Executive Director

As you may have heard, after five years of dedicated service, Unny Nambudiripad is moving on from his post as executive director at Compassionate Action for Animals. We wish him well on his continuing journey and look forward to appointing a highly qualified individual who can carry on this important position, overseeing all facets of our organization and providing inspiring and effective leadership.

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Give Today and Help Make Twin Cities Veg Fest Great!

Have you heard? The fifth annual Twin Cities Veg Fest will be held at Coffman Memorial Union on Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, 2016. That’s not just one, but two days of compassionate fun!

We’ve just launched a crowdsourcing campaign to help us raise money for the festival, and your support could help us reach our goal. Can you make a contribution of $25, $50, or $100? We welcome donations of any amount to help us reach our goal by August 31. Give today and help make Twin Cities Veg Fest great!

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Feeling Hope after YEA Camp

This July, I served as a camp counselor at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, a camp for teenagers who want to change the world. The camp empowers teens on a variety of social justice issues, and the particular camp where I served was focused on animals. The experience was incredibly challenging and rewarding.

The camp ran from July 17 to 24 and was located at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Like any camp, we slept in cabins with several others, ate together, played games, and hiked in the woods. The special aspects of this camp were meeting and engaging with the farm animal residents and training youth on how to be activists.

Some of the topics of the talks that I led were how to conduct grassroots outreach, why people choose to become vegan, and nonviolent communication. It was satisfying to lead workshops on these topics because I have extensive experience in these areas and strong opinions about them. Other topics included challenging racism, sharing meaningful items from each camper, opposing sexism, and working with campers to determine their activist plan for the year.

The greatest reward was cultivating strong connections with individual campers. Shortly after the camp, I exchanged emails with one of the campers. She said:

I am so happy that I met you at YEA Camp! You inspired me to do great things with my life! … You always made me laugh and I loved when you danced! You always brought the good out of me and I had so much fun with you. You inspired me to ignore what other people thought and do what you like to do. At the beginning of camp I always wanted to join you jumping, but I was embarrassed about what the others would think of me. But, I started jumping with you on the last full day of camp! It was so fun! I didn’t care what the others were thinking, or that people were taking videos of us, I just wanted to have fun! YEA camp inspired me so much that I realized how much more confident I was at the end then I was at the beginning. I talked so much more louder and I didn’t care what others thought.

She later asked for my assistance in her activism, and I connected her with additional resources. I had so much fun at camp and at the same time developed deeply moving connections with young activists.

I was excited to meet the camp director, Nora Kramer, for the first time. We knew many animal activists in common across the country, but we hadn’t yet met face-to-face. She’s a powerful force for the animals and for social justice and was devoted to the development of the campers. She was attuned throughout the camp to the needs of both the campers and the staff. I felt inspired by Nora to have a broader view of empowering new activists and helping them develop their confidence, knowledge, ability, and enthusiasm.

Several of the campers as well as the younger staff inspired me. They are curious, driven, and kind. I’m glad I invested my time and energy in helping to cultivate an experience in which they can learn about how to be an activist, challenge themselves to be more courageous and gentle, and meet and connect with new and experienced activists. I feel hope for the animal protection movement.

Big News from Unny

Dear supporters, volunteers, friends, and donors,

I’ve enjoyed working with Compassionate Action for Animals over the past eighteen years, first as founder and then as executive director for the last five. After careful thought, I realize the time has come for me to move on, and I’ll be stepping down from my staff position in January of 2017.

Having been deeply involved with CAA since its inception, I realize I need a break, including some time to relax. While I don’t have any specific plans, I intend to stay in Minneapolis, continuing on my path of becoming the most effective advocate for animals that I can be. I’d like to consider new strategies and turn my focus to influencing institutions, such as food service providers and the government. I’m also interested in having my work more closely align with advocating against racism, sexism, and other ways that our society exploits humans.

My life’s work is to promote compassion, and CAA has been an incredibly fulfilling vehicle for that work. I’m proud to say that CAA is currently in a strong financial position with thriving programs, high morale, and unprecedented volunteer support. I wholeheartedly believe in the work we do and encourage your continued participation. Please donate, volunteer, come to our events, and continue to speak out for animals. I believe that CAA has been and will continue to be a powerful and effective voice for the animals.

My wish is that my leaving will be an opportunity for you and the organization to become even more powerful forces for the animals. The role of executive director for CAA is an important one, and this transition will allow for other voices in the movement to have more leadership. In that, there’s a great potential for expanding diversity and strengthening the organization.

The board of directors is currently assembling a hiring committee and will be announcing the position opening soon. If you or someone you know might be interested in applying, please stay tuned for the job posting.

I look forward to working with you over the next few months as we continue our important work, and at the top of the agenda is Twin Cities Veg Fest. (The festival’s fundraising campaign is currently underway!) After my departure in January, I can be reached at, 612-293-6876, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat as unnypn. And of course you can find me biking on the streets of South Minneapolis (listen for my singing).

It’s been a pleasure working with you. I’m so grateful for all the progress we’ve made for the animals, and I’m also grateful for all the wonderful relationships I’ve developed with you. I look forward to all of that continuing into the future.

For the animals,

Unny Nambudiripad

Reflecting on the 2016 Animal Rights National Conference

A bunch of us from CAA recently attended the Animals Right National Conference in Los Angeles. We spent four days attending informative and inspirational sessions, networking with others in the animal protection movement, and enjoying some of the great vegan eats that LA has to offer. As the cherry on top this vegan ice cream sundae, on the day after the conference concluded, many of us went on a tour of Farm Santuary. Meeting the rescued animals was perhaps the ultimate inspiration.

Having been to the conference twice before, I was eager for new information. As someone who works full-time for CAA, I’m routinely immersed in our mission, and I was most interested in being exposed to different perspectives, particularly those that include more confrontational approaches to activism. For this reason, I attended talks by Lauren Gazzola, who advocates for not avoiding “looking bad” as vegan, and Wayne Hsiung, who leads the controversial Direct Action Everywhere. Hearing these other viewpoints was enriching, as it gave me an opportunity to better understand the spectrum of approaches to animal advocacy and social justice.

In addition, I was especially motivated hearing Dr. Melanie Joy speak on the subject of sustainable activism and how to nurture a resilient organization. That information I will surely make use of, not only for myself, but also as a way to support our volunteers.

Each of us who attended the conference got something different out of it, and each of us brings back some unique inspiration that will surely infuse our Twin Cities community with a renewed approach to advocating for farmed animals. Here’s a glimpse of what some of our volunteers and other staff members experienced at the 2016 Animal Rights National Conference:

AmyLeo bonds with Jimmy at Farm Sanctuary
AmyLeo bonds with Jimmy at Farm Sanctuary

Transformation and Inspiration by AmyLeo Barankovich

I found the conference to be fun, rejuvenating, comprehensive, inclusive, and sophisticated. After advocating for animals in near-isolation for two decades, I’ve recently reentered the animal rights community. In the past few years, I’ve seen glimpses of the movement’s transformation. This conference has given me even more awareness of this progress and has restored my hope in how humans are reinventing our relationship with animals. I am grateful for finding inspiration to return to public advocacy, which will surely enhance my work as a humane educator and vegan chef.

The 91-Year-Old Vegan by Kathleen Keene

One of the most memorable moments for me was meeting a 91-year-old Dutch woman who came to the CAA table. She had been vegan all her life because her father suddenly didn’t want to eat animals anymore, and that caused quite an upheaval in the family. Eventually, she and her whole family eschewed eating animals altogether. And she was quite spry for 91! At the end of our chat, I gave her a knuffel, which is Dutch for hug!

Dave at Farm Sanctuary
Dave with Paolo at Farm Sanctuary

Networking, the Future of Food, and the Animals Themselves by Dave Rolsky

The best thing about the conference is always the people. I go each year to connect with others in the movement and learn more about what they’re up to. The session I found most exciting was a panel discussing the future of food, specifically cultured meat, egg whites produced by yeast, and meat alternatives. Finally, visiting Farm Sanctuary after the conference was a good reminder of why our work is so important. Meeting individual animals reminds me of all the other animals suffering in factory farms who need our help.

Brita and Grace at the 2016 Animal Rights National Conference
Brita and Grace at the 2016 Animal Rights National Conference

Renewed Hope in a Violent World by Brita Bengtson

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been tough. I entered the conference wondering if it’s worth working for any cause in such a violent world. I left the conference uplifted by new knowledge of all the progress being made for farmed animals: new outreach technology (Animal Equality’s iAnimal project), new food technology (plant-based and clean meats that don’t require any animal use), legislative victories, and much more. I’m hopeful again that we may someday achieve peace for all beings.

Make Great Ethiopian Food with Kittee Berns’ Teff Love

I love Ethiopian food! Not only is it delicious and fun to eat, but it’s also healthy and very veg-friendly.

Where I live in the Midway neighborhood and along University Avenue in St. Paul we have some excellent Ethiopian restaurants–Fasika and Demera are my current favorites. And we also have some great Ethiopian markets as well. You can find fresh injera, lentils, and berbere spice blend at places like Addis Market just east of Snelling and Sherburne.

But what do you do with those ingredients? That’s where Kittee Berns’ fantastic book Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking comes in.


Teff Love begins with a concise overview of all the basics you need to know about Ethiopian cuisine, from descriptions of ingredients, cooking and serving techniques, and a grocery list to a brief history of Ethiopia. It turns out that members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church fast over 200 days of the year. When they break their fasts in late afternoons they are supposed to refrain from eating animal products. That’s why Ethiopian food is so veg-friendly!

The recipes are the stars of Teff Love. All my favorites from the veggie sampler platters I love to get at my local restaurants are helpfully labeled. There are recipes for Ye’Misser Wot (Red Lentils in a Spicy Sauce), Ye’Ater Kik Alicha (Split Peas in a Mild Sauce), Ye’Abesha Gomen (Tender Stewed Collard Greens), and Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot (Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce). You can even learn to make Injera, that delicious spongy, slightly sour flat bread that typically accompanies Ethiopian food!

Along with traditional Ethiopian recipes, there are a range of inspired adaptations and fusion offerings. You can learn to make Ethiopian style Scrambled Tofu (Ye’Tofu Enkulal Firfir) and mac-and-cheesie, garlic jojos with Ethiopian spices, and spicy lasagna roll ups. Teff (the staple Ethiopian grain that is the namesake of the book) makes a creative appearance in the dessert section – you can whip up some spiced teff snickerdoodles or mocha teff brownies!

When it came time to do some cooking, I stuck to the classics. I made some Ye’Misser Wot (Red Lentils in a Spicy Sauce), Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot (Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce), and Ye’Zelbo Gomen Be’Karot (Tender Kale with Carrots, Onion, and Mild Spices). The food was amazing! I’ve tried making these dishes before, but the recipes from Teff Love helped me turn out much richer versions with great depth of flavor. I’ll be digging into this book a lot!


Ye’Tikil Gomen Be’Karot

(Stewed, Seasoned Cabbage with Tender Carrots in a Garlic-Ginger Sauce)

Reprinted with permission by Kittee Berns and Book Publishing Company

Makes 4 cups

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into sticks (1 cup)
  • ½ white or yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or grated (2 teaspoons)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more if desired
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (7 cups)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 to 2 jalapeňo chiles, seeded, veined, and cut into thin strips lengthwise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the carrot, onion, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and salt in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the turmeric, cardamom, and cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and water and stir well to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, for 10 minutes. Add the chiles, cover, and cook until the cabbage is very tender and the carrots are soft, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt if desired.

Per cup: 163 calories, 1 g protein, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbohydrates, 19 2 mg sodium, 103 mg calcium, 5 g fiber.

We’re winning in more ways than one!

Last month, Compassionate Action for Animals announced the first annual Twin Cities Veggie Awards, a new program that acknowledges the best of the best of veg-friendly businesses in the Twin Cities.

For this first round of awards, we gathered a panel of five of our community members to choose the five winners. Each of the recipients received acknowledgement on our blog and a framed certificate.

Here they are:

The blog also lists all of the thirteen businesses in the Twin Cities that offer only vegan products as well as a list of eleven of the finalists, veg-friendly businesses that offer a great selection of outstanding vegan options. Though these finalists didn’t win the award, we wanted to be sure people know about them and support them.

Of course, the real winner is our community. This shift toward having more vegan options in the marketplace is undeniably gaining momentum, and we take it as a sign of great things to come. This consumer demand for more vegan products means fewer animal products being purchased and, ultimately, fewer animals suffering.

We can feel like we’re winning in that regard, for sure! And if you’d like to celebrate, I hope you’ll join us for our next festive event, Summer Soirée: A Benefit for Twin Cities Veg Fest on Wednesday, July 27 from 7 to 10pm at the award-winning Reverie Cafe + Bar. This is a great way to support Twin Cities Veg Fest, celebrate with the community, and enjoy all the amazing vegan nosh that Reverie has to offer. Reserve your tickets today!

Amazing vegan nosh at Reverie; photo by Sam Thompson
Amazing vegan nosh at Reverie; photo by Sam Thompson

Best wishes,

Justin Leaf

Communications & Events Coordinator


Have you seen the new Twin Cities Veg Fest animation?

Check it out! This fantastic animation was created by Sydney Terwey, Cade Isaacs, and Hai Lo, who were all students at The Art Institutes International of Minnesota. They used their time and talents to share their enthusiasm for Twin Cities Veg Fest, and we love what they came up with.

After helping to create this animation, Sydney went on to intern with us at CAA in the spring of 2016. We’re very grateful for all that she contributed to the organization during that time.

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016 will take place on Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, from 11am to 4pm each day. Share this video and let your friends that they can now save the dates for this fun festival!

Twin Cities Veggie Awards 2016 — Winners Announced!

Compassionate Action for Animals is pleased to announce the winners of our first annual Twin Cities Veggie Awards!

We’ve created this program to recognize Twin Cities businesses that support the compassionate community by offering outstanding vegan products. We want to acknowledge and thank them for their service, and we want to be sure that you know about them. We encourage you to give your support to these exceptional veg-friendly establishments so that they continue to thrive.

Here are the winners of the 2016 Twin Cities Veggie Awards along with a testimonial from each of our five panelists. Drum roll please…

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The Big News: Dates and Location for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016

Save the dates for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2016!

Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, from 11am to 4pm each day

Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota 

You might notice that we’re expanding the festival to two days this year, which is very exciting for us. We’ll also be at Coffman Memorial Union again, which is not what we expected, but we’re looking forward to making it work better than ever. Here’s how all this came to be:

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