Are Humans Herbivores or Omnivores?

As much as I could get behind having the speed and strength of a lion, comparing humans to carnivorous or even omnivorous animals is like comparing apples to oranges! There are a vast amount of biological differences that keep both species thriving on completely opposing diets. Humans, for example, have hands that work well for picking fruit off trees or plucking ripe vegetables from the ground. Those same hands would probably come in short when it comes to catching prey or tearing animal flesh because we didn’t get a set of claws. Even if we did manage catch prey, not only are human teeth underwhelmingly flat like an herbivore’s, but our jaws also set us apart from any meat-thriving animal. Our jaws move from side to side to grind up fruits and veggies, unlike an omnivore’s jaws which move only up and down to tear chunks out of their prey and swallow it whole. When it comes to digesting food, our livers and stomachs create even more omnivorous road-blocks! Omnivorous and carnivorous animals have shorts colons and intestines as well as highly acidic stomachs that allow meat to digest and pass through quickly so the animals won’t get sick. Our long livers reflecting of an herbivore’s and comparatively weak stomach acidity keep our bodies from fully breaking down meat, or benefitting from it as an omnivore would. And when it comes to animal products such as milk, there could definitely be a reason that no other species on the planet besides humans consumes the milk of another species. If we no longer need the  milk of our own mothers, maybe it’s time for humans to get off the cow breast milk, too!

But humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years, so can it really be that bad? Dr. Neal Bernard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, concluded that humans have never adapted to the animal-product focused diet we all have learned to crave. “To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems,” Dr. Bernard states. There might be a reason we never got the urge to bite a chunk out of our neighbor’s dog, after all!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Second City in America Initiates Fur Ban

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In 2013, West Hollywood became the first city to put a ban in place against the sales of fur, and last week the city of Berkeley became the next! The Berkeley Coalition of Animals has worked and rallied for this new legislation that serves up a hefty fine for those who attempt to not oblige. Minks, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, beavers, chinchillas, bears and even dogs and cats are victim to the fur trade. Several countries in Europe have already picked up on the cruel and violent practices of the fur industry, and have chosen to remove themselves from participation in it as well.

Fur has been a constant hot topic in the media, seemingly being one of the most commonly concerning animal rights issues among omnivores and vegans alike. Celebrities and Fashion Week are continuously responding to the unceasing criticism of sporting and supporting such industries. Given the current astronomic downfall of fur sales even where it is legal, it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before fur suppliers go faux!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

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

 

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

Is Dairy Cheese Vegetarian?

“Vegan? I could never give up cheese!” has become the classic go-to line for every vegetarian – and I don’t think I’ve met ever a vegan who hasn’t said the same! Cheese has been proven to be addictive, after all, due to it containing casein that triggers receptors in your brain that are linked to addiction. Surprisingly, even cheese can use parts of animals! The coagulation of the milk is the result of the use of rennet, the stomach of newborn baby cows. Eagerness to eat baby cow stomach is far and few between, and personally, eating it in cheese is definitely no less appealing! Rennet is vital to this process, because only the stomachs of young cows contain the enzyme “chymosin,” which would typically allow the calf to absorb and digest milk. The use of rennet forms curds. These curds are inevitable for several varieties of cheeses, particularly cheeses like Parmesan and Gorgonzola. In rarer instances, cheeses can be curdled with fungi as well. If the cheese is vegetarian, the maker will tend to specify on the packing that it is vegetarian or rennet free. In addition to using the stomachs of baby cows, after the dairy industry no longer has a use for the animal, the animals are sold to the meat industry for an added profit.

Even though the meat industry is heavily interlaced in with the dairy industry, there is a whole world of alternatives out there! The vegan cheese industries have picked up astronomically within the past couple of years. After all, V-Grits does what we do in order to make giving up these addictions just a little bit easier! Dairy-free cheese products are on the rise since practices of animal agriculture are coming more and more into light. Find some cruelty-free alternatives at a grocery or health store near you!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

How to Celebrate Your Veganversary

Veganversary?! Say that again?

A “Veganversary” is  a monumental moment for any vegan. For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, PETA describes a veganversary as:

Veganversary (ve·gan·ver·sa·ry) n.
1.      The annual celebration of the date on which you decided to stop eating animal flesh and be a super-awesome human being
2.      The date on which you stuff your face with vegan cake and veggie burgers in order to celebrate when you decided to go vegan.

We hear ya, PETA! Here are some ways to guarantee your veganversary will be as blissful as it sounds!

  • Eat. Everything (cruelty-free, of course): Today is not the day to follow through with that oil-free diet you’ve been reading about. 😉 Stuff your face with vegan fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies, doughnuts, and everything else you were convinced you could never eat again in the name of kale!

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  • Volunteer at/Visit/Donate to an animal sanctuary: Visiting animal sanctuaries can be vital moments in any vegan’s journey. There’s no better feeling than knowing all your obstacles, awareness and activism are rescuing the sweetest little fur babies from a life scarier than a horror movie.
  • Rock your vegan apparel: The more vegan clothing you can pack into one outfit, the better! Days like this are what your Compassion Co. or Herbivore Clothing shirt are made for. Don’t hold back with the vegan leather, sassy pins, and other cute cruelty-free gear that will turn morality into the trendiest fashion statement.

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  • Talk about veganism even more to normal: “I can’t find my phone, can you call it?” “Sure, I’m vegan.” “Do you know where the bathroom is?” “All the way down to your left, but did you know you’d have healthier bowel movements when you’re vegan?” “I’m feeling a little sleepy.” “You’d definitely feel more energized if you went vegan!” There is never an inappropriate time to exclaim your veganism from the rooftops! Today is your day to be loud and proud.
  • Make a blog post about it 😉 : Or an Instagram post, or a Facebook post, or a post on any other kind of social media! Even your favorite meme from the Vegan Sidekick can go a long way. A surprising number of people, myself included, found veganism as a result of social media. The power of a single post is definitely underestimated! You never know what seeds you could be planting so animal liberation can grow!

As supporters of any social justice movement know, awareness and activism can come attached to some overwhelming moments, but nothing can compare to the happiest feeling of knowing you’re keeping our furry friends safe and protected as they deserve! Spend your next veganversary the way you earned to, or decide on the start date you’ve been planning all this time!

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

Are Dogs Healthier Vegan?

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Plant-based pups… Say whaaat?!! Trust me, no one was more alarmed than I was when I first heard about dogs on vegan diets. I mean, they do have actual canines after all, right? With their glossy, soft and shiny fur, all the plant-based doggies I have encountered looked as healthy as could be, but I still needed far more convincing. It wasn’t until I came across the story of a little four legged doggie named Bramble when I started to reconsider that veganism could really in fact be better for dogs. Bramble’s diet regimen of lentils, rice, and organic vegetables landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 27 year old longest living dog! But Bramble was not the only doggo to thrive from veganism; other vegan dogs have gotten rid of ear infections and improved allergies, excessive shedding, kidney and bone problems. Some modern veterinarians are even starting to recommend plant-based diets to combat some of these issues. Part of the reason dogs might benefit from going plant-based is that a majority or dog food is made up meat from animals who were dying, diseased or disabled. By USDA standards, the meat in mainstream dog food is not even fit for human consumption! If humans could potentially get extremely (or even lethally) sick from certain meats, there is a good chance dogs bodies will react the same way. There are several vegan options when it comes to brand dog food, including V-Dog, Halo, Natural Balance, Ami Pet Food, and Nature’s Recipe. Dog food is always optional, though! The veggie-loving pups I’ve met go bananas for sweet potatoes, peanut butter, mangos and watermelon! With all the health benefits and knowing feeding our puppy loves will not harm any other animals, there’s pretty much no reason to keep dogs from going plant-based, right?

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Health Benefits of Cashews

At V-Grits, we got a love for cashews that can’t be contained! We’re also pretty passionate about health, so thank goodness cashews exist to make creamy, cheesy, delicious and healthy dairy replacements! Cashews start as seeds that form at the bottom of cashew apples. Crazy, right?

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The US doesn’t seem to love cashew apples as much as they’re adored in Brazil and the Caribbean, but we’re nuts for the seeds! The health benefits of cashews are infinite! They have over eighty different nutrients. They may be known for their still relatively low fat content, but there’s nothing to fear! 82% of their fat is made up of unsaturated fatty acids. Cashews are additionally filled with magnesium and phosphorous which can lessen migraines and lower blood pressure; and copper which is high in antioxidants, works against heart disease and cancer, and protects our skin from sun damage. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, these gnarly nuts even contain zero cholesterol! So grab a bag of cashews as a snack, or get that cashew-based cheese (wink wink 😉 )! It’s only good for you, after all!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Drop that Gatorade!

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Luckily, electrolytes and hangover cures aren’t only found in artificially colored and fortified sugary drinks! And if you like your health food to taste good, you still have nothing to worry about. Watermelon is bursting with electrolytes! Sixteen ounces of watermelon juice alone has about three times as much electrolytes as Gatorade! Watermelon is also loaded with Lycopene, which protects your cells and fights off diseases! It’s additionally great as a tastier source of hydration for people like me, who can never remember to drink a glass of water every now and then. 😉

Coconut water might be a taste that takes a little getting used to, but it is definitely a drink worth paying attention to! Comparatively, coconut water has less sodium and more potassium than a sports drink and helps fight against cancer and kidney stones. If you want to add a little sweetness to your coconut water, try adding some pineapple juice or pineapple chunks to shake things up!

Give these yummy hydration replacements a try and let us know what you think!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi