Following my meditations and imaginings through the ever-shifting lifescape. Creating my reality and celebrating existence. Growing every day. Stumbling along the way. Crying for all beings who suffer, but believing in the heart. Knowing all we need to do is feel, feel, feel. Everything else will come.
I had noo idea that a vegan cheese wedge already existed in stores so I was so pleasantly surprised coming across this in Sprouts today. I knew that companies like Babybel have been testing this product, but I didn’t know Good Planet just up and came out with this. I actually had never tried any Good Planet products before so I was super intrigued to see what’s up. It is such a good option so let me share my Good Planet Smoked Gouda Wedges Review.
Good Planet Gouda Wedges Review
Overall this was awesome! I’m so excited about this it’s so yummy I’m already craving another. But let me narrow in on a few finer details.
The consistency of the Good Planet Vegan Cheese Wedges is on point. It is so perfectly soft with just the right amount of give as you bite into it. The cheese also has a creamy mouthfeel and goes down the throat smooth. It is 100% exactly as I remember the consistency of snacking cheeses being and is sure to be beyond satisfying for any cheese lover. A+
The scent is very cheesy and the flavor of the Good Planet Smoked Gouda wedges was really prominent and robust in both a yummy cheesy way as well as a slightly off-putting way. I’m not sure if it was the smokey flavor that was slightly overpowering the experience for me, or if it’s something in the formulation of the cheese that is perhaps slightly artificial that was standing out. I’m not a big fan of “smoked” in general (though I love Gouda), so it is very possible that that was the issue for me. It wasn’t off-putting enough to dissuade me from wanting to eat it, but enough to make me want to opt for different flavors like Original or Pepper Jack in the future. People who love smokey flavors will really really like it though.
Good Planet Smoked Gouda Wedges Ingredients
Not crazy about these ingredients, especially the Palm Oil and there was no mention on the package that it is sustainably sourced. Definitely a “once-in-a-while” type of snack in my book because it’s pretty processed and not too ethically-sourced (despite the brand being called “Good Planet”).
Okay first of all this is the furthest from being a conscious consumer you can get, and I’m thoroughly ashamed for having tried this but rest assured I won’t be doing it again. But here it is: my KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Review.
I always like to try new “vegan” products once and it just so happened I was road tripping in the middle of nowhere last week. Although I did have a cooler full of Trader Joe’s Super Burritos (I’m well used to preparing ahead) so honestly this KFC stop was 0% necessary — curiosity got the best of me. But anyway, here it goes:
KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Review
Is KFC Beyond Chicken tasty? Of course! But let us take a closer look.
I ordered a 6 pack of KFC beyond nuggets with fries and a medium diet A&W root beer. Combo cost $11.15 before tax and tip (def higher than I remember for fast food). Sounds innocent enough, though, right? Nope.
I waited and I can’t describe how strange it felt to be sitting inside of a KFC. No — I didn’t even take them to go, and it felt so crazy (not in a good way) to actually be ordering and sitting in a KFC. It had been since middle school that I sat in a fast food place. The atmosphere is so strange and bleak and sad (IMO).
My meal came neatly packed in a white and green carton which easily folded open to reveal 6 deep fried plant-based chicken nuggets and medium fries. What happened to the potato wedges of yesteryear? They were replaced by fries in summer 2020, I have since learned.
Deep fried, lots of breading, chicken flavor — the taste at a glance is delicious! The flavor and consistency was no different than fried chicken nuggets. Not like KFC chicken necessarily but definitely a fair take on nuggets. The fries, though not the main event, were nicely crisp and seasoned (slightly oversalted)… but not as good as potato wedges as far as I can remember.
Beyond the first glance though, the experience fell apart for me. Not only psychologically did I feel like this is so wrong and disgusting, the beyond chicken was just so so deep fried and processed and unnatural and most definitely loaded beyond comprehension with MSG. My mind and body were just saying “this is SO BAD.”
I almost felt like my mouth was going slightly numb and tongue was lightly coated in a layer of processed gunk from this unidentifiable fake food. I was able to eat 3 of them before I threw in the towel and said “I can’t do this.” I’m just not used to things so deeply fried and full of additives so my body and mind definitely freaked out a bit, despite the taste being good initially.
I’ve heard people mention that their beyond nuggets were rubbery or dry, but that was not the case for me. They were easy to chew and swallow and had a slightly moist consistency simple to pull apart and savor. Maybe it’s because mine were so fresh and I ate them at KFC? Not sure how they’d hold up after a long drive home or if they’ve been sitting out of the fryer for awhile.
KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Review Conclusion:
KFC Beyond Chicken is a great option for the right people, but a terrible option for the wrong people. Let me elaborate:
For meat-eaters. First and foremost I’m SO HAPPY these nuggets exist so that there may be less and less torment and torture and abuse and slaughter of chickens. If it can sway a meat-eater away from eating real chicken, that is sooooo wonderful. These nuggets serve an important purpose of enticing current chicken KFC eaters looking to make more ethical choices and for that I’m forever grateful this option exists for people.
For fast food-loving vegans/vegetarians. This option is probably also good for plant based eaters who either aren’t in it for the animals or already eat Fast Food and MSG-packed foods like Doritos anyway. It’s another great fast food option to add to the growing list of fast food options for plant-based eaters. If you’re not in the mood for an impossible burger, here’s another yummy choice. So happy for plant-based, fast-food convenience for those who seek it!
For seasoned vegans. For vegans who lean more towards whole foods and organics, this is definitely not the product for you. Maybe in a serious crunch with absolutely no options but honestly I’d opt for a giant bag of tortilla chips from the gas station before stepping foot into a KFC again. If your body is not used to Fast Food, you won’t feel good beyond the first bite. Let me save you the trouble and tell you: don’t bother trying this. It brings no joy physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.
If you want REAL vegan fried chicken that fu$%&ng ROCKS, stick with Atlas Monroe Fried Chicken. You can order online and bake it in the oven or air fry, and be on vegan chicken cloud 9. It’s the best I’ve had yet (along with the PFC Unchicken from Peacefood Kitchen in New York City). If you have a Native Foods or Veggie Grill nearby those are also pretty good!
Did you try the Beyond Chicken from KFC? What did you think?
Excited to see a new dairy-free holiday drink on the menu, I went to Starbucks to try the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte. However, I got mine hot and used oat milk instead of almond milk because I don’t really like iced coffee beverages, and also I prefer the creaminess of oat milk. My usual go-to holiday drinks at Starbucks are Chestnut Praline and Gingerbread since they both can be veganized, but Gingerbread seems to be off the menu this year 🙁 Here’s my full Starbucks Sugar Cookie Latte review.
Starbucks Sugar Cookie Latte Review
Let me come right out and say that I did not like the Starbucks sugar cookie latte. It has absolutely no central, discernible flavor (in my opinion) that would pop out and make it memorable. I get a very subtle “baked” sense, nodding to the fact it’s a baked sugar cookie. I also get a bit of a layered sweetness, rather than and in your face sugar taste, which kind of (big emphasis on “kind of”) reminds me of a rainbow cookie. It has little red and green sprinkles on top that give you a couple crunches of extra sugar but it didn’t really add much besides a nice visual touch. Overall it’s just blah and not very enjoyable unless you like drinking sugar for the sake of drinking sugar.
That being said, I have heard that some people like it so don’t take my word for it. Feel free to give it a try if still compelled to do so!
I would not get the sugar cookie latte again. I appreciate the attempt by Starbucks, and especially love that it’s vegan by default, but it’s just not good or memorable. Not only would I not get it again, I couldn’t even finish the one I got. It was just too “blah” and felt like a waste of calories, since I wasn’t getting any enjoyment from it. No idea why there would switch gingerbread latte for this, as gingerbread has such a distinct special holiday flavor. I used to even just get gingerbread syrup in steamed soy milk (before oat milk) and it was SO. GOOD. Like a teddy-bear-hugging-your-heart-good.
Really, best course of action for me (and most likely for others as well) is to stick to a local coffee shop that stocks Fairtrade coffee and espresso (shout out to MOE Coffee in San Diego), and get one of their inventive dairy free holiday drinks. There are some really good ones!!
If you care about animal welfare, finding out the most humane egg brands is essential. I have done research and reached out to some pasture-raised egg brands to compile this Humane Eggs Directory that you can refer to when looking for kinder, healthier eggs. Some of these awesome companies even collaborated with us and provided a statement about their humane practices.
Happy Hens eggs come from hens raised in small flocks with lots of room to roam and live a natural life. All eggs at the farm 100 percent pasture-raised and the hens are fed organic food, free of corn and soy. Plus, they are top-rated by Cornucopia Institute as being the #1 organic egg farm in the nation. The farmers have a commitment to bring consumers eggs in the most humane and sustainable way possible from their Southern California pastures. I actually live in San Diego and eat their eggs frequently.
Statement from Happy Hens:
“We are a TRULY OUTDOOR, Pasture Raised, Family Owned and Operated Egg Ranch in the picturesque mountain of San Diego. We produce not only Certified Organic, NON-GMO Verified + Certified Humane eggs but also have been rated #1 in the NATION in regard to our practices in regard to raising our hens and lifestyle we provide for them! Unlike most pasture raised farms, our hens actually live in small numbers with mobile barns that we continually rotate through our Pastures creating a biodynamic environment where we get to harsh nature and work with it to REGENERATE the land we steward!”
Handsome Brook Farms takes the welfare of their hens seriously. All the girls are allowed to roam free on pastures and are fed organic food with no pesticides or GMOs. They are doing a lot of great work to change the system and help shift society away from industrial, numbers-based egg production, to small farms working together with animal welfare and sustainability at the forefront.
Q&A with Handsome Brook Farms:
Living conditions for your hens: All of our hens are Pasture Raised (108+ sq feet of outdoor space per hen) on small family farms and fed a 100% organic diet.
Your relationship with the hens: Our choices of how to treat our hens—what to plant on farm, what not to spray, what to feed and how to care for our hens—is at the foundation of Handsome Brook Farms. Our farmers are true stewards of the land and believe that organic pasture raising is the most sustainable and humane way to produce eggs. As part of a regional group, each farm is supported by farm supervisors and experts, to create a community of mutual support, education and logistics.
Your location: Handsome Brook Farms was founded in upstate NY and our headquarters is now in New York City. Our network of just over 80 family farms spans three regions of the country: Northeast, Central, and MOARK.
Your philosophy: At Handsome Brook Farms, we strive to act Handsomely in all that we do. This means treating our farmers and animals with dignity and the land with respect, while helping consumers access clean, responsibly-raised protein. Being Handsome means working hard to ensure personal, public, and planetary health are prioritized at every turn. With this at our core, we feel well-positioned to…bring the most sustainable eggs from our coops to your carton.
While labeled pasture raised, it’s been brought to my attention by readers and by research that their practices are not ethical and they are undergoing a false advertising lawsuit as, in reality, they perform inhumane treatment of their hens, who actually spend most of their time indoors. Instead of removing them from my list, I felt it would be better to address this issue so consumers are informed.
Carol’s Pasture Raised Eggs come from hens in Virginia who are allowed to roam the pastures all day long and return to their warm, safe barns at night. The company offers pasture-raised eggs, organic pasture-raised eggs and free-range heirloom eggs. I have tried their Pasture-Raised eggs after finding them at Trader Joe’s, and the yolks were some of the deepest orange I’ve personally seen — they were delicious!
Statement from Carol’s Eggs:
We’re so grateful that you reached out to us here at Carol’s Eggs. We’re proud to be Certified Humane. This means our lovely chickens spend their days outside on plentiful grassy pastures or in their spacious barns where they have unlimited access to food and water and we work hard to maintain certain standards for animal welfare in accordance to Certified Humane’s standards. You can find out more about these standards via their website: https://certifiedhumane.org/
We have a few different offerings of our eggs:
Our heirloom hens enjoy nutritionally balanced feed that contains whole cereal grains like corn, soybeans, marigold petals, alfalfa grasses, and naturally omega-3-rich flaxseed. They have access to clean, fresh, filtered water whenever they need it. And finally, they can forage for insects, flowers, and other delights in the pasture.
Our organic pasture-raised hens are similar, but also Certified Organic. The hens also forage on organic pasture daily, so they also get a nutritious boost from the plants, bugs, worms, and grubs they find there.
We also offer non-organic pasture-raised eggs. The feed has the same rich mix of nutrition as all our hens get but the corn, soy, and other grains are not Certified Organic or GMO free. This helps lower the cost to consumers while still providing them an excellent egg.
Regarding our farm locations and being pasture raised, our pasture-raised flocks are primarily located in Virginia, so nearly year-round they can enjoy their very spacious pastures all day long.
We love Utopihen, not only for their cute name, but their firm sustainability and hen welfare practices. Each of their pasture-raised hens enjoy a vibrant life outdoors with sunshine and 110 square feet per hen of open pasture (exceeding the industry requirement of 108 square feet). The hens enjoy a natural diet of plants and insects, and never receive hormones or antibiotics. The company has both pasture-raised chicken and duck eggs available, and is located in New Holland, Pennsylvania with family farms partners scattered about Central PA..
Q&A with Utopihen Farms
Living Conditions of Hens. Our Certified Humane Pasture Raised hens have access to the pasture for at least 6 hours every day (weather permitting). They are kept indoors at night for protection against predators and for a safe place to lay their eggs. Animal Care Standards for Pasture Raised requires 108 square feet of pasture per hen. We exceed the industry standards by giving our hens 110 square feet per hen — that’s a lot of open space! They can forage, run, perch, bathe and socialize as much or as little as they choose. Essentially, they can just be chickens. Our hens fill their diet with lots of grass, bugs, worms and anything else they can find in the dirt. This diet is supplemented by a healthy feed specific to whether the hen is organic, soy-free, or original.
Your relationship with the hens. All our hens are raised on family-owned farms. This means, that the farmer owns the hens, and can spend lots of time lovingly caring for them and his farm. This model is better for the farmer and the hens, providing both with more independence.
Your philosophy. At Utopihen Farms the future is bright. Not because we see it through rose-colored glasses, but because we work on making it so — and we know you do too. It’s why we’re committed to sustainable farming, the humane treatment of animals and bringing you pasture raised eggs. We hope you will join us on the journey to create a better world. After all, there is no Planet B … and there’s no time like now.
These eggs that hail from California are pasture-raised, certified humane, and USDA organic. The hens that spend their days clucking and preening and stretching their feathers and legs on the lush green grass. They are free to forage all they want outside and go inside to their nest in the coop to lay eggs. They live a natural life as hens should.
Blue Sky Farms is named as such because their hens get to roam freely beneath the beautiful blue skies. All the chickens are able to do all the things that make them happy, like perching, dust bathing, scratching the ground, and roaming the pasture for a healthy dose of fresh and and vitamin D.
As the name suggests, we love these eggs because the hens are “Born Free.” They are born free to roam grassy pastures and live a healthy, happy life. The pasture-raised egg brand is a leader when it comes to adopting humane farming practices and animal care. Plus we love their eco-friendly and 100 percent recyclable packaging.
NestFresh gets their nutritious eggs from hens on small family farms across the country. They have a range of Pasture Raised Egg products in addition to their free range offerings. Pasture raised options include non-GMO, organic, and soy-free organic options, appealing to people with many different lifestyle and food preferences. They also have adorable blue and brown heirloom eggs that are pasture-raised as well.
10. Chino Valley Ranchers
Pasture-Raised Option | American Humane Certified | Kosher
This is the brand that I find at my local Sprouts in San Diego and I love them! Not only for the taste of course, but this company is committed to providing hens with a beautiful life full of sunshine, fresh air and water on family farms. The hens are free to forage for seeds, bugs and grass.
House-Brand Pasture-raised eggs
Many supermarkets carry their own house-brand of pasture-raised eggs. Grocery chains get their eggs from various pasture-raised, Certified Humane or American Humane Certified farms across the country. Being house-brand, they typically have a lower price than name brand and are so easy to find. It is amazing to see some supermarkets offering pasture-raised eggs as the norm.
Natural Grocer’s House Brand Pasture-Raised
Kirkland House Brand Pasture Raised (Costco)
365 House Brand Pasture-Raised (Whole Foods)
The purpose of this Humane Egg Directory is to allow consumers to make more ethical choices when shopping for groceries. By choosing pasture-raised egg brands, you support a more humane economy where hens can live happy, natural lives rather than torturous lives in cages. Keep a lookout for these brands next time your shopping for eggs.
Please note this page about pasture-raised egg brands is continuously under construction. Last updated Sunday March 5, 2023.To learn more about pasture-raised eggs, click here.
*Disclaimer: it’s been brought up to me by readers that eating eggs is inherently inhumane and there is no such thing as humane eggs. I 100% agree with this and condone veganism first and foremost. Unless you or a friend or neighbor literally have your own hens and have direct oversight of the hens care and treatment it is very difficult to verify that every stage of the hen and her offspring’s life are free of cruelty when it gets to the company level. This guide is meant to steer people who DO eat eggs to choose companies that are, without a doubt, more humane than others. If you have questions about a company’s practices beyond what is outlined here, please reach out to the company directly to find a brand aligned with your values.
I tried the NotCo NotMilk today for the first time! It is pretty rare these days that a new vegan item really catches my attention but this just seemed so different from other vegan milks on the shelves so I was very curious to try it. Vegan whole milk sounds so appetizing for some reason, doesn’t it? I haven’t had milk since I was maybe 11 so of course I can’t clearly remember what it tastes like, but I’ll give you a full scope of my experience with this innovative NotCo Not Milk product via my not milk review.
“Whole” Not Milk Review
I got the “Whole” NotCo NotMilk from Whole Foods, which is currently priced at $4.99. They also have 2% Not Milk. On opening it I was intrigued by its milk-like slightly off-white color and lightly milky sweet scent. The first sip was surprising because it doesn’t taste like other non-dairy milks at all — it is totally unique. It really fills the mouth with exactly what I remember milk tasting like, but with a sweet undertone and after taste rather than a sour one.
It’s also surprisingly refreshing. I don’t really think to down oat or almond milk when I’m thirsty, but this has that super satisfying milk drink finish going on. I don’t know if you remember that feeling of drinking milk when you’re thirsty and the satisfaction that brings, but this brought that same satisfaction that I didn’t even remember until I sipped this. It really fills the mouth and quenches thirst.
Not Milk Review from a Milk Drinker
Quote from my hubby who DOES drink real milk. “Milk is my favorite drink and this is delicious. Really good. It feels like milk so if you like that milk taste and drinking milk, you will definitely like this.” So there. You heard it from the horse’s mouth that NotMilk is indeed reminiscent of real milk. (I’m not sure what that horse expression even means really, but I think I used it correctly).
NotMilk Whole Milk Ingredients
Kind of more ingredients than I like to see in my milk, personally. But you be the judge for yourself.
Water, Sunflower Oil, Pea Protein, Contains less than 2% of: Sugar, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Gellan Gum, Acacia Gum, Salt, Monocalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Cabbage Juice Concentrate, Vitamin D2, Vitamin B12.
Per 1 Cup Serving:
Total Fat 8g
Total Carb 4g
Total Sugars 3g
Added Sugars 2g
Vitamin D 4.6mcg
Vitamin B12 .8mcg
Not Milk Price
At Whole Foods, NotCo NotMilk is priced at $4.99.
NotMilk Review Conclusion
The taste of Not Milk is delicious and even a milk-lover in my home tried and loved it as well, saying it tastes a lot like real milk. Though I really enjoyed it, I am not sure how I feel about all the ingredients. I prefer my milks to be just a few whole ingredients. However, if I’m ever really in the mood for a milky drink, or if I’m having non-vegans staying over my house, I would definitely get this again. Probably a three times a year kind of purchase for me, with oat and almond remaining as my main staples. For hardcore milk lovers though, this is a must-try.
I love mac n cheese!!! I know I’m not alone with that statement. The ooey gooey cheesy goodness brings such comfort, and it’s so exciting that so many brands are making vegan versions. Though my favorite is just making mine homemade, I do try a store bought one every now and again. I’ve been seeing the Upton’s Natural in stores but I am so stuck on my Annie’s Sweet Potato and Pumpkin one that it took me until now to try it — and I’m glad I did! Here is my Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Bacon Mac Review.
Upton’s Bacon Mac n Cheese Review
It’s super easy to prepare Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Bacon Mac because the noodles are precooked and the “cheese” sauce is all pre-made and ready to go in the packet. You simply combine and stir them in a sauce pan for 3-7 minutes. Of course the frozen microwaveable ones are even easier to just pop in the microwave, but I prefer to avoid the microwave as much as possible so this is the next (quickest) best thing since you don’t need to boil noodles or make a powder into sauce.
Very flavorful! Such a nice smokey flavor thanks to the actual liquid smoke. This smokey, bacon-y flavor tends to be the dominant one in this mac n cheese but not in an overpowering way. The first flavor you get is that savory bacon flavor followed by a little rush of cheesy flavor. It is a really nice balance, and it is what I expected since it is a bacon mac n cheese. However, if you are looking for a super cheesy flavor with the bacon flavor in the background, you may be a bit disappointed and may be better off with the regular cheesy one since that one doesn’t have the liquid smoke. Also, it’s worth noting that the ingredients are nice and clean like nutritional yeast and mustard so it doesn’t give a weird artificial cheese flavor.
The noodles are really nice and don’t taste pre-cooked and the seitan bacon is sooo nice and tender and full of flavor. The cheese sauce goes a long way and lends itself well to the dish, but I wouldn’t say it’s super super creamy or anything. I would personally add a little bit of vegan butter, unsweetened almond milk and a touch more nutritional yeast to make it a bit creamier and round out all the flavors. That being said, it is just fine as it is as well and is very complete and satisfying in and of itself.
The nutritional content.
Let me finish off this Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Bacon Mac Review by sharing the nutritional content. I ate almost the whole pack myself although it says there are two servings. It can definitely be 2 servings if it was a side, but not as a full meal. For a full meal you’ll likely want the whole pack. Here’s what’s in it:
Serving Size: 143 g Servings Per Container: 2 Calories Per Serving: 270
Amount per serving (% DV) Total Fat: 6 g (8%) Saturated Fat: 1 g (5%) Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg (0%) Sodium: 270 mg (12%) Total Carbohydrate: 44 g (16%) Dietary Fiber: 4 g (14%) Total Sugars: 1 g Including 1 g Added Sugars (2%) Protein: 10 g Vitamin D: 0 mcg (0%) Calcium: 50 mg (4%) Iron: 1.2 mg (6%) Potassium: 170 mg (4%)
So there you have it! My Upton’s Naturals Cheesy Bacon Mac Review. While you’re here, check out my Atlas Monroe Fried Chicken review as well 🙂 And let me know what your favorite vegan mac n cheese is!
I have been hearing about Atlas Monroe vegan fried chicken for months now. When I was a kid I seriously loved all kinds of chicken, especially fried chicken — so I was super excited when I learned about Atlas Monroe taking the vegan fried chicken game to the next level. In the 17 years I’ve been vegan, companies constantly develop the mock “beef” products but they never seem to develop the “chicken” products, which have remained virtually the same breaded soy protein all this time. Hopefully those days are behind us now thanks to Atlas Monroe!
Finally, this past Memorial Day Weekend they had a popup shop in San Diego so I was able to take the 20 minute drive from where I live to their little shop in a nondescript area of Chula Vista neighborhood where a few people were gathered. Me and my fiance got our food and drove to the oceanfront to have a nice view while we ate it in the car. Here’s our review.
Atlas Monroe Vegan Fried Chicken Review
Okay overall this chicken is sooo tasty and way more substantial and satiating than any other vegan fried chicken I’ve had. There are a few things to note, though, so let me break it down into specifics:
I missed that crispy breading on fried chicken so much and the outside of this vegan chicken was incredibly crispy and flavorful. The breading was every bit as indulgent (and more!) as fried chicken I remember from my childhood. Irresistibly yummy. It also adhered perfectly to the chicken part, no idea how they pulled that off since vegan breading is hard to do. It was great.
When you get past the breading to the “chicken” part again it’s a really nice consistency and flavor. There are a lot of yummy spices in it that give it a burst of flavor that other vegan chickens simply don’t have (I think there was even possibly a tiny touch of curry powder?). The texture is more juicy and dynamic than other vegan meats. When you pull it apart it looks and behaves more like a piece of chicken. Definitely spongier than meat, but it is a nice departure from the generic texturized soy chicken that is literally always the same — wayy more substantial and satisfying.
The one issue is that because the vegan “meat” is kind of spongy, it sopped up a lot more oil than other products would in the deep frying process at the pop-up shop. The oil saturates not only to the breading on the outside, but the meat on the inside too. I maximally enjoyed while eating, but for hours afterward me and my fiance couldn’t move. This may be a normal feeling in general with fried chicken that maybe I don’t remember, but my body was crying for water and handfuls fresh spinach after. For this reason, I would definitely prefer baking or air frying when I purchase the chicken from their website. If it was baked or air fried it literally would have been perfect.
At the pop-up shop I really liked the toasted bun and the fresh lettuce and tomato. The sauces were also good, tho I couldn’t quite distinguish what they were. I think there was a garlic sauce on it, which was too strong for my fiance. For me it was fine. However, the meat is actually so flavorful that I would really put a more neutral sauce, like vegan mayo or ketchup, so I can fully enjoy the flavor of the chicken without any interference from a flavorful sauce. On the side would be better I think. I also got the fries and they were really good. Again, kind of too fried for me but what do I expect from french fries?
Filling!!! Even just the sandwich on its own was definitely a full meal. The fries were super extra I personally did not need them — a spring salad would have been a better compliment to it actually. Vegan burgers or chicken sandwiches are almost never filling enough on their own. However, this sandwich was big!! and filling!! You will definitely be getting enough food. Even my fiance who is always still hungry couldn’t take another bite by the end. A+ for giving enough food. I appreciate that since it’s true that vegan places often really don’t give enough, especially for what they charge. This was enough.
When you think fried chicken or chicken sandwich, it’s really more of a fast food or budget food item typically. So it is kind of against my logic to spend $21 per person on vegan fried chicken sandwich combo. The sandwich was $17 then it was $2 extra for the fries and $2 for a standard bottle of water — plus tax and tip. However, this is all very specific to the pop-up location I went to. I know they sell their product on their website and have their chicken available at other locations, which may have different prices. In my opinion, although it was a great amount of food, $14 for the whole combo would have been a more fair price. As a vegan, I feel I shouldn’t have to pay $20 to have some fried chicken. But I know it’s a pop-up so maybe that factors in to the cost. Anyway, I wouldn’t consider it a very accessible price point.
All in all I would say Atlas Monroe’s vegan fried chicken is extremely good. I would definitely be careful to not deep fry, but otherwise it makes for a phenomenal sandwich. It is extremely satisfying in a way that no other vegan chicken is. Fried chicken lovers will absolutely love this product. However, I would love to see it at a more accessible price point. I probably won’t go to the pop-up again, but I would definitely buy from their website and prep myself one day if it becomes available. I hope to see this on the shelves in grocery stores everywhere. I’m excited to see what’s coming up in the future for Atlas Monroe — grateful that they’re stepping up to the plate and innovating vegan chicken products.
About Atlas Monroe
Atlas Monroe is a vegan food company that specializes in vegan fried chicken. They have been featured on Shark Tank, and have won the prize for Best Fried Chicken by Extra Crispy at the annual Fried Chicken Festival. Products are sold on their website, though they are often sold out. They also sell at different restaurants, pop-up shops and fairs, which you can learn about on their Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Starbucks finally came out with a vegan option on their menu. But it’s not a pastry or muffin or cookie or a cute bistro sandwich, it’s falafel with guacamole. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but falafel is not exactly what I was hoping for when I emailed Starbucks several times in the past 15 years to add a vegan menu option. And avocado is kind of a weird thing to pair with it. However, there is something to be said for Starbucks Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box.
Starbucks Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box Review
Okay, so it took me months to actually try this because I thought it was a ridiculous option at a coffee shop (if I want falafel I’ll go to a middle eastern spot). For this reason, I waited for a moment that I needed an easy on-the-go meal rather than something that I specifically wanted to pair with my coffee. That day came last week. Let me review each element of Starbuck’s vegan protein box:
The chickpea bites
These are actually way more yummy than I expected. I fully thought they’d be dry, crumbly falafel wannabes. However, they totally had a cafeteria chicken nugget vibe going on. I say cafeteria because since they’re packaged and cold they don’t have that crispy finish. The outside is a nicely seasoned breading, and the inside is soft and slightly moist and holds together nicely. Not dry at all. Really a lot like a casual chicken nugget from my childhood. I enjoyed it a lot.
Even the thought of packaged guacamole makes me sick so I did not expect to like this at all. I opened the container just a tiny bit because I expected to try a little and not have the rest, but I ended up finishing it! It is absolutely nothing like fresh guacamole, but it didn’t have any gross weird packaged guacamole taste. It tasted like the fresh ingredients listed, just a smooth avocado, lime, jalapeno, garlic and salt—nothing else. Somehow it tasted fresh despite being packaged. I didn’t love it but I was definitely able to finish it without getting grossed out.
The carrots and snap peas are fresh and crisp. I especially liked how crunchy, juicy and lightly sweet the snap peas were. It was a nice accompaniment to round out the meal. The veggies were also good for dipping in the avocado, because the chickpea bites weren’t quite strong enough to be dipped without coming apart a bit.
The nuts and seeds
I was full after the meal, so it’s convenient that the nuts and seeds are packaged in their separate little bag for later. I actually forgot I had these and found them in my bag on a camping trip and ate them on a short hike. It’s about a handful or so of sunflower seeds, almonds, pepitas and dried cranberries. Not the freshest or most crisp nuts in the world, but it was a nice, balanced pick-me-up.
Overall better than I expected but still NOT something I want with my coffee. It’s kind of doesn’t make sense for this option to be at Starbucks, but if I ever want a quick, easy, healthy, on-the-go meal that’s under $7 I would get this again for sure. But the odds of my thinking to stop at Starbucks for lunch is very unlikely so I’m not sure how often I’ll actually think to do it. It’s probably a great option for parents to grab for their kids’ lunches too while they’re ordering their morning coffee.
Starbucks thank you for the chickpea nuggets but please add a vegan bakery item! It’s seriously not difficult I promise. You’re wayyy behind pretty much every local coffee shop and several chains at this point (Peet’s, Argo Tea, Think Coffee, Whole Foods Cafe, etc.). And also, please switch to 100 percent Fair Trade or Direct Trade! I have no choice but to opt for my local coffee shop (Holsem <3) so that I can have FAIR TRADE coffee with a delicious vegan muffin. Or I just brew my own fair trade coffee and bake my own pastry at home. Make a bold move into a more humane realm, Sbux. These baby steps are appreciated but not enough.
If you love chocolate, you should make sure your enjoyment is not at the expense of someone’s freedom. Many of the most popular chocolate brands out there, like Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars, have cacao beans from sources that are known to use child and slave labor. I’ve done a lot of research and luckily, there are many delicious fair trade chocolate brands to choose from instead. By choosing fair trade, you help ensure that your chocolate is free of human suffering.
If we want to see a better world, we need vote with our money. Being conscious consumers means making purchases that are aligned with our values. In other words, not supporting heartless chocolate companies that have modern day slavery built into their business model. We can help improve this world one fair trade chocolate bar at a time.
The vast majority of cacao beans (aka cocoa beans) used in mainstream chocolate come from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Unfortunately, the chocolate industry there is highly unregulated, with unthinkably inhumane practices in place to keep prices competitive. Farmers are paid slave wages at a mere $1 per day. This means they don’t have the funds to hire workers to keep up with the demand, so children are forced to work. Children are actually taken from their families in Mali and other nearby countries, smuggled across the border to Ghana and Ivory Coast, and sold to work the cacao plantations. Some children are as young as 5 years old, and conditions are very dangerous.
What do the big chocolate corporations do? They turn a blind eye. They say “I haven’t seen it so I can’t be responsible for it, but if it’s happening that’s unacceptable.” However, they know very well that they are paying slave wages to the farmers, and they know the desperate conditions are directly linked to their refusal to pay fair wages. And though they deny it, they do know about the issues of child labor, but refuse to take responsibility. But no matter how they ignore or deny it, they are responsible for the source of the ingredients in their chocolate bars. Period. And how do chocolate companies get away with it? Us. We buy the chocolate.
If the companies won’t change, we as consumers are fully responsible for boycotting those companies that produce chocolate by way of slave wages and child labor.
Conditions on Chocolate Plantations
The conditions on cacao plantations are harsh for an adult let alone a child. First off, the work is demanding. Children have to carry extremely heavy loads, climb tall trees, use sharp and dangerous tools, and be exposed to hazardous levels of pesticides. The work hours are long and many of them are paid absolutely nothing, despite the promise of money during the initial capture from their home. Instead of being in school, they work the plantations, often in a state of slavery, to keep chocolate affordable for privileged children around the world. See the documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate for heartbreaking insight on the production of chocolate from child’s home capture to plantation to chocolate bar.
What does fair trade mean?
Fair trade chocolate means that the farmers are paid fair, living wages and that there was no child labor involved in the production of the chocolate. Fair trade chocolate brands have a set of standards that they must adhere to to keep their certification. Look for these labels when choosing chocolate:
Here’s a video from Equal Exchange about what Fair Trade is and why it matters:
Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
Here are some common fair trade chocolate brands that you can find easily at your local Whole Foods, Sprouts or health food store. Even some major mainstream supermarket chains and pharmacies are starting to carry some of these brands, making ethical chocolate choices even more effortless. Some of the brands provided an exclusive statement about fair trade for this blog, which I’m super grateful for:
Fair for Life | USDA Organic | Non-GMO | Kosher | Vegan options
USDA Organic | Fair Trade Federation Member | Worker-Owned Cooperative | Equal Exchange | Green America Certified Business | Vegan options
Statement from Equal Exchange:
“In 1986, Equal Exchange was founded to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. With our founding, we joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and non-profits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying our work is the belief that only through organization, can small farmers survive and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.”
“UNREAL knows that the best tasting chocolate snacks can be made with clean, responsible ingredients for the good of our health, the planet, and the farmers. It’s essential that the farmers who grow our cocoa have safe working conditions, sustainable wages, and access to the Fair Trade premiums, which are used to invest in community development. We’re proud to say that all of our products are fair trade certified.“
If you want to ensure that your chocolate is free of animal suffering as well, it’s important to choose brands that are fair trade AND vegan. Humans suffer in the production, so fair trade is essential to make sure you are boycotting those practices. However, dairy cows also suffer tremendously and are kept in horrifying, torturous conditions to produce the milk in milk chocolate. If you want a chocolate bar that is truly humane, it needs to be both fair trade and dairy-free (vegan).
All of the Fair Trade Chocolate Brands listed above have excellent vegan options available. Here are some brands that are Fair Trade and 100 percent vegan.
“It’s always been our mission to create high quality chocolate that not only taste good, but is good for you and everyone involved. That process begins with making sure our raw materials are sourced from farms using sustainable practices that also enforce NO child labor, monkey labor or slave labor.”
“Beyond it being the right thing to do according to the Golden Rule, there are also energetic reasons to go Fair Trade. We believe that food carries energetic imprints, which affect the consumer. We want only good energy going into our cacao…this means from the time the cacao pods are taken from the tree (nature is always good vibes of course) until our product lands in your hand. This means we have to take care of the farmers and every single person who has a hand in the work that goes into our product. We want the farmers to be thriving and happy to do what they do. That goes into the cacao. We believe this not only serves Love & Unity consciousness, but also makes the chocolate feel and taste even better!”
Opt for these fair trade chocolate brands next time you are craving some chocolatey goodness. With these amazing options, there is no excuse whatsoever to support companies that use slaves and children to produce their chocolate.
Is your chocolate brand fair trade but you don’t see it listed? Email me at email@example.com and I’ll be sure to add you!
Aloo gobi is one of my favorite meals to make and to get at a restaurant. I love cauliflower and this dish glorifies cauliflower in every way that the cruciferous vegetable deserves. And of course, potatoes make everything satisfying and delicious. Luckily, aloo gobi is traditionally made vegan to begin with, so this vegan aloo gobi recipe is a classic crowd-pleaser.
I’ve simplified the recipe with some store-bought ground spices to make it extra accessible to peeps here in the US. I’ve also stirred in coconut cream to give it that creamy restaurant-style finish. I actually made aloo gobi at a cooking class while I was living in Rishikesh, India, and incorporate many of the tips I learned from the chef into this easy recipe (thanks Cooking Masala!).
Easy Vegan Aloo Gobi Recipe
Olive oil, for pan
1x large yellow onion, diced
4x cloves garlic, chopped
2x beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1x 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 of a 13.5 oz can of coconut cream
1x tablespoon curry powder
1x tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne for extra spice (optional)
2x medium russet potatoes, diced
1x medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Cayenne, to desired spice level (optional)
Preheat a medium and large pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on each.
In the larger pan, add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes, moving often so they don’t stick.
In the medium pan, add the onion and saute until golden, then add garlic and saute until a light golden color.
Next, add the diced tomatoes to the onions and garlic and saute until they start to break down a bit, about 4 minutes. Then, add the tomato paste, coconut cream and spices, bring to a medium-low simmer for at least 10 minutes so flavors can marry.
Meanwhile, in the larger pan, add the cauliflower florets with the potatoes and continue cooking them both together for 15 more minutes until both are getting more tender (about half cooked). Then, add the simmering tomato mixture to the potatoes and cauliflower.
Simmer all ingredients together for 30 more minutes, adding salt, black pepper and cayenne (optional) to taste.
After 30 minutes, turn off yoru aloo gobi and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Finally, serve alongside basmati rice and/or naan and enjoy! I
Want it even creamier? There are three ways to achieve this:
One is to immersion blend or blend the tomato mixture before adding it over the tomatoes and cauliflower. Many restaurants do this, and actually I do it often as well.
The other is to add the whole can of coconut cream rather than half. I’ve done this and it makes it very scrumptious.
Third, you can do both 1 and 2 for the ultimate level of creaminess.
Try this recipe and let me know what you think! What other Indian dishes would you like to see recipes for?