Spotlight: Nick Coughlin

vegan nick coughlin the herbivorous butcherName: Nick Coughlin

City: Minneapolis, MN

Occupation: Founder of Compassionate Man Magazine

What inspired you to switch to a plant-based diet?
Purely animals. The only reason I went vegan was for animals. These days, I'm interested in health and fitness as well.

Sometimes when I'm a little lost or confused about my path, I think about my death bed and looking back on my life, wondering what I'll consider a successful life. I always come back to, 'Did I help make a difference for animals? Did I help reduce suffering? Did I help change people's hearts and minds?'

That's why I'm doing Compassionate Man Magazine (click here for a free issue!). Men have the same capacity for compassion and the problem is that we are so often discouraged from showing that side of ourselves. Our culture has such a warped sense of masculinity, and we need to change that. A whole, complete human being exhibits the whole array of human emotions, but we're taught that there are certain things that are masculine and certain things that are feminine, and I just don't buy that.

Are you currently a member of any organizations?
I do a lot with Compassionate Action for Animals. My heart really lies with farm animals. I cut my teeth at Farm Sanctuary and have a soft spot in my heart for what they do and the approach that they take in meeting people where they are. 

My sister is with The Humane Society of the United States, and I have a lot of friends with them. I have a deep respect for Mercy for Animals and for PETA. 

What do you do to stay physically active?
4 days a week I work out at home in the morning. I have a set of barbells and a pull-up bar, and I do a bunch of burpees. I'm about to begin training for the Chicago Marathon. I'm excited to get out there. 

What film would you recommend to people who are interested in learning more about veganism?
Peaceable Kingdom
is one I like a lot. Farm to Fridge is something I do as pay-per-view with Compassionate Action for Animals; it's pretty powerful. It's reality so we should open our eyes to that.

Books that have affected me are Eat To Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman, Whole by Dr Colin Campbell. Wayne Pacelle is an amazing writer. He's got a new book coming out in April, The Humane Economy, and I look up to him a lot.

Favorite local restaurant:
I like Himalayan and Pizza Luce. I love ethnic food like Ethiopian food and Thai food.

Favorite place to buy groceries:
I buy groceries at Cub and I do a lot of produce shopping at Whole Foods.

Favorite animal:
I love goats. My first profile picture on Facebook was of Neptune and me at Farm Sanctuary. He was a wise, old goat and the oldest at the farm at the time. He would rub his face against your face. 

My dogs are my favorite animals. They're my kids.

What's one thing on your bucket list?
One of my big goals is to be completely debt free. I want to owe nothing. And I'd loved to walk across America but I haven't been able to do it because I have bills to pay.

What advice would you offer someone who's interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Connect with people who are already doing it and who can help you along the way. Having a support system is really important especially when you're doing something that's still a fringe thing. Whatever your reasons are, find people who are doing it for those same reasons and connect with them. Someone who you can call and take you to the grocery store is going to make a big difference.

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Spotlight: Unny Nambudiripad

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.

Favorite animal:
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.

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