Being Vegan While Away At School

So, things have been hectic! It’s been a while since we’ve had new posts so I’ve been trying to make a better posting schedule for myself, and while school makes me a very busy bee; it leaves me quite a lot of time for things like this on my days with no classes.

School has been a little more of a challenge than I originally expected it to be. I’m not quite in college, but I’m away at a grooming academy and I’ve been put in a hotel with only a microwave, a mini fridge, and a Keurig. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the years asking me how I would be able to handle living as a person with low income, with your only means of cooking being a microwave. This was always a very hard question for me to answer and I would do my best (suggesting sandwiches, frozen meals, etc.) but never really understanding the difficulty until I had to go though it myself.

It’s not easy, and being vegan doesn’t make it any easier. But it IS doable! This would be a no-brainer if money weren’t an object. Amy’s and Sweet earth have enough meals to fuel me for a lifetime, but $4-5 dollars a meal, 7 days a week really adds up. With just under $30 to spend a week on food, I can tell you I had to sacrifice a little of my healthy and environmental purity (but not much) this month because when I tell you I’ve been living on processed foods, I mean it.

What made this so tricky is that the staples I live by otherwise are now less accessible to me. Now, you could always go the canned and frozen food route if you have a freezer, but I don’t. The one we have now would possibly hold one narrow frozen dinner box, so this option isn’t viable to me since I also don’t have a car so I need to buy all of my groceries at once when transportation is available and time permits.

So all in all this was a pretty challenging one, but these foods are getting me through it so far.

(Pictured: my “pantry” aka one of the hotel’s drawers.)

– Canned beans (chickpeas, refried pinto beans etc.) > $1

– Canned vegetables (corn, peas etc) > $1

– Rice (premade that you can warm up). A little more pricey than regular rice. I got the packs above for $2.50 but you might be able to find them cheaper

– Soups (Amy’s, Campbell’s vegan varieties etc.) > $3

– Ready meals (Tasty Bite indian food vegan varieties. DOUBLE CHECK LABEL some are just vegetarian. Uncle Bens ready meal varieties like Spanish and vegetable rice) > $3

– Nissan Oriental / soy sauce ramen. (ONLY Nissan. Maruchan Oriental flavor is NOT vegan) > $2 for a 6pck

– Cliff bars $5 for about 6

– Instant oatmeal > $4

The vegetables I don’t do so much only because I don’t have seasonings or sauces. You could also do potatoes since you can microwave a baked potato in no time, and that’s also a very cheap and healthy meal! I always keep some almond milk in the fridge for coffee, but that would also come in handy for cereals! Beyond that I would suggest juices or fresh fruits as well as high protein snacks (dried nuts, trail mix etc.).

Sandwiches will also come in handy. Bagels as well as these are low in effort and tend to be high in servings. Nut butter and jelly sandwiches/bagels as well as vegan sliced meat sandwiches will last long for a relatively low price. They don’t involve any type of cooking and only require simple storage so they’re perfect if you’re low on energy for the day.

All in all, like I said this is a complicated but doable task! Just make sure you’re buying foods that will fill you up. No living off of Oreos and Sweet Chili Doritos in your dorm! Unless you really want to, in which case here are some more accidentally vegan snacks for your 1am test prep indulgence.

And if your circumstances are a little better and you’re just looking for meal ideas as a low income vegan AND you have a stove, check out this article next!

As always; leave us a comment if there’s anthing we should add to make this article better! And good luck on those mid-terms!

Fish Sucks Too

Many people consider fish (or JUST consuming fish) a good choice from an ethical, health and environmental standpoint. They believe fish are healthy to eat, don’t feel pain or complex emotion and don’t take a toll on the environment. So the perfect meat choice for someone who’s not ready to go completely vegetarian or vegan, right?

This assumption is widespread, but couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Sentience

(Mark Bekoff said it first, Fish are not mere streams of readily available unfeeling protein.)

The first argument that may lead you to believe that fish do not feel pain, might be the absence of a neocortex. This is an inappropriate anatomical comparison- we can’t judge another beings ability to process pain because it differs from ours any more than a butterfly can believe humans can’t taste because we do it with our mouths and not feet.

“Evidence from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropsychology suggests that
the experience of feelings in humans does not depend exclusively on structures of the cerebral
cortex. It does not seem warranted to deny the possibility of feeling in animals… We do not see any evidence in favor of the idea that the engendering of feelings in humans would be confined to the cerebral cortex. On the contrary, based on anatomical and physiological evidence, subcortical structures and even the peripheral and enteric nervous systems appear to make important contributions to the experience of feelings.

Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio. Neuroscientists at the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California.

In fact; a study conducted by Prof. Joseph Garner and Doctoral student Janicke Nordgreen at Purdue University proved goldfish feel pain and discomfort beyond instinctive reflex.

Essentially, in this not-so-pretty experiment; Garner showed that fish put in painful situations reacted differently to fish who were not. Goldfish injected with a saline solution were studied alongside goldfish injected with a pain blocking morphine solution and both were put in painful levels of heat (with safeguards to not destroy tissue).

Although both fish originally responded the same, wriggling at the same temperature; only the fish without the pain blockers experienced a fear response. They displayed wariness of the new object, as well as anxiety. This matches up with earlier observations of fish injected with painful solutions who would rock back and forth on the tank floor, rub their lips against the glass a and stop eating. Both groups of fish injected with pain blockers experienced no such response.

Not only are they sentient in a way that shows they can feel pain, fish are actually very smart and can remember quite far! Not the 3 minutes you might have been told is the maximum time frame they can remember.

In fact, fish have been proven to remember for up to at least 5 months.

Some can even remember faces and pick familiar humans out from strangers. In fact, they can recognize whether a person is someone they know or not in .5 seconds.

They recognize their tanks layouts and will detect a change in setup or a new item.

This goldfish won a world record for being able to remember and perform six tricks such as;

  • Eat from hand
  • Swim through loop
  • Swim through tunnel
  • Limbo
  • Play football
  • Play fetch

There’s Albert Einstein playing limbo!

And there are many others who have been able to teach their fish tricks.

Health

The second misconception is that fish is healthy. While it may be more healthy than other types of meat, I wouldn’t consider it a health food even if we’re ignoring it’s high mercury content. To borrow a few points from my general article on the health affects of meat consumption;

  1. The feeding of infected cow and sheep brains is still legal in the USA. Sources: NCBI; 1, 2.
  2. Even when meat consumption is reduced to only fish, cancer causing IGF-1 levels remain relatively the same. Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomakers & Prevention.
  3. PCB’s (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) i.e Instrustrial toxic waste, still found in the environment can be found in fish 1000x higher in levels of PCB’s then the water they live in. They cause skin problems, neurobehavioral and liver damage and cancer in both animals and humans. Source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
  4. PhIP (found in fish) stimulates breast cancer cells, also making them invade healthy cells more than estrogen itself even when PhIP is in low concentrations. Source: NCBI
  5. Fish, regardless how it’s cooked, seems to be directly related to endometrial cancer risk. Source: NCBI

So you’d do better replacing your fish with vegan versions of seafood; even if you don’t think fish are friends!

Environment

If you’re interested in saving our planet, this might be the most compelling reason to cut fish out of your diet; the ocean is suffering immensely due largely to overfishing. While it may be easy to dismiss this as “just” a cause of overfishing and not fish consumption itself; we must remember that we cannot feed 7 billion humans the sadly still recommended 3+ servings of fish a week without overfishing. There is too much demand to meet that supply.

  1. 90% of all large fish have disappeared since we introduced industrial fishing techniques in the 1950’s.
  2. 38.5 tons of sea life (40% of all catches) is discarded; this is called by catch.
  3. “Sustainable” fishing isn’t all that sustainable.
  4. Jellyfish population is steadily increasing and the ocean could soon become egregiously overpopulated with them, which would be catastrophic.
  5. 2 trillion sea animals are killed annually.
  6. The ocean could be completely empty by 2048.
  7. Fisheries averaged $27 billion in subsidies in 2003.

These facts are all brought to you by the short film linked above, Losing Nemo, by the makers of Blackfish. Here are their sources which are all PDF files.

Some more facts to remember about the affects of meat consumption:

(Cowspiracy [Directed by Leonardo DiCaprio] holds a lot more sources for these in PDF format)

So whatever your reasoning for giving up fish, please consider it! Here are some vegan swaps and recipes to make the transition a little easier if you’re a seafood fan.

Worried about Omega-3’s? No problem!

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Algal oil (EPA & DHA)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Perilla oil

Experts say as long as you get enough ALA, you don’t have to worry about EPA and DHA from non vegan sources. And if that’s not enough to ease your mind, there’s nothing wrong with supplementing; after all, meat eaters supplement more than vegans and vegetarians combined.

If this article makes you want to go vegan, try it! Good luck ❤️🐟

Vegan Tattoos

In a society built on monetizing the suffering of animals- a lot of things you would expect to be vegan, are not. Unfortunately this includes some tattoo inks! The black ink is mostly the problem, since most types contain bone char. Other problems are gelatin and glycerin, and some other colored dies also contain shellac and pigment from beetles. Lucky for those of us who have/or would like to have tattoos in the future; a lot of tattoo shops already use vegan inks or you can request them to be used.

Some vegan friendly tattoo inks include: 

  • Eternal
  • Starbrite
  • Skin candy
  • Stable color
  • Fusion ink
  • Kuro Sumi
  • Dynamic
  • Intenze

(I myself have my tattoos in Eternal ink)

There are a few other problems you may run across which the bite sized vegan has went over in detail here, but this is meant to be a quick outline so I will list some alternatives to all of it down below as well!

Skin lubricant (Usually petroleum jelly or vaseline, which is iffy)

  • Hustle butter
  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba butter
  • Olive oil

Soap (To clean the area)

Dr. Bonners and Myers come to mind! We have a whole article on vegan soaps here.

Razor (Glycerin (moisturizing) strip isn’t vegan)

  • Preserve brand razors are vegan friendly

Transfer paper 

  • Stencil stuff
  • Reprofx

Aftercare

  • After ink
  • Black cat
  • Lush dream cream
  • Tattoo tonic

And there are a LOT more! Emily posted a whole list of vegan inks, lubricants, soaps, aftercare items, AND vegan tattoo shops! So check that out and check out these cool vegan tattoos, send us in yours if you want to be put in the article! Special thanks to Jona Weinhofen for letting me put him in here 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eco-Atkins

Carbs especially complex carbs aren’t bad for you, no. But there are some people who still can’t really ingest them or choose to avoid or limit them for a variety of reasons that range from health reasons to weight loss. 
When you think of a low carb diet, you probably think of Atkins. As you can see from a list of some of the acceptable foods it is a diet very high in meat and other animal products. Because of this, going vegan or vegetarian on this diet will be pretty challenging- but it can be done!

The diet is called Eco-Atkins. There have been case studies on it that have shown that it’s entirely possible to thrive on the Atkins diet as a vegan, though there will be added difficulty if you are allergic to nuts and soy, as these will be significant sources of your protein along with beans and legumes.

On Eco Atkins, 31% of your calories will come from protein, 43% from fat and a low 26% from carbs compared to a mere 10% on the regular Atkins.  You’ll probably want to keep track of something like that on CRON-O-METER or a similar service to make sure.

Proteins- Nuts, beans, couscous, barely, soy, high protein vegetables ect.

Healthy fats- Omega 3 fatty acids, vegetable oils, avocados, nut butters, seeds, olives.
Carbs- Whole grains, fruits, veggies, oats.

But no starchy veggies!

This is what a day of Eco-Atkins looks like from the Archive of Internal Medicines 2009 study of the diet:

Breakfast: Oat bran with unsweetened soy milk and nut bread / Tofu scramble (sunflower oil, extra firm tofu, sweet red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, hazelnuts)

Lunch: Yves veggie chicken burger, nut bread, tofu salad

Dinner: Pearled barley / Stir-fry (Tofu, mushroom, eggplant, onions, sweet red pepper, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, oil)

Snacks: Orange, cashews, strawberries, almonds, peaches

And if you’re really serious about sticking to the Atkins plan, as a vegan it’s been recommend you start at phase 2
Have any questions or feedback about the diet? Contact us and tell us how it goes!

Cruelty Free Vegan Cleaning Supplies

Everyone knows you have to eat vegan, buy vegan makeup, wear vegan clothes – but a topic most commonly skipped is the issue of animal tested and non vegan household cleaners such as dishsoap, detergent, and general cleaners! Not only are they bad for animals, but they’re bad for you as well as they contain harmful chemicals that we’d be better off avoiding. The homemade ones are even cheaper, if you need any more convincing.
I’ll split this post into two parts; store bought and homemade, and I’ll post more stuff as I find it!

Store bought (These are all to purchase in store, I’ll put up a post for online vegan shopping soon)

U.S / CAN:

– Dr Bronners

Vegan, fair trade, 18 n 1 household cleaner. They even make toothpaste!

Find a retailer here!

– Seventh Generation

The most vast company of vegan and cruelty free home goods, and it’s eco friendly and mostly recycled! Their products even range past just cleaning supplies- they also make organic tampons, pads, toilet paper, baby diapers and more. 

Find a retailer here!

– Sun and Earth

Non toxic, cruelty free, vegan! Very varied as well.

– Bio-Pac

Bio degradable cleaning supplies, never animal tested + always vegan and they donate some of their proceeds to wildlife causes.
– Citri Solv

– Planet 

Also 100% biodegradable

– Mr Meyers

All vegan, all smell really good! Also available in South America.

– Country save

Also phalate free!

– Sound Earth

– Allen’s Naturally

Also biodegradable, everything seems to be vegan besides their wool dryer balls.

List of retailers
– Method

U.K + INTERNATIONAL

– Nature clean

Available in Canada, New Zealand, and Russia + online stores.

– Charlie’s soap

Available in the U.K, Japan, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Canada. Made of vegetable oil and minerals.

– Eco Maxx

Canadian based

– Orange Power

Australia based

– Planet clean

U.K based, vegan society accredited

– Bio D

GMO free! U.k & Ireland based
– Clean conscience

– Earth wise

Based in New Zealand

________________________

Homemade ( You may need a few mason jars ) + A lot of these recipes call for baking soda, which usually is tested on animals. Bob’s red Mill & Ener G baking soda are both cruelty free.

* Warning: Do not mix store bought cleaners with any of these. You will create toxic and poisonous fumes that can hurt you or any pets in your household.

– Lemon juice + vegetable oil should get scratches out of wood.

– Lemons are also good for killing mold!

– Boil and scrub burnt pans with baking soda

Sprinkle wet bathtubs with baking soda and let sit for about 15-20 minutes 

– Absorb fresh grease spots using salt.

– Vinegar + Salt / Baking soda + Vinegar are good deodorizers and surface cleaners. You can also squeeze lemon juice onto a small pan of baking soda.

– 1/2 vinegar + 2 tbsp borax + a few drops essentially oil is another good cleaner. You can put it in a spray bottle.

– Laundry brighter: add a little lemon to your rinse cycle.

– You may be able to get spots and stains out of fabric and carpet with hydrogen peroxide. Spot test it first!

– Put salt on a wet sponge to get the grime off and out of your oven. If that doesn’t work, try wetting it with vinegar and sprinkling baking soda on top before wiping it all off.

– 1/4th cup olive oil + 1/4th cup water + lemon juice on a towel makes for a furniture polish.

– Put citrus (I.e orange / lemon) peels in your garbage disposal to deodorize your kitchen. Boiling vinegar or putting small saucers full of it around the house will do the trick as well. Unless, like me, you hate the smell of vinegar. (If you do go with the saucers of vinegar, make sure to keep them away from your companion animals. It may upset their stomachs.)

– You can also use citrus peels to make a concentrated cleaner by filling a jar with peels and white vinegar. Leave it in your fridge for two weeks and then strain it into another container, discarding the peels.

– Vinegar + baking soda also make good drain and toilet cleaners.

– You can use vinegar + water on a towel to clean windows.

– A better smelling window / glass cleaner would be using 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and a few drops of essential oils.

___________________

Let me know if I left any of your favorite vegan friendly household cleaners out, and keep an eye out for our article on vegan friendly hygiene products!

Veganism in American Food Deserts

According to the American Nutrition Association, a food desert is a part of the country deprived of fresh and healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables. This is due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets and healthy food providers. Food deserts are much more prevalent in poor black neighborhoods; with predominantly white neighborhoods having 4x the grocery stores. Some individuals may be able to use a form of transportation private or public to overcome the obstacle of distance; but some simply can’t.

Rural food desert – residents must drive more than 10 miles to the nearest supermarket.

Urban food desert– having to drive more than a mile.

Those who live in an American food desert usually have to buy from small corner shops that usually do not carry fresh food; but imperishable food such as canned, dried, processed and tinned foods. That or eat fast food, if they can’t make the trip to the nearest market. This can make it very difficult to make healthy eating choices. 

But difficult doesn’t have to mean impossible.

Here is some data according to a National Consumers League survey taken from 20 corner grocery stores in the District of Columbia.

  • Every corner store they surveyed had some sort of fresh produce.
  • Bananas, apples, and oranges were the three most common types of fresh produce available – with bananas being the most popular.
  • 40% of stores had more than three types of produce available.
  • 70% of stores displayed their produce in highly visible places such as near the cash register or somewhere near the front of the store.

This isn’t very much to work with, no. But paired with canned and dried plant food such as beans/lentils, pasta and vegetables, you may be able to make healthier choices than you would be eating packaged and dried meat. 

And of course, there is always vegan junk food as well that will definitely be in store – if you’re not as concerned with health than you are ethics.

There is also fast food, which many people who live in food deserts may have no choice but to eat. Luckily, there are plenty of vegan fast food options! You can always check Urban Taste Bud for complete vegan menu options at your local fast food place. 

Living in a food desert isn’t easy or ideal, but there are ways to get fresh food in your area!

The National Healthy Corner Stores Network is comitted to making fresh food more accessible nationwide in food deserts, mobile produce vans and mobile markets are also becoming more available. If it’s not in your area, you may be able to change that with enough time and support (and bugging the higher ups in your community about food accessibility in your county / town).
In the mean time, veganism very well may be accessible for you! If it applies, you can always check out or article on low income veganism as well.

What About B12?

When talking about vitamins and minerals vegans “don’t” get- B12 will come up. B12 is made by anaerobic microorganisms (that can be found in the gastrointestinal tract of animals- including humans). Beyond this, livestock are supplemented B12 through vitamins and injections;

Hy-B12

They also get it from other fortified feed, eating contaminated food, and their own waste. So the B12 you’re getting when you eat meat and other animal products is from that.

That’s not to say that it isn’t incredibly important. B12 deficiency can cause permanent brain and nerve damage. But who is vulnerable to a deficiency? Believe it or not, not only vegans. Not by a long shot.

Tufts University Framingham Offspring Study shows 40% of people between the ages of 26-83 have plasma B12 levels in a loq range – a range at which many experience neurological symptoms. 16 percent exhibited near deficiency, 9% percent had outright deficiency. The majority of individuals with B12 deficiency are not vegan. That being said, we still need it. And since a lot of people are at risk, including those who don’t supplement it, senior citizens, those who have pre existing medical condition, and those who have recently lost a large amount of weight; I strongly suggest everyone checks their B12 levels with their doctor. That being said, there are MANY plant based sources of B12, so I hope this makes it easier for you to get it!

Supplements

* Here are some links to buy them online but you can find vegan B12 supplements in almost any health food store.

My Kind Organics B12 spray

Deva Vegan Vitamin B12

Mega Food Vegan B12

Vegan Safe Vitamin B12

Nutritional yeast

* Maybe the most popular way vegans like to get B12. Whatever you call it- nutritional yeast, nooch, hippie dust, it’s delicious. A serving of fortified nutritional yeast (usually a couple of tablespoons) contains about 500% B12 along with many other essential vitamins and minerals. It has a kind of nutty cheese taste that makes a good cheesy popcorncheese saucemacaroni and cheese, and a lot of other good stuff! I mostly just use it as a topping for things like beans, potatoes, and vegetables.

Here’s my brand! I get mine at Sprouts but I’m sure other stores have it like Trader Joe’s and other health food stores! (Maybe even normal department stores) Just in case I’m wrong I’ll include a link to buy it online.

Kal Premium Fortified Nutritional Yeast 

And there are other brands too!

Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning 

Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast

There are more than these, but this should give you an example of what to look for!

Fortified foods & drinks

– Energy drinks

Most energy drinks are fortified with B12 and a lot of them are vegan! (The taurine in them is usually synthetic and not animal derived but I’ll list some confirmed energy drinks anyhow)

* Fair warning B12 in energy drinks doesn’t absorb well so I don’t know if I would trust this even- even if drinking energy drinks often enough to get sufficient B12 wasn’t so bad for you.

— Red Bull – “Yes, Red Bull Energy Drink is suitable for vegetarians. Red Bull Energy Drink does not contain any animal products or substances derived from animals.”

— Rockstar – “Yes, Rockstar Energy Drink is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. The Taurine contained in Rockstar is synthetic and not derived from animals.

— Monster – “Thank you for visiting the Monster Energy Website.
We use no animal bi-products in any of our products line. Enjoy!!

Thank you,

Monster Energy Company

– Cereal
— Multigrain Cheerios

— Kellogg’s all bran

— Grape nuts 

— Special K (some flavors are vegan)

— Total corn flakes

And a LOT more, here’s a list of 200 b12 fortified cereals a lot of them are vegan! And you can eat them with:

– Plant based milks

Any fortified plant milk will do because a lot are whether it’s coconut, almond, soy, sunflower, hemp, cashew, oat, rice, ect.; But some I know are fortified in particular are

— Almond Dream

— Rice Dream

— Pacific Hemp

— Pacific Ultra Soy Milk

— Eden Soy Organic

Other fortified foods

Besides all of those, some vegan mock meats are fortified with B12! I’ll put a definite list up once I find brands but since there’s not that much information on it and I don’t eat mock meat, it’ll take a bit. But I will put it up! Please tell me if you know of any!

Unrecommended methods 

I’ve seen a lot of vegans recommend unwashed fruits and vegetables. If that’s what you think you should do and you’ve checked your B12 levels then please be safe, but I wouldn’t recommend it myself. It doesn’t seem safe to me to rely solely on traces of soil (which can be harmful if not organic and/or from your own garden!) for B12 but if I’m dead wrong – let me know! I’m always open to new information.

However after reading through 95 pages of meta data by the NCBI I can confirm that some plant sources are reliable sources of B12 such as:

– Dried purple & green laver (Nori / Seaweed)

– Tempeh 

– Batabata-Cha (Japanese fermented black tea)

– Black trumpet and golden chanterelle mushrooms 

– Dried shitaki mushrooms 

But I still wouldn’t trust it! 

I really suggest that you supplement with either B12 sprays, injections, vitamins, nutritional yeast, fortified cereals and milks! These are probably the most reliable means of getting this extremely important vitamin and most livestock get it, you’re really just cutting out the ‘middle man’. So by all means- supplement!