Shahrazad Mediterranean Restaurant

I’m not sure how many vegans live on the University of Louisville’s campus, but if you’re out there, I feel your struggle! When I was a student there, any hope I found for vegan options was sandwiched between two dry, gluten-free slices of bread at the allergen friendly station in the cafeteria – yikes! I’m still on the campus often, and the vegan options are still far and few between, but luckily I heard about Shahrazad and got the chance to check it out! This new Mediterranean restaurant opened up right next to the campus bookstore this past fall, and the vegan options will not disappoint! ¬†I got a falafel pita sandwich, baba ganoush (like hummus except made with eggplant… and way better than hummus ūüėČ ) and grape leaves, with a savory and comforting complimentary lentil soup. Everything was delicious, filling, and around 5$ an item! Tasty, cheap, healthy food is always the end goal, am I right? Besides the menu items I ordered, there were a few vegan salads as well as a vegetable stew to choose from. The waitress informed¬†me there’s no cheese in their entire restaurant, just make sure you order your food with no tzatziki sauce and you’re good to go! My food baby and I left as content as could be, and with a decent amount of leftovers to take home! And beyond just the food, the staff and owners were incredibly sweet. If you’re on U of L’s campus, stop in and try it out for yourself!

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Starbucks is Caving for Vegans

Finally, Starbucks is bumping up the¬†vegan options so we can have more¬†than black coffee! This coffee chain is starting to get the memo – vegans are everywhere, and we’re spreading! ūüėČ Just this past August, Starbucks decided to give into the 96, 000 requests (vegans ain’t subtle) for almond milk to be added to their string of vegan milk options, including soy milk and coconut milk. Almond milk isn’t just for vegans, though! Their house-made Almond milk also won over health fanatics, having only 3 grams of sugar in comparison to 2% cow milk’s 12 grams of sugar – and also just because… dairy.¬†*Shudders*

Starbucks wasn’t finished helping out us plant eaters just yet, though. They recently just launched their very first grab-and-go vegan breakfast option! The new menu item uses a combination of steel cut oats, quinoa, chia seeds coconut milk, tropical fruit compote, almond slices and coconut shavings for the perfect healthy morning treat! The breakfast option has hit 600 locations around New York. Hopefully we’ll see them in Starbucks’ scattered across our veg-friendly city of Louisville soon! Until then, check out this handy list of vegan Starbucks finds!

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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 ūüėČ )! It’s only good for you, after all!

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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. ūüėČ

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!

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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. ūüėČ 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. ūüėČ
  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! ūüôā We hope you give some of these snacks a try on your next busy day or roadtrip!

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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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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!

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Sammi

Cruelty-Free Fried Chicken Joint

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The world just got another fried chicken restaurant…

Oh wait, except this one is entirely cruelty-free! Temple of Seitan is taking on the inevitable first all vegan fried chicken joint! ¬†That’s right KFC, be¬†very¬†afraid! ¬†This new spot makes¬†their vegan chicken out of seitan, a gluten-based alternative. Temple of Seitan will be putting their chicken in everything from subs to mac and cheese, and serving their plant-based chicken popcorn style and family style! The only bad news? This fried vegan chicken is calling our names all the way from across the pond! London was lucky enough to get the first vegan chicken joint, but hopefully America will get the memo and be next for a store-front of this juicy, breaded, fried deliciousness! I might just have to book a flight to London soon if not!

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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