A Guide for the Ultimate Vegan Sundae

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You scream, I scream, we all scream for cruelty-free ice cream! Ice cream and pastry shops have just started to make gains¬†in the vegan world! Louisville hasn’t got an all-vegan ice cream spot yet, but we’re lucky enough to have options at places like McQuixote’s, Dairy Kastle, Arctic Scoop, Comfy Cow, Baskin Robbins, Graeter’s, and occasionally Louisville Cream, Annie Mae’s Sweet Cafe and Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen! But if you feel like staying in for the night, practically any grocery store carries a variety of nut-milk based indulgences! Cashew milk is my personal favorite base (soy milk is a good runner up!) and comes in flavors like Dark Chocolate Truffle (10/10, would recommend ūüėČ ), Salted Caramel Cluster, and Snickerdoodle. Even the famous Ben & Jerry’s recently launched an all vegan almond-milk based line of ice creams, including flavors like PB & Cookie and Chocolate Fudge Brownie that can be found at Kroger’s or Target! You can also make your own healthier spin on ice cream by throwing some frozen bananas in a blender with a little¬†dairy-free milk! And what ice cream sundae could be complete without the toppings?! We have just the cure for your creamy sundae indulgences! Vegan sundae toppers include:

  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Junior Mints
  • Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
  • Smucker’s Marshmallow Topping
  • Smucker’s Chocolate Magic Shell
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit (strawberries, pineapples, raspberries, cherries, bananas)
  • Soy or Rice Milk based whipped cream (for purchase at Lucky’s) or SoDelcious CocoWhip
  • Ice cream cones (most are actually vegan, but check the allergens to be safe!)
  • Oreos
  • Potato Chips
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts, almond, peanuts, etc.
  • Dates or Date Syrup
  • Herbs (like mint or basil)
  • Frosting
  • Popcorn
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Brownies made with Ghirardelli ¬†Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • Cookie Dough from Half Peach
  • Trader Joe’s or Enjoy Life Foods’ Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
  • Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • Jam
  • Girl Scouts Thin Mints
  • Granola (watch out for the animal products though, particularly milk and honey!)
  • BeeFree Honey
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Date Syrup
  • Let’s Do Organic Vegan Sprinkelz

You might have to dig through your bowl just to see the ice cream! We all need to indulge sometimes, and a big bowl of our favorite sweet treat might be just the cure. There’s no shame in a little taste testing! ūüėČ

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Are Turkeys Aware?

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Save-the-Turkeys Day is just around the corner! While stuffing our bellies full of delicious, cruelty-free plates on plates of food, and getting faced with some unethical food choices, it might help to remember that turkeys are far more intelligent than they’re typically given credit for! As vegans say, if they use their eyes to see, they use their brains to think! Even Benjamin Franklin had a fit when the Bald Eagle was chosen over the Turkey as the National Bird, and wrote a letter stating the Turkey was a “much more respectable bird” and a “bird of courage” rather than the unimpressive, scavenging Bald Eagle. I have only been in the lovely company of turkeys once, and were¬†such sweet and curious little fellas! The ones I met were far from shy, and you could find them bobbing their heads in between lines of people waiting for food. They were just itching to see what all the fuss was about! Some of a turkey’s favorite activities include cuddling, being stroked and pet, clucking along to music and playing their own version of football with things like apples! They’re so smart in fact, that they have an astounding sense of hearing despite having no ears! They can even recognize each other’s voices! That comes in handy for them, since they thrive on affection and love making long connections and friendships with humans and birds alike. Being as curious as they are, they also enjoy exploring and are able to remember up to 1,000 acres of geographic content, which is definitely an advantage when they’re stocking up on food! Turkeys can live up to ten years, despite that they typically only live a few short months in animal agriculture. This time of the year, it is particularly important to show our love and appreciation for these friendly, loving birds. Let’s all do them a favor and extend our compassion to leave them off our plates this season! If you would like to take an extra step to help our beautiful feathered friends, you can adopt a turkey! How cool would that be?! Happy cruelty-free holidays!

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

Joella’s Veganized!

Where do I head when the V-Grits food truck isn’t out and I’m in need of gnarly vegan noms? No place other than a fried chicken joint! It might come as a surprise that Joella’s Chicken has one of my favorite plates of food in town.¬†They have a Vegan Chicken Plate that’s impressed several of my omnivorous friends, leaving their bellies full (even from the ones who claimed vegan food isn’t filling ūüėČ ) and taste buds satisfied! Their spice blends give their vegan chicken a nice kick! As for sides, my go-to’s are always the Crispy Thin Fries, and Kale Salad with currants and almonds (minus the cheese!)! Other vegan side options include a Black Eyed Pea Salad and a Vinegar Slaw. Maple Syrup and BBQ Sauce are the two vegan sauce options, but bringing my bottle of Follow Your Heart vegan ranch has never disappointed me!! Wash it all down with one of their tasty, cane-sugar house sodas and you’re set! Happy eating, folks!

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Got (Vegan) Milk?: A Plant-Based Milk Guide

Dairy?! Isn’t that so like, 2011? With so many new, modern vegan alternatives, dairy is on its way to be a thing of the past! The dairy industry hides that ethically, they are even worse to cows than the meat industry. Just like a baby zebra gets milk from their zebra momma and a baby giraffe gets milk from their giraffe momma, the only breast milk humans need to receive is from their same species, not a cow’s! Milk has additionally been proven to be linked to acne, ovarian cancer, bone fragility, and more (thanks for the links, PETA!) And can you just imagine that how that one milk-discovery dude¬†even got to finding it? Talk about weird! There are so many non-cow milks these days that it’s almost overwhelming to pick just one. And even with all those vegan milks already out there, I feel like I hear of a new type just about every week! But don’t stress! I’ve done my fair share of experimenting, and will help you find the right plant-based milk¬†for all your dairy-free needs!

  • Coconut milk: You can always find a few cans of coconut milk in my pantry! And if you’ve seen Chef Kristina’s episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, you know how dire coconut milk can be! Coconut milk is rich, thick and creamy. It makes a great homemade whipped cream, base of a rich soup, or can even be a good binder! It has a pretty strong taste on its own, but you can throw coconut milk and coconut oil into your coffee to¬†make it extra foamy!
  • Cashew milk: Props to the vegans who lived through the grim times before cashew milk was known to human kind! Cashew milk is my absolute favorite in any plant-based alternative. Cashew milk ice cream and cheeses (*cough cough,* V-Grits cheeses ūüėČ ) are what I have found to be closest in taste to the harmful dairy products we grew up loving! The ice cream (SO Delicious is my favorite) is super creamy, and has even fooled my family of omnivores. Even on its own, cashew milk is delicious in a glass. A little maple syrup goes a long way to spice it up, though!

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  • Almond Milk: Almond milk is definitely the hippest milk out right now! Every coffee shop is carrying it, even Starbucks adapted to the trend and started selling it this year! Almond milk is a little sweeter and tends to be a little thinner than the other milks. It’s also yummy on its own, but especially with a chocolate chip cookie nearby! ūüėČ
  • Soy Milk: Soy Milk is the OG milk!! It was every vegan’s go to for any dairy alternative back in the day. Soy milk still is great in coffee, and does well as an ice cream base! Soy milk also tends to work well as a dairy-milk replacement for recipes!
  • Banana Milk: Bananas are one¬†of the most beneficial foods for your body! This milk typically isn’t found in stores, but throw some bananas and water in a blender, and you’ve got banana milk! Banana milk is a great drink on the go to get a little extra energy and potassium boost in!
  • Hemp Milk: Hemp milk is another super healthy milk worth trying! I’ve primarily used this milk for smoothies!
  • Rice Milk:¬†Rice Milk is low in fat and one of the least allergenic milks out there!! I’ve had rice milk over fruit, and it is yummy in or as the base of desserts!
  • Ripple: One of the newest milks on the dairy-free block is Ripple, or pea milk. If you’re wondering why they call it ripple, maybe just say pea milk out loud! ūüėČ Ripple is getting trendy due to having high protein levels (one gram of protein per ounce!), just like peas. I have yet to try this milk, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some!

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As stated earlier, there are an endless number of milks out there! These days people make new vegan milks just to test if a food product can be turned into a milk! Other replacements out there include hazelnut milk, macadamia nut milk, quinoa milk, oat milk, flax milk, and more! So make an ethical and healthy turn into the dairy-alternative section next time you go grocery shopping, I promise you won’t regret it!

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!! ūüėČ 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

Seven Tips for a New Vegan

It could be pretty overwhelming for someone who is new to veganism, there’s so much to learn! Reconstucting unethical eating habits and ways of thinking does take effort, but it isn’t hard once¬†you get your feet wet! Here are some tips for all you new vegans out there!

  1. Get your vegan radar on and locate some plant-eaters! Adapting this new ethical stance will be so much easier when you know other people who have adapted the lifestyle and ethics you are trying to achieve! Vegan friends can be super important resources to have just a text away! To meet new vegans, check if there is a local or worldwide community vegan page, or just hang around local vegan restaurants enough and you’re bound to meet someone new!

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2. Eat. a. lot! One of the most common problems new vegans seem to run into¬†is not eating enough. Just like any other way of eating, food diversity is key to being healthy and meeting all your nutrition requirements. And if you continuously eat different foods such as fruit, grains, greens and beans, there’s no way the doctor will be able to find any deficiencies!

3. Let go of your fear for fruit! A huge myth in the food world is that eating a donut is practically the same thing as eating a banana! Fruit sugar is necessary and vital to keeping us alive, and sugars are definitely not all the same! A donut will leave you feeling sluggish, where as a banana fuels your body and keeps you feeling energized! Nothing is more nourishing or could be better for your body than fruits and vegetables.

4. Watch documentaries! Online movies have never been so easy to access, and have never been such a resource for vegan knowledge! Now, even Netflix has several movies that teach viewers about animal treatment in agriculture, and what animal products do to destroy our bodies and the environment. All benefits of veganism are not only important to learn as someone new to the lifestyle, but you’ll also find they’re important to be aware of when talking to others¬†who challenge the movement! ūüėČ

5. Plan out meals. Especially if you’re new to veganism, if you don’t know what food to buy, you might end up buying a lot of things all at once, and make a two dollar meal into a twenty dollar meal! Planning meals ahead of time can allow you to think of a filling meal that won’t¬†break your¬†budget! Want someone to do the meal planning for you? Grab a V-Box or a V-Card envelope and we’ll do the work for you!

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6. Seek out your veganized indulgences! Before I knew about the copious amounts of vegan options out there, I mostly ate a lot of vegetables drenched in Sriracha. Now I have all the same foods I had growing up like tacos, pasta, and pizza, just veganized! Living off roasted vegetables is honestly not super ideal for anyone, and probably not going to keep you loving vegan food as much as you could! Find your local vegan spots or head over to the frozen isle to grab yourself some cashew milk ice cream! I promise you won’t regret it!

7. Visit an animal sanctuary! Veganism had never been as close to my heart as it was after making a visit to local sanctuary Upland’s PEAK. Seeing the animals affected and saved from animal agriculture made practices of the industry much more real to me, and it also made me see how gentle these beautiful creatures are that the food industry is harming. Visiting and volunteering for sanctuaries can be a reminder that there is hope for our sweet, innocent, furry friends, and that as vegans, everything we do is to help those little fellas out!

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We hope these seven tips help you on your way to achieving a cruelty-free lifestyle! If you still find yourself struggling, send V-Grits an inbox and we’ll be happy to help with any and all questions that convert you to that word no vegan ever thought they would call themselves… Vegan!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Tyson Buys Into Beyond Meat

“Are vegans making a difference?”

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Once again, we have proof that heck yes we are making a difference! The New York Times recently released that the largest meat producer in the United States¬†has bought into an all-vegan meat brand, Beyond Meat! Caring about ethics of animal agriculture has become the latest social trend, and Tyson is finally starting to get the memo! Judging by Tyson’s standard practices for treatment of animals, Tyson is clearly extremely distant¬†from caring about animal ethics, but seeing vegan meat as a prized financial opportunity shows where the crowds are headed! Multiple avenues such as social media, blogs, and YouTube have exposed and spread awareness of animal cruelty¬†to the public far more now than in the past. Unbiased studies not backed by the meat or dairy industry (we see you lobbying, meat and dairy industry!) have come out time and time again now stating that animal derived foods are the most detrimental products to human health. According to Mercy for Animals,¬†increased awareness has resulted in a decline of meat sales by 15% just in the last year, and plant-based proteins are expected to make up a whopping 1/3 of protein sales in the US by 2054. How rad! Hopefully in the near future, the habitual act of eating chicken flesh will become strange enough to where it is no longer common practice; thank goodness we are clearly headed in that direction!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi