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!