When you prepare your own food from home, it’s easy to ensure that the food remains vegan and free of any animal products. Buying pre-made items from the store is not as simple, and takes careful reading of nutrition labels for the word vegan or the lack of animal-based ingredients. In some cases you can assume a food is not going to be vegan based off of reputation or advertisements, but others may surprise you.
While many of the below listed items may not necessarily be as healthy as fresh foods, it’s good to know that when you’re feeling the need for a treat, or if you have just switched to a vegan lifestyle and are missing some of your old foods, many options are still available to you.
Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
While the nacho cheese and cool ranch version of Doritos uses cheese, milk or whey for flavoring, the spicy sweet chili variety is free of these ingredients. However, consume in moderation, as while there’s no animal products in the chips, they do contain MSG, which can cause negative health effects to those who are sensitive to it.
Unfrosted Pop Tarts
Pop tarts create nostalgia for many, and bring back childhood breakfast memories. As long as you avoid the frosted version and stick to the fruit flavored varieties, the breakfast toaster pastries remain vegan.
Fritos surprisingly contain mostly three ingredients, whole corn, salt and corn oil, making them vegan-friendly. Even better, both the original and Barbecue flavored Fritos are vegan. Combine these chips with a vegan chili, or dip in another surprisingly vegan food, Fritos bean dip.
SuperPretzel Brand Pretzels Typically pretzel dough utilizes dairy or eggs for flavor and texture, especially soft pretzels. However, SuperPretzels are free of both, providing a vegan option for soft pretzel cravings. Pair the pretzels with a mix of melted non-dairy butter spread, such as Earth Balance, and minced garlic for a vegan-friendly garlic butter dip.
While Betty Crocker brand Bac-Os are advertised as bacon bits, they do not actually contain any pork products. McCormick Bac’n Pieces are also free of actual bacon. So when you’re nostalgic for bacon, feel free to indulge in these vegan friendly bacon-flavored bites.
Creamy Italian Dressing
Most creamy dressings get their creaminess from the addition of milk products. However, Kraft brand creamy Italian dressing does not use milk products to obtain their creamy texture, giving you options beyond the typical vinaigrette on your next salad.
Sara Lee Apple Pie
Apple pie crust is typically lade with butter, but Sara Lee’s Oven Fresh Apple Pie uses other fats to create the flaky texture desired by most pie lovers. The pie is also free of eggs both in the crust and the filling.
Another buttery favorite is the Ritz cracker. While these crackers are still loaded with fat at nearly a gram of fat per cracker, the fat used is not animal-based.
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Crescent rolls typically rely on butter and eggs for texture and flavor. However, Pillsbury crescent rolls pack all the same flavor without using animal products. If you miss the melted butter on top of the rolls, simply substitute with a dairy-free butter.
More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year for just one single day. What an awful way to show thankfulness, by causing massive suffering. This year, reconsider what’s on your Thanksgiving plate and choose to celebrate the holiday by honoring life and kindness, instead of cruelty and death.
Here’s 8 reasons to be compassionate this Thanksgiving.
1. Rampant animal abuse
The honest truth is: If you purchase turkey, you are contributing to some of the worst animal abuse there is. There is so much documentation and undercover footage of the abuse that it is undeniable how rampant and horrifying it is. Workers routinely stomp on turkeys, punch them, kick them, beat them with pipes and boards, twist their necks repeatedly, and slam them against walls. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey’s throat.
Life on factory farms is hell and by purchasing turkey, you are not only condoning, but also directly funding this abuse. Take responsibility for your actions. Just because it’s out of sight, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Choose not to support this cruelty.
2. Modern turkeys are Frankensteins
Turkeys are drugged and genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible to increase profits. In 1960, the average turkey raised for meat weighed 17 pounds. Today, he or she weighs 29 pounds. Turkeys are now so overgrown they cannot even reproduce naturally; instead, all the turkeys born in the United States today on factory farms are conceived through artificial insemination.
Their unnaturally large size makes it difficult for turkeys to walk and some even cripple under their immense weight. The crippled animals can not stand or walk to get food or water. The rapid growth also causes many turkeys to die from organ failure or heart attacks before they are even 6 months old. According to an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal on the miserable conditions on turkey farms, “It’s common in a rearing house to find a dead bird surrounded by four others whose hearts failed after they watched the first one ‘fall back and go into convulsions, with its wings flapping wildly.’”
3. Nearly 1 million turkeys and chickens are boiled alive each year
According to the Washington Post, nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive every year in U.S. slaughterhouses, where fast-moving lines often fail to kill the birds before they are dropped into the scalding tank. Employees struggle to properly shackle thrashing birds by their ankles on the constantly moving “disassembly line.” When birds are not properly secured, or are improperly stunned, they miss the automated blade which slits their throats, and are still alive when they enter the scalder.
4. The filth. Oh, the filth!
By the time the birds are sent to slaughter, as much as 80% of the litter on the floor of the shed is their own urine and feces. This results in a buildup of ammonia, causing turkeys to develop ulcerated feet and painful burns on their legs and bodies. The air in these sheds is so polluted with feces and ammonia that most birds suffer from painful respiratory diseases and eye disorders, including swelling of the eyelids, discharge, clouding and ulceration of the cornea, and even blindness.
There is a high rate of viral and bacterial infections from the filth, and sick or injured birds frequently languish unnoticed. When suffering birds are found, they are typically killed via “cervical dislocation or the crushing of the head or vertebrae by striking the birds against a wall or with an object,” says Mercy for Animals.
But the filth isn’t just bad for the birds, it’s bad for you as well. Consumer Reports’ researchers recently tested 257 brands of raw ground turkey meat and found that 90% of the tested turkey meat had at least one of these five bacteria: enterococcus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter. All five bacteria can cause illness and be fatal in some cases. And all five bacteria are associated with fecal contamination. In other words, there is feces on the meat.
5. De-beaking, de-toeing, and de-snooding
Turkeys are crammed so tightly into sheds that each bird only has about 2.5 square feet of space. To keep the birds from injuring and killing each other in such crowded, stressful conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All of this is done without pain relievers and the birds do experience immense pain during this.
6. “Free Range” does NOT mean humane
According to the USDA, the terms “free range” and “free roaming” can be used to describe animals that “are allowed access to the outside for 51% of their lives”. It is completely legal (and common) for this “access to the outside” to be a single, small door in the corner of a huge shed that leads to a concrete slab. There are no requirements on the actual amount of time spent outdoors or the quality and size of the outdoor area. For this reason, contrary to popular belief, “free-range” facilities are generally no more than large sheds in which tens of thousands of turkeys are crammed together, living in their own waste. Their beaks and toes are still clipped, they are still fed growth hormones and their legs buckle under their unnaturally large weight, and they are still slaughtered by being hung, flailing, upside down, having their throat slit, and then being scalded in boiling water.
Do not be fooled into thinking that turkeys with marketing buzz words on their wrapper lived better lives than those without the fancy labels.
Free Range turkeys
7. Turkeys are gentle, loving, creatures
In natural conditions, turkey hens are devoted mothers who care diligently for their babies. They form friendships and emotional bonds. Much like dogs, turkeys love to be petted and to play with their turkey friends.
Many turkeys, even those who have known great cruelty at human hands, will happily sit for hours having their feathers stroked. Beatrice (below), a former factory farm turkey rescued by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, loves to snuggle, despite having been mutilated by humans as a baby.
Susie Coston, who has worked with rescued farmed animals, including many turkeys, for nearly twenty years, writes: “Prevalent in our society are some deep misconceptions about turkeys: that they lack intelligence, that they don’t have personalities, that there can be no kinship between humans and these animals who appear so very different from us. No one who met this bright, charismatic bird could doubt that turkeys are individuals with minds, feelings, and unique characters – individuals with whom we can have connections, individuals with whom we can share friendship.”
8. Thanksgiving is about thankfulness, not meat
Remember that the intention of the holiday is about giving thanks, showing gratitude, reflecting on what we appreciate and love. I can’t think of a worse way to show thankfulness than brutally abusing and slaughtering 45 million living creatures. Why should the centerpiece of this joyous holiday be the carcass of a tortured animal? This year, focus on the family, on the friends, on the spirit of the occasion, even on the (cruelty-free) food, but not on an abused animal! Begin a tradition of celebrating thanks by choosing kindness, compassion, and life. Fill your table with delicious, meat-free dishes and I promise, not only will your stomach feel satisfied, but so will your heart.
Over the years, I’ve posted quite a bit about turkeys. Writing a Thanksgiving post about turkeys has sort-of become a tradition on Powered By Produce. Check out some of my previous posts about turkeys if want even more reasons to leave these gentle creatures off your plate.
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. You may want to chill the quinoa in the fridge before using it in this salad, but if you’re impatient like me, then it really doesn’t matter that much if it’s chilled or warm.
2. Mix quinoa, avocado, tomato, and chickpeas, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
It’s important to have a list of easy, go-to meals for lunch time, whether at home or on the go. A focus on fresh and portable ingredients ensures a healthy meal at a moments notice, with very little effort required on your part.
The sandwich can be found on almost any lunch menu in restaurants across the nation, but just because you’re having a sandwich for lunch, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Change it up by adding different types of greens or sprouts in place of boring lettuce. Include creamy items like avocado or deeper flavors like balsamic roasted eggplant. Try different types and styles of bread for variation. Add protein sources like tofu, tempeh bacon or bean spreads to balance out the meal.
Salad is another common lunch item, but like sandwiches, your salads don’t have to be boring. The quickest way to change up your salad is through dressings and vinaigrettes. Adventure out into new flavors, or make your own vinaigrettes from home using various herbs and spices. Change up salad greens to alter the base of your salad flavor. Experiment with toppings such as different types of mushrooms, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that can be chopped up in advance and sprinkled onto your salad. To pack your lunch with protein add nuts, seeds, green peas, beans, tempeh or tofu to your salad.
Dips and Spreads
Dips and spreads combined with healthy dipping sticks create the perfect on the go snack or lunch. Choose spreads and dips like hummus, nut butters, bean purees or salsas, which can either be purchased from the store or made simply at home before hand and stored in the fridge. Add dipping sticks like carrots, celery, jicama, apple slices, sweet peppers, crackers and any other favorite vegan-friendly foods you like. Consider combining different dippers in the same lunch for variety and increased nutritional content.
Vegan sushi is easy to prepare at home and take with you for a portable lunch at work or school. Not only is sushi easy to prepare, but the nori wrap is considered a green super food and is also packed with plant-based protein. Add any vegetables you like, such as cucumbers, avocados or sprouts in place of fish. Prepare the rolls in advance and keep refrigerated until you’re ready for lunch, or take the separate prepared components with you and build on the spot.
For a really quick and easy lunch, throw it all in a blender for a smoothie. Experiment with different kinds of fruits, vegetables and protein sources to create variety in your lunch menu. Sample mix ins can include the traditional fruits like strawberries, blueberries and bananas along with vegetables like kale, wheat grass spinach or carrot juice. Protein sources can also vary your smoothie through the use of almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk or vegan-friendly protein powders.
The great thing about the options listed above is that they can be augmented to fit your own individual tastes. Don’t be afraid to change up the ingredients and experiment with different options to provide greater variety in your weekly meal plans.
I’ve stuffed sweet potatoes before (with brussels sprouts, cranberries, and walnuts). This is another variation on the stuffed sweet potato. I was a little bit afraid that this would turn out bland, but boy was I wrong! The garlic, lemon, and red pepper flakes give it a lot of flavor and make this a really savory dish!
White Beans (like Great Northern Beans)
Lemon (1/2 lemon per sweet potato)
Garlic (1-2 cloves per sweet potato)
Red Pepper Flakes
1. Bake the sweet potato until fully cooked. (400 degrees, 30 min – 1 hour depending on the potato size)
2. When the potato is nearly finished cooking, cook the kale and bean filling. In a pan with a cover, cook the crushed garlic cloves in some olive oil. Add the beans and kale. Add the lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together.
3. Cover and cook until the kale is wilted, but still bright green. If the kale starts to turn dull/dark green, stop cooking.
4. When the sweet potato is done baking, cut it open and fill the middle with the kale and bean filling.
Sheesh, it’s been 3 months since my last post. I really am going to try to post more often! Anyways…
I just LOVE buffalo sauce! I put it on everything I can: veggie burgers, french fries, tofu, tempeh, etc. So when I heard the idea of buffalo cauliflower I immediately had to try it! What a fantastic way to spice up cauliflower, literally.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat cauliflower florets in olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet. Roast them until they begin to brown, about 20 minutes.
2. Remove cauliflower from the oven and cover in buffalo sauce. Then return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
Black Eyed Peas, cooked (either cook ahead of time or use canned)
3 tbs olive oil
1. Boil the pasta.
2. While pasta is boiling, chop the squash, tomato, and tear the kale into pieces.
3. When the pasta has about 5-7 minutes left to boil, add the squash to the pot of boiling pasta.
4. When the pasta has about 1 minute left to boil, add the tomato, black eyed peas, and kale to the pot of boiling pasta. Stir until kale turns bright green, but don’t overcook (don’t let kale start turning dull/dark green).
5. Drain. Stir with 3 tbs olive oil and juice of 1 lemon.
Wow, I haven’t posted in so long! Got totally consumed by wedding planning, then after the wedding was over I needed to take a little mental break! But now I’m back!
1 package Filo dough (or Phyllo, or Fillo) – found in the freezer section
1 tomato or a package of cherry tomatoes
Pitted kalamata olives (or any kind of olives that you like)
1 can artichokes hearts, quartered
1 can chickpeas
1. The Filo dough will need to be thawed. The instructions on the box typically say to put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before use, to allow it to thaw. I’ve never actually done that. I’ve always thawed it in the microwave for about 60 seconds. I’m not saying it’s the best way to do it, I’m just saying it’s an option.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Unroll the Filo dough on a cookie sheet. I used about half the Filo sheets in the roll. Brush the top with olive oil.
3. Top with sliced tomato, olives, artichoke heart, and chickpeas.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the Filo dough are crispy.
I’ve posted veggie sandwich recipes before and many of them have included cheese (asparagus sandwich, mufuletta sandwich, pesto panini). But, when I decided to do 30 days of vegan, I wanted to make a veggie sandwich without cheese! I really hate dry veggie sandwiches, which I think is what always led me to add cheese to them, but this time I decided to try pesto instead of cheese and it turned out so delicious! (Note: Hummus is also great for making veggie sandwiches not dry – I did that for this artichoke sandwich.)
Baguette sandwich rolls
Pesto sauce (from a jar or homemade)
Seasonings, Salt & Pepper to taste
Any veggies you like! I used:
Chickpeas (for some added protein)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice veggies and place them all (including any beans/chickpeas) on a baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over them and mix them up in the oil until they are coated with oil. Add seasonings and salt/pepper.
3. Roast veggies for 20 minutes.
4. Slice baguette, spread pesto on the inside of the baguette, and fill the sandwich with roasted veggies.
I served mine with a cole slaw (cabbage, carrot, vinegar & oil salad) on the side.