Veganism: Coming to a School Near You

veganout

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)

bacn

  • 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

bacnss

  • 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

ftoast

  • 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

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!

atlanta15

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

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!! 😉 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?!

veganman.jpg

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!

vegane

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?

veggie

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Plant-Based Food Association

plant-based

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

Sunrise Sanctuary

Last November I was headed to Akron, Ohio; and there was no way I was about to drive six hours without stopping at at least one new farm animal sanctuary along the way! Sanctuaries are more than vital to the vegan movement, saving innocent animals from brutal lives in horrendous animal agriculture conditions. Lucky me, I made it to Sunrise Sanctuary in Columbus, Ohio just in time for their “Thanksgiving for the Turkeys,” just as Thanksgiving should be! The rescued turkeys were fed yummy snacks like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and the sanctuary visitors got to mingle with the furry residents and partake in a chili cook off! Cuddling with cows, stocking up on rad Sunrise Sanctuary apparel, drinking apple cider and eating chili is my kinda afternoon! The animals were free to roam at their leisure, ranging from horses and goats to gentle cows and sassy little piggies! The turkeys were waddling in between the line of people waiting to get chili, curious to see what shenanigans were happening. Visiting Sunrise was also my first experience meeting a cow, and I can’t think of an instance that melted my heart more. They are so large, soft and sweet! A cow named Baby Moo even knelt down so I could get a better reach to scratch  his ears! We couldn’t think of a better place to give a portion of V-Box meal kit and V-Card recipe envelope proceeds to this October. This year, their Thanksgiving for the Turkeys will be held on November 20th. If you’re going up north anytime soon, we would definitely recommend checking Sunrise Sanctuary out!

cowfrancowfrandcowpigcowturk

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

V-Grits Heads to Chi-Town!

This past Saturday, the V-Grits crew had a rad time selling our vegan cheeses at Chicago Veganmania! We came, we ate (a lot), we sold, we left. Here are some highlights from our trip (mostly food, of course).

  • Rocket 88: Out first stop was in Indy! We needed some donut/coffee power to get us to Chicago, so a stop at a local coffee shop with a lovely selection of vegan options was definitely needed! Some veg-friendly menu items included Apple Pie Donuts (delish!) and savory Tempeh Waffles. If you’re in the neighborhood, I would definitely check it out!
  • Chicago Diner: I ordered a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Milkshake with whipped cream Saturday night. How’s that for plant-based? 😉 Chicago Diner is doing it right, with their awesome slogan “Meat free since ’83!” Meat free is how we like to roll! Of course, no diner is complete without country fried steak, spicy chicken sandwiches, and Reubens, right? This spot had it all, and was packed from wall to wall when we visited! We love to see vegetarian spots thriving, and this one kept our bellies full (for a couple of days) and our taste buds content!
  • Pick Me Up Cafe: Another vegan-friendly diner we ate at was Pick Me Up! This diner had everything from vegan jalapeño poppers, to french toast, to steak pizza grinders! The portions will not disappoint! Not to mention, a killer tea selection! I opted for a dark orange cinnamon clove tea, and regret not asking for another tea bag!
  • Chicago Veganmania: We had such a blast at this event! While selling cheese out the wahzoo, we met some inspiring folks, including Jasmin Singer, co-host of podcast “Our Hen House” and Senior Editor of Vegnews, cookbook author and YouTube star the Vegan Black Metal Chef, and NFL vegan David Carter, aka the 300 pound vegan! Talk about starstruck! The day was completed with some amazing food (mango lassis, ribs, typical vegan stuff), educational seminars and cute vegan apparel! It was a great day all around, we can’t wait until the next one!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

The Buzz About Honey!

It might come as a surprise to many that along with not consuming animal meat and animal products, honey is also not a contributor to a vegan’s diet. Why not? Mostly because these tiny, intelligent, pretty little insects want to keep their food! Beyond being against cruelty to animals, veganism is also built on the belief of not exploiting animals for human benefit, or taking what is not ours to take. In common commercial cases of bee farms, Queen Bees are artificially inseminated, and honey the bees use as food is taken from them and replaced with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think it’s safe to say that stuff can’t be good for anyone! Many times, the bees are even smoked away to make the honey from the hive easier to access.

More than just ethical problems with honey, there are environmental problems with honey as well. The environment needs bees to keep thriving, and the continuation of honey farms are forcing bees to die at an alarming rate. Without bees, we couldn’t have apples, mangos, kiwi, cotton, plums, peaches, onions, avocados, cocoa, cashews, strawberries and more! I don’t know about you, but a world without avocados and V-Grits cashew cheeses sounds like a modern-day nightmare!

Almost as alarming as ethical and environmental issues with honey, there’s also the fact that honey is actually bee puke! Yikes! Here are some much more tempting alternatives that are guaranteed to keep your sweet tooth satisfied!

  • Bee-Free Honee: Yep, you heard right! Everything can be made vegan! Apples make this sweet sticky treat so easy to replace honey for our buzzing bee friends to thrive, and it can be found at Whole Foods!

sweet

  • Maple Syrup: Natural maple syrup tastes good poured on nearly anything (and by that, we really mean anything)! It’s rich and yummy and comes from trees!

sweetss

  • Coconut Nectar: Coconut Nectar is a super healthy alternative sweetener to honey or even refined sugar! It will add a little sweetness without feeling like you’re indulging!

sweetsss

  • Agave Nectar: Agave Nectar is one of the most popular vegan sweeteners, and comes from the same plant Tequila is made out of! 😉

sweets

We hope you give these modern, bee-friendly sweeteners a try! Let us know what your favorite alternative sweetener is!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

V-Grits’ September Spotlight

Upon getting into the vegan community here in Louisville, I was quick to notice an adventurous nine year old girl named Zelda. I didn’t know too much about her, just that she was the daughter of Buddy Wheeler (owner of Tattoo Charlie’s local vegan-friendly tattoo shop) and that she was vegan! A vegan kid, in real life? Sounded too rad to be true! Buddy and Zelda have been long-time fans of V-Grits, and even made the sign for the orange truck (Zelda held the dog back from chewing it up!).

Zelda has been vegan since she was four years old! After Zelda’s mom and dad went vegan as a result of health concerns, she quickly began her transitioning as well. She only ate animal products such as dairy and eggs occasionally outside of the house, until the family all started noticing patterns of her sickness and discomfort after birthday parties. Even the toughest people still can’t stomach all the alarming mysteries within animal products! After the second birthday party, Zelda decided enough was enough and made the switch! She grew into learning about the ethical side of veganism over time, and now there is no way she’s turning back!

zelda2

Q: What’s your favorite part of being vegan?

A: All the yummy food! And saving all the cute animals, like the ones at Upland’s PEAK! Lucy (one of PEAK’s resident pigs) is my favorite.

Q: Do you talk to a lot of your friends about being vegan?

A: Sometimes! And my friends love coming over and eating all our food! When they come over, they’re vegan for a weekend. Sometimes at lunch I will hear people talking, like “Did you know this is made from this?” And I’ll have to turn around and correct them and say “Actually, it’s made from this.” Two of my friends are mostly vegetarian.

Q: Are there ever moments where being vegan can get a little harder?
A: Most of the kids are really nice about it. It’s usually adults at birthday parties that try to get me to try something I can’t have. But every birthday party I go, I know my dad will get a vegan treat for me so I don’t mind!

Q: What’s your favorite V-Grits food?

A: The V-Burger or the Mac and Cheese! I loooooove the Mac and Cheese!

Q: What’s your favorite animal?

A: Grandma! (That was definitely a new one 😉 gerbils are her second favorite!)

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: I really like building things! I build all sorts of things. I made a piano out of wrenches once! And I really like cooking. I make these spring rolls with noodles and lettuce and carrots and mint and vegan bacon bits! Mmmmm.

Q: If you had any advice for anyone interested in  going vegan, what would it be?

A: Just eat lots of fruits and veggies! With everything! And you gotta learn about your food. Because or else you might be eating pig butt!!!

I couldn’t have said it better myself! This girl is doing amazing things! If you wanna keep up with all of Zelda’s various escapades, follow the Facebook page “The Adventures of Zelda” for more updates!

zelda

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi