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Meatless Monday Proclamation for Minneapolis!

Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon, a member of the Minneapolis City Council, recently issued a proclamation urging residents to observe Monday as “Meatless Monday” to improve their health, protect animals, and protect the environment. The proclamation recognizes that if Minneapolis residents ate meat-free just one day a week, they would save more than 1.2 million animals from factory farms each year and support the city’s efforts to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions.

Cam is a longtime vegetarian and has been a member of the Minneapolis City Council since 2006. In his time on the City Council, Cam has focused on ecological sustainability, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, and social economic justice. Cam is the most recent city official to support Meatless Monday, an international campaign aimed at reducing our carbon footprint and lowering rates of preventable chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Stop by Twin Cities Veg Fest this weekend to learn more about Meatless Monday. Cam will announce the proclamation at 9:45am by the entrance to the Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union. Attending the festival, you’ll sample delicious vegan food and discover ways that you can easily incorporate meatless meals into your weekly routine.

Why Does Our Logo Have a Pig?

From time to time, people ask us why our logo has a pig in it. Here’s the short answer: Pigs are freaking awesome!

Here’s a slightly longer answer:

For us, this festival is as much as about animals as it is about food. We chose a pig as our mascot because they’re fun, intelligent animals who deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.

We hope that people who come to our festival will be motivated to reduce the animal products in their diet or to eliminate them altogether. Maybe the delicious vegan food will convince them that changing how they eat isn’t so bad. Maybe one of our speakers will share some information about animals on factory farms that will help them rethink their current lifestyle.

If you don’t know how freaking awesome pigs are, here’s a powerful video from Farm Sanctuary about one amazing pig, Nikki.

Meet Raven, the Advertising Coordinator for Twin Cities Veg Fest


How did you get interested in advocating for animals?

I was raised vegetarian for ethical reasons and remain interested in animal advocacy to this day.

What makes you optimistic about the animal advocacy movement?

Animal advocacy is continuously evolving for the better. There are a lot of very bright people developing and adopting innovative, evidence-based methods for conducting advocacy.

Imagine you’re talking to somebody who isn’t vegetarian and is — um, a little afraid of you. How would you convince them to come to the festival?

We have a large and diverse crowd at Twin Cities Veg Fest. It’s free and open to all. You don’t have to commit to anything by attending. Just drop by for 15 minutes or hang around for several hours and check out whatever you please.

What hobbies do you enjoy (besides devouring tasty vegan food)?

Movies, traveling, and most of all learning and experiencing new things.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Just about anything other than zucchini is fine by me, and even then, I find zucchini bread and tempura pretty good. So I suppose any vegetable cooked properly is a favorite.

Mark Berkson Speaks About Compassion and Animal Welfare in the World’s Religions

Mark Berkson, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair in the Department of Religion at Hamline University. He teaches courses in Asian religions (including the Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist and Hindu traditions), Islam, and comparative religion. Mark received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Religious Studies, his M.A. from Stanford University in East Asian Studies, and his B.A. from Princeton University. Mark’s scholarly work has addressed topics such as religion and non-human animals; Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist thought; death and dying; and interfaith dialogue. His work has been published in numerous books and journals. His dvd/book project, “Cultivating Literacy for Religion,” part of the Great Courses series, was released in 2012. His next project, “Death, Immortality and the Afterlife in the World’s Religions” will be released in 2015.

In this session, Compassion and Animal Welfare in the World’s Religions, we will explore the attitudes toward and treatment of non-human animals in a number of the world’s major religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. While we will discuss the often ambivalent and conflicting perspectives on animals within each tradition, we will focus on the resources that can be found within these traditions to help human beings cultivate greater compassion for animals. We will see that the world’s religions, despite their many differences, all have ways of moving us from seeing animals merely as resources to be exploited to seeing them as relatives worthy of our moral concern, empathy and respect.

From the Margins to the Mainstream: Veg Eating in America

Paul Shapiro is the vice president of farm animal protection at HSUS. He’s played an integral role in numerous successful legislative and corporate campaigns to improve the plight of farm animals. In his role overseeing efforts to pass state laws and corporate policies, he works with lawmakers and major food retailers alike to implement animal welfare reforms in the agricultural industry.

Shapiro founded Compassion Over Killing in 1995 and served as its campaigns director until January 2005. While there, he worked as a farm animal cruelty investigator and led initiatives to end misleading advertising on factory farm products.

Shapiro has been interviewed in hundreds of print, broadcast and online news sources as an authority on farm animal welfare and animal advocacy. He has also published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals.

Paul’s topic at Twin Cities Veg Fest is From the Margins to the Mainstream: Veg Eating in America. Fifteen years ago, many people didn’t know what the word vegan meant, let alone how to pronounce it. Today, little could be further from the truth. From cultural icons like Ellen and Bill Clinton touting the benefits of vegan eating to the popularity of meat-free dining options to the reduction in per capita consumption of meat, it’s clear that this issue has moved from the margins and firmly into the mainstream.

One Girl, Two Cities Goes Veg!

One Girl, Two Cities is a weekly internet radio show hosted by our friend Laura (who is also one of our Social Media Ambassadors). On September 9, Laura hosted a show all about Twin Cities Veg Fest!

In the first half, Laura talked with Unny Nambudiripad, Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals, and Shannon Kimball who is our Exhibitor Logistics Coordinator and also a humane educator for Bridges of Respect.

In the second segment, Laura talked with some of our most anticipated exhibitors at Twin Cities Veg Fest: Kale, Aubry and Kamini from The Herbivorous Butcher and Nicky from Comfort Candy!

Read Laura’s recap here.

If you missed the show, you can still check it out on iTunes here.

Or you can listen here.

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Healthy Plant-Based Nutrition 101 with Kristina DeMuth

Kristina DeMuth is a Registered Dietitian and a Master’s of Public Health Nutrition student at the University of Minnesota. Kristina is a blogger at Moxie Musing and her Facebook page, where she advocates for a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Kristina spent the first-part of her career volunteering as a dietitian in Haiti, where she focused on the growth patterns and dietary intake of malnourished and undernourished children at an orphanage. Over the course of her time living in Haiti, her role as a dietitian greatly transformed as she started to realize the many social and political influences on the foods being served at the orphanage’s feeding center. Throughout Haiti, highly processed foods (candy bars, chips, sweetened beverages, high sodium seasoned packages called “Maggi”), refined carbohydrates, fried food, and processed meats and animal products were displacing the rich, plant-based native Haitian cuisine. Kristina was determined to help the Haitian people preserve their health with their native foods, and spent much of her time revamping the meals at the orphanage’s feeding center and exploring underutilized plant-foods. Kristina has written a nutrition chapter for “In the Pursuit of Orphan Excellence” by Phil Darke and Keith McFarland.

In 2013, Kristina returned to her life in Minnesota to attend school for public health, where she has learned about social injustice and health disparities here in America and abroad. Kristina recently returned home from Uganda—where she conducted her Masters research project, a qualitative research study exploring the use of the Moringa tree for children’s nutrition. Though much of Kristina’s work is involved in international nutrition, she promotes a plant-based diet as a way all Americans can reclaim their health, prevent chronic diseases, and reduce the impacts of climate change on the global population. Kristina recognizes that our eating patterns in America influence the rapid shift of eating patterns around the world.

Kristina became a vegetarian 12 years ago, and became a vegan in March 2013 while living in Haiti.

Kristina will be speaking about Healthy Plant-Based Nutrition 101. There are many reasons to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet, including the countless health benefits! Plant-based diets are associated with lower rates of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, a variety of cancers, and obesity (Lee, 2014). Despite the benefits of going veg, no dietary pattern will provide optimal protection against chronic diseases and provide you optimal energy unless it’s well-planned. Eating ultra-processed vegan food and skimping on whole- foods, may very well result in a nutrient-deficient, sluggish vegan. Make the most of your plant-based diet, reach your optimal health potential, and learn the tricks and tips of eating a balanced, whole-foods, plant-based diet.

An Interview with Taylor Radig, Former Undercover Investigator

Former undercover investigator Taylor Radig was the most recent addition to the Twin Cities Veg Fest schedule of speakers. Those of us who attended the Animal Rights National Conference last July got to hear Taylor Radig speak about her experience as an undercover investigator filming animal abuse on factory farms. We were so moved by Taylor’s firsthand account of the cruelty she witnessed that we wanted to bring her to the Twin Cities to share her powerful story with our local community.

I got to interview Taylor recently about how she got started in animal advocacy, her thoughts on the movement for animal liberation, and what she enjoys doing with her time when not speaking out for animals.

Can you tell me about yourself?

I was raised in California, and just graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology. After interning for The Humane Society of the United States, I was an Outreach Intern for Compassion Over Killing, until later becoming one of their undercover investigators. Personally, I like to think of myself as extroverted, friendly, caring, and curious. I’m extremely interested in the intersection between Christian philosophy and animal advocacy, a topic I wish to pursue more fully in the near future. I just recently moved to Denver, Colorado with plans of starting an intentional community and to continue being active for animals. Overall, my main passion is creating a more loving and compassionate world.

How did you get involved in animal advocacy?

I was 17 years old when I first saw an undercover investigation from PETA, something that changed my life forever. It was only a week later that I baked over 300 vegan cookies to give out with leaflets in the middle of my high school campus. From that moment, I started to more fully internalize the idea that for animals, we’re their only major defense. Being vegan is amazing, but the animals needed more from me. Later, I got involved with some amazing activists in Los Angeles and Orange County who took me under their wing.

What makes you optimistic about the future of the movement?

Though there are many exciting things that have happened in our movement recently, I’ve seen a revitalization of the importance of effective advocacy, “Nick Coonian” style [editor: Nick Cooney was a speaker at the 2013 Twin Cities Veg Fest], something that I find drastically important for our movement’s growth. I also see a new surge of alliance building by grassroots organizations, a tactic that has historically been extremely effective for a variety of movements. Lastly, I’ve seen more people building strong communities from their activist circles, something that I think is important for the vitality of the movement.

What’s your favorite food?

As stereotypical as this my sound, I LOVE salad, but I also love a good sandwich!

What hobbies do you enjoy?

On a typical weekend, I find myself reading non-fiction, hiking, doing vegan outreach, and watching documentaries. I also really enjoy trying new things. Some of the things I’ve tried lately are cliff jumping, pyrography, rock climbing, and making hard vegan cheeses! For the last couple years, I’ve applied my love of trying new things to my own personal growth; I find myself continuously trying personal experiments that help me gain new perspectives and skills. Some are small and silly, like smiling at more strangers, and some more complicated.

At the festival on Sunday, September 28, Taylor will be speaking at 2:30pm about how she became an undercover investigator. She’ll talk about the emotional challenges she endured, and she’ll share stories of the animals who she encountered. She will also tell you about how she was ironically charged with animal cruelty and outed after an investigation of a calf-raising facility in Colorado.

All speaker presentations will be held in the Mississipi Room on the third floor of Coffman Memorial Union.

Erica Meier Presents Veg Eating 101

Erica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. Working to expose cruelty to farmed animals and promote vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, COK’s strategic efforts include undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and public education.

Before working at COK, Erica was an animal control officer in DC, rescuing sick, injured, and homeless animals as well as enforcing animal protection laws.

Returning to Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2014 after appearing at our inaugural event in 2012, Erica will be speaking about Veg Eating 101: Building a Kinder, Cleaner, and Healthier World One Meal at a Time. Whether we’re concerned about our health, animals, or the planet, one of the most effective ways we can make a difference is to choose vegetarian foods. Learn why a growing number of people – including former President Bill Clinton, Robin Quivers, and Ellen DeGeneres – are touting the benefits of meat-free eating and how you can get active in your community to put more veg options on the menu in restaurants and cafeterias.

See Erica speak about changing the world at the 2014 Animal Rights Conference:

Meet Brita, Our Social Media Coordinator

Brita Bengtson

Twin Cities Veg Fest has seen an explosion in our social media this year, and Brita Bengtson is behind the magic. Let’s get to know her!

How did you get interested in advocating for animals?

I first went vegetarian at age twelve and then vegan a few years after that. Back then, I thought animal advocacy had to involve memorizing lots of facts like how many pounds of wheat it takes to make a pound of meat. I wasn’t very successful in my efforts, and for many years I decided to be content with the fact that I was eating a plant-based diet and minimizing how I was personally harming animals.

For various reasons, I decided to get back into animal advocacy in 2011 which led to me being on the committee for the very first Twin Cities Veg Fest. I’ve been involved with TCVF and various other CAA projects since then. Through my work with CAA, I know now that animal advocacy is not about memorizing and spouting mind-numbing facts; it’s about engaging with people about the compassion that’s already in their hearts and showing them how easy and rewarding it can be to embrace their empathy and live their compassionate values.

What have you enjoyed most so far?

Oh, the food, for sure. Should I also admit that I attend committee meetings for the food? The one I missed was the one with vegan donuts. I learned my lesson and won’t miss anymore.

What are you most looking forward to at Twin Cities Veg Fest?

I’m excited to see if the attendance numbers double or triple. Are we ready? [Editor: YES WE ARE!]

What are some of the ways people can use social media to promote the festival?

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. RSVP to the event on Facebook and invite your friends. Like and share our posts. Create your own posts about Twin Cities Veg Fest, hashtag them #TCVegfest2014 and #CelebrateCompassion. We also encourage people to take photos of their favorite food products and local restaurant food they want to see at Twin Cities Veg Fest and hashtag those posts #TCVegFestWantsYou .

What makes you optimistic about the animal advocacy movement?

I think it’s cool that billionaires like Bill Gates and others are investing heavily in compassionate companies like Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods. (Look for their products Beyond Eggs and Just Mayo!) They recognize that “the future of meat is vegan.” Being in the animal advocacy movement these days is like riding a wave, and it’s a lot of fun.

What hobbies do you enjoy (besides devouring tasty vegan food)?

Would it be weird to say one of my hobbies is social media? I love posting to my own personal Instagram account @britamaia and that highlights most of what I do in my free time… go to music shows, bike around, take in the sights, travel, enjoy my companion animals, and of course I also take photos of delicious vegan food (which I then devour).

What’s a fun experience that you’ve had with a non-human animal?

I try to go to animal sanctuaries whenever I get the chance. Luckily, we have one right here in Minneapolis called Chicken Run Rescue. At my last visit there, I spent some time with Cal, a rooster who lost his feet to frostbite. It was clear to me that he loves his life, and I enjoyed sharing part of it with him, if only for an afternoon.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

I really like them all except for green beans. I guess I would say avocado is my favorite even though I know it’s technically a fruit.