1 Year Later

Nearly every vegan has scoffed at the idea of becoming one of those notorious plant-eaters! You live, you learn and eventually you might even find yourself no longer eating furry animal friends or their secretions. Check out this awesome video PETA put together about discovering veganism as a social justice movement over the period of a year!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

6 Vegan Women Who Kick Butt

It’s International Women’s Day! Every day is worth celebrating womenhood, but particularly today is a day to reflect on the underestimated accomplishments of women and the impact they’ve had on social justice! Here are some women who kick some major booty!

Coretta Scott King: Coretta Scott King was a fearlessly active and outspoken member of the Civil Rights Movement. She was also vegan for the last 10 years of her life, after spending all her life speaking out on behalf of anti-racism, women’s rights, and gay rights! She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and was CEO and President while being an avid lecturer and author.

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Angela Davis: Angela Davis was an outspoken leader within the Black Power Movement, and was even sentenced to jail for her unapologetic fight for equality as she highlighted oppression within prison systems, racism and capitalism. She’s also a proud vegan and radical feminist, shown in her lectures when she will correlate all systems of oppression.

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Caroline White: Caroline White founded the first animal shelter in the U.S! She worked to create a Pennyslvania branch of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), but once she realized men were resilient to have women in leadership roles, she created the Women’s Humane Society.

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Charlotte Despard: Despard was a defender of women’s rights, animal rights and worker’s rights to the death – literally! She founded the Women’s Peace Crusade, the Women’s Freedom League, the Women’s Prisoners’ Defense League. She went on to serve on multiple social justice councils and was even imprisoned for unphased activism!

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Margaret Dawson: Margaret Dawson was the organizing secretary of the International Animal Protection Societies, but like many vegans, her activism was apparent for all forms of life. She additionally founded a home for abandoned babies, campaigned against sex trafficking, assisted refugees during World War I, and founded the Women’s Police Volunteers.

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Elsie Shrigley: Shrigley co-founded the Vegan Society shortly after breaking off from the Vegetarian Society, which more or less was the official beginning of veganism. She stayed on as President in the beginning, and continued to be an active committee member as long as she lived.

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

 

How To Spend the Women’s Strike & International Women’s Day

Once again, women are sticking up for themselves and striving for equality! I know, crazy right? The founders of the Women’s March are coming back for Round 2, a strike referred to as “A Day Without a Woman.” The goal of the strike is to show exactly how extensive the value of women and their work are, despite that women are far more likely to experience unequal pay in the exact same role, discrimination, sexual harassment, and more in the work place. Although participating in the strike through choosing to abstain from work would be completely ideal, that may not be a realistic agenda for women of all backgrounds, demographics and jobs. But luckily, there are a plethora of ways you can be an active member of this strike! Here’s how:

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  • Wear red!: Strikers will paint the country red in representation of “revolutionary love and sacrifice,” according to the organizers of this march. Coming from someone whose closet is about 50% grey and 50% black, I can feel your potential struggle! Bandanas, hats and other accessories can come in handy, and pink is a pretty close match if all else fails!
  • Refrain from shopping: Online, in store, and at your favorite coffee shop! Part of the goal of the strike is to make an enormous economic dent. Use this day to find inventive ways to not spend money instead! Make a crazy good dish (or completely average, because who says women have to be good cooks 😉 ) out of the corners of your pantry, play scrabble instead of going out to see a movie, break out your tub of coffee grounds instead of making the daily morning pitstop, go on a walk through Cherokee Park, make art, read a book etc. International Women’s Day is the day for putting yourself first!
  • Venture to female and/or female minority owned businesses if you do go out: Female owned businesses in town include Time 4 Thai, LOVA Fare, Half Peach, and Bankstreet Brewhouse. You could also purchase a Flora treat from Quills. A night out to the movies can be spent watching Hidden Figures, an amazing movie about three black female engineers who worked for NASA!
  • Thank the women in your life: No matter what the job or what the background, the women you hold with high regard have inevitably made huge sacrifices and have overcome major hurdles just to keep keepin’ on. Thank your mom for always hanging in there with you, thank the cashier who always smiles at you, thank the friend who brightens your day, thank your neighbor for giving you gardening tips. Thank them for the impact they’ve made, the help they offered, the support they’ve given, and the hoops they’ve jumped through (for example, thank you Ellie Shechet for the blog inspiration!). Thank them for every positive aspect of yourself or your life that they’ve contributed to.
  • Round up your gal pals!: Any female protest is better spent with other lady friends! Have a potluck, movie night, Pictionary night, or all of the above! Here is a list of feminist movies to watch (Miss Representation is a personal favorite!) on your celebratory night of womanhood!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Creator of Glycemic Index Goes Vegan!

Watch out, big pharma! It looks like switching to a vegan diet is becoming the dietary trend of the decade as more and more medical professionals get on the plant-based train! The Glycemic Index was created created by Dr. David Jenkins in 1981, ranking foods in correlation to their increase in blood sugar. His agenda was to develop a better understanding of how carbohydrates affected diabetes.

His work ended up being so extraordinary that he ended up influencing dietary guidelines for the World Health Organization, the U.S National Academy of Sciences, and national diabetes associations in multiple countries across the globe. He’s also a Canada Research Chair in nutrition, metabolism and vascular biology, faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto, and a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. He even became the first Canadian recipient of the Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health. Basically, this guy’s a pretty big deal!

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Now, rather than focusing on low carb diets, Jenkins says the real health concern should be focusing on eliminating animal products from human diets. He isn’t just plant-based, though! On top of health discoveries, he additionally decided to drop the animal flesh and secretions for ethical and environmental reasons.

“Human health must be linked to planetary health, and how we feed ourselves has a major impact on the planet,” Jenkins explains. We couldn’t agree more!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

If Everyone Went Vegan, What Would We Do With All the Animals?

It’s a question that’s graced the ears of every vegan. “So if everyone went vegan, what would we do with all the animals?” Aka, are vegans trying to get animals to take over the world?! As pleasant as that world would probably be, I think it’s safe to say that’s far from the end goal.

If the world went vegan, that would mean all humans no longer put the life of one animal before another, so we wouldn’t treat the abundance of farmed animals any differently than we treat the abundance of dogs and cats. There would just be more animals that need all our lovin’! Humans definitely have the power to harm animals, but as I’m sure you know, just because we have power to cause harm, definitely doesn’t mean we should!

Dogs and cats have become prized animals in modern Western cultures, mostly because humans have domesticated them far beyond the point of return! But humans haven’t only erased a dog or cat’s natural place in the food chain. Farmed animals also fell victim to human greed. Since we are the ones who caused those animals to be unable to live freely in the wild as they once could, now it is our duty to be their guardians and protect these sweet, lovable fellas like they deserve! The treacherous practices of animal agriculture are coming into light more and more, and more farmed animal sanctuaries are popping up and saving our animal friends as a result! As the vegan movement grows, the more support sanctuaries will get, and the more animals they’ll be able to rescue.

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The world definitely won’t go vegan overnight (outside my daydreams, anyways), but I’ve got a little hunch that some day, not being vegan will be as taboo as not believing in global warming. Especially as humans realize how much animal agriculture and global warming correlate! For now though, if we stop buying meat and animal products, these animals will no longer be mass produced, and no longer be bred at alarming rates, which is proof in itself that nothing could reduce the amount of animals being brought into this planet more. Just like any other product on grocery store shelves, if the demand goes, the decline of those products is quick to follow.

I mean, it’s pretty clear at this point that animal products are in no way beneficial to our bodies (as shown in PlantPure Nation, Forks Over Knives and The China Study). They’re not only completely unnecessary to keep in our diets, but also extremely detrimental to our health. So are humans really only dedicated to eating animals just because they think there will be too many of them if they don’t? Maybe this is just a personal thing, but there’s an outrageous amount of things people have chosen to eat that are overly abundant in the world, that I can guarantee will never be on my dinner menu… for ex: dogs, cats, cat hair, mattresses, dryer sheets, glass, and plastic bags just to name a few!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Shahrazad Mediterranean Restaurant

I’m not sure how many vegans live on the University of Louisville’s campus, but if you’re out there, I feel your struggle! When I was a student there, any hope I found for vegan options was sandwiched between two dry, gluten-free slices of bread at the allergen friendly station in the cafeteria – yikes! I’m still on the campus often, and the vegan options are still far and few between, but luckily I heard about Shahrazad and got the chance to check it out! This new Mediterranean restaurant opened up right next to the campus bookstore this past fall, and the vegan options will not disappoint!  I got a falafel pita sandwich, baba ganoush (like hummus except made with eggplant… and way better than hummus 😉 ) and grape leaves, with a savory and comforting complimentary lentil soup. Everything was delicious, filling, and around 5$ an item! Tasty, cheap, healthy food is always the end goal, am I right? Besides the menu items I ordered, there were a few vegan salads as well as a vegetable stew to choose from. The waitress informed me there’s no cheese in their entire restaurant, just make sure you order your food with no tzatziki sauce and you’re good to go! My food baby and I left as content as could be, and with a decent amount of leftovers to take home! And beyond just the food, the staff and owners were incredibly sweet. If you’re on U of L’s campus, stop in and try it out for yourself!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Life Lessons & Benefits of Body Hair

I know, I know, what does body hair have to do with veganism??! As intertwined as veganism and feminism are, I’ll leave that comparison up to your imagination. There are so many important causes worth fighting for, no activist is limited to just one branch! Reading about the comparison between feminism and veganism is actually what made me go from pescetarian (like a vegetarian, but also eats fish) to vegan, but I’ll save that blog post for another day!

A year ago today I decided to stop shaving my legs and underarms, and I have never felt so free. Within the past two years I’ve been dissecting feminism farther than my previously social-acceptance-craving-yet-patriarchy-questioning self was willing to dig into. After contemplative inner-debates, I realized no matter how much I wanted to convince myself I was shaving for the feeling of sweatpants after freshly shaved legs, I took note of why I felt so fearful of something as trivial as leg hair in comparison to men. I went from considering the hairy-legged feminists “the ones who took it too far,” to wishing I had the guts to be the woman who let her braid-able leg hairs fly free, to becoming the fearlessly hairy creature nature intended me to be. And trust me, my thick black Indian hair ain’t playin’!  After the initial hesitancy and blatant fear of my new furry coat (the cruelty-free kind) taking bloom, my wonder and worry faded. My legs were no longer a spectacle to my own eyes, no longer a social experiment within my environment and towards myself. On certain days I looked onto my legs in admiration of the mental and physical hurdles it took for me to reach that point (shorts, shorts in public, etc 😉 ), but for the most part, my legs became exactly what they were supposed to be: a way of transportation and balance, and nothing more.

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But beyond just defeating the patriarchy one leg-hair-braid at a time, it’s easy to forget in the aesthetics of it all that body hair does exist for a reason. It has decreased over time due to humans creating heat out of nothing (space heaters, parkas, etc), but there are still positive contributions our tiny hairs make to our health! They aid our body’s sweat-cooling response, protect our bodies from being fully exposed to sunlight, act as a layer of comfort to keep your skin from burning when rubbing all up against your other skin (think armpits) and protect against minor abrasions.  As for the other hairs that receive all our lovin’, eyebrows and eyelashes exist with the purpose of shielding our eyes from sweat, rain, and any day-to-day debris out of our eyes. Who knew hair was so important?

So if it’s your thing, let your leg hair glisten and blow in the wind – or maybe just your head hair, whatever you’re feelin’! Our bodies were made to be functional machines we exist in, so when it comes to strands of dead cells gracing your body, you’ve got nothing to fear!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

5 Carb Replacements Better Than Bread

Let’s talk about the C word… carbs. Carbs are becoming a fearful word in most mainstream diet regimens, but carbs are absolutely vital for our bodies to persist! “Carbs” is basically synonymous with “energy,” after all. They will either be broken down into glucose to be used as energy, or saved in fat for stored energy for later use. So rather than eliminating carbs, here are foods full of carbs that will give you energy, without the other cons of common refined carbs such as white bread.

  • Bananas: I am forever and always a banana enthusiast! 😉 Bananas are full of carbs that will sustain energy for your most strenuous work outs. They’re also loaded with Potassium and healthy fructose for an extra boost!

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  • Potatoes: Potatoes have are one of the most nutrient-rich carbs, despite their bad rep! Bake them tossed in coconut milk instead of oil to keep more of their nutritional value.

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  • Whole grains: Oats, quinoa and couscous are all products from grained without being highly processed, so they still can retain the benefits of carbs and sustain a high-carb diet. Whole grain bread is even a better alternative than white bread, but be careful not to mix whole grain bread up with multigrain bread!

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  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are another complex carb with a little more flavor than an average potato, and they’re also full of the good kind of fat!

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  • Beans and Lentils: Vegans don’t just use beans and lentils as high sources of protein! They are also full of carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals and sometimes antioxidants.

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Brushing Environmentally & Health Conscious Teeth

Considering how often we brush our teeth, making a couple switches to lighten your carbon footprint can add up quick! Here are some alternatives to the status quo, non-vegan products that will leave your teeth white and the earth keepin’ on!

  • Earthpaste Toothpaste: Earthpaste has been my go-to Toothpaste after trying almost every vegan-friendly toothpaste known to health store aisles. This natural toothpaste skips out on the Glycerin, Fluoride, Artificial Coloring and Foaming Agents that your teeth are just fine without! This clay uses Real  Salt, Redmond Clay, and essential oils for a deep cleaning. It also comes in Cinnamon Flavor for a little extra fun! 😉
  • Coconut Oil : Oil pulling has become my latest favorite health fad! Oil pulling involves putting a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth, swishing it around for about 20 minutes, and spitting out all the toxins building up in your body. I do this a couple times a week after I brush my teeth for an added boost to keep my gums healthy, and leave my teeth white and shiny!
  • RADIUS Toothbrushes: These toothbrushes can be found anywhere from Walgreens to Whole foods, and the interchangeable heads allow you to keep the 93% of your toothbrushes we’re so used to throwing out! The handles are made from Upcycled #5 (the more plastics are upcycled, the harder they get to keep upcycling) materials and the bristles are veggie based! Just how we like things!

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Who said cleaning your teeth can’t be more environmentally friendly? Give these products a try and let us know what you think!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Starbucks is Caving for Vegans

Finally, Starbucks is bumping up the vegan options so we can have more than black coffee! This coffee chain is starting to get the memo – vegans are everywhere, and we’re spreading! 😉 Just this past August, Starbucks decided to give into the 96, 000 requests (vegans ain’t subtle) for almond milk to be added to their string of vegan milk options, including soy milk and coconut milk. Almond milk isn’t just for vegans, though! Their house-made Almond milk also won over health fanatics, having only 3 grams of sugar in comparison to 2% cow milk’s 12 grams of sugar – and also just because… dairy. *Shudders*

Starbucks wasn’t finished helping out us plant eaters just yet, though. They recently just launched their very first grab-and-go vegan breakfast option! The new menu item uses a combination of steel cut oats, quinoa, chia seeds coconut milk, tropical fruit compote, almond slices and coconut shavings for the perfect healthy morning treat! The breakfast option has hit 600 locations around New York. Hopefully we’ll see them in Starbucks’ scattered across our veg-friendly city of Louisville soon! Until then, check out this handy list of vegan Starbucks finds!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi