Compassionate Times: August, 2014

keynote speakers

Animal Rights National Conference 2014 Wrap-Up

Since 1981, the Animal Rights National Conference has been offering a place for animal rights activists and others interested in the welfare of animals to network and learn more about the movement. The 2014 conference took place in mid-July in Los Angeles and had a number of high-profile speakers and insightful workshops.

Compassionate Action for Animals was fortunate to have several volunteers and staff members attend the conference this year, and we wanted to catch up with them to learn more about their experiences. This year, we had some veterans and some first-timers attend the conference, and we’ll take an inside look at the experiences of both.

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Veggie Options for a Balmy Backyard Barbeque

Here in Minnesota, we’re having unprecedented summer weather: not so hot and not so humid. Perfect for a backyard barbeque! And how convenient that Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a barbeque potluck on Friday, August 22nd at the home of Suzy Sorensen, 1099 Lombard Ave in St. Paul from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

If the thought of a barbeque conjures an unappetizing image of charred animal flesh (aka hot dogs and hamburgers), we’ve got good news for you. At our potluck, we’re taking animals off the menu and replacing them with a variety of colorful, flavorful plant-based options. Bring on the Tofurky!

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Seward Cafe: A Vegan’s Dream Come True

tacos and torta

In case you haven’t heard, Seward Cafe may be deemed a vegan’s dream come true. And lucky you, Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a dine out at this veg-friendly haven on Wednesday, August 13th, 6:30 – 8:30pm.

Choosing from their menu, a person eating a plant-based diet won’t be at a loss for tantalizing dinner options. Their selection of comfort-food classics like burgers, brats, and nachos can all be made vegan. (And let’s not forget about the baked goods. Please, more chocolate chip banana bread!)

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Chicken Run Rescue: An Oasis of Peace

Matt with a chicken

Compassionate Action for Animals is hosting a tour of Chicken Run Rescue on Saturday, August 9th, from noon to 1:00 p.m. I hope you’ll come and experience for yourself the peace and healing of this chicken sanctuary in Minneapolis.

Two years ago, I had an amazing experience visiting Chicken Run Rescue, which provides temporary shelter and veterinary care for neglected, abused, and abandoned chickens and works to find adopters in the Twin Cities area. It’s a little oasis of peace in the middle of a busy city. I had passed by the sanctuary many times, and I was surprised that something like this existed.

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Compassionate Times: April, 2014

Student Holding Soy Milk

Bridges of Respect (Bridges) is Compassionate Action for Animals’ humane education program. Bridges serves the Twin Cities and surrounding area by providing presentations on animal protection issues for classrooms and community organizations free of charge. We spoke with the Program Coordinator, Mr. Shannon Kimball, about some details of the program:

1. Tell us about how Bridges of Respect and CAA work together.

Bridges of Respect is an outreac and education program that reaches hundreds of people with a large amount of information. At the same time, we have other activities, such as leafleting, that reach thousands more with a smaller amount of information. Both are vital. I wish the general public sought out information on animal protection and veganism more often, but for the most part, we have to make a platform for our advocacy. In other words, we often create the opportunity to share our message and we do it well through a variety of community building events, food giveaways, the TC Veg Fest, and a lot more. In the schools, the administration seeks us out on a professional level, putting CAA in a position of authority. In a well-established institution of learning, the Bridges program has the undivided attention of the audience, who are in an environment where they expect to learn.

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Announcing Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014

Punk Rawk Labs at Twin Cities Veg Fest

We’re excited to announce that we have a date for Twin Cities Veg Fest 2014! This year’s festival will take place on Sunday, September 28, 2014 from 10am-4pm. That’s right, this year we’re holding the festival on a Sunday.

Like previous years, we’ll have lots of free food for you to try, fabulous food vendors, and compelling speakers. For this year, we’re also adding a day of cooking demos. Talented chefs will show you how to prepare all sorts of tasty, accessible, and healthy plant-based foods.

Sponsoring the event is a great way to get the sponsor’s name or product in front of an interested audience. Last year’s event attracted approximately 2,000 people and this year we expect 2,500 or more attendees. If you know of any business or organization that would be interested in sponsoring, please let us know.

Our exhibitor application is also open. Sign up now to guarantee yourself a table in the exhibit hall. Do you know of a restaurant, business, or nonprofit that you’d like to see at the festival? Encourage them to apply! Exhibiting is a great way for them to get their product or message out to thousands of attendees.

We’ll also be hosting our Their Lives, Our Voices conference on the same weekend. This year’s TLOV will take place on Saturday, September 27.

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Welcome to Our New Website

New Website Front Page

As you might have noticed, Compassionate Action for Animals has just launched a new website design. We think this site has a clean, simple design that will make it much easier for people to find the content they’re interested in. The new website software we’re using also makes it much easier for volunteers to edit and update the site, which makes us happy.

We’d like to thank Brita Bengtson, Ashley Flitter, Jeff Johnson, Matt Mackall, and Jake Nath for their help while we worked on this site. We’d also like to thank Cali Mastny for helping us refine the design from our initial rough prototypes.

We have migrated some of the content from our old site, but not all of it. We will transfer more content over in the future. If there’s something you’re really missing, please let us know so we can prioritize bringing to the new site. And of course, if you find broken links, images, or anything else broken, please tell us so we can fix it.


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The 2017 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award Goes to…

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award.

We’ve created this award to recognize a person, organization, or business in our community whose amazing work is pushing the ball forward for animals. This year, we’re giving the award to Christine Coughlin, Minnesota State Director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Christine has been active in the field of animal protection since 2002, with a focus on grassroots legislative campaigns and electoral advocacy. Christine has served on animal welfare policy task forces for the City of Minneapolis, initiated the biannual publication of Minnesota’s Humane Scorecard, and founded Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, serving as president and executive director until 2014.

Christine’s legislative experience includes working with allies to pass state and local legislation. Her accomplishments include:

  • The Dog & Cat Breeder Regulation Law & Beagle Freedom Law (2014)
  • Making possession of animal fighting paraphernalia a crime (2010)
  • Defeating a pro-horse slaughter resolution (2009)
  • The ordinance to protect community cats in Minneapolis (2014)
  • A ban on recreational and commercial trapping in the City of White Bear Lake (2014)
  • Prohibition on the pet store sale of dogs and cats from puppy and kitten mills in Roseville (2017)
  • A ban on the use of bullhooks on circus elephants in Minneapolis (2016)

CAA will present Christine with the award at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2017 on September 9 at Como Park. The award presentation will take place at 2:15pm under the big tent just before the panel discussion on farm sanctuaries.

This award honors the memory of animal lover Kenny Feldman. He thought animals were to be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. Kenny was a close friend of Compassionate Action for Animals co-founder and first Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad. He inspired Unny to become an activist. Sadly, we lost Kenny to suicide 18 years ago. From that tragic loss, we were moved to establish this annual award to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who strive to create a more compassionate world.

The Feldman family wants to thank CAA, Unny Nambudiripad, and current Executive Director Laura Matanah for helping preserve Kenny’s memory and continuing his legacy of being an animal lover and activist in animal rights campaigns. To find out more about Kenny, visit the Remembering Kenny Feldman Facebook page.


2017 Twin Cities Veggie Awards – Winners Announced!

CAA strives to make going vegan as easy and accessible as possible so that we can help as many animals as possible. With that in mind, we started the Twin Cities Veggie Awards in 2016 to acknowledge the most outstanding vegan businesses in the Twin Cities area. (See last year’s winners here.)

Of course, we want you to know about each of these outstanding businesses so that you can benefit from what they have to offer. We also want to help these businesses thrive and to encourage other businesses to be more veg-friendly. Ultimately, we want to help create a community in which vegan options abound, where plant-based living is a more realistic option for everyone.

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Meet Our New Board Member – Abraham Rowe

We’re excited to have another passionate animal advocate on the team helping to guide our organization.

Abraham Rowe has a long history of advocating for animals, starting from his childhood in New Mexico. At a young age, he tried vegetarian and vegan diets, and then he began advocating for animals in high school.

Abraham moved to Ohio for college, where he studied analytic philosophy and history. His main focus was environmental ethics and agriculture. His career path has taken him in a variety of directions, from a tea-taster for Google to fundraising for a traditional dog and cat shelter.

Currently, he has a full-time position with Mercy for Animals, working on their corporate campaigns to improve conditions for chickens on factory farms. While the focus is animal welfare, Abraham acknowledges, “Ending the exploitation of animals as soon as possible is a priority, but that’s not going to be tomorrow. And there are animals on factory farms whose lives can be improved.”

Abraham moved to Minneapolis in December of 2016 and soon after became active with CAA, helping with outreach and then joining the planning committee for the Annual Banquet. After demonstrating exemplary commitment to the work, he was invited to join the board of directors.

What does Abraham appreciate most about CAA?

Volunteering for CAA, I get to advocate directly for veganism. And CAA is special because it’s community-based. If you look at the national groups, you’ll see they’ve been doing similar work to CAA for the same period of time, but because they’re national organizations, they’re not as integrated with the communities they’re reaching. CAA is in a unique position to connect with its community in a way that really addresses the critical issue of recidivism in vegan diets. We can follow up with folks after giving them a leaflet and invite them to join community so they feel support and continue moving toward a plant-based diet.

And what are his hopes for the organization?

I haven’t been here long enough to have a grand vision for CAA, but one of the primary things to address is building community, especially reaching out to groups of people who have not been represented as much.

And being new to the Twin Cities, does he already have a few favorite places to find vegan food?

Definitely Reverie, J. Selby’s, and The Herbivorous Butcher. Also, On’s Kitchen Thai Cuisine in St. Paul is excellent. The servers are really good with pointing out vegan stuff on the menu. And Pizza Lucé!

We’re glad that Abraham is making the Twin Cities his home, finding lots of awesome vegan food here, and putting all his compassionate know-how to good use for the animals.

Are you interested in becoming a member of our board of directors? For more information, contact Laura Matanah at

Vegan Food Justice: One Person Can Make a Difference

For those of us who’ve been vegan for a long time, it can be tempting to say “going vegan is easy,” suggesting that our passion for animal liberation should override all personal discomfort and that the choice should be obvious for everyone. But truly, transitioning to a plant-based diet is not simple for many, especially for those who don’t have access to wholesome plant-based foods.

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CAA Strategic Planning Report – Part 1

Photo of a person lovingly holding a chicken

CAA’s strategic planning is currently underway. So far, the process has had three components: an online survey, two town hall meetings, and a strategic planning meeting. Here’s more information about each segment.

Online Survey

The process began in March of 2017 with a survey sent via email to all of CAA’s contacts, including event participants, volunteers, and donors. We welcomed input, asking the primary question: What are the key problems that CAA should be addressing through its work?

Forty-five people responded to the survey and offered their individual perspectives. The results were reviewed, and the most common input was collected and categorized for future consideration as part of the strategic planning process.

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The 2017 Annual Banquet in Pictures!

Thanks to all who joined us last Saturday for the 2017 Annual Banquet! On this gorgeous spring evening at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul, we gathered with the compassionate community to celebrate CAA’s nineteen years of advocating for animals in the Twin Cities region.

With a sold-out crowd of nearly a hundred in attendance, we enjoyed a reception, silent auction, and gourmet vegan dinner. Throughout the evening, more than $9,000 was raised to support CAA programs that help to make the world a kinder place for animals. That’s the most money ever raised at a CAA banquet! We can’t thank you enough for your partnership.

The meal included meat-free meats and cheese-free cheeses generously provided by our event sponsor, The Herbivorous Butcher. Many CAA volunteers contributed to preparing and serving the delicious food, which had a Jewish and Middle Eastern theme. We are very grateful to them and also to the many volunteers who helped to plan and execute this big event. (We could not have done it without you!)

Mistress Ginger, emcee for the evening, added humor and heart to the festivities, while special presenters included Kara Breci of SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary as well as CAA volunteer Dyne Stephenson and Executive Director Laura Matanah. Their powerful stories reminded us of why we do what we do and inspired us to continue to embrace our compassion as we move forward and expand our reach.

We are very grateful to all of you who support CAA through your volunteerism, event participation, and donations. If you were unable to attend the banquet and would like to make a one-time donation, or sign up to be a recurring donor, please visit our donate page and give today.

We hope you enjoy this photo slideshow featuring moments from the banquet. Please visit our events page to see what we’ve got coming up in the near future and how you can be involved.

J. Selby’s Brings Vegan Food to St. Paul!

We know that convenience and accessibility are two of the major factors that play into whether people feel empowered to move toward a plant-based diet, and so nothing makes us happier than to see more vegan-friendly restaurants opening up. Then when you have an all-vegan spot opening up in an area where few other veg options exist, we’re just ecstatic.

We’ve been jumping for joy ever since Matt Clayton announced his plans to open J. Selby’s in St. Paul, near the corner of Victoria Street and Selby Avenue. And now, after months of preparation, they’re opening their doors on Monday, April 17, just in time for VegWeek.

How did J. Selby’s come to be?

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What’s Virtual Reality Outreach?

CAA has a new outreach method. Using virtual reality technology, we’re giving people a more powerful experience of their own compassion.

Previously, our essential outreach techniques included leafleting, pay-per-view, and vegan food giveaways. Leafleting and pay-per-view have been effective ways of reaching lots of people and teaching them about the inherent cruelty involved in animal agriculture. The food giveaways give them a taste of the delicious plant-based food options that can replace the animal foods in their diets.

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Veg Resources

Upcoming Events

Friday, March 30, 2018

Pay-Per-View Outreach

Saturday, March 31, 2018

2018 Annual Banquet

Friday, April 6, 2018

Pay-Per-View Outreach

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 Vegan Pancake Brunch Feed-In