Name: Unny Nambudiripad
City: Minneapolis, MN
Occupation: Executive Director of Compassionate Action for Animals
What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
Originally, I got into it in connecting with the cultural heritage of my family and ancestors that were vegetarian for many generations. Then, I started thinking about it more and it really connected with me to move towards a vegan diet because I want to be compassionate toward those individuals in our society that are most vulnerable.
Did you notice any differences when you went plant-based?
The biggest thing I noticed was that I felt great taking a substantial step to live out the values I held dearly, to be standing up for what I believed in.
What are some common reactions you receive when you tell people you're vegan?
I find it interesting when sometimes before I even say anything more, people will start to defend their own behavior. But sometimes it happens the other way around where somebody who isn't vegan says they think it's really wonderful and that they appreciate and admire it.
Do you participate in organizations other than Compassionate Action for Animals?
CAA works a lot both locally and nationally with other groups distributing literature and videos, and we host speakers from other organizations. I get to work with activists from the Twin Cities and around the country on promoting compassionate living.
What do you do to stay physically active?
I love to stay physically active by biking all around town; it's my primary form of transportation. I also go on bike trips. In the summer, I like to swim in the lakes and in the winter I like to go cross-country skiing.
What book would you recommend to people who are interested in learning more about veganism?
I encourage people to read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's very creative, and he asks a lot of good questions about the ethical treatment of animals. The book that got me into this is Animal Liberation, a classic.
Favorite local restaurant:
My new local favorite is Reverie, all vegan except for the dairy they serve with coffee. All the food has been fantastic.
Favorite place to buy groceries:
I go to a non-profit grocery store called The Good Grocer and they're doing a cool thing - getting healthy food in a place where there really isn't another grocery store nearby.
I'm partial to chickens. They're beautiful creatures and as full of personality as other animals we know. They don't get the attention they deserve, and what happens to them in factory farms is very sad. They're probably the worst abused land animals, so I really appreciate them.
What's one thing on your bucket list?
I actually have plans to do this, but I'm going to do a bike trip and haul a canoe behind me with all my supplies. I'll bike to a river and canoe down the river, then bike home.
What advice would you offer someone who's interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet?
The biggest piece of advice that I would offer is to crowd out your diet with great food. Try restaurants, cook new food, share food with friends. When you find great plant-based foods, you'll find that you don't need the animal products. I think that a lot of times, people will fear that they'll miss certain foods. I think that if you're eating tasty food, you'll develop new tastes.