Vegan Eats in the Queen City

Cincinnati is the place I call home, and each year it seems as if the city gets even more vegan friendly! Since leaving, my visits have led me to indulge in everything from cheesy croissant sandwiches, to “Crack ‘n’ Cheese,” to a mouth-watering raw vegan chocolate bar!  My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it! Here are some of my favorite spots to help me go up a notch on my belt buckle whenever I’m in town!

  • Rooted: The last time I visited Cincinnati and didn’t go to Rooted was probably before I knew Rooted existed! Beyond the allure of beautiful, sleek, minimalist decor are some delicious plant-based noms that will have you craving more and feeling energized afterwards! They have a plethora of cold-pressed juices and cold case items they make in-house when you’re on the go, and a full menu of raw and hot meals when you’re dining in.Everything is vegan besides the occasional use of honey in a few juices. Some of the meals include Quesadillas with their house-made cashew cheese, raw vegan Taco Wraps, and a raw Caesar Salad. Don’t forget to finish your meal off with some raw vegan chocolates from the chocolate bar, the Twix will not disappoint!
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  • Happy Chicks: Happy Chicks fits right into Northside, a part of Cincinnati full of record stores, antique shops and yummy food! Happy Chicks is a bakery specializing in celebration cakes, cookies and cupcakes galore, with all sorts of unique flavors. On Saturdays, the bakery sells croissant doughnuts with flavors like Strawberry Margarita and Lemongrass Matcha. They don’t only serve up delicious sweet treats, but their croissants are the best I’ve had, vegan or not. The croissants have a crunch on the outside that is the perfect start to the warm, soft, flaky pastry. Happy Chicks even makes croissant sandwiches that are out of this world (or city, at least)! Melty vegan cheese and fresh veggies sandwiched between two hot, mouth-watering croissants? I’m in!

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  • The Kitchen Factory: The Kitchen Factory is another Northside favorite, and the perfect late night bite! The Kitchen Factory isn’t entirely vegan. but their vegan menu items could confuse a carnivore! Their vegan Meatball Marinara Sub was able to confuse me at least, who thought the sandwich was so realistic looking and tasting that I was worried I forgot to specify to make it vegan! Not to mention, I could eat a bucket of their “Crack (Mac) ‘n’ Cheese!” Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s gluten-free, with a house-made cheese sauce that could make anything taste good and penne pasta, it is every bit as glutinous and cheesy as you could dream of! They also have a vegan ricotta they make in-house for their veggie pizza, served by the slice as late as 3 am on the weekends!
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  • Jungle Jim’s: Jungle Jim’s may not be a restaurant, but it is easily the IKEA of grocery shopping. Jungle Jim’s is filled with every food item under the sun, especially when it comes to international specialities and a vegan section you could get lost in! You can even find a little bit of Louisville with V-Grits cheeses in the vegan cheese section! Stop here to get that weird, exotic looking vegetable you’ve heard all about, four types of vegan mozzarella, or your favorite international condiments!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

White Castle Says “No Meat, No Problem!”

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Food chains around America are not hitting the brakes anytime soon on making plant-based gains! National fast-food Chain White Castle has teamed up with Dr. Praeger’s Purely Sensible Foods once again for a second veggie burger as cheap as a can of soda! The previous zucchini, carrot and pea burger will be served up alongside the new tempting sliders made up of hearty, protein-loaded black beans, corn and red peppers. You can even top it with a sweet and spicy Thai sauce spread over a classic dairy-free White Castle bun. It’s rumored that the new sliders are just on a trial run until June 1st, so head over to White Castle and find out what all the hype is about!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Burgers Go Beyond Meat

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Months back, the new greasy, indulgent Beyond Meat burgers hit the shelves of health food stores around the nation, and omnivores and vegans are giving it a thumbs up! Not only does this futuristic burger replicate the taste of meat like it’s seitan competitors, but it also replicates the look and smell of real beef burgers! They’re packaged showcasing their bright, raw pink color made from the eye-tricking use of “beet blood.” The burgers even smell so appalling that you know the only reason they could smell so bad would be to imitate the aroma of all the mysteries of a meat patty. Also like a beef burger, as soon as these duplicates hit a hot pan or grill, these plant-based burgers brown on the outside to leave a juicy pink center to fool the most carnivorous omnivores.  At first the smell and taste were too realistic for me to enjoy, but by the third try I was jumping on the Beyond Meat bandwagon!

Beyond taste, this new product saves our loving, cuddly cow friends being completely cruelty-free, and it’s a better burger for our bodies and the planet. It’s no secret that red meat has had a not-so-helping hand in countless lethal diseases. The base of this protein-loaded (20 grams per patty) meat replacement is made up of peas, a far healthier and more sustainable product than cow meat. Just one cow burger requires 660 gallons of water, yikes! This burger has been worked on and perfected seven years in the making, and trust us, it was worth the wait!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

How To Tell Your Family You’re Going Vegan

So you’ve followed FullyRaw Kristina for a year now, you visited an animal sanctuary, and you finally got around to watching Earthlings. You’re feeling good, you’ve got YouTube tutorials lined up on how to eat vegan for cheap, and you think the time has come to make the switch. How will you tell your omnivorous, “I would die without cheese” claiming family?

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  • Step 1 – Get on an Apron: You’re about to make the big reveal, and it’s the perfect time to show your loved ones that there’s more to compassionate eating than plates on plates of grass! Whip up any of your family’s favorite, typically dairy-laden, meat-stuffed foods. Not a cook? The internet’s loaded with recipes, and there’s always the option to get take out from your favorite vegan restaurant (or truck, wink wink 😉 ! Wait until they tell you how good it all tastes before you break the news that it’s all vegan!
  • Step 2 – The Talk: Sit down around the dinner table, take a sip of water, and muster up all your courage to share your newfound social justice venture. There might be gasps, jokes, even tears. Don’t be surprised when members of your family evolve into vegetable therapists and the protein police, it’s only natural.  The potato screams and carrot feelings have haunted thousands for years.  When answering questions, keep in mind that no one likes to be told any of their daily habits are unethical, Try to reason with them by comparing cows, pigs and chickens to any other animal on the planet. Most omnivores claim to be animal lovers, after all, and pigs are known for their astounding intelligence! After explaining all the in’s, out’s, who’s, what’s, when’s and why’s of veganism, assure them that you can bring and/or make all your own food to Thanksgiving’s and other family events around the year.
  • Step 3 – The Follow-Up: It may come as a shock that after explaining the cruelty, environmental destruction, and health deterioration that are caused by animal agriculture and meat consumption, family members will probably still have an immediate reluctance towards veganism. As said before, any newcomer to any social justice movement might be alarmed and resilient if the movement calls their lifestyle into question. Find out what pulls at your family members’ heart strings, and speak to that! If your mom is an avid tree-hugger, pull up Cowspiracy on Netflix and have a movie night. If your other mom is all about health, take her to a local Esselstyn Group Meet-Up and listen to the most jaw-dropping, eye-widenining success stories together. If your little sister is an animal lover, take her on a day trip to the closest farm animal sanctuary. Over time, they may begin to soften, and go from having to be bribed to take a bite of that tofu sandwich you bought for them to testing out veganism for themselves!

Good luck, plant-eaters!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

10 New Vegan Products to Get Excited About

There was a rad vegan Expo West in California, and there are oodles of new vegan products coming out worth drooling over! Here are 10 that I’m tryna get in my fridge ASAP.

  • Miniature Corn Dogs: Need I say more?! No lie, within 5 minutes of seeing a picture of these babies, I called up Whole Foods and asked for them to get these in stock! No doubt people have already whipped up some killer vegan recipes for this, but imagine the pure joy of opening up your freezer, popping miniature corndogs in your toaster oven, and eating them with mustard just like your 5 year old self used to love. To say the least, I am about getting these in my life.

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  • Vegan popcorn Chicken: So maybe my love for frozen childhood fingerfoods is showing, but the only thing better than vegan chicken is vegan popcorn chicken. Imagine the possibilities… ranch or BBQ sauce??!

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  • Rocket Cakes: Breakfast food just got easier! Why deal with the mess of recipes when batter can pour right out of a bottle? This batter doubles as a pancake and waffle batter. Yum! Add chocolate chips and we’ve got a match made in veggie heaven!

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  • Sausage Ravioli: Ravioli is a favorite of mine: any food stuffed with other food is something I can get behind!

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  • Liquid Vegan Egg: An omelette without the cruelty! I’ve never tried the vegan egg before, honestly because it seemed like a lot of effort, so this sounds perfect to me! Between Rocket Cakes and the Liquid Vegan Egg, you can basically pour a vegan breakfast feast out of a bottle!

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  • Vegan Ham: I forgot that I actually used to like the taste of ham until the V-Grits Christmas box, but since getting a little taste in December, I can’t wait for more! Pass the vegan ham & cheese, please!

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  • Gardein Breakfast Pockets: Breakfast food is clearly a thing I enjoy, especially over simplified, handheld breakfast food! These pockets are filled with vegan sausage, egg and cheese! Basically a trifecta of things most of us thought we couldn’t eat anymore after going vegan! Yassss.

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  • Cocomel Bites: Satisfy a sweet tooth by biting into a Cocomel chocolate, basically a veganized Rolo filled with ooey-gooey vegan caramel. Probably good to eat one at a time… or one bag at a time. 😉

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  • Milk Chocolate Bunnies: Eat an animal in a way that doesn’t harm animals with this cruelty-free chocolate bunny! The only thing better than chocolate is chocolate formed into unusual shapes.

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  • Pumpkin Spice Cheezecake: Vegan cheesecake of any sort is immediately worth digging into, but pumpkin spice? Heck yeah! I am down to eat a piece of this no matter what the season.

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Huge shout out to VegNews for posting all the delicious products the spotted at Expo West! Hopefully these tempting, cruelty-free treats will grace our veg-friendly city soon!

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

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 😉 ) 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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Sammi

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! 😉 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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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Daring to Ditch Meat & Dairy

 

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As any viewer of Cowspiracy could conclude, meat and dairy are taking its toll on the environment one factory farm at a time – and environmentalists are finally taking note! Oakland, California (because of course Californians would be the first to hop on this ethically, environmentally and health friendly lifestyle) joined up with environmental activist group Friends of the Earth to devise school lunches that would be better for the planet. While the school hasn’t gone fully vegan just yet, significant improvements have been made! Oakland schools might occasionally have meat and cheese from organic pastured dairy cows, but for the most part, it’s vegan tostadas and and tofu stir fry for days!

And as for the environmental impact, the proof is in the gelatin-free pudding! Carbon Dioxide emissions from school lunches alone decreased by 14%, which is the equivalent of taking 127 cars off the road for an entire year. Holy guacamole!!  And if anyone was wondering about the myth that veganism is more expensive, the lunch program costs fell by 1%. There might not have been physical proof that this way of eating was also healthier, but it’s a little hard to argue that beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza stood up to rainbows of hearty, handmade, plant-based noms! Friends of the Earth stated that if every U.S school district followed Oakland’s lead, the drop in CO2 emissions would add up to be the same as taking 150, 000 cars off the roads!!! The environmental activist group is hoping the change in Oakland school lunches is just a stepping stone for more school districts to get the memo and join in on saving the earth, one meal at a time. We’re rooting for them!

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