My Veggie Chef Discount – Link Below!

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Are you ready for a break from meal prepping? Are you tired of planning recipes, chopping veggies, and buying produce you don’t end up using? Do you long for the convenience of fresh, easy to make vegan meals at your fingertips? Then look no further, My Veggie Chef has got you covered!

I am happy to announce that our local *VEGAN MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE* is currently offering a $10 discount to all first time customers! Simply follow the link below to receive your discount code:

CLICK HERE FOR DISCOUNT CODE:  http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uV0oD7fbRCdP

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Image courtesy of http://www.myveggiechef.com

THE DEAL

My Veggie Chef orders contain over a week’s worth of meals: 5 entrees with 4 generous portions each. Some of the pasta and bake dishes have lasted us days. Meals come delivered straight to your door in pre-measured, pre-washed, pre-chopped containers that are frozen and ready to hit the stove. Since the ingredients are prepped and ready to go, all you have to do is throw everything together and do the cooking, which takes 15-30 minutes depending on the dish. In my experience, these meals have been easy, fast, fresh, and delicious. What more could you ask for?

Orders are also very affordable. 5 meals runs at just $80, and shipping in the Nashville area is usually around $5 (beta testing of out-of-state shipments is underway!) Now, to put that in perspective, how far would $85 get you taking a family of four out to eat at restaurants? How much would you spend at the grocery store shopping for five nights worth of dinners for a family of four? Exactly…the math works in the customer’s favor with My Veggie Chef!

PLUS, you get a $10 discount on your first order and on all subsequent orders that you make during the “early bird” timeframe (when you place your order a few days early!) In order to redeem the first timers $10 reward, simply follow this link and use the promo code it gives you:

CLICK HERE FOR DISCOUNT CODE:  http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uV0oD7fbRCdP

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Image courtesy of http://www.myveggiechef.com

OTHER PERKS AND SPECIAL ORDERS

As mentioned, all “early bird” orders receive a $10 discount- amazing! Simply sign up for the My Veggie Chef email list, and they will email you the early bird promo code to use each week. The company website also allows you to earn points on each order you make that can be redeemed towards free meals in the future!! Additional points can be earned by referring friends and just by creating an account with My Veggie Chef. They also throw in a free dessert or other treats here and there just because they love us. For those with allergies or special requests, all ingredients are listed on the website, and special accommodations can be made to make each order gluten free. We have been enjoying My Veggie Chef for over a year and are so excited to see them growing! We hope you can take advantage of their awesome promo! For more information on My Veggie Chef, check out the links below:

Check out past menus here: http://myveggiechef.com/blogs/news

My Veggie Chef Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/myveggiechef/

FAQs: http://myveggiechef.com/pages/about-us

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Animal Cruelty in Medical & Psychological Studies

Image courtesy of the National Anti-Vivisection Society

I recently started graduate school studying Social Work, which has been absolutely fantastic and explains my lengthy absence from posting! However, I have noticed one alarming feature of the scholarly research we have been studying. Some of the psychological studies we have read about employ animal testing methods that strike me as alarmingly cruel and have left me feeling very disturbed. As a vegan, I have always been on the fence about medical testing. What if a drug tested on monkeys proved to be an effective cure for AIDS? My gut reaction tells me that, in this case, the ends would justify the means. Of course curing AIDS would be of enough benefit to society to justify animal trials. But with that logic, where do we draw the line? Scientists use animal testing to study plenty of things that are certainly relevant to understanding and improving human quality of life, but at what point are the findings not enough to justify the cruelty to animals? Furthermore, is there a way to make the testing less barbaric without sacrificing safety or efficacy?

A few weeks ago, we read about a study that is still haunting me. This experiment aimed to study brain development related to the neural center for visual processing, and in order to find out how and when the brain learns to interpret visual stimuli, scientists blinded baby kittens by sewing their eyes shut. It hurts me to even type such a sentence. I am absolutely horrified that animals were treated like this in the name of science. The study found that the kittens who were blind during a certain period of infancy were unable to ever learn how to see, even when they were allowed to open their eyes later in life. There is a critical window during which the brain learns how to read visual information coming in through the eyes, and if that window is missed, the animal will never be able to see. Ok, that is very useful information. But does it justify sewing kittens’ eyes shut and permanently blinding them? You know, I really want to say ABSOLUTELY NOT, it was not worth it, but what if there is a child out there who has the ability to see because of information discovered during this study?

As you can see, these issues get into some sticky ethical ground. I’m really not sure what to think. I know we can’t abolish all animal testing, but is it even possible to draw a line between what’s necessary and what’s blatantly cruel? In another study of traumatic brain injury, scientists gave mice brain injuries by dropping weights on their skulls and then tested their levels of depression and anxiety. One way they tested levels of depression was a “swim test,” in which they put the mice in a narrow tube filled with water to see how long they would fight to keep their heads above water before finally going under. The study didn’t indicate if the mice were taken out before they drowned, and this omission led me to believe that more than a few mice didn’t make it. The study ultimately concluded that the data were probably not that useful in understanding depression and anxiety in humans with traumatic brain injury. I think that was the worst part. Why subject all those mice to such terrible experiences just to conclude that it was worthless?

All I can say for sure is that something is definitely wrong with this picture, and I think we need to further investigate and discuss the issue. There is no clear right or wrong standard by which to judge the ethical basis of animal testing, but we can’t just ignore it because it’s a difficult issue. I will also say as a disclaimer that I have heard of certain activists threatening violence against scientists and laboratories known to test on animals, and I find this behavior appalling and antithetical to the mission of protecting all living beings from harm. If you harass and threaten people because of their actions, you’re not a vegan in my opinion. This lifestyle is about exercising compassion for all living beings, humans included.

The link below has some further reading for those who are interested. I’m looking forward to hearing what other people have to say on this issue!

National Anti-Vivisection Society 

The Importance of Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

Vegan and Cruelty free logos

In my journey towards a more animal-friendly lifestyle, I have made a commitment to buying beauty products and cosmetics that are vegan and cruelty-free.  It took some research to find out that many cosmetics contain animal-derived products (ones that would probably give you nightmares when you realized what you were actually slathering all over your face…), which is why the vegan designation is important.  A full list of animal products used in food and cosmetics is available via PETA.

Companies that use animals as chemical test subjects obviously cause much undue suffering to our fuzzy friends, and as a vegan, I didn’t want to use my money to tacitly support such practices.  PETA’s Animal Testing 101 page does a great job of explaining exactly what animals are subjected to in the beauty and cosmetic industry.  It’s graphic, but it really puts into focus the kind of suffering animals are forced to endure for the sake our our beauty regimens– you will undoubtedly find yourself asking, “Is my lipstick really worth all this??”

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Image courtesy of http://keeptheanimalssafe.tumblr.com/

You can be sure your products are not tested on animals my looking for the “leaping bunny” logo or PETA’s “heart bunny” logo.  Be wary products that say things like “Finished Product Not Tested on Animals” or “This Product Not Texted on Animals,” especially if the product is made by a big company (Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, etc.)  This wording almost certainly means that the base ingredients used to make the finished product were, in fact, tested on animals.  Don’t be fooled by these clever marketing tricks.

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Image courtesy of http://aavs.org/

A more comprehensive guide to selecting cruelty-free products can be found on the Vegucated Blog, which is a wonderful vegan resource I encourage you to bookmark!  PETA has a comprehensive cruelty-free search engine, which can tell you whether or not a company engages in any animal-testing.  Cruelty Free Kitty also has a fun blog with great reviews of vegan and cruelty-free products.

As you phase out your non-vegan products, it can be daunting to find natural, cruelty-free products that work exactly like your old ones, and goodness knows I am no stranger to buying a pricey new product only to find it doesn’t work for me.  For example, I have the most sensitive skin humanly possible, so I have to be very careful to select products that are gentle enough for my skin.  I have been the recipient of numerous chemical burns, so you can trust that the products I approve of have been carefully vetted!  Throughout my Beauty Review series, I will highlight facial care, hair care, makeup, and body products that have worked wonders for me.

And most importantly, did I mention that Norman “Daryl Dixon” Reedus is with us in the fight to end animal cruelty?  If he wasn’t already the BEST, surely he is now.  In conclusion, going vegan and cruelty-free in your cosmetic and beauty products is a compassionate act and a mark of true kindness.  Do it for yourself, do it for the animals, do it for Daryl!!!

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Image courtesy of https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/

**SIDENOTE: I am not paid by any companies to review their products, nor do I receive promotional products.  The items I suggest are products that I have found through my own trial and error.  My goal in passing along my recommendations is to help other vegan beauties find great cruelty-free products!!!**

Mercy for Animals Protests Cruelty to Chickens in Tennessee

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Image courtesy of the Tennessean. http://www.tennessean.com/

Mercy for Animals led a protest yesterday outside a Gordon Food Service office in Goodlettsville, TN.  GFS’s main poultry supplier, Wayne Farms, was the subject of an undercover video made by Mercy for Animals, in which chickens are shown being abused, sick and crippled, and subjected to unnecessary suffering before meeting their untimely demise.   The images in the video linked above are disturbing, but as always, I encourage you to get a first-hand look at the practices your dollars are supporting.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Tennessee has gained attention for animal abuse.  Tennessee poultry producers have been in trouble several times for unnecessarily cruel and inhumane practices, and it really hurts my heart to think about how awful you have to be to stand out in the ANIMAL SLAUGHTER industry.

You can help support Mercy for Animals in their endeavors to end animal abuse!  Share this story, donate to their cause, and start conversations with your friends and family about boycotting companies that profit from animal cruelty.  We vote with our dollars every day, and the only way companies like GSF are able to exist is through our financial support– make a statement by choosing not to buy their products.  If we can put enough pressure on Walmart to adopt better standards for meat suppliers, we can do anything.

Of course, the most cost-effective and personally beneficial way you can contribute is by going vegan!  It’s good for your body, your mind, and your soul.  But does one person going vegan really make an impact on animal suffering?  YES!! Each person who adopts a vegan diet saves around 200 animals a year.  That’s a big deal!!!

The Tennessean reports more on the recent GSF protest…

Animal rights activists protested outside the Gordon Food Service store in Goodlettsville on Monday, claiming one of the company’s suppliers causes “sickening abuse” while processing chickens.

Animal lovers from Sumner, Robertson, Davidson and Williamson counties joined activists with West Hollywood, Calif.-based Mercy For Animals at Monday’s event.

This is the sixth in a series of 10 protests planned at locations nationwide of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Gordon Food Service, the largest private food service distributor in North America.

The protests follow an MFA undercover investigation that they say resulted in a video of “horrific animal cruelty” at Dobson, N.C.-based Wayne Farms, the biggest chicken supplier of GFS.

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Image courtesy of the Tennessean. http://www.tennessean.com/

The investigation took place in April and May of 2014. The video, which was provided to the Gallatin News Examiner, shows a slaughterhouse with hundreds of chickens hanging upside down over their own blood, moving frantically with large open wounds and being decapitated.

“The video shows workers violently slamming birds in metal shackles, breaking their wings and legs, birds being electrocuted and having their throats sliced open while being fully conscious and birds being scalded alive,” MFA’s national campaign coordinator Jeni Haines said Monday. “This is sickening abuse no company with morals should support.”

Policy demanded

Holding signs with photos of the chickens, protestors called for the company to adopt a meaningful animal welfare policy. One protestor was dressed as “Abby,” an abused 7-foot-tall chicken with a bloody broken wing, slit throat, missing feathers and open wounds to reflect how birds are allegedly treated.

“We’re asking Gordon Food Service to demand that their chicken supplier make on-farm improvements to prevent the sick mistreatment and injury of birds at the slaughterhouse and to switch to less-cruel killing systems,” Haines said. “By switching to less-cruel killing systems, Gordon Food Service can ensure better living conditions for the chickens, less suffering when they’re slaughtered, better worker conditions and a healthier food for the consumers.

“Gordon Food Service has the power and the ethical responsibility to end the suffering of animals in its supply chain.”

GFS said in a statement the company “believes in the humane treatment of animals.”

“As a responsible food service distributor, we have always insisted that our suppliers adhere to all applicable laws and regulations, and meet industry standards within their respective product areas,” GFS officials said.

“We will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure they operate responsibly, just as we have for the last 118 years.”

The supplier, Wayne Farms, did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.

‘It’s unhealthy’

In the video, published online at www.goryfoodservice.com and narrated by celebrity Pamela Anderson, an unidentified worker explains how decisions are made on whether to kill or save the birds.

“If they’re breathing, you need to hang them,” the worker says. “But if they got a broken wing and leg broken or something like that, they’re still alive. I mean we can still salvage that bird.”

Connie and husband Peter Barbour came to the event from Greenbrier to fight for “the animals and for food safety,” said Connie, 50, a social workers and nurse.

“I’m concerned about our food systems and what happens in processing animals for our food consumption, what we’re feeding our families and our children,” she said. “It’s unhealthy. The birds are being contaminated with all sorts of feces, E. coli; there’s no telling what we’re eating these days. That’s why sickness and bacteria are on the rise.

“But not only that, it’s for the social welfare of these animals because animals have hearts and souls and feelings just like we do, and they deserve to be treated and slaughtered humanely if we’re going to have animal consumption.”

Several of the protesters were vegans, including MFA volunteer from Los Angeles Chandler Eckert.

“I love animals,” Eckert, 20, said. “And I love my body, and I don’t want to ruin it.”

Nashville Animal Advocacy co-organizer Tricia Lebkuecher, also a vegan, said contrary to what people may think, most chickens do not live happily on a farm before they’re slaughtered.

“Most people don’t understand the amount of suffering that goes into the production of meat,” said Lebkuecher, 24, who lives in Nashville. “The reality is that there’s no way to produce the amount of meat that people desire, and we can’t feed that many people with ‘humane farms.’ The only solution is to eat less meat.”

Restaurant Review – AVO

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★★★★★ – (5/5) Wonderful, amazing, can’t wait to come back!

We had the pleasure of trying a brand new Nashville restaurant last night, and I’m pleased to say, it was fantastic!  AVO is an all-new vegan restaurant on Charlotte Pike, just outside of downtown.  We have been excited about trying this one since we heard rumors of it late last year, and we were absolutely delighted by the execution of this fresh concept.

While AVO’s grand opening celebration is still a week away (July 10), they have opened now with a limited menu to give us an idea of what they will be up to.  As we found out last night, not only is AVO vegan, but each dish is also raw, gluten-free, and packed with nutrient-rich super foods.  As we talked to the wait staff about the menu, we were excited to learn about the heaping spoonful of health we were about to ingest.   There were exactly four entrees on last night’s menu, and since we had four people, we got one of each dish and passed them around.

Before I delve into specifics, I want to generally comment that the food we had last night was bountiful in flavor and texture, which made each bite delicious and interesting (not the qualities you naturally associate with raw food!)  There was an overall richness to the dishes that I still can’t believe was vegan.  Everything in the restaurant is hand crafted, and the delightfully creamy and delicious vegan cheeses and salad dressings were works of art.  We can’t wait to try the vegan cheese tray after the grand opening.  I also noticed that the dishes were well-seasoned and had complex flavors.  I have noticed a growing trend of chefs over-salting food, especially vegan dishes, which they instinctually fear will be bland.  However, AVO’s dishes were delicious without a coma-inducing amount of sodium, and the overwhelming word that comes to mind when thinking about last night’s dinner is FRESH.  I swear, I felt healthier walking out of that restaurant than I have ever felt after a huge dinner.  Overall, we were impressed with the flavor and texture profiles created with an all vegan and raw palette of ingredients.  Here are some more details on each dish we tried…

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Summer Pizza – Sprouted crust topped with hemp mozzarella and seasonal local vegetables.

The Summer Pizza was unlike any pizza we’ve ever had.  It had a delicious cashew & hemp cheese with fresh tomato and a tangy tomato sauce on top of a crust of sprouted grains.  The texture and flavors were delicious, and it came with a large salad with a creamy Caeser dressing.  All in all, delightful!

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Pesto Noodle Bowl – Kelp and zucchini noodles and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in fresh seasonal pesto sauce.

The Pesto Noodle Bowl had a base of zucchini and kelp noodles (which made me think the “Veggetti” might not be such a bad idea!)  The pesto was flavorful and married well with the fresh nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs in the dish.  There was a creamy texture to the dish, and the interesting use of veggie noodles brought a fun mix of crunch and crispness to the dish.

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Lasagna – Marinated zucchini, cashew hempseed ricotta, basil pesto, and sundried tomato sauce

The lasagna was one of our favorites.  It features zucchini instead of pasta, cashew hempseed ricotta cheese, and a very rich sun-dried tomato sauce.  We remarked that it was much different than ‘the kind Mom used to make,’ but the dish featured all of the flavors you love about lasagna with none of the bleached grains, saturated fat, or animal products.  We were pretty impressed with this one!

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Pad Thai – Kelp, daikon and zucchini noodles tossed in our homemade spicy almond sauce with fresh herbs and vegetables.

The Pad Thai was a winner as well.  This dish was the only one that was spicy, and it had a great kick to it.  The almond sauce married well with the crispy, fresh vegetables, and the dish had a remarkably Thai feel to it without knocking you over with peanut and coconut flavors.  Everything was subtle, and there were lots of fresh flavors going on inside this dish.  I will also mention that the portion sizes of all of the entrees were huge and very decently priced…however, I’m very happy we didn’t get too stuffed from dinner because dessert was possibly the best part of the entire meal…

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Key Lime Cheesecake. VEGAN CHEESECAKE!!!

We decided to get the vegan cheesecake options (how could we not?!)– they had Key Lime and Green Tea available last night, and from what I understand, dessert options will be seasonal and made with fresh, local ingredients.  I really can’t say enough good things about the desserts.  Both were contained rich flavors with the perfect amount of sweetness.  The Key Lime cheesecake was definitely on the tart side, but it was the most interesting cheesecake I’ve ever had.  Garnished with flowers, fruit, and other superfoods, both pieces of cake were also a beauty to behold.    The Green Tea flavor was also perfect.  I’m not sure which one I liked better.  I don’t think you can go wrong with a piece of Avo’s handcrafted vegan cheesecake!  I can’t wait to try the ice creams and other deletable dessert items.  Between this and Khan’s brand new soft-serve ice cream (which I shall review soon), I think Nashville is really starting to become a delightful place to be vegan.  No more lusting after California’s vegan scene on Instagram and feeling hopeless…the south has arrived!

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Green Tea Vegan Cheesecake

So, to wrap this up, we absolutely loved AVO.  To have a restaurant that is truly cruelty-free and passionate about serving healthy food is a wonderful thing.  To have a restaurant like this that also serves some of the best food we’ve had in ages…priceless.  We hope everyone gets a chance to visit AVO soon and give them love for the awesome work they are doing.  Here’s to good health!

Restaurant Review – Korea House

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★★★★☆ – Reliable great food. Will visit often.

Korea House is a special delight for Nashvillians.  At first blush, the menu may not appear very vegan-friendly, but there are plenty of dishes that can be made meat and egg-free, and they are definitely worth a visit.

This restaurant, like many hidden gems, could easily be lost in the West Nashville stip-mall setting which it calls home, but don’t be fooled: there is nothing nondescript about Korea House.  I am not an expert on Korean food, but the reviews for this place consistently rank it as one of the most authentic Korean restaurants in Nashville.  The news about this place has obviously spread because they are consistently packed.  You will probably want to show up for either an early or late dinner to avoid a wait.  The restaurant has limited seating, and when we have visited at peak dinner time, there has been a line out the door.  Well worth the wait, but if you’re hungry you might want to come at an off-hour.

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Kimbap

The first dish I want to mention is the seaweed rolls (Kimbap).  These are unspeakably good.  The flavor of the nori, sesame seeds, and pickled vegetables combine to create a dish that is easily one of my favorite veggie rolls.  The seaweed rolls come with several non-vegan items, but the servers are happy to help you customize.  You will need to request them with no sausage, egg, or crab.  One time we asked for no ‘meat or egg’, but the rolls still had crab.  This is further evidence of my theory that most people don’t think of seafood (especially “krab”) as meat.  Think about how many times you’ve been asked if vegans eat fish…  In any case, the seaweed rolls are amazing, and they are a perfect small appetizer to begin your Korean adventure.

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Dolsat Bibimbap

The entrees we automatically gravitated to are, of course, the bibimbaps.  Bibimbap features rice, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, assorted picked vegetables, lettuce (for crunch), and tofu.  Korea House serves two variations of this traditional dish.  The regular Bibimbap is served in a large bowl, slightly chilled, and the Dolsat Bibimbap is served in a hot stone bowl that actually cooks the food as you eat it, which adds a special dimension and flavor to the dish.  The rice at the very bottom of the stone bowl, which is exposed to the heat the longest, will take on a crunchy texture that many people love.  The traditional bibimbap contains a raw egg, which is cracked straight into the bowl and cooked to perfection as you quickly stir the bowl.  Even without the egg, you’ll still want to occasionally stir the dish to keep your vegetables from burning.  Adding sauce and the chilled side dishes helps get it to an edible temperature sooner.  Both of these dishes will take some customization to order as well– you’ll want to order it with no beef or egg, just tofu.  The result is a delicious bowl of vegetables, rice, and tofu with special Korean gochujang (a sweet and spicy red sauce.)The portions are huge, and I could easily see two people sharing a single bibimbap.

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Kimbap and various Banchan

And I have almost forgotten to mention almost the best part of all…the small plates (Banchan).  In traditional Korean fashion, each meal is accompanied by endless small plates of delectable sides like kimchi, pickled bean sprouts, spiced potatoes, sweet and spicy cucumbers, and more (I’m sorry I don’t know the Korean names for all of these dishes!)  There are two non-vegan side dishes- one contains fish and the other egg.  When you are making your special requests on the appetizer, mention that you don’t eat meat or eggs, and they will customize your Banchan as well.

All of the meals are affordably priced ($9-$12 for an entree).  The service at Korea House has always been great, and this is just a fun restaurant to visit.  From the Korean sitcoms and game shows typically on the TV to the diverse and interesting assortment of patrons, this is a unique dining experience that we hope you will love.

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