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

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

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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

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

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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