Can Animal Agriculture be Humane?

Are “happy,” “ethical,” and “grass-fed” the trendy animal agriculture buzz words vegans have been waiting for?

Unfortunately, even if cows are fed grass of the lushest jade pastures and slept on their own personal clouds, the animal agriculture industry will infinitely be the farthest thing from happy or ethical. Humans have terrorized and abused animals so horribly and consistently that now it’s a hipster farming miracle just if the cows eat food that’s actually supposed to be in their diets. Is choosing not to feed cows to other cows really the best we can do when it comes to our treatment of our furry friends? Grass-fed and cage-free has never meant violence-free (as the rise of internet videos of these farms has led us to understand), but what are we saying about our own ethical conduct if not torturing animals before we kill and eat them is our end-all be-all? Of course not torturing animals before they’re killed is obviously better than a combination of the two, but letting animals live without being the receiving end of human violence should just be common, standard ethics rather than the phenomenon it is made out to be.

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The violence used in industrialized farming is only a part of the problem. It goes without saying that the animals raised in ethically marketed farms probably will be happier and healthier in comparison to animals encaged and being fed food that’s not meant for their bodies. However, happier and healthier doesn’t mean the animals will actually be happy or healthy. Regardless of the environment or conditions of these farms, the animals are still being used as machines to pleasure a human’s taste buds. Animals in dairy and egg farming will still get diseases from being used for their bodies beyond their natural capacity, as well as have their reproductive systems damaged, immune systems deteriorating, and their children torn away from them almost immediately after they first lay eyes on them. In farms that supply meat, animals are literally bred to be killed as babies so we can eat their flesh. There is no ethical hierarchy when it comes to the treatment of animals, but we as humans can choose to do better. Not to mention, grass-fed cow farms are still not slacking on the environmental destruction, and the glass of pus-filled, cow-blood-infused milk and plates of chicken periods (eggs) is definitely not our best look!

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

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

Feminism and Veganism Collide

Nearly every activist has a string of causes they stand behind, and that’s typically because practically all social justice issues correlate. The correlation between veganism and feminism is no outlier. Reading a paragraph comparing the two is actually what convinced me to evolve from pescatarian to vegan a couple years back!

All animal products are the result of animal exploitation, but more specifically, they are the result of exploiting female reproductive systems. Even at the most regulated, grass-fed, free-range dairy farms, any female animal will fall into a vicious cycle of being separated from her mother only moments after her birth, and get artificially inseminated through sodomization. She will continue to live only to be repeatedly, forcibly impregnated, sodomized and have her own babies immediately taken away from her just as she was taken away from her mother. Not only will the mother lose complete control over her reproductive system and have her child taken, but she will also start to acclimate a series of diseases due to this system deteriorating her physical health. This cycle of sodomization, forced pregnancy, and child loss will continue until she is worn enough to produce significantly less milk, at which point the dairy farm or factory farm will no longer have a use for her and she will be sold to become cheap meat, leather or dog food while having lived only a fifth of her typical lifespan. Hens used for eggs will be forced into the same cycle, as will pigs and cows in the meat industry.

Without going too deeply into graphic detail (trust me, that was just skimming the surface!), it’s still clear that the practices of these farms and factory farms are unjust. It’s no secret that females having complete control over their reproductive systems and organs is a necessary part of feminism, but prior to going vegan, I never really speculated over animals having choices. I knew they didn’t want to be killed, but it took watching a video of a mother tirelessly struggling to stand between her calf and a farmer for me to understand how aware animals truly are. Any oppression is hard to stomach, but any oppression can also be fought against! Every time we eat is a chance to vote for the world and practices you want to see moving forward. Dairy is scary after all, right? With so many plant-based dairy replicas hitting the shelves, there has never been a better time to make your plate a moral decision and go vegan!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

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

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