Feminism and Veganism Collide

Nearly every activist has a string of causes they stand behind, and that’s typically because practically all social justice issues correlate. The correlation between veganism and feminism is no outlier. Reading a paragraph comparing the two is actually what convinced me to evolve from pescatarian to vegan a couple years back!

All animal products are the result of animal exploitation, but more specifically, they are the result of exploiting female reproductive systems. Even at the most regulated, grass-fed, free-range dairy farms, any female animal will fall into a vicious cycle of being separated from her mother only moments after her birth, and get artificially inseminated through sodomization. She will continue to live only to be repeatedly, forcibly impregnated, sodomized and have her own babies immediately taken away from her just as she was taken away from her mother. Not only will the mother lose complete control over her reproductive system and have her child taken, but she will also start to acclimate a series of diseases due to this system deteriorating her physical health. This cycle of sodomization, forced pregnancy, and child loss will continue until she is worn enough to produce significantly less milk, at which point the dairy farm or factory farm will no longer have a use for her and she will be sold to become cheap meat, leather or dog food while having lived only a fifth of her typical lifespan. Hens used for eggs will be forced into the same cycle, as will pigs and cows in the meat industry.

Without going too deeply into graphic detail (trust me, that was just skimming the surface!), it’s still clear that the practices of these farms and factory farms are unjust. It’s no secret that females having complete control over their reproductive systems and organs is a necessary part of feminism, but prior to going vegan, I never really speculated over animals having choices. I knew they didn’t want to be killed, but it took watching a video of a mother tirelessly struggling to stand between her calf and a farmer for me to understand how aware animals truly are. Any oppression is hard to stomach, but any oppression can also be fought against! Every time we eat is a chance to vote for the world and practices you want to see moving forward. Dairy is scary after all, right? With so many plant-based dairy replicas hitting the shelves, there has never been a better time to make your plate a moral decision and go vegan!

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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

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

Louisville Animal Rights Initiative

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There’s a new animal rights group in town that’s determined to make some strides for our furry friends! The Louisville Animal Rights Initiative, or LARI, was created after myself and fellow animal rights activist Annalaura Maranville noticed there are several plant-based eating social groups in town, but there is not as much of a focus on animal welfare. Despite that we all love to get our plant-based grub on, we felt that Louisville was lacking a group solely focused on animal liberation and building community awareness about the mysteries behind animal agriculture. Louisville is bubbling with both animal lovers and activists, so it was the perfect time and place for LARI to begin its journey.

Not vegan? Have no fear! Meetings are open to anyone willing to learn, eat, and discuss, no matter how skeptical! Vegans are welcome, and omnivores are encouraged! 😉 Throughout the year, LARI meet-ups will include demonstrations, potlucks, movie screenings, Q&A sessions, protests, dinner outings, speakers, letter writing and more! Working to ban horse carriages, make Louisville foie gras free, and feeding plant-based meals to those in need are also on the agenda. We couldn’t be more excited to see what all this group can accomplish! Follow the LARI Facebook page, Meetup group or Instagram to keep up with the group’s outings and learn how you can get involved! Our four-legged pals need all the help they can get! 🙂

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Veganism: Coming to a School Near You

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Veganism is the newest social justice movement on the block, and kids of all ages are starting to get the memo! Each new generation of kids is growing in awareness and feels more inclined to take interest in political issues. Recently, countless videos of children protesting eating animals in their households have gone viral, and it’s astounding amazing to watch kids as a whole grow in understanding and give a voice to the voiceless. The anti-animal violence front is at its peak: colleges were the first to take on guest seminars informing young adults why to go vegan, now veganism is spreading to kids all around the USA as young as sixth grade! Food or Friends is a new program backed by Vegan Outreach. This educational presentation reminds youngsters to give into the voice that tells us to love and protect our furry friends, despite how different social trends urge us to put those thoughts on the back burner for our taste buds. Vegan Outreach worked to establish an interactive and fun classroom experience, while also urging kids to push their critical thinking (and critical empathizing) skills; as they question if deterring their health, the earth they live on, and the well being of animals is worth that cheeseburger. The Food or Friends project currently is small-scale and in just a handful of cities across the United States, but I can’t wait to see this project grow so more and more kiddos can get on board and help to put an end to animal cruelty!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Surprising Store Finds for the Vegan Junk Food Enthusiast

After going vegan, you might start to realize that grass and greens can be the least of a vegan’s concerns! With so many sweet and salty, animal-approved temptations out there, the “Potato Chip Vegan” even began circling around the vegan world for the herbivores dedicated to animal ethics who don’t mind indulging on some cruelty-free treats. If only kale tasted as good as chocolate frosting! Here are some surprising store finds to satisfy the Potato Chip Vegan in you!

  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
  • Lay’s Regular (unbaked) BBQ Chips
  • Kettle Brand Maple Bacon Potato Chips
  • Betty Crocker Baco’s & McCormick Bac’n pieces (and some other vegan bacon bit brands)

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  • Oreos
  • Popcorn at Regal Movie Theaters and sometimes AMC Movie Theaters
  • Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
  • Junior Mints
  • Bugles
  • Airheads
  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Skittles
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Krispy Kreme’s Glazed Cherry Pies
  • Duncan’s Chocolate Frosting
  • Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

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  • Unfrosted Strawberry Poptarts
  • Xtra Tangy Buffalo Wing Pringles
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Nutter Butters
  • Thomas Blueberry Bagels
  • Smucker’s Marshmallow Topping
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Burger King’s French Toast Sticks

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  • Earth Balance Cheddar Squares (vegan Cheez-Its)
  • Auntie Anne’s pretzels (with no butter)
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Reese’s Puffs
  • Cap’n Crunch
  • Original flavored Pretzel Crisps
  • Dark Chocolate Pretzel BarkThins

If you’re feeling like indulging, save the grass for our cow friends 😉 and show omnivores what they’ve been eating vegan all along!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Atlanta VegFest

I don’t know what that “Panda” song was talking about, we were too focused on all the vegan shenanigans in Atlanta! We were so lucky to be a part of the 2016 Atlanta Vegfest! Vegfests are generally an overwhelmingly happy time for any plant eater, especially in a big city! I mean, being surrounded by thousands of vegans and eating some of the yummiest food around? Count me in! And of course, no vegan road trip is complete without checking out some of the best spots in town along the way!

Cashew in Chattanooga, Tennessee was our first stop. Donut breaks are the best kind of breaks, am I right? It was placed fittingly in a cute, trendy part of town and had some beautiful plant-strong art! We grabbed raspberry jelly filled powdered donuts and chocolate donuts with sprinkles before hitting the road again. I also got a beet and kale juice because you know, have to at least pretend I’m trying to eat healthy! The cake donuts were super moist and delicious, I would definitely recommend checking them out if you’re ever in town!

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Once we arrived in Atlanta, for Kristina and Jeff it was practically a no-brainer where to go for dinner! Cafe Sunflower brought on the class! It was a beautiful place that had vegan scallops (texture was spot on!), ah-maze-ing vegan chicken wings with sugar cane “bones,” vegan chicken enchiladas, vegan steak fajitas, and a mouth-watering dessert plate to choose from! At some point into the three appetizers, entrees, and dessert that passed on the table, I seriously questioned what tastes people think vegans could be missing out on! The next day I topped my vegan chicken enchilada leftovers with our V-Grits Mild Cheddar sauce, talk about the perfect combo! We all agreed the trip to Atlanta was worth it just for that amazing meal alone! We were even lucky enough to meet the sweetest vegan Uber driver afterwards! What are the odds!

Atlanta VegFest was beautiful, to say the least! An overcrowded room of vegans and the vegan-curious is my own personal happy place. We brought samples of Mac and Cheese, gooey with our Mild Cheddar Sauce, and crackers with our southern Pimento spread. We’re happy to say that we felt everyone there shared our same enthusiasm about our cheese line, and we even sold out of the 250 jars we brought in three bustling hours! The festival made us even more excited to be selling on Vegan Essentials hopefully by the end of next month! After we filled the vegfest-goers cheese needs, it was time to partake on the fun ourselves! We got to see the friendly face of David Carter (wearing a shirt I need in my closet), an NFL Lineman and animal activist! Carter acknowledges that veganism overlooks people of color and food deserts, and works to overcome those divides! How rad! Not to mention, he clearly puts all the vegan protein questions to shame! We also indulged in hot fudge vegan sundaes (too bad I ate mine too quick to take a picture!) and a range of vegan products from protein-loaded quinoa bites to yummy vegan meats! I couldn’t leave without snagging a new member to my vegan wardrobe, a grey scarf covered with animals by Compassion Company. On our way back home, we stopped at the Chattanooga Whole Foods for snacks and were surprised with super creamy and super pink sorbets of the fruity variety! All in all, it was a great day! We’ll definitely see you again next year, Atlanta! Thanks for the loveliest vegan noms!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Happy World Vegan Day!

Today, plant-eaters everywhere are rejoicing for World Vegan Day! The first person to coin the term “vegan” was Donald Watson. Watson was a man quick to become an animal advocate after witnessing his furry friends’ lives first-hand between local butchers and his uncle’s farm. Eventually, Watson decided that people who went beyond abstaining from just meat needed to be recognized and collected, for what he said was “the beginning and end of vegetarian.” After what was clearly a world-changing conversation between he and a small group of other non-animal product consumers, they settled on the name “vegan,” which was derived from the word “vegetarian.” Bummer for us vegans, “Dairybans” and “Benevores” were tempting runner-ups! Within just a few years of the terminology being established, they also put in place that the vegan movement was a movement of people who choose not to partake in animal slavery and exploitation. Like any other vegan, Watson tended to not keep quiet!! 😉 He even got his siblings to convert! He was an active animal rights speaker and leader who went on to be one of the creators of the Vegan Society and their newsletter, The Vegan News. Also like most vegans, Donald Watson led a thriving long life as a plant-eater! He even climbed mountains and refused medications at the age of 92! How much more rad could a 92 year old be?!

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A following chair to the Vegan Society, Louise Wallis, started the tradition of celebrating “World Vegan Day” on November first in order to commemorate the establishment of the Vegan Society, and the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘veganism’ being brought about. This year marks the 73rd year of celebration! With the community and awareness growing every day, veganism continues to come such a long way since the November of 1944! So today, let your veganism (or vegan curiosity) thrive! Read up on the facts, spread awareness to family and friends, donate to an animal sanctuary, cuddle up with a vegan documentary, and pig out on killer (not literally, of course!) vegan food! Increased liberation of our furry friends and enjoying the company of fellow plant-eaters is definitely worth celebrating!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

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?

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Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Plant-Based Food Association

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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