Cruelty-Free Fried Chicken Joint

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The world just got another fried chicken restaurant…

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

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Kombucha 101

It’s not quite soda, it’s not quite beer, and it’s definitely no kind of juice; what is this crazy stuff?! Kombucha, or fermented black tea, was introduced to me a couple years ago when I just started to dive into the health scene. It has a pretty intense taste on its own, but its typically mellowed out with some type of sugar, fruit, herb or even a root like ginger. Kombucha was definitely like nothing I had ever drank, I just knew it did some gnarly stuff for my body. It took me a second to get used to the unfamiliar taste, but now I am so hooked on kombucha that it’s a hassle for me to drink water! Like anything, kombucha is good in moderation. It’s the perfect probiotic to start the morning to wake up your digestive system. It’s brewed with a live culture, otherwise known as a scoby, derived from an ancient Chinese recipe. The vinegar, probiotics, enzymes and different acids also improve energy, detoxification, immune support and joint pain. I would describe it almost as a healthy, earthier tasting soda, and it’s hitting stores everywhere! Even mainstream grocery stores like Kroger are starting to catch on to the new trend. Lucky for fanatics, Louisville has two amazing local kombucha companies! Kentucky Kombucha and Elixir Kombucha have spread to different cafes, markets and stores around town; both with yummy unique tastes that are great to wash down some delicious vegan noms with! Owners of Elixir have taken note of the new-found interest in fueling your body with the right products.

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“There’s kind of an awakening going on in regards to food and beverages,” founders say. “Folks are moving away from conventional beverages like sugary sodas and energy drinks, most of which are devoid of any nutrition and they are moving toward functional and nutritious beverages like coconut water, watermelon water, cold brew coffee and kombucha. We love brewing kombucha not only for the taste but for its wide range of health benefits. We’ve seen first hand it’s impact on friends and family with gut and autoimmune issues. It’s the real deal. We hope kombucha becomes a household product. Gut health for all!”

We couldn’t agree more! The whole V-Grits team is made of avid kombucha drinkers, and we think they’re the perfect pair with our vegan cheese creations! Both V-Grits and Elixir will be sampling Saturday at the Rainbow Blossom off Bardstown Road on Saturday from 11am-2pm. Stop by and get your fix! See you there!

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Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

A Guide for the Ultimate Vegan Sundae

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You scream, I scream, we all scream for cruelty-free ice cream! Ice cream and pastry shops have just started to make gains in the vegan world! Louisville hasn’t got an all-vegan ice cream spot yet, but we’re lucky enough to have options at places like McQuixote’s, Dairy Kastle, Arctic Scoop, Comfy Cow, Baskin Robbins, Graeter’s, and occasionally Louisville Cream, Annie Mae’s Sweet Cafe and Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen! But if you feel like staying in for the night, practically any grocery store carries a variety of nut-milk based indulgences! Cashew milk is my personal favorite base (soy milk is a good runner up!) and comes in flavors like Dark Chocolate Truffle (10/10, would recommend 😉 ), Salted Caramel Cluster, and Snickerdoodle. Even the famous Ben & Jerry’s recently launched an all vegan almond-milk based line of ice creams, including flavors like PB & Cookie and Chocolate Fudge Brownie that can be found at Kroger’s or Target! You can also make your own healthier spin on ice cream by throwing some frozen bananas in a blender with a little dairy-free milk! And what ice cream sundae could be complete without the toppings?! We have just the cure for your creamy sundae indulgences! Vegan sundae toppers include:

  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Junior Mints
  • Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
  • Smucker’s Marshmallow Topping
  • Smucker’s Chocolate Magic Shell
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit (strawberries, pineapples, raspberries, cherries, bananas)
  • Soy or Rice Milk based whipped cream (for purchase at Lucky’s) or SoDelcious CocoWhip
  • Ice cream cones (most are actually vegan, but check the allergens to be safe!)
  • Oreos
  • Potato Chips
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts, almond, peanuts, etc.
  • Dates or Date Syrup
  • Herbs (like mint or basil)
  • Frosting
  • Popcorn
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Brownies made with Ghirardelli  Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • Cookie Dough from Half Peach
  • Trader Joe’s or Enjoy Life Foods’ Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
  • Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • Jam
  • Girl Scouts Thin Mints
  • Granola (watch out for the animal products though, particularly milk and honey!)
  • BeeFree Honey
  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Date Syrup
  • Let’s Do Organic Vegan Sprinkelz

You might have to dig through your bowl just to see the ice cream! We all need to indulge sometimes, and a big bowl of our favorite sweet treat might be just the cure. There’s no shame in a little taste testing! 😉

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Surprising Store Finds for the Vegan Junk Food Enthusiast

After going vegan, you might start to realize that grass and greens can be the least of a vegan’s concerns! With so many sweet and salty, animal-approved temptations out there, the “Potato Chip Vegan” even began circling around the vegan world for the herbivores dedicated to animal ethics who don’t mind indulging on some cruelty-free treats. If only kale tasted as good as chocolate frosting! Here are some surprising store finds to satisfy the Potato Chip Vegan in you!

  • Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
  • Lay’s Regular (unbaked) BBQ Chips
  • Kettle Brand Maple Bacon Potato Chips
  • Betty Crocker Baco’s & McCormick Bac’n pieces (and some other vegan bacon bit brands)

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  • Oreos
  • Popcorn at Regal Movie Theaters and sometimes AMC Movie Theaters
  • Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
  • Junior Mints
  • Bugles
  • Airheads
  • Swedish Fish
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Skittles
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Krispy Kreme’s Glazed Cherry Pies
  • Duncan’s Chocolate Frosting
  • Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

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  • Unfrosted Strawberry Poptarts
  • Xtra Tangy Buffalo Wing Pringles
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • Nutter Butters
  • Thomas Blueberry Bagels
  • Smucker’s Marshmallow Topping
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Burger King’s French Toast Sticks

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  • Earth Balance Cheddar Squares (vegan Cheez-Its)
  • Auntie Anne’s pretzels (with no butter)
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Reese’s Puffs
  • Cap’n Crunch
  • Original flavored Pretzel Crisps
  • Dark Chocolate Pretzel BarkThins

If you’re feeling like indulging, save the grass for our cow friends 😉 and show omnivores what they’ve been eating vegan all along!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Atlanta VegFest

I don’t know what that “Panda” song was talking about, we were too focused on all the vegan shenanigans in Atlanta! We were so lucky to be a part of the 2016 Atlanta Vegfest! Vegfests are generally an overwhelmingly happy time for any plant eater, especially in a big city! I mean, being surrounded by thousands of vegans and eating some of the yummiest food around? Count me in! And of course, no vegan road trip is complete without checking out some of the best spots in town along the way!

Cashew in Chattanooga, Tennessee was our first stop. Donut breaks are the best kind of breaks, am I right? It was placed fittingly in a cute, trendy part of town and had some beautiful plant-strong art! We grabbed raspberry jelly filled powdered donuts and chocolate donuts with sprinkles before hitting the road again. I also got a beet and kale juice because you know, have to at least pretend I’m trying to eat healthy! The cake donuts were super moist and delicious, I would definitely recommend checking them out if you’re ever in town!

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Once we arrived in Atlanta, for Kristina and Jeff it was practically a no-brainer where to go for dinner! Cafe Sunflower brought on the class! It was a beautiful place that had vegan scallops (texture was spot on!), ah-maze-ing vegan chicken wings with sugar cane “bones,” vegan chicken enchiladas, vegan steak fajitas, and a mouth-watering dessert plate to choose from! At some point into the three appetizers, entrees, and dessert that passed on the table, I seriously questioned what tastes people think vegans could be missing out on! The next day I topped my vegan chicken enchilada leftovers with our V-Grits Mild Cheddar sauce, talk about the perfect combo! We all agreed the trip to Atlanta was worth it just for that amazing meal alone! We were even lucky enough to meet the sweetest vegan Uber driver afterwards! What are the odds!

Atlanta VegFest was beautiful, to say the least! An overcrowded room of vegans and the vegan-curious is my own personal happy place. We brought samples of Mac and Cheese, gooey with our Mild Cheddar Sauce, and crackers with our southern Pimento spread. We’re happy to say that we felt everyone there shared our same enthusiasm about our cheese line, and we even sold out of the 250 jars we brought in three bustling hours! The festival made us even more excited to be selling on Vegan Essentials hopefully by the end of next month! After we filled the vegfest-goers cheese needs, it was time to partake on the fun ourselves! We got to see the friendly face of David Carter (wearing a shirt I need in my closet), an NFL Lineman and animal activist! Carter acknowledges that veganism overlooks people of color and food deserts, and works to overcome those divides! How rad! Not to mention, he clearly puts all the vegan protein questions to shame! We also indulged in hot fudge vegan sundaes (too bad I ate mine too quick to take a picture!) and a range of vegan products from protein-loaded quinoa bites to yummy vegan meats! I couldn’t leave without snagging a new member to my vegan wardrobe, a grey scarf covered with animals by Compassion Company. On our way back home, we stopped at the Chattanooga Whole Foods for snacks and were surprised with super creamy and super pink sorbets of the fruity variety! All in all, it was a great day! We’ll definitely see you again next year, Atlanta! Thanks for the loveliest vegan noms!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Happy World Vegan Day!

Today, plant-eaters everywhere are rejoicing for World Vegan Day! The first person to coin the term “vegan” was Donald Watson. Watson was a man quick to become an animal advocate after witnessing his furry friends’ lives first-hand between local butchers and his uncle’s farm. Eventually, Watson decided that people who went beyond abstaining from just meat needed to be recognized and collected, for what he said was “the beginning and end of vegetarian.” After what was clearly a world-changing conversation between he and a small group of other non-animal product consumers, they settled on the name “vegan,” which was derived from the word “vegetarian.” Bummer for us vegans, “Dairybans” and “Benevores” were tempting runner-ups! Within just a few years of the terminology being established, they also put in place that the vegan movement was a movement of people who choose not to partake in animal slavery and exploitation. Like any other vegan, Watson tended to not keep quiet!! 😉 He even got his siblings to convert! He was an active animal rights speaker and leader who went on to be one of the creators of the Vegan Society and their newsletter, The Vegan News. Also like most vegans, Donald Watson led a thriving long life as a plant-eater! He even climbed mountains and refused medications at the age of 92! How much more rad could a 92 year old be?!

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A following chair to the Vegan Society, Louise Wallis, started the tradition of celebrating “World Vegan Day” on November first in order to commemorate the establishment of the Vegan Society, and the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘veganism’ being brought about. This year marks the 73rd year of celebration! With the community and awareness growing every day, veganism continues to come such a long way since the November of 1944! So today, let your veganism (or vegan curiosity) thrive! Read up on the facts, spread awareness to family and friends, donate to an animal sanctuary, cuddle up with a vegan documentary, and pig out on killer (not literally, of course!) vegan food! Increased liberation of our furry friends and enjoying the company of fellow plant-eaters is definitely worth celebrating!

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Sammi

The Truth Behind Backyard Chicken Eggs

Of all the animal products vegans choose not to consume, I think it’s safe to say that the refusal of eggs from the neighbor’s backyard chicken coop seems to stir up the most omnivore confusion! Now how do these eggs from physically healthy, home-grown, free-wandering chickens still not get a vegan’s approval?! There are a few extra things vegans have taken into consideration to keep our feathered friends as happy as can be!

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Most egg-eaters might not know that chickens are cannibals! After laying her round of eggs, a hen’s (lady chicken friend) body will be exhausted and at a complete loss of calcium. In order to restore her calcium so she can prevent herself from illness, a hen will eat some of her eggs to receive all the nutrients that are vital for her to stay healthy and disease-free. Beyond just physical health, though, these beautiful feathered birds are ridden with anxiety when their eggs are taken away from them! They could be her children, after all. Hens become so sad, in fact, that they stress themselves to lay more eggs. The hens forcing themselves to lay eggs also takes a huge toll on their immune system, but more than that, their reproductive system becomes heavily damaged and will no longer be in their control.

Like any other food-like product vegans choose not to consume, the base of why we pick tofu scramble over eggs is simple: we do not take what is not ours! Those lady-birds sure need those eggs more than we do. They certainly don’t give humans any additional nutrition, seeing as they cause an egg-xstraordinary amount of threatening build up in your arteries! And after all, eggs are pretty much just chicken periods! Gross! And with so many great alternatives like the vegan egg and tofu scramble and alternative binders like bananas, aquafaba, applesauce, the vegan egg or flax seeds, who needs the chicken periods, am I right?

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Sammi

Plant-Based Food Association

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V-Grits is so lucky to be a part of the Plant-Based Foods Association! This association aims to stabilize fairness to companies that produce alternatives to animal products, such as plant-based meats and cheeses! The PBFA also makes efforts to educate consumers on why plant-based foods exist; and how they are comparatively beneficial to human health, the environment, and ethical stances. It could come as a surprise that there is a large amount of lobbying done by the animal agriculture industry, with a misleading goal of convincing consumers that animal products are a positive contributor to a healthy diet! Just in the past year, the dairy industry alone has spent an astounding $13 million dollars between lobbying and campaign donations (holy guacamole)!

In order to spread the truth about the mysteries within factory farming practices and assure plant-based companies are treated fairly, the PBFA was founded by the creator of Tofurkey to do their own sort of “lobbying.” However, rather than buying into keeping opposing companies under the radar, this association was made to assure we are still on the radar within government, media and consumer outreach. Despite the astounding growth in demand, this association acknowledges that plant-based foods are still made to be alarmingly taboo in current society, and challenges that the government needs a political revolution in order to “fix food.” The Plant Based Food Association has recently made a brief challenging Ag-Gag Law, or various laws put in place in order to limit journalism, investigation, knowledge and reports of and within animal agriculture. They have also found that the plant-based food industry has funded $13.7 billion dollars into the United States economy. An association like this is incredibly important to ensure that vegan companies are treated fairly and are well heard, especially seeing as plant-based foods are still more or less the new kids on the block, taking a stand for the animals, our health and the environment! Read more about their goals and accomplishments on their website, we could not be prouder to be a member of this awesome organization!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Sunrise Sanctuary

Last November I was headed to Akron, Ohio; and there was no way I was about to drive six hours without stopping at at least one new farm animal sanctuary along the way! Sanctuaries are more than vital to the vegan movement, saving innocent animals from brutal lives in horrendous animal agriculture conditions. Lucky me, I made it to Sunrise Sanctuary in Columbus, Ohio just in time for their “Thanksgiving for the Turkeys,” just as Thanksgiving should be! The rescued turkeys were fed yummy snacks like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and the sanctuary visitors got to mingle with the furry residents and partake in a chili cook off! Cuddling with cows, stocking up on rad Sunrise Sanctuary apparel, drinking apple cider and eating chili is my kinda afternoon! The animals were free to roam at their leisure, ranging from horses and goats to gentle cows and sassy little piggies! The turkeys were waddling in between the line of people waiting to get chili, curious to see what shenanigans were happening. Visiting Sunrise was also my first experience meeting a cow, and I can’t think of an instance that melted my heart more. They are so large, soft and sweet! A cow named Baby Moo even knelt down so I could get a better reach to scratch  his ears! We couldn’t think of a better place to give a portion of V-Box meal kit and V-Card recipe envelope proceeds to this October. This year, their Thanksgiving for the Turkeys will be held on November 20th. If you’re going up north anytime soon, we would definitely recommend checking Sunrise Sanctuary out!

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Sammi

V-Grits Heads to Chi-Town!

This past Saturday, the V-Grits crew had a rad time selling our vegan cheeses at Chicago Veganmania! We came, we ate (a lot), we sold, we left. Here are some highlights from our trip (mostly food, of course).

  • Rocket 88: Out first stop was in Indy! We needed some donut/coffee power to get us to Chicago, so a stop at a local coffee shop with a lovely selection of vegan options was definitely needed! Some veg-friendly menu items included Apple Pie Donuts (delish!) and savory Tempeh Waffles. If you’re in the neighborhood, I would definitely check it out!
  • Chicago Diner: I ordered a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Milkshake with whipped cream Saturday night. How’s that for plant-based? 😉 Chicago Diner is doing it right, with their awesome slogan “Meat free since ’83!” Meat free is how we like to roll! Of course, no diner is complete without country fried steak, spicy chicken sandwiches, and Reubens, right? This spot had it all, and was packed from wall to wall when we visited! We love to see vegetarian spots thriving, and this one kept our bellies full (for a couple of days) and our taste buds content!
  • Pick Me Up Cafe: Another vegan-friendly diner we ate at was Pick Me Up! This diner had everything from vegan jalapeño poppers, to french toast, to steak pizza grinders! The portions will not disappoint! Not to mention, a killer tea selection! I opted for a dark orange cinnamon clove tea, and regret not asking for another tea bag!
  • Chicago Veganmania: We had such a blast at this event! While selling cheese out the wahzoo, we met some inspiring folks, including Jasmin Singer, co-host of podcast “Our Hen House” and Senior Editor of Vegnews, cookbook author and YouTube star the Vegan Black Metal Chef, and NFL vegan David Carter, aka the 300 pound vegan! Talk about starstruck! The day was completed with some amazing food (mango lassis, ribs, typical vegan stuff), educational seminars and cute vegan apparel! It was a great day all around, we can’t wait until the next one!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi