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Thrive Cuisine

Greek Yogurt has quickly become popular snack and different brands are popping up all over the refrigerated section of the grocery store. As a lower sugar alternative to overly sweetened commercial yogurts, it may be a slightly healthier alternative. However, the ethical and health issues of consuming real dairy cannot be ignored.

If you're thinking about going vegan (or already are) and feel like you're missing out on Greek yogurt, today is your lucky day! There are so many options to enjoy it without the use of any dairy products.

Is Greek Yogurt Vegan?

The answer is no. Greek Yogurt in its traditional form is not vegan because it is made from cow's milk. Vegans don't consume any products that are derived from meat, dairy, eggs, dairy, or fish. The short reason for this is because producing dairy products, such as the milk in Greek Yogurt, requires cows to be artificially inseminated, worked to their capacity, and stripped of their offspring. Vegans view the entire process as unethical and thus abstain from milk products.

Vegan Greek Yogurt Substitutes

If you think you can't live without yogurt, don't panic! We've compiled 7 options for you to enjoy Greek Yogurt (which also include the live active cultures)  without any dairy whatsoever. Don't forget that most brands have store locators on their website, so you can check if their products are locally available. If there's no store-bought options near you or you're more culinary-inclined, be sure to check out option number 7 - making your own.

1. So Delicious Greek Style Coconut Milk Yogurt

You're probably familiar with So Delicious from their plant milk products, but they also make Greek Yogurt!

You can enjoy it right out of the container or use it in any recipe where Greek yogurt would be used. This includes things like parfaits, yogurt pies, tzatziki sauce, and on top of oatmeal.

2. Ripple Greek Yogurt

Ripple is an up and coming dairy alternative company that has an entire line of Vegan Greek Yogurts!

Their products are formulated to be high in protein, just like the "real" thing. Each of their flavors: Original, Vanilla, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Maple each have 12g of protein.

3. Kite Hill Greek Style Yogurt

Kite Hill, probably best known for their vegan cream cheese, also makes a line of Greek Yogurts.

A post shared by LiveLifePure (@live_life_pure_) on Aug 27, 2017 at 8:14am PDT

There's plenty of flavors to choose from including blueberry, peach, strawberry, vanilla, and plain. We're noticing them more and more in the supermarkets nowadays, so they shouldn't be too hard to find, especially if you've got a Whole Foods near you!

4. Joya Soya Greek Yogurt

If you live in Europe, you may be lucky enough to find Joya's line of Greek Yogurts at your grocery store.

Currently, they make their Greek yogurts in plain and strawberry, but also have a wide variety of other vegan yogurt products to check out. As you probably can tell by the name, most of their products are made from the humble soybean.

5. Kingland Greek Yogurt

For folks living in Australia, Kingland has a huge line of Greek Yogurt that you might be able to find at your local grocer.

A post shared by Brett (@brettles2612) on Aug 31, 2016 at 7:26pm PDT

Kingland actually has some creative flavors in their lineup, too! Their entire selection includes: Plain, Mixed Berries + Chia, Apple + Cinnamon, Mango + Peach, Passionfruit + Chia. As far as allergens go, all of their products are soy based.

6. Daiya Greek Yogurt

Everyone has heard of Daiya Cheese. It's even made its way into some mainstream pizzerias as a dairy-free option.

A post shared by Rayne (@rayneface) on Oct 16, 2016 at 3:39pm PDT

You might not have known that Daiya also has a line of vegan Greek Yogurt! It's made in plain, strawberry, blueberry, peach, cherry, and vanilla bean.

7. ​Making Plant-Based Greek Yogurt at Home

Getting a vegan yogurt starter kit is a great way to simplify the process. They come with everything you need (besides the milk) and easy to follow directions.

Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter Culture, Non-Dairy, Organic, Non-GMO, Probiotic Blend, Use In Yogurt Maker With Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Includes 4 Packets Of Starter

Cultures for Health makes a kit specifically designed for plant-based yogurt.

While it’s not designed specifically for Greek-style, you can use agar agar, guar gum, pectin, or tapioca starch or another thickener to create the finalized thick texture. 

The post Is Greek Yogurt Vegan? Plus 7 Dairy-Free Alternatives! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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Is Licorice Vegan?

ANSWER: Most of the time, licorice is indeed vegan, but there are some exceptions. There are so many different types of licorice out there from the commonly known Twizzlers and Red Vines to more handcrafted candies meant to closely resemble the original flavors of the root of the liquorice plant. When checking for yourself, be on the look out for gelatin as some recipes use it as a base for the candy.

Luckily, we've saved you the hassle and hand picked a bunch of vegan licorice brands below which contain absolutely zero gelatin!

Vegan Licorice Brands

If you've got a hankering for some vegan licorice, we've selected a bunch of brands and products for you to try out.

We picked a variety of different styles of licorice because as we mentioned above, there are just so many different kinds.​

As always, the potential exists for companies to change their formulation so be sure to double check before buying!​

Ice Chips Licorice Candy

ICE CHIPS Licorice Xylitol Mints 6 Single Tins

Let's be clear about something, original licorice is flavored with the licorice root itself, but for a very long time, companies have been using very similar flavorings such as anise as a replacement/alternative. Nothing wrong with this, it's probably just a bit cheaper/easier to source.

Anyway, Ice Chips became a popular candy after they were on Shark Tank. They don't use any actual sugar, but rather xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol in candies is known for not promoting tooth decay, but NEVER give it to your pets.

And don't worry, the trace amounts of "cream of tartar" ​isn't made from actual cream, it's typically a byproduct from wine making.

​This licorice candy is labeled vegan and only has 5 calories for every two pieces. 

Panda All Natural Soft Licorice

Panda All Natural Soft Licorice, 7 Oz.

As per their tagline, the Panda brand has made it their mission to capture "the real taste of licorice". It actually only has five ingredients according to their website - four since they double count the molasses: 

Table molasses, wheat flour, cooking molasses, licorice extract, aniseed oil.

They use both real licorice extract and aniseed oil as they have very similar flavor profiles. As you can see by the ingredient statement its free of animal products and even gluten.

The holes within the candy itself​ make for an interesting bite as it creates a bit more give than if it were completely solid.

Expect a soft bite with authentic flavor from this Finnish candy.

Simply Gum Fennel Licorice

Simply Gum, Fennel Licorice Natural Chewing Gum - Non GMO, Vegan, 6 Packs (90 Pieces)

OK, we realize that this isn't what you might consider traditional licorice candy, but we still felt it was worth including. Even though many licorice candies are vegan, they aren't something that you'd want to eat all the time.

With all their processed sugar, and artificial stuff, it's a far cry from a whole plant food.

However, if you have a licorice craving that you simply cannot quench , Simply Gum makes this gum which is great to have in a pinch with much less sugar and fewer calories. Plus, the flavor will last a lot longer than eating the actual candy!

The company intentionally uses 100% vegan ingredients including vegetable glycerin (which is usually plant-based anyway - but nice that they specified it). We always like to be extra supportive of brands and companies that do this and also talked about them on our vegan gum article.

Yum Earth Organic Licorice

YumEarth Organic Gluten Free Licorice, Strawberry, 5 Ounce (Pack of 12)

As we mentioned in our article on sugar, there exists the potential for non-organic cane sugar to be processed with bone char. While we don't think its worth worrying about too much when picking up a candy, its nice to see when brands use specifically labeled vegan sugar like Yum Earth.

This strawberry licorice from Yum Earth is probably going to be closer to the licorice candy you're used to than something like ice chips.​ It's a bit closer to Twizzlers or Red Vines, but obviously not exactly that either. More like smaller chews rather than twisted up strands.

If you've got allergies, Yum Earth makes their licorice in a peanut-free facility as well. Probably a safe bet to keep on hand if you've got kids as you never know what types of allergies their friends may have!​

Darrell Lea Original Black Liquorice

Darrell Lea Original Black Licorice - 7 oz

If you're looking for a candy that is actually flavored with real licorice extract, this is the one to go for. Darrell and Lea is actually an Austrialian brand, but a big favorite among hardcore licorice fans in the Western world. 

It's got no labeled animal products, but one weird ingredient on the label named "treacle". We didn't know what that was, but upon looking it up it turns out that its simply a British term for molasses. Strange that they would separate it out on the label like that from the other molasses.

This is truly a good pick up if you love black licorice. Expect a candy that's chewy, soft, and quite unique compared to some of the more conventional brands you've had in the past. Worth checking out for those who like experimenting with new flavors.

The post Is Licorice Vegan? Plus 5 Vegan Licorice Brands to Check Out! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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Are Gushers Vegan? Being that there are no blatantly labeled animal products in gushers we would consider them vegan. They also don't contain gelatin which is one of the most common animal-based ingredients that people miss. However, being that there are so many ingredients in these popular fruit snacks we will assess each ingredient in greater detail below.

It is important to note that if you'd prefer to be on the safe side there are many alternative fruit snacks that are actually labeled as 100% vegan. Here are some of the top ones that we'd recommend.

*Click any of the links above to check out these gushers alternatives on Amazon.

The healthiest alternative would be to simply eat some whole fruits, but that's neither here nor there!

Gushers Ingredient Breakdown

Here are all of the ingredients in gushers with a bit more detail about the vegan status of each one. This is from the Strawberry Splash flavor of gushers taken directly from the General Mills website. Always check store ingredient lists as manufacturer websites can sometimes be out of date.

We've put an asterisks* next to the ingredients of particular importance.​ As you'll see below, the origins of some of these ingredients is quite dubious. 

However, we take the position that unless an ingredient is a specific driver to the animal agriculture industry, you're better off not stressing too hard about it as it doesn't do any good for stopping animal suffering.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is a sweetener made by using enzymes to break down the starch of corn into sugar molecules. No animals involved.

Sugar*

Sugar can be a tricky ingredient because some sugar is filtered using bone char. We did an entire article on the subject of sugar if you want more details.

Many vegan organizations agree that sugar used in a food product shouldn't be fretted over. Avoiding these products would do little to nothing to prevent animal suffering and most likely the manufacturers don't even know the vegan status of the sugar they used.

Pear Puree

Self-explanatory! Pureed pears.

Modified Corn Starch

Corn treated with certain enzymes for different functionalities mainly for the purpose of modifying the viscosity of the final product.

Fructose

Sugar found in fruits. Not particularly great for you when its not part of the whole fruit, but vegan nonetheless.

Maltodextrin

Food additive used as a thickener derived from plant starches.

Palm Oil*

A controversial ingredient due to the nature of how it is harvested, many might consider it not to be vegan, but the subject is a bit nuanced and subjective. 

If we didn't use so much land for animal agriculture, there would be a lot more room to produce these types of ingredients ethically rather than having to deal with shrinking land availability.

If you want to learn more, check out our articles on skittles and frosting where we go into greater detail about palm oil.​

Glycerin*

Most glycerin is derived from plants although the potential exists for it to be animal derived. We go into greater detail about this in our article on vegan gum.

Cottonseed Oil

An oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants. 

Grape Juice Concentrate

This is basically grape fruit juice that has had most of its water removed making it a "concentrated" form.

Carrageenan*

A thickener derived from seaweed, no animals involved.

Citric Acid

Naturally found in citrus, citric acid is used as a preservative and as a flavoring agent. You can actually make your own at home!

Monoglycerides*

Used as an emulsifier, this is another one of those controversial ingredients where it becomes difficult to identify the origins. It could be animal or plant derived. Unfortunately, calling the company won't even be helpful most of the time as they are unlikely to know the origins.

Given that it is such a small ingredient that isn't a primary driver of animal agriculture, we recommend not to worry about it. PETA takes the same position.​

Sodium Citrate

Can be made from citric acid and sodium bicarbonate - not animal derived.

Malic Acid

Extracted from plants - nothing to worry about in regards to its vegan status.

​Ascorbic Acid

This is just vitamin C.

Natural Flavor*

A natural flavor can pretty much be anything that's approved for use in food that's used as a flavoring agent. Often times knowing its true origins is going to be impossible, even if you call the company. Much like our position on monoglycerides, we suggest you don't sweat it. The less people purchase blatantly labeled animal products in the first place, the less likely it will be to have these dubious ingredients derived from animals in the first place.

Potassium Citrate

Without getting too technical, its the potassium salt of citric acid. Don't worry about this one.

Agar-Agar

A gelatin alternative derived from algae. We love this ingredient and recommend it to make your own jello!

Red 40*

Commonly thought to be made from beetles, its actually made from coal. Wouldn't worry too much about this one.

Xanthan Gum​

A thickener typically obtained by the fermentation of bacteria. Don't worry about its vegan status.

Conclusion on Gushers

Although some of their ingredient status may be a bit dubious, we don't recommend you worry about it. Stick to removing all labeled animal products to your diet (meat, eggs, dairy, fish, gelatin, etc) as it is the most impactful thing you can do for the planet and the animals.

The post Are Gushers Vegan? What You Need To Know! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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Pressure cookers are a great appliance to minimize cleaning, energy consumption, and cooking time. Often times, though, they are too clunky and big for a small meal. This is especially true for college students in dorm rooms, when cooking for yourself a family sized pot isn't needed. We've compiled the best smallest pressure cookers below to help you save space, money, and extra time cleaning!

Presto 01241 4 quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker

Presto 01241 4-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker

This is one of the "larger" small pressure cookers out there and is great for small families of two or three. You get all the great benefits of a full size pressure cooker, such as drastically reduced cook time and tastier food. One standout feature of this pressure cooker is the built in pressure monitor, which monitors and regulates pressure automatically.

Instant Pot Duo Mini 3 quart Programmable Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer

This is the miniaturized version of the insanely popular Instant Pot Duo. Unlike the Presto, it is easily programmable and has several preset programs. This one is slightly smaller than the Presto, which makes it easy to cook for one, and even easier to store. If you do not want to lose a lot of counter space, this is definitely a good pick. It is made from durable stainless steel and has several safety measures in place.

Presto 01341 4 quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

Presto 01341  4-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

This one is very similar to the Presto 01241, but instead of aluminum, it is made from stainless steel. It is slightly more expensive, but if you prefer stainless steel than it is worth the money. You still have all the same great features from the 01241 such as the helper handle, which makes it easy to open and helps prevent you from burning yourself. It is also totally dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

COSORI Mini 7-in-1 Multifunctional Pressure Cooker

COSORI Mini 7-in-1 Multifunctional Programmable Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker with Glass Lid, Extra Sealing Ring and Recipe Book, 2 Quart /800W

If you want the smallest possible pressure cooker, COSOR is probably the tiniest one you'll find. This pressure cooker is only 2 quarts and is extremely compact and easy to store. It's sleek design perfectly compliments any kitchen or counter top. Like the Instant Pot, it is easy to program and replaces several other kitchen appliances. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking and makes it a breeze to cook delectable meals.

Aobosi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

[New Arrival] Aobosi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker 3Qt/800W Mini Size Perfect for Small Family Digital Non-Stick Rice/Slow Cooking Pot,Cookbook Included

Although this pressure cooker is only 3 quarts, it gives you all the same great features of larger pressure cookers. If you are looking for a really aesthetically pleasing pressure cooker, this one is probably the "prettiest" on the list. The colored, stainless steel housing adds a splash of color and personality. Just like the others, you still get amazing tasting food 3 to 10 times faster than conventional cooking methods.

The post What are the Best Smallest Pressure Cookers for Sale? appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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Raw vegan is considered by many to be one of the more "fringe" lifestyles within the vegan movement. Even though many of the most reputable plant-based doctors don't recommend a fully raw diet, that doesn't mean that there's no place for eating raw food or even a diet centered around mostly raw foods.

The healthiest version of a vegan diet is centered around eating whole plant foods which can be a difficult transition for someone previously following a SAD (Standard American Diet). Eating more raw foods is a great way for people to learn to appreciate how delicious plant foods can be, even when raw and minimally processed.  

Here are some of the best raw vegan cookbooks to help spark new ideas and help you appreciate the true beauty of plant-based cuisine!

Raw. Vegan. Not Gross: By Laura Miller

Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.: All Vegan and Mostly Raw Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

If there is anyone qualified to write a vegan cookbook, it is Laura Miller. She is the creator and star of the insanely popular Youtube show, Raw. Vegan. Not Gross., which has garnered millions of viewers. Before becoming a Youtube star and author, Laura ran a vegan dessert company, Sidesaddle Kitchen. Although she stays busy, you can find recipes, videos, blog posts, and several other things on her website: https://imlauramiller.com.

Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. aims to provide vegans with delicious, easy, (mostly) raw meals that work with every occasion. The cookbook has recipes for every meal and several that are sure to be party pleasers. Some of the recipes in Miller's book include:

● Banana pancakes

● Sweet potato curry

● Golden gazpacho

● Cauliflower pizza

The banana pancakes are also super easy, yet satisfying breakfast option. It's not often you are able to find a really good pancake recipe that actually has nutritious ingredients, but this one definitely takes the cake, or rather, takes the pancake. The sweet potato curry, golden gazpacho, and cauliflower pizza are all meals that you can easily throw together on a busy week day.

The Fully Raw Diet: 21 Days to Better Health: By Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram

The Fully Raw Diet: 21 Days to Better Health, with Meal and Exercise Plans, Tips, and 75 Recipes

After ridding herself of hyperglycemia, teaching cooking classes, founding multiple vegan businesses, and dedicating her life to raw foods, it is fair to say Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram has had a bit of experience she leveraged to write The Fully Raw Diet. Kristina is the founder of FullyRaw, and FullyRaw Juice, a raw vegan juice line. She is also the founder of Rawfully Organic, a non profit organization in her hometown of Houston, that feeds healthy, raw foods to hundreds of families each week. You can learn more about Kristina and her business on her website, http://www.fullyraw.com/.

The Fully Raw Diet aims to not only give you raw, vegan recipes, but also provide you with exercise plans and improve your overall health. It is a unique book that will help you gain weight, have more energy, and just feel like a better you. Some of the recipes you can find in this book include:

● Spicy mango basil salad

● Yellow squash fettuccine alfredo

● Orange ginger sesame dressing

● Guacamole

As you can tell, there is a wide variety of recipes in The Fully Raw Diet. The mango salad is a great quick lunch that you can throw together in the morning and take with you to work. Or, if you already have a favorite salad, the Orange ginger sesame dressing is a light,  delicious option that completes almost any bed of greens. And who doesn't love guacamole?

Rawsome Vegan Baking: By Emily von Euw

Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes

With multiple books under her belt there is no stopping Emily von Euw. Her passion for raw vegan food is evident by her award winning blog http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com. Emily has veganized countless recipes, particularly decadent desserts, and one look at her Instagram will make you a believer.

Rawsome Vegan Baking strives to provide you with raw recipes that are delectably sweet. Although probably still healthier than their non-raw counterparts, the desserts in this book are definitely binge worthy and shows a different side to raw cooking. Some of the recipes you can find in Rawsome Vegan Baking includes:

● Cashew coffee vanilla creme cake with cinnamon chocolate crust

● Buckwheat and berry cream cake

● Ice cream sandwiches

● Fudge bites

All of the recipes in this book work wonderfully when you are just craving something sweet but still want to eat healthy. You can make the ice cream sandwiches as a treat during those hot summer months, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser with the kids. The fudge bites are a fun way to indulge yourself during the week, and they're so good non vegans won't even be able to tell the difference.

The Raw Deal Cookbook By Emily Monaco

The Raw Deal Cookbook: Over 100 Truly Simple Plant-Based Recipes for the Real World

Author Emily Monaco is an experienced writer and cook. Who is also the creator of food blog Organic Authority. She has a knack for writing about our flawed food industry, and getting all the facts to educate her readers so that they can make an informed decision on their food choices. Her work has been published in various respectable sources, including the Wall Street Journal. Aside from writing, Emily gives food and wine tours in her home of Paris. She is extremely knowledgable and can be found writing regularly on her blog http://www.tomatokumato.com/.

The Raw Deal aims to show you that healthy, raw eating can be easy and delicious. It also aims to teach you how to make a raw diet work for you, and provide you with a wide variety of meal options for your everyday life. When you buy The Raw Deal you will get the secrets to awesome recipes such as:

● Almond butter stuffed dates

● Cabbage, apple, and carrot Kimchi

● Balsamic strawberries with coconut whipped cream

● Berry mint smoothie

The simple, yet flavor packed dates are a great healthy snack. This can come in handy if you have stubborn kids who love sweets. They will be able to get yummy, homemade snacks, and you will be able to have peace of mind knowing they aren't filling themselves full of processed sugar. The Kimchi makes a phenomenal weeknight side dish for dinner, and you can finish it off with a berry mint smoothie for dessert.

Easy, Affordable Raw: How to Go Raw on $10 a Day: By Lisa Viger

Easy, Affordable Raw: How to Go Raw on $10 a Day

Lisa Viger is a raw food expert and established blogger and author. She is passionate about writing, health, animals, and the environment. She loves to tell people all about the health and environmental benefits of a raw vegan diet and runs the successful blog http://www.rawon10.com/.

Viger's book Easy, Affordable Raw aims to push back on all those claims that a raw vegan diet is just too expensive to be practical. Viger breaks down the cost of each recipe and shows you that a vegan lifestyle is not all that hard to achieve. Some of her unique, affordable recipes are:

● Avocado and arugula pizza

● Almond pumpkin seed vanilla dried cherry cereal

● Cool ranch kale chips

● Creamy garlic and greens soup

With plenty of nutritious and filling entrees, such as the avocado pizza and garlic soup, to simple breakfast foods, such as the almond, pumpkin and cherry cereal, there is something for everyone's taste buds in this book. Viger even turns some of our guiltiest pleasures, such as potato chips, into healthy and affordable options, like cool ranch kale chips, along with several other flavors of kale chips.

Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish

Eat Raw, Eat Well: 400 Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipes

Doug McNish is an industry pro. He has several books, teaches vegan cooking classes, and provides essential professional services, such as menu development. He is committed to health and the vegan lifestyle. He has won multiple awards for his work and is a very respected individual in the community. You can learn more about him on his website http://dougmcnish.com/.

Doug's book Eat Raw, Eat Well received the award for Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World in 2012, and 5 years later it hasn't lost any of its luster. It aims to provide the reader with hundreds of meal and snack options for everyday eating. McNish also aims to help improve your health through clean, raw eating, the same way he improved his own health. A few of the 400 recipes (not all of which are raw) are:

● Moroccan chickpea soup

● Spinach, mushroom, and red pepper quiche

● Lentil chili

● Zucchini noodles

All of these four recipes be made as delicious dinners for the whole family, except the zucchini noodles may need another dish to go alongside it. The moroccan chickpea soup is hearty and packs a ton of spice and flavor. There is not much better than getting preparing high quality, nutricious food into well-thought out recipes, and McNish does just that.

Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day By Erica Palmcrantz Aziz and Irmela Lilja

Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day

Erica Palmcrantz Aziz is a veteran vegan chef and has  several books on the subject. She has teamed up with Irmela Lilja on multiple books, and they compliment each other , considering they've developed quite a loyal fanbase over the years.

The mission of their book Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day, is pretty straight forward just by reading the title. While the title is rather blunt, the recipes in this book are nuanced and well-rounded. You're sure to learn a few new techniques and flavor combinations with recipes like:

● Raspberry coconut smoothie

● Fig and pear compote

● Zucchini pasta with marinated mushrooms

● Yellow Squash pasta with olive tapenade

The beautifully colored, yet light, raspberry coconut smoothie is a simply but filling way to start your day (or end it).  The yellow squash pasta won't make you feel gross and bloated like a conventional pasta mean, but a perfect compliment for the salty, savory olive tapenade really makes you feel like you're treating yourself.

Live Raw: Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty By Mimi Kirk

Live Raw: Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty

Mimi Kirk's resume is quite unique, compared to most raw vegan cookbook authors. She has done everything from spending 17 years in front of the camera in the film industry, starting her own jewelry manufacturing company, being a regional marketing director, founding a newspaper, and founding her company Side saddle, and that doesn't include her career as an author. Kirk has written numerous books about her vegan lifestyle and the recipes that she has created. She runs the site http://youngonrawfood.com/. She is passionate about her vegan lifestyle and about helping others look and feel their best.

This book aims to do exactly what it says, help you achieve better health and timeless beauty. Kirk herself says using these recipes and living a raw, vegan lifestyle is what keeps her looking so young and beautiful. When you buy this cookbook, you will be getting recipes like:

● Caramelized onion bread

● Corn chips

● Macaroons

● Chocolate covered nutty candy

Based on those example recipes, It is clear that there is something for everyone in this cookbook. Whether you are looking to get your sugar fix, or looking for something more savory, it can be found in this book. The corn chips make a great healthy alternative to the usual bagged version as well.

Raw and Simple: Eat Well and Live Radiantly: By Judita Wignall

Raw and Simple: Eat Well and Live Radiantly with 100 Truly Quick and Easy Recipes for the Raw Food Lifestyle

Judita Wignall is a health coach, a raw food chef, and a nutrition educator. Like Mimi, she has a wide set of skills as well. She is a former commercial actress, model, and singer/songwriter. However, she left that all behind to follow her passion of holistic health, and has put out 3 popular books since changing path. You can learn more about her and get exclusive recipes by visiting her site http://juditawignall.com/.

With Raw and Simple, Judita aims to educate you on the benefits of raw eating and help make it a reality by providing you 100 simple yet delicious recipes. If the book does what it aims to, it will help you get healthier and feel better. Some of the recipes you will have access to in the book are:

● Root vegetable slaw

● Carrot ginger coconut soup

● Thai veggie noodles

● Apple pie smoothie.

Raw and Simple doesn't have as many of the crazy decadent treats we've seen in some of the other cookbooks, but there is a wide array of interesting recipes that make it worth checking out. The apple pie smoothie is such a great way to treat yourself without actually eating junk food. It's as close to the McDonalds Apple Pies as you can get. The carrot ginger coconut soup is a warm, comforting soup that we actually eat in my family year round.

While definitely not for everyone, eating raw can be a life-changing experience. For some, it result in feeling and looking healthier and breaking old habits of eating too much processed food. There are plenty of success stories about going from an unhealthy lifestyle to a raw lifestyle and seeing dramatic results, even from people who are already vegans. If you're considering incorporating more nutrient-dense raw foods into your life, any one of these cookbooks will give you tons of tasty options to experiment with.

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There are several acts in place, such as the Clean Water Act, to help keep drinking water safe and clean. Unfortunately, not all water sources meet the federal requirements for water quality. Even if you have city water that is already treated, it can pick up several contaminants in the pipes on the way to your tap. Picking up a water filter pitcher is an easy way to reduce at least some of these contaminants and achieve better tasting water.

Some of these contaminants are relatively harmless, while others are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly, such as lead. (source)

The increasing problem of water contamination across the country has gave way to a new era of water filtration. There are tons of pitcher filters out there from various manufacturers, but they all work similarly. Most of them have a pour tray, which is an area on the top of the pitcher that hold water while it is waiting to be filtered. Once water drips down through the filter, it goes directly to the lower reservoir, where it is ready to be poured and drank.

Among the most popular brands are PUR, Brita, ZeroWater, MAVEA, and Clear2o. We've taken some of their most popular models and compared them below.

Comparison Table

We've compiled all of the important features of each water filter pitcher in the following table.

PUR Classic 11-Cup Brita Everyday 10-Cup ZeroWater ZP-010 MAVEA Elemaris 1005727 Clear2o CWS100AW 
Capacity 11 cups 10 cups 10 cups 9 cups 9 cups
Filter Capacity 40 gallons 40 gallons Varies Varies 50 gallons
Corresponding Filter Pitcher Filter CRF-950Z Standard Brita replacment ZR-017 MAVEA 1001122 CWF101
Contaminants Reduced 21 21 99.6% of all dissolved solids Unknown 53
Filter Material Coconut Shells, carbon granules Carbon granules Carbon granules, micro cloth, & more Carbon granules Solid carbon block
BPA Free Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Warranty 90 days 90 days 90 days Unknown 90 days
Filter Indicator Mechanism LED light Sticker TDS meter MAVEA Smart meter Smart filter indicator

Mobile users may have to rotate to horizontal to view the entire table

As you can tell, the pitchers filters have their similarities and differences. Picking the best unit boils down to finding the one that suits your exact needs (countertop space, specific aesthetic preferences, output needed, and filter applications). We discuss more about their specific functions below.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

PUR Classic Water Filtration System Pitcher

PUR Classic Water Filtration System 11-Cup Pitcher with Filter Change LED Indicator Light

Top Features

  • Thumb activated lid
  • LED indicator light so its easy to know when the filter should be changed
  • Removes 96% of mercury and 95% of industrial pollutants
  • Holds 11 cups of water

The thumb activated lid of this pitcher makes it super easy to refill. The lid also has a spout cover which helps prevent spills, a plus for anyone with children. The water does not come out too hard or fast like with some other pitchers. The spout cover also keeps out any odor and particulates, keeping your water fresher - which is great if you're keeping it in the refrigerator with other foods.

PUR also included an LED indicator light. The light lets you know when it is time to change the filter by turning red. When it is almost time to change it, the light turns yellow. This is a useful feature because this gives you a little time to buy a new filter before it is actually time to replace it.

If you know your water has mercury in it, or if you live close to an industrial site, this filter would be a good choice for you. It reduces mercury levels by up to 96% and industrial pollutants by up to 95%. Per NSF certification, this filter pitcher reduces 21 different water contaminants. This falls in the middle on our list in terms of filtration power.

As the largest filter pitcher on this list, the PUR Classic holds up to 11 cups of water. This means you have to refill it less than you would have to refill the other pitchers. Although it is not a drastic difference from the other pitchers, it is still larger, so it would probably work better for a big family. If you've owned a water pitcher before, refilling it can oven be the most annoying part.

Model Overview

  • Compact design
  • Carbon filters
  • Made from coconut shells
  • Ion exchange technology

Measuring less than a foot tall, and weighing only around 2 pounds, this compact water filter pitcher is very simple to use and easy to store. To use it, you must first soak the filter for 15 minutes in cold water. Then, you install it in the pitcher and fill up the pour tray. The filter will then filter the water in the pour tray and move the clean, filtered water to the reservoir in the bottom of the pitcher.

The carbon filters are made from coconut shells and utilize ion exchange technology. The filters are heat treated, which creates thousands of small nooks in the carbon granules. The tap water is then passed through, and with over 200,000 square feet of nooks, the contaminants in your water are trapped and absorbed.

Disadvantages

When you buy this pitcher, it comes with a less durable filter. Typically the filters last about 40 gallons, however, the initial filter sometimes can sometimes not last as long. It's almost like a trial run. However, refills are pretty inexpensive and they should all last for the full 40 gallons.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

Brita 10 Cup Everyday Water Pitcher

Brita 10 Cup Everyday Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, BPA Free, White

Top Features

  • Sticker filter indicator
  • Easy to pour and refill
  • 10-cup capacity
  • Sleek oval design

Like most units on our list, the Brita Everyday Water Pitcher has some sort of mechanism to let you know when it is time to change the filter. However, unlike the other pitchers, the Everyday uses a sticker indicator which simply serves as a reminder that you place on the pitcher itself or on your fridge. If this isn't your thing, Brita does make other electronic models.

With a comfort grip handle and a removable lid, the reservoir is easy to pour and refill. The comfort grip handle reduces strain while picking up and pouring. This can be useful with kids, and even just clumsy adults. Instead of a thumb activated lid, the lid will come completely off and you can fill up the pour tray with ease.

Although it is not the largest pitcher on our list, it is a very close second. With enough room to hold 10 cups of water, this and the ZeroWater pitcher are great choices for people who require large capacity pitchers. The 40-gallon filter allows you to get about 60 refills on a single use. Typically, this will last you about 2 months before a refill is needed.

The oval design of this pitcher makes it easy to store in almost any refrigerator. The oval design of this unit allows the pitcher to hold a lot of water while taking up minimal space. The oval design also makes it easy to hold and support while you are pouring.

Model Overview

  • Carbon Filters
  • Can be used in any Brita pitcher

The first time you use the filter that is included with the pitcher, you will have to pre soak it. To do so, run it under cold tap water for 15 seconds, then it is ready to install. The replacement filters do not have to be pre soaked and can be installed immediately. Unlike the PUR Classic, and others on this list, the initial soak time is considerably less, 15 seconds versus 15 minutes.

This Brita uses a carbon filter and works similarly to the one the PUR Classic uses. As water passes through the filter, carbon granules trap and absorb various contaminants. However, it is recommended you discard 3 pitchers of water after you put in a new filter. Carbon dust can commonly be found in the first 3 pitchers, so it is best to throw them out or use them as gray water for watering plants. This is typical with many water filtration systems.

Disadvantages

Well, this may not be a disadvantage for everyone, but the sticker filter mechanism could be easy to ignore. Rather than having a light that tells you when the change is needed. For some, this is difficult to manage as the sticker has to either go on your fridge or on the pitcher itself.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

ZeroWater 10 Cup Pitcher

ZeroWater 10 Cup Pitcher with Free TDS Meter (Total Dissolved Solids) - ZP-010

Top Features

  • Reduces lead and chromium
  • One handed design - can get water without pouring
  • Digital TDS meter

What sets this pitcher apart from others on the list is its 5 stage filtration system. This 5 stage filtration system can remove up to 99.6% of dissolved solids, which will be discussed more in-depth shortly . The comprehensive filtration system is what makes ZeroWater the only filtration system that meets the FDAs requirements for bottled water. And unlike reverse osmosis, which a lot of other filtration systems use, the ZeroWater system uses gravity, so it won't waste any water or electricity.

The ZeroWater filtration system is also the only one certified by the NSF to reduce lead and chromium. Chromium-6 can cause a myriad of health problems, including cramps, intestinal bleeding, and liver and kidney problems. Lead is also extremely dangerous, it can build up in your system over time and is unsafe at any level. While some of the other filters will reduce the presence of lead, the ZeroWater pitcher is the only one to be NSF certified to do so.

The one handed, push to dispense design makes this pitcher easy to use. You don’t have to worry about spilling it, since the spout is only open when you push the button on the handle.

You won't have to use two hands to steady the pitcher, either. It has a small plastic spigot towards the bottom of the reservoir. This makes it easy to get water directly from the pitcher without every taking it out of your fridge. It is easy to open and close and does not leak between uses.

This is one of the top recommendations for families with small children since the spigot is easy to use. Instead of having them pick up the entire pitcher, and probably spill it at least once, they can just open the spigot and get themselves a glass of water.

As mentioned earlier, this 5 stage filtration system on this unit can remove 99.6% of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). The pitcher also comes with a free TDS meter. A TDS meter measures the amount of dissolved substances that can negatively affect your water. If the TDS is too high, above 006, that means it is time to change the filter, which is also easy to do.

Model Overview

  • 5 stage filtration
  • Ion exchange technology
  • Gravity powered

Instead of relying solely carbon or reverse osmosis, ZeroWater allows gravity to do all of the work. The first step in the filtration process is passing the water through activated carbon infused micro cloth. Next, the water passes through a multi-layer system to reduce alloys, by using carbon and oxidation. Next comes the distributor, which maximizes the contact time of the water, which allows a high percentage of contaminants to be trapped and absorbed.

The water then goes through a comprehensive ion exchange array and finishes by passing through a non-woven membrane, designed to remove fine particles. At the end of the filtering process, you have perfectly clean, great tasting water.

Disadvantages

Compared to the Brita Everyday and the Mavea 1005727, this pitcher is less sleek. The design is somewhat boxy and clunky, definitely not as smooth and balanced as some of the others. However, it is still easy to store, so if aesthetics are not the most important thing to you, this pitcher would be an amazing addition for your kitchen. 

Also given the functionality of the spigot, aesthetics may not be an issue.​

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

Clear2o CWS100AW Water Filtration Pitcher

Clear2o CWS100AW Water Filtration Pitcher

Top Features

  • Intelligent filter indicator
  • Adapts to faucet
  • Reduces up to 53 contaminants
  • Filter lasts for 50 gallons

Although not unique to this pitcher, its intelligent filter indicator is a very useful feature. The indicator, like the others, is green when the filter is in good condition, and red when it is no longer working correctly and needs to be replaced. Unlike the PUR, there is no yellow "warning light" to warn you when the filter has almost reached its capacity. So, once the light turns red, it is important that you change it as soon as possible.

The Clear2o pitcher attaches to your sink's faucet and utilizes the pressure from it to provide maximum filtration. This obviously makes it easy to fill. But, on top of that, it is also easy to install. Although it is not recommended on spraying faucets, many conventional faucets will work great with this unit. Some people would see this as an inconvenience, but it actually has a host of benefits. By utilizing your faucet's water pressure, this filter has superior filtering capability and will filter all the water you run through it. It is less prone to spills during filling and the pressure allows for quicker filtration.

This is perhaps the most broadly effective filter on our list, filtering out 53 different contaminants. However, the water may not be as pure as the ZeroWater. The EPA has designated 80 various possible contaminants that could adversely affect your health. Most tap water, especially if it was already treated by the city, will not have 53+ contaminants, but this is a great choice if you do not know specifically what is in your water and you want to cover all your bases.

Beating every other pitcher filter on this list, the Clear2o can last up to 50 gallons per filter. that may not sound like a huge difference, but it is 25% more than the other pitcher's filters. Over time, this can save time on replacements. The filter can be easily installed in just a matter of minutes.

Model Overview

The pitcher comes with an adapter kit that you must use to install and connect the pitcher to your faucet. Once the pitcher is attached, the pressure from your faucet forces the water through the solid carbon block filter.

A solid carbon block filter is similar to the other carbon filters that some of the other pitchers use, but instead of small granules of carbon that the water can easily pass through, this is a solid block of carbon that requires pressure to force the water through. Solid carbon is actually more effective than carbon granules and will remove more contaminants. As the water is forced through the carbon block, the carbon traps and absorbs the 53 different contaminants. Once the filter has reached the end of its life and it is time to replace it, you can easily remove the old filter and install the new one.

Disadvantages

What really sets this pitcher apart, and not in the best way, is the fact that you must attach it to your faucet to fill. This isn’t especially hard to do, but it is one extra step that you wouldn’t have to take with any of the other pitcher filters. Also, if you have a sprayer style faucet, unfortunately, you will not be able to use this unit. Be sure to check your faucet against the required specs before buying.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

Mavea 1005727 Elemaris XL 9 Cup Water Filtration Pitcher

MAVEA 1005727 Elemaris XL 9-Cup Water Filtration Pitcher, Eggplant

Top Features

  • Pour through lid
  • Mavea smart meter
  • Rubber feet and handle
  • No pre-soaking of filters needed

Unlike any of the other pitchers, the Elemaris features a unique pour through lid. This means you can just turn on the sink and hold the pitcher underneath it. The lid opens when you put it under the running water, and when the reservoir is full, the lid shuts by itself. It is pretty much impossible to overfill, making it considerably cleaner than the other pitchers as well.

Another feature setting the Elemaris apart is its MAVEA Smart meter. The Smart meter measures hardness of the water, water volume, and how long the filter has been used. The Smart meter also lets you know when to replace the filter, taking the guesswork out of getting clean water. Although other pitchers on this list have some sort of meter or indicator, this is the only one that measures hardness and volume. So if water hardness is a concern for you, this is the best choice.

On top of the already sleek design, this pitcher also has rubber feet and a rubber handle. The rubber feet make it less likely to slip or slide around in the fridge. It also makes it less likely to be tipped over. In addition, the rubber feet help to prevent surface scratches. So, if you have nice countertops that you need to take special care of, buying the Elemaris is a good way to get some extra piece of mind.

The rubber handle makes it easy to hold and makes it harder to drop. Not that it is impossible to drop, but the rubber handle allows you to get a better grip and keeps you from holding onto slippery plastic.

If you have had a water pitcher filter before, then you know it is standard practice to have to rinse or presoak the filters before you actually use them. With the exception of the Brita replacement filters, the filters for the other pitchers must be pre-soaked. This can be a tedious and annoying step, and one that can be easily forgotten. And unfortunately, if you forget to pre-soak the filter, it can drastically affect its performance. Luckily, the filter for the MAVEA Elemaris XL does not have to be pre-soaked at all. This can save you lots of time and is a plus if you’re a bit lazy about changing filters. Not only will this save you time, it also means you don’t have to worry about the initial performance of the filter.

Model Overview

The MAVEA Elemaris utilizes a familiar, but unique filtration system. The filter uses carbon granules to reduce water contaminants. As you can tell, carbon granules are a very popular option when it comes to water filtering, because they are so effective. However, the major drawback of carbon granule filters is that some of the small, black, carbon flecks leak out of the filter and into the water. Thankfully, the filter on the Elemaris contains a micro screen, which catches any flecks before they can find their way to your water.

The Elemaris filter is also treated with silver. At first, this sounds strange because usually water filters filter out silver, but none of the silver gets into the filtered water. The silver is there to inhibit the growth of bacteria and provide antimicrobial protection, which extends the life-cycle of the filter. Replacing the filter less often means you will be saving time and money.

The Elemaris is incredibly sleek, and unsurprisingly, European designed. It has a very distinct, oval design that perfectly balances performance and aesthetics. The unique design shape also allows for a consistent flow rate over the filter. It is manufactured in 6 unique and vibrant colors. The colors include eggplant, ruby red, tangerine, black, and white. This means there is one for everyone, no matter what your style is, or how your kitchen is already decorated.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, this pitcher filter from MAVEA is tied for last in water capacity, alongside the Clear2o. The pitcher can only hold 9 cups at a time, which is fine for individuals or small families, but bigger families might want to opt for a bigger unit. Although there is not a huge difference between 9 and 10 cups, once you start comparing the MAVEA to the 11 cup pitchers, the difference starts adding up. If you have a large family or just drink a lot of water, a bigger capacity pitcher would simply be less of a hassle.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

Which One to Pick?

In the end, each pitcher filter is good for a specific type of person. For example, if looks are important to you, you probably would not want the ZeroWater pitcher, but the Brita Everyday or MAVEA Elemaris might be good options. Alternatively, if you are most concerned with how many contaminants are filtered out, the ZeroWater or Clear2o are the ones that would be best for you.

If you are having trouble picking one, start by eliminating 2 or 3 pitcher filters you definitely don’t want. Once you have it narrowed down to a couple of pitchers, compare all the features, including aesthetics and price, until you can choose one that makes the most sense.

All of the pitcher filters on this list are best-selling models and are known to perform well, so if you really can't choose one, picking one at random will still get you a high quality pitcher filter. They are all capable of significantly reducing water contaminants to keep you and your children healthy.

Why Invest in a Water Filtration Pitcher?

  • Reduces plastic bottle waste
  • Saves money
  • Better tasting & cleaner water

One of the most alluring aspects of water filters is the possibility of saving lots of money. Instead of having to buy bottled water over and over, you can simply use a filter and reusable bottle. Over time, the savings add up, and although you will still have to pay for the water you use a your house, it is considerably cheaper than buying the same amount bottled at the supermarket.

Of course, one person buying a water filter won't save the world. However, the Earth has finite resources and landfills continue to grow, so it important you vote with your dollar and be as mindful as possible.

Water filters are a great way to reduce plastic consumption and help save the planet. A single 40 gallon filter can keep 300 plastic bottles out of landfills. Considering a 40 gallon filter typically lasts about 2 months, that means each year you are saving 1,800 plastic water bottles. Most models on this list have a 40 gallon filter, so after 40 gallons you must replace it. But, the Clear2o CWS100AW's filter lasts for 50 gallons.

Some contaminants leave a foul taste in your water, such as chlorine. Others leave only a small taste that may have never noticed until trying quality filtered water. Filtered water simply has a cleaner, fresher taste than tap water or some bottled brands. Every filter pitcher on our list will provide you with better tasting H2O than you could get from your faucet.

Perhaps best of all, using one of the filter pitchers on this list will actually make your water healthier. Water filters can filter out various contaminants, some filter out more than others, but they all significantly improve water quality. Prolonged exposure to contaminants in your water can cause long term health problems such as bladder, liver, kidney, and prostate cancer, kidney and liver problems and/or failure, and vision impairment.

According to the Water Quality Association, some of the most common contaminants that can be found in your tap include lead, copper, nitrates and nitrites, chromium, cadmium, mercury, and bacteria and viruses. A telltale sign of poor water is obviously discoloration and any kind of odor. However, many water contaminants can be present in perfectly odorless, clear water.

The contaminants in your water will vary depending on where you live. No matter your location, it is important to remove these compounds before you and your family feel the effects. (source

Some filters, such as the Brita Everyday and the Pur Classic, specialize in reducing mercury. Other filters, like the Clear2o, remove and reduce over 50 contaminants found in water. This is options are idea if you’re looking to cover the most bases possible.

We recommend getting a test done of your water supply and then picking an appropriate filter accordingly if you're overly concerned about your water supply.

However, the only filter pitcher to be certified by the NSF to reduce both lead and chromium, is the ZeroWater 10 cup pitcher.

Click any of the links above to check prices and read customer reviews on Amazon!

The post Best Water Filter Pitcher Comparison: PUR vs Brita vs. ZeroWater vs. MAVEA vs. Clear2o appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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If you've stumbled upon this article, then you're probably looking for a new pan or piece of cookware made by Copper Chef or Red Copper. Both of their infomercials are all over the airwaves making rather bold claims about their products. In this article, we will answer two important questions: 

  • Should you believe the hype about the Copper Chef or Red Copper cookware? 
  • Which one is the better choice to pick up?

What's the Hype About?

Infomercials have a way of making everything seem awesome. The Copper Chef and Red Copper pans are no exception. It shows people doing things that you probably shouldn't do to any piece of cookware you own (unless it is cast iron of course). Things such as using a hand mixer in a nonstick pan probably isn't a great idea if you want the surface to stay intact, yet it is still part of one of the demonstrations that we've seen.

If you think that using the pan is going to be as magic as it looks on TV, then you're in for a big let down. However, if you're interesting in getting some solid nonstick pans that you plan on taking good care of, then it might be worth considering.​ We've recommended these new types of nonstick pans in the past, but want to stress that it is critical that you follow the actual instructions that come with the cookware, not just what you see on TV.

What's Great About this Cookware

From our research, both of these products tend to provide the user the ability to cook most things without any additional oil - which is a great thing. There are many similar pans like these on the market (despite the marketing messages saying they are "one of a kind"). If you follow the instructions fully and don't abuse the cookware, you should have something that's going to last a long time and perform great. Copper cookware will most likely be an upgrade to any traditional nonstick Teflon pans you may have used in the past.

What's the Difference Copper Chef and Red Copper Pans?

It's hard to fully evaluate which one is going to be better for you, as both brands have a wide range of different products and bundles available. For the sake of evaluation, let's compare one large casserole pan from Copper Chef and Red Copper.

What's Similar?

  • Both pans when used properly are going to provide you the ability to cook without any oil or fat - when used correctly.
  • Both pans are oven safe which is good for keeping things warm or putting a final roast on veggies after they've been sauteed.
  • Both have similar type coatings that are at least partially ceramic. Our experience with ceramic cookware has been great (so long as you don't abuse it).
  • Both are likely to damage or scratch if you don't use nonmetal utensils or aren't careful about how you stack your cookware.

What's Different?

  • The Copper Chef claims to be heat resistant up to 850F, while the Red Copper claims to be oven safe up to 500F.
  • The Red Copper Pan needs to be seasoned according to the instruction manual.
  • They have different sets of bonus packages of accessories available, but there's almost too many to keep track of. Copper Chef products are often bundled with their induction cook tops.

Most Common Complaints and How to Avoid Them

During our research, the found two most common complaints for the Copper Chef and Red Copper are the same: The coating doesn't hold up or peels off or that things actually stick to the pan. The problem with most negative reviews is that they rarely take into account how they used the pan. For example, according to the instruction manual of the Red Copper and the FAQ of the Copper Chef both recommend non-metal utensils. Many people fail to follow this (along with other good nonstick maintenance practices) and end up with a damaged pan.

That being said, some other practices are likely to damage these pan as well. This includes throwing them in the sink with other sharp utensils, stacking them improperly with other pots, etc. If you're careless about the use of these pans and don't follow the manufacturer recommendations that come with the products to a T, you're likely going to have some trouble.​

In addition, the Red Copper Pan  and instructions say that you should season the pan before you use it. This means rubbing it down with vegetable oil and sticking it into the oven. Users who fail to do this step are likely to find themselves with food stuck to their pan right away! 

Another thing that people might overlook from the Copper Chef instruction manual ​is that you cannot use EVOO or cooking sprays - same with the Red Copper.

Cleaning these pans (or any nonstick pans) with abrasive materials is also risky - so be sure to read the manual and see what the brand recommends for whichever unit you end up getting.It's a vicious cycle of stuck food and scrubbing once the nonstick surface gets worn down. However, if you keep their nonstick coating intact, they should be very easy to clean. 

This is by no means a comprehensive overview of the instructions for each pan or cookware piece, but we just wanted to give people an idea of what they can expect and the care that they should take while using them.​ Not doing so will likely lead to ruined pans and a lot more disappointment.

What About the Warranties?

The problem with warranties on products like these is in the fine print. Looking at the instruction manuals for both products both warranties require that you ship the product back at your expense as well as a "processing fee" of some sort.

That being said, don't expect to get a new pan without a hassle if something goes wrong. For this reason, we always recommend buying products like this from Authorized Retailers with solid return policies. It will be much easier to return a piece of cookware to a retailer than to the manufacturer directly.

Our Conclusion

Based on the amount of people happy with their pans and the relatively low cost (compared to some other kitchen appliances), we would recommend that you check either of these out. We love cooking with ceramic coated pans, but don't like over-promises and hype. Neither one of these brands are superior to the other, so pick the offer you like the best and go for it!

The post Copper Chef vs. Red Copper | In-Depth Comparison appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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Many believe gas stoves to be superior to their electric counterparts. The primary reason for this is heat control. Gas stoves allow you to adjust the heat very quickly while electric stoves take a while to heat up and cool down. Having the best pots and pans for your gas stove can enhance the cooking experience even further with superior heat distribution, heat conductivity, and easy clean-up.

**Click any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon or continue reading for our full comprehensive guide.

What Type of Material Do We Recommend?

Out of all of the cookware that we've tried, we've narrowed down the best materials to be Titanium and Ceramic. Both of these materials offer great heat distribution (is the exterior is well designed) and don't stick. If you've only used cheap stainless steel or nonstick cookware in the past, getting a quality titanium or ceramic cookware set is a completely new experience. Much moving from a dull knife to a sharp one, you'll wonder how you ever got by using cheap cookware in the first place. There are some downsides to this type of cookware (see below), so we've offered some alternative options as well.

Since gas stoves offer great heat control already, having the proper heat conduction on your pots and pans takes things to a whole new level. It ensures that you don't end up with hot spots and cool spots while cooking. This is especially useful if you're cooking frozen veggies in a pot or pan as we all know how annoying it can be to have ones that are fully cooked and ones that are frozen.

If you're partial to the dishwasher, having something that's dishwasher safe is going to be crucial. One thing that we noticed when making the switch was that since food never stuck to the pots and pans, we usually opted not to use the dishwasher! If the pieces are truly nonstick, one wipe with a soft sponge and towel should leave it sparkling clean and ready to be put away - even if you let things get a little crusted on.

Other Downsides to Some Non-Stick Cookware

Although we almost exclusively use ceramic and titanium in our household now, there are some downsides to it. With any pot or pan that is coated, there is always the potential to strip the coating from misuse. That being said, if your cookware tends to get beat up and you don't want to be mindful of the type of utensils you're using on it, then a solid stainless steel cookware set is going to be the best option.

Another option is cast iron or enameled cast iron. These options offer durability and versatility with the non-enameled kind being basically indestructible. Enameled options are durable as well and can do usually handle being put in the oven, but the coating has the potential to get stripped.

Our Top Pot and Pan Choices for Gas Stoves

T-fal E765SH Scratch Resistant Non-Stick Titanium

T-fal E765SH Ultimate Hard Anodized Scratch Resistant Titanium Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Anti-Warp Base Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe PFOA Free Cookware Set, 17-Piece, Gray

Because we prefer to cook with little to no oil, having nonstick cookware is a must. This non-stick titanium set from T-fal is a great option. Not only is it non-stick, but its approved for metal utensils for those who don't want to have to think about what cooking utensils they are using. Obviously using softer ones though will be the safer options to prolong the life of the cookware.

One of the more unique features of this cookware is the pre-heat circle in the middle. The circle changes to a solid red color when the pans are ready to go and adequately preheated. This makes it a lot easier to get a feel for when to throw certain foods on so they don't burn or cook unevenly from inadequate or excess heat.

PROS

  • Includes a wide variety of pots and pans to make a complete set.
  • Oven safe up to 400F - great for keeping things warm or finishing things in the oven.
  • Is dishwasher safe.
  • Silicone handles make gripping the cookware easier.
  • Has a preheating "indicator" which lets the user know when the pan is adequately heated. Takes the guesswork out of making things like pancakes.

CONS

  • Recommended for low to medium heat - need to be careful about overheating it.
  • Abuse of this cookware will lessen its ability to be non-stick.

Bialetti Red Cookware Set

Bialetti Aeternum Red 7272 10 Piece Cookware Set

If you want bare bones and durable, getting a stainless steel set is going to a great idea. Outside of cast iron, its going to be your best choice in terms of durability.

However, when it comes to convenience, ​this ceramic cookware takes the cake. As long as you don't abuse it by using metal utensils, putting it in the dishwasher, or scrubbing it with a super abrasive sponge, you should be able to enjoy the convenience of these pots and pans for a long time to come!

PROS

  • Very solidly built and provides great heat distribution.
  • Very easy to clean since its nonstick.
  • Don't have to worry about cooking with fat or oil!
  • Free of PFOA, PTFE, and Cadmium.

CONS

  • Need to be careful about not scratching it. Wood utensils are recommended as well as not using very course sponges. Please note that because very few things stick to it, there's usually not a reason to scrub it super hard!
  • Not recommended for the dishwasher.

Cuisinart Classic Nonstick 66-17N Set

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized, 17 Piece Set, Black, 66-17N

If you're just looking for some reliable nonstick cookware without all the bells and whistles then the 66-17N set my Cuisinart is probably a good choice. It comes with almost every cookware piece that you'll need and is just all around capable of handling most jobs.

It's coated with "quantium" (more info on the link below), making it nonstick and convenient just like the ceramic.

PROS

  • Sturdy and well constructed.
  • Made with a nonstick "quantanium" coating.
  • Oven safe up to 500F - glass lids up to 350F.
  • Some of the pieces may be metal friendly, but you still run the risk of damaging the coating with all coated cookware.
  • Has a steamer insert for nutrient-sparing vegetable cooking.

CONS

  • Not recommended for the dishwasher to prolong longevity.
  • Specific pieces may be approved for metal utensil use, but probably not recommended for longevity. Likely not necessary for since its nonstick to begin with.

Chef's Star Stainless Steel Set

Chef's Star Professional Grade Stainless Steel 17 Piece Pots & Pans Set - Induction Ready Cookware Set with Impact-bonded Technology

If you want bare bones and durable, getting a stainless steel set is going to a great idea. Outside of cast iron, its going to be your best choice in terms of durability. The only problem comes with the amount of oil and fat that you need to use while cooking. If the pan is not properly coated, your food is going to get stuck!

You can get around the oil by water sauteing or ​using vegetable broth to keep things lubricated while food is cooking. If you make a lot of soups or stir fries with liquid, you may not need too much oil if any at all.

PROS

  • Oven safe for up to 550F - superior to most other cookware.
  • Freezer safe so that you can store food without tupperware.
  • Includes some interesting pieces including a colander and boiler basket  - often times these are sold separately.
  • Suitable for a wide variety of other cooking surfaces besides for gas.

CONS

  • Will need to use oil to keep things from sticking.
  • Potential to get discolored if not used properly or on too high of heat. However, original finish can be restored.

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Whether you're cooking in a cast iron skillet, brewing tea in a cast iron teapot, or even grilling up some veggies, having strong and heat resistant gloves is important. This is something that many people overlook and unfortunately find themselves with a burn or dropped pan after attempting a pick up with a thin and cheap oven mitt. Luckily, we've compiled the best oven mitts for cast iron which are also extremely useful for other high temperature activities.

Summary of Our Top Picks

Ekogrips BBQ Oven Gloves

Grill Armor Gloves

Cuisinart Heat Proof Gloves

Grill Heat Aid

HOMWE Silicone Oven Mitts

Temperature Resistance 

425F

932F

450F

932F

450F

Waterproof

Yes

No

Sort of (excluding lining)

No

Sort of (excluding lining)

Extended Sleeve

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Materials

Silicone

Kevlar/Aramid/

Nomex/Silicone

Silicone and Cotton

Aramid Fiber

Silicone and Cotton

Extra Features

Easy to clean in dishwasher, extra grip design, small hanging hook

Machine washable, hanging hook, and silicone grips

Lined with cotton interior

Lined with cotton interior and silicone grips

Lined Cotton interior, silicone grips, hanging hook

Link

What to Look for in a Top Quality Oven Mitt

If you've made the decision to invest in a pair high temperature heat resistant oven mitt the best option is to invest in something that's going to fulfill at least one of the following criteria.

  • It should be built to last a long time, this isn't going to be your cheap oven mitt that you pick up at the local dollar store.
  • It should be large enough to cover more than just your hand. If you're going to make the investment - why not get something that's appropriate for other high temperature activities such as reaching into hot water. Unfortunately, this attribute may be a trade off as some of the super high temperature gloves aren't designed to work with moisture.
  • It should make gripping easier as you don't want to drop any hot cast iron cookware as doing so can ruin your floors, or even worse, cause injury.
  • Super heat resistant gloves should be EN407 certified.

Being that a lot of these are grill gloves – they will be useful beyond just handling cast iron. Being that most of us could use some more vegetables in our life, we wanted to recommend this Grilling Vegan Cookbook for use with your new gloves!

What Does the High-End Oven Mitt Market Look Like?

The most elite brands in the oven mitt market can be divided up by two materials: Silicone and a Kevlar/Nomex/Aramid Blend. Each of these choices comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

The silicone oven mitts simply aren't going to be as heat resistant as the ones made from Kevlar/Nomex materials. However, they come with the advantage of being super "grippy" as well as waterproof. Many brands even advertise sticking the gloves right into a pot of boiling water. This means if you want to check your pasta or pull out a potato you can do it quickly and easily without clumsy utensils.

The oven mitts made from Kevlar/Nomex are going to be far more heat resistant. So much so that they are advertised to be resistant temperatures up to ​932F! The problem is that they typically aren't waterproof, so dipping your hand into a pot (like you can do with the silicone style gloves) is going to be out of the question.

More Details About Our Top Picks

As the above table illustrates, our best oven mitts (or gloves) for cast iron were the following:

  • Ekogrips BBQ Gloves
  • Grill Armor Gloves
  • Cuisinart Heat Proof Oven Mitts
  • Grill Heat Aid Gloves
  • HOMWE Silicon Oven Mitts

Let's get into a little more detail about the pros and cons of each product to help you make the best choice.

Ekogrips BBQ Gloves

Ekogrips BBQ Oven Gloves | Best Versatile Heat Resistant Grill Gloves | Lifetime Replacement | Insulated Silicone Oven Mitts For Grilling | Waterproof | Full Finger, Hand, Wrist Protection | 3 Sizes

PROS

  • Fully waterproof
  • Has hanging hooks for easy storage
  • Easy to clean
  • Company offers free size replacements
  • Extra "grippy" bumps in the gloves

CONS

  • Low heat resistant threshold compared to the others - 425F (but probably all that you would need in any normal kitchen or for handling cast iron)

The Ekogrips gloves are one of the most popular heat resistant silicone gloves on the market. The main reason why we decided to feature this glove is for the waterproof properties that it has. Being that we love cooking with vegetables, we're always steaming and boiling. Having the ability to put on a glove to take out a piece of pasta or a potato is quite convenient because the rolling water can sometimes move things around rapidly.

The heat resistant threshold was low compared to the others, but for regular kitchen tasks, it should be all that you need unless you're placing things under an extremely hot oven broiler.

Grill Armor Gloves

Grill Armor 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves - EN407 Certified BBQ Gloves For Cooking, Grilling, Baking

PROS

  • Resistant up to 932F
  • Resistant to catching fire - even when exposed to an open flame.
  • Has 5 fingers for improved dexterity - makes it easy to grab different shaped pots and pans that a mitten may make difficult.
  • Silicone lining for extra grips.

CONS

  • Can't handle excess water exposure like the silicone gloves.

When it comes to heat resistance, these gloves are going to be near the top being able to withstand heat up to 932F. However, this might be excessive for the regular home cook since its rare that you'd turn your oven over 450F, but it could be good for peace of mind. That being said, if you like to light bonfires or have a fireplace, these could come in great handy as you'll have a full human hand to move the logs around.

Cuisinart Silicone Oven Mitts

Cuisinart Silicone Heat-Proof Oven Mitt with Quilted Cotton Lining, Purple

PROS

  • Has an inside cotton lining for extra comfort - easy to slip on and slip out.
  • Is manufactured in a multitude of colors
  • Heat resistant up to 450F (higher than other silicone gloves)

CONS

  • Probably only half-way good in hot water due to the cotton lining - don't want to get it wet.

The major difference between the Cuisinarts and other Silicone gloves is the cotton lining. If you've ever handled silicone, you know that it grips onto everything (including skin) and thus can be slightly uncomfortable or hard take on and off. With the cotton lining, you get extra comfort, but lose some of the waterproof ability.

Grill Heat Aid Gloves

Extreme Heat Resistant Grill Gloves: Premium Insulated & Silicone Lined Aramid Fiber Mitts for Cooking, BBQ, Grilling, Frying & Baking - Professional Indoor Outdoor Kitchen & Oven Accessories

As far as we could tell, these were just another style of the Grill Armor Gloves. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we just wanted to give you some more variety in terms of style and color! They have similar levels of heat resistance and are going to present the same cons in terms of ability to handle water.

For the pros and the cons, simply refer to the Grill Armor Gloves above.

HOMWE Silicone Quilted Oven Mitts

Silicone Oven Mitts with Quilted Cotton Lining - Professional Heat Resistant Potholder Kitchen Gloves - 1 Pair (Black) - Homwe

PROS

  • Easy to get on and off because of the lining.
  • Heat resistant up to 450F.
  • Manufactured in a wide range of colors.

CONS

  • Not going to be ideal for water immersion compared to an all silicon glove.

The HOMWE qulited oven mitts are similar to the Cuisinart ones, but with a little extra lining. Because the inside is lined with cotton, they are easy to get on and get off. We also thought the design was pretty neat and unique. Finally, they are easy to clean by throwing them into the washer machine, but all of these gloves are pretty easy to clean so that doesn't give it much of an advantage.

At the end of the day, all of these gloves are great picks for handling any sort of cast iron cookware. If you deal with temperatures above 450 you'll probably want to go with one of the super heat resistant ones, but if you don't then we'd suggest the silicone. Either way

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Is Hot Chocolate/Hot Cocoa Vegan?

ANSWER: From our research we found that there are many hot chocolate brands that aren't vegan, but there are also plenty that are!

There's a reason that hot cocoa brings up warm memories of childhood. This classic chocolatey beverage makes everyone feel good, and there's a type of hot cocoa for everyone. Veganism is no reason to leave this drink behind - you just need to find the right product for you. Just omit the marshmallows, unless of course you were going to get some vegan ones!

Vegan Hot Chocolate Brands Available Online

Because a lot of different products can be considered hot cocoa mixes, we decided to keep it simple. We haven't included any straight cocoa or cacao powders in this list, both because they are almost always vegan and because they aren't a true hot cocoa mix. The only exception is the Ghirardelli cocoa powder, because it's massively popular as a hot cocoa mix and we felt it shouldn't be left off the list. 

Moonstruck

Moonstruck is a popular brand on the market that makes simple, tasty hot chocolate mixes. Their packaging is cute, and they also do a range of chocolate blocks. They have three mixes, all of which are vegan: ClassicMayan (which is flavored with almond and cinnamon), and Dark.

Classic 

Starbucks

Starbucks has a couple of hot cocoa mixes, both of which are accidentally vegan. Because they’re accidentally vegan, you’ll need to make sure that the ingredients haven’t changed when you go to buy these products. Their two vegan options are the Mocha Powder and the Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa.

Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Four Sigmatic

For healthy options, there’s Four Sigmatic. The products from this company are less indulgent hot cocoas than healthy, before-bed drinks that are made with mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) to help reduce stress, prevent headaches, and relax you. They’re labelled vegan, so if you’re looking for a way to de-stress and you love chocolate, give the Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix – either with Reishi or with Cordyceps – a go. 

Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix with Reishi

Lakanto

Lakanto is another brand that offers a healthier alternative to hot cocoa. Their Drinking Chocolate is vegan, probiotic, zero calorie, sugar free, and made with monkfruit as a sweetener instead of stevia – so if you don’t like the taste of stevia, this is a great alternative. 

Drinking Chocolate

Suchard

German brand Suchard offers Kakao Express, which is a classic cacao mix that is listed as vegan. 

Kakao Express

Ghirardelli

As mentioned, this list has one pure cocoa powder: Ghirardelli, which makes chocolate blocks and high quality cocoa powders. One of these poweders, the Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Powder, is a popular favorite. It’s described as being rich and full of chocolate flavor, but not sweet; when making your own hot cocoa, you can add sweetener if you would like. 

Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa Powder

Brands Likely In Stores 

There are a couple of brands to look out for in stores. Most are accidentally vegan, so make sure you check the ingredients every time you buy - they can change. Use any of the store locators below to see if you can find them near you!

Ghirardelli is the obvious choice. Their numerous accidentally vegan options can be found at plenty of stores, including Walmart and Target.

If you're on the west coast, look out for Cacoco, which has an assortment of hot cocoa mixes ​ that are often vegan. Cacoco is found in natural health stores and in Whole Foods.

NibMor does a range of hot cocoa mixes, which are almost all vegan. They can be found at various stores across the country.​

There are undoubtedly plenty more accidentally vegan options - read the back of some labels and you're sure to find something you love.​ If all else fails, you can pick up some plain cocoa powder or chocolate bar and melt them into some plant milks!

What Ingredients to Look Out For?

There is only one main ingredient that you need to look out for, and that is common in many cocoa mixes: milk. This can be found under myriad of different names, including 'whey', 'milk powder', and the vague 'dairy ingredients'. Most countries require allergens to be listed at the bottom of the ingredients list, so it's quick to look here to see if there's any milk present. However, you should always look over the ingredients just to be sure.

Other additives may not be vegan. Niacin, which is listed in many hot cocoa mixes, can be sourced from non-vegan products. However, given that there's only a slim possibility that it is non-vegan, and it's such a small component of most mixes, we recommend that you don't worry too much about it. It's better to be 99.9% vegan than 0% vegan, after all - don't sweat the small stuff.​ To read more about trace ingredients, please refer to our article on sugar.

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Is Ramen Vegan?

Many of the most popular ramen brands are not vegan because they contain products from the animals they are flavored with such as chicken and beef. However, the noodles themselves don't contain any animal products. There are even several meat "flavored" ramen brands that are still 100% vegan!

What is Ramen Exactly?

Ramen is a staple in a lot of places, including Japan and college dorms. Traditionally it is dressed up with ingredients like poached eggs (not vegan) and fresh vegetables. The cheaper Western versions be eaten as-is, with the included flavor sachet only, to keep your meal cheap and simple. As stated above, these sachets most likely contain animal products if they are the typical "chicken" or "beef" flavor, but not to worry, we've listed some alternatives below.

There’s no need to give up this easy food option just because you’ve gone vegan; as a vegan, I’ve consistently found delicious instant ramen options at my local Asian supermarket. You don’t need to look for specifically vegan brands; just pick up the closest vegetarian flavor, read the ingredients, and make sure it doesn’t have any seafood or egg in it (those are the main things to look out for with the vegetarian labeled ones).

If you don’t have an Asian supermarket near you, you can either shop online or search your local supermarket for vegan ramen options.

Best Vegan Ramen Brands You Can Buy Online

There are a few ramen products that you can buy online that are listed as vegan, whether or not the brand makes exclusively vegan ramens. There are few brands that make specifically vegan ramen, probably because these are fairly easy to find on the market anyway. However, Dr McDougall's brand is one of the exceptions. It's worth double checking the brands that don't advertise as vegan, as their ingredient statements can change at any time.

Dr McDougall's Vegan Ramen

Dr McDougall’s offers a massive range of vegan foods that are easy to eat and prepare. They have at least two vegan ramens on offer, both in cups: the Chicken Ramen and the Miso Ramen.

Dr. McDougall's Right Foods Ramen Chicken Soup with Noodles, 1.8-Ounce (Pack of 6)

Lotus Foods Ramen

Lotus Foods has plenty of ramen options, in a lot of different flavors. They have Millet and Brown Rice RamenForbidden Rice Ramen, which is made of black rice, Jade Pearl Rice RamenBuckwheat Mushroom Rice Ramen Purple Potato and Brown Rice Ramen, and Wakame and Brown Rice Ramen.

Much of their packaging even says Vegan on the front or the back which means they are doing something right! Their ingredient statements also tend to be pretty clean and preservative free.

Lotus Foods Rice Ramen Noodles, Millet and Brown Rice with Miso Soup, 2.8 oz, 10 Count

Koyo Ramen

Koyo is one of the best brands for vegan ramen, with every product we looked at being vegan. They offer Asian Vegetable RamenGarlic Pepper RamenTofu Miso RamenMushroom Ramen Lemongrass Ginger Ramen Garlic and Pepper RamenSeaweed Ramen, and Soba Ramen, among others. There’s plenty to find here.

The noodles are also organic, and much like the Lotus brand, have very clean ingredient statements.

Koyo Asian Vegetable Dry Ramen - 2.1 oz

Nongshim Ramen Noodles

Nongshim, which is a well-known Asian food brand, has a couple of vegan products on Amazon. They aren’t listed vegan, so you’ll need to check the ingredients again if you decide to buy them and you need to determine whether some of the potentially non-vegan ingredients (for instance, the added niacin and mononitrate in these products) are important enough to you to not buy it. Here at Thrive Cuisine, we don’t sweat the small stuff – there’s only a possibility that these items may come from non-vegan sources, and since they make up such a small part of the final product, we don’t think it’s worth fussing over. Nongshim’s Soon Veggie Noodle Soup (here or here) and Kimchi Noodle Soup are both vegan.

Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup, 3.95 Ounce (Pack of 20)

Paldo Bowl Noodle Soup

Paldo is another popular Asian food brand on Amazon, and like Nongshim it has some ingredients that are potentially non-vegan. However, like Nongshim there are no ingredients that aren’t overtly non-vegan. These Jjajangmen Chajang Noodles, this Kimchi Bowl Noodle Soup, these Premium Jjajang Noodles, and this Teumsae Ramen are all vegan.

We were actually surprised about the Kimchi noodles as Kimchi has been known to contain anchovies. See our full article on Kimchi here.

Paldo Kimchi Noodle Soup, 3.03-Ounce Cup (Pack of 12)

Brands You Can Buy In-Store

A lot of ramen is accidentally vegan, especially in Asian supermarkets – you just have to look at the ingredients. Most Asian brands will list fish/crustaceans/eggs in the allergens section pretty faithfully, and those are the things you should look out for most – meat can sometimes sneak in there, but much more rarely if it is not overtly labeled with a meat flavor.

Dr McDougall’s is a brand that is definitely vegan and can be found at most Whole Foods. A lot of the other brands are probably going to be smaller Asian ones.

Top Ramen (one of the biggest brands out there) has Oriental and Chili flavors which both appear to be vegan based on their website.​

Unfortunately, we couldn't say the same for ​the Maruchan Oriental Flavor which had beef extract on their ingredient list.

Making Your Own at Home

Vegan ramen is really easy to make at home, whether you want to keep it simple or dress it up. Add whatever other foods you want, flavor it however you like, and you’ve got a delicious and filling meal. This recipe is a great way to dress ramen up.

Cheap Lazy Vegan is a great channel to follow if you’re new to veganism – and she even uses a brand on this list! (Nongshim’s Soon Veggie Noodle Soup). As well as adding vegetables for extra micronutrients and phytochemicals. She also adds soft tofu to give it a silken texture and some sesame seeds and seaweed to make it even more delicious.

How do you make your vegan ramen? Let us know in the comment section below!​

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Soy has quickly gone from a relatively unknown in Western culture to a highly debated and controversial food. Of course, soy has not been embraced by communities who have been advocating against grain and legume consumption for decades. Even people who eat predominately plant-based diets will campaign against this humble legume. The question is: are these harsh criticisms warranted or does the scientific literature say otherwise?

Introduction on Soy

A flurry of blog posts, most without any or with limited sources from scientific literature, has emerged attempting to prove once and for all how dangerous soy consumption is for human health.

Claims can range anywhere from “soy causes breast cancer and increases estrogen levels” to “phytates in soy leeches nutrients from your body”.

In this post, we will closely examine common objections against soy. We will explore the truths many online resources got right and the falsehoods that many got wrong.

We will dive deep into the actual scientific research behind soy consumption and ultimately be able to conclude soy, when consumed in any reasonable amount, protects against disease and promotes overall health.

**Please note that this article is about whole-foods plant based sources of soy, not soy additives in processed foods.

Debunking Anti-Soy Claims

Soy Allergies

Summary

  • Soy is the least common of all food allergens.
  • You're much more likely to be allergic to fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts.

To start, yes there are some people who shouldn’t eat soy. Some people do have allergies to soy, but it is actually the least common of all the main allergens.

A national survey found that 1 in 2,000 people have a soy allergy. For comparison, this is 40 times less likely than dairy, and 10 times less than fish, eggs, shellfish, nuts, wheat, or peanuts. [1]

What About GMO Soy?

Summary

  • Majority of GMO soy grown is for the purpose of feeding animals.
  • Consuming factory farmed (and even pasture-raised animals in some cases) means you're consuming GMO soy second-hand.
  • The immediate danger comes in the pesticides being sprayed on the soy. Genetic modification needs to be tested long-term and should be labeled.
  • Buying organic soy products is the easiest way to avoid the dangers of GMO soy.

Concerning GMOs, there certainly has not been enough testing done on the long-term effects of these foods, and they should be, at-best, labelled so each consumer has the right to know what they’re eating.

The main issue with GMO soy may not necessarily be the modification, but the actual Roundup being sprayed in large doses on these crops. This substance has been proven to product toxic and hormonal effects at even lower concentrations than what’s used on crops.[2]

Organic or conventional Non-Gmo soy has no Roundup of course, and less pesticide residues overall than GMO-soy. [3]

More Details on GMO Soy by NutritionFacts.org

If you’ve been avoiding soy because you think it’s either unhealthy, GMO, or similar, there is an unfortunate dilemma. 90% of the soy production in the world goes to animal feed and given to cows, chickens, and pigs.  If you’re eating any of these animals and fearful of the dangers of soy, you’re still consuming it second-hand. [4]

The main soy used for for humans manufacturers use Non-GMO soy, but we recommend buying organic soy products just to be safe.

Is Soy Environmentally Destructive?

Summary

  • Most soy is grown to feed animals for slaughter, not humans.
  • Livestock systems are far more unsustainable than growing soy to feed humans.
  • By consuming factory farmed animal products, you're indirectly consuming GMO-soy in much greater quantities.
  • Grass-fed animal products may still be fed soy/grain and are much more unsustainable.
  • Organic soy products are an environmentally safe option.

Soy gets a lot of flak for being a crop that is environmentally destructive. However, the brunt of this issue falls upon consumers of animal products and the animal agriculture industry, not soy itself. As stated above, the majority of GMO soy is grown for the sole purpose of feeding animals.

Of course, there are the grass-fed free, range animal options, which may not be fed with soy. Even "grass-fed" options, though, may be fed grain during a portion of the year during the end of their lives to fatten them up before slaughter . It’s also completely unsustainable for the environment. Livestock systems already cover 45% of the earth’s total landmass and cattle ranching is responsible for 91% of Amazonian rainforest destruction. [5][6]

These are huge numbers, and our limited land resources will only decrease as the demand for grass-fed meat increases. One grass-fed cow takes 9 acres of land to raise, whereas a grain-fed cow takes 3 acres. We simply don’t have enough land for everyone to eat grass-fed animals. [7]

With the majority of GMO-soy feed going to animals and the already massive occupancy of land used for animal agriculture, trying to avoid GMO-soy while still consuming animal products is quite counter-intuitive. By consuming most factory farmed animals, you're consuming GMO-soy indirectly and in much greater quantities. Not to mention you are increasing demand for this GMO soy, which leads to more destructive land-clearing.

Again, the healthiest, more environmentally friendly, and less cruel option would be to purchase organic soy products, which are by law non-GMO. However, many people still have concerns over some of the actual proteins and chemicals inside soy.

What About Lectins?

Summary

  • Lectins aren't only in soy, but present in many of foods.
  • Separating lectins from their original food source isn't a viable way to study them for human consumption.
  • Cooking lectins removes any negative consequences they may have.
  • "High lectin" legume based diets are staples for the longest living populations and are undoubtably associated with positive health outcomes. 

Another main talking-point against soy is the fact they are high in lectins. Lectins are proteins present in plants, dairy, yeast, eggs, and seafood. They can bind to other molecules, notably sugar and carbohydrate molecules, that are present both in foods, and in the membranes of our cells.

A case made by anti-grain authorities is that binding of lectins from plant foods to our cells is a major cause of ill health and nutrition malabsorption. They claim high-lectin foods like beans, grains, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts should be avoided for this reason.

This claim doesn't add up when you look at the actual research on lectin-containing foods.

First off, experimentation on lectins is often done in high concentrations and separated from it’s actual food source. Isolating lectins make them substantially more effective to bind to our cells compared to if they were consumed in food.

Also, by simply cooking your food, most of the lectins are deactivated or bind to other substances. Even a study from 1998, which attempts to frame lectins as a serious problem in the food industry, fails to dance around the point that lectin activity for most beans is deactivated within 10 minutes of boiling. [8]

Overconsumption of lectins can cause gastrointenstinal distress, but again, simply cooking your legumes/grains will remove any chance of negative consequences.

When we look at the longest living, healthiest populations in the world, known as the Blue Zone groups, “high lectin” legumes were a staple in their diet. Most of these cultures reserved meat for use as a condiment and on special occasions. In fact, the longest living Blue Zoners actually didn’t consume any meat [9][10]

Additionally, a Journal of Nutrition review concerning whole grains found that:

“Protease inhibitors, phytic acid, phenolic acids, and saponins present in whole grain have also been suggested to lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. Phytic acid, lectins, phenolic acids, amylase inhibitors, and saponins have also been shown to lower plasma glucose, insulin, and/or plasma cholesterol and TG levels” [11][12]

The fact is, most people who try to write off lectin containing foods, just because they contain lectins, while absolutely ignoring all of the positive research regarding the benefits of lectin-containing foods.

This concept is most eloquently stated by Dr. David Katz, founder of the True Health Initiative :

The idea that you should renounce many of the foods most decisively and consistently linked to good health outcomes because they contain a compound that can be called a toxin may be the most egregious example of missing the forest for the trees I’ve ever seen, and I’ve spent my career scrutinizing, and repudiating, just that variety of nonsense. For the sake of false promises dangling from one gilded tree, this is a case of burning the forest down. [13]

What About Phytates?

Summary

  • Studies on human phytate consumption is drastically different than animal studies.
  • High phytate diets have been shown to be protective of bone loss in humans.
  • Phytates must be consumed in the form of whole plant foods to realize the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls.

Phytates, another compound found in soy, have been labelled as a mineral-absorption inhibitor. These phytates can wind up supposedly causing mineral loss leading to calcium deficiency and weak bones.

The original concern about phytates on bone health actualy originated from experiments done on puppies in the 1940s. These studies were followed up by research done on rats where they were fed the equivalent of 10 loaves of bread a day.

However, actual human research suggests differently. Studies where people are put on high-phytate diets actually wound up with better bone density and stronger bones (heel, spine, hip). Phytates prevented bone dissolution similar to anti-osteoporosis drugs and women with high phytate levels in the blood had a much smaller risk of major bone fractures. [14]

Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis by NutritionFacts.org

While high phytate diets may appear to be a cause for concern, the health-harming effects of this anti-nutrient

...can be manifested only when large quantities of [phytates] are consumed in combination with a [nutrient-poor] diet.

When phytates are consumed in the form of soy and whole plant foods, the result is less heart disease, diabetes, kidney stones, fractures, and possibly cancer. [15]

Phytates and Cancer by NutritionFacts.org

Soy Beans and Mortality

Blue Zones and Long Living Cultures

Summary

  • Legume consumption is one of the pillars for long living cultures.
  • Increased legume consumption (including soy) has been shown to be protective against all-cause mortality and a host of chronic diseases.

In addition to the Blue Zones study, which showed regular legume consumption as one of the pillars for the longest lived cultures [16], another study analyzed 785 partcipants aged 70 and over. Here were the results [17]:

The FHILL longitudinal study shows that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity. The significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans). [18]

When it comes to raw statistics, the study found that every 20g of legumes consumed daily resulted in an 8% reduction in risk of death.

Soy and Estrogenic/Breast Cancer

Summary

  • Soy has phytoestrogens which function differently compared to mammalian estrogens.
  • Phytoestrogens can be both pro-estrogenic as well as anti-estrogenic.
  • Misconceptions about hormonal impacts of soy came from research on rats who metabolize soy vastly different than humans.
  • Human studies have shown soy to prevent bone loss and breast cancer.

Another major myth about soy is it’s alleged “estrogen-mimicking” chemicals, which some claim can result in breast cancer and other hormonal issues.

This is actually misinformation with no substantial evidence to support it. It's actually quite ironic because meat and dairy contain actual animal estrogens, not plant phytoestrogens.

The truth is that phytoestrogens act different than real estrogen, and can actually be pro-estrogenic in some parts of the body, but anti-estrogenic in others. Let us examine this further:

Phytoestrogens can have simultaneously pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects because there are two types of estrogen receptors: alpha and beta.

Soy phytoestrogens, such as genistein, prefer to bind to beta estrogen receptors. Beta receptor activation in the breast has an anti-estrogenic effect, which actually inhibits the growth and cancer-promoting effects of animal estrogen, can be enhance endothial function in post-menopausal women, and protect against other menopausal symptoms. [19][20][21][22]

At the same time, soy phytoestrogens can be pro-estrogenic when it comes to protecting post-menopausal women from bone loss. A robust study was done comparing soy milk consumption to progesterone cream (a common hormone therapy for post-menapausal women), and a control group.

The control group lost significant bone mineral density in their spine over the two-year study period, the progesterone group lost significantly less, and the two glasses of soy milk a day group wound up preventing bone loss and increasing bone mass. [23][24]

Pro-estrogenic and Anti-estrogenic Properties of Soy by NutritionFacts.org

This misconception that soy can contribute to breast cancer came from research on rats, who metabolize soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens) quite differently from humans, as distinctly noted in the study itself. The circulating levels of geinstein in the blood in the rats that had an increase in tumor size were 58 times greater than human levels after 1 serving of soy. [25]

When soy consumption in humans is put to the test against breast cancer, it has been shown that soy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adult life were all associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Those women who ate the most soy in their youth appear to grow up to have less than half the risk. [26]

Breast cancer rates are much higher in the USA than in Asia, where there are some of the highest soy consumption rates. But, when Asians migrate to the US and start eating a western diet, their breast cancer rates increase to average American levels. [27]

Soy and Feminizing Men

Summary

  • Phytoestrogens don't necessarily have pro-estrogenic properties 
  • Extremely high doses of soy has been shown to have some feminizing effects in a few rare cases.
  • Once these extremely high doses (3 quarts of soymilk per day) were reduced, the effects were reversed.
  • Nine clinical studies have shown no impact in circulating estrogen levels in men.

Everyone has heard about how too much soy consumption can result in feminizing effects in males, but is this claim substantiated?

A common reasoning for this is, again, the potential estrogenic affects of isoflavones in soy. As discussed earlier, phytoestrogens are quite different than the estrogens found in meat, and phytoestrogens can have anti-estrogenic properties in some circumstances.

Studies have found soy consumption in rat’s ability to produce offspring, but as mentioned earlier, rodent metabolism of soy is completely different, making these studies useless. [28]

Many have heard of how consuming too much soy can cause gynecomastia (man boobs), but the only report of this was from men consuming extremely high doses of soy, 3 quarts of soymilk a day in one instance. The feminizing effects of this extraordinary soy habit were reversed once intake was reduced. [29]

Finally, the peer-reviewed Fertility & Sterility journal concluded that after reviewing the clinical trials regarding soy intake and feminization there was:

“Essentially no evidence from nine identified clinical studies that isoflavone exposure affects circulating estrogen levels in men.” [30]

Can You Have Too Much Soy?

Summary

  • Massive amounts of soy can increase IGF-1 levels.
  • Vegan men eating huge amount of soy had the IGF-1 levels of meat eaters.
  • Stick to 5 servings a day or less of soy to reap the benefits without the downsides.

While we’ve demonstrably proven that non-GMO soy is beneficial for our health and protective against disease, can too much soy be bad?

The answer is possibly yes. IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1, is a growth hormone responsible for turning children into full-grown adults. But if this hormone keeps circulating in the blood, your cells should continue to divide and grow. The more IGF-1 in the bloodstream, the higher our risk for cancer. Those on a plant based diet tend to have lower IGF-1 levels.

However, studies have shown that vegan men eating huge amounts of soy, 7 to 18 cups of soy milk worth per day, for an entire year, would up with similar levels of IGF-1 in the body as meat eaters.[31]

How Much Soy is Too Much by NutritionFacts.org

To be as safe as possible, one shouldn’t consume more than 5 servings of soy a day. [32]

Conclusion on Soy

Much of the controversy around soy has been the result of misrepresentation.

GMO-Soy is certainly a problem and should be labelled properly so consumers can have freedom of choice. However, the overwhelming majority GMO-soy is fed to animals, and attempting to get meat from only grass-fed sources only poses a more unsustainable problem due to limited land resources.

The best choice for consuming soy is always organic or non-GMO.

Most of the hysteria regarding the negative health risks of soy are based on the potential dangers of certain compounds (such as lectins or phytates) in isolation, but when soy itself is studied on humans, it can be protective against bone loss, breast cancer, and overall mortality.

However, to air on the safe side, stick to no more than 5 servings daily.

Sources

  • 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17451802
  • 2. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/
  • 3. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-gmos-safe-the-case-of-roundup-ready-soy/
  • 4. http://anhinternational.org/2010/04/21/europeans-consuming-gm-animal-feed-unknowingly/
  • 5. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf
  • 6. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/758171468768828889/pdf/277150PAPER0wbwp0no1022.pdf
  • 7.http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/12/pass_on_grass.html
  • 8.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/50272913_Assessment_of_Lectin_Inactivation_by_Heat_and_Digestion
  • 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11434797
  • 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079919
  • 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078018/pdf/nut14101011S.pdf
  • 13. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/do-we-dare-to-eat-lectins_us_5935c6a7e4b0cca4f42d9c83
  • ​14. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-prevention-of-osteoporosis/
  • 15. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-treatment-of-cancer/
  • 16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24210636
  • 17. https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/17/what-do-all-the-blue-zones-have-in-common/
  • 18. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/13/2/217.pdf
  • 19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16513288
  • 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843590
  • 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15084758
  • 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9247129
  • 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15309425
  • 24. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/who-shouldnt-eat-soy/
  • 25. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/5/1284.long
  • 26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19318430
  • 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8230262
  • 28. http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/189/3/565
  • 29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18558591
  • 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378106
  • 31. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/too-much-soy-may-neutralize-plant-based-benefits/
  • 32. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/

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Barbecue sauce is an American staple. You might know it best when it comes to barbecuing meat – brisket, ribs, and chicken all do well slathered with it – but it’s a delicious addition to any meal. We don’t consider a burger truly done without vegan barbecue sauce – whether it’s a soy burger, bean burger or something else entirely!

Luckily, most barbecue sauces tend to be vegan; it’s pretty easy to find vegan products at the supermarket. The main thing you’re going to want to look out for in these sauces is honey*, which many consider not to be vegan. Some brands also include sardines or anchovies in their barbecue sauces, but these are much more rare.

*Honey is a controversial topic within the world of veganism - don't sweat it too much if you're still trying to eliminate all other animal products from your diet.

Vegan Barbecue Sauce Brands Available Online

Since many barbecue sauces are actually already vegan, we chose some of the most popular sauces that also happen to be vegan to list here. There’s plenty to try!

Simple Girl Carolina Style BBQ Sauce is a low calorie, sugar free, diabetic-friendly sauce that’s designed for people looking for a “lighter” sauce, or those who are trying not to consume excess calories.

Simple Girl Carolina Style BBQ Sauce - 12oz - Low Calorie - Sugar-Free Diabetic/Vegan Friendly - Gluten/Fat/MSG Free - Compatible with Most Diet Plans

Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce is a classic style sauce that has a good balance of all of the typical BBQ sauce flavors: Sweet, Smoke, and Spice. Renowned for a few decades, it’s a classic sauce that you can’t go wrong with – and happens to be vegan! Even though it has Worcestershire sauce, the version they use doesn’t have any anchovies!

Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce, Original, 160 Ounce

Capital City’s Mambo Sauce is a sweet, sticky sauce ideal for marinating.

Mild Mambo Sauce -- A Washington DC Wing Sauce

One of the most popular brands of barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s, also has a vegan offering: their Original Barbecue Sauce.

Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce 2/40 Ounce

Kraft also has a couple online; their Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce, Original Barbecue Sauce, and Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce are all vegan and can all be found on Amazon.

Kraft Barbecue Sauce Slow-Simmered Sauce, Hickory Smoke, 17.5 Ounce

Finally, Stonewall Kitchen has two vegan options: their classic Organic Smoky Maple Barbecue Sauce, and a more unusual Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce – perfect if you’re looking for a new flavor.

Stonewall Kitchen Organic Smoky Maple Barbecue Sauce, 11 oz.

Check any of the links above to read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon.

Vegan Barbecue Sauce Brands You Can Buy In-Stores

There are few brands of specifically vegan barbecue sauce, probably because there are so many accidentally vegan options. Most common brands are primarily vegan, and it’s usually only their honey-flavored options that aren’t. You also need to look out for Worcestershire sauce on labels.

Three Common Brands You're Likely to Find

Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce is all vegan except for their Tennessee Honey sauce (which is clearly indicated on their website). Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue range is all vegan except for Honey and Honey Chipotle. Kraft is all vegan except their Sweet Honey and Mesquite Smoke options. And Stubb’s much-loved Bar-B-Q sauces are all vegan except Smoky Mesquite and Honey Pecan.

These should all be fairly easy to find at any supermarket; they’re some of the most popular sauces for omnivores, too!

What About the Sugar in Vegan BBQ Sauce?

You may have heard that some sugar may be processed with animal products. We recommend that unless you're buying your own bagged sugar at the store not to worry about this. Odds are, the manufacturer won't be able to trace it and the actual suffering caused to animals is dubious at best. To learn more about this topic, look at our post on sugar.

Making Your Own at Home

Let's face it - it's always more cost effective to make your own at home in bulk and store it for later. Plus it gives you the opportunity to use the highest quality ingredients should you so choose.

It’s pretty easy to make barbecue sauce at home as its just a matter of combining the ingredients, simmering, and waiting for the flavors to develop. The video above is a super simple vegan recipe that shows you exactly how to do so!

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ANSWER: Yes. The purpose of veganism is to cause the least amount of suffering as possible or practicable with your food choices. Animal crackers aren't real animals of course, nor do the original ones by Stauffer's contain any direct animal ingredients such as milk or eggs. However, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to confectionery and baked products including animal crackers. Full details below!

Vegan Brands of Animal Crackers


Animal Crackers with Organic Sugar*

Conventional Animal Crackers

Use any of the links above to read customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've listed the most popular vegan brands of animal crackers. Beware of other brands with frosting and double check if they have any milk, eggs, gelatin, or any other animal products. We've separated the organic from the conventional animal crackers as some more experienced vegans may choose to avoid conventional sugar. More on sugar in the final section.

What Are Animal Cracker's Exactly?

Animal crackers are a bit of a cross between a cracker and a cookie. They are a slightly sweet, but with the texture of a cracker. As the name implies, they are shaped like animals such as horses, giraffes, bears, etc. The Original Animal Crackers by Stauffer's actually contain 13 different shapes according to their website.

What Does the Ingredient Statement Look Like for Animal Crackers?

Here's the Stauffer's Animal Cracker's ingredient statement (please note that other smaller brands might be different):

ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, SOYBEAN OIL, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, BAKING SODA (LEAVENING), SOY LECITHIN (AN EMULSIFIER), NATURAL FLAVOR, SPICE.

As you can see they are mainly comprised of flour, sugar, and oil. There's no milk, eggs, or anything that can be stated with 100% certainty that it was animal derived. You don't have to feel guilty about eating them, especially if you're new to veganism. Sugar is a controversial ingredient within veganism and there's a chance that if the sugar isn't organic that animal products were involved in the processing of it.

Why Mention Sugar in Animal Crackers*?

Conventional sugar is sometimes processed with animal bone char, but it is not something that you should put too much thought into, especially if you are having trouble eliminating all labeled animal products from your diet. Veganism is about maximum harm reduction and if you're in the transition phase, you don't want to make things even more confusing.

If you want to be super safe stick with the Kirkland Organic Animal Crackers or the Trader Joe's Organic Animal Crackers. You don’t have to feel guilty if you choose to do otherwise, though.

For the full scoop on sugar, check out this article.

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ANSWER:  Like many sugar-based candies, the small version of Laffy Taffy doesn't contain any blatantly labeled animal products which means that it would be considered Vegan. The big version is Laffy Taffy does however have eggs, making it not vegan. There are a few ingredients (including sugar) in the small version which could potentially involve animal products which we discuss below. However, we don't recommend stressing about trace ingredients.

Most Popular Vegan Taffy Candies


Click any of the links above to check out customer reviews on Amazon!

In the chart above, we've compiled the most popular vegan taffy candies we could find online. Many of the smaller taffy brands had egg or milk in them, but the big brands above did not. Please note that different larger versions of any of these given candies may not be vegan (besides Mambas which we found to be all vegan).

What About the Sugar in Laffy Taffy?

Here's the most up to date Laffy Taffy ingredients we could find:

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Palm Oil and Less Than 2% of Mono- and Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Malic Acid, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, blue #1, red #40, yellow #5. Contains Soy Ingredients.​

Laffy Taffy is primarily Corn Syrup and Sugar. Conventional (meaning non-organic) sugar has the capacity to be filtered with animal ingredients such as bone char. Laffy Taffy is a huge brand who most likely sources sugar from different places. This means that tracking whether or not any animal derived products (filtering materials in this case) were involved in the making of one specific candy would be nearly impossible.

The same applies to any natural colors and flavors in Laffy Taffy. Tracking their origins, especially given the different types of the candy out there would be difficult, but we believe that the same principle applies.​

We've fully detailed our position on sugar being vegan in this post.​

Laffy Taffy and the Definition of Veganism

The definition of veganism according to the Vegan Society is as follows:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The keywords in this definition is possible and practicable. While this is not an excuse to go out and eat products blatantly made from animals, veganism isn't something to be overthought, especially for someone that's new to it. Veganism is grounded in maximum harm reduction simply because 100% harm reduction is impossible

While one doesn't necessarily need to eat Laffy Taffy in order to survive it is not constructive for a new vegan to over think ingredient statements that aren't blatantly labeled with animals, especially if it means that it makes veganism too complicated for them. A more experienced vegan may opt to give up questionable products as a matter of principle, but the harm reduction to animals isn't going to be anything of impact.

Conclusion on Laffy Taffy

When it comes to sugary candy including Laffy Taffy, we've boiled it down to one rule of thumb. Check the label for any animal ingredients (including gelatin) that are clearly labeled. If they aren't, you can consider it 99.9% vegan. As you become more experienced on plant-based eating, you may want to consider avoiding anything questionable, but that's your choice.

Finally, because candies don't really contain any nutritional value, we recommend sticking as close to whole foods plant based as possible!

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ANSWER: Yes, but with a few caveats. We found many different formulations of sprinkles during our research so it is hard to pin sprinkles down to one ingredient list. Sprinkles containing "confectioners glaze" have the potential to contain insects, so that is an ingredient to be wary of. There's more you might want to know about sprinkles and veganism though - and we've compiled that below!

What Vegan Brands of Sprinkles Do you Recommend?

If you want to be 100% sure that you're getting the sprinkles that caused the least amount of suffering possible, getting organic sprinkles is a great choice. This is because organic sugar isn't processed the same way as conventional and doesn't have the potential to have animal products anywhere in the supply chain. A brand we recommend is Let's Do Organic.

Check out Let's Do Organic Sprinkelz online!

What Are Sprinkles Exactly?

Sprinkles are little candies, usually all black or rainbow, that are used on top of cookies and desserts. They're mainly for decoration, texture, and sweetness and wouldn't really be ideal to eat all on your own. They're pretty much 100% nutritionally void, being primary composed of sugar and oil. All this aside, sprinkles are adored by many people across the world and are almost a symbol of celebration - certainly a fun food!

What To Look Out for In Sprinkles

There are a few things that you should be on the look out for when it comes to sprinkles and a few other details to be aware of. Some red flag ingredients to keep an eye out for going to be:

  • Confectioners Glaze
  • Gelatin

The sugar, coloring, and flavors in sprinkles have the potential to have animal products somewhere in the production process, but we don't recommend that you get caught up on it. Tracing the origins of all these products in a given sprinkle brand  would be extremely difficult and the reduction on suffering for animals wouldn't account for much. This is why many vegan experts recommend not focusing on trace ingredients.

Our article on sugar goes more in-depth into this topic of sugar and trace ingredients should you be interest.

Should Vegans Stress Out About Sprinkles?

If you have the option of buying vegan sprinkles than we're obviously going to recommend that you do so. However, if one of your relatives made vegan cupcakes especially for you and may have used non-vegan sprinkles by accident, declining to eat them because they aren't vegan may do more harm than good for the animals. Doing this will make veganism seem complex and not easy to follow. In this example, the person went out of their way to make something vegan and shooting them down in this fashion may discourage them from trying it in the future.

Conclusion on Sprinkles

If you're a vegan do your best to avoid sprinkles with confectioners glaze and other animal products such as gelatin. Don't stress too much about other dubious trace ingredients like sugar, colors, and flavors, but simply do the best you can. Veganism isn't about perfection and you're better off being 99.9% vegan than 0%.

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ANSWER: Worcestershire sauce in its original form isn't vegan because it contains anchovies or anchovy paste. Worcestershire sauce has a complex flavor profile and lots of different ingredients, but it is mainly just this one that is the culprit. The good news is that there are plenty of vegan substitutes that taste just like the real thing and it is super easy to make your own if you're so inclined.

What Vegan Brands of Worcestershire Sauce Do you Recommend?

There are two main Worcestershire sauces that we recommend for Vegans which we've listed below. They taste pretty much exactly the same, and since Worcestershire sauce is usually a small part of a recipe, you're unlikely to notice any difference!

Our Favorite Vegan Worcestershire Sauces

Click any of the links above to check our customer reviews on Amazon!

What is Worcestershire Sauce Exactly?

Hard to define flavor-wise because it is so complex, Worcestershire sauce was created by two chemists from Worcester which is how it got its name. The names of these chemists were John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. If those names look familiar it is because they created the company Lea & Perrin's  which is one of the best known and best selling Worcestershire sauces on the market.

What Does a Worcestershire Sauce Ingredient Statement Look Like?

We've taken the ingredients from the original Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce and displayed it below. It's not simply about the ingredients in this sauce, but the aging of the ingredients which allows the flavors to develop.

Ingredients: Distilled White Vinegar, Molasses, Sugar, Water, Salt, Onions, Anchovies, Garlic, Cloves, Tamarind Extract, Natural Flavorings, Chili Pepper Extract

As you can see, anchovies are a staple in one of the biggest brand out there.

The Wizard's makes an organic and delicious Worcestershire sauce that is definitely worth trying. Annie's is another brand that makes pretty much the same thing. Either or are going to be great choices for replacing non-veg worcestershire sauce. We've linked to them above so be sure to check them out!

Here's the ingredient statement for Annie's:

Water, *Apple Cider Vinegar, *Molasses, *Soy Sauce (Water, *Soybean, Salt, *Wheat, *Alcohol), *Cane Sugar, *Tamarind, Sea Salt, *Cornstarch, Xanthan Gum, *Garlic, *Onion, *Clove, *Chili Pepper. *Organic Ingredients.

Make Your Own at Home!

Although a bit of a lengthy process, you can certainly make your own at home! Remember, the flavor comes from aging so instant gratification isn't going to be possible.

If you've got an immediate hankering, your best bet would be to purchase a pre-made sauce to hold you over while you wait for your homemade batch to age. Just our two cents! Enjoy!

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ANSWER: Some Bisquick products are indeed Vegan, however there are variations of it that definitely aren't. For example, they have a Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix which contains both milk and eggs placing it in the non-vegan category. Also, given that the instructions may call for eggs or milk, you'll have to make some easy vegan substitutes when using Bisquick. We've compiled the vegan products and the non-vegan products in the chart below:

What Kind of Bisquick Products Are Vegan?

Given that there are many forms of Bisquick on the market we've made a convenient list of vegan and non-vegan Bisquicks based on the information from their website. Because ingredient statements change, we recommend checking their ingredient statements for milk and eggs just to make sure.

List of Vegan Bisquick Products


Non-Vegan Bisquick Products:

  • Bisquick Complete Cheese Garlic Butter Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Honey Butter Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Complete Three Cheese Biscuit Mix
  • Bisquick Simply Buttermilk with Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix
  • Bisquick Shake and Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix

*Use any of the links above to read customer reviews and check prices on Amazon.

All of the non-vegan products contain either eggs, milk, and/or honey (which is a bit more controversial). Here's an example of what a vegan ingredient statement of Bisquick looks like compared to a non-vegan one.

​Vegan Ingredient Statement (original Bisquick)

Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), Dextrose, Salt.

Non-Vegan Ingredient Statement (Buttermilk Shake and Pour)

Enriched Flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Sugar, Leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium acid pyrophosphate), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Defatted Soy Flour, Dried Egg Whites, Dextrose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Buttermilk , Salt, Soy Lecithin.

How Do I Replace Eggs and Milk in Biquick?

Milk: Milk should be an easier replacement given that there are plenty of plant based milks on the market. Given that soy milk has the highest protein content (most similar to dairy milk) it is going to be the go to replacement. However, almond and coconut milks will also perform for pancakes.

Eggs: While there are many egg replacers on the market that will work, making a flax egg is going to be your cheapest. To make 1 egg, simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, mix thoroughly, and let is rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. You'll also get other benefits including more fiber in your pancakes!

Quick Disclaimer on Bisquick and Other Products

When it comes to a non-whole food with many minor ingredients, it is nearly impossible to trace whether some of them may be animal derived such as Folic Acid. That being said, they are such low percentage the harm to animals from consuming them in these products is virtually nil. If you're transitioning to veganism, we highly recommend to not overthink these things - just avoid foods blatantly labeled with animal products.

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ANSWER: Yes! Sriracha sauce is typically going to be vegan. Most chili pastes in any sort of Asian cuisine are a combination of chili peppers, sugar, vinegar and spices. There are a few things you might want to know about Srirachi's vegan status, though so read on!

What is Sriracha Exactly?

Sriracha sauce, mainly recognized as the stuff with the rooster on it is a spicy and semi-sweet chili-pepper based sauce that originated in Thailand. It got its name because it was first spotted in restaurants in a Taiwanese city named Si Racha. With its growing popularity, many people in the West are replacing ketchup with Sriracha sauce on foods that you would never expect.

What Brands of Sriracha Do you Recommend?

Taste wise, all brands of Sriracha are going to be pretty similar, so there's none that you can really go wrong with. All organic brands will give you the opportunity to avoid preservatives and you'll know for sure that the sugar wasn't processed with any animal products*. Here's what we recommend, though:

If you want to check out the Organic Sriracha go with Simply Natural brand.

If you want to stick with the conventional go with the Classic Huy Fong Sriracha

What Does the Ingredient Statement Look Like?

The most well known brand of Sriracha by Hoy Fong has the following ingredient statement:

Ingredients: Chili, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Distilled Vinegar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite as Preservatives, and Xanthan Gum.​

There are also organic Sriracha brands out there with much cleaner ingredient statements and no preservatives.  A typical ingredient statement usually looks something like this:

Ingredients: Organic red jalapeno pepper puree, water, organic red bell pepper puree, organic sugar, organic white vinegar, organic garlic puree, salt, organic garlic, powdered organic habanero peppers, xanthan gum.

What About the Sugar in Sriracha?

​It's true that some sugar in the supply chain isn't 100% vegan due to the processing methods. However, given the complexity of the food supply, we don't recommend worrying about this for products with added sugar, like Sriracha sauce. If you want to be 100% safe you can go with an Organic Sriracha, but it is your choice.

Being vegan shouldn't be burdensome or complex - so  stressing over dubious or trace ingredients can be counterproductive. See our full position on sugar here.

Vegan Recipes with Sriracha

Sriracha gives you the opportunity to add unique and complex flavors to veggies which is always a good thing. From noodle dishes, to burgers, or for straight up dipping any veggies, sriracha is awesome! Check out some of our favorites below:

Enjoy folks!

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ANSWER: Yes - most of it. The majority of boxed pastas by Barilla are Vegan as they only contain Semolina Wheat Flour. However, not all of their pasta products are vegan given that they contain eggs or milk. We went ahead and broke down Barilla's entire product line below so that vegans can learn and shop for Barilla pasta more easily!

A Quick Note About Eggs

Many Barilla Pastas are labeled that they may contain eggs. This means that some of the processing equipment that the pastas was made on is shared with that of products that contain eggs. Likely Barilla is just doing this as an extra allergen precaution. No eggs are actually added to the pasta unless it is specifically in the ingredient statement.

Worrying about potential trace ingredients isn't necessary to be vegan, so unless you're allergic to eggs don't worry about it.

Barilla Pastas by Vegan Status

List of Vegan Barilla Pastas Available Online


Vegan Barilla Pastas

Non-Vegan Pastas

  • Barilla Collezione Tortellini**
  • Barilla Protein Plus

Click any of the links above to be redirected to shop for these pastas on Amazon!

Given their wide range of products we decided to break down their entire line below so you can quickly identify which ones are vegan. All ingredient statements pulled from their website.

Barilla Pasta Classic Blue Box

This classic pasta is completely vegan. The ingredient statement is typical of any generic pasta you might find on the shelf. What flour with fortified vitamins.

SEMOLINA (WHEAT), DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON (FERROUS SULFATE), THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID.

Ready Pasta

The Ready Pasta is simply the classic with added olive oil and salt that's been precooked. The final product is sold in a pouch, ready to go in only a few minutes. For those on the run, luckily its also vegan.

WATER, PASTA [SEMOLINA (WHEAT), DURUM WHEAT FLOUR], EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SEA SALT.

Collezione

There are various different shapes of the Collezione pasta. Most of them are just the same ingredients as the Classic Blue box. This pasta is great because its shaped in ways that allow for an enhanced texture experience and better sauce absorption.

*Please note that the stuffed Tortellini versions of this pasta aren't vegan as they contain cheese.

Whole Grain

The whole grain pasta is simply made from Whole Wheat Flour no other ingredients. Whole Grain Flour doesn't need to be fortified by regulations, hence why there aren't any vitamins and minerals like with the regular pasta.

Protein Plus

As mentioned earlier, this is one brand of Barilla that's definitely not Vegan. Egg whites made their way into the formulation, probably to hit a certain protein threshold. Had they held the eggs, this would have been an awesome pasta to try!

SEMOLINA (WHEAT), GRAIN AND LEGUME FLOUR BLEND [GRAINS AND LEGUMES (LENTILS, CHICKPEAS, FLAXSEED, BARLEY, OATS, SPELT), EGG WHITES, OAT FIBER], DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON (FERROUS SULFATE), THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID.​

Pronto

Pronto pastas are meant to be cooked in just a pan without needing to go through the entire process of boiling water. You would think that they would have needed to add all sorts of crazy ingredients to achieve this, but nope! This line of pastas has the same ingredients as the Classic Blue Box. They are able to achieve different cooking times and methods by the way that the pasta is shaped and cut rather than by changing the recipe or formulation.

White Fiber

The White Fiber pasta line is simply the classic formulation with resistant corn starch added in. This allows the pasta to maintain the typical taste and texture and still have approximetly three times the fiber. The ingredient statement reads:

SEMOLINA (WHEAT), DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, WHOLE DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, RESISTANT CORN STARCH, NIACIN, IRON (FERROUS SULFATE), THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID.

Veggie

There's three different kind of the veggie pasta and they're all vegan! The formula is simply the classic with added vegetable powders. We're including the Rotini below but the others have some different vegetable powder blends.

SEMOLINA (WHEAT), DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, ZUCCHINI PUREE, (ZUCCHINICARROT, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, WATER), SPINACH PUREE, NIACIN, IRON (FERROUSE SULFATE), THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID.

Organic

The organic pastas are all vegan! Just typical flours and added vitamins:

ORGANIC SEMOLINA (WHEAT), ORGANIC DURUM WHEAT FLOUR. VITAMINS/MINERALS: VITAMIN B3 (NIACIN), IRON (FERROUS SULFATE), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMINE MONONITRATE), VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), FOLIC ACID.​

Academia Barilla

The organic pastas are all vegan! Just typical flours and added vitamins. Bon Appetite!

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ANSWER: Some of US versions we found of Takis we found were Vegan while some weren't (covered below). However, the ingredient statements for all of their products were not available on the manufacturer's website so we don't want to say this with 100% certainty in case ingredient statements have changed. In addition, there may be some things you want to look for on your Takis label which will help you identify if its Vegan as well as some other things you might want to know about Takis.

What is Takis Exactly?

Takis are a corn based crispy snack that is gaining in popularity across the world. There are around six different flavors of Takis - all Tex Mex or Mexican in flavor profile such as Salsa Brava. They're known for being hot, spicy, and having complex flavor profiles.

Vegan Takis Flavors

The following Takis flavors don't contain any animal products from our research:

What Does a Typical Takis Ingredient Statement Look Like?

Again, we couldn't locate the full ingredient statement on the manufacturer's website, but we were able to find some on Fooducate.com. The Fuego version has the following ingredient statement:

Ingredients: corn flour, hydrogenated soybean and/or canola and/or palm and/or sunflower oil, seasoning [salt, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, soybean protein, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, sodium diacetate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial colors (fd&c red no. 40 lake, fd&c yellow no.6 lake), onion powder, chile extract, sodium inosinate and silicon dioxide (no more than 2% as anticaking agent)] and antioxidants (bht and/or tbhq and/or propylene glycol and/or bha).

As you probably gathered, Takis probably aren't the healthiest of foods, being mostly empty calories with little to no nutrition. However, that's not what this article is about.

The fact that they used ​yeast dictates that they were trying to give this version a slight cheesy flavor, but didn't want to use real cheese for whatever reason. This is a common practice for vegans, we always use Nutritional Yeast to make homemade hard cheese and cheese sauces.

Vegan buyer beware, though - not all Takis are dairy free and some even contain eggs - the Salsa Fajita for example:

Ingredients: Corn Masa Flour (Processed With Lime), Soybean and/Or Palm and/Or Canola Oil, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Iodized Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch, Chili Pepper (Chile), Citric Acid, Artificial and Natural Flavor (Soy, Milk, Egg), Onion Powder, Canola Oil, Garlic Powder, Spices, Artificial Colors (Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake and Blue 1 Lake), Dextrose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Yeast, Sugar, Gum Arabic, Xylose].​

What Kind of Takis Might Not Be Vegan?

Aside from the ones that we've found - all other versions of Takis contained animal products this includes:

  • Xplosion
  • Crunchy Fajitas
  • Guacamole

Be sure to check the ingredients on the bag  for milk or eggs - which should be labeled in the allergen statement or in clearly marked within the ingredient statement.

What About All the Trace Ingredients?

We're not going to lie, with all of the trace ingredients in Takis, there lies the possibility that animals were involved at some point in the entire food supply chain. However, many top vegan organizations don't recommend worrying about trace ingredients (as their harm to animals is dubious at best) and neither do we unless there is clearly another option available.

Our article on sugar delves further into this position.​

Are Takis Healthy?

At Thrive Cuisine, we only recommend Whole Foods Plant Based lifestyles for ideal health. Takis are very clearly removed from a whole food source (even the Vegan ones), so we recommend consuming them in great moderation if at all.

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ANSWER: If you're trying to transition to veganism, the simple answer is yes - sugar is vegan as it doesn't contain any animal products. If you've been vegan a long time, the brand of sugar maybe something you want to consider, since the possibility exists that the sugar was processed using animal product based filters. We've covered all the nitty gritty details of this topic below.  

Again, if you're new to veganism and are having trouble with the basic transition of eliminating all labeled animal products then don't let all this information guilt you or stress you out, unless you're personally buying sugar in bagged form.

What's Not Vegan About Sugar?

Simply put, bone char may be used as a whitening filter for certain refined sugars. The reasoning behind this is because companies believed that having a pure, white, and clean sugar product was superior in the eyes of the consumer. This is what made them adopt a process of whitening in the first place and it just so happened that bone char was an effective and economical way to do this.

It is easy to identify non-vegan bagged sugars in a store environment, but products that contain sugar are going to be extremely difficult to trace unless stated. For this reason, we recommend that people buy 100% vegan sugar if buying it bagged, but don't stress about it otherwise. Tracing the sugar in a restaurant meal or packaged food can be near impossible and not really necessary. 

For most, this adds an extra level of neurosis to being vegan, which isn't necessary.

What Kind of Sugar is 100% Vegan?

Readily Available Bagged Vegan Sugar


Here are examples of beet sugar and organic cane sugar  you can buy online.

The sure fire way to avoid sugar processed with bone char is by getting organic sugar. According to USDA regulations, organic sugar cannot be processed with bone char. Being that organic sugar tends to minimally processed as well, you can see the difference in color and structure when buying it.

Another way you can avoid the bone char filtered sugar is to look for beet sugar. It should be quite easy to see as it should be labeled as such.

All of these details are laid out really well in this post by the Vegetarian Resource Group. 

What About Products Made With Sugar?

By making the choice to go vegan and eliminating your consumption of animal products, you're having an important impact on the supply chain. Your decision to not buy products with milk, for example, will send a signal to the manufacturer that they should think about changing the way that they formulate their products. 

Eating something with sugar that may have come from bone char isn't going to have a huge effect on the animal agriculture industry, and can be of more harm than good. Making a fuss over whether sugar was processed with bone char can make veganism seem more difficult than it actually is.

Eliminating products labeled with animals will have the biggest impact and sends the clearest signals to these companies.

When it comes to products that have sugar in them, e-mailing the manufacturer may get you an answer, but they also might not even know. Manufacturers of products with added sugar are likely purchase both beet sugar and cane sugar considering them to be a single ingredient. The food supply chain is big and complicated and even though being educated about it is important, it shouldn't bog down your daily life.

What To Do As a New Vegan?

Given the complexity of all this, it shouldn't make veganism complex for newcomers. In contrast, veganism should be an easy thing that people can do to eliminate the most amount of animal suffering they can. 

So here's our rules of thumb:

  • If you're buying a bag of sugar make sure it is not refined with bone char (organic cane sugar or beet sugar)
  • If you're buying a product with added sugar in it, don't worry about it.
  • Focus on making sure all labeled animal products are eliminated from your diet

Check out our Step by Step Guide to going Vegan to learn more.

Is Sugar Healthy?

Oddly enough, some vegans popular on social media have promoted added sugar as some sort of health food. However, the truth is that added sugar is simply excess empty calories without any real nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. If health is your concern, but you have a sweet tooth, getting sugar from whole foods plant based sources is going to be ideal.

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Rice is an indispensable part of Asian cuisine and has become a chief staple food the world over. Rice is cheap, filling and makes a great accompaniment to almost any meal. Using rice cookers is a foolproof way to cook restaurant quality rice, freeing up your time to get on with other tasks. Being a Korean brand - a culture where rice is a major staple - Cuckoo models are a great choice if you're looking for something in the top tier of rice machines.

Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker CR-0631F (Pink)

Build Quality

5/5

Design

5/5

Power

5/5

Reliability

5/5

Efficiency

5/5

PROS

  • Versatile 
  • High quality design and build
  • Reliable
  • Doubles up as a pressure cooker
  • 1 year warranty
  • Easy to clean

CONS

  • Expensive

Our Cuckoo Rice Cooker Review: Key Features

Cuckoo is one of the leading names in rice cookers and we’ve picked one of its best selling models to see how it stacks up against other similar devices.

Cuckoo is a Korean company that manufactures state of the art rice cookers that tend to gelatinize rice more than their Japanese and Chinese counterparts. While this may be an appealing prospect for some people, it may not be for others. It all depends on the final texture you're looking for in your meals. In addition, the type of rice you use is also going to depend on the final product and how much it gelatinizes. The longer grain of rice tends to equate to less gelatinization.

cooked rice in cuckoo rice maker

Rice is a delicious addition to any meal and can be enjoyed hot or cold with any type of cuisine.

Cuckoo rice cookers tend to be a little more expensive than your average rice cooker but are a well-trusted brand thanks to their sturdy build and unusual yet attractive designs. They are top sellers in Korea, a nation whose cuisine centers around gelatinized rice that has been prepared in a rice cooker (usually a Cuckoo model).

Design and Build Quality

This Cuckoo Electric Heating Rice Cooker is one of its best sellers thanks to its relatively low cost (compared with other Cuckoo models). It comes in a unique light pink color, making it more attractive than your average rice cooker. Although “good looks” play no part in the reliability of this rice cooker, its appearance makes it a good option for people who are low on cabinet space and need to keep their machines on their counter tops (or for those of you who consider aesthetic appeal an important component in their kitchen equipment).

Besides a pink facade, this device also features a Teflon-coated inner pot and turbo cooking functions. It can also cook GABA rice and brown rice and has a wide LCD screen that allows you to easily see what you are doing. This model also features a slow cooking function and doubles up as a pressure cooker making it ideal for one-pot meals, soups and stews.

If you like your rice cookers to feature fuzzy logic, this model boasts a state of the art fuzzy logic component that acts like a “personal chef” and cooks fluffy, restaurant-quality rice every time.

Its six different cooking settings allow you to cook white and brown rice as well as other grains so if you’re looking for a device that is versatile you could do a lot worse than this one.

This model cooks up to 6 cups of rice making it a good option for smaller households. It also comes with a one-year warranty so if you decide to buy it you can rest assured that you are getting a model that is excellent value for money.

Overall this is an excellent, high-quality rice cooker and it’s easy to see why it remains one of Cuckoo’s best selling models. It is sturdy, robust and reliable and the fact that it’s easy on the eye is just an added bonus.

One of the only downsides of this device is that it does not come with a steaming tray like many other rice cookers so this is not a good model to go for if you are looking for something that also steams veggies. That being said, this makes excellent quality sushi rice that sticks together with no problems and doubles up as a slow cooker allowing you to make beans, stews, soups and other one-pot meals.

Cleaning This Model

One of the best components of this machine is that it is very easy to clean. The inner Teflon lid comes off for easy cleaning. The combination of fuzzy logic and the extended keep warm function (which lasts up to 24 hours) means that you don’t have to worry about rice burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, which speeds up the cleaning process. If you've ever had rice that got stuck because you left it on the heat so long, you'll know that it can be super annoying to get off and potentially damaging to the unit.

It is also dishwasher safe, which is an added bonus and makes clean ups a breeze. Although the lid is detachable it is not dishwasher safe although it is easily cleaned in a kitchen sink with some warm, soapy water.

Reliability

​This unit comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty which is pretty typical for similar units in the market at this price range.

Cuckoo is one of the leading rice cooker brands in Korea, a country that owes much of its culinary legacy to rice. In short –rice is a big deal there and the fact that this brand is so trusted and reputable speaks volumes about how reliable it is.

As far as the reliability of this particular model goes, you can buy it and be sure that you’ll be spending your cash on a rice cooker that is sturdy, reliable and delivers on all technical and culinary fronts.

How Does it Compare?


This is the perfect rice cooker for households with a lot of mouths to feed or for people who want to batch cook their rice for the week.

This is an extremely robust, well-made machine that is worth every penny and comes with a one-year warranty.

It comes with an aluminum inner pot and detachable stainless steel cover that are both easy to clean. It even features an auto steam-cleaning feature that facilitates the cleaning process even further. With one push of a button, you can do the majority of your cleaning using the steam cleaner and then wash up any remaining residue by hand.

The high-tech 3D warming system means that you can keep your rice warm without it burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. There is also a pressure cooking device, which allows you to control how much pressure you want to use when making stews, soups and other one-pot, beans and slow-cooked meals.

The lock checking device is an added safety feature that stops water from splattering onto the kitchen counter, which is one of the most common complaints people have with cheaper rice cookers.

This machine also boasts 11 cooking settings and 14 safety features. It uses fuzzy logic and has an automatic keep warm function that can keep rice warm for up to 24 hours. Besides brown, white and sushi rice, it also cooks oats and other grains. It even comes with English, Korean and Chinese voice navigation so you can choose whether you want to control it using your fingers or voice.

Like the Cuckoo Electric Heating rice cooker, this model does not come with a steaming tray although both models make excellent pressure cookers. They also make excellent rice and can also be relied on to cook delicious, one-pot meals so choosing between the two really comes down to the amount of rice (or stews/soups etc) that you need to make on a day-to-day basis.

This model comes with slightly more advanced features (like voice navigation) and therefore tends to be more pricey (prices vary*). Identifying what features are most important for you will make the process of choosing which one to go for a lot easier.

Those of you with minimal cooking needs or who are tight on cash could do a lot worse than this sleek, petite model. If you want to buy a Cuckoo rice cooker but are a little weary of the expense, this model is one of Cuckoo’s most budget-friendly options due to its smaller size and cooking capacity.

Despite its size, it still boasts all the same features that make Cuckoo such a reliable brand. It comes with a Teflon coated inner pot that can be easily removed for speedy cleanups and has a turbo cooking function that allows you to quickly cook different varieties of rice and grains with the touch of a button.

It comes with a detachable steam cap/dew dish that traps the steam as your rice cooks and four safety features such as a tight fitting lid that stops hot water and steam from splattering onto your counter.

Like the featured model, it also comes with a detachable inner lid and an auto steam cleaning system, making cleanups easy and hassle free. The inner pot is dishwasher safe to boot.

This machine comes with five cooking settings, unlike the featured model that comes with six. This allows you to easily cook glutinous rice (for sushi), white, brown, Arborio and other grains like quinoa and amaranth. Considering this device tends to be less pricey (prices vary*) than the featured model, this makes it tremendous value for money.

The preset cooking and reheat function make it ideal for busy lives and it comes with a one-year guarantee making it a great model for people on tight budgets and/or with less mouths to feed.

This is a lot bulkier than the featured model and not as aesthetically pleasing although it is as robust and reliable as one might expect from a Cuckoo rice cooker. Like the featured model it does not come with a steaming tray although (as usual) it makes a fantastic pressure cooker.

It comes with a Teflon coated inner pot that detaches for easy cleanups although it does not have a detachable lid, which makes it a bit more of a hassle if you want to give it a really thorough clean.

Despite its bulky size and appearance, this model only cooks up to six cups of rice so it is not ideal if you are tight on space and/or have many mouths to feed. Appearances aside, this is as sturdy, robust and reliable as any Cuckoo rice cooker. Besides being able to cook every variety of rice, it also doubles up as a slow cooker/pressure cooker and can cook beans, stews, soups and one-pot meals.

As with the featured model, there is a keep warm and reheat function as well as turbo cooking that gives you the option to cook your grains quickly. This is an excellent rice cooker and is built to the high quality that is typical of Cuckoo. If you’re looking for a no-frills device, then you could do worse than this model.

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Tiger is one of the leading names in rice cookers in Japan, a country that is synonymous with both technological excellence and rice. Tiger machines tend to be a little pricier than your average rice cooker but are worth every penny as they deliver in every way possible. If you're a foodie and want a high end rice cooking machine, this is an excellent choice.

Tiger Corporation JBV-A10U-W 5.5-Cup Micom Rice Cooker with Food Steamer and Slow Cooker, White

Build Quality

5/5

Design

5/5

Power

5/5

Ease of Cleaning

4/5

Versatility

5/5

PROS

  • Budget friendly for a high end rice cooker
  • Versatile
  • Steams veggies and cooks rice simultaneously
  • Ideal for small or large households
  • Japanese design
  • Keep warm function

CONS

  • Lid doesn't detach

Our Tiger Corporation Micom Rice Cooker (JBV-A10U-W) Review: Key Features

Tiger is a Japanese company that produces some of the best-loved and most trusted rice cookers in the world. The Tiger Corporation rice cooker is one of Tiger’s more budget-friendly options, allowing you to enjoy all the perks of owning and using a Tiger rice cooker without having to splash out on one of their pricier models.

This machine features a syncro-cooking function (i.e. “tacook”) so that you can cook rice and one other dish (like steamed veggies) at the same time. The one push operation makes it super easy to use and the four cooking menu settings gives you plenty of cooking options. There is a synchrony cooking, plain rice, brown rice and slow cooking button and you can also make one-pot meals, kitchari, beans, soups and stews. Far from being limited to just rice, you can also cook other grains like oats and quinoa.

The removable pot is easy to clean and is made from high quality, BPA free non-stick coating. This machine also comes with a non-stick spatula, cooking plate, measuring cup and cookbook that helps you make the most of of the “synchrony-cooking” function.

Design and Build Quality

The multi-functional design allows you to prepare two dishes simultaneously, which you can do using Tiger’s “tacook” synchronized cooking function. This allows you to steam veggies and cook your grains at the same time. The added bonus of having a machine that can “kill two birds with one stone” means that you are not forced to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, toiling over multiple pots and pans.

The automatic cooking logic system actively monitors cooking temperatures to create perfect, restaurant quality rice at the push of a button. If you’ve ever had to throw away a burnt pot of rice in frustration, you’ll quickly realize the value of having a rice cooker that automatically does everything for you.

One of the most unique features of this rice cooker is that the cooking plate is specially designed so that the flavors from the cooking plate do not affect the flavor and texture of the rice.

The inner steam cap detaches for thorough, easy cleanups and the keep warm function lasts up to 12 hours and does not scorch or burn your rice.

The overall design and build of this rice cooker is of exceptionally high quality and the low price is an added bonus considering that Tiger rice cookers are generally rather expensive.

Depending on the size of your family, there are two different versions of this rice cooker. There is one that cooks 5.5 cups of rice, making it ideal for smaller households while the also manufactures a 10-cup version.

Is the Tiger Easy to Clean?

The detachable inner steam cap and the removable non-stick inner pot are both dishwasher safe making this a very easy machine to clean. The lid does not come off, however, it can easily be wiped down with a non-toxic kitchen wipe or a damp cloth.

rice ready for a rice machine

Rice can be served as the key component of a meal or as a tasty side dish

Reliability

Tiger is one of the leading rice cooker brands in Japan and this machine is fantastic value for money considering Tiger devices are not known for being budget-friendly. Despite the lower tier price, this machine is every bit as reliable as some of Tiger’s more expensive models.

It works beautifully as a rice and grain cooker and also functions just as well as a stand-alone steamer that can steam veggies, tofu and more.

How Does it Compare?

This 10-cup microcomputer controlled rice cooker and warmer with “tacook” synchro-cooking function is sturdy and reliable and great for large families or people looking to batch cook rice. As with the featured model, this machine also allows you to cook two dishes simultaneously, which makes it super efficient at helping you get your meals ready in record time.

It has 10 computerized cooking menu settings, which makes it more versatile than the featured model. As with the Tiger Corporation Micom machine, it can be used for a variety of things besides just cooking different kinds of rice (white, basmati, long grain etc). It is also great at making oats, millet, buckwheat groats and other grains like quinoa and amaranth.

As with the featured rice cooker, this machine also comes with a specially designed cooking plate that doesn’t affect the flavor and texture of your rice. The automatic cooking logic system actively monitors cooking temperatures to create your meals so that you never have to worry about burning your rice, even if you are using the “keep warm” function.

The 1.8mm thick inner pan keeps your rice well insulated and can be used to keep your food warm once it’s finished cooking. It can also be used as a steamer to steam veggies or tofu.

The device is easy to clean and both the inner lid and steam cap are easy to remove and wash. This model includes a cooking plate and cookbook and also features a delay timer.

Depending on which version you buy, this model can cook 5.5 or 10 cups of rice and is one of Tiger’s best budget-friendly options.

It comes with a non-stick cooking pot and a keep-warm function that lasts up to 12 hours. The non-stick pot makes it easy to clean and is dishwasher safe to boot.

The inner lid doesn’t come off but can easily be wiped down with warm, soapy water or a non-toxic kitchen wipe. The extended keep warm function makes it a good choice for households with different schedules.

This device doesn’t come with lots of whistles and bells and is a good, no-nonsense rice cooker that is as reliable and sturdy as you’d expect from any Tiger device. You don’t ever have to worry about water splattering all over the counter as it cooks your rice, which can be a concern with some cheaper rice cookers.

As with the Tiger Corporation Micom device, this one also comes with a steam basket so you can steam veggies although it will not function as a steamer and rice cooker at the same time. As well as cooking perfect rice (all varieties), this device will also tackle quinoa, soups, stews and other grains.

The fact that this machine doesn’t multi-task makes the featured model better value in our opinion. If you are looking for a machine that is able to handle more than one task at a time then you may wish to opt for another model. That being said, this is a solid, well-built machine and a great option for people who want a simple, no-frills device that they can rely on to cook rice.

Like the Tiger Corporation machine, this rice cooker is manufactured in two different sizes –one that cooks 5.5 cups of rice and one that cooks 10 cups.

This machine is a much higher end unit than the featured model because it doubles up as a slow cooker and a bread maker so if you like machines that multi-task this is a great model to go for. If you are looking to maximize on kitchen equipment but want to take up as little space as possible, then look no further than this device.

Besides being able to tackle a lot of different kitchen-related tasks like making bread, cooking rice, soup, grains, beans and stews, it is also super easy to clean. Unlike the featured model, it comes with a detachable lid that makes cleanups more practical. The multilayer ceramic-coated inner pan is made from five layer metal and three layer coating, which is ideal for keeping your food well-insulated.

As its name suggests, this model doubles up as a high quality bread maker and can be used to make all kinds of artisanal breads. You can make regular wheat-based bread as well as gluten-free options like cornbread, spelt and amaranth breads with the push of a button. The bread-making component makes this an ideal option for people who want to minimize the amount of stuff they have in their kitchens.

The slow cooker works a lot like it does in the featured model and makes one-pot meals, stews, beans, lentils and soups. As with the Tiger Corporation rice cooker, it can be used to make two dishes simultaneously and comes with a steam basket that can steam your veggies as your rice cooks.

The easy-to-read LCD screen is another added bonus as it allows you to see exactly what you are doing and adjust the settings accordingly.

Conclusion

No matter what your needs or budget are, you simply can't go wrong with a Tiger rice machine. The company has something to offer for all needs and most budgets. It's going to be a better pick than any other common household brand typically available at your local department store, so if you want the best tasting and textured rice, we recommend making the investment!

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Jello has been a long time favorite of households for decades. However, it may be troubling to learn that jello is made from gelatin which is a product derived from animal parts. The good news is that there are plenty of options that have the same texture as the traditional jello that doesn't harm any animals. We've selected the available options of vegan jello brands online as well as in stores for your eating pleasure!

Vegan Jello Brands You Can Find Online

Bakol Jel Dessert is the only brand of Vegan Jello we were able to find online. It is very similar to traditional Jello in the sense that it comes in the familiar square boxes and is pre-flavored. To date, Bakol manufacturers their Jel Desserts in six flavors: Raspberry, Lemon, Strawberry, Cherry, Orange, and Unflavored. All of the flavored ones are made with natural vegan flavors and natural vegan colors such as beet powder.

Using Agar Agar to Make Your Own Jello!

Even though there are't a large amount of vegan Jello brands out there, it is rather easy to make your own at home. Agar Agar is considered to be the vegetarian version of gelatin and has been used for ages in Asian cultures.

This recipe might be a bit complex since it has two layers, but the principles of working with Agar Agar remain the same. Plus you can feel free to only do one layer of this recipe rather than two or simply use whatever kind of fruit juice you'd like.

The best part is is that Agar Agar is very easy to find online in whatever quantity you'd like. Just use the previous link to check it out!

Vegan Jello Brands You Can Find in Stores

If you're not keen to buying online and would rather buy locally we have a few options.

  • Use Bakol's store locator to find where you can buy their products near you.
  • Another brand to look for is Lieber's (although we couldn't find their website for a store locator), but they have a kosher unflavored gel that doesn't contain any gelatin. It may be located in the Kosher section.
  • Look for agar agar in health food stores or Asian super markets. It should be readily available in both.

Being Vegan doesn't have to mean that you're restricting yourself. Especially in today's day and age, there's more than likely going to be a delicious replacement. If you'd like more info, check out our Step by Step Guide to Going Vegan.

The post The Best Vegan Jello Brands (Vegan Gelatin Alternatives) appeared first on Thrive Cuisine.


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