Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vegan Beauty

Last week I was at the salon getting my hair cut, and I noticed that my stylist was really into "green" hair products.  I certainly was not going to complain about this, but it made me wonder if the products were also vegan.  My main thing has been the vegan diet.  I also strive not to buy any non-vegan clothing or accessories.  However, I have to say that I have been remiss in the beauty product department.  I use vegan products some of the time.  Sometimes the products just don't work that well, which has left me frustrated.  However, when I think about animal testing and animal ingredients in beauty products, I realize that it's no better to use non-vegan shampoo than to eat meat.  I am going to try and improve in this area.  Here are my suggestions if you would like to do the same:

Handmade and kind of expensive cosmetics, hair, and bath products.  I have tried their Rehab shampoo, and I loved it.  After perusing the website, I found out that Lush has many vegan options, including "bath bombs" and soap.  I am interested in trying the Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo, which is made from "organic vegan stout beer from a local brewery" and also Double Choc lip balm (yummy!).  This company really does have a serious commitment to ending animal testing, which you can read more about here (and take five seconds to sign a petition).

Alba Botanica
I noticed Alba Botanica shampoo at the grocery store awhile ago, and I was really pleased with it.  I wash my hair a lot because I frequently work out, and I am always looking for products that will keep my hair from looking greasy.  I purchased the Body Builder Mango shampoo for $7, which I thought was reasonable.  The products are 100% natural and vegetarian, and are never tested on animals.  I'm a fan.

Not to be confused with Alba, I noticed this line at Ulta the other day.  It was a bit out of my price range, at $15 per bottle of shampoo, but there's a wide range of products, all of which are "100% Vegan, Free of Synthetic Dyes, Sulfate Free and DEA Free." 

Strawberry Hedgehog
If you live in Phoenix, here's a local plug,  If not, you can still order online.  100% vegan soap, facial, and body products. 

There are many companies, like Aveda and Bath and Body Works, which do not test on animals, but which contain animal ingredients in some or all products.  Aveda Volumizing Tonic is vegan, but other products are not.  If you go to the PETA website, you can access a complete list of which companies do and do not participate in animal testing.  You can also check out Vegan Beauty Review for the real deal on all of these products.  I plan on checking out a company called Beauty Without Cruelty to find vegan concealer.  Going vegan is obviously a process.   

Blogger's Soundtrack: Christina Perri - "Arms"

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vegan Easter

Yesterday I cooked a feast for Easter.  I'm not sure what a traditional Easter meal entails besides perhaps a gigantic roast of some sort.  I just looked through my cookbooks and selected some dishes that looked delicious and were fancier and more time-consuming that something I would normally make.  The menu included garlic basamati rice and chickpeas romesco from Veganomicon, along with roasted broccoli and asparagus.  For dessert there was carrot cake with vanilla frosting from Babycakes.

Everything turned out fantastic.  The sauce on the chickpea romesco dish was amazing, and was everybody's favorite.  It involved roasting red bell peppers, pureeing these along with diced tomatoes, and then simmering with garlic, shallots, and a number of other different ingredients.  I was in the kitchen for a long time, but it was definitely worth it.  There were no Easter baskets or colored eggs, but there was good food and good conversation, which I prefer any day.

Chef's Soundtrack: Brandi Carlile - "The Story"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Best Vegan Apps

I'm not the best with technology. Here are some examples: when cat-sitting for friends of mine, I could not figure out how to turn on the television.  They have a fancy big screen TV and all sorts of gadgets, and no matter which button I tried, I couldn't watch regular TV.  I guess I'm just used to my old-school set which only has one Power button.  Another time, our school was implementing a new technology program, and each teacher had to take a pre-test to measure his or her technology proficiency.  I was the only person who could not figure out how to take the survey.  My technology proficiency was apparently zero.  When computer problems arise in the classroom, a student usually fixes things, or I refer them to a colleague (the same person who has the fancy TV).  I obviously have some degree of proficiency with the computer, but I am no guru.  Other people seem to catch on far more quickly when it comes to these things, leaving me in the dust.

What does this have to do with my vegan blog, you ask?  I'm getting to that.  About a year ago, my phone went haywire, by which I mean that it was randomly texting and calling people without my permission.  How rude.  I went out and splurged on an iPhone, and was super excited to be so fancy.  The sole fact that I could get online with my phone was a huge upgrade.  Soon enough, though, friends began teasing me because I had never installed any apps.  Apparently I was way behind again.  Most recently I have embarked on a quest to install more apps on my phone and actually use them, improving my hypothetical technology proficiency score.  I had never even considered the fact that there might be vegan apps until I searched for them and was pleasantly surprised.  While I think that some of these apps are useful for any vegan, what I have found is that many of them are best suited for people just starting out.  They make it especially easy to do your vegan grocery shopping.  Here are my recommendations:

1.  Animal-Free
Have you ever read a food label and noticed a bunch of foreign ingredients?  For vegans, that's definitely an issue.  This app includes an alphabetical list of animal ingredients and what they are made from.  There is also a scanner for use at the grocery store to help you identify vegan products.  Of course, I couldn't figure out how to use the scanner, so it had to be demonstrated to me.  After that, I found out that it works pretty well. 

2.  Vegan Cakes
This is the app version of the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  The free version offers a lot of simple advice on how to bake cupcakes, including "Seven Rules for Righteous Cupcakes," which is hilarious.  If you pay for the full app, you can get access to the recipes, as well.

3.  VeganSteven
VeganSteven is a great app because it lets you know where you can buy vegan products in your area.  It's pretty reliable, as it listed all of my favorite places in Phoenix.  I noticed that it did list some questionable establishments, such as Red Robin Burgers and FastMed Urgent Care, but for the most part, it gets the job done. 

4.  Veg Kickstart
This is a good one if you're just starting out, because it offers recipes and meal plans for 21 days and gives you interesting facts about the foods you're eating.  I liked the recipes, but for me, I would need more than the amount of food the app recommends for a daily plan. 

5.  YumYum
Yummy vegan recipes.  I like it.

Those are my favorites - so far.  Check them out... if you're not already two steps ahead of me. 

Blogger's Soundtrack: Jason Mraz - "Sleeping to Dream"

love love love this song.