Can you feel the excitement growing for the first ever Twin Cities Veg Fest? I know I can! This week we are lucky enough to have the Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals with us, Unny Nambudiripad.
CAA: What is your role on the Veg Fest team?
Hi Ashley, I’m the Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals, the organization hosting this event. As the director and sole staff of CAA, it’s my responsibility to make sure that all of our programs and events — including the Veg Fest — are planned according to our mission and core values and to facilitate the volunteers and funding necessary to make them successful. I provide the committee members with resources on using our technology, coordinating volunteers, finding supplies, and raising funds.
CAA: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like swimming in the lakes, playing cards with my family, square dancing, sharing tasty and healthy food with friends, and singing loudly (and out of tune) while I bike all around town. I also like transportation policy, worrying about what I forgot to do today, Harry Potter, and superheroes. [ed: best response ever to this question.]
CAA: How did you get involved in planning the Veg Fest?
We’ve been talking about doing something like this for well over a decade and for a few years we had planned a conference (Their Lives, Our Voices). I wanted more of our time spent on activities that reach a wider audience. The conference attracted a couple hundred people, but I know that this festival can attract thousands. We need a lot more folks paying closer attention to how their food choices impact the treatment of animals, and this seemed like a strategic way to get the word out. We started planning in August and have been gaining steam since then!
The question I ask myself every day is: what’s going to help animals the most? It’s hard to be very certain, but I have a few ideas. This event will address the area where humans exploit animals the most: animal agriculture. Also, every day people sit down and decide what to eat and that decision has a huge impact on farmed animals. We want to help people make compassionate choices for farmed animals and the Twin Cities Veg Fest will empower people by educating them about how animals are treated, by giving them inspiration and resources, and also to see that there are many other folks who care about animals and want to make kind choices. This is why I want to plan the Veg Fest.
CAA: What have you enjoyed the most so far?
It’s been fun working with the committee. They’ve been motivated, consistent, and have a great sense of humor. They’re quite good looking (if you look at them from the right angle). I also like that we’ve been getting more attention for this event from the media, from acquaintances, and from strangers than we usually do.
CAA: What are you most looking forward to at the Veg Fest?
I’m looking forward to getting feedback after the event that says one of two things: 1) Thanks so much for putting this event on. I had a great time and learned so much and I am going to try to eat more plant-based foods, or 2) I want to get involved to help animals!
I’ve been advocating for animals for 15 years and I see this event, and all I do, as steps along the way to change how farmed animals are treated. Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress, but I stay positive because I know that’s what’s needed to be successful. I hope that this event will bring more people into the animal advocacy movement.
CAA: Who/what species is you favorite animal?
I like cows! I was around cows a lot as a kid when visiting my grandparents in India. They are serene and gentle. I aspire to be as serene as they are.
Thanks so much Unny for taking the time to share your knowledge and passion with us as we gear up for the Veg Fest! Inspired to help out? Check out our Volunteer page for more info on how you can get involved!