The Truth Behind Backyard Chicken Eggs

Of all the animal products vegans choose not to consume, I think it’s safe to say that the refusal of eggs from the neighbor’s backyard chicken coop seems to stir up the most omnivore confusion! Now how do these eggs from physically healthy, home-grown, free-wandering chickens still not get a vegan’s approval?! There are a few extra things vegans have taken into consideration to keep our feathered friends as happy as can be!

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Most egg-eaters might not know that chickens are cannibals! After laying her round of eggs, a hen’s (lady chicken friend) body will be exhausted and at a complete loss of calcium. In order to restore her calcium so she can prevent herself from illness, a hen will eat some of her eggs to receive all the nutrients that are vital for her to stay healthy and disease-free. Beyond just physical health, though, these beautiful feathered birds are ridden with anxiety when their eggs are taken away from them! They could be her children, after all. Hens become so sad, in fact, that they stress themselves to lay more eggs. The hens forcing themselves to lay eggs also takes a huge toll on their immune system, but more than that, their reproductive system becomes heavily damaged and will no longer be in their control.

Like any other food-like product vegans choose not to consume, the base of why we pick tofu scramble over eggs is simple: we do not take what is not ours! Those lady-birds sure need those eggs more than we do. They certainly don’t give humans any additional nutrition, seeing as they cause an egg-xstraordinary amount of threatening build up in your arteries! And after all, eggs are pretty much just chicken periods! Gross! And with so many great alternatives like the vegan egg and tofu scramble and alternative binders like bananas, aquafaba, applesauce, the vegan egg or flax seeds, who needs the chicken periods, am I right?

veggie

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Why Buy Fair?

Along with veganism, buying fair trade is one of the latest moral trends starting to make way into the social political conversation! In many cases of general consumer goods, an surprising amount of injustice is done towards workers; including being forced to do labor in hazardous conditions and/or sweatshops, relentless hours of work for little to almost no pay, and workers being forbidden from having any say in their work environment. Beyond being a new hipster fad, Fair Trade approval establishes that workers get a livable pay to support themselves and their family, that working conditions are safe and democratic, and that workers will be able to do their labor without fear of the building collapsing or being overworked; all traits that should be required for any work environment. Fair Trade companies also have a goal of keeping their practices sustainable, both environmentally and economically! They minimize their environmental footprint by abstaining from harmful agrochemicals for workers and the earth, and work to help artisans and farmers invest in their housing, schools and health care. To make sure no nooks or crannies of any business are overlooked, an intricate system of checks and balances are put in place within each community to guarantee fair living wages and worker guidelines.

From food to makeup to furniture, nearly every consumer good can be made Fair Trade. The public has recently taken an interest in assuring that specific items are made justly, such as coffee, chocolate and clothing. The reasonable pay will also tend to contribute to a higher priced product than consumers are normally used to, but don’t fear! If buying Fair Trade is out of your budget, there are other ways to still be active about this ongoing issue! The world has a huge amount of waste, and as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Check out your local thrift store, garage sales or even Craigslist and your trendy finds may surprise you. Furniture and clothing can be found for jaw-dropping bargains, and you will know your purchase didn’t contribute to keeping sweatshops in business! In the case of food, buying from Farmer’s Markets is always a safe alternative to grocery store shopping, and sometimes can also be much cheaper, not to mention the added benefit of helping a local business! Another way to stick up for this issue is just by talking about it! Any social movement would be at a stand-still without people willing to engage with others about the issues. Spreading awareness about why goods need to be Fair Trade and showing producers that there is a demand for ethically-sourced products has already started a decline in sales of unethical companies. I had never been extremely concerned about this movement until I saw The True Cost on Netflix, a documentary that reveals why this topic is so overlooked and what all consumers are overlooking. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more!

the_true_cost

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Plant-Based Food Association

plant-based

V-Grits is so lucky to be a part of the Plant-Based Foods Association! This association aims to stabilize fairness to companies that produce alternatives to animal products, such as plant-based meats and cheeses! The PBFA also makes efforts to educate consumers on why plant-based foods exist; and how they are comparatively beneficial to human health, the environment, and ethical stances. It could come as a surprise that there is a large amount of lobbying done by the animal agriculture industry, with a misleading goal of convincing consumers that animal products are a positive contributor to a healthy diet! Just in the past year, the dairy industry alone has spent an astounding $13 million dollars between lobbying and campaign donations (holy guacamole)!

In order to spread the truth about the mysteries within factory farming practices and assure plant-based companies are treated fairly, the PBFA was founded by the creator of Tofurkey to do their own sort of “lobbying.” However, rather than buying into keeping opposing companies under the radar, this association was made to assure we are still on the radar within government, media and consumer outreach. Despite the astounding growth in demand, this association acknowledges that plant-based foods are still made to be alarmingly taboo in current society, and challenges that the government needs a political revolution in order to “fix food.” The Plant Based Food Association has recently made a brief challenging Ag-Gag Law, or various laws put in place in order to limit journalism, investigation, knowledge and reports of and within animal agriculture. They have also found that the plant-based food industry has funded $13.7 billion dollars into the United States economy. An association like this is incredibly important to ensure that vegan companies are treated fairly and are well heard, especially seeing as plant-based foods are still more or less the new kids on the block, taking a stand for the animals, our health and the environment! Read more about their goals and accomplishments on their website, we could not be prouder to be a member of this awesome organization!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Seven Tips for a New Vegan

It could be pretty overwhelming for someone who is new to veganism, there’s so much to learn! Reconstucting unethical eating habits and ways of thinking does take effort, but it isn’t hard once you get your feet wet! Here are some tips for all you new vegans out there!

  1. Get your vegan radar on and locate some plant-eaters! Adapting this new ethical stance will be so much easier when you know other people who have adapted the lifestyle and ethics you are trying to achieve! Vegan friends can be super important resources to have just a text away! To meet new vegans, check if there is a local or worldwide community vegan page, or just hang around local vegan restaurants enough and you’re bound to meet someone new!

veganshop

2. Eat. a. lot! One of the most common problems new vegans seem to run into is not eating enough. Just like any other way of eating, food diversity is key to being healthy and meeting all your nutrition requirements. And if you continuously eat different foods such as fruit, grains, greens and beans, there’s no way the doctor will be able to find any deficiencies!

3. Let go of your fear for fruit! A huge myth in the food world is that eating a donut is practically the same thing as eating a banana! Fruit sugar is necessary and vital to keeping us alive, and sugars are definitely not all the same! A donut will leave you feeling sluggish, where as a banana fuels your body and keeps you feeling energized! Nothing is more nourishing or could be better for your body than fruits and vegetables.

4. Watch documentaries! Online movies have never been so easy to access, and have never been such a resource for vegan knowledge! Now, even Netflix has several movies that teach viewers about animal treatment in agriculture, and what animal products do to destroy our bodies and the environment. All benefits of veganism are not only important to learn as someone new to the lifestyle, but you’ll also find they’re important to be aware of when talking to others who challenge the movement! 😉

5. Plan out meals. Especially if you’re new to veganism, if you don’t know what food to buy, you might end up buying a lot of things all at once, and make a two dollar meal into a twenty dollar meal! Planning meals ahead of time can allow you to think of a filling meal that won’t break your budget! Want someone to do the meal planning for you? Grab a V-Box or a V-Card envelope and we’ll do the work for you!

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6. Seek out your veganized indulgences! Before I knew about the copious amounts of vegan options out there, I mostly ate a lot of vegetables drenched in Sriracha. Now I have all the same foods I had growing up like tacos, pasta, and pizza, just veganized! Living off roasted vegetables is honestly not super ideal for anyone, and probably not going to keep you loving vegan food as much as you could! Find your local vegan spots or head over to the frozen isle to grab yourself some cashew milk ice cream! I promise you won’t regret it!

7. Visit an animal sanctuary! Veganism had never been as close to my heart as it was after making a visit to local sanctuary Upland’s PEAK. Seeing the animals affected and saved from animal agriculture made practices of the industry much more real to me, and it also made me see how gentle these beautiful creatures are that the food industry is harming. Visiting and volunteering for sanctuaries can be a reminder that there is hope for our sweet, innocent, furry friends, and that as vegans, everything we do is to help those little fellas out!

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We hope these seven tips help you on your way to achieving a cruelty-free lifestyle! If you still find yourself struggling, send V-Grits an inbox and we’ll be happy to help with any and all questions that convert you to that word no vegan ever thought they would call themselves… Vegan!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Tyson Buys Into Beyond Meat

“Are vegans making a difference?”

meat

Once again, we have proof that heck yes we are making a difference! The New York Times recently released that the largest meat producer in the United States has bought into an all-vegan meat brand, Beyond Meat! Caring about ethics of animal agriculture has become the latest social trend, and Tyson is finally starting to get the memo! Judging by Tyson’s standard practices for treatment of animals, Tyson is clearly extremely distant from caring about animal ethics, but seeing vegan meat as a prized financial opportunity shows where the crowds are headed! Multiple avenues such as social media, blogs, and YouTube have exposed and spread awareness of animal cruelty to the public far more now than in the past. Unbiased studies not backed by the meat or dairy industry (we see you lobbying, meat and dairy industry!) have come out time and time again now stating that animal derived foods are the most detrimental products to human health. According to Mercy for Animals, increased awareness has resulted in a decline of meat sales by 15% just in the last year, and plant-based proteins are expected to make up a whopping 1/3 of protein sales in the US by 2054. How rad! Hopefully in the near future, the habitual act of eating chicken flesh will become strange enough to where it is no longer common practice; thank goodness we are clearly headed in that direction!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

A Vegan’s Restaurant Guide

When you’re new to veganism, it can definitely be challenging to know what to ask at non-vegan restaurants in order to guarantee your meal will be 100% without animal products! As both a vegan and a foodie fanatic, here are some tips I’ve picked up to be certain your meal is cruelty-free, no matter what cuisine you are in the mood for!

  • American food: Most American food is pretty blatant with their use of animal products, mac and cheese and burgers tend to lay them on thick! The trickiest thing to watch out for is lard, or animal fat, commonly used for frying. Soups can also contain animal broths instead of vegetable broths (even vegetable soups!) so double check about that, too! Common salad dressings are almost always not going be vegan, but oil, lemon, salt and pepper can kick your veggies up a bit!
  • Thai/Vietnamese food/Korean food: Fish sauce and fish oil are ingredients that are hard to pick up, so make sure you ask for none of that fishy stuff in your food! If you get a Thai curry with coconut milk, ask if they use any other type of milk in the curry as well, such as half n half. Noodles may also contain egg!
  • Mexican food: Make sure you ask for no sour cream and no cheese! Besides that, lard can sometimes be found in tortillas, and some dairy might be slipped into sauces or guac! Vegan guac, avocado or extra beans can sometimes be subbed for  cheese or sour cream to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth!
  • Italian food: There tends to be cheese, and lots of it! Ask for your meal without cheese, and check about the use of eggs in the noodles. Dairy such as Parmesan or butter might also be hidden in the marinara or pesto sauce! At pizza places, ask if cheese or butter is used in the sauce or on the crust! Some pizza places have vegan cheese, but not enough! Good thing pizza tastes heavenly without it, too!
  • Chinese/Japanese food: Ask if your soup broths are meat, fish or egg based. Surprising dishes on the menu also may contain egg. Meals such as fried rice might also be cooked in butter!
  • Indian food: Many Indian meals are made with Ghee, or clarified butter, and you would never guess until you ask! Ghee can be found in a variety of dishes, from rice, to appetizers, to curries. Yogurt is also commonly found in Indian cuisine, so ask about it’s use in condiments!
  • Mediterranean: Tzatziki will probably be the sneakiest ingredient in Mediterranean food. If you’re looking for a creamy replacement, Baba Ganoush is a personal favorite!
  • For any places you go to and after double and triple checking,  you still are unsure if the word “vegan” is getting across: Dairy allergies and egg allergies will go a long way to guarantee there are no animal products in your food! Only use for emergency cases, though! 😉

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Now go out and get your grub on! 🙂

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Halloween Veganized!

Are you unsure of how to veganize your Halloween candy this year? A lot of people might not know the surprising and alarming mysteries within typical seasonal sweets, such as gelatin (made from animal bones & tendons), Carmine (made from beetles) and cow milk fat! That all sounds pretty spooky to me! Luckily, we know of a few yummy treats that will still have the kids thinking of your house as the “cool house” on the block this year!

halloween

  • Oreos
  • Airheads
  • Fireballs
  • Homemade Chocolate Covered Pretzel Wands (with some dairy free dark chocolate such as Chocolove, of course!)
  • Vegan Marshmallows
  • Skittles
  • Lemonheads
  • Twizzlers
  • SweetTARTS
  • Swedish Fish
  • Smarties
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Blow Pops
  • Pixy Stix
  • Juice Boxes
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Fun Dip
  • Dum Dums
  • Dots
  • Keebler Jumbo Fudge Sticks
  • Popcorn bags (maybe not a sweet treat, but I never protested these when I got them! Many popcorn brands are accidentally vegan, even the buttery ones! Double check the allergens to be sure.)
  • Hubba Bubba Bubblegum

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  • Lemonheads
  • Brach’s Rootbeer Barrels

We hope this list satisfies your sweet tooth! Happy Halloween shopping!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Sunrise Sanctuary

Last November I was headed to Akron, Ohio; and there was no way I was about to drive six hours without stopping at at least one new farm animal sanctuary along the way! Sanctuaries are more than vital to the vegan movement, saving innocent animals from brutal lives in horrendous animal agriculture conditions. Lucky me, I made it to Sunrise Sanctuary in Columbus, Ohio just in time for their “Thanksgiving for the Turkeys,” just as Thanksgiving should be! The rescued turkeys were fed yummy snacks like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and the sanctuary visitors got to mingle with the furry residents and partake in a chili cook off! Cuddling with cows, stocking up on rad Sunrise Sanctuary apparel, drinking apple cider and eating chili is my kinda afternoon! The animals were free to roam at their leisure, ranging from horses and goats to gentle cows and sassy little piggies! The turkeys were waddling in between the line of people waiting to get chili, curious to see what shenanigans were happening. Visiting Sunrise was also my first experience meeting a cow, and I can’t think of an instance that melted my heart more. They are so large, soft and sweet! A cow named Baby Moo even knelt down so I could get a better reach to scratch  his ears! We couldn’t think of a better place to give a portion of V-Box meal kit and V-Card recipe envelope proceeds to this October. This year, their Thanksgiving for the Turkeys will be held on November 20th. If you’re going up north anytime soon, we would definitely recommend checking Sunrise Sanctuary out!

cowfrancowfrandcowpigcowturk

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Louisville

When I first visited Louisville, I was floored by the overwhelming number of vegan options in town! It seemed as if I could eat anywhere, without having to check twice, or call ahead in fear of the dreaded vegetable plate! If only everyone knew! Here are all the vegan-friendly places (or soon-to-be places, hint hint 😉 ) in the 502!

  1. V-Grits
  2. Half Peach Bakery & Cafe
  3. Lovafare
  4. Flora
  5. Ramsi’s
  6. Dragon King’s Daughter
  7. The Meridian Cafe
  8. Silver Dollar
  9. The North End Cafe
  10. The Mayan Cafe
  11. P.F Changs
  12. BoomBozz
  13. SnoWhat Snowballs
  14. Queen of Sheba
  15. Garage Bar
  16. Little Jerusalem
  17. Germantown Crafthouse
  18. Addis Grill
  19. Abyssinia
  20. Roots
  21. Heart and Soy
  22. Annie’s Cafe
  23. Cafe Mimosa
  24. El Camino
  25. Bean
  26. Steel City Pops
  27. Zoe’s Kitchen
  28. California Pizza Kitchen
  29. Please & Thank You
  30. Proof on Main
  31. Joy Luck
  32. Tom & Chee
  33. Simply Thai
  34. Time 4 Thai
  35. Heitzman’s Bakery and Cafe
  36. Havana Rumba
  37. Chipotle
  38. Wendy’s
  39. Seviche
  40. Varanese
  41. Qdoba
  42. Lydia House
  43. Slice
  44. Kentucky Taco Company
  45. RedTop Hotdogs
  46. The Fishery
  47. Dairy Kastle
  48. Dakshin
  49. Shalimar
  50. The Grape Leaf
  51. Chopshop
  52. Noodles & Company
  53. Taco Bell
  54. Pieology
  55. Wild Rita’s
  56. Shiraz
  57. Martini’s Italian Bistro
  58. Blaze Pizza
  59. Mellow Mushroom
  60. Quills
  61. Joella’s
  62. Royal’s
  63. Louivino
  64. Four Sisters
  65. Zen Garden
  66. Nam Nam Cafe
  67. Bluegrass Brewing Company
  68. Against the Grain
  69. Holy Grale
  70. Wiltshire
  71. The Hub
  72. Whole Foods
  73. Rainbow Blossom
  74. Annie May’s
  75. Sweet Surrender
  76. BarriCibo
  77. Heine Brothers
  78. Highland Coffee
  79. Vietnam Kitchen
  80. The Irish Rover
  81. Sapporo
  82. Wild Ginger
  83. Sake Blue
  84. Kansai
  85. Asahi
  86. Salsarita’s
  87. Panera
  88. Pita Pit
  89. The Falafel House
  90. The Three Amigos
  91. El Mundo
  92. Yang Kee Noodle
  93. Comfy Cow
  94. The Weekly Juicery
  95. Graeter’s
  96. Olive Garden
  97. Buca Di Beppo
  98. McQuixote Books & Coffee
  99. Feast
  100. Zad’s
  101. Mt Fuji
  102. ToGo Sushi
  103. Barcode 1758
  104. Corbette’s
  105. Arctic Scoop
  106. Oishiii
  107. Super Chefs
  108. Ginza
  109. Osaka
  110. Shogun
  111. Charim
  112. Fun Mi Cafe
  113. Olive Leaf Bistro
  114. Bunz Burgers
  115. Skyline
  116. La Bamba
  117. Spinelli’s
  118. Granville Inn
  119. Pizza Donisi’s

Happy cruelty-free eatin’ folks!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

V-Grits Heads to Chi-Town!

This past Saturday, the V-Grits crew had a rad time selling our vegan cheeses at Chicago Veganmania! We came, we ate (a lot), we sold, we left. Here are some highlights from our trip (mostly food, of course).

  • Rocket 88: Out first stop was in Indy! We needed some donut/coffee power to get us to Chicago, so a stop at a local coffee shop with a lovely selection of vegan options was definitely needed! Some veg-friendly menu items included Apple Pie Donuts (delish!) and savory Tempeh Waffles. If you’re in the neighborhood, I would definitely check it out!
  • Chicago Diner: I ordered a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Milkshake with whipped cream Saturday night. How’s that for plant-based? 😉 Chicago Diner is doing it right, with their awesome slogan “Meat free since ’83!” Meat free is how we like to roll! Of course, no diner is complete without country fried steak, spicy chicken sandwiches, and Reubens, right? This spot had it all, and was packed from wall to wall when we visited! We love to see vegetarian spots thriving, and this one kept our bellies full (for a couple of days) and our taste buds content!
  • Pick Me Up Cafe: Another vegan-friendly diner we ate at was Pick Me Up! This diner had everything from vegan jalapeño poppers, to french toast, to steak pizza grinders! The portions will not disappoint! Not to mention, a killer tea selection! I opted for a dark orange cinnamon clove tea, and regret not asking for another tea bag!
  • Chicago Veganmania: We had such a blast at this event! While selling cheese out the wahzoo, we met some inspiring folks, including Jasmin Singer, co-host of podcast “Our Hen House” and Senior Editor of Vegnews, cookbook author and YouTube star the Vegan Black Metal Chef, and NFL vegan David Carter, aka the 300 pound vegan! Talk about starstruck! The day was completed with some amazing food (mango lassis, ribs, typical vegan stuff), educational seminars and cute vegan apparel! It was a great day all around, we can’t wait until the next one!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi