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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving Veganized

What better way to give thanks than celebrating lives instead of eating them? With so many vegan substitutes, it gets easier and easier every year to veganize Thanksgiving! You can even have V-Grits cater your Thanksgiving spread with vegan Turkey Pot Pie, a healthy bean & oat based Thanksgiving loaf, Mac and Cheese topped with breadcrumbs, Beans & Collard Greens, Orange Walnut Quinoa Salad, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, homemade Bourbon Balls and 6 packs of Elixir’s Harvest Cider Kombucha! Did your stomach just growl, too? You can even make some yummy side dishes and appetizers with our cheese line! Add spinach, artichokes, garlic powder and italian seasonings to our Mozzarella sauce for a yummy spinach and artichoke dip! Or try our Mild Cheddar sauce over broccoli or in a potato casserole! Don’t want to fuss over appetizers? Put out a bowl of our Pimento spread with veggies or crusty bread for dipping and you’re good to go!

For even more Thanksgiving options, though, there’s a whole grocery world of holiday vegan spins waiting to be explored! You can replace the dairy in homemade mashed potatoes with creamy coconut milk! Since just about every Thanksgiving side pretty much requires butter, Earth Balance always seems to do the job! Kite Hill also makes amazing vegan cream cheese and yogurt, if a recipe you want to try calls for it! Green Beans and yams can easily be made vegan, too. There are also some good lookin’ vegan turkeys out in stores! Tofurky (no, they are not made of tofu 😉 ), Gardein (featured below) and Field Roast vegan turkeys are some of the most popular out there! There are even versions that are pastry dough wrapped or filled with stuffing! Even Trader Joes has a Turkey-less Stuffed Roast! I haven’t experimented with any vegan Turkey’s personally, but they have all been reviewed to be pretty gnarly! For dessert, luckily the typical (double check allergens just to be safe!) pastry dough is vegan! Top some apple filling with a sheet of pastry dough as a crust and bam! You’ve got apple pie! In Lucky’s Market, neighbors to our line of V-Grits Cheese Sauces are rice milk and soy milk based vegan whipped cream! I haven’t gotten a chance to try it yet, but I cannot wait to drench my holiday sweets in mountains of that stuff! We hope this makes your veganized holidays a little bit easier! Happy cruelty-free eatin,’ folks!

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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