Category Archives: The Veg Life

All things regarding veganism. Recipes, product reviews, etc.

Vegandale Festival Review 2019




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That’s right! Three years, baby! This is my third year in a row going to the Vegandale Festival in Toronto and I am still pumped about it! I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off of getting to go to a place where I can try whatever I want, and not have to ask about ingredients, or read the label before putting it in my mouth. (Save for cinnamon)

I was recently talking to one of my friends, and they made a joke about since this is my third year going, I could ‘take a break’ from going next year. Uhmm… what?

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Sign 1

That’s when it hit me: other people can walk into any place and order whatever they want, without looking at the ingredients list, or worrying about what’s in a product. They can walk in, order what looks good and leave. So, it makes sense that people with that ability don’t even really think about how exciting that can be. They have no idea, that’s their ‘normal’, so they don’t understand the hype.

How boring are other people’s lives? They can just… do stuff without thinking about it? That’s such a foreign concept to me! But I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. I love getting to be excited about things others aren’t. It’s like I’m a child discovering how awesome the world is all over again. Who wouldn’t want that?

But enough about me – time to get to what you came here for: the food!

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This year, I was fortunate enough to get to try 20 things (instead of last years’ 17). There’s always over a hundred vendors, and while I feel like I get a pretty good mix of things, I’d love to eventually get to try half of them.

As always, these reviews will be written in the order that I tried the food. (And not in terms of what I liked best)

Okay, let’s get started!

These Wingz – Half N Half Wings with Mac N Cheese

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First up, is These Wingz wings and mac n cheese. I got the special, 6 wings (half BBQ, half buffalo) with the mac n cheese. The wings were massive. Not just in size, but they were thick. As. Fuck. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but they were definitely the thickest thing I got at the festival. They were also the most expensive ($16).

The wings were good, they tasted kinda seitan-y, though I’m not sure if that’s what they were made out of. They had a good, chewy texture, but the breading on them (and their size) made them hard to bite through. And, trying to rip pieces off with the small plastic fork I got (no knives were available) didn’t work that well, either. I’m pretty sure I accidentally flung sauce in my hair from trying to rip a piece off.

The mac n cheese wasn’t that good. The noodles were over-cooked, and just tasted like the wing sauce. It didn’t taste like there was any cheese on them at all.

 

Parka Food Co. – Broccoli Burger Mac

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I know, I know, a little ridiculous I got another mac n cheese after literally just buying one, but I was intrigued by the name: Broccoli Burger Mac.

This one was way better than the first. For starters, this one actually tasted cheesy, and it had battered broccoli pieces on top. Gave the mac n cheese a good crunchy aspect. The cheese sauce actually kinda tasted like pasta salad to me – it had that subtle vinegar after-taste that pasta salad gets. This was a great dish to try for $11. I’m still not entirely sure what an aioli is, but the pink one that was drizzled on top of this dish was good. The sign said it was just their Parka Aioli, so I’m not entirely sure what’s in it (or why it’s pink), but it was good.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dish, is that the top of it was dowsed in parsley. There was way too much sprinkled on top of the broccoli and mac n cheese. The entire top was almost completely green!

 

Peas and Thank-You – Chick’N Parm

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A chick’n parm. I’ve never in my life had a chicken parm. I’ve seen them in movies/heard about them – it’s a chicken cutlet with tomato sauce and parm – but I was really hyped when I saw this on the menu at Peas and Thank-You. It was only $10, so I figured why not? And boy am I glad I did. This was probably the best thing I tried at the festival in terms of the actual ‘meal’ things. Although, it didn’t have actual parm on it. It had some kind of sauce (I’m assuming [hoping] it was cheese sauce) but I thought the ‘parm’ on the sandwich would’ve been… y’know, actual parm flakes. The sauce actually tasted closer to Veganaise then cheese, but maybe that’s just what parm tastes like?

The chick’n patty itself was great – though it was a little too hard to bite through. I think maybe it was fried too long? But once you got passed the initial bite, it had a great flavour and wasn’t as hard to chew and get down. And the bun? Oh, man! I think it was a ciabatta bun? I don’t know, but I loved the bun. They didn’t do anything special to it – I believe it was just toasted – but it added such a great depth to the sandwich. They do pop-ups at different events, and I really, really hope that they come back next year! (Or do another pop-up in Toronto)

 

Not Your Mother – Rocky Road Ice Cream

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This was the favourite dessert I tried, hands down. Rocky Road ice cream? Do you guys know about Rocky Road ice-cream? It’s chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and marshmallows. Marshmallows!

I cannot believe I’ve never tried Rocky Road ice cream before. It’s my new favourite ice cream flavour. Even though it was hot and I had to drink most of it, it was still my favourite dessert. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about chocolate and marshmallows that holds a very special place in my heart.

When will vegan Rocky Road ice cream be available for purchase in pints from a store?

Seriously, if you make vegan ice-cream, get on it. Please.

 

Globally Local – Hot Buffalo Chick’Un Burger

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Ah, Globally Local. They’ve been my favourite thing the past two years, and I feel a little bad about giving that title away, but my reason for giving the title away is two-fold:

  1. This burger is pretty much the same thing I tried last year, just with buffalo sauce coating the patty.
  2. The chicken parm was way more exciting and tasted better.

Don’t get mad, Globally, I still love you guys and cannot wait until you open your location here next month! But, I do wish that you had added something else on the festival menu to try.

The fries were great, too. Thick cut and fried fries I think are my weakness. These ones, and A&W fries are the best fries I’ve ever had. (… So far.)

 

Main Vegan Deli – Lobstar Roll

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Main Vegan Deli… what can I say? They were at the festival both previous years, and the first year I went I actually got to try a sample of their cashew cheese. I was hoping I’d get to do that again this year (or that I’d maybe actually get a ball/block to take home), but alas, they changed their menu.

This year, they had a ‘lobstar’ roll and a no-kobe sammy. Now, I’ve never really been that much of a fan of seafood. Before going vegan, I’d never eat it. It was gross to me. So, naturally, since going vegan, I haven’t tried any seafood faux products. Why would I if I didn’t like the real thing, right?

So, keeping that in mind, I didn’t really like this. It was mushrooms and their ‘seafood sauce’, so I figured it shouldn’t be too bad. I like mushrooms, after all – I don’t know what it was, it wasn’t exactly bad, but this was definitely not my favourite thing. I think it might’ve been the texture that the mushrooms were. They were slightly rubber-y, but also slightly slimy. Not chewy rubber-y, just… rubber-y.

I got my (non vegan) mom to eat it, (I couldn’t finish it!) and she said it ‘tasted like the kind of lobster you get from a can’. Take from that what you will.

I was actually really disappointed that I didn’t like this – I had loved their cashew cheese, and was hoping they might’ve been like Globally Local, in that I would just like everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not writing them off. Next year, if they bring their cashew cheese, or have some other type of sandwich (that’s not seafood) I’ll try it.

Bring it on!

 

Meltwich – Poutine

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I love poutine! This one was a little lack-luster though. The fries were pretty basic, seemed like they were just regular frozen french fries, and the cheese shreds didn’t melt! At all. I took the picture, mixed it up, and then nothing. They tasted good, but they didn’t melt. I don’t know what happened, but that definitely made the dish not as good as it could have been.

That said, the gravy more for made up for the lack of melted cheese. It was a nice, rich, brown gravy and oh man, if they were just selling jars of that, I definitely would’ve bought one.

All in all, this poutine wasn’t anything spectacular (it was called the Classic Poutine) but regular poutine is still good poutine in my book. It doesn’t need to have chick’n or bacon bits or anything fancy for it to be good.

 

Vegtago – Nacho Cheese

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This was the first free sample I got at the festival. This cheese, while it’s great that it’s dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free, it tasted a little too sweet to me. If you gave this to me, and asked me to guess what it was, I would not guess ‘nacho cheese’. It tastes closer to pureed vegetable.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s made out of carrots, (the picture on the sign was a carrot), but it reminds me of my failed attempt at making cheese out of carrots and potatoes.

That’s not to say that it taste bad – I would definitely eat it in a different setting – but for something that’s supposed to be a nacho cheese, it misses the mark.

 

Magnum – Classic Bar

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This was the second free sample I got at the festival, and I have to say I was not disappointed. When I went, the lady at the counter said they were ‘down to Classics’. I was just excited I was getting a full sized ice-cream bar for free!

At this point in the festival, I was starting to feel a bit sick, so I do regret to say that I didn’t finish the whole bar. It’s the only thing from the festival I didn’t finish that I wasn’t able to take home.

With that said, it was pretty good. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but the chocolate coating on the outside of the bar had an odd ‘heavy’ feel to it. As soon as I bit it, that’s what I felt. I don’t know if that’s the right word for it, but it’s happened with other chocolate before, and that’s the only way I know to describe it. After that initial heavy/weighty feel, it was pretty sticky, too. Like, dry-out-your-mouth sticky. Similar to when you eat a spoon of peanut butter and immediately feel like you need to drink some water.

I don’t know if that’s just something that happens depending on the cocoa content or whatever, but it’s definitely something I don’t like in my chocolate. It shouldn’t make you thirsty.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Magnum Non-Dairy Classic Bar - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

The ice-cream was good, too. It was just basic vanilla ice-cream. Nothing too fancy, as this was the Classic Bar, but it was still good.

I’d definitely buy this if I wanted an ice-cream bar, but don’t go in with too high expectations. It’s pretty basic, and don’t forget to drink water with it.

 

Papabubble – Cherry Candy

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First, I’d like to point out: these are hard candies. They only had a few squishy ones (that I didn’t try) on display, and this wasn’t it. I thought that it was a squishy candy, so I tossed it in my mouth and got a rude awakening when I chomped down on it.

That’s my bad, I will admit. Other than that surprise, the candy was pretty good! It had a very good cherry flavour, and while it did stick to my teeth a bit, what candy doesn’t?

I also tried one called ‘lychee’ which is a type of tropical fruit. That one was good too, it did taste fruity, but I definitely liked the cherry one better.

I had actually been debating about buying a whole pack of their candy, but since they’re in Toronto, I decided I could always do a more in-depth analysis of their offerings later.

I don’t think they beat out Squish candy, since Squishs’ candy is well, squishy, but they are definitely a close second.




Julie’s Joyful Kitchen-  Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar

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This is my second year reviewing Julie’, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. Last year, I got their chocolate cookie, which was good – pretty hard to mess up a cookie – this year, they were offering other types of cookies, or, this chocolate almond bar. I thought I’d be a bit adventurous and go for the bar. I’ve seen similar bars before but have always stayed away from trying them.

I should’ve done that this time, too.

For starters, I couldn’t even pick the thing up. The bottom layer crumbled into a million pieces the second I tried to. So I had to eat it with one finger swiping through the middle ‘caramel’ part. And to be honest, the caramel wasn’t very good. It just kinda tasted like almond butter, there wasn’t very much ‘caramel’ flavour in it. The chocolate on the top was good – it is chocolate, after all – but it was the same kind of dry-out-your-mouth as the Magnum bar.

This definitely didn’t make my favourites list, not by a long shot. If they come back again next year, I’d definitely want to try something else, but if that doesn’t go well, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write them off. Which sucks, because they ladies running the booth were very sweet.

But yeah, I’m thinking that maybe Julie’s just isn’t for me.

 

Sweet Nutritionista –  Beet Brownie

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For a dessert that’s made out of beets this was pretty good. I absolutely hate beets, so believe me when I tell say you could not taste the beets in this brownie at all. You could’ve told me it wasn’t made out of beets and I’d believe you.

This was a wee bit dense though. Maybe if they had cut them a bit thinner it would’ve been more enjoyable. It was a biiit too much to bite off and chew at one time.

I would definitely love to try something else they have to offer at the next festival, or if I’m ever in Oakville, I’d definitely stop by.

 

Yves – Sweet Potato Meatball

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I’m not gonna lie, this tastes very sweet potato-y. I unfortunately don’t like sweet potatoes, so I didn’t like it. It had a hint of a weird spice I don’t like, that reminded me a bit of cumin. (Although I’m not 100% on if cumin is actually in them)

If you like falafel, you’ll definitely like these.

They had nuggets available as a free sample to try as well, but I unfortunately was 5 seconds too late, as the lady in front of me had snagged the last nugget.

Fortunately though, they were also giving out coupons, and I was lucky enough to get one of those, instead.

 

Glory Hole Doughnuts – Cookies N Crème Doughnut

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Glory Hole was back with a way better doughnut than last years’!

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t as hot, so it didn’t immediately melt into a goopy mess all over my hand, but I definitely enjoyed this one better than the peanut butter and chocolate I got last year.

While it still had the classic ‘this is a doughnut!’ sweetness, it was also very light. The icing I think was just regular vanilla, and the cookie bits were pretty similar in taste to Oreo cookies (no matter what the sign said).

The only thing I didn’t like is when I bit down, the entire doughnut flattened and didn’t bounce back. It was like I let all the air out of the tire.

That happened to the one I got last year as well, so I’m not sure if it’s just a doughnut thing, or if I’m somehow not biting them correctly but yeah. If they could find a way to make them not do that, that would be great.

And since these guys are in Toronto as well, I’m looking forward to trying more of their offerings.

 

BZZSFREE – Apple Honey

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Honey is definitely one of the things I miss the most since going vegan. I used to absolutely love it – not only for it’s taste, but also because it’s a great natural alternative to conventional medicine – so as soon as I saw this vegan honey company listed, I knew I just had to try it!

I was a little unsure of which flavour to get, as the sign said they had apple, pineapple and PMP (guava and something else I don’t remember). I just wanted to taste something that was closest to the real deal.

After speaking to the lady (who is beyond nice!) for a bit, she told me that the apple flavour is the closest to the real thing, so I decided to try that one. And boy am I glad I did!

It tasted so close to what I remember honey tasting like, I was blown away! It didn’t taste like apples at all! It was just as sweet, and even had the same sticky consistency!

I regret not buying a whole jar, but the lady said they were available to purchase online, and that they deliver to Toronto, so I’m definitely going to get my hands on some!

If you didn’t get a chance to check them out, or was a bit hesitant because of the flavours listed, you definitely need to try their apple flavour! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so glad they decided to come to the festival this year, and hope they come back!

 

Crazy D’s – Prebiotic Rockin’ Rolla Cherry Cola

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This was my least favourite thing from the entire festival. It tasted absolutely nothing like cherries. The ingredients say that there was actual cherry juice in it, but I couldn’t taste it at all.

This drink was spicy. It tasted like when you run out of bouillon cubes, so you try to make your own. So you get some water and throw ten different spices in it and then try it. That’s what it tasted like.

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This drink was an absolute no-go in my book. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to trying a cherry flavoured drink.

Their sign said it was supposed to have a bunch of health benefits and promote good digestion and stuff – I hate that they proved the old saying true. (Everything that’s good for you tastes bad)

I couldn’t even finish it, I had to dump it out when I got home. I felt bad for wasting it, but I couldn’t drink it. It was that bad. And tasted nothing like cherries!

Their other options were Ginga Kick and a citrus something. I went with cherry because I thought it’d be their best tasting one. Boy was I wrong!

 

If you like spicy drinks, you may like this, but if you want something that tastes like cherries? This isn’t it.

 

Tropic Love – Maple Luv Mini Pancakes

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Pancakes, whether big or small, there’s just something enjoyable about them.

These were light and fluffy, and so cute! They came ten per order, and were perfect with the right amount of maple syrup drizzled on top.

They weren’t really special, except that they were tiny. But I mean, a pancake is a pancake. I would’ve been really surprised if I didn’t like them.

 

WVRST – Soft Pretzel

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I have a soft spot for soft pretzels. I only tried them this year, actually. My first ever was from Through Being Cool (which unfortunately no longer exists!) and I instantly loved them!

They’re a bit salty to eat on their own (you’re apparently supposed to dip them in mustard? No thanks!), but have an amazing doughy consistency. It’s like eating just the thick crust from a pizza. I love soft, doughy breads, and these pretzels are no exception.

These guys also make sausages, (and are also in Toronto!) but I would recommend going there for the pretzels alone.

I’ll probably get around to trying their sausages, but the pretzels are an absolute must.

 

GTS – Watermelon Kombucha

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This was better tasting than the cherry cola, but still not my thing. I’ve tried kombucha before, and I didn’t really like it. I think it’s the carbonation I don’t like. Same reason I don’t enjoy pop – the carbonation isn’t a good time for me.

The flavour was good, though I don’t know I would call it watermelon. It had that fresh, fruity taste like a watermelon does, but it didn’t exactly scream ‘watermelon’ flavour.

I would definitely get it over an actual pop, like Coke. But my first go-to would still probably be just water.

 

Sausage Party – The Big Mock

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This not-dog was pretty good. They said it was a ‘hand crafted vegan sausage’, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s seitan, or something else, but it tasted similar to the flax dog I had gotten the first year. Very wheat-y. It was good, except I forgot to tell them no mustard, and they put a bunch of onions on it.

Why is that a thing people do? Smother the dog in a million cubes of onions? Onions are not that good of a topping, I’m sorry. I’d rather it of just been straight lettuce with the sesame seeds and cheese.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Pyramid

I was a little disappointed that weren’t nearly as many dessert vendors as there were last year. I would’ve liked to get a cupcake or some other desserts.

On the vendors list on the Vegandale website, Kelly’s Bakeshop was listed, but the site map I got that had the list of the vendors, they weren’t anywhere. I don’t know if they were going to come, and had to fall out, or what, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try their Salted Caramel Pretzel cupcake again.

Also, I thought I saw Bald Baker, but he wasn’t a vendor. He was pushing a stroller around, but looked a lot like him. I didn’t have the courage to go up to him and ask, so if you’re reading this: sorry for starring!

I’m so happy I got to go again, and I’m hoping I get to try even more foods next year!


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What Non-Vegan Ingredients Are Lurking In Non-Foods?





Warning: This article includes pictures that may be considered graphic/disturbing. If you find any of the below images hard to look at, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re really okay with continuing to fund the cruel practices that result in the below images.

Yep, it’s true – we humans put animal pieces/bits/by-products in all kinds of things that have nothing to do with food!

If you’re shocked, well don’t feel too bad – it’s not exactly like companies put ‘insect exoskeleton’ or ‘sheep fat’ on the label. They disguise these animal by-products by giving them a different name, so that they can sneak them under the radar.

This is why veganism is so much more than a diet, it truly is a lifestyle change. If you’re committed to reducing your harm to animals, then read through the list below to discover some of the most common animal by-products that are hiding in non-food items.

Unfortunately, the way society is, it’s literally impossible to be 100% animal product free, that’s why there’s no such thing as a truly 100% vegan – it’s just impossible in today’s world. While it can get overwhelming to see just how many everyday things have animal products in them, I don’t want you to freak out – take things slowly. It can be overwhelming, but don’t fret if you’re unable to cut out using all of the things listed below, it’s not feasible for everyone, and that’s okay. As long as you’re aware, and are consciously trying to reduce your harm, you’re doing enough. So try not beat yourself up too bad.

Alright, let’s start with the most obvious:

 

Leather

If you didn’t know, leather is cow skin. (Or snake, alligator, buffalo, sheep and more) Yep, you read that right, leather products are literally skinned animal. Do you really want to walk around like Michael Myers? (Why do you think his nickname is Leatherface?)

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Suede

Pretty much the same as leather, (made out of animal skin), but suede is ‘fuzzy’. Either way, you’re wearing dead animal.

Fur

Fur can be in many things, including: coats, boots, blankets, etc. If it’s not faux, the fur once belonged to an animal, usually mink, foxes, and raccoon dogs. These poor animals are often de-furred alive, often without the use of anaesthetic, or pain pills. Is it really worth torturing an animal and taking its’ only defence against the cold, when we as humans have so many other options?

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This animal was still alive at the time this picture was taken. If you can’t even look at the above image, or find it disturbing, you shouldn’t be wearing fur. Help prevent the above from happening by shopping for faux, or find other alternatives.

 

Wool

Where do we get wool from? Sheep. We shear the wool off the sheep to use for sweaters, blankets, socks, etc. What’s wrong with wool? Well:

  1. Shearing: Let’s start with the practice everyone knows about. Farmers shear sheep to get their wool. But, often shearing is painful for sheep, and is much more than just a haircut. But wait, don’t sheep need to be sheared? Well, no, not at all. Undomesticated sheep only produce the amount of wool they need to survive, which truthfully isn’t that much. Same as we have genetically bred chickens to be too fat for their legs, humans have genetically modified sheep to overproduce wool that now requires the support of the shearing industry. Their bodies have a hard time supporting the weight, and some risk suffocation because they can’t breathe.

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(Those marks are scars from old cuts, not ribs/bone)

Why are they bred to produce so much wool? Because most shearers are paid per sheep, not an hourly wage. Meaning they need to get the most amount of wool possible from a sheep in a quicker time frame. This also results in carelessness by shearers, and sheep often get injured from the quick paced shearing. Anything from nicks, to amputation of their udders, ears and other body parts can happen.

  1. In Australia (where about half the world’s wool comes from) farmers often practice ‘mulesing’ which is a terribly cruel procedure in which farmers use tools resembling garden shears and carve chunks of skin/flesh from lambs’ backsides in an attempt to prevent a parasitic disease called ‘flystrike’. This practice is commonly performed without painkillers. And why does this happen? Because we’ve bred them to produce as much wool as possible, a sheep’s’ skin has wrinkled, and this wrinkled skin accrues excess moisture, which attracts flies. These flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin, resulting in maggots consuming the sheep’s’ skin.

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  1. What happens once the sheep begin to produce less wool? They get shipped off to a slaughterhouse and sold for meat, just like cows, pigs and other animals. Many are killed by having their throats’ slit while still conscious.

 

Silk

Silk comes from worms. (Or spiders) Yes, they count as animals. (If bees count, so do worms)

You may be wondering: Why does it matter if we take their silk?

Silk is the fiber that silkworms make to make their cocoons. (Similar to a caterpillar) For humans to get the silk, manufacturers’/collectors boil the worms alive while they’re in the cocoon. This prevents the worms from transforming to the next stage of their life cycle (the pupal phase), where they make a hole in the cocoon by releasing enzymes, which often cause the silk fibers of the cocoon to break down, and thus make them unviable for harvesting. Boiling the cocoon not only kills the worm by boiling it alive, but also makes the cocoons easier to unravel. Often times, after being boiled, the worms themselves are eaten as well.

Roughly 10 billion cocoons are required to produce the 70 million pounds of raw silk that are needed yearly.

 

Down

Down is the under-feathers from geese, ducks and other birds. Down is used most often for pillows, winter coats, and comforters. The feathers used for down are often taken via live-plucking. (I.e., the bird isn’t dead when the feathers are taken) You know the feeling of needing to tweeze/accidentally getting an arm hair ripped out? Imagine that pain ten fold, all over your body.

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Beeswax

For those who don’t know, beeswax is a natural wax that honey bees produce. It’s formed by the bees into ‘scales’ by eight wax-producing glands in their abdomen. They then ‘discard’ the wax in or at the hive.

To put it in laymen’s terms, beeswax is essentially bee poop.

It would probably be faster to list products that don’t have beeswax, so to save time, I’ll just list a few examples:

  • Natural food wraps
  • Candles
  • Shoe/furniture polish
  • Surfboard Wax
  • Cutler’s Resin (a glue used in the handles of cutlery knives)
  • Tambourines (often used by percussionists on the surface for ‘thumb rolls’)
  • Oil/Body Paint
  • Soaps
  • Lip balm/gloss
  • Egg decoration (such as Easter egg crayons, dye, etc.)
  • Cream/lotion/moisturizers
  • Make-up (eye shadow, blush, eye-liner, etc.)
  • Moustache wax/hair pomades

It is even an ingredient in surgical bone wax, which is used during surgery to control bleeding from bone surfaces.

As you can see, beeswax is in many different products, and isn’t specific to one group of them. This isn’t saying that all of the variations of these products contain beeswax, just that it’s most likely an ingredient. Always read the label on every product to ensure you know what’s in that particular item.




Now, onto the less obvious animal by-product names:

Carmine

Carmine or Red #40 (or Allura Red AC) is the fancy name they decided to give red food colouring/red dye, perhaps because if they called it what it actually is, crushed cochineal beetles, nobody would buy the products.

Speaking of food dyes:

  • Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue FCF)
  • Blue #2 (Idigotine)
  • Green #3 (Fast Green FCF)
  • Red #3 (Erythrosine)
  • Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
  • Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow FCF)

All 6 of the dyes listed above are tested on animals. These food dyes are not only used in foods, however – since they’re food-grade safe, they’re often also used in soaps, bath bombs, creams/lotions, and more. Pretty much if a non-food item is dyed a certain colour (and the label doesn’t specifically say it’s vegan), chances are good you’ll find one of the above listed in the ingredients.

If you can’t tell or aren’t sure? Call or e-mail the company to get your answer. In my experience, if a company doesn’t use one of the above, you’ll get a speedy, in-depth reply explaining what they use instead. If they do use one of the above (or other animal ingredients) chances are good they’ll take a while to reply, if at all. If you can’t find the info for the ingredients used on the website, chances are good they’re using an animal-derivative.

My rule since going vegan: if they’re hiding it, they probably shouldn’t be doing it. If I ask a company, and they don’t get back to me, I assume it’s not safe and try to find an alternative.

 

Bone Char

Exactly what it sounds like, the charred/ash remains of animal bones. This stuff is used mainly in the processing of sugar. This is why Oreos (and many other things) aren’t technically vegan in the US, because the sugar used is made with bone char. In Canada, our sugar isn’t processed this way, so Oreos, and other products are vegan. (Check the processing for your own country, as it can vary)

Bone char can also be found in plastic bags.

 

Tallow

Tallow is a rendered for of animal fat, usually from cattle. Tallow and its’ derivatives can be found in all kinds of non-food items, such as: fabric softener, eye makeup, lipsticks, foundations, shampoos, moisturizers, and other skin care products.

 

Castoreum

Does your perfume like vanilla? Then it might contain castoreum, which comes from a beavers’ castor sac – which is a gland between its’ pelvis and the base of it’s tail.

Yep, your sweet, vanilla scented perfumes, lotions and/or candles have the aroma from a beavers’ ass.

 

Polymers

Not all polymers are non-vegan. The polymers used specifically in plastic bags as a ‘slip agent’ (used to reduce friction) is made from animal fats. Companies like Tyson Foods are reportedly experimenting with keratin protein (found in chicken feathers) to be used in new plastic bags, adhesives and non-woven materials.

As if using the remains of animals isn’t bad enough, using plastic bags is also contributing to the destruction of the ocean. Birds and sea turtles often mistake shredded bags for food, and by ingesting these products their stomachs are filled with toxic debris.

It’s also estimated that only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled. This means that for an average family, only 1 in 15 bags are recycled. Couple this with the fact the average amount of plastic bags used a year in Canada is 3 billion (100 billion in the US), and the fact it takes roughly 400 years for plastic bags to break down, you can hopefully start to see the problem.

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Also, while we’re on the subject, just a quick note: most of the pollution found in the ocean is from the fishing industry, specifically, fishing nets.

 

Stearic Acid

Again, not all stearic acid is made from animals. Animal-derived stearic acid is made out of animal fats. This non-vegan stearic acid can be found in many things, but the biggest/most common seems to be tires for bikes, cars, etc. In tires, it’s used to help the rubber hold the shape under friction.

Another uncommon thing animal-derived stearic acid is found in? Fireworks! (This genuinely surprised me.)

It’s used to coat metal powder and is used to prevent oxidation, which allows the fireworks to be stored for longer periods of time.

 

Glycerin

Just like with polymers and stearic acid, glycerine can come from either animal or vegetable fats.

Glycerin is found in many different products, including:

  • Soaps
  • Shampoo and conditioners
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Ointments
  • Cough syrups
  • Perfumes
  • Lotions
  • Shaving cream
  • Inks
  • Glues
  • Anti-freeze and brake fluid

Unless the label on a product specifically lists ‘vegetable glycerin’, it’s best to ask the company, or stay away all together (if that’s an option) if you can’t get a clear idea of the type.

 

Chitin

As explained in my Vegan Sunscreen post, chitin comes from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects and arachnids. Protecting yourself from the sun by rubbing a dead spider on you? No thank-you!

 

Elastin

Elastin is a type of protein, found in the artery walls, intestines, lungs and skin of animals. Elastin is most often found in anti-aging products and sunscreens.

 

Animal Glue

Used most often in shoes, handbags and is even sometimes used for fixing wood instruments, ‘animal glue’ is made by boiling animals’ connective tissue or bones.

It’s apparently the ‘best’ for fixing musical instruments made out of wood, like violins or pianos. It’s also one of the most readily available and widely used glue.

I unfortunately could keep going with this list, but in the interest of not making this article too long, I’ll be ending it here. As you can see, there are many different animal-derived ingredients that can be found in non-food items. This is unfortunate for people who are trying their best to avoid exploiting/using animals, but as said at the beginning of this article, it’s impossible in society today to be 100% vegan.

Another thing to keep in mind, is this list is only talking about non-food products that contain animal ingredients – this isn’t even counting the massive amounts of products that are tested on animals, such as: shampoos, lotions/creams, sunscreens, makeup and more.

And, (just to make things more confusing) cruelty-free does not mean a product is vegan. The difference is, cruelty free means the product just isn’t tested on animals – it says absolutely nothing about the ingredients. There can be products out there that are cruelty-free but not vegan. But, on the flip-side, if a product is vegan, that means it’s cruelty free.

Cruelty-free \= vegan (Cruelty Free does not equal vegan)

Vegan = cruelty-free (Vegan always equals cruelty free)

This is why it’s important to read the ingredients and the label of each product. I always do my best to creep the company’s website to see if I can dig up the answers to my questions, (fortunately many companies are now making things like ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ selling points for products) but if you can’t find the information you need on the website, always, always be sure to e-mail or call the company. If you ask them directly, they’ll most likely give you an answer (or might give you a generic ‘check out our FAQ page!’).

If you still can’t find the answers you’re looking for, I usually will end up not buying the product, or looking for a vegan company substitute instead. Another thing I’ve recently started doing is to make my own products if I can’t find an alternative.

While the above is nowhere near an exhaustive list, I hope this article has helped you realize that there are animal products in many different non-food items. I also hope that the information in this article will help you be more mindful of what’s in the products you’re buying, and will hopefully allow you to make a more informed, kind choice with the products you buy.


Sources:

Food Colouring Article: http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2011/10/warning-what-you-dont-know-about-food-colors/

Raccoon Dog Picture taken from: peta2TV Youtube channel, ‘Olivia Munn Exposes Fur Farms!’ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab7L8NRRYho

Sheep Facts: https://gentleworld.org/whats-wrong-with-wool/

Tyson Foods plastic bags experiment:

https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/9-everyday-products-you-didnt-know-had-animal-ingredients.html

Stearic Acid Tires: same article as plastic bags (9 everyday products)

Plastic Bags used in Canada/400 years to break down: http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/678924/Environmental+Law/Will+2018+be+the+Year+of+the+SingleUse+Plastics+Ban

Leather/Cow Being Skinned Photo: https://www.all-creatures.org/aip/nl-20130526-leather.html

Live/Plucked Photo: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/373/242/428/tell-outdoor-gear-companies-to-end-down-plucking-torture-of-live-geese/

Mulesing Photo: https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry/mulesing/

Shearing Injury 1: https://www.petaindia.com/features/another-patagonia-approved-wool-producer-exposed-help-sheep-now/

Sea Turtle Eating Plastic Bag Photo: https://www.mcsuk.org/news/turtle-eats-plastic-bag

Silk Info: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombyx_mori

Glycerin info: https://gentleworld.org/hidden-animal-fats/

Gardein Chick’n Patty Review




Chick’N burgers… is there anything greater?

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that even before going vegan, I was never much of a beef/pork/red meat fan. Chicken was more my jam. I don’t know why, other meats just didn’t taste good to me. (Especially beef)

One of my absolute favourite things ever was having a breaded chicken burger, with some Miracle Whip and lettuce. There’s something just very… I don’t know, satisfying about it. It hits the spot every time.

When I saw these, I was obviously excited to try them.

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I had tried one other chick’n burger brand that was pretty good (I thiiink it might’ve been Yves), but the patty wasn’t breaded. Which, was fine, but I really wanted to find a breaded chick’n burger, so I didn’t have to cross them off my list of favourites. And, I’m so thankful that the vegan movement has come such a long way, and that there are so many different options on the market to choose from, because these looked and tasted just like I remember! (They might even be a bit bigger, too)

Like some of their other products, Gardein only puts 4 in a pack, and I just want to ask: why is the majority of vegan food packaged so small? Are they assuming not whole families are vegan, or that no one will bring their products to get togethers’ for others to try? How do you expect people to share their vegan food with other people (and possibly convince others to go vegan) if you don’t make the food optimal sharing size? You could easily fit at least two more patties in that bag. Honestly the amount in one bag is usually the only thing I don’t like about their products. If they upped their product to bag ratio, they’d be golden.

The inside/chick’n part tastes just like the rest of their other faux chick’n products (I’m pretty sure it’s just tofu), and the breading appears to be just plain old breadcrumbs. Nothing that fancy to write home about for these guys, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not great! Sometimes, all you need/crave is something simple. I understand why vegan companies keep trying to outdo themselves, and go bigger and more flavourful, but sometimes the simplest ingredients/flavours are all you need.

Another great thing about these burgers, is what I’m dubbing The Vegan Advantage: they take virtually no time to cook. 10 minutes on medium heat in a frying pan, or you could throw them in the oven to bake and in almost no time, they’re ready to go.

Put these babies on a whole wheat bun, topped with Hellmann’s’ Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread (vegan Miracle Whip), add some lettuce, and bam! You’ve got yourself a no fuss, filling and flavourful dinner.

Seriously, there’s not even that much more I can say to describe them. If you haven’t tried them already, go out and do it, and watch how fast they become a favourite/summer staple.


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Vegan Fast Food: Cineplex Edition




With the summer months coming up, and school letting out, there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself at a movie theater sometime in the next few months.

New vegans, fear not! Thanks to this new Surprising Vegan Fast Food series I’m starting, you can still enjoy the fruits of the movie theater labour. Enjoy your movie nights out with no worry as you take a bite out of one of the below foods.

*As always, all the following information is specific to Canada. If you live in a different country, I recommend you check the ingredients yourself for your specific country*

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Concession Stand

Big Screen Snax:

  • Nacho Chips (Plain, Round)
  • Chunky Salsa Regular
  • Jalapeno Slices

Popcorn:

  • Popcorn Topping

The Allergen chart says that the ‘popcorn topping’ is vegan, but the butter topping they use contains milk. I’m assuming the ‘popcorn topping’ is some sort of salt. Good to know you can still enjoy popcorn at the movies! Though I’d recommend perhaps calling ahead, since they would most likely have to make you a brand new batch. (And let’s be honest, that would be pretty annoying to do to the workers without notice, especially if you’re going when it’s busy)

Pop-Topia:

  • Kettle Corn
  • All Dressed

Outtakes:

  • French Fries
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Onion Rings
  • Pretzels
  • Salt and Cinnamon Sugar
  • Thai Chili Wrap (nix the chicken)Dips:
  • Heinz Plum
  • Honey Mustard (contains honey)
  • Sweet Chili Thai

YoYo’s (Sorbet Flavours)

  • Wicked Watermelon
  • Aloha Pina Colada
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry Bomb
  • Grape Balls of Fire
  • Mango
  • Mango Orange
  • Luscious Limeade
  • Groovy Green Apple
  • Orange Dreamsicle
  • Orange Pineapple
  • Orangey Orange
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peach Passion
  • Tropical Punch
  • Sweet Lemon
  • Punchy Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Puckery Pink Lemonade

I didn’t list them, as they’re not exclusive to Cineplex, but there are a bunch of vegan candies you can usually buy at the concession stands as well.

As you can see, there are many goodies we as vegans can still enjoy at the movies.

Have a movie snack fav I forgot to list? Let me know in the comments!


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Yves Veggie Dog Review




Alright, now that the terrible weather is finally close to being gone, chances are you’ll probably find yourself at a BBQ/summer cook-out of some sort over the next few months. You’ll most likely need to either bring a faux meat with you, or tell the host which brand you’d like. I recommend telling them not to worry, and that I’m fine to bring my own, but if they’re insistent, well Yves is one of the easier faux meat products to find/remember the name of.

I don’t know how, but these things have got a pretty classic ‘hot-dog’ taste. I honestly don’t know what gives real hot-dogs that classic taste – from the recipe’s I’ve seen, most of them say ketchup – but it’s a distinctive flavour nonetheless.

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These taste like hot-dogs, not sausages. You may be wondering if it makes a difference, but trust me, it does. If someone asks you to pick them up sausages, and you grab these, they won’t be thrilled.

I’m not saying these not-dogs (yes I call them not-dogs, cause they’re not dogs! You’re welcome community) are bad, they’re in fact really good – but just know that there’s a difference in taste between sausages and not-dogs. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never had a hot-dog, but they have a universally defined flavour.

I will say, though, I’m thrilled to find a company that makes not-dogs, and not just sausages. I don’t know what it is – maybe they figure hot-dogs are too gross/unhealthy to try to replicate? – but most of the vegan companies I’m aware of only make sausage substitutes. (Or as I like to call them, not-sages)

Not all Yves products are vegan though, so be sure to read the ingredients before buying. So far, I know their Bologne, these not-dogs, their veggie nuggets and faux chick’n burgers are safe. All the ones that are vegan that I’ve tried say ‘vegan’ right on the front. (I’d double check the ingredients anyway, just in case)

So, aside from the classic hot-dog taste, these not-dogs are also really good if you dry-fry them. That is, in a pan with no oil/water. Just plop that sucker on there and roll it around every few minutes. When heated up, they get that classic smoky, BBQ-ed flavour. What I’m assuming is liquid smoke comes out when heated and gives them that awesome flavour.

Also, while heating up, their ‘skin’ begins to blister, and get crispy, which is just like the cherry on top of the smoke-flavoured cake. I don’t know what it is, but I’m a sucker for that blistery, smoky flavour.

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(See those blister-bubbles?)

Another good thing about them is they won’t stand out too much from the rest of the food. They’re a little more rectangular in shape to regular hot-dogs, so you’ll be able to tell them apart, but they’re not so different that people will gawk at them and make fun of you. (If they see the package says ‘vegan’ or question why you’re bringing your own, all bets are off) Also, they look ‘normal’ enough, that some of the other guests may even want to try them.

These are also pretty versatile, just like regular hot-dogs. You can BBQ them plain in a bun like ‘normal’, or cut them up and add them to a pasta salad, or kebabs! (Or mac n cheese, but that’s less summer-y)

Also, you can store them in the freezer without changing their texture, which is always a bonus! You could buy a few packs at a time and keep them in the freezer for when you need them.

All in all, these are a pretty great not-dog option and I definitely recommend you try the plain, and spicy flavoured ones. With these by your side, you won’t have to worry about missing a good old cookout or worry about having to bring your own ‘rabbit food’.


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Vegan Sunscreen





Alright, now that it’s May and we’ve officially left winter behind, what better time to buff up your knowledge of sunscreen before heading out into the sun? (And risking getting terribly sunburnt)

So, you may be asking yourself: ‘wait, sunscreen isn’t vegan?’

Yep, it’s true. It’s not just food that us humans use animals for. We put them (or some part of them) in all kinds of stuff. From plastic bags, to cell phones, to you guessed it – sunscreen.

Now, luckily some companies have seen the light and have begun phasing out the use of animal ingredients. And, while that’s certainly something to celebrate, that’s really only half the battle.

A lot of companies also test sunscreens (and lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc.) on animals! I know, right? And, here’s the kicker: these companies don’t exactly make it easy to find out if they’re testing on animals or not. I mean, why would they readily admit that they’re torturing animals?

So, what’s a newbie vegan (or family member/friend looking for a gift) to do? The below tips should help you out in determining if the product is vegan.

 

  1. Read the Ingredients

I know, I know, you’re not a chemist, I don’t expect you to instantly know every single ingredient listed. I would recommend starting with the list below. These are some of the most common animal-derived ingredients found in sunscreens (and sometimes lotions/creams):

  • Beeswax
  • Chitin (commonly comes from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects and even arachnids. It’s essentially ground-up shell)
  • Collagen (a structural protein found in animal connective tissue. Typically from cows, pigs or fish)
  • Elastin (another type of protein. Found in the artery walls, intestines, lungs and skin of animals)
  • Lanolin (Animal fat that’s extracted from sheep’s wool)
  • Stearin/Stearic Acid – derive from the fat of cows, sheep and pigs

If the bottle has a few ingredients you’re not sure about, one of the best things to do is to Google it. Honestly, plugging the name into Google (or whatever search engine you prefer) will usually bring up a short about the product, and usually tell you where it’s derived from. (Sometimes it may tell you an ingredient can be both derived from animals or plants. In that case, I would check the companys’ website to see if they say which one they use)

 

2. Check If It’s Cruelty-Free

This isn’t always as simple as it sounds, unfortunately. While many companies have began using the universal cruelty-free symbol (or some variation of it) on their products, others don’t. It’s not always a simple procedure of a company slapping the logo on their products.

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(These or some variation is usually somewhere on the back of the bottle/product)

Some companies legally can’t put the logo on the bottle, even if it’s cruelty-free in your country, because sometimes, when companies sell to different countries, those countries have different safety laws that require testing on animals.

For example, many companies have taken to adding, ‘(insert company name) doesn’t conduct animal testing of our cosmetic products anywhere in world, except in the rare situation where governments or laws require it.’ to somewhere on their website (usually on a hard to find page that takes some digging).

The biggest example of this, would probably be companies that sell in China. China requires certain products to be tested on animals before being allowed to be sold in their country. So, some companies – while they may be cruelty-free in your country – technically aren’t cruelty-free as a whole, because they sell in China.

Whether you choose to buy from a company that isn’t 100% cruelty-free is your own choice. Some people will swear off buying from that company altogether as a protest, which is great. But that’s not always feasible. Finding vegan products, while improving over the last few years, can still be a hassle. I would say, do your best not to feel guilty if there aren’t any other options around. Remember, veganism is about ‘being as practicable as possible’ – not being 100% all the time.

I would suggest not making a habit out of it (if you feel guilty), and instead try to find one of the vegan sunscreens I’ll list below. (Or try making your own natural sunscreen!)

 

3. Call/E-mail the Company and Ask

If you’ve checked the bottle and didn’t see the above listed ingredients, or the cruelty-free symbol, and you’ve scoured every inch of their website to no avail, the best thing to do is hear it straight from the horses’ mouth. (So to speak)

In my personal experience, it’s usually easier to e-mail the company then call, because sometimes the agent you get won’t know off the top of their head and will likely tell you they need to double check with the correct department and then get back to you. Or, the agent on the phone will give you a very quick yes or no answer and hang up. (Yes, this has happened to me on more then one occasion)

I don’t know why it happens – perhaps they’re busy and need to get to the next customer, perhaps they don’t want to actually check and give you a real answer, or maybe they actually do know that quickly because they get that question all day – whatever the reason, (since you can’t be sure), e-mailing is usually better. It will take longer than a phone call, but a company will usually take the time to explain things in more clarity for you if you e-mail them.

If even after you’ve e-mailed them and they just give you the generic line from their website, I would suggest checking the laws in your own country to see what’s required. You may be happily surprised in your findings.

If all of that seems like way too much work (which honestly, I don’t blame you), and you want something fast and easy, check out one of the below companies/sunscreens. The only research you’d need to do for these, is to see if they’re available in your country:

  • Kiss My Face Organics Mineral SPF30 Air-Powered Spray (their FAQ states most of their products are vegan, with the exception of some containing honey or beeswax)
  • Alba Botanica Cool Sport Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (their FAQ says all products are vegan, except for those containing beeswax and honey)
  • Pacifica Mineral Sunscreen Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 (the slogan on their website is ‘Pacifica: 100% vegan, cruelty-free’, so I assume all their products are good to use!)
  • Nature’s Gate Mineral Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (not all products are vegan)

These are just a few examples of sunscreens available. I personally haven’t used any of these yet, which brings me to a good point: I’m still finishing off a bottle I have that I received as a gift. I would hope that if you have non-vegan products laying around, that you don’t just throw them away and waste them. If you don’t think you could continue to use them after learning the truth about animal testings (among other things), see if you can donate it to a family member, friend, or even a local charity.

It’s much better to use up the product instead of waste it. It might sound weird, but to me, they already tested the product on the animal/put the animal ingredient into it, so the animal has already suffered/died. I’d much rather use the product then toss it, as if that animals’ suffering doesn’t matter. Some people might not see it that way, which again, is fine. But don’t feel guilty or like you have to trash almost everything you own just because you’re trying to be vegan.

There’s a reason we call it a ‘transition’.


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Tofutti Cuties Original Review




Alright, since we’re getting into the warmer weather now (thank God), I thought what better food to review then an ice-cream sandwich? Might as well help you out with your summer treat shopping before it gets too hot to think.

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This was actually one of the first vegan ice-creams I tried. I remember back before I went vegan and my brother brought these home, excited he found an ice-cream that me and my family could eat, without us being there to help! He was pretty proud of himself, and it wasn’t too long before he started buying the boxes in two’s – and those would maybe last a week. Sometimes, I went to have one, only to discover that there was only one left – and no one else in my family had gotten to them!

Perhaps the best part of that story?  My brother isn’t even vegan – and he devoured them like that for a few summers!

One thing that’s cool about the Tofutti company, is that they make all kinds of different tofu-based products, which makes their cream cheeses, ice-cream and others perfect for people who can’t/won’t eat dairy.

Specifically speaking about these vanilla sandwiches, they come 8 to a box, each individually wrapped in paper and are pretty small. I like that they ran with the small-ness of them and decided to call them Cuties, but practically speaking, if it’s 40C and you need a good cool down snack, you’d need to eat two.

The chocolate cookie is nice and soft, which I like. I’d take soft cookies over hard any day – but one sort of con about their softness, is that sometimes when you unwrap the sandwich, bits of the cookie sticks to the wrapper. It’s no problem to lick the extra off when you’re at home, but if you were to bring these to a summer BBQ or get together, it’d be sad to see it go to waste.

The ice-cream itself is actually pretty surprising when you remember that it’s made out of tofu. It doesn’t taste like you’re eating tofu, it just tastes like ice-cream. (I was equally amazed when my friend Blair made chocolate ice-cream out of sweet potato!) It’s not overly vanilla-y and is pretty ‘plain’ as far as ice-cream flavours though – you won’t find any crazy chunks or chips in this. It’s simple, yet satisfying.

There’s not really too much else to say about it – I’d love to rave about how amazing it is, but that would be lying. It’s great if you want a simple ice-cream treat that you don’t need to scoop into a bowl – and I’m betting it would pack nicely in a lunch bag – but I can’t give it a glowing review.

It’s good for what it is, but I’ve had other ice-cream flavours that I like better, simply because they aren’t as simple. I still definitely eat them, but I would say these are like giving nooch a glowing review. It’s good for what it is, and it’s great to have on hand, but you can’t exactly praise it. It just kind of… is.

I would dare even say they’re a summer staple. Great to have, but doesn’t pack as much punch as say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I recommend you try them, since you won’t be disappointed, but you won’t exactly be jumping for joy, either.


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Calcium?




This is the second entry in my new Vegan Nutrient collage series, (check out the first post here), and I figured the simplest way to go about this series would be in order of the most asked questions new vegans get, (and most asked questions new vegans are bound to have).

That’s why this entry, is focusing on calcium.

We definitely have no need to consume cow’s milk (or sheep, or goat), and with all the terrible side effects, why would you want to?

Not to mention, it’s an unnecessary and cruel industry. Seriously, why would you willingly fund such horrors?

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Starting from the top left corner, going clockwise:

  •  Tahini 325mg
  •  Fortified Non-Dairy Milk 200-300mg (depending on which kind)
  •  Seasame Seeds 280mg
  •  Tempeh 215mg
  •  Almonds 200mg
  •  Tofu 150mg
  •  Seitan 142mg
  •  Figs 120mg
  •  Oranges 50-60mg (depending on size)
  •  Blackberries 40mg
  •  Black Beans 294mg
  •  Kidney Beans 263mg
  •  Chickpeas 210mg
  •  Soy White Beans 175mg
  •  Romano Beans 160mg
  •  Navy Beans 125mg
  • Collard Greens 350mg
  • Turnip Greens 250mg
  • Spinach 230mg
  • Kale 180mg
  • Bok Choy 158mg
  • Broccoli 95mg

These are in no way the only plant based sources of calcium, but they are the Top 22 that have the most calcium in them (per 1 cup).

With only needing 1,000mg/day of calcium, you can see how easy it is to meet your daily requirements with plant foods.

I hope you found this collage helpful, whether you’re a new vegan or veg-curious.

Next month, I’ll be talking about vegan sunscreens.


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Yves Veggie Bologna Review




The first time I saw this product, I thought I was going to hate it. I have very un-fond memories of eating a warm, margarine, Kraft single and bologna sandwich while in elementary school. Let me tell you that that is not an easy taste you forget.

Fortunately, this doesn’t taste like vomit, so that’s a win!

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Now, I don’t know if it’s just because real bologne is made kind of like hotdogs, being just a big mismatch of all the leftover meat parts that other (better) products didn’t want, but real bologne is just nasty to me. Maybe it’s tied in with those terrible, terrible sandwiches, or maybe it was just a stigma that my family had passed down to me, but you couldn’t get me to go near real bologne with a ten-foot pole.

This bodes really well for this product, because it doesn’t taste anything like what I remember bologne tasting like. I actually like these deli slices better then their faux chicken and faux ham – I think this one tastes the best! The other two products just don’t taste anything close to the original in my eyes – the faux chicken is too smoky and the faux ham is just… they’re not my favourite options.

I guess it’s easier to make a good tasting faux version of something if the original tastes bad? Perhaps faux spam could be a big hit, who knows?

Another thing I like about this product, is that it’s versatile – you can make a cold-cut (faux-cut? Eeeh?) sandwich with it, heat it up in a wrap, or even cut it into strips and make faux bologne bacon – it tastes good either way. Hell, you could even roll it up and put a toothpick through it as an easy app, it totally works to be eaten by itself.

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(Not the best picture, but this wrap had: Yves Bologna slices, cucumber, Wee Bit Spicy Cheesy Rice and Daiya Mozz Shreds, all wrapped up in a Whole Wheat wrap)

Also, it’s one of the easiest findable pre-made vegan products. Metro, Loblaws, Sobey’s – even No Frills carries it! That’s definitely a plus when out shopping. It’s not the most exciting product, but if you’re in a pinch and need some quick products to throw together a sandwich, or a wrap this product is perfect.

One of the other perks, is you can freeze it without sacrificing its quality or taste. (On their FAQ page, they state that products can be frozen for 1-3 months.) So, you could buy a pack and throw it in the freezer for those times when maybe you’re not close to a store, or for time when you don’t want to run out to a store for only one or two items.

The only downside I think there is about this product, is that each pack only comes with 10 slices, so it goes pretty fast.

All in all, this product is about as great as regular lunch meat. It gets the job done, is pretty versatile, and can be easily found. I’d recommend you try it if you haven’t already.

*Not all of Yves Veggie Cuisine products are vegan. If you’re going to try some of their products, be sure to read the label! (Usually, their vegan products are labelled as such)


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?




This might just be the oldest question in the book there is pertaining to veganism. Even before going vegan, I knew protein wasn’t just in meat – it honestly baffle’s me that some people think that.

However, if you are genuinely wondering, yes, plants have protein, sometimes even more so then animal products!

This new Vegan Nutrient series will be focusing on just that – vegan sources of nutrients. This series is for any new vegans, the veg curious, and any/all family members/friends, etc. who are concerned for the well-being of the vegan they know.

I decided to start with protein, as this is still the #1 question most vegans get asked about. Next to calcium, iron and B12 (which I’ll also be covering)

So, to put your minds at ease, and to give you a nice easy to read poster (perhaps you can print it out and tape it somewhere for ease of access?) here are the top 23 sources of protein for vegans: (per 1 Cup)

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Starting from the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Seitan 62g
  • Tempeh 41g
  • Tofu 11g
  • Peanuts 56g
  • Almonds 48g
  • Pistachios 48
  • Cashews 40g
  • Brazil Nuts 32g
  • Walnuts 32g
  • Soy/White Beans 29g
  • Black 15g
  • Kidney 13g
  • Pinto 12g
  • Garbonzo Beans 12g
  • Buckwheat 24g
  • Lentils 18g
  • Quinoa 9g
  • Peanut Butter 50g
  • Peas 9g
  • Spinach 5g
  • Raisins 5g
  • Sunflower 40g
  • Pumpkin 64g

As you can see, and will hopefully continue to see throughout this series, there are many different plant sources of protein, and all the other essential nutrients needed to survive. Also, with people only needing roughly 40-60g of protein per day, there shouldn’t be any problems in getting enough.

Hopefully these collages will help put your mind at ease that a vegan diet has all the nutrients you need – minus the cruelty! (This is just one video about what happens to chickens, don’t worry – there’s videos for cows and pigs, too.)

Also, in case you were wondering: ‘Humane’ slaughter is a lie.


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