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Who is the Twin Cities Veg Fest For?

Twin Cities Veg Fest in action

After last year's festival we got a lot of positive feedback. We were told that we should "have one ever year". Ok, done. One person said that it was "very informative and educational". Great, that's our goal!

But of course, the love wasn't universal. For example, one person wanted "speakers geared towards more experienced vegans/vegetarians". But here's what we wish someone had told us: "I'm already vegan and I came to this event but I didn't learn anything new."

If you're vegan, that's great! Thank you for making compassionate choices. You've already done a great deal to help reduce the number of animals suffering needlessly in factory farms. But when we consider who the festival is for, we have to ask ourselves how we can reduce that suffering even more.

So who is the Twin Cities Veg Fest for? It's for people who are still eating animal products, of course. If we want to make a further change beyond our own diet, we need to reach out to people who are in the best position to help animals, the people still eating them. The goal of the Twin Cities Veg Fest is to showcase the thriving, warm, fun community of people who care about animals in the region. We also want to provide powerful information on the realities of factory farming and how each individual can help animals simply by moving towards a vegan diet. That is the thinking that drives every decision we make about the festival. We want to make this an event for everyone, but especially for people who aren't yet vegan.

If you're reading this, it's likely that you already know a lot of the information we'll present at the festival. The speakers' presentations may seem too basic, the products we present may not be new to you. But for people who are new to these issues, these presentations and products could be just the thing that convinces them to make a change in their lives.

While many vegetarians and vegans heard about the festival from us last year, many of the people who still eat animals heard about this event from a vegetarian or vegan friend. It's people just like you who made the festival a success last year. If you can come to the event this year with three of your non-veg friends, think of the impact that could have!

While the festival is targeted at the veg-curious, we also have an event for those who are already convinced. This year we're bringing back our Their Lives, Our Voices animal advocacy conference. This conference will take place on Sunday, October 27, the day after the festival. The conference will feature two tracks of great speakers including nationally recognized leaders in the animal advocacy movement, including Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals and Nick Cooney from Farm Sanctuary. We also have a great lineup of locals including speakers from Compassionate Action for Animals, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, and experienced organizers from the Sierra Club. If you want to take the next step to help animals, this conference will empower you with the skills and motivation you need to take your advocacy to the next level. Registration is just $20, so please buy your ticket today.

Fall College Leafleting Week Results

Compassionate Choices leaflet

On Thursday, September 19 we had Rachel Shippee, a special guest from Vegan Outreach, come leaflet on the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus. Our volunteers handed out 701 leaflets and Rachel distributed about 2000! Leafleting is a great way to help animals. As you can see, in just a short amount of time thousands of "Compassionate Choices" leaflets were distributed to open-mined college students. Despite the rainy weather, the day was a success!

Do you want to help leaflet at future events? Please email Grace to sign up!

Their Lives, Our Voices Conference Scholarships

Compassionate Action for Animals is pleased to announce our Their Lives, Our Voices Scholarship Program!

CAA will provide scholarships to five individuals for the Their Lives, Our Voices animal advocacy conference on Sunday, October 27th at the University of Minnesota.

If you are interested in this scholarship opportunity, please write a short (300 words or less) essay on how attending TLOV will help you develop and advance your animal advocacy.

Please note that this scholarship is only open to students or low-income individuals. The application deadline is Friday, October 4th. To apply, please send your essay in an email to

New Event Coordinator

Meet Erica Sherwood, our new Event Coordinator! Cyrus Wolff left this position, recognizing that did not have the time to do this work. He will continue to volunteer with us.

Erica is new to CAA's outreach and events, but has been a long-term secret admirer of the organization. She joins their work this year part time as an event coordinator and looks forward to connecting with people in the coming months. She enjoys time in the grass with a good book, herbal tea in giant mugs, practicing yoga and experiencing life in other parts of the world.

Erica has joined Compassionate Action for Animals part time to work on coordinating events throughout the 2013 school year.

Compassionate Times: Fall, 2013

Dear friends of animals,

Did you attend Twin Cities Veg Fest 2013? It was an amazing day for Compassionate Action for Animals. Months of hard work culminated in a fun, festive day filled with great food, speakers, and music.

As the Committee Chair for the festival planning committee, I’d been looking forward to that day for many months. Planning for the festival started almost almost one year before the day of the event! We had a great team of volunteers this year, and they worked tirelessly for many months in order to make the event a success. It’s amazing how many moving parts have to come together for an event like this. At our first meeting in November of 2012, we were already brainstorming speakers to invite, planning our media outreach, and starting to plan our sponsor recruitment.

The day of the event was both exhausting and exhilirating. Right before the event, I looked out to see if there was line. There was, and it seemed to be even longer than last year’s! It’s great that some people were enthusiastic enough to queue up to be first in the doors.

Just like last year, there was an initial rush of people when we first opened the doors. It was a real thrill to see that first surge of people come through the door. Of course, that first surge doesn’t tell you how many people will come throughout the day. I was nervous because you never know how things will work out before the event happens. Did people see our advertising? Did they have something better to do that day? Would the UMN football game put people off from coming?

Last year, we had a good line at the beginning and then a fairly steady stream of people for the first few hours, but there was never any big rush of people. This year was quite different. I remember watching the growing number of people coming through the doors in astonishment (and a bit of fear). This strong flow of attendees didn’t seem to abate until 1pm or so.

We’ve prepared 1,000 swag bags for both years of the festival. This is a good way for us to count the first batch of attendees. Last year, our bags lasted until at mid-afternoon, around 2:30pm or so. This year, we ran out of bags at 12:45pm! This was an exciting milestone for us, and when that happened we knew we were well on track to beat last year’s attendance number of 1,200.

I was too busy to thoroughly tour the festival myself, but I did get a chance to try much of the food. I’d been up since 6:30am or so, so I was quite hungry when the festival started. I ran over to Seward Cafe and grabbed a delicious muffin and piece of banana bread to share with the other folks at the festival table. I hope you had a chance to try some of their baked goods. If you didn’t try them at the festival then check out their cafe on Franklin Ave. They always have a great selection of vegan dishes and desserts.

Later I shared a delicious waffle from Kitty Corner Cafe with my wife. It was covered with chocolate ganache, fruit, and nuts, and was completely decadent. With dessert out of the way, we then went on to share a platter of food from Asase Yaa. I also helped myself to a number of delicious samples. One of my favorites was the vegan caramels from Comfort Candy. I’m a sucker for vegan sweets!

Talking to the exhibitors at the event confirmed what we saw in terms of attendance. Those exhibitors who’d been there last year told me that they’d given away and sold significantly more of their products than the year before. By the end of the day, many of them had sold out!

An attendee checks out Seward Cafe's baked goodsAn event like Twin Cities Veg Fest can help animals in so many ways. First and foremost, the delicious food breaks down the misconception that vegan food requires great sacrifice. Vegan food is just as tasty and satifsying as animal products. Our speakers and exhibitors educate attendees about animal issues, how to follow a healthy vegan diet, and give them resources for changing their lives. And of course, the event highlights the vibrant, welcoming, and fun animal-friendly community in the Twin Cities

Reading our survey feedback was one of the most satisfying parts of the whole event for me. Over one third of our attendees were omnivores, which was exactly what I wanted to hear. It’s people who are still eating animal products that we need to reach. Almost every single person surveyed (98%) said they’d come back next year. One of my favorite comments was someone who said that “We never realised that vegan food could be so delicious.” It sure is!

We’re already starting to plan next year’s event. Just recently, I took a look at a potential new venue for the 2014 festival. With around 2,000 people coming this year, it’s time to find a venue that can hold 2,500 or 3,000 people comfortably!

Thank you again for your support of Compassionate Action for Animals. It’s only with your your help that we can continue to put on powerful events like Twin Cities Veg Fest.


Dave Rolsky
Twin Cities Veg Fest Committee Chair
Dave Rolsky

In Memory of Kenny Feldman

CAA Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad tells the story of his friendship with Kenny Feldman. We're hosting the Twin Cities Veg Fest concert in Kenny's memory.

I'm pleased to have worked with Carole and Stan Feldman to present the Twin Cities Veg Fest concert in memory of Kenny Feldman. Kenny was a close friend of mine and was instrumental in my being where I am today. We lost him to suicide 14 years ago.

I met Kenny as soon as I started college. Kenny was an avid reader, intensely curious, a lover of music, and was an irreverent skeptic. Knowing him became an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

During our second year of college, we were living together and he started volunteering with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), an environmental and social justice organization. He spoke enthusiastically about what they were doing and the people he met. I decided I would get involved, too, and followed his lead – to my first MPIRG meeting. I got involved, and by the fall I started to see that organizing for social change was meaningful for me. Through MPIRG, I met an animal activist and became involved in animal advocacy. A year later, I co-founded Compassionate Action for Animals.

Kenny's life was difficult. He suffered from depression much of his life and took his life in 1999. I'm grateful I was able to know him and that I was influenced by him. Shortly before he passed away, I told him how much he meant to me and how I appreciated the key role he played in getting me on the path I am on.

I hope this concert is a fitting tribute to his life. He was a lover of animals. He was close to his companions and was a vegetarian. Kenny loved music. He listened to an expansive variety of genres.

I loved the way that Kenny danced. He was always listening to music and going to concerts, but he rarely danced. He was shy about it; he didn't think he danced well. He suffered from muscular dystrophy, which made his movements unique – and better. He was wild and he was original, and this made him a beautiful and inspiring dancer. And it was these same qualities that led him to be a voice for those less fortunate.

I've stayed in touch with his parents, and with their support we're doing the concert in Kenny's memory. They want to keep his memory alive, and to remember him for the things he loved – animals and music. Kenny's family misses him every day and is honored to support CAA, an organization that so closely aligns with his deeply held value of compassion.

If you, or a loved one, are struggling with depression, please go to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) website for more information on how you can help or get help.

Introducing Our New Staff, Grace and Cyrus!

Compassionate Action for Animals recently hired two new staff members to expand our outreach and plan more events.

Compassionate Action for Animals is growing! We recently hired two part-time staff people to work during the school year. Both are dedicated animal activists, and we're excited to have them.

Grace Van Susteren Grace Van Susteren, Outreach Coordinator

Grace is a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Her previous experience with CAA includes coordinating leafleting. She enjoys all things outdoors, traveling, and interesting fish.

She will be coordinating tabling, paid-per-view, and leafleting.

Cyrus Wolff Cyrus Wolff, Event Coordinator

Cyrus is a student at Augsburg College, double majoring in Music and English. A lifelong vegan, Cyrus is passionate about advocating for animals. When not working or studying, he enjoys camping, swimming, and playing guitar.

Cyrus will be planning several events, starting with the Veg Week 2013 Feed-In.

Help poster and distribute flyers for the Twin Cities Veg Fest

Want an easy way to help animals, while sharing good food and reaching new audiences? Help us distribute posters and flyers to get the word out about the second ever Twin Cities Veg Fest!

The October 26 Twin Cities Veg Fest is rapidly approaching, and we need your help to distribute posters and flyers around the community and at the University of Minnesota campus. We are postering/flyering during the following dates and times:

For the off-campus dates we will meet at the CAA Community Office, and for the on-campus dates we will meet in the central area on the 2nd floor of the U of M's Coffman Memorial Union.

We'll be serving food at each of these events, so RSVP to so we know how much to provide! We will distribute posters/flyers on each date for about 3 hours, then reconvene to eat.

If you can't attend any of these sessions but want to put up posters on your own schedule, email and we'll make arrangements to get you some posters!

Interview With Volunteer Liz Sias

Meet Liz Sias, one of our newest volunteer planners for the Twin Cities Veg Fest. Liz has been a great volunteer with Compassionate Action for Animals so we asked to her take the lead on volunteer coordination for the festival.

TCVF: What is your role on the Veg Fest team?

Liz: I'm the volunteer coordinator, which means it's my job to recruit people and train them to help with anything and everything that needs to happen in order to make a fun and successful Veg Fest. From postering before the event to staffing booths and everything in between, Veg Fest relies on the great work of volunteers and it wouldn't be successful without them.

TCVF: How did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?

Liz: I've been volunteering with CAA for about a year, leafletting, helping out at events and planning the 2013 vegan chili cook-off. When offered the opportunity to help plan CAA's biggest event, I couldn't turn it down.

TCVF: What have you enjoyed most so far?

Liz: I've really enjoyed getting to know other CAA volunteers on the planning committee. Oh, and I got to visit Madison for Mad City Vegan Fest in June to help get the word out about Twin Cities Veg Fest, and that trip was a lot of fun. It's been fun to see everything come together for this event as time passes.

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to?

Liz: I'm not going to lie, I'm most looking forward to all the free food samples! And, OK, meeting and working with all the amazing volunteers who help make Veg Fest happen.

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Liz: I enjoy biking, especially on the Greenway and on the beautiful trails around Minneapolis. I also really like cooking and reading. And, of course, my biggest passion is advocating for animals with groups like CAA 🙂

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?

Liz: Isn't this question speciesist? Just kidding. It's hard to pick just one species. I love orcas (killer whales) because they're so beautiful and I find their social lives and family groups interesting. I also love wolves. And lions, and all other species of cats. And goats are adorable. I can't pick just one!

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?

Liz: Swiss Chard Frittata from the Post Punk Kitchen

TCVF: What's rockin' your world this month?

Liz: I'm excited that the weather has finally been cooperating, so I've been enjoying the outdoors with all sorts of festivals all summer, from Stone Arch Bridge Fest, to Open Streets, Twin Cities Pride and so many more.

Stay in Touch with CAA

Want to stay up-to-date with all of the Compassionate Action for Animals happenings? Or maybe you just want to reach out to us? There are many ways to get in touch with us so don’t hesitate to reach out!

At Compassionate Action for Animals we want you to know your voice is being heard! Whether you want to volunteer, attend an event, or just have comments or questions about the organization, we’d love to hear from you. There are many ways you can reach out to us, and we would be happy to hear from you in whatever way you find most convenient.

You can find out what we’re up to via:

We look forward to hearing from you!

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