What the Health?!

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Forks Over Knives and PlantPure Nation just got a new neighbor on the list of health-focused documentaries going viral across the web! What the Health? is a new film produced by the creators of Cowspiracy (another personal fave) exposing a surplus of shocking mysteries within animal agriculture and the human diet. The documentary covers everything from insider government lobbying, to industrialized racism, to cruelty-free protein and athletes, and more! They concluded with a series of eye-opening health success stories from victims of these industries who were able to trash entire shelves of medication after spending only two weeks plant-based! With wide eyes and a bowl of ripe fruit at my side, I was in disbelief at how much money is spent to convince humans that animal products are vital contributors to the human diet, despite the various studies that prove how deeply animal products are linked to an increase in bone fragility, deteriorating mental health, and countless lethal diseases.

After watching, the thought crossed my mind that I have seen hours on hours of health documentaries, and none had said anything beneficial about animal products! I was keen to listen to the opposition, but after a quick google search I realized there are no health documentaries that talk about the importance of animal products in our diets! That’s definitely no mistake. Modern doctors and researchers (who aren’t getting paid by Tyson and Yum! Brands, anyways) can’t deny the blatant evidence that meat, dairy and eggs are taking years off of our lifespans and keeping us sick, and thankfully this documentary uncovers all that lobbying vigorously works to blind us from! Check it out and prepare for your jaw to drop!

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

If Everyone Went Vegan, What Would We Do With All the Animals?

It’s a question that’s graced the ears of every vegan. “So if everyone went vegan, what would we do with all the animals?” Aka, are vegans trying to get animals to take over the world?! As pleasant as that world would probably be, I think it’s safe to say that’s far from the end goal.

If the world went vegan, that would mean all humans no longer put the life of one animal before another, so we wouldn’t treat the abundance of farmed animals any differently than we treat the abundance of dogs and cats. There would just be more animals that need all our lovin’! Humans definitely have the power to harm animals, but as I’m sure you know, just because we have power to cause harm, definitely doesn’t mean we should!

Dogs and cats have become prized animals in modern Western cultures, mostly because humans have domesticated them far beyond the point of return! But humans haven’t only erased a dog or cat’s natural place in the food chain. Farmed animals also fell victim to human greed. Since we are the ones who caused those animals to be unable to live freely in the wild as they once could, now it is our duty to be their guardians and protect these sweet, lovable fellas like they deserve! The treacherous practices of animal agriculture are coming into light more and more, and more farmed animal sanctuaries are popping up and saving our animal friends as a result! As the vegan movement grows, the more support sanctuaries will get, and the more animals they’ll be able to rescue.

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The world definitely won’t go vegan overnight (outside my daydreams, anyways), but I’ve got a little hunch that some day, not being vegan will be as taboo as not believing in global warming. Especially as humans realize how much animal agriculture and global warming correlate! For now though, if we stop buying meat and animal products, these animals will no longer be mass produced, and no longer be bred at alarming rates, which is proof in itself that nothing could reduce the amount of animals being brought into this planet more. Just like any other product on grocery store shelves, if the demand goes, the decline of those products is quick to follow.

I mean, it’s pretty clear at this point that animal products are in no way beneficial to our bodies (as shown in PlantPure Nation, Forks Over Knives and The China Study). They’re not only completely unnecessary to keep in our diets, but also extremely detrimental to our health. So are humans really only dedicated to eating animals just because they think there will be too many of them if they don’t? Maybe this is just a personal thing, but there’s an outrageous amount of things people have chosen to eat that are overly abundant in the world, that I can guarantee will never be on my dinner menu… for ex: dogs, cats, cat hair, mattresses, dryer sheets, glass, and plastic bags just to name a few!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

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

Valentine’s Veganized

Valentine’s Day is just a week away, and we know just how to sweep your vegan loved ones off their feet! Here are some gift ideas for your plant eating companions!

  • Sponsor an animal from Upland’s Peak in their name

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  • You can never go wrong with candy!
  • Plants! Succulents or air plants for those whose greens thumb turned black somewhere along the way, herb or veggie plants for those who treat plants like their children!
  • A vegan ice cream sundae bar
  • Soy wax candles
  • Pay it forward with a vegan treat at your favorite coffee shop (a plethora of treats and bars from Highland Coffee, banana chocolate chip muffin at Heine Brothers, Flora treats at Quills)

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  • Bath bombs, or really anything vegan from LUSH
  • Vegan apparel – because there’s never an inappropriate time for vegan apparel 😉
  • Matt & Nat products for that classy touch
  • VeganCuts, a box full of new, modern vegan products for you both to sample
  • A day trip to a nearby city to check out the vegan noms
  • Vegan books – How Not to Die, The Sexual Politics of Meat, and the China Study to name a few
  • Vegan movies on the more light hearted side, like Charlotte’s Web or a new documentary you guys haven’t seen yet
  • Plant-Based Protein powder for the gym-nut in your life (Vega, Sunwarrior, Garden of Life)
  • Homemade dinner with V-Grits vegan cheeses

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Is Dairy Cheese Vegetarian?

“Vegan? I could never give up cheese!” has become the classic go-to line for every vegetarian – and I don’t think I’ve met ever a vegan who hasn’t said the same! Cheese has been proven to be addictive, after all, due to it containing casein that triggers receptors in your brain that are linked to addiction. Surprisingly, even cheese can use parts of animals! The coagulation of the milk is the result of the use of rennet, the stomach of newborn baby cows. Eagerness to eat baby cow stomach is far and few between, and personally, eating it in cheese is definitely no less appealing! Rennet is vital to this process, because only the stomachs of young cows contain the enzyme “chymosin,” which would typically allow the calf to absorb and digest milk. The use of rennet forms curds. These curds are inevitable for several varieties of cheeses, particularly cheeses like Parmesan and Gorgonzola. In rarer instances, cheeses can be curdled with fungi as well. If the cheese is vegetarian, the maker will tend to specify on the packing that it is vegetarian or rennet free. In addition to using the stomachs of baby cows, after the dairy industry no longer has a use for the animal, the animals are sold to the meat industry for an added profit.

Even though the meat industry is heavily interlaced in with the dairy industry, there is a whole world of alternatives out there! The vegan cheese industries have picked up astronomically within the past couple of years. After all, V-Grits does what we do in order to make giving up these addictions just a little bit easier! Dairy-free cheese products are on the rise since practices of animal agriculture are coming more and more into light. Find some cruelty-free alternatives at a grocery or health store near you!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

How to Celebrate Your Veganversary

Veganversary?! Say that again?

A “Veganversary” is  a monumental moment for any vegan. For those who are unfamiliar with the terminology, PETA describes a veganversary as:

Veganversary (ve·gan·ver·sa·ry) n.
1.      The annual celebration of the date on which you decided to stop eating animal flesh and be a super-awesome human being
2.      The date on which you stuff your face with vegan cake and veggie burgers in order to celebrate when you decided to go vegan.

We hear ya, PETA! Here are some ways to guarantee your veganversary will be as blissful as it sounds!

  • Eat. Everything (cruelty-free, of course): Today is not the day to follow through with that oil-free diet you’ve been reading about. 😉 Stuff your face with vegan fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies, doughnuts, and everything else you were convinced you could never eat again in the name of kale!

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  • Volunteer at/Visit/Donate to an animal sanctuary: Visiting animal sanctuaries can be vital moments in any vegan’s journey. There’s no better feeling than knowing all your obstacles, awareness and activism are rescuing the sweetest little fur babies from a life scarier than a horror movie.
  • Rock your vegan apparel: The more vegan clothing you can pack into one outfit, the better! Days like this are what your Compassion Co. or Herbivore Clothing shirt are made for. Don’t hold back with the vegan leather, sassy pins, and other cute cruelty-free gear that will turn morality into the trendiest fashion statement.

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  • Talk about veganism even more to normal: “I can’t find my phone, can you call it?” “Sure, I’m vegan.” “Do you know where the bathroom is?” “All the way down to your left, but did you know you’d have healthier bowel movements when you’re vegan?” “I’m feeling a little sleepy.” “You’d definitely feel more energized if you went vegan!” There is never an inappropriate time to exclaim your veganism from the rooftops! Today is your day to be loud and proud.
  • Make a blog post about it 😉 : Or an Instagram post, or a Facebook post, or a post on any other kind of social media! Even your favorite meme from the Vegan Sidekick can go a long way. A surprising number of people, myself included, found veganism as a result of social media. The power of a single post is definitely underestimated! You never know what seeds you could be planting so animal liberation can grow!

As supporters of any social justice movement know, awareness and activism can come attached to some overwhelming moments, but nothing can compare to the happiest feeling of knowing you’re keeping our furry friends safe and protected as they deserve! Spend your next veganversary the way you earned to, or decide on the start date you’ve been planning all this time!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Louisville Animal Rights Initiative

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There’s a new animal rights group in town that’s determined to make some strides for our furry friends! The Louisville Animal Rights Initiative, or LARI, was created after myself and fellow animal rights activist Annalaura Maranville noticed there are several plant-based eating social groups in town, but there is not as much of a focus on animal welfare. Despite that we all love to get our plant-based grub on, we felt that Louisville was lacking a group solely focused on animal liberation and building community awareness about the mysteries behind animal agriculture. Louisville is bubbling with both animal lovers and activists, so it was the perfect time and place for LARI to begin its journey.

Not vegan? Have no fear! Meetings are open to anyone willing to learn, eat, and discuss, no matter how skeptical! Vegans are welcome, and omnivores are encouraged! 😉 Throughout the year, LARI meet-ups will include demonstrations, potlucks, movie screenings, Q&A sessions, protests, dinner outings, speakers, letter writing and more! Working to ban horse carriages, make Louisville foie gras free, and feeding plant-based meals to those in need are also on the agenda. We couldn’t be more excited to see what all this group can accomplish! Follow the LARI Facebook page, Meetup group or Instagram to keep up with the group’s outings and learn how you can get involved! Our four-legged pals need all the help they can get! 🙂

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