Food

20
Jul
2017

vegan dog food (featuring v-dog): is it animal cruelty? is it healthy? and just… why???

Hey guys!  I have been waiting patiently for July (the first ever #VeganDog month!) to talk to you about my dogs’ diet.  I am excited because I really believe in this diet for my fur kids, and have seen their health improve with my own eyes… But I’m also a tad nervous because I know that for every open-minded “oh wow, thats cool, I’m so interested to hear how dogs thrive on a plant-based diet,” there’s a judgmental “you’re abusing your dogs by forcing your belief system on them.”

So–  let me get this out of the way: I did not decide to make my dogs go vegan simply because I am vegan.  HELL no. I love my babies. And as strict and passionate a vegan as I am, I would feed my dogs meat in a heartbeat if I thought they’d be unhealthy without it.  Without hesitation.

I was suspicious of store brand dog food way before even becoming vegan myself.  Did you know that dog food may legally contain “4-D” meat: meat from dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals? Typically, these dog food brands also include mill floor sweepings (which they call “grain”) cheap fillers like corn (that are often contaminated with high levels of pesticides and have thereby been deemed illegal to feed humans).  Think about it, you guys… Would YOU eat this stuff? If not, why would you feed it to your best friend who depends on you for survival?

I was vegan for almost a year and a half before I put my dogs on a veggie diet. I spent that year and a half slowly and thoroughly researching the history of vegan dogs, the teeth and nutritional history of dogs, the current state of the dog food industry and the ingredients of the so-called healthy dog food brands I had bought in the past. I kept on hearing about V-Dog, a family-owned, American, plant-based dog food company, so I decided to check it out. And now we are hooked!

Why I love V-Dog:

  1. It’s healthy!  24% pea protein, L-Carnitine, Taurine, and vitamins. No fillers, only fresh and wholesome ingredients like peas, lentils, brown rice, and quinoa. I mean… I would eat this stuff.
  2. It’s easy!  I have a subscription, so every month I get 4 bags of kibble and a bag of bones delivered to my doorstep. Zero thought is put into it… Yay!
  3. It’s made in the USA, which is always my preference. Also, eco-friendly, sustainable packaging!
  4. My dogs THRIVE on V-Dog.  Most of my friends’ dogs are overweight (in fact, over 40% of dogs are overweight, and this shortens their lifespan substantially), but my dogs are lean and fit.  My pitbull used to have super watery eyes (allergies) and ever since being on V-dog, its completely gone away.  EVERY veterinarian I’ve ever come into contact with demands to know what I feed them to keep them so lean and shiny with healthy teeth (literally, this happened this morning when I took my youngest baby to get some shots), and they are shocked when I tell them that it’s vegan dog food.  ***IMPORTANT NOTE!!!!! It is important to remember that vets have had little to NO nutritional training, whatsoever. So if your vet throws shade at your dog’s vegan diet, it’s always good to listen to a professional, but my advice is to take it with a grain of salt and do your own research.

Oh!  Before I forget, be sure and check out these Top 5 Vegan Dog Myths and Facts.  This page drove me to do a lot of my own digging and eventually get on board with the concept of a plant-based diet for my dogs.

Alright, y’all.  If nothing else, I urge you to simply CONSIDER what you are feeding your beloved animals.  We owe them that much.  Do 5 minutes of research.

As usual, please let me know of any questions you have about V-Dog, vegan dog food in general, or whatever else.  I am here to help!

 

7
Jun
2017

vegan love apparel + my favorite avocado toast recipe

On my not-so-good-at-adulting days, I sleep in until it’s 10 minutes before my first appointment and then rush out in a crazed state without eating breakfast.  On good days, I wake up about 30 minutes to an hour beforehand, make a decent breakfast (my trainers at Fit180 would be proud!  It’s all about the metabolism, people!).  On the BEST days, I wear a cutesy shirt and bring some of said breakfast to my fiancé in bed.  Today was one of those days!

[The Top]

“You’re the avocado to my toast” … Could this tank by Vegan Love Apparel get any more perfect? I love comfy, soft tanks to wear around the house.  If you know me, you know that I am loud and proud about my plant-based lifestyle, and I love supporting animal-loving clothing companies.  Vegan Love Apparel has something for everyone.  Major bonus: their materials are eco-friendly!  If you are a fellow earth-lover, check them out HERE.

[The Toast]

  1. Put wheat toast in oven at 350 until crispy
  2. Mash up an avocado half (per piece of toast) and spread it on toast
  3. Apply a layer of washed and peeled chickpeas atop the avocado
  4. In a zig zagging motion, throw on some Sriracha

That’s it!  Trust me, you’ll LOVE it.  Optional: top with nutritional yeast or salt & pepper.

__________

VEGAN LOVE APPAREL for threads!

Check out:  Avocado Toast 5 Ways by Gluten Free Vegan Pantry

7
Apr
2017

subscription box : vegan cuts

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days, obviously.   People order these in order to have a new monthly stash of bows for their kid, toys for their dog, makeup for their face, plants for their garden– you name it.   I’ve never gotten very involved in all of that, as I’m trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to live a bit more minimalistic, material-wise.  However,  I am discovering that I cannot say no to the monthly Vegan Cuts boxes.

They have the snack box, which is what I tried this month.  It contained drinks, cookies, snacks… You name it.  ALL vegan, mostly fair-trade and organic.  I especially love this because my fiancé is slowly going more and more vegan, and I really love to have as much variety around the house as possible for him to snack on, which shows him how totally unrestrictive the lifestyle can be.  Additionally, the box has introduced me to some of my very favorite pantry staples!   So, whether you are new-ish to being vegan or vegetarian, whether you are an omnivore who simply likes snacks, or whether you’ve been vegan for years and just want to add new and fun snack items to your rotation, I highly recommend this monthly box.

(Pssst!  They also offer a beauty/cosmetics/skincare box!

Go check them out, let me know what you think!

VEGAN CUTS

 

30
Jan
2017

vegan supplements… should i take ’em?

I have wanted to write about vegan supplements for a long time, but I held off so that I could have a few months of experience with them in order to give my honest take.  Throughout my life, I’ve never been super responsible about taking ANY type of medication or vitamin daily.  It is just one more thing to remember in the morning, and I am not a morning person.  Plus–  half of the vitamins you peruse in any given grocery store aisle either is not vegan, or else it is hard to tell if they were vegan.  And finally, lab results from all of my physical exams since going vegan have always been perfect, so if it aint broke don’t fix it… Am I right?

Mehhh I’m not so sure I was right, actually.  A plant-based diet has been proven to lower your risk of heart disease (the #1 killer of Americans), diabetes, and cancer.  But, regardless of your diet, we live in a society where we are constantly “on the go,” and it is easy to skimp on some vital nutrients.  I, for one– seeing that a lack of B12 has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and lack of taurine has been linked to depression and anxiety– am going to make good on my 2017 resolution to “live intentionally,” even if that means taking an extra minute each morning to play it safe and take some dang supplements.

ALRIGHT, SO WHICH ONES SHOULD I TAKE?

vegan supplements fashionveggie

  1. A MULTIVITAMIN.  Anyone who is vegan/vegetarian needs to be sure that they are getting enough of:  B12, Zinc, and Selenium.  If you are a woman who gets a period, I would say to go ahead and add some Iron in there for good measure.  I recommend New Chapter’s Every Woman multivitamin… and consider grabbing an Every Man multi for your boyfriend or husband, if you have one.  If you don’t take any other supplement on this list, be sure that you do consider this one.  (USA made, ethically sourced, gluten-free.) 
  2. MUSCLE SUPPLEMENTS.  This is especially for those of y’all who spend some time in the gym.  Some people do find that when they initially give up meat, they have a harder time building and maintaining muscle.  This is because vegans tend to have lower levels of Taurine, Carnitine, and Creatine. Rare Myo Capsules are the solution for anyone concerned with their muscle health and metabolism–  the levels of Taurine, Carnitine, and Creatine in the once daily vegan supplements are just enough to match a small serving of red meat, but not to the point where it would “bulk you up.”  (USA made, ethically sourced, gluten-free.) 
  3. VITAMIN D + CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT. These two go together in one pill commonly, because Vitamin D is responsible for Calcium absorption; they complement each other.  I recommend New Chapter’s Bone Strength Slim Tabs for bone support, joint flexibility, and heart health. vegan vitamins and supplements
  4. BEAUTY VITAMINS!  It never crossed my mind to take this type of supplement, but I actually learned about VitaFive from one of my favorite vegan beauty bloggers, Sunny, at Vegan Beauty Review.   I am now ADDICTED to these things.  Y’all, these gummy vitamins taste seriously amazing, can be tailored to you, are prepackaged like a little bag of gummies,… AND, Sunny even has a discount code for you to use if you want to order on the VitaFive website (type in “sunny30” at checkout).  I hope this helps!  If you have any questions or have favorite vegan supplements you think I should try, I would love to hear. XO

(Photos:  Mary Summers)

(Dress: vintage ; Corduroy hat: Free People)

1
Dec
2016

vegan holiday drinks at starbucks you need to try

Drink responsibly… But don’t be afraid to get into the holiday spirit!  Thankfully, there are lots of festive vegan holiday drinks at Starbucks for veg-heads to enjoy.  Bring on the red (green? blue? whatever) cups!  (PS: watch out for three delicious “secret menu items” below… they are some of the best ones!)

1. Chestnut Praline Latte

My personal fave.  Ask for soy, coconut, or almond milk!

2. Peppermint Mocha Latte

Again– get it with your favorite nondairy milk!

3. Caramel Brulée Latte

Pick your milk, say no to the caramel brulée sauce, then add toffee nut AND caramel syrups. Note: The brulée sprinkles are plant-based!

4. Holiday Spice Flat White

Ask for soy milk!

5. S’mores Hot Chocolate

This secret menu item (!) adds the chestnut praline syrup (and sprinkles) to your hot chocolate. So good!

6. Gingerbread Latte

Pick your dairy-free milk and make sure to skip the whipped cream.

7. Candy Cane Frappuccino

Another pick from the secret menu!  The vanilla bean crème frap with peppermint syrup is heavenly. 

8. Apple Cider

Ask for steamed apple juice and add the Oprah chai syrup.

9. Christmas Cookie Frappuccino

Another secret menu item!!  Basically, you get the vanilla bean crème frappuccino, then add peppermint and toffee nut syrup, and lastly sprinkle a raw sugar packet on top.

There you have it!  I hope you try these vegan holiday drinks at Starbucks. Whoever says that being vegetarian or vegan is “limiting” has no idea what they are talking about… It is almost 2017, and there are wonderful options everywhere you look.  Please pass this post to anyone you think might be interested in exploring a gentler, more plant-based lifestyle… Make it easy for them!  And if you want a list of bomb Starbucks drinks (not holiday drinks, just year-round ones) that are vegan, you can find that info HERE.  

Thank you for caring about your health, the environment, and animals!  

XOX- M

 

2
Nov
2016

vegan cookbooks you need in your life

Whether you’re looking for a vegan cookbook for yourself, or holiday shopping for your friends/family… Here are ones you shouldn’t pass over.

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Thug Kitchen: Gwyneth Paltrow’s fave and NY Times best-seller.  Probably the least boring cookbook you’ll ever own. Pumpkin chili and beer-flavored lime tacos? Yes please. If you at least kinda know your way around a kitchen already, I would say that this is a must-own. (TIP: If you are a beginner in the kitchen or always pressed for time so you need quick and easy recipes only, but like the idea of interesting veggie recipes, check out the newer version– Thug Kitchen 101… Personally, I swear by this one.)

 

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The Lusty Vegan: This one is mostly geared towards single vegans navigating the world of dating in a non-vegan world.  It’s funny and honest, and those of us who deal with vegan/omnivore dating all the time will especially appreciate.  Personally, I have watched one of the co-authors, Ayinde, do a cooking demo before at a veggie fair, and his incredible recipes and techniques alone were what made me buy this book.

 

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Happy Herbivore:  This is a great one for people who went vegan for weight-loss reasons.  (Disclaimer: yes, I know that veganism is WAY more than a diet.  But it can also be a diet.)  Fast, easy, and mostly fat-free, this book keeps the meals simple and affordable. Perfect for the clean eating veg-heads on a budget.

 

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Oh She Glows: Angela, the author, struggled for years with a debilitating eating disorder.  During her recovery, she healed her relationship with food through inventive recipes using nuts, whole grains, fruits and veggies… It changed her whole life, and she was determined to share her epiphany with the rest of the world. Most of her recipes are GLUTEN-FREE as well, and many are allergy-friendly and soy-free.

 

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Nom Yourself: I picked up this cookbook after obsessively following @nomyourself on Instagram for years.  Mary is constantly on the road touring with rockstars as their personal chef… Blink 182 and Ellie Goulding have her on speed dial, and it’s no wonder why.  She specializes in classic American fare with a vegan twist (think: shitake po boys and apple pie), and her photography is nothing less than brilliant.

 

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Afro-vegan: Whether you are African American or not, I would really recommend this book.  It is so different than any other cookbook I own; I may be especially partial because, as a Texan, I have an appreciation for the adaptations of southern classics.  Afro-Vegan is such a beautiful ode to African American soul food– references to history and music alongside nostalgic recipes, coupled with gorgeous photography.  One of my very favorites on this list. You won’t be disappointed, promise.

 

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27
Sep
2016

so you want to go dairy-free… congrats, you’re a badass

Get excited!  You are about to feel healthier, save some animals, and help the environment– all in one fell swoop. If you want additional info on why to make such an awesome change in your life by going dairy-free, feel free to check out this article.  I think it is so rad that you care about your life and the lives of others enough to make a daily habit change, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Can we be friends? You sound cool.

So, yes, I am vegan.  And yes, I want everyone to eat vegan food in order to save animals and increase personal health.  But I cannot lie to you: not all vegan food is good.  (Ahem– Just like not all non-vegan food is good!)  Luckily for you,  I am happy to be your guinea pig.  I’ve had two years to try pretty much every dairy-free alternative I can get my hands on, so now you can save time and money and go straight for the good stuff without having to spit out another vegan cheese that tastes like a foot.

Let us get to it, then!

Milk:  Milk is probably the easiest replacement.  The varieties are endless… Soy, almond, coconut, cashew milks are readily available at your local grocery store. As for me, I’m pretty loyal to Silk brand’s vanilla soy milk (available online) with my morning cereal. 

Cheese:  On the other hand, vegan cheese was the most difficult area for me to navigate when I “made the switch.” My tried and trues: Soy-free and delicious Follow Your Heart is my go-to… They have slices and shredded, from pepperjack to gouda to cheddar. Next fave:  Chao by Field Roast (creamy original flavor). 

Coffee Creamer: Califa Farms makes a damn good creamer, available online and in both vanilla and hazelnut

Cookie Dough: Hampton Creek has a good one! 

Chocolate snacks: If Bark Thins (available online) don’t satisfy your choco cravings, I don’t know what to tell you. 

Butter: My very favorite? Sold out on the website but found it here: Miyokos… I think its the healthiest one out there, and a bonus is that it doesn’t contain palm oil, which I try and boycott when possible (if you’re interested in why you might consider reducing your palm oil intake, go here). When I’m in a pinch, though, I grab this runner up from my local grocery store or online: Earth Balance buttery spread. 

Mayo: Oh my gosh I’m obsessed with Just Mayo (available online!)  Love it love it love it. Tastes just like mayo but a little better. 

Yogurt: Kite Hill wins here, hands down. Runner up & available online: So Delicious, vanilla flavor.  

Pre-made coffee drink: Try my personal favorite, Malk: Pecan Milk + cold brewed coffee. I don’t even love coffee, but cannot get enough of this drink.  It is only available in 11 states, though (check out locations on their website). If it isn’t available try this one which my boyfriend prefers (available at groceries and online): Cafe Latte Almond Milk Iced Coffee by Califia Farms. 

Cream cheese: I’m going to go ahead and save you headache (these can taste not-so-great if you don’t choose wisely)– Tofutti brand or bust. This is the one you want. 

Sour cream: Samesies.  Tofutti wins again. 

Salad Dressings: Follow Your Heart has your back once again, whether you need Ranch, Caesar, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Creamy Garlic, or Honey Mustard. You can buy these in bulk on Amazon if they aren’t available near you! 

Ice Cream: Check out Ben & Jerrys’ new vegan flavors here.  (My favorite is the PB & Cookies.) So Delicous is another favorite (their cherry amaretto flavor is to die for), which are made from soy, coconut, or almond milk… Pick your poison!  I also indulge frequently in Tofutti “cuties” (ice cream sandwiches) and SOY-FREE Coconut Bliss ice cream & especially their ice cream bars. 

Mac N Cheese: Earth Balance White Cheddar is the only way to go.

I hope this helps you out!  If there is anything I have missed, and you need it dairy-free, please let me know– I’ll be happy to give you further recs! 

 

xx

M