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Clara Junemann has been our social media coordinator for the 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge. Learn what she loves about being a volunteer and find out what she recommends to kick vegan dishes up a notch.
Meet Hannah Baker, one of the social media response volunteers for Compassionate Action for Animals. Learn about her work with us and what tips she has for people who are just getting started with plant-based eating.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Cookie Cart is a youth employment program in the Twin Cities that provides teens 15 to 18 years old with meaningful work, life, and leadership skills through paid work experience and training. This year’s stay-at-home requirements meant that youth have been working mostly virtually, and CAA has played a vital role in providing those experiences.
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.