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Cookie Cart fundraiser a big success!

Thanks to the generosity of our community, we’ll keep introducing teens to plant-based cooking and living.

It’s not often you set a fundraising goal, and exceed it three times over. We recently ended an approximately month-long drive to encourage people in our community to support our work with Cookie Cart. In the end, we raised over $3,000 — much more than the $1,000 goal we initially had set.

The unexpected funds will allow us to fund a full year of cookie production at Cookie Cart, purchase supplies for youth to participate in plant-based cooking classes, and partially fund Tamuno’s time to work with youth.

Who is Cookie Cart?

Cookie Cart is a local nonprofit organization that provides teens 15 to 18 years old with lasting and meaningful work, life and leadership skills through experience and training in urban nonprofit bakeries. Because of the 2020 pandemic challenges, many Cookie Cart kids have transitioned to online experiences and learning…and Compassionate Action for Animals was a big part of this new development.

The key to this astonishing success? Cookies!

Cookie Cart agreed to provide a dozen of their new vegan cookies to every individual who donated $25 or more to keep our work together going strong. We’re pretty sure that the draw of these vegan sugar sprinkle cookies, together with the opportunity to give community teens new compassion-based skills and experiences, was what led so many to pledge their support.

How to get your cookies if you donated

  • If you made a one-time donation of $25 or more during our Cookie Cart fundraiser, look for an email from us about when you can pick up your cookies at Reverie Cafe, 1517 E. 35th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Once cookies are baked, you’ll be able to pick them up  any time during Reverie’s normal business hours. (Demand was so high we ran out, and Cookie Cart is baking more!)
  • If you pledged a monthly donation of $25 or more, we will be delivering your cookies to you. We will contact you by email to let you know when they will arrive.

Volunteer Shout-Out: World Day for Farmed Animals vigil organizers

It takes a village to plan a vigil. Especially when it’s the first one of its kind in our region.

Ten volunteers and three staff members enlisted this year to plan and put on Minnesota’s first World Day for Farmed Animals vigil, happening at 5:30 pm, October 2, 2020, at Father Hennepin Bluff Park in Minneapolis. They include:

  • Mark Hiner
  • Sandy Hitchin
  • Laura Hofer
  • Tamuno Imbu
  • Marina Kirkeide
  • Liberty Kirkeide
  • Julie Knopp
  • Halie Langanki
  • Laura Matanah
  • Abby Medberry
  • Gail Manney
  • Brianna Newcomb
  • Ty Newcomb
  • Josh Truong
  • Maya Ulrich

A few of the organizers who volunteered their time and skills to make this vigil happen shared their reasons for heeding the call. Find out what motivated them to be a voice for animals, and why they think it’s important to bring awareness to the tragic plight of farmed animals worldwide.

Why did you want to support the WDFA vigil?

Mark Hiner with foster chicken

Mark Hiner: We were about to foster chickens, who are the most farmed land animals, yet frequently ignored by animal cruelty regulations. So I wanted to do what I could to give them a voice.

Julie Knopp: I believe animals deserve kindness. World Day for Farmed Animals provides an opportunity for people across the globe to stand up in defense of the billions of invisible animals who suffer and die for human consumption each year. Here in Minnesota amidst the pandemic, tens of thousands of animals have been needlessly slaughtered and dumped without being processed into food. It’s time to address our broken food system and call for change.

Josh Truong: I think it’s important to offer a place and time for grief and remembrance of the farmed animals killed every year, especially in this very difficult year we have had full of mass cullings of farmed animals and environmental disasters as a result of climate change. 

Julie Knopp with Waffle Cone

What part of the vigil are you most looking forward to?

Mark, Julie and Josh: We’re looking forward to the amazing lineup of speakers and the powerful, inspiring animal stories they will share with us.

What would you say to someone interested in attending or watching the vigil?

Mark: Give it a try. It feels good to connect to others, especially when we’re so isolated these days.

Josh Truong with Tofu

Julie: Whether you’re a seasoned animal advocate or completely new to farmed animal issues, I would love to see you at the vigil. This is a meaningful opportunity for Minnesotans to come together to show that we care about animals and to inspire action in our community.

Josh: We are looking to create a safe and welcoming environment, and we’d love to see you there!

A new Wholesome Minnesota Coordinator

Wholesome Minnesota now has its first dedicated staff member, Bruce Williams.

Thanks to the generosity of a private foundation, we have recently hired our first paid Wholesome Minnesota Coordinator: Bruce Williams!

Bruce Williams, Wholesome Minnesota Coordinator

Wholesome Minnesota is a community program that empowers individuals to advocate for plant-based food options in Minnesota institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. This program of Compassionate Action for Animals was created in collaboration with Humane Society of the United States – Minnesota. 

Bruce has strong professional project management experience, and previously worked for Rolls Royce, Texas Instruments, and 3M. He founded Minnesota’s first black-owned comedy club, Baddies. These days he runs his own design and video production company, Human Luminous.

His work with Wholesome Minnesota will be part-time, and he will focus on helping school districts and school catering companies introduce plant-based options.

Bruce is just stepping into the role. We look forward to telling you more about him in the coming weeks. For now, we wanted to share our excitement about the ways he’ll move our work forward, helping at least three schools or districts introduce plant-based options in the coming year.

Interested in Wholesome Minnesota for your school?

Want to see more plant-based foods on your school’s cafeteria menu? If you’d like Bruce to connect with decision makers in a school or school district you’re a part of, email wholesome.minnesota@exploreveg.org.

In the kitchen with Heather Klein, Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge champion

Discover the origins of Root to Rise’s winning Jackfruit BBQ Wingz.

The winner of the 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge was Heather Klein, chef and founder of Root to Rise Kitchen. Her winning dish featured jackfruit wingz, and challenge voters adored them! We asked Heather about her inspiration for the wingz, and she said she wanted to create something that was as satisfying as fried chicken, but healthier, vegan and gluten free.

Heather came up with the recipe herself. She first discovered jackfruit in 2015 when she needed a whole food, plant-based option for pulled pork for a wedding catering client. Jackfruit has remained a staple in her cooking ever since. The wingz are her favorite way to have jackfruit, but she also uses it in a vegan version of eggrolls, in soups, tacos, and on BBQ sandwiches.

When testing out her jackfruit wingz recipe, she first had her uncle, Rich, who had recently transitioned to a vegan diet, tried them. Heather was looking for someone to compare and contrast the wingz to drumsticks. Rich’s advice? Go for the smaller wingz instead of drumsticks because that way you get more crunch. From there, the Jackfruit Wingz that the Twin Cities came to know and love were born.

Root to Rise Kitchen offers various dishes, so how did Heather choose which dish to use for the Vegan Chef Challenge? “I wanted something fun and gluten free. I was considering the jackfruit wingz or a fried banana blossom with chips, and this won out in the end,” she explained.

Heather made the switch to a vegan diet in 2015. At the same time, she transitioned her catering company to 100% vegan and started Root to Rise. Eventually her catering company and Root to Rise merged into one.

The jackfruit wingz are available at the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market, so go try them if you haven’t already!

The Best Dish in 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge: Jackfruit BBQ Wingz

Minneapolis-based Root to Rise Kitchen impressed voters and earned top honors in this year’s challenge.

Chef and founder of Root to Rise Kitchen, Heather Klein, is the official Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge winner. Heather was awarded a $250 cash prize and trophy, presented at a special awards ceremony at Camden Farmers Market on September 12.

To create her award-winning “wingz,” Heather wraps marinated jackfruit in rice paper, fries them in avocado oil, and serves them on a stick. They’re paired with sweet coconut jade pearl rice, Thai basil-marinated vegetables, and mango/pineapple salsa. You can find Root to Rise’s Jackfruit BBQ Wingz at the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market.

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge diners gushed about the flavor, creativity and presentation of the plant-based wings. Some of the comments that came in:

  • “Heather’s food is consistently delicious.”
  • “So amazing….no words.”
  • “Legit the best thing I’ve had in a while.”

Runners up included Namaste Cafe, the double-dish winner whose two dishes scored second and third, and Reverie, who was the featured classic winner. These were awarded based on diner votes.

The Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge encouraged area chefs to offer plant-based dishes at their restaurants throughout the month of August, and diners had the opportunity to cast online votes for their favorite dish, Additional awards were given based on diner comments and committee members’ experiences at the restaurants. Throughout the metro area, 12 dining establishments at 16 locations, each with takeout and delivery available, took part:

  • Namaste Café, Hennepin in Uptown | Double-Dish Winner: 2nd and 3rd Place for their two dishes, Chiya Chili Potatoes and Raw Jackfruit & Bamboo Shoot Curry
  • Reverie, South Minneapolis, Powderhorn | Winner: Featured Classic
  • The Naughty Greek, 2 locations in St. Paul | Winner: Outstanding Handheld Dish
  • Avocadish, Dinkytown avocado bar | Winner: Magnificent Medley Dish
  • Weinery, Cedar-Riverside | Winner: Best Kept Secret
  • Parkway Pizza, 4 metro locations | Winner: Outstanding Use of Local Ingredients
  • Shish, Grand Ave in St Paul | Winner: Sophisticated Spicy Dish 
  • PLNT BSD (Plant Based Bowls), Downtown White Bear Lake | Winner: Nutritiously Dense Decadence
  • Tiny Diner, E 38th St/11th Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Fresh and Flavorful Dish
  • Book Club, Penn Ave, South Minneapolis | Winner: Fabulously Filling Dish
  • Heather’s, 52nd St/Chicago Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Remarkably Colorful Dish
  • Red Wagon Pizza, 54th St/Penn Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Brilliant Bean Fusion

The 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge was the biggest challenge yet, garnering a lot of public attention. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • 337 diners voted this year.
  • 101 posts were shared on Instagram and Facebook.
  • 600+ weekly engagements on social media.
  • The challenge was covered by 17 media outlets, including 3 network news channels.

Volunteer Shout-Out: Lillie Gardner

Meet Lillie Gardner, our social media volunteer for the Twin Cities Veg Fest and Bridges of Respect

Read about her start with CAA, all the ways she has helped out, and what keeps her going.

How did you get involved with CAA?

I got involved with CAA after moving back to Minnesota (my home state) following many years on the East Coast. I was a new vegan and I wanted to get connected with the vegan community in the Twin Cities, so I signed up to volunteer at Twin Cities Veg Fest. From there, I learned about CAA’s Bridges of Respect humane education program and began helping out with classroom visits and social media.

What does your volunteer work entail?

While my volunteer roles with Twin Cities Veg Fest have been varied—everything from zero waste to transportation!—I’m currently the social media coordinator for Twin Cities Veg Fest and for Bridges of Respect. This year, social media has been especially important because it’s one of the only ways we have of connecting with people. Twin Cities Veg Fest would have been happening this month and it’s hard not to gather, but CAA has been working on other initiatives like “Veg Up the Market” with Camden Farmers Market and online cooking classes with Tamuno Imbu. Part of my job is making sure these events are promoted to the Twin Cities Veg Fest community and beyond.

What do you love most about volunteering?

It’s wonderful to connect with other veg-friendly people, and I love being part of an organization that is working to make a better world for animals everywhere. Plus, volunteering with CAA means you always have connections to amazing food!

When you’re not working on CAA activities, what do you like to do?

I’m a piano instructor and writer in St. Paul. I write for animal rights as a fellow with Sentient Media, and as a creative writer I write everything from fiction to screenplays. When I’m not teaching music or writing stories, I’m usually reading a book or taking my diva cat, Ava Gardner, for a walk.

What advice would you give to new vegans?

Stay true to yourself and your values. Our society is designed to encourage you to not be vegan, and sometimes it can feel difficult to stick with what you’re doing—especially if the people around you aren’t understanding or aren’t vegan themselves. Talking with other vegans and connecting with animals can be validating when you need some extra support. (Luckily, we have a few great farm sanctuaries around like Spring Farm Sanctuary, SoulSpace, and Farmaste!) Above all, with yourself as much as with others, be patient and be kind.

October Eats | Vegan Recipe Club

October’s recipes are here! This month, we’re cracking open Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s 2013 classic cookbook, Isa Does It. Start your oven and ready your chopping board…you’re in for some hearty and delicious dishes.

From the publisher: In Isa Does It, the beloved cookbook author shares 150 new recipes to make weeknight cooking a snap. Mouthwatering recipes like Sweet Potato Red Curry with Rice and Purple Kale, Bistro Beet Burgers, and Summer Seitan Saute with Cilantro and Lime illustrate how simple and satisfying meat-free food can be.

The recipes are supermarket friendly and respect how busy most readers are. From skilled vegan chefs, to those new to the vegan pantry, or just cooks looking for some fresh ideas, Isa’s unfussy recipes and quirky commentary will make everyone’s time in the kitchen fun and productive.

You can download this month’s recipes here.

Isa Does It, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2013.

Main recipes:

  • Babushka Borscht, page 41
  • Quinoa Caesar Salad, page 61
  • Tempeh Meatballs & Spaghetti, page 119
  • Banana Berry Scones, page 267

Optional recipes:

  • Red-Hot BLTs, page 96
  • Roasty Soba Bowl, page 192
  • Sesame Tofu, page 239

Vegan Recipe Club meets Tuesday, October 20, on Zoom.

Questions? Email info@exploreveg.org or message us on Facebook.

September Eats | Vegan Recipe Club

September’s Recipes are here! This month, we’re exploring recipes from Bryant Terry’s latest cookbook Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes.

From the Publisher: Food justice activist and author Bryant Terry breaks down the fundamentals of plant-based cooking in Vegetable Kingdom, showing you how to make delicious meals from popular vegetables, grains, and legumes. Recipes like Dirty Cauliflower, Barbecued Carrots with Slow-Cooked White Beans, Millet Roux Mushroom Gumbo, and Citrus & Garlic-Herb-Braised Fennel are enticing enough without meat substitutes, instead relying on fresh ingredients, vibrant spices, and clever techniques to build flavor and texture. 

The book is organized by ingredient, making it easy to create simple dishes or showstopping meals based on what’s fresh at the market. Bryant also covers the basics of vegan cooking, explaining the fundamentals of assembling flavorful salads, cooking filling soups and stews, and making tasty grains and legumes. With beautiful imagery and classic design, Vegetable Kingdom is an invaluable tool for plant-based cooking today.

You can download this month’s recipes here.

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2020.

Main recipes:

  • Caramelized Leek and Seared Mushroom Toast, page 57
  • Roasted Sweet Plantains, Pecan, and Millet Salad, page 150
  • Smashed Peas and Creamy Cauliflower, page 28

Optional recipes:

  • Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Po’boy, page 75
  • Grilled Spring Onions with Lemon-Thyme oil, page 60

Vegan Recipe Club meets Tuesday, September 15 on Zoom, from 6:30-7:30pm.

Questions? Email info@exploreveg.org or message us on Facebook.

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