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Hops & Hearts Event Kicks off $8,000 Festival Fundraising Drive

On July 25, we kicked off our campaign to raise $8,000 for Twin Cities Veg Fest with a fabulous party at Bang Brewing in St. Paul.

Over 85 guests contributed the first $1,200 that we need to raise by August 25. Please join in by making a gift today! Every gift is being matched by a team of generous donors.

Guests enjoyed delicious food from Reverie Mobile Kitchen and heard about the difference that their gifts to support the festival make.

For many of our thousands of attendees, this is their first and only exposure to animal rights. It’s a chance for them to think, ‘Wow, look at all these people, being vegan isn’t that weird–it’s awesome!’ or ‘Wow, this food is delicious! I can’t believe vegans can eat such good stuff’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t know they did that to animals, that’s not okay.’ It’s experiences like these that ultimately end up saving animal lives,” shared Nathan Gaut, who serves as the chair of this year’s festival committee.

Enjoy the photo slideshow of the event below, and view our progress towards our fundraising goal here.

 

 

 

Community Potluck a Huge Success

The ARC/CAA Vegan potluck at Minnehaha Falls was a smashing success. Over 120 people attended, enjoying great food and conversation.

I love how our potlucks build community. During the event I met brand-new folks who’d never come to a vegan event before and had a wonderful time, saw folks talking together about a variety of animal advocacy work, and got to reconnect with one of my former second-grade students, who is now vegan!

Enjoy photos from the potluck below. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

 

 

Leafleting Makes a Difference

“I love seeing people reading the leaflets. Sometimes they’ll come up to me and tell me that they’re been thinking about going vegan, and the leaflet is going to help them actually do it,” said Sarah Matanah, one of the CAA volunteers leading our summer leafleting campaign.

Already this summer, over 4,000 leaflets have been shared with the public. Vegan Outreach, a national organization which provides many of the leaflets we distribute, says that one person goes vegan for every 77 leaflets given away. Every vegan spares thousands of animals over the course of their lifetime.

That means that one volunteer can spare thousands of animals with just an hour of their time distributing leaflets! There are still more leafleting opportunities this summer. You can get the details and sign up here.

“Leafleting is a positive experience. I think people are afraid that people will argue with them, or think they’re being rude by handing out leaflets, but that really doesn’t happen. Most people are interested and happy to get the information,” says Sarah.

After every summer leafleting session volunteers have gone out to eat and get to know each other better. Many volunteers mention this as a highlight.

Leafleting opportunities are chosen based on the ability to reach large numbers of people in a short period. So far this summer CAA staff and volunteers have leafleted at Grand Old Day, the Jazz Festival, The Stone Arch Bridge festival, The Basilica Block Party, the Aquatennial Parade, and the Warped Tour.

Upcoming:

Sign up to leaflet!

The 2018 Animal Rights Conference

Four volunteers and I went to this year’s Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles. It was energizing and productive to connect with others in the movement. Here’s a taste of what we experienced.

Nathan Gaut

Wow, it was such an amazing experience being able connect with so many organizations doing great work in their communities around the world. I really appreciated the opportunity to hear about how others are employing unique and novel strategies to reach underrepresented groups in the vegan movement. I also loved hearing the views and perspectives on animal testing from SAEN‘s Michael Budkie and White Coat Waste Project‘s Justin Goodman since my field of study is so closely related to the biomedical industry. I look forward to my next opportunity to gather and connect with such an astounding group of like-minded and passionate activists.

Marina Kirkeide

The Animal Rights National Conference was a great opportunity to hear lots of passionate leaders in the vegan movement. My favorite presentation was given by Melanie Joy who said that although we have no choice in whether we want to be ambassadors for the vegan movement, we can control how we communicate with others about our convictions. Some of her helpful tips included meeting people where they are coming from instead of trying to force them to see your perspective, never shaming others because it will only put up walls, and encouraging people to be as vegan as possible for their lifestyle.

Abraham Rowe

The animal rights conference is a great way to build skills and make connections that help CAA help as many animals as possible. I love that we can meet with groups around the country to share ideas, learn about new approaches, and support each other’s work.

Laura Matanah

I really enjoyed the chance to connect with folks working to reduce the amount of meat served in cafeterias around the country and the world, including a conversation with two Brazilian activists. I know that we’ll incorporate some of the ideas we heard. The meeting for large vegan event organizers (e.g. veg fests and similar events) sponsored by VegFund was again useful. Friday night’s plenary, moderated by Dawn Moncrief with presentations by Harish Seithu, lauren Ornelas, pattrice jones, and A. Breeze Harper was especially inspiring. I encourage others to download the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List App, and to check out the book The Oxen at the Intersection: A Collision by pattrice jones, which I’ve been reading on my way home.

Why Veganism Is Not Enough

Thoughts on the Way to the 2018 Animal Rights National Conference

Animal rights is still a radical concept in our culture. I was reminded of this just yesterday while on the train headed to the Animal Rights National Conference.

It’s not often that I get to have conversations about animal rights with people of radically different perspectives, but there I was, having breakfast with an Amish farming couple and the wife of a suburban megachurch pastor.

When I mentioned where I was going, there was a split second when my tablemates froze. For those of us who are animal advocates, I think one important part of our job is to get conversations going with people who may not have considered animal issues before and to melt their hearts and minds. So, over fruit and oatmeal, I dove into what was sometimes a challenging conversation.

As I later reflected on what we talked about, I found myself glad we had a conversation about animal rights instead of veganism. Here’s why:

It’s true that people who eat animals will likely be uncomfortable and search their consciences at the mention of either veganism or animal rights. However, an animal rights position can give us more room to connect with those who are different, and it can provide an important framework for the broad change that is needed.

First, let’s talk about the way an animal rights framework, especially one that focuses on reducing suffering, allows us to connect with others. Check out the work of Matt Ball, who in this video explains the advantages of talking about suffering in advocating for animals. He also refers to studies showing that those who move toward veganism in gradual steps are more likely to stick with it.

It’s clearly useful to show that we can be vegan, healthy, and happy. It’s vital that we share our stories of connection to individual farmed animals, as Julie Knopp recently did in her Star Tribune piece about Wally the pig. It’s also important that we help people to understand the horrors that farmed animals endure, as we just did through outreach at Twin Cities Pride. Eating together is an important human activity, and a vegan identity gives us a way to build community with others around both shared food and shared values.

To attract people to a vegan lifestyle, it’s important to demonstrate its many appealing aspects and to keep our value statements positive. We can scare people off if we create a community that feels judgemental or puts down non-vegans. When we invite people to move in our direction with a welcoming attitude, rather than policing them, we create a nurturing community. Social science research also supports a “gradual move toward veganism” approach as the most effective for farmed animals.

The limitation of advocating veganism is the tendency to focus on personal choices. It’s very important to talk about the way our personal choices collectively make a difference, but we can’t stop there. If we look only at personal choices, we miss the opportunity to see what we have in common with those who still eat animals and to look at systems that harm all of us.

Being able to talk about animal suffering to non-vegans, and to eventually build alliances around common interests, may become the difference in whether or not we can truly make lasting change for the animals.

My Amish tablemates spoke about the ways that the industrialization of agriculture has diminished the lives of both animals and humans in their rural Iowa community. The pastor’s wife asked questions about how all of this had come about, what “humane meat” really means, and how we can build a better food system. (I was sure to debunk the myth of “humane meat.”)

Her last question about building a better food system is a vital one for those of us who care about animals to consider. I believe we can build a food system that gives more space to wildlife, helps turn back the climate change that is destroying life on our planet, benefits both rural and urban communities, and provides all people with good food.

Some of our breakfast conversation was uncomfortable. I wrestled with my feelings about their farming. I am clear that I don’t want to see animals farmed or killed, but I am also clear that the industrialization of agriculture is creating problems that negatively affect us all.

As we finished up our meal, one of the farmers said, “Well, I hope the folks at that conference can help us figure out a better way.”

I hope we can too. We owe it to the animals, non-human and human.

8 Reasons You’ll Love the 2018 Twin Cities Veg Fest

Twin Cities Veg Fest comes to Harriet Island Park on Saturday, September 16, and we hope you’ll be there to join in the fun.

We asked some of our planning committee members to tell us what most excites them about this year’s festival, and here’s what they had to say.

1. The Twin Cities’ community!

Maggie Simmons

“I’m looking forward to connecting with the Twin Cities’ community about eating plant-based and making compassionate choices! Not to mention all the delicious food!” —Maggie Simmons, Assistant to the Committee Chair

2. New food vendors!

Nathan Gaut

“I’m excited for all the new food vendors coming this year! We’re really gearing up to have our biggest Twin Cities Veg Fest by far! I love finding new local small businesses with awesome foods and drinks that I didn’t know were here in the Cities.” —Nathan Gaut, Twin Cities Veg Fest Committee Chair and CAA Board Member

3. The vegan vibe!

David Paul Muench Huebert

“I’m excited to feel the vegan vibe and to have my food choices, which are very important to me but often out-of-step with the world around me, be the norm for one giant party.” —David Paul Muench Huebert, Exhibitor Coordinator

4. The compassionate crowd!

Suzy Sorensen (left) at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2017

“I am really looking forward to being part of a big, giant, compassionate crowd! Last year it was wonderful to be physically moving and working among so many people who are making the world a more positive, peaceful place. To see the excitement on faces, hear the passionate comments, feel the positive vibe, and be part of the group is empowering and reminds me that I make a difference and relieve suffering in this world every day through my choice to be vegan.” —Suzy Sorensen, Speaker Coordinator

5. The 21+ after-party!

Laura Matanah

“I’m excited to have more scrumptious food choices, music, and opportunities to connect with others that will last beyond the festival. And I’m pumped for the 21+ after-party too!” —Laura Matanah, CAA Executive Director

6. The new location on Harriet Island!

Mitch Thompson

“What excites me most about Twin Cities Veg Fest is that it’s hosted by an organization that allows interested people like myself the opportunity to be involved and have input on making it happen. The new location on Harriet Island is also exciting. OK, but really the truth it’s the food that has me most excited.” —Mitch Thompson, Festival Logistics Coordinator

7. Innovation in plant-based food!

Michelle Peterson (and Stella)

“For this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest, I’m excited to see the innovations our local vendors have created for plant-based foods, which are skyrocketing in popularity. From imitation fried chicken to bee-free honey, it’s never been a better time to explore veg.” —Michelle Peterson, Media Outreach Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Accessibility!

As someone with a hidden disability, I’d like to invite people with disabilities to contact us about accommodations you may be wondering about. I’m excited about TCVF specialty food items (like last year’s cheese curds) AND stocking up on coupons because, as many of you know, those are hard to come by in the world of plant-based eating.

Michelle Shaw

Pride Outreach in Pictures

Every year, CAA has a table at the Twin Cities Pride Festival, and this year was no exception. For two days in Loring Park, we leafleted and conducted video outreach on behalf of animals, and we reached a lot of people along the way. Over the course of the weekend, we gave away more than 1,000 leaflets and got more than 590 video views. Wow!

Pride is ideal venue for sharing our message of compassion. The festival itself is devoted to the idea of expanding the circle of compassion to include the LGBTQ community. The people we reach there tend to be especially open to the idea of opening their hearts to the plight of farmed animals. One festival attendee remarked, “This was the most important part of the day for me.”

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with outreach and to Luke White for taking these photos!

Continuing Adventures in Animal Advocacy

I started volunteering for CAA in 2005, a few years after going vegan. I think my motivation was wanting to do more to help animals and also wanting to meet other vegans.

At the time, I was a professional dancer. Over the years on and off, while a dancer, I volunteered with CAA in various capacities, everything from helping out at a yard sale fundraiser to leafleting on the university campus to coordinating volunteers for CAA’s annual animal advocacy conference, Their Lives, Our Voices.

I jumped right in and found a supportive community where my vegan values were shared. I also found a positive outlet for my passion for helping animals.

“Passion” is a rather appealing word. Really, what I was feeling was sadness and rage, thinking about what animals experience on factory farms, as revealed by undercover videos. My passion grew out of my sadness and rage, and CAA gave me the opportunity to put that passion to good use, participating in a grassroots movement to liberate farmed animals.

CAA’s fundamental core values and strategy made sense to me, and I felt confident that CAA’s welcoming approach would achieve the best results in the long-term: getting the biggest number of people to sustain a move toward plant-based eating. That shift would gradually but surely ensure animals would be saved from needless suffering.

In 2014, I was about to retire from full-time dancing. Fortuitously, CAA was at the same time looking to hire their first-ever communications and events coordinator, a full-time position. I applied and got the job. (I had some previous experience in the area of communications and events planning, having written a vegan cookbook and produced my own independent performance work.)

Now my passion for helping animals was my profession. I got to spend my days writing for CAA’s blog, email news, and other communications. I also launched the annual magazine, Twin Cities Veg Living, and led the redesign efforts for a new visual brand identity. I’d like to think we’ve brought our communications up a notch since I came on staff four years ago. I also organized monthly dine-outs and potlucks, giving those in the Twin Cities area a chance to get to know others and explore vegan food options.

With a new strategic plan in place, we’ve been moving into a new phase that reflects the changing needs of the modern world, making our movement more inclusive and effective. I feel confident that this next phase will lead to another threshold, beyond which positive change for the animals will be even more tangible, more visible.

Personally, I’m entering a new phase as well, having been offered the position of associate director at Minnesota Dance Theatre. Having sustained a passion for performance as well as for helping animals, I’ll be taking that job in July, which means the role of communications coordinator will be going to someone else. Applications are due June 30, by the way!

My hope is that someone with enthusiasm and skill beyond my own will step into this role and help take CAA to the next level. I’ve seen how the changing of the guard can bring fresh energy and opportunity for new growth. Laura Matanah became CAA’s new executive director in December of 2016, and with her leadership we’re embracing a new strategic plan and growing in significant ways.

I also notice how our movement is thriving on a local level. With another vegan restaurant opening almost every other day it seems, the availability of vegan food options is increasing at exponential rates. Also, the region has a number of new farm sanctuaries that provide uplifting experiences for visitors who get to meet the rescued animals.

I see all of these new ventures as a great boon for the animal advocacy movement. Each of these advances will inspire and enable people to make more compassionate choices, and each is a component of the whole movement.

I recognize how CAA has been a catalyst for much of this action and continues to be a vital component. The work we do is not about feeling good simply for our own benefit. Our focus is on helping animals, and over the past twenty years, CAA has reached countless individuals with a message of unconditional compassion for those chickens, cows, pigs, fish, and other animals most commonly exploited as part of our food system. Through raising awareness, building community, and nurturing advocates, we’re serving our mission, we’re making this a more peaceful world for all beings.

For that work to continue, CAA needs you. CAA needs you to participate, volunteer, donate, and do what you can to support our mission to help farmed animals. Though I’m moving on from my position as an employee at CAA, I’ll be around offering my support in these ways as much as possible.

And speaking of support, I’d like to offer thanks to everyone who has supported me here at CAA over the past four years: Laura, the board of directors, and all the volunteers. You’ve been amazing! I’ve learned a lot that I’ll take with me, and I’ll keep advocating for animals wherever I go. The adventure continues.

 

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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