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Volunteer Shoutout: More from Volunteers

Whether you’ve been involved with one program or event or many, thank you for sharing your time and passion with the animal rights, plant-based movement!

This week’s Volunteer Shoutout features a few more stories from volunteers about their CAA experience. We’re grateful for the TLC they’ve put into growing and strengthening our community.

Recap of 2018, Looking Ahead to a Strong 2019!

It’s no secret that 2018 was a huge year for the vegan, plant-based, and animal rights movements around the world. The availability of plant-based, cruelty-free foods increased globally and in the US, protections for animals expanded with the passing of Proposition 12 in California and a vote to end greyhound racing in Florida. 

In Minnesota, over six (vegan!) restaurants opened or went entirely vegan, three all-vegan food trucks started driving around the Twin Cities, and Twin Cities Veg Fest became the largest veg fest in the Midwest! And we can’t forget to mention that Minneapolis was named Veg News’ 2018 City of the Year.

CAA’s mission is to encourage people to embrace their empathy for farmed animals and move toward a plant-based diet. We do this through increasing awareness of farmed animal suffering, building community with plant-based eating, and nurturing advocates in the Twin Cities region. Our work is made possible by your support.

We aimed toward raising $24,000 in December 2018 to continue expanding our work for the animals. While we didn’t reach that goal, we came so close––raising $23,800!––ensuring that we will be able to have a strong start in 2019. Here’s a quick recap of what we did this year and where we’re headed in 2019:

  • We brought in about $30,000 more in individual donations than planned during 2018; this will go towards building a reserve and the eventual hiring of a community organizer to expand our work
  • Attendance at Twin Cities Veg Fest grew over 28% from 2017 to 2018––thanks to your support, we can continue to work toward creating the most exciting veg fest in the Midwest for a growing attendee base
  • Bridges of Respect continues to provide humane education for students around the Twin Cities metro––we can’t wait to see where they go this year
  • We launched Wholesome Minnesota in January 2018 and were awarded a grant from A Seed Of Change to continue expanding this work to bring plant-based food to institutional cafeterias in 2019
  • Just this December, we began the Explore Veg Mentor Program, which will connect mentees looking to make a veg change in their life with mentors excited about helping them make this transition and connect with the Twin Cities plant-based community
  • We’ve got a number of events planned for a strong start in 2019 with a variety of ways to get plugged in––stay updated on our blog and events page

We are so grateful for the record number of new donors this year as well as our past and current donors. We are deeply grateful to co-founder Matt Mackall for his exceptional year-end matching gift, which will create a lasting legacy for the animals.

Finally, we extend a huge thank you to all who shared their stories, volunteered, and donated in 2018. You make this work for the animals possible and we can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in 2019.

Dulceria Bakery, your new home away from home

Dulceria Bakery is a new immigrant, woman of color-owned bakery creating high-quality artisanal pastries, cakes, and desserts with a Mexican twist. Dulce Monterrubio opened her storefront in 2018 after selling her pastries at the Linden Hills Farmers Market and other pop-up events. Today, she uses her space to focus on building a community of intersectionality and inclusivity for her customers, employees, and partners all while serving up incredibly delicious Mexican pastries.

Sanchez Brown and Yunuén Ávila, program coordinators of our new Explore Veg Mentor Program have frequented the bakery since its open.

“My wife was born in Mexico and is a proud Mexican woman and she loved every bit of everything they had,” Sanchez wrote of his experience visiting with Yunuén, noting, “They have Conchas, Empanadas, Pan De Muerto, and sooooo much more! They have a bunch of vegan and gluten-free options and everything is AMAZING.”

As her bakery has grown into its new space, Dulce took a trip to Mexico last winter to complete a five-week intensive course at Escuela de Gastronomía Mexicana, a culinary school that focuses on traditional Mexican cuisine, as well as explore the vegan bakery scene in Mexico City.

She’s taken her expertise and run with it, creating innovative twists on classic pastries. Everything in their bakery is clearly labeled as vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise and a large selection of delicious pastries are available daily.

Dulce’s work goes far beyond creating delicious food. “The staff was patient, knowledgeable and insanely kind. They treat every single customer in the same way and I left in a better mood than when I came in,” exclaimed Sanchez. “I recommend this place, not just for the treats, but to experience every facet of the business because it’s all fantastic.”

Every Saturday, Dulceria hosts a pop-up from local businesses that don’t yet have a space of their own. Dulce plans to add lunch items to their regular menu. If you’re looking for a filling sweet or savory treat, try one of their warmed empanadas in store!

Another plus? They take online orders! “Use their website to order anything ahead and they’ll have it all ready for you at the date you choose!” Sanchez added, “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better!”

Dulceria Bakery is located at 1839 E 42nd Street in Minneapolis. In the winter, they are open 8:00 am – 2:00 pm Wednesday through Sunday and closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Meet Our New Board Member – Mitch Thompson

CAA welcomes Mitch Thompson to our Board of Directors. Mitch joined the CAA board in December 2018 after working intensively on the Twin Cities Veg Fest 2018 planning committee earlier last year. When he’s not working with CAA, Mitch works in the Twin Cities video production industry managing equipment rentals and is the drummer/manager for internationally known local ska-band Umbrella Bed.

A lifelong Minnesotan and longtime Minneapolis resident, Mitch went veg for a combination of health and ethical reasons. “I surprised myself and everyone else when I became a vegetarian in my mid-twenties. What was even more surprising to everyone was that I never wavered from it,” Mitch said. “I grew up in a meatpacking town and it was almost like I turned away from a religion.”

Stories about family and friends parents being “rotated off the kill-line” because they became desensitized to killing resonated with Mitch as a teenager as a horrifying situation––and that was only addressing the human part of the equation.

“It always felt wrong to me,” Mitch continued, “I would see those big semi-trucks loaded with livestock. I could see their eyes, hear them, and it broke my heart. Looking back, I knew it was something I didn’t want to support. I was lucky to end up in environments later on that allowed me to take the first steps on a personal level to stand for a different way to view the world.”

He maintains the core values of an organization like CAA will be critical positions for humanity to adopt more broadly to continue on.

“We really don’t have an excuse anymore for how we treat the so-called ‘beasts,’” he said. “So much about what is wrong in the world can be either directly link to the overeating and production of animal products or indirectly in the mindset that needs to exist to let it happen. We will never evolve into a better species if we don’t move away from this and we really do need to evolve a bit more if we are going to make this whole thing work out.”

We’re excited to welcome Mitch onto the board and are grateful for the time and passion he’s put into our events so far. If you see him at an upcoming outreach or community event, be sure to say hello!

Interested in joining CAA’s board of directors? Our board meetings are open to prospective members. If you are interested in attending a board meeting, email board@exploreveg.org to find out when the next board meeting will take place.

CAA in 2018 – What A Year!

What a huge year for the plant-based, animal rights movement! California passed Proposition 12, which will require an increase of space for farmed animals and result in cage-free conditions for animals living across the country. More and more plant-based options are being developed and carried by retailers recognizing the plant-based trend, increasing widespread availability for consumers.

In Minnesota, Minneapolis was named Veg News’ City of the Year, over nine plant-based restaurants opened around the Twin Cities metro, and two more went vegan!

We welcomed a record number of attendees at this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest, had a blast at all of our events, revealed a new brand identity, and launched not one but TWO programs this year––Wholesome Minnesota in January and just yesterday, the Explore Veg Mentor Program!

From community building to outreach and activism, our growing community is special. Change for the animals starts with supporting compassionate, plant-based choices and if 2018 is any indication, we can accomplish a lot together.

We hope you’ll enjoy remembering everything that we’ve done together this year while watching our 2018 Year in Review video and that you’ll join us at our last event of the year––our hotdish-themed December Holiday Potluck, this Saturday the 29th from 12–2pm at the Matthews Park Recreation Center. If you haven’t already, please consider giving today to help continue strengthening and expanding our work for the animals and a growing plant-based community. 

Announcing… the Explore Veg Mentor Program!

Are you thinking of stepping into plant-based eating? Or are you already plant-based and want to provide support to someone looking to make a similar change?

Look no further, because CAA just launched a brand new program geared toward supporting veg and veg-curious individuals on their plant-based journey. Meet the Explore Veg Mentor Program!

The Explore Veg Mentor Program was designed to help individuals reach their plant-based goals, whether it be adding a few more veg meals into their week or going full-on veg. We all know it’s easier to reach your goal with someone rooting for you in your corner!

How does it work?

We pair mentees looking to make a plant-based change in their life with a mentor who has already gone through the process of learning about and living the lifestyle choices they’re contemplating.

Each pairing lasts three months, during which time the mentor and mentee team aim to be in touch with each other at least every two weeks and participate in at least one CAA event (this could be a potluck, dine-out, or another event). We encourage teams to do things such as share recipes, eat together, go grocery shopping together, and share blogs, videos, or books with each other.

Get involved!

For more information on the Explore Veg Mentor Program, visit our program page. To start your application, we’ll ask you to fill out a brief questionnaire and will be in touch with you about further steps within two weeks. We’re currently accepting applications for mentors and mentees.

You can also attend our January Potluck: Starting Out Plant-Based, where we’ll share tasty vegan food and meet volunteer program coordinators Yunuén Ávila and Sanchez Brown on Saturday, January 12 from 12:00pm – 1:30pm.

Volunteer Shoutout: Thank You 2018 Volunteers!

You make our work possible and the impact shows––this year, Minneapolis was named Veg News’ City of the Year, over nine plant-based restaurants opened around the Twin Cities metro and two more went vegan, and we welcomed a record number of attendees to Twin Cities Veg Fest (just to name a few). This huge progress confirms that more and more people are learning about the horrors animals are subjected to in the agriculture industry and are hungry for compassionate alternatives.

If you’ve been following us on social media this season, you may have seen some CAA stories shared by volunteers and community members. In the case that you haven’t (or if you’d like to see them again!) we compiled a number of stories shared with us this season. We loved reading about how these individuals have connected with work they’re passionate about, been impacted by the Twin Cities community, and how in turn we have been impacted by you! 

Thank you for sharing your passion and dedication to the animals this year.

Wrapped Up in Wrapping Paper

Written by Maya Ulrich

The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes a flourish of shopping for our loved ones. With so many options available at our fingertips, many of us find ourselves faced with ethical and economic dilemmas in regards to how we are going to spend our consumer dollars. 

Living a sustainable lifestyle does not have to be drab, hurt your wallet, or harm our animal friends. In fact, many of the ways that we can live a plant-based lifestyle extend beyond what we put on our plates. One of the biggest ways that we can remain environmentally and animal-friendly during these winter months is by knowing that most store-bought wrapping papers, ribbons, and foils are not, and I emphasize, NOT recyclable.

Discarded wrapping paper leaves a sea of shiny paper in our oceans and tumbling tissue paper in our backyards. To help avoid adding our waste to growing landfills (waste that ends up invading the habitats of our furry, scaled, and feathered friends and negatively affecting their health), we put together a list of alternative ways to wrap your gifts that are cruelty-free and help us protect the animals and our earth.

DO TRY:

1. Use reusable bags!

Not only are usable bags a gift in themselves, but they’re also extremely practical because they can be repurposed for other uses. The recipient of your gift will be able to tote around theirs with pride knowing that they are living sustainably. Heck, treat yourself at the same time and get one with a cute animal on it!

2. Use leftover paper from the Sunday comics

Your friends and family will get to see just how serious you are about cruelty-free living when they see The Peanuts covering their gifts. You get to laugh because you get to keep the green paper in your pocket instead of on their presents. They get to laugh because you are literally giving them a humorous gift.

3. Use pillowcases and sheets

Is using a pillowcase as wrapping paper glamorous? No. But everyone will be so impressed by your ingenuity and creativity that they won’t think twice about how it looks.

4. Use those boxes you get from shipping

Cardboard boxes just get thrown in the recycling anyway, why not customize the box for the person you are giving the gift to? Paint, stamp, and draw to your heart’s delight! The possibilities are endless.

5. Use old fabric or clothes

Similar to using a sheet or pillowcase. However, if you are super crafty and know how to work some scissors, a needle, and thread you can stitch together some cute DIY coverings.

6. Brown bag it!

Julie Andrews was onto something when she sang about “brown paper packages tied up with string,” and so can you! There’s something nostalgic about simple wrapping paper––try cutting up a leftover paper bag or using a roll of plain craft paper to decorate your gift.

7. Plain wrapping paper

If it’s free of metallic designs and glitter, it’s likely recyclable! Make sure to double check the…erm, wrapping 🙂

 

AVOID: 

1. Animal-based products for your wrappings.

Animal-based wrappings including beeswax, fur, and leather aren’t cruelty-free.

2. Bows, glitter, and ribbon.

While many add a beautiful and sparkly flair to a gift, these are not recyclable! Many bows that are plastic-paper composite are not the right composition to make cardboard, which makes them a direct-to-trash item unless you decide to reuse the bow again and again. Tricky!

Volunteer Shoutout: Meet Shannon!

Shannon Kimball has been the Program Coordinator of Bridges of Respect since 2005. He became involved with CAA around the time he met Freeman Wicklund, former Program Coordinator of Bridges of Respect, when Freeman came into his store to print and laminate some posters for the program in 1998. Shannon became involved with CAA’s outreach and the Bridges Program gradually, before becoming a Humane Educator in 2003.

“Once I took over as coordinator [in 2005], I could see that I needed to learn all of the presentations and I started to develop a few that we didn’t have,” said Shannon of the transition, which included a focus on growing the program further and reworking some existing presentations. Their focus was on narrowing the presentations down to a strong core of topics that would be sustained by a growing team of volunteers.

Bridges of Respect provides free humane education presentations to schools and community groups of all ages in the Twin Cities metro area. The current Humane Education Team includes Christine Coughlin, Kathy Coughlin, Freeman Wicklund, and Shannon Kimball. The team brought 38 presentations to over 1100 students in 2018, presenting six out of their seven presentation topics. Circle of Compassion, Our Food Our World, Beyond Violence, and Animals in Entertainment were the most popular presentations in 2018.

Thinking Critically

The presentations encourage students to critically think about the use of animals in our society and honoring humanity’s values of compassion, responsibility, mercy, and empathy. Shannon has presented to students from middle school to college and tailors each presentation to the group’s age, curriculum, and amount of time available for the presentation.

“I want to leave people with a sense of urgency without destroying their outlook on the whole world,” said Shannon with a little laugh. “I get kinda tired sometimes of being the bearer of bad news. I can see the looks in some kids faces––no matter what age group I’m with––when they start to get a grasp on the realities of how bad it is out there and that we really do need their help.”

Mike Bieniek, a Bridges of Respect volunteer poses by the Blaine High School sign before three classes that morning.

Each presentation Shannon gives ends with a brief overview of plant-based nutrition along with ways to eat more plant-based if the students are interested in giving it a try. This information is typically something students will not receive in class, and if they do, it’s usually a very brief overview. After each presentation, Shannon shares additional resources with students. “We want to be accessible for students who may have further questions and we want to be approachable.”

Shannon makes sure that each presentation ends on a positive note, reminding students that their decisions can make a difference. “I want to make sure that students are empowered and leave happy.”

“We always come back to ethics and compassion as our main message, but we also include health and environmental issues.” Shannon has presented for several health classes and shifts the message to more of a dietary focus. While he’s comfortable answering many of the standard vegan questions like, “Where do you get your protein?” he looks at being asked new questions as an opportunity to learn more and makes sure to have a number of additional resources discussing topics like maintaining a plant-based diet while gluten-free, soy-free, or diabetic. “The best resource I can recommend for these questions is veganhealth.org––there are a number of physicians that are in a better position to answer these questions than I am.”

 

For a presentation at the School of Environmental Studies, students watched the documentary Cowspiracy, learned about veganic agriculture, and looked at how living lower on the food chain can be the most sustainable for us all.

A Tasty Message

The end of each presentation also includes another favorite: samples of vegan meats, cheeses, and milk. In 2018, Bridges gave shared over one thousand food samples, reaching 570 students. Food samples really help show how easy (and how delicious!) plant-based eating can be.

One of the questions he frequently gets in classes is ‘What about conscientious omnivorey? If we’re nice to animals, isn’t that good enough?’ To which Shannon answers, “Any action is commendable if we’re trying to reduce suffering for animals but it’s more of a milestone than an endpoint. The vegan community has built more infrastructure than conscientious omnivores. What I mean is that if I hop on a plane and ask for a vegetarian or vegan meal, chances are they’ll know what I mean whereas if I said I was a conscientious omnivore they wouldn’t know what I was talking about and that’s because groups like Compassionate Action for Animals have been there building structure and community that makes it easier for people to move in the plant-based direction.”

For more information or to schedule a free presentation for your students or organization, please email info@bridgesofrespect.org. You can also support Bridges of Respect’s outreach and longevity by making a donation to our year-end campaign.

Why Give this December?

1. Giving supports lasting change for the animals.

A gift to Compassionate Action for Animals continues to support CAA’s approach to change for farmed animals through our focused programs:

  • Increasing Awareness with our Wholesome Minnesota, Bridges of Respect, and ExploreVeg Mentorship Programs
  • Building Community through our dine-outs, potlucks, documentary screenings, farm sanctuary visits, and Twin Cities Veg Fest
  • Nurturing Advocates through leafleting, Pay-Per-View, and more
  • Ultimately, Making Change!

 

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Upcoming Events

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vegan Recipe Club at East Lake Library

Friday, September 20, 2019 - Sunday, October 20, 2019

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Twin Cities Veg Fest Data Entry Party!