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Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 5

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Jodi Miller Gruhn

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I work on social strategy and spreading the word about Twin Cities Veg Fest. My goal this year is to increase engagement on the festival social media channels by delivering interesting content and experimenting to see what drives engagement.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I’d been following CAA ongoings and work for years and had attended the festival in the past. I often felt the tug to get involved and I finally jumped in last year! 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

What I love most about the festival is seeing in real time just how much plant-based has caught on. People are incredibly curious to learn more and try new foods—they are genuinely excited to be there! I also love that the festival embraces people wherever they are and for whatever the reason is that fuels their interest in the festival.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I had been vegetarian for many years and had never really thought I’d go fully plant-based. Quite honestly what drew me to becoming 100% plant-based was social media. Social media brought me information that had always been accessible, but delivered it directly to me. I could no longer deny or ignore the truths that were presented to me each time I checked my feed. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

Life has been over taken by the purchase and slow renovation of a big mid-century modern house “with potential.” My vision for this home is to make it a hub for beautiful plant-based dinner parties and events with the goal of making plant-based more accessible to my amazing network of human beings.

Maggie Simmons

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am the Instagram Coordinator!

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

Got involved with CAA in 2017 when I first moved to Minnesota and my first activity was handing out Twin Cities Veg Fest fliers with Sarah Matanah!

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

My favorite part of the festival is seeing everyone enjoying and loving all different kinds of vegan food. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I am drawn to the veg lifestyle out of the desire to cause the least amount of harm possible to animals and the planet. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am the Communications and Marketing Associate for KIPP Minnesota, a charter school region. I enjoy running, swimming, reading, cooking, and playing with my PUPPY!

Dyne Stephenson

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I am the Food Vendor Coordinator. I have been focusing on sending out recruitment e-mails to past and possible new vendors, answering questions, etc. We aimed to recruit more minority-owned food vendors this year.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I have been involved with CAA since 2013 after having Bridges of Respect speak to my high school students. After volunteering for a number of CAA activities, I volunteered as the Speaker Coordinator for the Twin Cities Veg Fest committee in 2017. The last two years I have been the Food Vendor Coordinator on the committee.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

My favorite part of Twin Cities Veg Fest has always been the food choices. It was very satisfying last year to be a part of the food vendor recruitment and then to see all the vendors at Harriet Island. I’m looking forward to seeing it all again but in even greater numbers this year.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I met my lovely wife-to-be, Roberta, in 1989 and she was vegetarian. A big influence but what pushed me over the edge was when we went to see Alex Pacheco, co-founder of PETA, speak in Colorado 28 years ago and he had a slide show. I went vegan that night. The biggest part for me has always been not participating in animal mistreatment, torture, and death, and trying to influence others to feel the same.  

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a Social Studies and Personal Finance teacher at an alternative school in the Robbinsdale School District. I have two sons, Nations (24) and Henry (16). I enjoy tennis, disc golf, reading, walking, cycling, kayaking, playing guitar, and hanging with Roberta, Henry, and my three cat companions.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

Green is the New Black

Can’t wait for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019? Looking for something to do this Thursday night? Look no further!!

Twin Cities Veg Fest and CAA are proud to be partnering with The New Market and Keiko’s Kitchen to present Green is the New Black: A Plant- Based Popup this Thursday, August 29.

The New Market is looking ahead at planning a number of pop-ups and we’re excited that their first one centers around the plant-based movement! Here’s what they have to say about the event:

The black plant-based movement is one of the most diverse, decolonial, complex and creative movements in the country, and we want to showcase the beauty in our local plant-based community of MSP through this one night only market and popup event.

While vegan often tells you what something “isn’t”, plant-based tells you what something “is” — in our case, plant-based is delicious, defined by showcasing plant ingredients at their best. We’ll have southern style boiled peanuts next to a one of a kind Somalian spice blend, down the aisle from a farmer selling produce at her farm’s peak seasonality. We’re not asking anyone to be 100% plant-based; instead, our market showcases excellent black-owned businesses who identify with what their food is — good for our bodies, good for our planet, and good for our communities. It just happens to be plant-based.

The New Market

Here’s a preview of what’s in store for you Thursday night.

At Green is the New Black, Keiko’s Kitchen will be taking over the Breaking Bread kitchen to serve an amazing alkaline, plant-based taco bar—available for one night only. You won’t want to miss their Walnut Taco “Meat,” Jackfruit Barbacoa, Spanish Quinoa, Refried Chickpeas, Sautéed Nopales, Fajita Mix, Pico De Gallo, and Habanero Salsa—YUM!

Other businesses will vend food and non-food products like plant-based beard oil and body creams, just outside the door on the patio and into the parking lot. This market is brought to you in a unique collaboration between The New Market, Twin Cities Veg Fest, and Great Streets Minneapolis. Come stretch your legs before the festival at this one-night-only event and catch all of these awesome local businesses in one place!

The New Market is pop-up market series with black owned businesses reimagining commerce and community. Nationally, African American buying power has reached 1.2 Trillion, and yet only 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to black-owned businesses. While a dollar circulates for 17 days in the white community, it only circulates for 6 hours in the black community. By gathering black-owned businesses and black entrepreneurs with startup ideas, we re-ignite historical trends of sustainable economics, and vibrant communities, and re-orient our Minneapolis markets around circulating dollars within the black community.

Twin Cities Veg Fest is a project of Compassionate Action for Animals, a Twin Cities-based animal advocacy organization established in 1998. At Compassionate Action for Animals, we encourage people to cultivate empathy for animals and move toward a plant-based diet. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Keiko’s Kitchen is comfort foods made alkaline and 100% plant based.

Other Market Vendors: 
Life Juices
Trio Plant Based
Keiko’s Kitchen
Bunka Tea
Nature’s Syrup
baby bonito
Adorn By Kella
K’s Revolutionary Catering
Posh Twenty4 LLC
Mr. Audley Rolle’s Island Fusion Hot Sauce
Wilson’s Image Barbers & Stylists
Rob’s Boiled Peanuts
Green Garden Bakery
Kalahari Peanut Brittle
Jay Jay’s Jams and Such

Head on over to Breaking Bread Cafe on August 29th, from 5-8PM (1200 West Broadway Minneapolis MN 55411) to enjoy the plant-based popup restaurant and night market!

Vegan Eats at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Who wants some strawberries and creme?? The Minnesota State Fair (August 22nd to Sept 2nd) is rolling around again. Although the glorification of animal agriculture presents a moral quandary (or quandairy if you will) for many vegans, supporting the vegan options if you do attend is a clear decision for your moral compass and, alluringly, your taste-buds.

Tried and true mainstays, French Meadow and Harry Singh’s Caribbean, coupled with stereotypical fair cuisine, like fried fruit on-a-stick and grilled peaches make for an attractive variety of vegan food for this year’s fair.

Here is the map with UMN CAA’s top vegan food picks for the 2019 fair. 

The Minnesota State Fair has plenty of options that secretly are already or can be made vegan if you know where to look! Please note: Brim’s ‘Sota Sandwich is made with bread containing honey and is not vegan.

Psst! For other State Fair selects, check out Bite Sized Beet’s tried and true guide to vegan-friendly fair eats (now updated through 2019), City Pages’ MN State Fair Foods, and make sure to check out the winner of this year’s MN State Fair Vegan Main Dish competition.

Getting to Twin Cities Veg Fest

Twin Cities Veg Fest is coming up on Sunday, September 15! Do you know how you’re going to get to Harriet Island Park in St. Paul?

Biking, walking, and arriving by car are all options, and we’re most excited to announce that our Zero-Waste Sponsor, Metro Transit, will be offering free rides from Union Depot to the festival!

Click here to claim your pass for a free ride to and from the festival!

You can combine transportation modes to get to the festival—hop on a light rail to Union Station and then take the shuttle from Union Station to Harriet Island Park and enjoy the festival!

Riding with Metro Transit is an awesome way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as the festival’s AND if you drive, it means you can spend more time at the festival rather than looking around for a place to park! We hope you’ll consider riding with our Zero-Waste Sponsor to this year’s festival.

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 4

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Michelle Shaw

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Welcome and Accessibility Coordinator, and before I state anything else, it’s important to identify that we are occupying the original homeland of the Dakhota and Anishinaabe people. Recognizing my role in that as a white woman and being inclusive of all of the incredible communities we have is important to me. Plus, it’s part of the volunteering that I do when I’m not helping to organize Twin Cities Veg Fest. Looking at diversity intentionally from every angle as a planning committee is something that we are working on. Whether that be reaching out to potential vendors and sponsors that are BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color), or musicians. Or perhaps we need to be making sure people have the resources to participate in Twin Cities Veg Fest in the first place by partnering with NEON and Appetite for Change. Or it’s possible we may need to look at it in a different way by bringing part of the festival TO a community rather than expect them to come to us. 

Like in the case of North Minneapolis, we can’t expect people to travel all the way to Harriet Island for food that might be completely out of their comfort zone. Working two jobs and putting food on the table might take precedence over getting there too. So what do you do? The first step is to create relationships with nonprofits and community members in that part of the community, and work with them to create an event that will be right there in North Minneapolis. We hope you’ll join us for that event on the evening of August 29 for Green is the New Black: A Plant-based Pop-up Market at Breaking Bread Cafe with some Twin Cities Veg Fest vendors and a few new ones. I’m really excited about it, and we want you all to be there!

It’s also my job to make sure we are making the festival as accessible as possible. That means different things for different people. For some, it’s about making sure people who have a hidden disability (like myself) have a place to sit at different parts of the festival because they need to take a break. For others it might be needing a sensory space to get away from the noise or it might mean needing to have all of the vendors facing the sidewalk so that they can easily access them all. Plus, if someone needs to bring their service or therapy animal, we have a space for them to rest and get water. Disability parking is another accommodation. The other piece is we need to make sure everyone knows we have all of these accommodations, so check out our website to find out what they are. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I first started volunteering back in 2017 when I helped out with the cooking demos and sharing samples with people. Laura and I were talking about ideas I had for accessibility for 2018, and suddenly, a new role for Twin Cities Veg Fest was born. However, I first started going to the festival back when it was a really small event in the basement at the University of Minnesota. For a few years anyway, there’d be samples of Peanut Butter Company’s White Chocolate Wonderful and all their other yummy concoctions. Even better, they’d have coupons! I have no idea what year that was, but if Unny can determine what year we were able to move around freely without much of a crowd, I’m guessing it was one of the first. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I’m really excited about Green is the New Black: A Plant-based Pop-up Market on August 29. Cheese curds at Radical Eats and chicken wings at These Wingz? from Chicago are two of my festival favorites! Also, this will be the first year that we have American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for our cooking demos and speakers, and I’m really happy that we can partner with Fairview to offer ASL. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I had a couple friends in college who were vegetarian, but it was really my senior year in college that did it. In 1992, I traveled to Moscow, Russia, with a group of people taking supplies for orphanages and hospitals. The Russians could hardly afford any food at all and were so skinny, yet we were being fed like royalty with horsemeat and borscht. I was absolutely repulsed and ate very little on that trip but a couple cheeseburgers at McDonald’s. When I got back to the United States, that experience made it easy for me to stop eating every kind of animal. At that time, I still didn’t understand how the dairy and egg industries were contributing to murder. I thought it was merely confinement and limiting freedom (which was still enough to make me stop eating them). But as time went on, I learned that the males were quickly killed after birth (since they couldn’t be used for producing eggs or milk). Or they were kept alive for a few months and inhumanely raised as broiler chickens or calves for veal before being slaughtered. For me, it was all about the animals and eliminating their suffering. I had to stop using animal products in every part of my life and that included feeding my dogs a veg diet too (which they love love love!). It’s startling how much of an impact eating animals has on the planet, though, and it’s only in the last year that I started learning what those facts really are. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

Oh boy! My dogs would say I spend too much time on the computer. Buddie always stands on me and gives me kisses when it’s time to take a doggy break, so he and Speckles are definitely the highlights of my day. I’ve been on disability for a long time, so I’m starting to figure out what I can physically do again, if it’s not teaching in the classroom anymore. Volunteering to stop Line 3 in northern Minnesota is important to me, in addition to teaching people about the connection between the foods we choose to eat and how that impacts climate change. In other words, please eat plant rich foods and check out Drawdown for environmental reasons to add to reasons of compassion for animals! I also spend some time engaging with environmental justice issues like collaborating with local Indigenous people to create a land acknowledgment statement for cities and nonprofits to use at the beginning of their meetings. The most recent issue that has come up is the Rights of Nature for the Mississippi River. If we could give the Mississippi the same rights we have as people or the same rights a corporation has, that would be incredible. As a teacher, I was always teaching my students the skills for changing the world, and without that path in life, it’s taken me a long while to figure out what my purpose is. I’m pretty sure I’m getting there now. 

Laura Matanah

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role is to support the chair and assistant chair with both the big picture of the festival—helping it expand and become more impactful each year,  making sure that the committee as a whole is tracking the nitty-gritty details, and ensuring that the festival supports CAA’s mission to help people embrace their empathy for animals and move towards a plant-based diet.  This year I’m especially focused on improving our sponsorship packages and relationships, as well as our support of volunteers.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I was hired just before the 2016 festival, so got to see that festival day-of behind the scenes. 2017, the year we moved outside, was my first year helping to organize the entire thing.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

My favorite part of the festival is the sheer joy of having an entire festival focused on a compassionate lifestyle, and how happy everyone there is. This year there’s going to be a lot that’s new:

  • Music will become central to the festival experience, and the after-party is going to have some truly awesome and more well known bands
  • Speakers will get more attention as they’ll be on the main stage, alternating with music
  • Cooking demos will have an exciting new set up with bleachers looking down on the action
  • Sponsors and volunteers will get access to an indoor rest and relaxation area, and there’s a great new set of sponsorship benefits, including lunch delivered to your booth
  • Greyhounds available for adoption will join us, and there will be many new food options like wood fired pizza and waffles

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

The fabulous community at Compassionate Action for Animals, CAA, opened my heart to animal suffering, and empowered me to start speaking out to end it.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

Biking, board games, books, and hanging out with family and friends.

___________

Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

The 2019 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award Goes To…

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 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 Shannon Kimball and the Bridges of Respect program. This volunteer-run program has provided free humane education presentations in the Twin Cities for twenty years.

Students pose with program leader Shannon Kimball (top right) after a presentation.
Shannon speaks about the Bridges program with help from volunteers at the Compassionate Action for Animals annual banquet.

The program has reached over 38,000 students since its inception. After a presentation about the program at the Compassionate Action for Animals banquet, one guest came up to program leader Shannon Kimball and said, “You presented to my class at Century College—and what I learned helped me commit to a vegan lifestyle!”

Students after a Bridges of Respect presentation with plant-based food samples

Originally started by Freeman Wicklund, the program was taken over by Shannon Kimball several years later, and is now a program of Compassionate Action for Animals. Compassionate Action for Animals will present Shannon with the award at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019 on September 15 at Harriet Island Park. The award presentation will take place on the So Good So You Main Stage just after a performance from singer-songwriter Mary Bue. 


This award honors the memory of animal lover Kenny Feldman. He thought animals were to be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. Kenny was a close friend of Compassionate Action for Animals co-founder and first Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad. He inspired Unny to become an activist. Sadly, we lost Kenny to suicide 19 years ago. From that tragic loss, we were moved to establish this annual award to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who strive to create a more compassionate world.

The Feldman family wants to thank CAA, Unny Nambudiripad, and current Executive Director Laura Matanah for helping preserve Kenny’s memory and continuing his legacy of being an animal lover and activist in animal rights campaigns. To find out more about Kenny, visit the Remembering Kenny Feldman Facebook page.

Vegan Recipe Club — Preparing for August

If you attended our first Vegan Recipe Cookbook Club in July, thank you. If you didn’t attend and are not sure what it is or who it’s for check out our first blog post.

Our next Vegan Recipe Cookbook Club meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 6:30pm at the East Lake Library. This month’s recipes are simple and easy to make. You can pick up the recipe pack in person from the library or download them here for use at home.

This month we will explore a few more recipes from “The Vegucation of Robin” by Robin Quivers and Rachel Holtzman and we’ve also picked a cookbook from Angela Liddon, of the Oh She Glows Blog—one of her first recipe collections, “The Oh She Glows Cookbook” from 2014.

The chilled cucumber mint soup is perfect for the summer heat we’ve been experiencing in the Midwest.

The Vegucation of Robin is as much a personal lifestyle book as it is a collection of recipes. It shouldn’t be lost to anyone that the subtitle of her book is “How Real Food Saved My Life.” Robin Quivers’ switch to a vegan or plant-based diet was a fundamental part her health-improvement goals. While going through the recipes, you may notice that some of the ingredients might be hard to come by at our typical midwest grocery store or farmers market. This might force us to substitute a few of the ingredients for items more readily available near us or during the season. Below is a list of where to look for some of the more difficult to find ingredients.

  • Fennel Bulbs — normally available at Trader Joe’s
  • Cara Cara Orange — at most Cub Grocery stores
  • Pomegranate seeds — at most Cub Grocery stores (with pre-packaged items)
  • Blood Oranges — Lund Byerly’s (in season)
  • Also get to know the produce manager at your favorite grocery store, they might just order that hard to find item for you.

If you decide to try the Fruity Freezer Pops optional recipe this month, small paper cups make great disposable molds for your freezer pops.

Have fun trying any of the recipes and come to the meeting on the 20th to tell us what you learned and share your knowledge with other interested cooks!

“The Vegucation of Robin”

Quivers, Robin, and Rachel Holtzman. The Vegucation of Robin, 2013
At Amazon.com

optional

  • Scallion – Tomato Tofu Scramble, page 211
  • Fruity Freezer Pops, page 221

“The Oh She Glows Cookbook”

Liddon, Angela. The Oh She Glows Cookbook, 2014
At Amazon.com

optional

Reflections on the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

Each year, the Animal Rights National Conference is held to connect animal activists so that we can share experiences and victories from the past year, ideas, and more with each other. We are a growing movement, and there is always room for us to work better together to change the lives of animals and the world for the better.

Read on to hear about some of the reflections and experiences our group had at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference.

________________

Julie with Justin at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my second year attending the conference. I find the experience of being around hundreds of like-minded advocates incredibly energizing and inspiring. One of the most memorable pieces of the conference for me was a session by Mercy for Animals called Measuring and Evaluating our Impact. This session gave me ideas for how we at CAA can quantify and communicate the real change we are making for farmed animals. After the conference ended, we visited Poplar Spring Sanctuary to enjoy some much-needed time with the animals. It was the cherry on top of an amazing vegan sundae!

Julie Knopp

Yunuén with a resident at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

On July 25th-28th, I was privileged to attend the 10th Annual Animal Rights Conference. I mean it when I say this: it was a life-changing experience. 


I’ve been vegan for over seven years now. This whole time, I felt that I was doing “enough” in my vegan lifestyle—simply by not: consuming, wearing, buying, or using products tested on animals when in fact, veganism is more than just that. There’s politics and realities behind veganism that I feel have always been right in front of me, but I never stopped to listen or acknowledge them. I’ve always been the passive activist that occasionally shares the realities in the cruelties behind animal consumption or exploitation. My friends and family know that I don’t consume any animal products, but I haven’t gotten in depth as to the the big question, “But why not?” The workshops and plenaries helped me learn how to answer those questions and how to live by it. The love and passion that other vegans shared during the conference rubbed off on me and helped me strive to be on “their level.” I used to say that we should advocate for the voiceless, but I learned that just because we can’t speak or understand an animal’s language, doesn’t mean that they’re mute. It simply means that we just need to stop, breathe, and listen. The hands-on workshops, along with the #ImNotLovinIt Campaign silent protest I participated in was exhilarating. My original reasoning behind adopting, adapting, and transforming my life into veganism wasn’t just due to the yummy vegan foods. Knowing me, I love to fight for what’s right and and thankful for CAA sponsoring my attendance at the Animal Rights National Conference. They added fuel to the fire that ignites within me for my Animal Friends and Mother Earth. 


If you’re considering attending next year’s Animal Rights National Conference (ARNC), PLEASE communicate your interest to Laura Matanah, CAA Director. You will NOT regret it.

Yunuén Ávila

Lydia with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my first time attending the National Animal Rights Conference. It was extremely rewarding to learn about the different facets and methods of activism in the animals rights movement. I also really enjoyed getting to meet people from different walks of life, who all shared a common passion. It is an experience that I am grateful to have had, and I hope to continue attending Animal Rights conferences in the years to come! 

Lydia Green

Josh with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

As a first-time attendee to the conference and as someone new to the movement, I enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and sense of community that was present. I was surprised by how accessible leaders of organizations were, many making themselves available to chat between sessions. It created a sense of immediacy to their causes, such as Shirley McGreal’s International Primate Protection League, where I was able to talk with her directly about the work she’s doing with primates. I feel that after the conference I am more prepared to speak to the causes I am fighting for and left with a clearer idea of how to find my path forward as an individual activist and volunteer promoting animal rights. 

Josh Truong

On returning home after the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

Each year, the Animal Rights National Conference is held to connect animal activists so that we can share experiences and victories from the past year, ideas, and more with each other. We are a growing movement, and there is always room for us to work better together to change the lives of animals and the world for the better.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing reflections from other volunteers who attended this year’s Animal Rights National Conference. We can’t wait for you to hear about their experiences at the conference and what they learned!

________________

Written by Laura Matanah

I always appreciate the chance to connect with and learn from animal activists from around the country, sharing both our joys and sorrows. I also really enjoyed being at the conference with Abi, Lydia, Yunuén, Julie and Josh, and getting to hear their reactions and perspectives.

I learned a lot from the VegFund sponsored Strategic Communications workshop and Aph Ko’s plenary speech on new perspectives on animal rights that I’ll apply to our work.

The successes we’re experiencing as a movement in getting vegan products to go mainstream is inspiring! 

Laura Matanah and Unny Nambudiripad accepting the VegFund Award

It was also inspiring to receive VegFund‘s award for CAA’s vegan activism with past director Unny Nambudiripad, and to have the 119 projects that we’d completed with their support over 10 years recognized.

I left with lots of energy to work with you to keep the momentum rolling!

Volunteer Shout-Out: 2019 Festival Planning Committee – Part 3

Dedication, creative vision, and passion. The Twin Cities Veg Fest planning committee is short on none, and it shows—our festival has grown to be the largest Veg Fest in the Midwest, attracting over 9,000 attendees in 2018.

Some members are serving on the committee for the first time, while others have returned to help make this year’s festival the biggest and best yet and they can’t wait for you to experience it. This week, meet part of the team behind this year’s festival.

Lydia Green

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m the Sponsorship Coordinator. My primary focus is to recruit sponsors from past and new exhibitors as well as research and pursue new sponsorship opportunities. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

This is my first year volunteering with the Twin Cities Veg Fest and I was looking for options to get more involved. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

This is my first time volunteering, and I’m looking forward to a fun and successful Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I was drawn to the vegan lifestyle for a number of reasons—animal rights, the environment, and health. About four years ago, I essentially went vegan overnight after watching a speech by Gary Yourofsky

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I work full-time for a local nonprofit. I also enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and traveling. 

Fred Tio

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

I’m coordinating the electrical needs for the festival. My focus for this year is to design a new electrical plan, as we are using different areas of Harriet Island park. This gives us the opportunity to use permanent power and eliminate the use of generators.

My goal is that this new electrical design can be easily expanded to serve the growing needs of the festival. 

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I simply asked if they needed help with the electrical for last year’s festival and I had a few friends also helping.

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival?

For several years I was involved with the Jaycees. They did all kinds of projects, the biggest was the Tunnel of Terror. My favorite parts of the are the food and friends.

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

About four years ago I watched Forks Over Knives and changed diet with in a week. Six months later I joined a meetup group called “Everyone Vegan”. From there I met others in CAA.

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

In my working life, I’m an electrician. In my spare time, I’m the treasurer for my local 12 step Intergroup. I enjoy camping, getting on my bicycle during the warm weather, and spending time with my new partner Suzanne and other folks in the vegan/plant-based world.

Emma Cameron

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

My role is the Non-Foods Exhibitor Coordinator. I recruit and follow up with all potential exhibitors, ranging from animal non-profits, to clothing vendors, and more!  

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

I got involved through seeing the Facebook post advertising the recruitment of folks to the planning committee. This is my first year helping out with Twin Cities Veg Fest. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I’ve actually never been to the festival before! My first time attending will also be my first time helping to plan it. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

I was drawn to helping animals when I was 15 years old in 2008, which led me in quick succession to try vegetarianism, veganism, and then becoming more active for animals through volunteering. Fun fact: I was first motivated to take animals off my plate when I watched videos of undercover investigation footage from Mercy For Animals, and I now work full-time at the organization in campaigns! 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

As I mentioned above, my career is in animal advocacy—I currently work at Mercy For Animals. I’m also a passionate long-distance runner, in the form of training for ultramarathons. I had a 50 mile race in mid-July and then my first 100 mile race slated for October of this year!

Arthur Goldstein

What’s your role on the festival planning committee?

As CAA’s Tech lead, I help ensure that the website is running.

How did you get involved with Twin Cities Veg Fest?  

As Outdoor Activities volunteer, I plan to set up volleyball and other sports and games at the festival. 

If you’ve been or helped organize before, what is your favorite part of the festival and what, if anything, is going to be different this year? 

I told Laura that I thought there should be volleyball at the festival. I set it up in 2018. I’m not sure yet what will be different but am open to suggestions. 

What (or who) drew you to living a veg lifestyle?

My uncle helped inspire me to become a vegetarian. 

When you’re not working on planning the festival, what are you up to?  

I am a software developer and am involved with Toastmasters. I like to visit New Jersey where I lived for many years and want to be doing more outdoors.

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Twin Cities Veg Fest is our biggest event of the year, and we need lots of enthusiastic volunteers to help make it a success. Sign up here to be a volunteer and help make this awesome vegan Minnesota get together happen!

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Upcoming Events

Friday, September 20, 2019 - Sunday, October 20, 2019

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

October Dine-Out: J-Selby’s

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween Vegan Bake Sale

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Cookin’ Good with Coco & Lala

Friday, November 8, 2019

Video Outreach