Daring to Ditch Meat & Dairy

 

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As any viewer of Cowspiracy could conclude, meat and dairy are taking its toll on the environment one factory farm at a time – and environmentalists are finally taking note! Oakland, California (because of course Californians would be the first to hop on this ethically, environmentally and health friendly lifestyle) joined up with environmental activist group Friends of the Earth to devise school lunches that would be better for the planet. While the school hasn’t gone fully vegan just yet, significant improvements have been made! Oakland schools might occasionally have meat and cheese from organic pastured dairy cows, but for the most part, it’s vegan tostadas and and tofu stir fry for days!

And as for the environmental impact, the proof is in the gelatin-free pudding! Carbon Dioxide emissions from school lunches alone decreased by 14%, which is the equivalent of taking 127 cars off the road for an entire year. Holy guacamole!!  And if anyone was wondering about the myth that veganism is more expensive, the lunch program costs fell by 1%. There might not have been physical proof that this way of eating was also healthier, but it’s a little hard to argue that beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza stood up to rainbows of hearty, handmade, plant-based noms! Friends of the Earth stated that if every U.S school district followed Oakland’s lead, the drop in CO2 emissions would add up to be the same as taking 150, 000 cars off the roads!!! The environmental activist group is hoping the change in Oakland school lunches is just a stepping stone for more school districts to get the memo and join in on saving the earth, one meal at a time. We’re rooting for them!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Time 4 Thai

Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines, and Time 4 Thai (yes, the 4 is in the name 🙂 ) does not disappoint! This new restaurant is located off Frankfort Ave, just a couple doors down from Vint. The restaurant is beautifully decorated inside, bubbling full of friendly and accommodating staff, and most importantly has a vegan-friendly menu full of food that soothes the soul! As goes for any Thai restaurant, make sure you tell your server ahead of time that you’re vegan, and/or give them an extra gentle reminder to abstain from using fish oil. All the curries can be made vegan, along with a couple soups specified vegetarian on the menu, as well as Vegetable Dumplings and Crispy Spring rolls to choose from as appetizers! I’ve been there twice (so far 😉 ) and the Red Curry, Vegetable Dumplings and Tom Kha Soup made for a happy cruelty-free belly that left me wanting more! This spot has become a regular go-to for the V-Grits team, so stop on by and get your Thai food on!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Elevate Your Eating

Okay so, despite what you may have seen on the food truck, the healthier side of veganism you read all about in the China Study and saw in Forks Over Knives does exist! Within the past few weeks, V-Grits launched our new Elevate line to showcase the energizing, plant-based food from the earth that makes our insides sing! We introduced this line in The Weekly Juicery locations across Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. As of right now, the Louisville location is inside the Heine Brothers just off Brownsboro Road, and The Weekly Juicery is soon to open a new spot in Nulu! Within a few months, you’ll also find our Elevate line in our very own cafe, where you’ll get the chance to Elevate or Indulge! Elevate is mostly raw, gluten free, oil free, peanut free, soy free, corn free and fully organic aside from spices and salt. But don’t stress, V-Fans, these new healthy meals are still packin’ our classic V-Grits punch of flavor!

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Our Raw Pad Thai is oodles of fork-licking zoodle goodness! We use zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, bell pepper, cabbage, almonds and cilantro with an additional ginger almond dressing for an extra creamy kick! Not to mention, this menu item also has 11.7 g of protein and 10.2 g of fiber!

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Zoodles come in all shapes and sizes, so we use thick sheets of zucchini noodles for our Raw Zucchini Lasagna! In between the zoodles are layers of creamy cashew ricotta and savory sundried tomato marinara. We top it with our tree nut parm for a salty finishing touch. Our Raw Lasagna has a whopping 18.7 g of plant-based protein, 11.5% of your calcium for the day, 96.5% of copper for the day, and 76.5% of B12!

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Greens are good for the soul! Especially a dish of our Raw Greens of Greatness. A big bowl of greens might sound a little intimidating, but we mellow kale, cabbage and broccoli with cool cucumbers, crunchy pepitas and a zesty avocado lime dressing! These Raw Greens of Greatness have 81% of your vitamin C intake at just 90 calories!

Our Spicy Chickpeas & Cool Cukes have it all: raw and cooked, spicy and cooling. Citrusy kale and red bell peppers are topped with curry spiced chickpeas and fair-trade mineral rich volcano rice, alongside creamy cool cucumbers and tomatoes with a tangy lemon tahini dressing. This dish is loaded with 741 g of potassium, 10.9 g of fiber, 43.5% of B12, and 13.6 g of protein!

Last but not least, our Quinoa Sunshine will have you feeling powered up and beaming with light! Fresh veggies and quinoa are paired with a flavorful orange sunbutter dressing. This rainbow of plant-based goodness has 8.8 g of protein and 136% of your vitamin C intake! Wowza!

Stop by your local location of The Weekly Juicery, check out our Elevate line, and let us know what you think!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Satisfy a Cruelty-Free Sweet-tooth!

Valentine’s Day tomorrow means sweets out the wahzoo! We’ve dug deep into the vegan sweets around town, enough to know what chocolatey, sugary finds are making their way in stores!

  • Flora: Flora’s treats have made their way across town! You can find cake donuts, toaster tarts, cookies and macaroons in Quills and/or Sunergos Coffee. They’re consistently delicious, and always have the right amount of sweetness without being cloying, which I love!

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  • Half Peach: Half Peach is filled with shelves of vegan baked goods! Selections range from cakes (oil-free and not), amazing chocolate chip cookies, turnovers, and more!
  • Annie May’s: Annie May’s is the spot every allergen-battler has been dreaming of. Everything in the shop is gluten-free, and several items are additionally vegan. Their case features pop-tarts, donuts, cookies, cupcakes and other sweet finds!
  • Highland Coffee: Highland Coffee might be an unexpected place to find as many vegan options as they have, but thank goodness they aren’t skimping on the cruelty-free treats! This lovely little shop will have cakes, cupcakes, scones, chocolate-covered espresso beans, chocolate cashew date bars and more on hand at all times! Sometimes, they even make yummy pies or have homemade vegan butter! Okay, so butter might not be a dessert, but it can get there 😉
  • Whole Foods: Whole Foods is always stocked on sugary vegan deliciousness! They have a range of eclectic vegan cupcakes, as well as cookies, oatmeal cream pies, buckeye bars and sweet muffins. Yum!

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  • Sweet Surrender: Sweet Surrender is located in the center of a street of delicious, vegan-friendly restaurants, making it the perfect stop after dinner to end the night on a sweet note! This bakery will usually have a couple vegan cakes on hand, and usually a vegan cupcake flavor as well!
  • Ramsi’s: Ramsi’s is known for their brunch and dinner plates, but it’s always nice when a sit-down restaurant has some vegan desserts on hand as well! Ramsi’s has a vegan trifle that will make you double-check with your waiter if it’s vegan, as well as cashew butter stuffed dates and sweet plantains with maple syrup. Get dinner and dessert all in one stop!
  • Mayan Cafe: Another dinner spot with a great vegan dessert option is Mayan Cafe! I haven’t had their chocolate cake, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it! If you’re looking for a classy, cruelty-free night out, this is the place!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Valentine’s Veganized

Valentine’s Day is just a week away, and we know just how to sweep your vegan loved ones off their feet! Here are some gift ideas for your plant eating companions!

  • Sponsor an animal from Upland’s Peak in their name

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  • You can never go wrong with candy!
  • Plants! Succulents or air plants for those whose greens thumb turned black somewhere along the way, herb or veggie plants for those who treat plants like their children!
  • A vegan ice cream sundae bar
  • Soy wax candles
  • Pay it forward with a vegan treat at your favorite coffee shop (a plethora of treats and bars from Highland Coffee, banana chocolate chip muffin at Heine Brothers, Flora treats at Quills)

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  • Bath bombs, or really anything vegan from LUSH
  • Vegan apparel – because there’s never an inappropriate time for vegan apparel 😉
  • Matt & Nat products for that classy touch
  • VeganCuts, a box full of new, modern vegan products for you both to sample
  • A day trip to a nearby city to check out the vegan noms
  • Vegan books – How Not to Die, The Sexual Politics of Meat, and the China Study to name a few
  • Vegan movies on the more light hearted side, like Charlotte’s Web or a new documentary you guys haven’t seen yet
  • Plant-Based Protein powder for the gym-nut in your life (Vega, Sunwarrior, Garden of Life)
  • Homemade dinner with V-Grits vegan cheeses

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

5 Ways an Activist Can Relieve Stress

As much as we all wish differently, not every day is as peachy as animal sanctuaries and yummy vegan food! Luckily, there are some healthy ways to put an activist’s mind at ease.

  • Donate: Donations are vital for any organization to exist, and every organization can attest to that! Donations as small as the price of dinner can add up in the long run, and you’ll know that your five bucks are being put to the best possible use. Beyond money, cleaning out your closet or getting rid of furniture you no longer use can declutter, as well as make a world of impact to the recipient. And even better than donating items, donate time! An organization rarely ever has enough volunteers.
  • Spread Awareness: No activist can hold in their inner-social justice warrior for too long! Speaking out on behalf of what you believe is right will not only unbottle some deeply rooted feels, but also plant seeds for more activism to grow within your community. At the very least, everything from attending marches to engaging with family members will spark  a second thought and deeper understanding of issues going on in the world around us.
  • Eat your carbs!: On overwhelming days for the social justice front, it can get a little tempting to eat that entire jar of cookie dough! It might come as a surprise that high-carb diets actually increase serotonin levels, and high-protein diets are linked to lower serotonin levels. Healthier carbs, as opposed to white bread, include potatoes and bananas. Along with carbs, greens, fruits and foods high in fiber such as beans and oats will give you a great energy boost to toughen out your sluggish days of endless unfortunate Facebook articles or the charge through the coldest marches!

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  • Find allies: No matter what cause fuels your fire, it’s always good to have some ranting buddies, and or/people who inspire you to keep the activism movin’! There will always be a group of refuge in range, whether you meet up with your allies or find a Facebook group that has become your safe haven! Allies can also be beneficial to constantly stay educated about your cause. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed without fellow social justice warrior buds who know all the ins and outs of everything you’re fighting against, too!
  • Don’t give up: I once heard there were two types of people, the kind who feel better by sparking change, and the kind who feel better by ignoring issues and pretending the world doesn’t need change. Odds are if you clicked on this blog post, you’re the first type. 😉 It’s important to remind ourselves that change does not happen overnight.  I’m sure thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people have seen circus protestors and were convinced the protestors could never make a difference. Then one day, bam! Circuses drop animal acts because they didn’t want to deal with us passionate nut-jobs anymore. Every time anyone speaks out on behalf of any oppressed group, change will happen, even if we might not physically see it. And in the mean time, do yoga and read books and go on walks and all that jazz.

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Top 25 Valentines Day Restaurants in Louisville

Valentines Day is coming up, which is always a great excuse to test out some local cuisine! 😉 Here are 25 vegan-friendly spots in Louisville that’ll charm your socks off!

  1. Ramsi’s Cafe on the World
  2. Proof on Main (call ahead of time to let them know you’re vegan)
  3. Mayan Cafe
  4. Annie May’s Sweet Cafe
  5. Dragon King’s Daughter
  6. Simply Thai
  7. Martini’s Italian Bistro (call ahead)
  8. Seviche (call ahead)
  9. Time 4 Thai
  10. Louivino
  11. Shalimar
  12. The Grape Leaf
  13. Half Peach
  14. Crescent Hill Crafthouse
  15. Silver Dollar
  16. North End Cafe
  17. Garage Bar
  18. Queen of Sheba
  19. California Pizza Kitchen
  20. Lydia House
  21. BarriCibo
  22. Porcini’s
  23. Mellow Mushroom
  24. The Meridian Cafe
  25. Dakshin

Happy Eating!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Did Someone Say Super Bowl Food?

So, it’s that time of year – a day practically dedicated to eating as much vegan junk food as possible! I even heard there will be a really big football game going on too! 😉 If you’re on the hunt for delicious game day grub, Chef Kristina has whipped up some awesome recipes to make your omnivore friends awe-inspired and begging for more!

Game Day Dip
1 jar V-Grits Soul Sauce (Mild Cheddar or Mozzarella)
2 tbsp buttery spread
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Just mix, and warm it up on the stove top or in the microwave. This dip goes great with breadsticks, onion rings or pretzel nuggets!
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Pimento Stuffed Sweet Peppers

6 small sweet peppers

2 tsp olive oil

dash salt

1/4 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

fresh chives

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1/4 cup vegan beef crumbles

1/2 cup V-Grits Pimento Cashew

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse Veggies.

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Small dice 1/4 cup onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and slice 2 tbsp chives.

Add 2 tsp oil to a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and a dash of salt, and sauté.

Add garlic and vegan beef crumbles, and cook to sear. Remove from heat.

Stir in V-Grits Pimento Cashew and half the chives.

Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stuff. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Broil for 2 to 3, to toast breadcrumbs.

Top with remaining chives upon serving.


YIELD: 12 Appetizer-Size Snacks

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Corn & Bean Queso
1 jar V-Grits Mild Cheddar Cashews
1 cup Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Warm it up and grab your favorite tortilla chips!
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Louisville suppliers for all your V-Grits cheese needs include Rainbow Blossom in the Highlands and St. Matthews and Lucky’s in Hurstbourne. Cheeses can also be found at Lucky’s Market in Bloomington, Lucky’s Market in Lexington, The Weekly Juicery in Cincinnati and Lexington, Lucky’s Market in Columbus, Weiland’s in Columbus, and It’s All Natural in Gahanna, OH!
Give these a try and let us know what you think! Other Game Day snacks to go with all that cheesy goodness include fresh-cut veggies with Follow Your Heart Ranch for dipping, Gardein Boneless Bites, classic guacamole, and vegan breaded “shrimp” by Sophie’s Kitchen (found in the frozen isle at Whole Foods)! I’m get hungry just thinking about it! If you test one of these recipes out, or get to experimenting and make your own V-Grits cheese recipe creation, share and hashtag #vgrits so we can see what all our soul sauces can do!
Signing off for the Sentient,
Sammi

Kentucky Refugee Ministry

Compassion, safety and resources are needed now more than ever for our fellow brothers and sisters from around the globe who were forced to flee violent conditions. Donna Craig understood how important it is to stand with and support future legal American citizens, so she founded the Kentucky Refugee Ministry in 1990. The organization is a non-profit made up of over 160 workers to help refugees though their struggles and obstacles of resettlement. The KRM provides resources of every avenue to refugees in need, with the ultimate goal of creating self-sufficiency and positive integration for those they welcome into Kentucky with open arms.

Refugees have left loved ones, possessions, jobs, and the place they once called home in order to find safety. Thank goodness this local organization does everything they can do to help! The KRM works to give as much as they can back to refugees, including housing, documentation, English classes, jobs, and even legal immigration support to go through naturalization, a process I was lucky enough to watch my own dad go through in order to become a permanent U.S citizen. Within the next year, the ministry plans to welcome almost 2,000 refugees and migrants. Organizations like the KRM are built to create communities of refuge for those who were faced with far worse circumstances in their homelands, and the work of organizations like this could never make America greater. You can make a positive contribution to the Kentucky Refugee Ministry by taking action, and donating time, funds, or even household items such as furniture, bikes or instruments. The KRM even has a Family Center right here in Louisville. It doesn’t take long to pick up on Louisville’s phenomenal justice-seeking, welcoming community, so there is no doubt that we will adamantly work towards staying inclusive and keeping all victims of violence safe and our legal citizens prospering.

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi