Women’s March Weekend in D.C.

This past Saturday, we were reminded of the power activists can have by uniting for justice! The Women’s March in D.C was definitely one of the most memorable highlights of the recent political scene, and the perfect start to 2017. Looking out onto a sea of people filled with a willful pursuit to fight for justice and equality was not a moment worth underestimating. The march began with speakers of all backgrounds and demographics, who claimed that this was the uniting moment we all need, and that Women’s March of over 5 million people worldwide was just the beginning of the fight for women’s rights and intersectional feminism. Speakers included activists such as Angela Davis (also vegan, whoop whoop!), a determined inspiring young Sophie Cruz, and the CEO of Planned Parenthood. If that wasn’t enough, how about that extra cherry on top that dedicated feminist Emma Watson was cheering and marching on within a mile radius?! Listening and being in the presence of all these amazing women, I was feeling overwhelmingly inspired, and of course a bit starstruck! We gathered in peace and protest all through D.C, with too many justice seekers to even stay in route! The love, activism, and bond throughout America and even other countries Saturday was more than any Chair of any of the marches expected, and it was absolutely lovely.

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And of course, no vegan foodie can visit a different city without popping in the best cruelty-free eateries around town! D.C is booming with vegan-friendliness! After a thorough digging into Happy Cow, I settled on three gnarly picks! I would support Fare Well, Khepra Raw Food and Juice Bar, or NuVegan Cafe making a second Louisville location anytime!

Khepra’s was my first stop. The menu was all raw and filled with items like Buffalo Cauliflower, Blackberry Cheesecake, Avocado Nori Wraps and (my favorite) a raw vegan crab cake. The flavors and textures of all the food I had was spot on, particularly the coconut-meat based crab cake that left me shocked how realistic it was! The cheesecake tasted like ice cream, and the sides that come with a platter were practically a meal itself. The prices were great for the amount of food I got, and I felt so energized after! They even had a separate room for “Heart Touch Therapy,” which was a blend of reiki and other forms of energy movement, healing and relaxation which was a great finishing touch.

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NuVegan Cafe was the kind of place that will make you go, “Are you sure this is all vegan?!” Their fried chicken, mac and cheese and cheesecake were so spot on, if you put a bucket of each in front of me I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself! They also had cinnamon buns, taco salad, tuna salad and lasagna as their special of the day. They put the soul in soul food, and I loved their mission statement that was a reminder that they’re in it for the animals, just like us!

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The final stop in this vegan flavortown was Fare Well! Fare Well was started by the owners of the famous bakery Sticky Fingers. They had quite the morning rush so I missed the Chicken and Waffles, but was still amazed by their delicious Breakfast Nachos, French Toast Casserole, Cookie Dough Milkshake and Blueberry Danish! It had been SO long since I had a Blueberry Danish, I think I ate it in about 30 seconds! I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who plans to visit in the future, and I am definitely coming back for that plate of Chicken and Waffles!

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It was quite the weekend! The feeling of activism and the smell of vegan fried chicken were in the air, and nothing ever felt so good! I’m beyond looking forward to my next visit, with plenty more activism, equality, justice and vegan noms ahead!

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

 

Eating Healthy on the Go!

Clean eating is an infamous travel struggle! Here are ten snacks that keep me satisfied and energized when I’m on the go!

  1. Fruit: Fruit is the easiest “fast food” there is. 😉 Wash it, cut it, and package it for the week and you have a quick snack no matter how much of a hurry you’re in!
  2. Clif bars: Clif bars feel like you’re eating a cookie that’s good for you! They’re meant for active people, so they’re especially great for hikers, cyclists and climbers who could use the extra energy & protein boost! Not all of them are vegan, though, so double check the label!
  1. Dates: Dates are also fruit, but especially handy for people in a rush. Dates may dry out a little after a month or so, but it takes them so long to actually go bad that they’re always good to keep in your glove compartment or purse for those unexpected hangry moments!
  2. Homemade trail mix: Dried fruit, nuts, vegan chocolate chips, and pretzels make a delicious and easy to eat snack anytime. Make a big batch and store it in your pantry, or throw a few handfuls into a Ziploc bag on your way out!
  3. Dips: If you have a little time before you’re on your way, quick dip boxes can be filling, healthy ways to rid yourself of some hunger. Slice up pita bread and with a few scoops of hummus, veggies with guacamole, or ciabatta bread with scoops PB&J and you’re good to go!
  4. Seeds or nuts: Seeds & nuts are surprisingly filling. They’re great in between meals, or as the “I’m bored so I’m going to eat something” snack. 😉
  5. Vegan yogurt: Thanks to food science, that yogurt container can still make its way into your lunch box. There are all sorts of vegan yogurt brands out now, from So Delicious to Kite Hill to Trader Joe’s.

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  1. Chia Pudding: Chia Pudding is so easy to make. Add fruit juice and your favorite nut milk to chia seeds in a bowl, leave it in the fridge overnight and you’re set… and so is the pudding! If you’re not up for making it at home, though, there are pre-made chia puddings sold at Whole Foods and Rainbow Blossom!
  2. Kale chips: Kale chips are ideal for long car drives! They’re easy to make, not super messy, and they even sneak greens into your diet! Make them at home, or buy Brad’s Raw Kale Chips in stores (they even sell them at certain Kroger’s)!
  3. Dark chocolate: Many dark chocolates are vegan, but always double check! Dark chocolate is on the healthier side of the sweets spectrum. It has tons of health benefits and can can also help curb a sweet tooth! My personal favorite is from the Endangered Species brand found at Kroger’s!

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Don’t listen to the rumors, eating vegan doesn’t have to be inconvenient! 🙂 We hope you give some of these snacks a try on your next busy day or roadtrip!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Compassionate Cookies for Santa

I’m sure we’ve all heard by now about vegan santa: the one who lets reindeer come along for the ride in his solar powered sleigh and refuses to eat cookies that hurt the reindeer’s animal friends! Luckily, the list of compassionate cookie choices for vegan santa is so long, he might even want to check it twice! Here are some of our favorite cruelty-free cookies!

  • Oreos
  • Chocolate chip cookies made from Half Peach cookie dough
  • Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, or Peanut Butter cookies made with Hampton Creek cookie dough

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  • Lemonades from Girl Scouts
  • Peanut Butter Patties from Girl Scouts
  • Thin Mints from Girl Scouts

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  • 7/11 Fudge Mint Cookies
  • Vegan Gingerbread house from Big Lots
  • Trader Joes Speculoos
  • Homemade cookies
  • Chocolate Chip cookies from Flora (or seasonal toaster pastries/meringues if you want to switch it up for Santa) found at Quills

Don’t forget to leave out a glass of almond milk and some oats for the reindeer, too!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

Five Ingredient Hot Chocolate

Holiday season means it’s getting a little too cold for comfort, but nothing is better than coming home from the chilly weather to homemade hot chocolate! Here’s a recipe so easy, it’ll knock your fuzzy socks off!

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What you’ll need:

  • Chocolate Syrup (Hershey’s Syrup, Organic Santa Cruz Chocolate Flavored Syrup, or a mix of Date Syrup & Cocoa powder)
  • 13.5 FL OZ of sweetened cashew or coconut milk
  • Vegan whipped cream (Soy Whip & Rice Whip are found at Lucky’s Market Louisville) or Dandies’ Vegan Marshmallows
  • Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips
  • Dash of sea salt, cinnamon or cayenne (optional)

Start out by heating the milk on low in a pan. When the milk gets hot, squeeze six squirts of chocolate syrup in the pan, add spices and stir. The hot chocolate should be a rich brown color. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug,  top with whipped cream or Dandies Marshmallows and chocolate chips, and serve! Popcorn and Oreos make the perfect accompaniments. 😉

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Would a Caveman’s Diet Meet Paleo Standards?

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The Paleo way of eating is frequently referred to as a caveman’s diet, but a caveman would probably look at you like you’re from a whole different century if you tried to tell them not to eat plant-based! The Paleo diet is highly focused on a heavy intake of grass-fed meats, and tells followers to avert from dairy, grains and over-processed foods. This dietary regimen is one of the most followed diet fads out there. I can definitely spot the research backing the alarming mysteries of dairy and processed foods, but I think the rest may need a little digging into. Researchers estimate that only a small portion of the average caveman’s diet consisted of meat! Why go through all the trouble of killing animals when there were hills on hills of lush plants you could simply grab by the handful? Previous studies made inaccurate estimations that cavemen ate a surplus of meat, only to find later that an intake of that much meat would actually poison humans.

Along with adding a heavy portion of meat into your diet, Paleo is also heavily focused on the abstinence of any type of grain. Despite the claim that pre-historic people didn’t eat grains, researchers have found traces of oats on grinding tools dating back to 32, 000 years ago. Oats, wild wheat, and other starches have been proven to be strong cores of a real diet during the Paleolithic period. These days, the term “carbs” is made out to be just as scary as the word “vegan,” but if you opt for the less processed carbs you’ve got nothing to fear! Many of the foods that are actually allowed in a Paleo diet were not even discovered during the Paleolithic period, such as the lovely avocados that were found in 1519, or squash that was found in 1591. As much praise as I’m sure anyone would have gotten for introducing the heavenly avocado to cavemen, it’s safe to say a Paleo diet has a long way from being caveman approved! And I mean, no offense to the cavemen and all, but why is everyone trying to eat like people did hundreds of thousands of years ago anyways? I would take a V-Grits burger over a handful of leaves and wheat any day!

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Over time, we were able to grow in knowledge and take on studies that show us that in current society, our bodies are not meant to intake any meat whatsoever. Even our own bodies reveal to us that we are better off with a plant-based diet since veganism has cured and or/reversed everything from diabetes, to forms of cancer, to heart disease. Thank you, technology! And trust me, if you’re trying to better your diet, just leave the “gathering” for the produce section at your local grocery store. 😉

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Zoos or Sanctuaries: What’s the Difference?

Going to the zoo was always a classic childhood memory… but so was eating animal products, so do some of these childhood memories need more thought? I never truly felt like zoos were just, but I didn’t understand how unjust they were until I learned about the differences between zoos and sanctuaries. Unfortunately, “zoo” and “sanctuary” are not as synonymous as we’d hope. Unlike sanctuaries, zoos tend to keep animals in far more confined spaces since such a vast amount of funding goes towards landscaping, sculptures, t-shirts, and other human-focused amenities. Zoos are also allowed to use disciplinary methods that are physically and mentally harmful to the animals in order for the animals to become easier to work with when they are put on display. Over time, animals fade from being their true selves into a human-inflicted version of the animal they could have been. There is even a term called “zoocosis,” created to describe the common, repeated behaviors of depression and anxiety animals exude when they are in zoos. That certainly does sound like any place I’d like to live in!

Thank goodness for the animals, sanctuaries also exist. Sanctuaries tend to ensure a permanent, realistic and secure home for residents. An average sanctuary, for example, will have between three to 1,000 acres of an animal’s natural habitat for them to live in.  As a result of the animals being surrounded in their natural settings, the residents also tend to express themselves in a more realistic manner comparable to the rest of their species in the wild: animals can swim, run, play, and socialize it up as they please! The animals are also looked after 24/7 to make sure they’re as happy and safe as they can be! Learning about the secrets of zoos was what first propelled me to give up meat. I figured if I thought all wild life deserves freedom, happiness and love, then so do the animals in farming agriculture. There’s a classic saying in the vegan world; “If you wouldn’t want it done to you, it’s not humane.” Luckily, never seeing dinosaurs has never stopped a child from loving them! However, if children do want to meet animals, there are a ton of fun alternatives! Sanctuaries can fill the animal void, and you’ll feel better knowing the furry, feathery, scaly fellas are free from confinement! Boating, kayaking, hiking and whale watching are great alternatives too, and you’re bound to see some crazy critters swimming, crawling or flying around! Try one of these adventures in replacement of zoos, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

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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