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Good Science on Vegan Nutrition

Following a plant-based diet is an important tool for reducing animal suffering. But what about human health? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a vegan diet? Unfortunately, there's a lot of bad science out there about nutrition in general and vegan nutrition in specific.

One of our core values at Compassionate Action for Animals is integrity. We want to present the most accurate information available on vegan diets. We need to look at all of the science on the topic, not just those studies that say what we want to hear. By presenting the full picture about veganism we can demonstrate our trustworthiness on this topic and others. When animal advocates are not credible on one topic, people will start to doubt everything they say. After all, if we weren't forthright about nutrition, maybe we're shading the truth about what goes on in factory farms.

With that all said, what do we look for when evaluating information on nutrition? Realistically, very few of us will ever get an advanced degree in biology or dietetics, and even fewer of us will go on to conduct research on vegan diets. We have to rely on experts to do that for us. But lots of people claim to be experts! Who can we trust?

We look for experts who evaluate all of the scientific information on the topic. They don't cherry pick just the studies that support a plant-based diet, they don't exaggerate health claims for plant-based diets, and they don't shy away from the potential problems that come with this diet. A trustworthy expert is never afraid to change their mind in the face of compelling new evidence, and they're willing to call out bad science, even when it comes from within the animal advocacy movement.

Two of our favorite writers working in this area are Jack Norris of Vegan Outreach and Ginny Messina. Both Jack and Ginny take the scientific process seriously and are interested in providing the best facts available about vegan diets.

Together they co-wrote the best contemporary book on vegan nutrition, Vegan for Life. If you're interested in becoming and staying healthy on a plant-based diet, this is a must-read book. We also recommend their blogs, JackNorrisRD.com and TheVeganRD.com. They regularly look at the latest scientific developments in vegan nutrition, answer questions from readers, and provide good recommendations on staying healthy. We also recommend VeganHealth.org, a site Jack Norris maintains. It contains a wealth of articles on a variety of topics related to vegan health.

Because we care about animals, we also need to care for ourselves. When we are living examples of how to be a healthy vegan, our appeals to others for diet change are more effective. We will be much more effective animal advocates when we are prepared to answer basic nutrition questions. The more we know about all of the issues related animals and plant-based diets, the more effective we are as animal advocates.

A Little Vegan Humility

It's tempting to think that living a vegan lifestyle is the ultimate moral choice we can make on behalf of animals. Once we're vegan, we're done. We've done everything that we need to do in order to be good people.

From the high (mock?) horse we're riding on, it can be easy to look down at others. They're just eating less meat, or they're only vegetarian. Clearly they're not as morally refined as us wonderful vegans.

This sort of attitude is quite problematic. If we come across as self-congratulatory and arrogant, it makes it easier for others to dismiss us. How many times have you heard someone complain that they can't stand those "obnoxious vegans"? We've heard that many times at Compassionate Action for Animals, despite our best attempts to fight that stereotype through our words and actions.

But isn't veganism the end-all be-all? Shouldn't we be praised for our excellent ethical decisions?

At Compassionate Action for Animals, we want to praise everyone who has made an effort to help animals. Every time someone chooses to eat fewer animal products, this reduces the amount of animal suffering in the world. We want to support people who care about animals, regardless of what stage they're at on their journey to a fully plant-based diet and lifestyle.

It's important to remember that our goal is to help animals, not to be vegan. If twenty people cut their animal production consumption in half, that's better for animals than one person going vegan. If one vegetarian becomes an activist who spends ten hours a week educating others about factory farming, that does far more for animals than one vegan who does no activism at all.

We also must remind ourselves that veganism is not the best possible world for animals. Plant foods that come to us from industrial farms still come with suffering. Farming equipment like tractors kills animals, especially ground-dwelling animals like mice and rabbits. Transportation of food kills animals and damages the environment.

We could reduce suffering even further if we all did things like grow our own food (without machinery), dumpster dive, and eat road kill. Maybe the dumpster diver with a back yard garden should be looking down at those of us who are vegans.

It's really not possible to live in modern society without contributing to at least some suffering. The best we can do is look for ways to reduce our contribution. We all must find a place where we are comfortable with our choices.

At Compassionate Action for Animals, we advocate for people to move towards a plant-based diet because we think that veganism greatly reduces suffering and is practical for everyone. We advocate veganism with the open recognition that there is always more that can be done to reduce suffering, and we hope that this recognition keeps us humble in our work. When we acknowledge that there is no suffering-free choice, it makes us more approachable and more effective as advocates for animals.

Matching Donation Opportunity

CAA has received a generous offer from an anonymous donor to contribute $15,000 if we can to match this amount. We are asking you, as donors and volunteers, to help us reach this goal. How can you help? 1. Donate, 2. Refer, 3. Ask, or 4. Share

  1. Donate: If you are able to, please make a donation. Your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar.
  2. Refer: Please provide names & contact info of your friends and family members who may be interested in donating to our cause. We promise to only contact these new people once unless they become donors. By simply referring us to new potential donors, we receive $50! If the person you refer us to donates $15 or more, we receive a $100 match! Fill out the form right now!
  3. If you prefer not to provide CAA with another's contact info, we will just ask that you send an email on our behalf (we will provide the template for you). Please email unny@exploreveg.org if you are interested in participating in this way.
  4. Raise awareness about animal cruelty by encouraging people to watch Mercy for Animals' powerful documentary, Farm to Fridge. This documentary shows the brutal realities of modern animal agriculture. You can get us free advertising by 'liking' the video and sharing it with your friends.

This past summer we hosted the first ever Twin Cities Veg Fest. This fantastic event attracted over 1,200 attendees from around the Twin Cities and beyond. Attendees sampled delicious vegan food, heard from inspiring speakers, and learned more about how they can help animals by moving toward a plant-based diet. We received extremely positive feedback from attendees and exhibitors. We're already starting to plan the 2013 event, and we're looking forward to making it even more effective.

This is just one of many exciting activities that your donations help make possible. Help us expand our donor base so we can do even more for animals in 2013.

VegGuide.org is Teaming Up with Compassion Over Killing!

Exciting news: Compassion Over Killing is teaming up with our site VegGuide.org to help provide you with even more vegan resources for dining out.

We are always looking to expand our VegGuide.org website in order to provide you with the most up-to-date and complete resource for veg-friendly dining options. We are excited to announce that Compassion Over Killing is joining us as our newest VegGuide partner.

On VegGuide, you can rate restaurants, share your reviews with others, and add new listings for all the great places you've discovered. If you haven't done so already, you can sign up for a VegGuide.org account to start contributing now!

Compassion Over Killing is a non-profit animal animal advocacy organization that is based out of Washington D.C. CAA has worked with COK on numerous national animal advocacy issues, most recently the We Love Subway campaign which asks the Subway sandwich chain to add more vegan options to its menu, including faux meat options.

COK's executive director Erica Meier was a featured speaker at our inaugural Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2012 and continues to be a big part of our CAA community. We welcome COK as a VegGuide partner, and look forward to their help in spreading the word about VegGuide even further.

Beyond Meat Now Available in the Twin Cities!

Beyond Meat, the newest plant-based meat substitute is now available in Twin Cities Whole Foods markets!

Beyond Meat is a new plant-based meat substitute that is taking vegetarians and omnivores everywhere by surprise! Beyond Meat is at the cutting edge of plant protein research and development, with the goal of replacing animal protein with cruelty-free alternative.

They currently produce one product – Chicken-Free Strips – that can be found in the delis and hot bars of select Twin Cities Whole Foods stores. The product can be found at the Lake Calhoun store in the salad bar and at the St. Paul location in a deli case salad and some of their hot bar dishes. If Whole Foods sees strong customer demand for this product, they will likely incorporate it into more of their prepared food offerings, for example as a pizza topping!

If you want to learn more about Beyond Meat and their product and mission, check out this their Slate article about them that was published last summer.

Mercy for Animals Investigation Exposes Dairy Farm Cruelty

MFA's newest undercover investigation at Idaho's largest dairy facility-a cheese supplier to Burger King and other fast-food chains-reveals workers kicking, beating, shocking, and dragging cows.

Are your Burger King purchases funding horrific animal abuse? A new Mercy For Animals investigation reveals animal abuse at a major Burger King dairy supplier that has led to three workers being charged with cruelty to animals. This undercover investigation documented:

  • Workers and management viciously beating and shocking cows and violently twisting their tails in order to deliberately inflict pain
  • Workers and management repeatedly shocking a downed cow and then dragging her by her neck using a chain attached to a tractor
  • Sick or injured cows suffering from open wounds, broken bones and infected udders left to suffer without proper veterinary care

Please consider choosing vegan options and spreading the word to oppose animal abuse.

Get Recipes from the Veg Week 2012 Cooking Class!

Our cooking class during Veg Week 2012 was a hit! Now you can get the recipes from the cooking class and try your hand at them at home!

During Veg Week 2012, Sarah Lehner taught a vegan cooking class that featured an amazing array of recipes from various global cuisines. Sarah showed students that vegan cooking can be both fun and easy and also that it doesn't have to be expensive. All of the dishes she prepared and demonstrated for the class were packed with flavor and were perfect for the cool weather that is starting to creep up on us. If you missed the class, no worries – below are the three recipes that Sarah presented to the class so you can try your hand at making them in your own kitchen!

Recipes

Veg Week 2012 Wrap-Up

From September 29 through October 7, we held Veg Week. We had 456 people take the Pledge to Be Veg and hosted week-long series of fun and engaging events.

We kicked-off Veg Week with a concert featuring Conjuring Trick and Roe Family Singers, as well as delicious vegan pizza from Pizza Luce. Both of the bands spoke about how important it is to change the way we treat farmed animals and to consider plant-based options. Roe Family Singers played lively and fun music that engaged everybody who came.

We followed up with our first ever Veg Week Feed-In and screening of Vegucated. We served a spaghetti dinner along with vegan 'meatballs' made with Gardein Beefless Tips. Dozens of attendees were fed and shown Vegucated, a documentary that follows three people as they try a vegan diet for the first time for six weeks.

We followed up with a Vegan Bake Sale, a Shop With a Vegan, a dine-out, a Vegan After Dark, and finally a Chicken Sanctuary Tour. The sanctuary tour was an uplifting event where participants met, touched, and fed friendly rescued chickens. We were happy to end Veg Week on a positive note, giving Veg Week participants the opportunity to connect with individual animals.

Pledgers enjoy veg food at the following excellent restaurants (discounts are good through October 13!):

We're hoping to make some big changes to Veg Week 2013, so stay tuned for what's next!

In Memory of Lauren Hanson

A dedicated animal advocate and Compassionate Action for Animals volunteer died last month.

Long time Compassionate Action for Animals volunteer Lauren Hanson died in September. We remember Lauren's passion and upbeat attitude.

Lauren started volunteering in 2008. She planned the Thanksgiving Potluck that year, and the event was a favorite of hers. We are hosting this year's potluck in her honor.

She also planned and volunteered at many other events and projects, including our Banquet, Community Office Open House, staffing our table at Taking Action for Animals, helping out at our conference, Their Lives, Our Voices and volunteering at the Twin Cities Veg Fest. She was planning the Veg Week Feed-In and screening of Vegucated when she died.

She was an energetic volunteer, was consistently positive, and inspired many people to make changes to help animals in their own lives. We will miss her deeply. We will keep her spirit alive by continuing to advocate animals.

From Danielle Smith, CAA Board of Directors:

Hey Lauren,

I've been thinking about you a lot lately, so I decided to write you a little note. I was remembering the Valentine's potluck from a few years back and laughing about some of our conversations. Chatting with you at events was always a highlight. And I was excited to see how involved you were getting with CAA. In fact, I was hoping you'd soon be sitting next to me at board meetings.

I'm sad that we can't get that beer at Triple Rock. I still haven't gone yet and it will feel weird going without you there. And I miss being able to share my new veg adventures with you. My blog is doing well. I held my first contest, I would have loved for you to see it.

As my heart wells up with each line I write, I strongly believe you are with each of us who you've touched. Whenever a memory crosses my mind or if I ever feel a longing for conversation, I know that in some way you are still here, with me, with us all.

I love you very much and wish you eternal peace.

Danielle

From Jon Camp of Vegan Outreach:

I met Lauren just less than three months ago. She was flying into Baltimore to attend the Taking Action For Animals conference in the DC-region. Per the request of CAA's Unny, I agreed to let Lauren stay at my place while she was in town. During the brief time that I spent with her, it didn't take long to realize that she was an especially warm and authentic person, and a lot of fun, to boot!. After the conference, I drove Lauren to the airport, and asked what she thought about the weekend. She raved about how she had met some of the best people she'd ever met — individuals who were not only fun to hang out with, but who shared her deep concern for animals, as well. So I was incredibly saddened to hear that Lauren was no longer with us, as she turning her genuine empathy for animals into concrete action for them. I'm so grateful that I got the chance to meet her this summer, and I'll continue to cherish my car rides and conversations with her. My heart goes out to Lauren, her family, and her loved ones. She is deeply missed.

From Unny Nambudiripad, CAA Executive Director:

I had the pleasure of working with Lauren since she started volunteering and I'm glad I go the chance to know her. We had so much fun and her energy and enthusiasm were an inspiration to me. We shared a similar joy in being animal advocates, and her loss has touched me deeply.

Vegan Food Showcase Contributors

Generous donations from the following companies made the September 11 Food Showcase a success. Please support them buy purchasing their tasty vegan products!

Do you want to find tasty alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs? Look no further! The following companies have a wide variety of products free of animal products:

Thanks to the generosity of VegFund, we served additional Gardein products as well as Silk soymilk.

Each of these companies donated generously to our Vegan Food Showcase, which we reported on a couple weeks ago. Thanks!

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Upcoming Events

Saturday, December 29, 2018

December Holiday Potluck: Hotdish

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January Dine-Out: Trio Plant-based

Saturday, February 9, 2019

February Dine-Out: Seed Cafe