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

Louisville’s Top Dogs

It’s beginning to feel like spring, aka, it’s hot dog season! SmartLife and Tofurkey hotdogs pair perfectly with a grill, but if you’re feeling like going out for a night, here’s where you can get your hands on a this American fingerfood favorite around town!

  • V-Grits: As of next week, the orange truck is about to start making its rounds! Last year we delivered up house-made sausages sandwiched between a pretzel bun, with toppings ranging from a smothering of Texas chili and sour cream to our Philly Brat with cheese and grilled peppers! Stay on the lookout, we might be coming to a spot near you soon!

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  • Red Top Hotdogs: Red Top is another food truck you can find around town, anywhere from University of Louisville’s campus to the Flea Off Market! They use housemade relishes, grilled onions and jalapeño jam! And to top it off, they always have a tangy housemade Curry Ketchup and hot sauce on hand that I’d pour on anything!

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  • Eiderdown: This European-inspired Pub is takes on a twist on southern comfort food! These bun-less links may not meet all the requirements of a typical hotdog, but their house-made white bean & seitan sausages are equally as tasty served on a plate with a side of crispy fries and potato salad with a kick! All the vegetarian sides use butter, so just make sure your waiter has your butter-free needs noted!

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  • Dairy Kastle: Spotting vegan options might come as a surprise at this seasonal ice cream shop located just outside of Old Lousiville, but the chili dogs, sauerkraut brats and low prices at this vegetarian-owned joint are guaranteed not to disappoint! And what’s better than 1.50$ chili dogs? Following them up with sweet, creamy Pineapple ice cream!

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  • Goss Avenue Pub: This gastropub takes another spin on the American classic! Bun? Check! Relish? Check! Hot dog? More like carrot dog! I haven’t tried this veganized hot dog replica yet, but Jeff & Kristina give this dog a thumbs up and it’s a great option if you’re in the mood for healthier comfort food!

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Give these dogs around town a try and let us know what you think!

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

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

Did Someone Say Super Bowl Food?

So, it’s that time of year – a day practically dedicated to eating as much vegan junk food as possible! I even heard there will be a really big football game going on too! 😉 If you’re on the hunt for delicious game day grub, Chef Kristina has whipped up some awesome recipes to make your omnivore friends awe-inspired and begging for more!

Game Day Dip
1 jar V-Grits Soul Sauce (Mild Cheddar or Mozzarella)
2 tbsp buttery spread
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Just mix, and warm it up on the stove top or in the microwave. This dip goes great with breadsticks, onion rings or pretzel nuggets!
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Pimento Stuffed Sweet Peppers

6 small sweet peppers

2 tsp olive oil

dash salt

1/4 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

fresh chives

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1/4 cup vegan beef crumbles

1/2 cup V-Grits Pimento Cashew

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse Veggies.

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Small dice 1/4 cup onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and slice 2 tbsp chives.

Add 2 tsp oil to a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and a dash of salt, and sauté.

Add garlic and vegan beef crumbles, and cook to sear. Remove from heat.

Stir in V-Grits Pimento Cashew and half the chives.

Place peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and stuff. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Broil for 2 to 3, to toast breadcrumbs.

Top with remaining chives upon serving.


YIELD: 12 Appetizer-Size Snacks

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Corn & Bean Queso
1 jar V-Grits Mild Cheddar Cashews
1 cup Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Warm it up and grab your favorite tortilla chips!
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Louisville suppliers for all your V-Grits cheese needs include Rainbow Blossom in the Highlands and St. Matthews and Lucky’s in Hurstbourne. Cheeses can also be found at Lucky’s Market in Bloomington, Lucky’s Market in Lexington, The Weekly Juicery in Cincinnati and Lexington, Lucky’s Market in Columbus, Weiland’s in Columbus, and It’s All Natural in Gahanna, OH!
Give these a try and let us know what you think! Other Game Day snacks to go with all that cheesy goodness include fresh-cut veggies with Follow Your Heart Ranch for dipping, Gardein Boneless Bites, classic guacamole, and vegan breaded “shrimp” by Sophie’s Kitchen (found in the frozen isle at Whole Foods)! I’m get hungry just thinking about it! If you test one of these recipes out, or get to experimenting and make your own V-Grits cheese recipe creation, share and hashtag #vgrits so we can see what all our soul sauces can do!
Signing off for the Sentient,
Sammi

The Inside Nicecream Scoop on Raw Veganism

Even though veganism is commonly referred to as a diet, there are a variety of diets within our ethical umbrella! There are junk food enthusiast vegans, oil free vegans, even Paleo vegans! Some of the healthiest vegans tend to be known as raw vegans. Raw vegans can eat just about anything… cooked under 118 degrees, that is. Typically, the longer food is cooked, the more the nutritional value of the food will decrease due to the heat. Raw food also tends to be easier to digest so your body can receive the ultimate nutrition fruits and veggies contain. From personal experience, the periods of time where I have been a raw vegan felt almost superhuman! If only vegan fried chicken didn’t taste so good! 😉 Even within raw veganism, there is a plethora of approaches. Some raw vegans prefer eating all foods simply and naturally, like the way we eat an apple. They may even start off the day with a mono-meal, or a meal consisting of a large quantity of one food, such as 5-10 bananas or 5 grapefruits. Other raw vegans have become blender wizards! Raw foodies have created raw apple pie, lasagna, bacon, cheesecake, charcuterie boards, “nicecream (ice cream made from bananas)”  and more. For vegans who enjoy eating raw without as much of the commitment, there is an additional community of people who eat raw until 4pm. Along with the classic Vitamix, dehydrators are also common to give some raw foods more of a cooked or less crunchy texture. Some legumes and grains can even be sprouted raw, too.

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If you’re interested in adding raw meals into your diet, the biggest tip I’ve picked up on is to make sure you eat a lot! Raw Doctor Doug Graham suggests for people who are interested in taking up a raw diet to redefine normal food intake, so that no one feels limited to a smaller amount of food that will have insufficient calories. Your stomach might need a little time to get used to the new amount of food intake, but it will eventually expand to accommodate this healthy, unfamiliar way of eating. Protein can be found in foods like nuts, seeds, or raw vegan cheeses. And, as always, never fear fruit! Fruit is absolutely vital for our bodies, and although it has sugar, it is necessary to keep us healthy and happy.

The benefits of raw veganism are nearly infinite. When I was raw vegan, I felt a surplus of energy like nothing I had ever felt. Loading your body full of unrefined or processed foods will nourish your body full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, among other benefits. More than that, raw food diets have been proven to be medicinal if done correctly. Raw veganism has rid people of cancer, inflamed colons, severe allergies, hypergylcemia, autoimmune thyroid disease, high cholesterol, arthritis  and more. Not to mention, fruits and vegetables sound much more appealing than medications! Raw veganism might not be the easiest or even the end goal for most people given how good vegan donuts are, but a few extra raw meals here and there couldn’t hurt!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

13 Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become the hipster of all cooking oils! It has gained increased popularity in the past few years, but cooking is not the only way your coconut oil can be put to good use! Here are some of our favorite uses that might be a little outside the box (or jar)!

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  1. Hair: Coconut oil will make your hair soft, shiny, and bring out a little extra curliness. Just run a bit through your hair before you take a shower. Be careful not to put too much though, a little goes a long way!
  2. Moisturizer: Coconut oil alone is better than any moisturizer I’ve ever used when it comes to keeping my skin from giving into the winter weather. It even can decrease acne as an added bonus.
  3. Makeup remover/Makeup: Coconut oil can get rid of the most intense cat eyes. 😉 Just dab some on a towel and you have makeup remover that’s actually good for your skin. Or if you want to make coconut oil part of your makeup routine, it makes a great natural cheek bone highlighter.
  4. Oil pulling: Looking to detox? Oil pulling will do the trick. Swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for around 20 minutes and spit it out (key part!) to cleanse your body of toxins and keep your teeth white and shining.
  5. Replacing butter: A healthy, creamy, but still rich and fatty smear of coconut oil makes a great substitute for your toast, pouring onto baked potatoes, topping popcorn or potentially as a recipe replacement.
  6. Allergies: Coconut oil is rumored to help out during those rough season changes! Smudge a bit in and around your nose for a little extra defense!
  7. Deodorant: When you’re in a pinch and can’t seem to find your deodorant, coconut oil comes to the rescue! It might sound a little on the hippie side, but the strong scent and antibacterial properties will get the job done!
  8. Helps sore throats: A few teaspoons of coconut oil a day could make all the difference for your soar throat or overwhelming cough.
  9. Lip balm: Similar to how coconut oil soothes skin, it also keeps your lips from being chapped, which is particularly useful during the winter season! I mix in a little beet juice for color and peppermint oil to stimulate lip blood flow when I’m feeling extra. 😉
  10. Natural Neosporin: Coconut oil can be used to soothe and help heal minor cuts, bruises, rashes or wounds. You may need a band-aid too, though.
  11. Shaving: Coconut oil might not be the most ideal shaving cream, but always serves well as a trusty backup. It’s definitely one of the most natural shaving creams out there.
  12. Sunscreen/Sunburn Remedy: Coconut oil is naturally SPF4! You might have to apply a little more than normal, but it will additionally leave your skin silky smooth.
  13. Hair Gel: I wouldn’t recommend getting to crazy with the coconut oil when it comes to hair, but the tiniest little bit can help shape your hair or add texture.

Who knew this funky, new-on-block oil had so many cool uses?! Try some of them out and tell us what you think!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Saving Sunny

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It’s no secret that Saving Sunny is one of our favorite local organizations! Saving Sunny works for equal treatment of Pit Bull Terriers by reducing the number of Pit Bulls that go into shelters, rescuing them and giving them a safe home. Two years ago, the Saving Sunny team noticed that a lack of resources seemed to be a common theme among families who were considering giving up their dog pals, so their Community Dog Resource Center was created to make assistance and vital dog necessities more accessible. Even the dogs in shelters have largely benefitted from Saving Sunny’s work. Their dedicated circle of Foster Families teach the dogs manners and integrate them into their homes. On top of all of Saving Sunny’s amazing efforts for our pupper community, no contributor in the organization gets a paycheck, so you know every cent of donations are being put to the best use possible by the most passionate dog lovers. We love the work Saving Sunny Inc. puts in for our four-legged pals, and are so grateful for the positive changes they have made in our Louisville community of animal lovers! Sydni McClain LaFollette, a senior at Western Kentucky University, also admired and appreciated all Saving Sunny does and made a documentary about their work for her capstone. The viewing is at Louis the Ton at 6pm next Tuesday, January 10th (all ages until 8pm). Come out to show Saving Sunny Inc. your support, learn more about everything they do and watch Sydni’s lovely documentary! See you there!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

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

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Signing off for the Sentient,

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

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi