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Volunteer Shout-Out: Meet Breanna Knutson

Breanna Knutson is a frequent volunteer with CAA. She was assistant to the chairs for the 2021 Twin Cities Veg Fest, and most recently, she’s been helping us with the logistics of getting more than 2,000 Postcards for Animals out to volunteers and members of the community. Read on to find out more about Breanna’s passion for eating plant-based and what inspired her to get involved with CAA.

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Volunteer Shout-Out: Meet Chris Krull

Chris Krull volunteers with CAA on our tech team. He is one of a group of volunteers who help manage issues related to our websites and servers. We’re grateful to people like Chris who contribute their time and specialized knowledge to make sure CAA’s “behind the scenes” is on point. Read more about Chris and find out what inspires him to volunteer his technology skills.

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We’re Hiring a Part-Time Program Assistant

Program Assistant

Position Overview

Compassionate Action for Animals (CAA) is currently hiring a 10-hours-per-week Program Assistant to begin in February 2022, with a pay rate of $15 per hour. This role offers an opportunity to expand advocacy for farmed animals in the Twin Cities metro and greater Minnesota. This position can be done entirely in the CAA office and at event locations, or can be done as a hybrid of office, home, and on-location work. 

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Volunteer Shout-Out: Meet Maya Ulrich

CAA Volunteer, Maya Ulrich, has contributed to a better world for humans and animals in so many ways. From writing features for our Twin Cities Veg Living magazine to helping coordinate social media for the Explore Veg program, Maya has frequently been an important part of moving our work forward. Read on to find out more about Maya’s interests and passions for creating a healthier environment and a more just society.

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Vegan Meet Up at InfusedLife Plant Based Emporium

On a brisk winter evening I had the pleasure of joining a vegan meet up at InfusedLife Plant Based Emporium. On this particular day I had called ahead and ordered a spiced rum apple pie! Made with pecan crust, with delicious spiced apples at the center, topped with a grain free granola with more pecans coconut and almonds.

Often living a plant-based lifestyle means you have to pay attention to ingredients in your favorite treats but when that sweet tooth craving hits you must obey and finding delicious plant-based sweets can be daunting in Minneapolis. It was such a wonderful experience walking into the warm establishment with all the eye grabbing artwork to the smell of delightful dishes. When I seen Infused Plant-Based Emporium were offering pies during the holiday season I could not wait to taste this pie posted on their Instagram @infusedlife.

So much that I instantly called to pre-purchase my spice rum plant base pie only to find out that they wasn’t open today and I had to wait till tomorrow!!! It was a delight to stumble upon the vegan meet up.

The owner, , was happy to have a store full of guests and was skilled in delivering Customer Service, welcoming us all and making each one of us feel her welcoming arms.

Slideshow: 2021 ThanksLiving

This year’s ThanksLiving celebration was a multi-faceted affair! It included food pickup in the Twin Cities, groups dining together at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College, and a potluck in Saint Cloud — all brought together with a fun Zoom call for everybody. We’re grateful for everyone who showed up.

An extra special thanks to Insane Vegan for catering, Mary Bue and Thandisizwe Jackson Nisan for performing, and to our ThanksLiving volunteer committee for coordinating such a great day. Check out the ThanksLiving slideshow below to revisit the memories from our compassionate holiday event.

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Volunteer Shout-Out: Meet the ThanksLiving Planning Committee

If you attended any of the ThanksLiving activities last month, including our wonderful Zoom call with entertainment, this volunteer committee made it happen. From managing food pickup and delivery to figuring out all the details of the program and more, this delightful group of people flexed their coordination skills. Find out who they are and why they chose to get involved.

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Thanksgiving Gratitude from Isolation

by Laura Matanah, Executive Director

As the Executive Director of Minnesota’s largest farmed animal advocacy organization, I can’t help but reflect on the ways my experience of isolation following a positive COVID test is similar and different to the life of a turkey raised for the Thanksgiving table. To help us picture an individual, I’ll use the name Big Tom. I got this name from the name of the giant sculpted turkey outside of Frazee, MN. (Why is the sculpture there? Minnesota produces 45 million turkeys a year, more than any other state). Here I’ll describe the life of the Big Tom who lives in one of the sheds just off Minnesota Highway 10.

Frazee, Minnesota’s “Big Tom” sculpture

Big Tom and I are both closed off from the rest of the world. I have to be alone, but I’m in my comfortable room. My isolation lasts only ten days. My family helps from beyond the door. Big Tom has been in the same windowless shed since he was a young poult. Rather than being alone, he’s with thousands of other birds.The only light he gets is artificial, turned on to encourage him to eat, but kept low to discourage fighting with the stressed males around him. Droppings aren’t cleaned until after the turkeys leave for slaughter, so after four months, it reeks of ammonia despite the ventilation.

Big Tom gets disease protection from the antibiotics in his feed, a practice which also weakens the protection humans get from antibiotics. (In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines calling for the elimination of routine use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, including for disease prevention purposes, but the U.S. has taken no action.)

But those antibiotics won’t protect him from the virus stalking him: bird flu. Bird Flu is now starting to outbreak in Europe and Asia. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/15/bird-flu-europe-asia) Frighteningly, it could become our next pandemic as well. The CDC is already preparing. (https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/us-cdc-prepares-potential-bird-flu-outbreak)

Many of us here in Minnesota get to see turkeys in the wild, and know they generally live in groups. Mothers and their young band together, living communally. This is a bit like my multi-generational household: all of us get more adults to share the responsibility of raising the young. Turkeys like Big Tom don’t get maternal care, however, just an incubator replaced by a shed filled with other un-mothered young like themselves.

Big Tom’s food and water wouldn’t vary, but would be steady. Because, of course, the point is for Big Tom to grow, and grow fast. If a human baby grew at the same rate as Big Tom, it would weigh 1,500 pounds by the age of 18 weeks!

Due to this high rate of growth, Big Tom is at high risk for abnormal gait, hip lesions, and skeletal disease. And if these issues eventually make it hard for him to get to his food and drink? Well, vet care for these issues isn’t cost effective, and losses are part of the business model.

Penny, who lived at Spring Farm Sanctuary, in Long Lake, got to live a very different life. There, his cognition, emotions, personality, and sociality were valued. His caregivers knew how to read her emotions by looking at his snood (the piece of flesh that dangles a bit over and alongside the beak). He could be with other birds and humans when he wished or retreat to his own private space of his own choosing, just like I can when not in isolation.

Due to antibiotics, bird flu, and the damage being done to human health by the overconsumption of animal products, our well being and that of Minnesota 45 million turkeys are intertwined. Processed turkey (cold cuts) have been determined to be a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (https://www.iarc.who.int/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr240_E.pdf). Research shows that leaving Big Tom off our plate is likely to improve our personal health– now, not just in a future in which we are able to count on antibiotics and don’t suffer a bird flu pandemic.

According to the American Dietetic Association, shifting plant-based can help slow or reverse issues like heart disease and diabetes. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19562864/). Many consumers are making the change, with the Hartman group reporting that nearly half of consumers look for foods labeled “plant-based” when shopping. (https://www.ift.org/news-and-publications/food-technology-magazine/issues/2021/august/columns/consumer-trends-plant-based-food-market)

As we approach this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my returning health, my family, and wealth of delicious plant-based dishes that can help us to spare Big Tom from a lifetime of suffering by leaving him off our plates.

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Monday, July 4, 2022

Vegan 4th of July Potluck

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2022