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

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

 

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

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

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

Vegan Stocking Stuffers!

Once again, we’ve reached another season of giving! Here are some vegan-friendly stocking stuffer ideas (or general gift ideas) for the loved ones in your life!

  • a jar/tub of V-Grits cheese sauce or Pimento spread 😉
  • A bag of Louisville Vegan Jerky
  • Vegan LUSH products or Summer Shade Soap company products
  • Vegan candy
  • Vegan Cookbooks
  • Soy Wax Candles

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  • A gift card to their favorite vegan spot (Half Peach, NOLA Fare)
  • A VegNews Magazine
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Ella+Mila vegan Nail Polish
  • a Keychain with their favorite animal
  • A vegan recipe book
  • a mini stuffed animal version of their favorite animal
  • Tea
  • Movies (Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives, or Charlotte’s Web for ex.)
  • Animal Stickers
  • Vegan Leather Matt & Natt shoes

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  • Animal pins
  • Bumper stickers with vegan messages
  • Vegan Tees (such as one from Upland’s PEAK)
  • Framed pictures
  • Playing cards
  • Crayons and coloring books (they make them for adults now, too!)
  • A new comfy non-wool sweater

Happy gift giving!

Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Herbalicious!

Herbs make the perfect addition to any dish, or even beverage! There are so many that it can get a little overwhelming to find out which herb matches up with your latest recipe idea, but we’re here to help! Here are some of my favorite herbs and foods they seem to pair nicely with!

Sage: Sage just might be the prettiest of all the gorgeous herbs out there! Sage goes great in typical western comfort food, like Thanksgiving stuffing or an earthy casserole. It also can be a great compliment to sweeter dishes, with vegetables like butternut squash or a creamy pasta dish.

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Mint: Mint is light and refreshing. It adds a yummy twist to lemonade, or makes the perfect finishing garnish for any dessert. Mint can brighten a salad or a vegan yogurt sauce. If you want a simple snack, top a bowl of watermelon with some fresh mint leaves.

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Basil: Basil is commonly associated with Italian cooking, and can be used in a tomato soup or tomato salad, and goes great on top of pizza. This herb isn’t just for savory items, though, it goes great on top of strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruity desserts too. Asian Basil can additionally be used in curries or fried rice, or an asian-inspired tofu dish!

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Rosemary and Thyme: Rosemary and Thyme are other herbs popular in Western cooking. The combination of thyme, rosemary and salt taste good on practically any vegetable. Add them to potatoes done any kind of way (roasted red potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries) or root vegetables for a delicious side dish.

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Lavender: Lavender is one of the most floral herbs. It puts an elegant and classy twist on fruity drinks. Lavender can be detoxifying paired with hibiscus, charcoal, or lemon water and it has many medicinal properties.

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Cilantro: This herb might have a bad reputation with some folks, but if you aren’t one to find the taste of cilantro soapy, cilantro is so versatile! Asian and Latin cooking tend to be heavy handed with cilantro. It can pep up a spicy curry or add a nice tang to a mango salsa.

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Dill: Dill is almost lemony, and goes great with citrusy dishes. It also goes great mixed into a creamy dip like ranch, or topped on some vegan seafood! Dill is also great with starches and grains like potatoes and orzo.

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Chives: Chives are the classic baked potato topping! They’re great snipped as a garnish or mixed into a vegan herb butter.

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Parsley: Parsley is typically found in Mediterranean or Italian Cooking. It gives a bright pop of green to grains like couscous, mixed into creamy hummus, or to top your spaghetti.

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Now that you know the herbalicious details of some of those most popular herbs, it might be time to get experimenting! Happy cooking!
Signing off for the sentient,

Sammi

Would a Caveman’s Diet Meet Paleo Standards?

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The Paleo way of eating is frequently referred to as a caveman’s diet, but a caveman would probably look at you like you’re from a whole different century if you tried to tell them not to eat plant-based! The Paleo diet is highly focused on a heavy intake of grass-fed meats, and tells followers to avert from dairy, grains and over-processed foods. This dietary regimen is one of the most followed diet fads out there. I can definitely spot the research backing the alarming mysteries of dairy and processed foods, but I think the rest may need a little digging into. Researchers estimate that only a small portion of the average caveman’s diet consisted of meat! Why go through all the trouble of killing animals when there were hills on hills of lush plants you could simply grab by the handful? Previous studies made inaccurate estimations that cavemen ate a surplus of meat, only to find later that an intake of that much meat would actually poison humans.

Along with adding a heavy portion of meat into your diet, Paleo is also heavily focused on the abstinence of any type of grain. Despite the claim that pre-historic people didn’t eat grains, researchers have found traces of oats on grinding tools dating back to 32, 000 years ago. Oats, wild wheat, and other starches have been proven to be strong cores of a real diet during the Paleolithic period. These days, the term “carbs” is made out to be just as scary as the word “vegan,” but if you opt for the less processed carbs you’ve got nothing to fear! Many of the foods that are actually allowed in a Paleo diet were not even discovered during the Paleolithic period, such as the lovely avocados that were found in 1519, or squash that was found in 1591. As much praise as I’m sure anyone would have gotten for introducing the heavenly avocado to cavemen, it’s safe to say a Paleo diet has a long way from being caveman approved! And I mean, no offense to the cavemen and all, but why is everyone trying to eat like people did hundreds of thousands of years ago anyways? I would take a V-Grits burger over a handful of leaves and wheat any day!

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Over time, we were able to grow in knowledge and take on studies that show us that in current society, our bodies are not meant to intake any meat whatsoever. Even our own bodies reveal to us that we are better off with a plant-based diet since veganism has cured and or/reversed everything from diabetes, to forms of cancer, to heart disease. Thank you, technology! And trust me, if you’re trying to better your diet, just leave the “gathering” for the produce section at your local grocery store. 😉

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi