Exploring Veg Podcast

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Volunteer Spotlight: Suzy Sorensen, RD, LD, CDE

Suzy Sorensen is a Twin Cities-based Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator who is passionate about plant-based eating! She has a Certificate of Training in Vegetarian Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and opened Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling in 2009 to support those interested in plant-based eating. For more information, visit move2veg.com.

This month, the first part of her new four-part nutrition series, Growing Up Vegan, will be published on our blog. The series will explore ideas for supported eating during the four main stages of development. Read on to learn how Suzy’s passions for veganism and nutrition intersect.

What drew you personally to veganism?

A vegetarian friend invited me along to a PETA seminar here in the Cities (nearly 20 years ago). That first opened my eyes to what happens to animals and the choices I can make to reduce suffering. That’s where I connected with CAA! My “aha moment” was very shortly after that. We were visiting friends in Florida and happened to be there for lobster season: a few days when scuba diving for lobsters is allowed. Essentially, a hunting season. I was able to catch a lobster (the guilt is as present today as it was then). When we got to the dock, the idea was to twist the animal in half, separating head (thrown away) from tail (the desirable part to eat). I could not, would not ever do that. That was it. If I couldn’t kill an animal to eat it, I would not have someone else do it for me and pretend that was ok. That up-close experience with an animal headed for the plate made compassionate eating immediate, personal, and real to me.I sometimes say a lobster changed my life! And I’m grateful.

What drew you to your practice (and study of) nutrition?

I have a degree in education and taught science for 7 years. I was looking for a change and took a career development class. I shadowed a dietitian, took an intro to nutrition class, and it was love at first sight! I realized that food is powerful medicine, much more than just “fuel for the machine.” Food plays a critical role in health and disease. I still consider myself a teacher, but with a new subject matter—nutrition! Later, when I became vegan for compassionate reasons, I was driven to learn about plant-based nutrition to take care of myself and my family. It didn’t take long to realize that there was a lot of misinformation out there among my friends and my patients! That’s what prompted me to start Move2Veg, there is a need for accurate, evidence-based, individualized nutrition information. With that, we can be our best plant-based selves!

What are three tips you would emphasize to a friend transitioning to a plant-based diet? 

1) It does not have to be complicated or difficult to move to a plant-based diet. There aren’t “rules” or a “right way” to do it. We each need to do what works best for us to reach our goal. 

2) Make connections, you aren’t alone! Go to pot lucks, dine outs, other social events, connect with a mentor, meet with a plant-based dietitian! We can learn from and be inspired by others.  

3) Forgive yourself—learning something new takes time and practice, there will be moments where it doesn’t go quite as planned but tomorrow is another day.

Do you have a favorite food trend?

Easy, plant-based! The research shows more people than ever are giving it a try! Specific food trend? SO many new vegan cheeses, I’m always curious to check them out. Lots of people say cheese is the hardest thing to eliminate—not anymore!

Do you see a shift happening in public perceptions of nutrition?

Absolutely! I work in clinic part-time as a diabetes educator. Patients are interested and excited to hear more when I bring up vegan diet as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It’s not a foreign concept. Better yet, many more people come in already giving it a try after reading a book or seeing a movie like Forks Over Knives! The word is out about the powerful health properties of a vegan diet!

To read more from Suzy, follow her new four-part nutrition series, Growing Up Vegan, released monthly on our blog starting March 6.

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.

Christianity and Advocating for Animals

What does the Bible teach about compassion? Why aren’t more Christians vegan or vegetarian? But didn’t Jesus eat fish? And what about the idea that God gave us dominion over the animals, according to the Bible?

These controversial questions are addressed in the most recent episode of Exploring Veg. Our Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad speaks with two Christian animal advocates: Kathy Dunn, an animal activist and blogger, and Ruth Soresnson-Prokosch, a pastor at a Lutheran church. They share how they speak up for animals using the Christian teachings. We hope this podcast will be inspiring not only to those who are Christian, but also to those who want to learn more about how to respond when others use their understanding of their faith as justification for eating animals.

Interview with a Vegan Bodybuilder

Our executive director Unny Nambudiripad recently sat down with vegan bodybuilder Ryan Nelson to talk about how he succeeds as an athlete on a vegan diet. Ryan answers the burning question of where he gets his protein and also shares why he went vegan and how he trains as a bodybuilder.

This interview provides good inspiration not only for athletes curious about how to thrive on a plant-based diet but also for anyone who is thinking of making the shift to more compassionate eating.

To learn more about Ryan and his fitness plan, visit his Facebook page and his profile at veganbodybuilding.com.

Vegan Dating in 2015

I sat down with a few CAA volunteers recently, and we talked candidly about our experiences dating as vegans or vegetarians. Our diverse crew included E.G. Nelson, Lynne McMullen, Laura Van Zandt, and Chris Luhman. The conversation covered some of the common questions that come up for someone who lives as vegan or vegetarian and is trying to date in a world that is not always so veg-friendly.

  • Do you only date other vegans or vegetarians?
  • What are the challenges that can arise when dating omnivores and how can you handle those challenges?
  • How important is it to be able to share not only food but also a vegan ethic with your partner?

Our conversation included some funny stories about past dating situations, and we were ultimately in agreement on what makes a relationship (or even just a first date!) work, regardless of the dietary preferences.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, romance might be on your mind. If it is, we hope that this podcast provides you with a feeling that you are not alone and gives you ideas for how to approach dating in 2015 with renewed hope and inspiration.

Tips for Going Vegan in the New Year

Thinking about moving towards a plant-based diet as a New Year’s resolution? Take these tips from vegan registered dietician Kristina DeMuth on how to make the transition in a healthy, lasting way.

In conversation with CAA executive director Unny Nambudiripad, Kristina answers your key questions:

  • How do I go vegan and meet all of my nutrient needs?
  • What are some resources, both online and local, that can help me stay on this path?
  • What are some challenges that I might encounter and how can I overcome them?

Along with basic information on healthy plant-based eating, this podcast offers inspiring insights on how to move forward with your resolution to go vegan in the new year.

Council Member Cam Gordon on Meatless Monday

Cam Gordon

Compassionate Action for Animals has launched a campaign to bring Meatless Monday program to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Since Minneapolis Council Member Cam Gordon recently made a Meatless Monday proclamation for the city of Minneapolis, we thought he would be a great person to talk to about why Meatless Monday is important. Listen to the podcast to learn how this local politician is promoting plant-based eating in our community.

For more updates on our Meatless Monday campaign, visit the Facebook page, I Need Meatless Monday at University of Minnesota TC.

How to Do the Holiday Thing as a Vegan

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, the holidays can be a challenging time. From the probing questions at the dinner table to the snarky quips about why you won’t eat the turkey, we find ourselves facing a number of uncomfortable situations. We want to enjoy the holiday with our friends and family, but how can we relax when the centerpiece on the table is the bodily remains of a once living, vibrant animal? What do we say? How do we respond? And, perhaps most importantly, what can we eat?

These questions are addressed on this month’s episode of Exploring Veg. For this discussion, CAA Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad is joined by CAA Outreach Coordinator Grace Van Susteren and two CAA volunteers and students at the University of Minnesota, Priyanka Ketkar and Tyler Tracy.

Exploring Twin Cities Veg Fest – Part 4

Mel Schneider

In this final podcast of a four-part series devoted to Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014, Compassionate Action for Animals’ Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad interviews Mel Schneider, a Minneapolis resident who attended the festival last year. We welcome everyone at the festival, vegan, vegetarians, and omnivores. Mel is an omnivore. Listen to the podcast to learn more about her experience and why this celebration of compassion is truly for everyone.

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014 will be held at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota on Sunday, September 28th, 2014. The festival is free to attend and presentations from visiting speakers, delicious food samples, a variety of exhibitors, and cooking demos. Join us and celebrate compassion!

Exploring Twin Cities Veg Fest – Part 3

Paul Shapiro

In this third podcast of a four-part series devoted to Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014, Compassionate Action for Animals’ Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad interviews visiting speaker Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to offering a preview of his talk for the festival, Paul reveals why he thinks the animal protection movement is winning, what led him to going vegan, and what was the most influential presentation on the subject of farm animal protection that he ever heard.

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014 will be held at Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota on Sunday, September 28th, 2014. The festival is free to attend and, in addition to presentations from visiting speakers, includes delicious food samples, a variety of exhibitors, and cooking demos. Join us and celebrate compassion!

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, March 28, 2019

March Dine-Out: Midtown Global Market

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Bridges of Respect – April 3, 2019

Friday, April 5, 2019

Pay-Per-View Video Outreach

Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019 Pancake Potluck Feast

Sunday, April 7, 2019 - Saturday, April 13, 2019

Twin Cities VegWeek 2019