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Helping Farmers Go Plant-Based

By Cassie Douglas, CAA volunteer

It’s no secret that small, family-owned farms are struggling to stay afloat, especially in recent years. This is especially true for smaller farms with business models that rely on animals and depend on the market for animals or animal products. Factory farms now account for 99% of the farmed animals in the United States.1 That means intense pricing pressures for farmers who attempt to compete in this space.   

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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

The 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge winning dish: Root to Rise's jackfruit wingz with rice and vegetables.

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!

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Upcoming Events

Sunday, April 18, 2021 - Sunday, April 25, 2021

Twin Cities VegWeek 2021; Get 15% Off at Local Restaurants!

Monday, April 19, 2021

UMN Student Group Meeting

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Vegan Recipe Club via Zoom

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Film Screening: Dominion