Twin Cities Veg Fest Spotlight: Mike Wolf

Name: Mike Wolf

Occupation: Investigations Manager for Compassion Over Killing - I'm a former undercover investigator, and now I recruit investigators and oversee them when they're in the field. 

The last two investigations that we released have both gone viral. One is from Quality Pork Processors, a pork slaughter plant and exclusive supplier to Hormel. They're located in Austin, MN. Our latest was with Tyson Foods, released a couple months ago.

What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
About 11 years ago, my dog Curly died. Curly was my best friend and like a brother to me. When he died, it was a very difficult time and hit me really hard. I spent a lot of time online looking up pet loss and came across information on how dogs are slaughtered and eaten in other countries. I'd heard of it before but hadn't thought about it, but then I thought, if Curly had been born in one of those countries, he would have been on a factory farm and hit and kicked and beaten, then one day killed and put on someone's plate.

The thought was really disturbing but then I realized I was still eating other animals. It seemed hypocritical and during my mourning, I thought about how I was participating in that treatment and slaughter of other animals. I went vegetarian within a couple weeks of Curly's death. 

A couple months after that, I was working in the field as an investigator and shortly after  that, I adopted a vegan lifestyle and diet.

Did you notice any physical or mental differences after transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Absolutely. Physically, I had a faster recovery after lifting. Overall, I felt better. I didn't feel weighed down after a meal. That bloated, sick feeling disappears after you start eating vegan. Mentally, I was happier. I was much more content and satisfied in my life and felt like I was living up to my morals. My eyes were opened, and once they're open, there's no going back.

Are you affiliated with any vegan-related organizations?
Compassion Over Killing celebrates its 21st year working in animal protection. Throughout that time, we've conducted dozens of investigations in meat, egg, and dairy industries, and they've led to several different types of positive outcomes. 

I'm also affiliated with PlantBuilt, an all vegan, all natural fitness competitive team. It's comprised of bodybuilders, powerlifters, kettlebellers and cross-fitters. This year we're adding Olympic weight lifters and Strongman competitors as well. It started a few years ago by the founders of They wanted to smash the stereotypes surrounding vegan diets.

What do you do to stay physically active?
I train for power lifting 4 days per week: 2 heavy days and 2 light days. The main focus of my training is the bench press. I also dead lift.

What book or movie relating to veganism would you recommend?
Movie: Earthlings was done incredibly well from start to finish, covering every aspect of how animals are used. I would also recommend our Investigation Page which will give you a glimpse into the lives of animal in every aspect of the animal agriculture industry.

Book: I recommend The Chain by Ted Genoways. Ted is a fantastic writer, very descriptive, and captures your interest right away. We've had the pleasure of working with Ted a couple times now in relation to the Quality Pork Processors investigation. (See the NY Times article here.) The book has a lot of really great information surrounding Quality Pork Processors, the USDA, Hormel, HIMP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points-Based Inspection Models Project) and issues that are really important right now. The USDA is going to make a decision soon whether or not to implement the HIMP program to all pig slaughterhouses, which is the program that they follow at QPP. It's essentially a high speed slaughter program that pulls USDA inspectors off of the lines and speeds lines up to a pace that forces the workers to conduct inhumane shortcuts in order to keep up.  

Favorite restaurant: Sage... I love a lot of vegan restaurant but this has been one of my favorite places to go to. I'm very partial to their pizza. I'm looking forward to adding The Herbivorous Butcher to my list very soon!

Favorite place to buy groceries: Whole Foods and Sprouts - Whole Foods has a fantastic amount of vegan products. It's like walking into a vegan mecca. I'm a big fan of Sprouts' produce, and they carry a lot of vegan options.

Tell us one thing on your bucket list: I have a firm believe that one day we will live in a vegan world. Whether or not that happens in my lifetime remains to be seen, but even if not I think we'll see change on a massive scale during our lifetime on how animals are being used and abused. It's starting to happen, and we've seen a lot of positive changes in the last several years. It's the tip of the iceberg.

I want to complete a 400-pound competition style raw bench press. Competition style has 3 judges surrounding you and you have to perform it up to their standards. You have to do it with a pause, lower the bar to your chest, then wait for a press command. It makes it much more difficult to perform.

What's one piece of advice you'd like to offer someone who's working on the transition to a plant-based diet?
Congratulations! You'll look back on it as one of the greatest if not the greatest decision of your life. The only thing you'll question is why you didn't do it sooner. You'll feel amazing from Day 1 and it'll keep getting better and better: physical and emotionally/mentally.

Make it fun and diverse! When I first transitioned, it was all new to me since I was living on the road and in hotels. It was confusing and intimidating, and I lived off pasta that I cooked in my hotel rooms. It worked for the time being, but there's so much more. There are so many different things to eat; I'm still learning about them even. There's never a time when you won't be able to find something. Find what you really love to start and then expand.

You can see Mike speak at Twin Cities Veg Fest on October 29 at 11:30am. Learn more about Compassion Over Killing on their website:

RSVP to our Facebook event for TCVegFest for sneak peeks at our menu offerings and other news.

Read more

Liza's October Update

Watkins Glen, NY, is well into fall, but there's still plenty of sunshine for Liza Pig to enjoy. She and her sister Maggie spend their days rooting around in the pig pasture and napping. This cute piggy has got it made!

Since the sun sets earlier, making the evenings cool, Liza and Maggie tuck in earlier than they did in the summer and like to snuggle up with Truffles, the herd matriarch. 

Did you know that it's common for pigs to retain strong familial ties? So it's not at all unusual that Liza and Maggie spend so much time together. 

You can sponsor an animal at Farm Sanctuary, too! Click here to learn more.

Thank you to our friends at Farm Sanctuary for helping us out with the photos and updates, and check back soon for Richard's next update.

Read more

Twin Cities Veg Fest Spotlight: Pamela Ziemann

Name: Pamela Ziemann

City: Sequim, WA on the Olympic Peninsula.

Occupation: Solo Performer, Educator, Author

What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
I loved talking with cows when I was growing up. They were the best listeners ever! I saw one of them with a broken leg being pulled onto a trailer. My dad encouraged me to ride along and see the butchering process. It was the most insensitive thing I’d ever witnessed. Later, my mom was serving lasagna and I realized it was the cow I’d seen, my friend, being butchered.  That’s when I stopped eating meat. I can still see the fear in her eyes and that was about 4 decades ago.

Like many people, I didn’t make the dairy connection until years later. What inspired me to go vegan was my workout buddy who decided to stop eating all animal products. I told her I’d try it with her for 21 days. Having her as an accountability partner made all the difference. After the 21 days, I completely lost my appetite for dairy and eggs.

About the same time, I saw the documentary Peaceable Kingdom.
The moment I saw Snickers (the cow) bump into Harold Brown’s chest ‘breaking him open’ my heart opened too. I related at a core level when he talked about how farm kids are expected to turn off their feelings when it comes to certain animals. It was ok to love a dog, but cows, pigs and chickens didn’t seem to matter.

Did you notice any physical or mental differences after transitioning to a plant-based diet?
In the beginning, I was just avoiding animal products and still eating a lot of processed food. I didn’t notice a huge difference. But, when I went whole-foods, plant-based, the pounds dropped off. Now when I avoid oil and sugar I notice my joints feel better.
Something shifted in my mind as well. It’s one of those things that’s a little tricky to describe. 
Someone told me once they had more mental clarity when they went vegan. I thought to myself, “What are they talking about? I have mental clarity!”

Then when I went vegan, I knew exactly what they were talking about. Like a veil dropped. The veil that protected me from seeing what I was doing that wasn’t aligned with my values. That’s when the mental clarity about every aspect of my life opened up.
What I’ve noticed is that this lifestyle is much more than just food choices. By witnessing and respecting all life, I feel more respect for myself and that I matter.

Are you affiliated with any vegan-related organizations?
Port Townsend and Beyond Vegan Meetup (Washington State)

What do you do to stay physically active?
I walk my dog Ruby every day and sometimes chase her around the house. I also play table tennis, it’s great exercise mentally and physically. There’s a 91-year-old woman where I play who still kicks my butt. (Not every game though.)

Is there a book or movie you’d like to encourage people to check out regarding veganism?
Movies: Year of the Dog to watch with family members who don’t understand why you’re vegan (if you did it for animals). It’s poignant, not preachy, and at the same time, playfully honest.

I also recommend Iron Jawed Angels (free on YouTube) It’s not a vegan movie but I think activists can learn a lot from it. It’s a true story that was kept out of our history books. It documents how women got the right to vote, how they stayed inspired, what they had to go through and how they were smart about making changes in society where people didn’t want to change. All of this can be applied to veganism.

Forks Over Knives for people who are concerned about their health, Cowspiracy for people who are concerned about the environment, and Peaceable Kingdom for animal lovers.

Book: World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle. He covers all aspects of veganism, even some you may not have thought about.

Favorite local restaurant: When I’m in Minneapolis I enjoy the cornmeal crusted black bean burger with homemade guacamole on a sprouted organic bun at French Meadow on Lyndale Ave. However, looking at the Herbivorous Butcher menu, it may become my new favorite! When I find a place that’s ALL vegan I feel happier eating there.

Favorite place to buy groceries: I’m thankful for the St. Peter Food Coop. It’s halfway between the Minneapolis airport and my parents' farm in Fairmont and is a good place to stock up on organic and local products. They have sprouts and micro greens, too!

Tell us one thing on your bucket list: To perform my full one-woman show at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival in 2017.

What’s one piece of advice you would offer someone who is working on the transition to a plant-based diet?
Hang out with as many veg-friendly, uplifting people as possible. You can find them at meetup groups or plant-based cooking classes. If that’s not available to you, watch uplifting documentaries and stay focused on the reasons you’re making a plant-based diet your goal.

You can see Pamela speak at Twin Cities VegFest on October 30 at 1:30pm. Learn more about Pamela on her website:

RSVP to our Facebook event for TCVegFest for sneak peeks at our menu offerings and other news.
Read more
Back to Top