Vegan Eats in the Queen City

Cincinnati is the place I call home, and each year it seems as if the city gets even more vegan friendly! Since leaving, my visits have led me to indulge in everything from cheesy croissant sandwiches, to “Crack ‘n’ Cheese,” to a mouth-watering raw vegan chocolate bar!  My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it! Here are some of my favorite spots to help me go up a notch on my belt buckle whenever I’m in town!

  • Rooted: The last time I visited Cincinnati and didn’t go to Rooted was probably before I knew Rooted existed! Beyond the allure of beautiful, sleek, minimalist decor are some delicious plant-based noms that will have you craving more and feeling energized afterwards! They have a plethora of cold-pressed juices and cold case items they make in-house when you’re on the go, and a full menu of raw and hot meals when you’re dining in.Everything is vegan besides the occasional use of honey in a few juices. Some of the meals include Quesadillas with their house-made cashew cheese, raw vegan Taco Wraps, and a raw Caesar Salad. Don’t forget to finish your meal off with some raw vegan chocolates from the chocolate bar, the Twix will not disappoint!
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  • Happy Chicks: Happy Chicks fits right into Northside, a part of Cincinnati full of record stores, antique shops and yummy food! Happy Chicks is a bakery specializing in celebration cakes, cookies and cupcakes galore, with all sorts of unique flavors. On Saturdays, the bakery sells croissant doughnuts with flavors like Strawberry Margarita and Lemongrass Matcha. They don’t only serve up delicious sweet treats, but their croissants are the best I’ve had, vegan or not. The croissants have a crunch on the outside that is the perfect start to the warm, soft, flaky pastry. Happy Chicks even makes croissant sandwiches that are out of this world (or city, at least)! Melty vegan cheese and fresh veggies sandwiched between two hot, mouth-watering croissants? I’m in!

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  • The Kitchen Factory: The Kitchen Factory is another Northside favorite, and the perfect late night bite! The Kitchen Factory isn’t entirely vegan. but their vegan menu items could confuse a carnivore! Their vegan Meatball Marinara Sub was able to confuse me at least, who thought the sandwich was so realistic looking and tasting that I was worried I forgot to specify to make it vegan! Not to mention, I could eat a bucket of their “Crack (Mac) ‘n’ Cheese!” Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s gluten-free, with a house-made cheese sauce that could make anything taste good and penne pasta, it is every bit as glutinous and cheesy as you could dream of! They also have a vegan ricotta they make in-house for their veggie pizza, served by the slice as late as 3 am on the weekends!
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  • Jungle Jim’s: Jungle Jim’s may not be a restaurant, but it is easily the IKEA of grocery shopping. Jungle Jim’s is filled with every food item under the sun, especially when it comes to international specialities and a vegan section you could get lost in! You can even find a little bit of Louisville with V-Grits cheeses in the vegan cheese section! Stop here to get that weird, exotic looking vegetable you’ve heard all about, four types of vegan mozzarella, or your favorite international condiments!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Burgers Go Beyond Meat

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Months back, the new greasy, indulgent Beyond Meat burgers hit the shelves of health food stores around the nation, and omnivores and vegans are giving it a thumbs up! Not only does this futuristic burger replicate the taste of meat like it’s seitan competitors, but it also replicates the look and smell of real beef burgers! They’re packaged showcasing their bright, raw pink color made from the eye-tricking use of “beet blood.” The burgers even smell so appalling that you know the only reason they could smell so bad would be to imitate the aroma of all the mysteries of a meat patty. Also like a beef burger, as soon as these duplicates hit a hot pan or grill, these plant-based burgers brown on the outside to leave a juicy pink center to fool the most carnivorous omnivores.  At first the smell and taste were too realistic for me to enjoy, but by the third try I was jumping on the Beyond Meat bandwagon!

Beyond taste, this new product saves our loving, cuddly cow friends being completely cruelty-free, and it’s a better burger for our bodies and the planet. It’s no secret that red meat has had a not-so-helping hand in countless lethal diseases. The base of this protein-loaded (20 grams per patty) meat replacement is made up of peas, a far healthier and more sustainable product than cow meat. Just one cow burger requires 660 gallons of water, yikes! This burger has been worked on and perfected seven years in the making, and trust us, it was worth the wait!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Heine Brothers’ Veganized

Heine Brothers’ coffee shop has been a local Louisville favorite for years, roasting 100% organic and fair trade coffee since 1994. After breathing in the tempting aroma of espresso shots and macchiatos, plant-eaters will be happy to find a plethora of vegan options on the menu! We’re spilling the beans on delicious, animal product-free Heine Bros finds!

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Vegan Heine Brothers’ Finds:

  • Almost any drink on the menu besides the Chaiberg and Beekeeper with the replacement of soy milk or almond milk without White Chocolate, Caramel
  • Cherry Almond Scone
  • Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin
  • Najla’s Trail Cookies
  • Najla’s Philly Wraps with vegan cheese, peppers and tofu
  • Najla’s Soy-rizo wraps with vegan chorizo, black beans, potatoes and salsa
  • Najla’s Quinoa Bowl
  • Frozen Lemonade
  • Smoothies
  • Tea Selection
  • Coffee of the day
  • Italian Sodas
  • Salty Caramel Syrup/Sugar Free Caramel Syrup
  • Dark Chocolate Syrup
  • Apple Crumble
  • Everything, Sesame and Whole Wheat Bagels
  • The Weekly Juicery menu items at the Brownsboro location

Veganizing Adjustments:

  • Ask for Soy or Almond Milk base
  • Ask for no whipped cream
  • Be aware that the Chaiberg, Mocha Iceberg, Caramel Vanilla Iceberg, etc. use milk powder and the Beekeeper uses honey, and therefore cannot be made vegan
  • Stray away from the regular Caramel and White Chocolate syrups which contain dairy

Now that you’ve got the 411, get your coffee fiending on at your local Heine Brothers’!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

Spring into Spring – Vegan Style

Nothing says spring like family, friends, oddly shaped chocolates and pastel rainbows of bouquets! Here are some spring must-haves for the season!

  • Chocolate: NoWhey Chocolates have everything from vegan chocolate eggs, to colored vegan eggs, to chocolate bunnies and even vegan egg-shaped truffle boxes! Between the little ones and Grandma Rose,  your chocolate-lover loved ones are bound to be happy campers after digging into a box of these delicious chocolate delicacies!

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  • Flowers & Plants: What better way to add a pop of spring into your home or on your dinner table than a bouquet of all the pinks, lavenders and yellows of spring? At Whole Foods, many of the bouquets of flowers sold are through a Whole Trade program that supplies money to go back into community building of the cities of bouquet producers. Some of these community building efforts include funding health care, hospital equipment and education. If you’re looking for a little extra greenery to spruce up your house with, look no further than Forage! Forage is a local, female store off Frankfort filled with gorgeous succulents and bright luscious plants, and 10% of the sales each month go towards a local charity!

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  • Spring Shoes: Say goodbye to those winter boots, a new season is the perfect excuse for new shoes! Matt and Nat makes vegan shoes look like the trendiest new fad, despite that ethical and environmental sustainability are always in season! Check them out for some new footwear for the sunniest of days ahead!

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A box of chocolates, lively plants and ethical shoes for the season are bound to put a little spring in your step!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Louisville’s Top Dogs

It’s beginning to feel like spring, aka, it’s hot dog season! SmartLife and Tofurkey hotdogs pair perfectly with a grill, but if you’re feeling like going out for a night, here’s where you can get your hands on a this American fingerfood favorite around town!

  • V-Grits: As of next week, the orange truck is about to start making its rounds! Last year we delivered up house-made sausages sandwiched between a pretzel bun, with toppings ranging from a smothering of Texas chili and sour cream to our Philly Brat with cheese and grilled peppers! Stay on the lookout, we might be coming to a spot near you soon!

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  • Red Top Hotdogs: Red Top is another food truck you can find around town, anywhere from University of Louisville’s campus to the Flea Off Market! They use housemade relishes, grilled onions and jalapeño jam! And to top it off, they always have a tangy housemade Curry Ketchup and hot sauce on hand that I’d pour on anything!

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  • Eiderdown: This European-inspired Pub is takes on a twist on southern comfort food! These bun-less links may not meet all the requirements of a typical hotdog, but their house-made white bean & seitan sausages are equally as tasty served on a plate with a side of crispy fries and potato salad with a kick! All the vegetarian sides use butter, so just make sure your waiter has your butter-free needs noted!

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  • Dairy Kastle: Spotting vegan options might come as a surprise at this seasonal ice cream shop located just outside of Old Lousiville, but the chili dogs, sauerkraut brats and low prices at this vegetarian-owned joint are guaranteed not to disappoint! And what’s better than 1.50$ chili dogs? Following them up with sweet, creamy Pineapple ice cream!

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  • Goss Avenue Pub: This gastropub takes another spin on the American classic! Bun? Check! Relish? Check! Hot dog? More like carrot dog! I haven’t tried this veganized hot dog replica yet, but Jeff & Kristina give this dog a thumbs up and it’s a great option if you’re in the mood for healthier comfort food!

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Give these dogs around town a try and let us know what you think!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Happy Food Truck Season!

The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and is that the smell of… mac and cheese in the air?! That’ right, it’s food truck season and we’ll be back out on the streets in no time!

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We’ve had a winters worth of time to think up new menu items and we can’t wait to share them with you. How about a country fried steak sandwich, with mashed potatoes and gravy? Or a ham and cheese? We’ve got a sweet potato brunch bowl (allergen friendly and taste bud tempting) with fresh veggies. And a favorite from last year, the pizza burger, will make a reappearance!

Here’s where you can catch us in April!

  • Saturday, April 8th
    • 11am – 5pm
    • Flea Off Market
    • 1007 East Jefferson St
  • Saturday, April 15th
    • 10am – 2pm
    • Douglass Loop Farmers Market
    • 2005 Douglass Blvd
  • Friday, April 21st
    • 5pm – 8pm
    • Great Flood Brewing
    • 2120 Bardstown Road

Follow along vgritsfoodtruck.com/events

See you on the streets!

Sweet Snacks for an Herbivore

Trying to get healthier, but have a sweet tooth calling your name? The SO Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle ice cream might try to break you, but there are some other yummy snacks that can satisfy a sweet tooth without the after-affects of bowls on bowls of sugar!

  • Little Secrets: These faux M&M’s just hit my local Kroger’s, and I’m a fan! Dark chocolate, sea salt and peanuts make a combination that’s nearly impossible to beat! And it’s no secret that their ingredients are all natural and ethical, with fair trade chocolate and coatings colored with turmeric and spirulina. Just watch out for the Peanut Butter flavor, as it is the only flavor that has whey. They’re additionally good to quiet cravings, just pop in a few and your sweet tooth is set!

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  • Larabars: Larabars are snack bars based of nuts and dates, so they can be great to have in the pantry as a sweet and healthy treat on the go. Different flavors include Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Pie, and Lemon Bar.

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  • Justin’s products: Justin’s has a plethora of sweet products ranging from dark chocolate peanut butter cups (Reese’s has nothing on these!) to chocolatey, nutty spreads. They do have palm oil though!

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  • Enjoy Life Chocolate: Chocolate chips and chunks make any bowl of fruit a little more tempting! Especially when scary dairy is the least of your concerns! You can also make homemade trail mix, blend with avocados for a healthy chocolate mousse, or add a few into your PB&J!

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  • Hail Merry Tarts & Macaroons: These raw vegan products have been spotted in health stores such as Whole Foods and Rainbow Blossom. Within the last few weeks, I’ve frequently seen them on sale around town! All products of theirs are certified vegan and use mostly organic, familiar products such as cashews, coconut sugar and coconut oil. I’ve tried the Persian Lime Tart and the Almond Butter Chocolate Cup! Both were delicious and left my sweet tooth satisfied without feeling sluggish!

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Try these products out next time you’re on the hunt for a healthier, sweet alternative!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

10 New Vegan Products to Get Excited About

There was a rad vegan Expo West in California, and there are oodles of new vegan products coming out worth drooling over! Here are 10 that I’m tryna get in my fridge ASAP.

  • Miniature Corn Dogs: Need I say more?! No lie, within 5 minutes of seeing a picture of these babies, I called up Whole Foods and asked for them to get these in stock! No doubt people have already whipped up some killer vegan recipes for this, but imagine the pure joy of opening up your freezer, popping miniature corndogs in your toaster oven, and eating them with mustard just like your 5 year old self used to love. To say the least, I am about getting these in my life.

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  • Vegan popcorn Chicken: So maybe my love for frozen childhood fingerfoods is showing, but the only thing better than vegan chicken is vegan popcorn chicken. Imagine the possibilities… ranch or BBQ sauce??!

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  • Rocket Cakes: Breakfast food just got easier! Why deal with the mess of recipes when batter can pour right out of a bottle? This batter doubles as a pancake and waffle batter. Yum! Add chocolate chips and we’ve got a match made in veggie heaven!

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  • Sausage Ravioli: Ravioli is a favorite of mine: any food stuffed with other food is something I can get behind!

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  • Liquid Vegan Egg: An omelette without the cruelty! I’ve never tried the vegan egg before, honestly because it seemed like a lot of effort, so this sounds perfect to me! Between Rocket Cakes and the Liquid Vegan Egg, you can basically pour a vegan breakfast feast out of a bottle!

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  • Vegan Ham: I forgot that I actually used to like the taste of ham until the V-Grits Christmas box, but since getting a little taste in December, I can’t wait for more! Pass the vegan ham & cheese, please!

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  • Gardein Breakfast Pockets: Breakfast food is clearly a thing I enjoy, especially over simplified, handheld breakfast food! These pockets are filled with vegan sausage, egg and cheese! Basically a trifecta of things most of us thought we couldn’t eat anymore after going vegan! Yassss.

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  • Cocomel Bites: Satisfy a sweet tooth by biting into a Cocomel chocolate, basically a veganized Rolo filled with ooey-gooey vegan caramel. Probably good to eat one at a time… or one bag at a time. 😉

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  • Milk Chocolate Bunnies: Eat an animal in a way that doesn’t harm animals with this cruelty-free chocolate bunny! The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate formed into unusual shapes.

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  • Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake: Vegan cheesecake of any sort is immediately worth digging into, but pumpkin spice? Heck yeah! I am down to eat a piece of this no matter what the season.

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Huge shout out to VegNews for posting all the delicious products the spotted at Expo West! Hopefully these tempting, cruelty-free treats will grace our veg-friendly city soon!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

NABC Brewhouse

This weekend I headed to NABC (New Albanian Brewing Company) Brewhouse, also known as Bankstreet Brewhouse and formerly known as Earth Friends Cafe. You might not expect it judging by the name, but this female-owned restaurant just across the river in New Albany has a plant-eater friendly menu that any vegan will be daydreaming about days after their first visit. They have everything from loaded nachos with vegan taco meat crumbles, to vegan buffalo chicken quesadillas, to buffalo cauliflower (anything will taste good drenched in buffalo sauce, am I right?), and even vegan desserts! Just make sure your waiter is fully aware that you’re vegan before you place your order. On top of all this mouthwatering vegan food that sounds straight out of a sports bar, they hands down have the best rootbeer I’ve ever had – so much so that I have to resist bringing my growler for them to fill it up with that bubbly, sweet deliciousness any time I eat there.  I’ve also added this spot to my mental list of the top eateries in Louisville I’d take an omnivore to. Any place that uses Gardein or Beyond Meat will have your omnivore friends doing double-takes. So try this place out y’all! It’s worth the Indiana crossover toll. 😉 And while you’re over there, be sure to check out the beautiful Black Art Matters Exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, literally across the street!

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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