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Compassionate Action for Animals hosts 21st annual ThanksLiving Potluck

The event welcomed local community members to celebrate the holiday and demonstrate their compassion for animals.
Image by Georgia Jensen
Individuals gather at CAA’s 21st Annual ThanksLiving Potluck on Nov. 18.

The student chapter of Compassionate Action for Animals (CAA) at the University of Minnesota celebrated its 21st annual ThanksLiving Vegan Potluck at the St. Paul Student Center on Saturday.

The event, jointly hosted by CAA’s student chapter and its Minneapolis-based parent organization, is an annual opportunity for vegan students and community members to gather and celebrate Thanksgiving while also showing their compassion for animals.

Abbey Feola, CAA program manager, said the holidays can be a time when, amid the celebration, people often forget they are harming animals.

“Sometimes people see it as a trade-off,” Feola said. “Where people can say, ‘We’re hurting an animal but at least we’re getting pleasure out of it.’”

Feola said CAA events like ThanksLiving make for an easy way to navigate the holidays while living compassionately toward animals and eating a diet that is sustainable both for one’s health and the environment.

Each year, about 45 million turkeys in the U.S. are killed for Thanksgiving alone, many of which are kept in confined warehouse spaces and killed between three and five months of age, according to Feola.

Feola said ThanksLiving is a celebration meant for students and community members to explore ways to celebrate the holiday without causing suffering.

Ryan Sauers, CAA student chapter president, said ThanksLiving is an event where the local vegan community can come together to celebrate their thankfulness and compassion.

The event also gives people the opportunity to recognize how having a default mindset during the holidays can be cruel, Sauers added. During Thanksgiving, people express gratitude for their families, friends and pets but may not always stop to take a look at their plate.

“Thanksgiving is both recognizing that we are compassionate people, but we’re also capable of doing cruel things to animals,” Sauers said.

CAA’s central mission is to encourage Minnesotans to cultivate their empathy for animals and move toward a plant-based diet, Feola said. The group conducts outreach through a variety of events, including ThanksLiving.

Sauers said CAA’s other major events include a vegan chili cook-off in the spring, where CAA invites plant-based vendors to compete alongside students and community members and Twin Cities Veg Fest in September.

Sauers added CAA works closely with its parent organization and offers vegan students at the University the chance to be a part of a bigger community.

“The student group is a good stepping stone,” Sauers said. “There’s a lot of older vegans in that community that we can gain a lot of experience from.”

CAA events this semester, led by the student chapter at the University, included a bake sale to raise funds for an animal sanctuary, tabling in Coffman Union and Saturday’s ThanksLiving event, Feola said. The student branch also hosts weekly meetings, movies at the Coffman Theater and campus cleanups, which any student can attend.

Kelso Anderson, a University third-year student and member of CAA’s student chapter, said the events offer a great opportunity to meet other vegan students.

“There’s always food that I can eat without looking at the ingredients,” Anderson said.

Besides offering a safe and accessible space for local vegans to gather, Feola said the ThanksLiving event serves as a reminder that people can create community and enjoy food in a way that shows respect and compassion for animals.

“It’s important to emphasize, especially during holidays and praise and celebration, that we can have really wonderful lives without doing harm,” Feola said.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the year Kelso Anderson is at the University. They are a fourth-year.

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