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Vegan Main Dish Competition at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is having a vegan main dish competition for the third year in a row. The judges are looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare dishes that supply a complete protein. Consider entering one of your favorite original vegan recipes. Your goodies 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 19 of the Creative Activities booklet. Register to enter the competition by August 5th and take this opportunity to show everyone at the State Fair how delicious vegan food can be.

Get Active for Animals in August

The summer of animal advocacy continues. Just yesterday, we helped distribute 13,000 leaflets at the Warped Tour’s most recent stop in Shakopee, Minnesota. Thirteen thousand leaflets! That’s a lot of people receiving a message of compassion for animals such as Kevin, a chicken bred by the egg industry. Like all male chicks who can’t lay eggs, Kevin was likely to be killed by being tossed alive into a grinding machine. Fortunately, Kevin was rescued from this fate and is now living out his days in a farm animal sanctuary.

Everyone who receives a leaflet is learning about Kevin and hopefully making changes in their diet accordingly. These changes have a ripple effect, saving more animals like Kevin and inspiring others to adopt a more compassionate way of life.

August brings new opportunities for powerful outreach on behalf of animals. Leafleting and tabling are both excellent ways to advocate for animals. We reach many people in a short amount of time and have great conversations while doing it.

CAA volunteers gather after leafleting for the Warped Tour.

Saturday, August 2nd. Leaflet after the Paul McCartney concert

Saturday, August 16th. Table at Indiafest

Sunday, August 17th. Leaflet at Franklin Open Streets

For more information or if you would like to volunteer at any of these outreach events, email

Chicken Run Rescue: An Oasis of Peace

Matt with a chicken

Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a tour of Chicken Run Rescue on Saturday, August 9th, from noon to 1:00 p.m. I hope you’ll come and experience for yourself the peace and healing of this chicken sanctuary in Minneapolis.

Two years ago, I had an amazing experience visiting Chicken Run Rescue, which provides temporary shelter and veterinary care for neglected, abused, and abandoned chickens and works to find adopters in the Twin Cities area. It’s a little oasis of peace in the middle of a busy city. I had passed by the sanctuary many times, and I was surprised that something like this existed.

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Vegan Potluck Picnic in the Park

Here’s your opportunity to cavort in the summer breezes with other like-minded folks who care about animals. Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a potluck picnic in Washburn Fair Oaks Park in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 27th at noon. We’ll be meeting on the southwest corner of the park, near the intersection of East 24th Street and Stevens Avenue.

Every dish at the potluck will be vegan. You can always bring something simple like watermelon, or you can try your hand at preparing a new vegan dish. Maybe Sweet Potato and Kale Patties or a batch of vegan Thin Mint Cookies. Or something exotic like a Curried Chickpea Salad or traditional like a Creamy Potato Salad. The options are endless.

Feel free to bring a friend. Not only do events like this fortify our existing community, but they show our omnivorous friends how varied and delicious a plant-based diet can be and how fun and welcoming our animal-friendly community can be.

RSVP on the Facebook event page or email


Unny’s Presentation at Animal Rights 2014

Unny speaking at Animal Rights 2014

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

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

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

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

How to Plan a Veg Fest

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

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

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


Triumphant Pay-Per-View at Pride

Pay-Per-View at Pride

A couple weeks ago, our posse of Compassionate Action for Animals volunteers came together at the Pride Festival in Loring Park. We planned to use pay-per-view as our primary outreach method. With pay-per-view, we would offer festival attendees each a dollar to watch a five-minute video revealing the horrors of factory farming. Our goal was to reach as many people as possible and let them know what happens to animals on modern factory farms so that they can make informed food choices in the future. Usually, in one day of pay-per-view outreach at the University of Minnesota, we’re able to engage about 50 people to watch the video. We weren’t sure what this weekend at the Pride Festival would bring.

We started off strong on Saturday with some outgoing volunteers and enthusiastic viewers. Some who watched the video for the first time asked what can they do to help. Some proclaimed, “I’m never eating meat again!” We were happy to provide them with the Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating.

Later in the afternoon, some ominous dark clouds rolled in, and the rain started to pour. A few lost souls took shelter under our tent, including a pink-haired vegan cookbook author. As the downpour ensued, we had to suspend the pay-per-view activities, but discussions about farmed animals continued. Before long, the clouds cleared and we continued with our advocacy efforts as planned.

On Sunday, we continued with an energetic group of volunteers crying out for change and a few of the viewers crying because they were so moved by the video. Those tears of sadness became smiles of inspiration as they learned how they could move towards a plant-based diet.

At one point, we had shown the video so many times that we actually ran out of one dollar bills. Fortunately, our executive director Unny Nambudiripad came to the rescue with another batch of money to help the animals.

By the end of the weekend, we had given away 500 dollars and, more importantly, shown the video a staggering 500 times. Pride 2014 turned out to be our most far-reaching pay-per-view event thus far, and we hope that those who were so moved by the video will continue to reflect on that feeling of empathy and make changes in their diet to support those feelings.

If you would like to participate in this exciting work with CAA, we have a steady roster of outreach events on the horizon. Take a look at our August Outreach Opportunities and see if anything works for your schedule. For more information or to sign-up to volunteer, contact me at


Creamy Potato Salad for Your Summer Picnic

potato salad

Why show up to summer gatherings empty-handed when the world of vegan food abounds with delicious options? This recipe for Creamy Potato Salad is sure to wow your friends and family. They won’t know the difference once they bite into this creamy classic gone vegan.

Most recipes for potato salad call for an egg-based mayonnaise. The only difference here is that an egg-free mayonnaise is used. Try Vegenaise. Many people enjoy this particular brand even more than the common non-vegan versions.

Everyday, hundreds of millions of egg-laying chickens experience agregious abuse on modern factory farms. If you want to help alleviate this suffering, consider alternatives to eggs and those things made from eggs like mayonnaise. With options such as this vegan Creamy Potato Salad, we can still participate in our fun summer outings, enjoying familiar foods in the company of our loved ones, but we can choose to make those foods in ways that reflect our compassion for animals.

Beyond the Fairy Tale: My Fascination for Fishes

Grace Van Susteren

I’ve been fascinated with fishes for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because I’m from Minnesota, “the land of 10,000 lakes.” Or maybe I loved The Little Mermaid so much as a child that I grew up wanting to explore that world “under the sea.”

However, life for fishes is far from a fairy tale. These sentient beings are the most exploited group of animals on our planet. In the United States alone, humans kill 60 billion fishes every year for food. Excluding shellfish, that’s more than seven times the number of all other animal groups killed for food.

Why is this this death toll so astronomical? Perhaps it’s because humans have difficulty relating to fishes. After all, fishes don’t live in a world that is at all familiar to us. They aren’t cuddly and furry. They can’t express emotion on their faces. Some don’t even have faces! Fishes have long been misunderstood as primitive, cold, unfeeling creatures, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These animals live dynamic lives within complex social communities. They recognize each other, learn from each other, and cooperate with each other.

Domestic cats, with all of their different personalities, habits, and abilities, are only one species. Now consider that what we refer to as “fish” contains more than 25,000 species. When we group them together and generalize this large group of animals, we lose sight of their distinctive qualities.

Here are a couple of my favorite species from this incredible underwater world:

Frillfin Goby
This frillfin goby isn’t the adventurous type and wants to get home as quickly as possible.

Frillfin gobies live in tide pools. They each have a home pool, but sometimes when the tide rolls out, the waves sweep them into a different pools. These gobies aren’t the adventurous type and want to get home as quickly as possible. They leap from pool to pool until they reach home. They’re able to find their home pools even from ninety feet away. How are they able to do this, you wonder? When the tide is high and they’re still able to swim freely above the pools, they create a mental map of the area. They then use this map to get back to their home pool once they are swept away. I wish I had a sense of direction like these guys!

This stickleback
This stickleback has a sense of justice and knows how to work on a team to get the job done.

Certain species of sticklebacks have a sense of justice. To check out a predator, they pair up in teams of two and have a specific pattern to follow. While moving toward the predator, each take the lead for about half of the time. Occasionally, a fish will slack in its duty. Then, the next time there’s a scouting mission, the partner of the slacker fish will try to find a different partner. If they need to be a pair again, the fish will punish the former slacker by refusing to lead. (This reminds me of 10th grade English class more than I’d care to admit.) Passive aggressive behavior isn’t the best option, but for these sticklebacks it seems to be working.

I hope this glimpse under the sea has inspired you to learn more about our underwater friends. I’ve shared a few of the remarkable qualities of just two species of fish. Remember, there are 25,000 more for you to discover!

Please check out, an organization dedicated to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings.

Summer Picnic Cooking Class with AmyLeo


CAA volunteer and vegan powerhouse AmyLeo Barankovich is teaching a picnic-themed cooking class at Valley Natural Foods on Tuesday, July 23rd. AmyLeo will teach you how to prepare a traditional summer picnic meal minus the animal products. You’ll have lots of vegan recipes to explore and scrumptious samples to take home: Juicy Lucy with Daiya nondairy cheese shreds, New Potato Potato Salad with a hint of cilantro, and Chocolate American Flag Brownie with fruit stars. You won’t leave hungry!

Summer Fun Picnic Eats and Treats

Tuesday, July 23rd

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Valley Natural Foods

13750 County Road 11

Burnsville, MN 55337


$10 (co-op member-owners) and for $15 (for non-members)

Register in advance!



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Veg Resources

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Twin Cities Veg Fest Leaflet Stuffing

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Bridges of Respect: Vegan Food Giveaway

Saturday, June 23, 2018 - Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pride Festival Video Outreach

Monday, June 25, 2018

June Dine-Out: moto-i