For this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest we are offering you the opportunity to order t-shirts and commemorative posters in advance of the event. Orders will be open until the end of Wednesday, October 16. All orders must be picked up at the festival.

We have t-shirts available in S-XXL in two styles, unisex and women’s fitted. We also have two great commemorative posters for sale.

While we will probably have a few extra shirts and posters for sale at the event itself, we strongly recommend you purchase yours in advance. We do not want to end the festival with a huge stock of inventory, so we plan to err on the side of too few items, not too many.

Order your shirts and posters today!

We’re thrilled to announce the final two performances for the free Twin Cities Veg Fest concert, two more great Minnesota acts. We have rapper Sean Anonymous and alt rockers Sleepyhead joining us.

Sean Anonymous first found success with the groups Wide Eyes and Bottom Feeders. He released his solo debut album Anonymo in 2012 and since then he’s performed on the Warped Tour, opened for Macklemore at SXSW, and performed at Minneapolis’s own First Ave.

Check out his track Sunny on YouTube:

Sleepyhead is a Minneapolis based alternative rock band influenced by the great Midwest, pine tree’s and Third Eye Blind.

Here’s a live studio video of their song Inscription:

Our final concert lineup is In Defence, Alison Scott, Sean Anonymous, and Sleepyhead.

We’re thrilled to have all these great artists joining us. Please share this post with your friends and family. We’ll post the exact start time for each band soon, so stay tuned to our blog, Facebook page, or Twitter stream.

Is it Sal? It is! Sal is the effervescent Social Media Coordinator for the 2013 Twin Cities Veg Fest. Check out her handiwork on Twitter. Sal kindly took a break from tweet-checking and face-blogging (is that what the kids call it?) to answer a few questions.

TCVF: Hey Sal! Glad you could join us. So how did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Sal: Unny Nambudiripad recruited me with adulation after I had one or two cocktails at a mutual friend’s vegan dinner party. 🙂 Just kidding. Well, sort of kidding. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to get involved somehow. The role of Social Media Coordinator for the festival didn’t occur to me until Unny encouraged me. His enthusiasm is contagious.

TCVF: What have you enjoyed most so far?
Sal: I have yearned for a veg fest in the Twin Cities for as long as I can remember. When I caught wind that Compassionate Action for Animals was putting together Twin Cities Veg Fest in 2012, I was thrilled. I eagerly attended the event and was so impressed. Being invited to volunteer in 2013 to help grow the event has been quite enjoyable for me. The volunteer committee is a marvelous group with big ideas for this year and beyond.

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to?
Sal: I’m most looking forward to celebrating compassion with friends new and old — of course this is best done while eating vegan waffles by Kitty Corner Cafe, don’t you agree?

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Sal: My favorite thing to do in my free time is try new restaurants, co-ops, markets, and recipes. Frankly, my world revolves around good food and sharing the experiences with my loved ones and anyone else who will listen.

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Sal: Pigs have always been near and dear to me. When I was a kid, my sister and I spent weeks each summer on my grandparent’s pig farm playing with the piglets. It broke my heart to see them mistreated. Also, I fell positively in love with a turkey named Baby at Heartland Farm Sanctuary this summer. See how sweet he is? <3 <3 <3 You can meet some of the fine folks from Heartland Farm Sanctuary at Twin Cities Veg Fest. Arrange a visit with them and maybe you'll fall in love, too?

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?
Sal: Party food is my favorite kind of food. This spicy pulled “pork” made from jackfruit rather than pigs is always a big hit at parties and potlucks.

TCVF: I tried to do the jackfruit pulled pork thing with the syrupy kind. It, uh, it didn’t work. But it looks awesome! So, what’s rockin’ your world this month?
Sal: What’s rockin’ my world this month? Quite frankly, I wish it was still summer. Catch me rockin’ myself into partial hibernation with winter squash and vegan pho.

That sounds like an excellent way to deal with the fast-approaching cold. Thanks Sal!

One of the most important goals for the festival is to showcase delicious vegan food. To that end, we’re excited to announce some of the food vendors that we’ll have at the festival.

Asase Yaa

Food from Asase Yaa
Food from Asase Yaa at the 2012 festival –
Photo by A Frame Forward Photography (www.aframeforward.com)

First up is Asase Yaa. Asase Yaa is a local catering and festival food provider run by the amazing chef Petrina Walker. Petrina will be cooking up a variety of delicious vegan food with influences from Africa to Asia. Her food was a big hit at last year’s festival, and she sold out before the end of the festival, so get yours early this year! Asase Yaa catered the Twin Cities Veg Fest Donor Preview event in August and her food was spectacular.

Kitty Corner Cafe

Kitty Corner Cafe waffle
A vegan waffle with bananas, strawberries, walnuts, and powdered sugar. Photo by Michelle Rosier

We are also excited to have Kitty Corner Cafe as a vendor this year. Kitty Corner Cafe is a relatively new cafe that opened on Washington Ave just east of Cedar earlier in 2013. Owner Zuhal Sari is committed to providing great vegan options, and her shop includes vegan waffles and sandwiches. Kitty Corner will be selling Turkish style vegan waffles served with fruit, nuts, and powdered sugar. We’ve tried them at the shop and they’re fantastic!

Stay tuned for more announcements because we have three more great food vendors to tell you about! Here’s a few hints … Think spring rolls, misir wot, and delicious vegan cookies, muffins, and cupcakes.

We’re excited to announce two of the four artists who will be performing at the Twin Cities Veg Fest Concert, Alison Scott and In Defence.

Alison Scott is known for her souful sound and amazing vocals. Check out this great video of her song The Trains:

Check out Alison’s website for more music and videos.

In Defence will bring a head banging and mosh pit (circle pit only please!) to the festival. Check out this video for Black Metal Mania:

Check out the In Defence site for more music and videos too.

We’re thrilled to have Alison Scott and In Defence at this year’s festival. Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook page, or Twitter stream for future announcements of more artists.

Compassionate Action for Animals is pleased to announce our Their Lives, Our Voices Scholarship Program! CAA will provide scholarships to five individuals for the Their Lives, Our Voices animal advocacy conference on Sunday, October 27th at the University of Minnesota.

If you are interested in this scholarship opportunity, please write a short (300 words or less) essay on how attending TLOV will help you develop and advance your animal advocacy.

Please note that this scholarship is only open to students or low-income individuals. The application deadline is Friday, October 4th. To apply, please send your essay in an email to scholarships@tlov.org.

Look who’s helping plan the 2013 Twin Cities Veg Fest – it’s Unny! Unny is the Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals and an integral cog in the Veg Fest machine. Unny serves as the media spokesperson, a fundraiser, and the supreme coordinator of volunteers, communication, and logistics between the festival and outside organizations. We sat down with Unny (I mean, we were probably both seated while emailing) to discuss the Veg Fest and intimate details of Unny’s life.

TCVF: How did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Unny: Somehow I was convinced by volunteers in the organization that we have the capacity to plan the biggest event we’ve ever done. And we did! The 2012 festival went great, so I helped pull together the team for this year.

TCVF: What have you enjoyed most so far?
Unny: With one successful year behind us, I’ve enjoyed imagining new things we could do. And we’re doing new things! A concert and the resurrection of Their Lives, Our Voices. The concert will be a lot of fun, and draw a new crowd. It’s being done in the memory of my dear friend Kenny Feldman and this is a great opportunity to commemorate his life. The popular conference that we held from 2008 through 2010 is coming back, giving activists the tools and ideas they need to get more involved to advocate for animals. Can I say what I haven’t enjoyed, too? We’ve dreamed up a lot of things that we don’t have the capacity to do. But there will be next year…

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to?
Unny: That’s easy! I’m looking forward to the feedback saying that people learned something new and they’re planning on changing their diets. We’re offering a wide variety of resources – speakers talking about vegan nutrition, low-profile restaurants serving tasty vegan food, exhibitors exposing the cruelties of factory farming, and much more. I have full confidence that when attendees see our vibrant community and learn about vegan food, they’ll start making changes. And that change is exciting to see and be a part of.

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Unny: Is it a bad sign that I read this question as an accusation? Some people (I won’t name names) think that all I do is animal advocacy. 🙂 I like to cook food with friends, bike, camp, and meet people. I’m an animal person, but I really love meeting people and trying to figure out what makes them tick!

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Unny: When you asked me this last year, I said cows. This year I’m changing my answer to chickens. When it comes to hanging out with animals, nothing has changed. But many advocates have pointed out that we confine and kill so many more chickens than all other land animals combined that advocating for them could have the biggest impact in reducing animal suffering and death. And my interest when it comes to animals is to be the most effective advocate I can be.

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?
Unny: Spicy Peanut Eggplant and Shallot Stew! Everybody loves it, it’s very tasty, it works great as leftovers, and it happens to be healthy. I like to make a big batch of it, eat it all week, and share it with friends (see above about what I like to do). I substitute broccoli for green beans. The author of this recipe, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, has written many excellent vegan cookbooks that I recommend.

TCVF: What’s rockin’ your world this month?
Unny: I’m wrapping up this summer with my cousin’s wedding — a huge multi-day affair with extended family. I try not to expect or demand anything from them, but I’m privileged to have their love and support. Over the years, they’ve slowly participated more in Compassionate Action for Animals events and have become more sympathetic to the animal cause. Last year one of my brothers came to the Twin Cities Veg Fest, told me loved it, and subsequently he and his wife became vegetarians.

TCVF: Ah, wedding season. To be young! Thanks Unny!

Clark (a goat) and Brita (a human)

Welcome to another installment of “Meet a Cool Veg Fest Committee Member!” Today’s victim feature is Brita Bengtson, our Media Outreach Coordinator. Brita’s in charge of writing and distributing press releases, arranging advertisements, planning events for members of the media, and promoting the Veg Fest to as large an audience as possible. As long as it took to read that sentence, it took even longer to do all those things. Amazing!

TCVF: So Brita, how did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
Brita: I started out as the Advertising and Media coordinator for our inaugural Twin Cities Veg Fest 2012. I was blown away by the response to Twin Cities Veg Fest 2012 – over 1,200 people came! So the hard work was really worth it.

TCVF: What have you enjoyed most so far?
Brita: The Veg Fest committee is full of foodies who possibly (?) love food even more than I do. Also, many are great vegan cooks so the food we share is always a huge incentive to come to meetings. I also attend most of the other CAA events that involve food, like the Vegan Chili Cook Off, dine-outs, potlucks, cooking classes, Vegan Food Showcase and Veg Week events.

TCVF: What are you most looking forward to?
Brita: I love music of all kinds, so I am looking forward to the addition of live music to Twin Cities Veg Fest. It sounds like we will have a diverse mix of sounds for people to enjoy along with the delicious food!

TCVF: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Brita: I like to enjoy summer when it comes around, so that involves a lot of biking around to different shows, and music and movies in the park.

TCVF: Who or what species is your favorite animal?
Brita: This year in June, my admiration of goats was reaffirmed when I visited some at Heartland Farm Sanctuary. I came upon a young goat who looked like he was taking a nap while the other goats and sheep frolicked. I was told his name is Clark, and that he’s not so active because he has arthritis. Then I just wanted to give him a hug. Although Clark touched me in particular, all the animals at the sanctuary were a delight – such distinct individuals, like all human and non-human animals. They are all “someone, not something” as our friends from Farm Sanctuary would say.

TCVF: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?
Brita: I love being creative with food, so I am trying new things all the time. I also think it’s funny that vegans try to make “bacon” out of anything. One I have tried and loved recently is shiitake “bacon”.

I’m pleased to have worked with Carole and Stan Feldman to present the Twin Cities Veg Fest concert in memory of Kenny Feldman. Kenny was a close friend of mine and was instrumental in my being where I am today. We lost him to suicide 14 years ago.

I met Kenny as soon as I started college. Kenny was an avid reader, intensely curious, a lover of music, and was an irreverent skeptic. Knowing him became an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

During our second year of college, we were living together and he started volunteering with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), an environmental and social justice organization. He spoke enthusiastically about what they were doing and the people he met. I decided I would get involved, too, and followed his lead – to my first MPIRG meeting. I got involved, and by the fall I started to see that organizing for social change was meaningful for me. Through MPIRG, I met an animal activist and became involved in animal advocacy. A year later, I co-founded Compassionate Action for Animals.

Kenny’s life was difficult. He suffered from depression much of his life and took his life in 1999. I’m grateful I was able to know him and that I was influenced by him. Shortly before he passed away, I told him how much he meant to me and how I appreciated the key role he played in getting me on the path I am on.

I hope this concert is a fitting tribute to his life. He was a lover of animals. He was close to his companions and was a vegetarian. Kenny loved music. He listened to an expansive variety of genres.

I loved the way that Kenny danced. He was always listening to music and going to concerts, but he rarely danced. He was shy about it; he didn’t think he danced well. He lived with muscular dystrophy, which made his movements unique — and better. He was wild and he was original, and this made him a beautiful and inspiring dancer. And it was these same qualities that led him to be a voice for those less fortunate.

I’ve stayed in touch with his parents, and with their support we’re doing the concert in Kenny’s memory. They want to keep his memory alive, and to remember him for the things he loved – animals and music. Kenny’s family misses him every day and is honored to support CAA, an organization that so closely aligns with his deeply held value of compassion.

If you, or a loved one, are struggling with depression, please go to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) website for more information on how you can help or get help.

Exhibitor Hall

After last year’s festival we got a lot of positive feedback. We were told that we should “have one ever year”. Ok, done. One person said that it was “very informative and educational”. Great, that’s our goal!

But of course, the love wasn’t universal. For example, one person wanted “speakers geared towards more experienced vegans/vegetarians”. But here’s what we wish someone had told us: “I’m already vegan and I came to this event but I didn’t learn anything new.”

If you’re vegan, that’s great! Thank you for making compassionate choices. You’ve already done a great deal to help reduce the number of animals suffering needlessly in factory farms. But when we consider who the festival is for, we have to ask ourselves how we can reduce that suffering even more.

So who is the Twin Cities Veg Fest for? It’s for people who are still eating animal products, of course. If we want to make a further change beyond our own diet, we need to reach out to people who are in the best position to help animals, the people still eating them. The goal of the Twin Cities Veg Fest is to showcase the thriving, warm, fun community of people who care about animals in the region. We also want to provide powerful information on the realities of factory farming and how each individual can help animals simply by moving towards a vegan diet. That is the thinking that drives every decision we make about the festival. We want to make this an event for everyone, but especially for people who aren’t yet vegan.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you already know a lot of the information we’ll present at the festival. The speakers’ presentations may seem too basic, the products we present may not be new to you. But for people who are new to these issues, these presentations and products could be just the thing that convinces them to make a change in their lives.

While many vegetarians and vegans heard about the festival from us last year, many of the people who still eat animals heard about this event from a vegetarian or vegan friend. It’s people just like you who made the festival a success last year. If you can come to the event this year with three of your non-veg friends, think of the impact that could have!

While the festival is targeted at the veg-curious, we also have an event for those who are already convinced. This year we’re bringing back our Their Lives, Our Voices animal advocacy conference. This conference will take place on Sunday, October 27, the day after the festival. The conference will feature two tracks of great speakers including nationally recognized leaders in the animal advocacy movement, including Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals and Nick Cooney from Farm Sanctuary. We also have a great lineup of locals including speakers from Compassionate Action for Animals, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, and experienced organizers from the Sierra Club. If you want to take the next step to help animals, this conference will empower you with the skills and motivation you need to take your advocacy to the next level. Registration is just $20, so please buy your ticket today.