A big festival takes a lot of volunteers! Meet our fantastic volunteer coordinator, Liz Sias.
How did you get interested in advocating for animals?
I became vegan a little over two years ago. I knew some of the atrocities that occurred on factory farms, but somehow I was able to continue justifying eating meat for a long time. I finally said “enough is enough” and started by cutting meat out of my diet. It was easier than I thought it would be. As a vegetarian, I learned more and more about the dairy and egg industries, so it was only a few months later that I stopped eating those as well. I could no longer support the exploitation and enslavement of nonhuman animals — animals who breathe, think, feel pain and suffer just as we do. Humans can survive and thrive on a vegan diet, so eating animals is completely unnecessary. I remember feeling so relieved and happy that my behavior finally aligned with my values. I was voting with my dollar and no longer contributing to the system. It was around the same time that I found Compassionate Action for Animals and started volunteering by leafleting, tabling, planning the annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off and acting as volunteer coordinator for the Twin Cities Veg Fest!
What have you enjoyed most so far?
I’ve enjoyed meeting like-minded people. There are no words to describe how helpful it is, especially as a new vegan, to surround yourself with compassionate individuals who share your worldview. The people I’ve met through CAA have been some of the kindest, most passionate and committed individuals I’ve ever met.
What are you most looking forward to at Twin Cities Veg Fest?
I’ll be honest — I always look forward the most to the food [Editor: if she’s being honest now, what was she before? Hmm…]. The free samples are definitely worth checking out. Some of my favorites are caramels by Comfort Candy and chips by Way Better Snacks. This year I’m looking forward to trying out more from the Herbivorous Butcher, a local brother-sister team who makes vegan meats.
What are some interesting ways that volunteers have have helped out at Twin Cities Veg Fest?
There are so many volunteer opportunities! One of the more popular roles is handing out food samples because volunteers get to try the tasty treats themselves. I was so amazed at the volunteers last year who took initiative and stepped into leadership roles to run some of the tables, such as Paid-Per-View. People get a dollar to watch a five-minute video about factory farming practices, then volunteers have a brief conversation about the video. It’s one of the most powerful and effective forms of activism, and very rewarding for volunteers.
What makes you optimistic about the animal advocacy movement?
I’ve been reading more and more about how meat and dairy consumption has been on a steady decline in the U.S. for years. Every single undercover investigation into a pig, cow, chicken or egg-laying hen facility has an impact. Vegan outreach through groups like CAA has an impact. More people are becoming aware of the mistreatment of these animals and they’re not OK with it. And more people are learning about the devastating environmental impacts of animal agriculture. Plus, practically any food imaginable has a vegan version of it these days, so making the transition is easier than ever.
Imagine you’re talking to somebody who isn’t vegetarian and is, um, a little afraid of you. What would you say to them to convince them to come to the festival?
I’d tell them there will be free food! And it will include things like chocolate, caramels, chocolate milk, sausages, chips and more! The festival is also a great way to meet new people and learn a lot about animal agriculture and veganism through the speakers and cooking demonstrations. And did I mention there will be free food?
What hobbies do you enjoy (besides devouring tasty vegan food)?
I really enjoy rock climbing. I’ve been taking a lot of camping/climbing trips throughout the midwest this summer, which has been a lot of fun. I also do yoga and enjoy biking around Minneapolis and swimming in the lakes.
What’s a fun experience that you’ve had with a non-human animal? I visited a pig sanctuary just outside of Seattle called Pigs Peace Sanctuary. It was there I met Lucy, a beautiful (and huge!) pig who would have been slaughtered at a young age if it weren’t for the sanctuary. I learned that pigs are highly social and some of them — like Lucy — love attention. She seemed very content when I scratched her behind her ears.
What’s your favorite vegetable?
Red bell peppers. They’re sweet and crispy! Or is that technically a fruit? 😉