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And the winner is: Results of the 2023 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge

September 20, 2023

Grand Prize winner: Tori Ramen’s delicious Vegan Birria Ramen

This August, as part of the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge, nineteen local restaurants competed to make the best new vegan dish in the Cities. For a month, they added a new vegan dish to their menus, and diners at the restaurant tried it and cast their votes. Over a thousand diners, of varying diets, participated in trying and giving feedback on new dishes. 

Social media posts about the dishes, including both restaurant offerings and facts about the benefits of vegan eating, reached over 20k Minnesotans, and media coverage further extended the challenge’s reach. 

Restaurants, offering a variety of cuisines, and ranging from vegan restaurants to those with no vegan entrees, experimented with new dishes and benefited from new publicity and detailed diner feedback. Winners were determined based on restaurant ratings as well as other diner feedback on the dishes.

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Various dishes | October 2023 | Vegan Recipe Club

The cookbook selection for October is Plants Only Kitchen (2020) by Gaz Oakley. Join us for the Vegan Recipe Club online meeting Tuesday, October 17 from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

If you are curious about vegan cooking, this club is for you! Each month participants make three recipes from popular cookbooks then share their reflections with the group. Novice to expert cooks are welcome, as are interested non-cooks. Registration not required.

The publisher of this month’s featured cookbook says: “Plants-Only Kitchen offers an explosion of flavour, with more than 70 vegan recipes that work around your lifestyle. With symbols flagging whether recipes are high-protein, take less than 15 minutes, are gluten-free, one-pot or are suitable for meal prep, Plants-Only Kitchen explains how best to make a vegan diet work for you. No fuss, no fancy ingredients – just fantastic food using plants, only. Gaz Oakley (aka @avantgardevegan) has amassed well over a million followers on social media with his exciting vegan dishes, which emphasize that a plant-based diet doesn’t mean missing out on taste. In Plants-Only Kitchen, Gaz’s recipes are easier than ever before – following his step-by-step instructions, tips and advice, anyone can cook great vegan food.”

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From Cooking Demos to Eye-Opening Talks: Unveiling the Excitement to Come at the VegFund Mainstage

September 12, 2023

Thanks to our sponsor, VegFund, we have an exciting day lined up for you at the VegFund Mainstage. Get ready for cooking demonstrations featuring talented chefs from two beloved local vegan restaurants: Hi! Flora and Reverie Cafe + Bar. You’ll discover the secrets to adding that extra flair to your home vegan cooking!

But that’s not all; we have some informative talks in store for you. Dr. Joanne Kong will delve into the social damage caused by factory farms, shedding light on the extensive harm they inflict beyond animal cruelty. Factory farm workers face physical injuries, psychological trauma, and harsh conditions that often lead to domestic violence, PTSD, and substance abuse, creating a widespread cycle of cruelty that affects society as a whole. She will explain how embracing veganism is a powerful step towards a kinder world.

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A taste of the exhibitors at the 2023 Twin Cities Veg Fest

September 8, 2023

Are you ready for an amazing experience at the Twin Cities Veg Fest? While delicious vegan food and drinks are understandably big draws, there’s so much more to explore among our 100+ exhibitors. Whether you’re seeking compassionate products, intriguing organizations, or inspiring info, you’re in for a treat!

While we can’t list them all, here are some exhibitors to pique your curiosity.

Vegan Food/Drinks

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In Memory of Kristen: Sweet and sassy Farmaste Animal Sanctuary

August 31, 2023

Kristen came to Farmaste September 1, 2017. She spent the first half of her life as a dairy goat, being repeatedly impregnated and milked. Rather than be sent to slaughter once her milking days were done, she was given the chance to retire to Farmaste with her best friends, Beata and Clarice. Kristen spent almost exactly 6 years living her best life at Farmaste before passing due to cancer at 13 1/2 years old on Aug 29, 2023

Kristen loved sanctuary life. When she arrived, she was the top goat in her herd and enjoyed keeping her friends in line when needed, which Kristen thought was often! She was also the “representative” of her herd with the other species. She was often spotted interacting with Gertie, Moolan, and even the pigs.  Kristen was a tough girl, and she was certain she could take on a competitor of any size!  She had to let the animals know she was in charge first and then she would love on them forever. She was friendly with everyone she met, animals and humans.

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Promoting Healthy School Food with the Power of the Plant-Based Plate

By Jodi Gruhn, Wholesome Minnesota Director

August 2023

Wholesome Minnesota Director, Jodi Gruhn with co-presenter Eva Breiland (left)

I attended the Minnesota School Food Association Conference (MSNA) for the first time in 2022. During the conference I noted many opportunities to educate school food professionals about the power of the plant-based plate in school food. After attending in 2022, I created a personal and professional goal that I would earn a speaking slot for the MSNA Conference 2023. I achieved this goal on August 8th

Wholesome Minnesota’s presentation, “The Power of the Plant-Based Plate”, was built upon leveraging and creating partnerships and relationships.  Let me explain…

Knowing that I wanted to immediately capture the attention of our attendees, like any good vegan, I started with food. 

A few weeks before the conference I connected with Bobbi Jo Lamar Brunson of Sweet Troo Vi who after a short email exchange agreed we were mission aligned. Sweet Troo Vi donates a portion of their proceeds to benefit local causes with the greatest need throughout the Twin Cities with emphasis on youth programs and aid. They generously donated samples of their AMAZING cookies (seriously if you haven’t had one, your life will not be complete until you do). They were the perfect partner. I heard over and over from the audience- “this is vegan?” Just the point I was trying to make.

It gets better. I did not present alone. In fact, I presented with the most perfect co-presenter I could have ever asked for.  This year I partnered with Eva Breiland, a student from Breck School who partnered with Wholesome Minnesota for her Advanced Mathematics Research Project, a final project for her senior year. 

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CAA Interns Shanya and Muna learn valuable skills and make a difference!

August 28, 2023

Shanya Glover (left) and Muna Mohamed

We had the pleasure of having Shanya Glover and Muna Mohamed join us as interns this summer. They were part of the Step Up program, which supports young people in gaining job skills by matching them with local nonprofits and businesses.

Community Organizer Tamuno Imbu set up the internship and supervised the interns. This summer, Shanya and Muna rocked at outreach events, spreading the word about Twin Cities Veg Fest. In addition, they educated other youth about connections between diet, human health disparities, and the treatment of farmed animals. They also played a big role in transferring our blog posts as we get ready for some exciting changes to our website, and doing data entry that will prepare us to meet with legislators around our factory farming moratorium petition in early 2024.

Let’s learn more about them!

Shanya (left) and Muna pitched in to help with lots of projects including collating leaflets for the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge

Shanya Glover, who will be a junior at Patrick Henry High School this year, did an outstanding job during her time with us. Before joining our team, she had worked at McDonald’s for a few months. Shanya loves school and enjoys being helpful. She states that her favorite thing she did for us was “going to different restaurants around Minneapolis and trying vegan and plant based foods and meeting new people and learning how animals are getting treated.” Shanya’s goal is to turn her life around and eat healthier foods. She is grateful for the opportunity to learn all the valuable things she did at CAA.

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Get to know Martha Eichlersmith, CAA Volunteer

August 28, 2023

Martha and Wednesday, a resident at Charlie’s Acres, a sanctuary in California

Martha Eichlersmith moved back to the Twin Cities recently and attended the CAA’s Annual Banquet with her vegan friends. She had a lot of fun! Plus, she was impressed by CAA and was inspired to get involved. While there, she spoke with Laura Matanah, CAA’s Executive Director, about volunteering.

As a result of that conversation, Martha signed up for her first-ever volunteer experience. She decided to work with the Twin Cities Chef Challenge committee because it sounded like a great way to promote plant-based eating. 

Her role was to help recruit restaurants to participate in the August Challenge. She got 19 signed up! And now, she is promoting the Challenge via social media posts. Martha is having great success in getting individuals to try Challenge dishes and rate them.

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Whole Foods | September 2023 | Vegan Recipe Club

Continue your vegan cooking journey with the September installment of CAA’s Vegan Recipe Club. The cookbook selection for September is Mistress Ginger Cooks by Mistress Ginger. We will get together online on September 19 from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm to discuss several recipes from this helpful and fun cookbook.

Mistress Ginger describes her book this way: “I’ve been cooking up a special treat for you: this cookbook! I’ve been getting busy in the kitchen (with help from my entourage of stud muffins, of course), fashioning vegan recipes with all of you in mind. Whether you’re a culinary virgin, a burly trucker or a pink-haired diva, you’ll find something to titillate your taste buds and spin your windmills. Let me entertain you with sordid stories from my checkered past and then show you how to infuse your snazzle-frazzle life with some whole-foods, plant-based cuisine. Come, cook with me!”

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Salads | August 2023 | Vegan Recipe Club

This August we used recipes from Salad Samurai (2014)  by Terry Hope Romero. Even tho. the date is past you can still download the recipes we used and try them on your own. This cookbook contains recipes for main dish salads loaded with whole-food, high-protein, and seasonal ingredients.  

It’s the perfect time to up your salad game. The recipes in this book show you how to rescue salads from their bland, boring reputation and “side” status. The secret is a hearty base, a zesty dressing, and loads of seriously tasty whole food, plant-based toppings. 

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