Vegan Sandals for Summer

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With summer now here, I’m exchanging my winter boots for some sandals. One thing that most my vegan friends tell me is how hard it is to find good quality vegan shoes. Yes, you can technically find vegan shoes at places like H&M or Forever 21, but what they don’t show you is the unethical ways in which that shoe was made from the underage labor to the unsafe, toxic environmental damage that the materials impact water sources. So, beware of the true cost of cheap shoes. Instead, try investing in good quality shoes, which will be more expensive upfront, but will last you in the long haul, will be better for environment, and will provide a livable wage to whoever made them. So, keep reading to discovery some of the best companies in the business providing ethically made, sustainable vegan shoes.

This first company, Avesu is a vegan shoe company from Berlin, Germany. They have shipping to almost anywhere worldwide and all shoes and accessories are made from ethically sourced, environmentally friendly materials by workers who are treated fairly and with respect. What I like about this company is how transparent they are. Here are some facts about their workers in their Brazil factory: Location – Franca, São Paulo, Brazil, Production Volume – 50 pairs/week, 600 pairs/month, Factory Size – 11 employees, Working Hours – 7 am until 4.30 pm (including 1hour lunch break), Hours per week – 42.5 hours, Salary – 1.800 BRL/month (+ 275 BRL food bonus), Industry Standard Pay – 1.080 BRL/month. These simple facts go to show you how much their shoes are helping to pave the way for fair and respectful working conditions in factories. And on top of all of that, their shoes are amazing! They offer every type of style you can think of from high heels to hiking boots, to tennis shoes. And they have shoes for men, women, and children. These will be pricey upfront, but if you can spend over $100 on Nike shoes (which have very questionably unethical working conditions in their factories and unsustainable environmental waste from their materials), then these shoes will be a bargain for you in comparison without compromising the integrity of factory workers or without damaging the environment.

Cleo

Check out these gorgeous Cleo wedges that are perfect for dressing up any occasion. They were originally $108, but right now they are on sale for $54. I own a pair of wedges that my mother-in-law (who is from Germany) bought from this company, and seven years later I still have them, and they are in fantastic condition. So, if you choose some of the classier styles, then these will last you a lifetime, which is an amazing bargain. Another style that is very fashionable now are espadrilles. I’ve seen many fashion bloggers on Instagram sporting the Chanel espadrilles, which look chic but are made with leather. Avesu offers quite a selection on a similar style that I think look just as cute.

These shoes are great for when it’s hot and humid outside because they are lightweight and breathable. If you are planning on travelling this summer, these shoes make excellent walking shoes for your travels. I love how you can also easily slip these on or off. And they have many more styles, prints, patterns available on their website too. And at $55, these are way more affordable than the $700 price tag on the Chanel espadrilles.

Shop Avesu for even more options.

My next recommendation is a website called Moo Shoes. This PETA-approved vegan company is focused on bringing vegan fashion to the mainstream. Once you start browsing this website you can see how trendy their shoes are. They offer a selection ranging from budget conscious quality to handmade designer brands. All of Moo Shoes’ products have been vetted to ensure they meet the standards of cruelty-free sourcing to fair and safe working conditions during production. I love their block heels, they have both low and higher heels for this style.

I love the Gwen sandal on the right. It has a texture that makes it almost look like it is made from leather. And the lower block heel on the left is more of my heel preference, which is great if you are travelling or planning to walk around a bunch for the day. But both these shoes are stylishly trendy and great options for summer nights out. The average price of shoes from here ranges from $90-$140. They offer excellent quality with some style.

Leone Mule

Another style that is quite on trend at the moment are mules for summer. This is the Leone Mule from Matt and Nat and it’s simply gorgeous. I love love love the shiny, mirror reflection of the heel paired with the faux leather band of the mule. I can see this paired in so many ways, with jeans and a blazer, with shorts and a classic, fitted tee shirt, with a fun, floral dress, or with a bathing suit and cover. It’s definitely a statement piece, but they will dress up any outfit you can think of for summer. This pair costs $120, but you can trust the quality of Matt and Nat, they make some of the best (if not, the best) vegan shoes out there on the market.

Moo Shoes is located in New York and LA, but make sure to check out their website because they carry all types of shoes for women, children, and men that range from dress shoes, business shoes, boots, tennis shoes, heels, sandals, you name it.

Shop Moo Shoes for even more options.

This summer you can rock some serious kicks that are super cute, fashionable, ethically made, and vegan. Make sure to check theses websites out and show them some love. Shoes plus internet shopping, veganism has never been made easier!

Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Vegan Makeup Brands

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If you are new to being vegan, you might not know that a lot of makeup companies still test on animals. I honestly have no idea why animals need to be tested for mascaras and lipsticks. It seems a bit outdated to me. But, not to worry because more companies everyday are becoming cruelty-free and are making their ingredients vegan. So, I’ve compiled some of my favorite companies that are organic, natural, and eco-friendly. If you are like me and you like to change up your makeup for summertime, then make sure to check these makeup brands because they offer lightweight, colorful, and fun products for summer. But make sure to read to the end to find even more vegan makeup options at the drugstore and high-end vegan makeup options at places like Sephora and Ulta.

Before I dive in, I’d like to note that certain vegan makeup brands are excluded from this list because while they retail in the US as vegan, however, they sell to China which tests all their imported makeup on animals making them not vegan.

Pacifica

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This is a wonderful, budget-friendly brand. They offer quite a range in skin care as well as makeup items. Their primers, skincare, lotions are by far some of their best-sellers. But I happen to like their eyeshadow palettes because they make have natural colors as well as colorful, smoky palettes as well. Most products range from $10-$20, making these makeup items easily affordable and accessible.

Shop Pacifica online here.

Real Purity

RealPurity

This makeup brand is perfect for those that are new to vegan, cruelty-free makeup because they are best known for being able to select sample colors to choose from, which makes it easy for you to pick the right color for you and your skin tone. So, you can easily get samples without having to commit right away to the investment of a whole bottle or tube of product. What I like best about this company is that their products are made from all-natural botanical and plant-derived ingredients. Plus, they affordably range from $10-$30 per product.

Shop Real Purity online here.

Juice Beauty

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This natural and organic makeup company is best known for moisturizers and anti-wrinkle treatments and serums. But this company takes eco-friendly to the next level by being USDA certified Organic, using local sources for its ingredients, and using solar and wind power in the manufacturing as well as using recycled packaging. Not only are they vegan and cruelty-free, they also give back to charities as well. They are priced from $20-$40.

Shop Juice Beauty online here.

Afterglow

Afterglow

Afterglow is a great brand for those with sensitive skin because their organic, natural ingredients blends minerals and natural pigments to carefully formulate their makeup to be soy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan and fair trade. They are best known for the colorful pigments which are exemplified best by their color range in blushes and lipsticks. What’s also unique about this brand is that their products can be refilled (not wasting its packaging) and their packaging is made from recycled materials. Most products range from $20-$40.

Shop Afterglow online here.

Alima Pure

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This makeup brand is highly regarded for its inclusiveness for having their signature powder foundation for all skin tones. They have an amazing wide range of diverse skin colors to choose from, so if you have a skin tone that is harder to find in most makeup brands, make sure to give this makeup brand a try because I’m sure you’ll find your shade with them. Their signature powder foundation is like Bare Minerals, but their high-quality, pure ingredients never includes synthetic dyes to achieve its color. Not only does this company dedicate itself to uncompromising natural and organic beauty, they also are eco-friendly. They use soy-inks on recycled paper for packaging, they are carbon-neutral, and their compacts are refillable. Pricing for their foundations is $28, with eyeshadow pigments costing $14 per color. So, it is a little bit pricier, but it’s still comparable to brands like Bare Minerals.

Shop Alima Pure online here.

If natural looking makeup isn’t your go-to look and you prefer brands at the drugstore or brands at stores like Sephora or Ulta, then below are bullet point lists with a few more of my favorite vegan companies that are sold at these places. And if you are interested in seeing more vegan makeup companies, then make sure to check out Cruelty-Free Kitty. They introduced me to many of the vegan products I have listed here, but they have a great compiled list of vegan makeup brands. And now, onto some of the best high end and drugstore vegan makeup brands.

DrugstoreVeganMakeup

HighEndVeganMakeup

Vegan Eats: Las Vegas

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You would think in a city nicknamed “Sin City” that your odds of finding vegan food would be as low as your odds of beating the house. When I think of Vegas, the last thing I think of is vegan food. But my assumptions were wrong because it turned out that this devilish city found a way to make vegan food delectably sinful.

Las Vegas is a very accommodating place to people from different backgrounds, including dietary backgrounds. People from all over the world come to Vegas, so it makes sense that this city would be accommodating to all sorts of customs. But one custom that Vegas is known for is their buffets. That’s right, Vegas even has a buffet with vegan food.

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My first recommendation is The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. This buffet is known for being very luxurious with only the best and freshest food. This buffet has captured the attention of many meat-lovers, but the reason it has captured my attention is because it’s the only buffet with a vegan menu. As you enter The Buffet, you are immediately transported in a colorful, playful room where flowers float from the ceiling and tea kettles and other kitchen objects are ornately arranged with flowers in bouquets. It feels a lot like stepping into the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. And after being seating, your server will take you to the buffet, which spans over 4 rooms, where you will be introduced to the head chef. The head chef will then give you a personal guided tour of the buffet pointing out what is vegan, since many items that are vegan have to be requested at stations since they are not displayed. My favorite thing was the vegan cranberry muffins, which had these airy, delicious rice-Krispy-like cereal bits in it. I also had the vegan blueberry pancakes, which were amazing. But, you can customize the pancakes to be whatever you wish, I just happened to order blueberries in mine. I tried the vegan matcha chia pudding which was very interesting and different from anything I had before. And if you are a juice or smoothie enthusiast, then you’ll love all the concoctions they make here. I think I must’ve had four of them. This buffet has any and everything you could possibly ask for.

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So, for my second plate back at the buffet, I had the vegan sushi which I customized with cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and pickled cabbage with a side of veggie spring rolls. And for dessert I had the chocolate and raspberry sorbet with a vegan chocolate chip cookie. As you can see, I made sure to get my money’s worth out of this dining experience. Eating here for breakfast will set you back at about $25 per person, but if you are a big eater like me, then you’ll get a lot of tasty food to fill you up for the day.

Vegas Fun Fact: Steve Wynn (owner of the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas) is a vegan, which is why all the restaurants in his hotels have a vegan menu in addition to their regular menus. All you have to do is tell the hostess that you would like a vegan menu. Make sure to check out these restaurants menus online to see what might interest you. I’ve heard the steakhouse at the Wynn has an amazing truffle risotto and a delicious Portobello “steak.”

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My next recommendation is a place that is more suitable if you are with a group that might not eat vegan, but you do. In the Grand Canals at The Venetian, there is a great restaurant called Black Tap Burgers. It’s a great spot to grab a good burger and beer, but what’s surprising is that they offer a lot of vegan options as well. I ordered the Vegan Burger which comes with a black bean patty, vegan mayo, pickled onions, salsa verde, and cilantro with a side of fries. And, if you are gluten-intolerant, then you can also order your burger with a gluten-free bun. This burger was surprisingly juicy for a black bean patty and the salsa added a fun twist to an old classic. Although fries are a classic side to the burger, I decided to try some of their other snacks and sides that also happened to be vegan. I shared the teriyaki broccoli which is seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame, and scallion. And, because I couldn’t resist one more side, I also had the crispy brussels sprouts which came with a sesame-tahini dipping sauce. These sides were just as amazing as the burger, so make sure not to skip these extras. They also have other vegan options like their burger bowl served with quinoa and a black bean patty, but I think I had some of their best vegan options here. The really nice thing about this place, is I could comfortably get what I wanted while my non-vegan husband ordered a regular burger. And since it’s in the Grand Canals, you get to see one of the coolest and unique place in Las Vegas.

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My trip to Vegas was short and sweet, so I didn’t get a chance to try every vegan restaurant, however, listed below is a list of other restaurants in Las Vegas that have vegan menus that I’ll definitely be trying next time I visit.

  1. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Costa Di Mare (Seafood), Lakeside (Seafood), Mizumi (Japanese/Sushi), Tableau (American), SW Steakhouse, Wing Lei (Chinese/Michelin Star Restaurant)
  2. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Andrea’s (Asian-inspired cuisine), Sinatra (Italian)
  3. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Allegro (American-Italian), The Buffet, Charlie’s Bar + Grill (Sports Bar), Le Cave (wine pairings with food), Red 8 (Chinese/Thai/Korean/Vietnamese), Terrace Pointe Cafe (Breakfast/Brunch)
  4. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Jardin (American cuisine), Wazuzu (Pan-Asian)
  5. VegeNation – Located downtown Las Vegas, this place offers a wide-ranging variety of vegan options from Vietnamese Pho to African Yam Stew to veggie burgers all at an affordable price.
  6. Yard House – Located on The Strip, this American burger joint offers vegan options with Gardein meat-substitutes in their burgers and street tacos at a cheap price.
  7. Pancho’s Vegan Tacos – Located on the Eastside, this place offers up vegan tacos for all those taco lovers out there.
  8. Panevino – This Italian restaurant offers a plant-based menu for both lunch and dinner. Located in Southeast Las Vegas, the restaurant offers cool views of the Vegas skyline.

The Perfect Book and the Perfect Night in on Valentine’s Day

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This Valentine’s Day, my husband and I will be taking a break from the hoopla that is Valentine’s Day. So, instead of putting pressure on each other with gifts and dinner reservations, we’ll be staying in and hanging out at home. And if you find yourself at home too, then I have the perfect book to keep you company, because who needs a Valentine when you have the perfect book.

Tucker Shaw’s Oh Yeah, Audrey! is a well-written easy read that pairs Audrey Hepburn’s most infamous character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s with your inner fangirl in this sparky and delightful novel.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Just as the book jacket states, 16-year-old Gemma Beasley runs away to New York City for 24 hours to meet up with other Holly/Audrey fans to see a special anniversary screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But best laid plans can and do go awry when Gemma gets swooned off her feet by a real-life Paul Varkjak. Gemma lives her New York minute life by following the mantra of “What would Audrey do?” but ends up in situations closely similar to Holly, where she ends up around suspicious people with questionable motives.

I absolutely loved Gemma and her reactions to the things going on around her. It felt completely authentic and very relatable. I was a little disappointed in the fact that it’s set in only 24 hours. This led to little character development, especially all of Gemma’s friends and Gemma’s love interest. Because of this, some characters felt like clichés, like the fabulous gay best friend and the entitled rich-boy who thinks he can buy a girl. Actually, that last character bothered me a lot because the novel shows him genuinely pursuing Gemma. I mean, why bother having him spend month after month having hour long phone calls if all he wanted was sex? This character just didn’t add up to me.

But, nonetheless, this novel successfully delivers a story about friendship and about Gemma finding herself while paying tribute to Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly.

Like I said before, this is a fast read and can easily be read in a day. So, I recommend watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (available on Netflix) to better understand all the book’s references. For Valentine’s, all you need is a fabulous evening. Whether you inhibit your inner Holly Golightly by wearing a black dress, black opera gloves, pearls, with a coffee and croissant in your hand, or you stay home in pajamas cuddled up with a book on the couch with a glass of wine, just remember that this Valentine’s Day can still be fabulous darling.

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And if you stay in and find yourself reading this book, just remember Holly Golightly’s advice, “A girl doesn’t read this sort of thing without her lipstick.”

Vegan Eats: Sonoma, California

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Sonoma County is mostly known for its rolling hills covered with rows of vineyards. However, it’s becoming one of the biggest hubs for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area, second to San Francisco. For this post, I am covering three different cities that are within Sonoma County. So, wherever your wine tasting adventures may take you, I’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the tastiest vegan eats Nor Cal has to offer.

First up is a vegan restaurant in the quaint town of Sebastopol called Slice of Life. It’s nestled next to Whole Foods, so it can easily be missed or overlooked. But this is a place you surely don’t want to miss. There is a wide range from which you can you can order here. Some of the local favorites include: Tofu Rancheros, Kale Caesar Salad, Mushroom Stroganoff, California Tempeh Reuben, Queso Dip (made from cashews) with blue corn tortilla ships, Nachos, Vegan Pizza, and the Nut Burger served with sweet potato fries. I ordered the AvoFresco Sandwich which was jammed full of two layers of avocado mash, carrots, pickled red cabbage, sprouts, and lettuce. This was a very filling yet healthy lunch option also served with a vegan coleslaw. I love a good sandwich and this one is packed full of veggies, so if you are a garden salad lover then this is the sandwich for you. I also had the sprout salad topped with an avocado dressing. As you can see, avocados are a main staple in a Northern Californian’s diet. And for dessert, I had the raw blueberry cheesecake, which this place is known for. There are gluten-free and oil-free options on the menu as well. The dishes range from $5-$12 and since they only use fresh local organic ingredients that means you are getting a good deal to eat healthy.

My next suggestion is a vegan drive-thru in Rohnert Park called Amy’s Drive-Thru. If you miss those days of eating at In N Out or other fast-food chains, then Amy’s is a great option for you. Amy’s might sound familiar to you because this is the same company as Amy’s Frozen Food which is headquartered in Sonoma County. Most of Amy’s frozen food products are vegetarian, but what’s cool about Amy’s Drive-Thru is that there is a whole menu dedicated to vegan options. Just be prepared for a long line, this place can get busy. But the staff does a wonderful job of keeping the line moving and getting the food out fast. They are mostly known for their burgers, chili (vegan) cheese fries, non-dairy shakes, vegan mac n cheese, and vegan pizza. So, since I was craving my non-vegan days at In N Out, I ordered The Amy Burger (with vegan cheese), fries, and a non-dairy chocolate shake. This place does not disappoint. It satisfied all those fast-food cravings I had. The pricing is comparable to other burger joints and that’s impressive since they only use local organic ingredients.

And for my last recommendation, I suggest an Ethiopian restaurant located in Santa Rosa called Abyssinia Restaurant. I first came here many years ago with my husband and his parents. This place is great for vegan and meat-eaters alike since they have options for both. While my husband and his parents ordered the beef combo, I ordered the vegetarian combo. Served on a traditional ingera bread (a thin flat bread) are beans, lentils, a garden salad, and sauces seasoned with spices and flavors that made this dish taste very rich and complex. To eat this dish, you simply tear the ingera bread and scoop it up using your hands. I loved the experience of eating with my hands and the dining experience I shared with my family tasting this culture new to me. For about $15 a person (meal and drink included), you get a great deal on traditional African food.

Places to Eat

  • Slice of Life

6970 McKinley St, Sebastopol, CA 95472

  • Amy’s Drive-Thru

58 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

  • Abyssinia Restaurant

913 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Closed Sundays

What the Valley Knows Book Review

whatthevalleyknows

Everyone knows the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I hardly live by that rule. We’re all guilty of it. We see that beautiful book cover and maybe, probably, just buy it based on its aesthetic and not the actual content of it. And of course, we are guilty of doing this, the marketing team in publishing houses are banking on you to do this. But, another thing I judge a book on is its book jacket summary. This is the hook, the promise the author offers the reader. And to be honest, this book’s pitch didn’t entice me at first, which is seen below.

“When smart and pretty Molly Hanover moves to town and attracts the attention of the football team’s hero, Wade Thornton – a nice guy with a bad drinking habit – longtime friendships are threatened, and a popular cheerleader tries to turn the school against Molly.

“The young couple’s future is shattered when Wade, drunk, wrecks his truck and Molly is thrown through the windshield. She wakes from a coma to find her beauty marred and her memory full of holes. As she struggles to heal, she becomes sure that something terrible happened before the accident. And there is somebody in the valley who doesn’t want her to remember.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that plotline, but since I’ve lived in small towns and understand the dynamics of a community like that, I wasn’t too eager to revisit that. But as I do with all books, I read the first page to give it another chance and see if I like the voice and/or writing style. And man, oh man, is that first page one of the most gripping things I’ve ever read. It starts right in the middle of all the action, which in this case is the accident.

And as I kept reading, the overall pace felt natural and the plot kept moving in an interesting direction towards that dark secret mentioned in the summary. Heather Christie’s writing style was what kept me captivated the entire time – it’s elegant enough to feel like I’m reading adult fiction, yet it connects on a deep level to the actual mindset of a teenager. She also does a wonderful job of handling the superficial aspects of high school problems such as beauty and popularity while simultaneously diving into the underlying theme of healing in the form of substance abuse recovery, healing from a car accident, and healing from ‘something terrible [that] happened before the accident.”

I wish the later form of healing was more drawn out in the novel, but instead it was curtailed in favor of Molly and Wade’s relationship. This wasn’t necessarily a bad move, however, it left me wanting more about Molly’s recovery from that specific incident. I’m not mentioning this incident because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. In general, I think giving away spoilers are such a no-no because someone worked very hard to make sure it gives the element of surprise, and nothing’s worse when that surprise has already been ruined before the reader got a chance to read the book.

Overall, this book was way more in depth than what I had initially expected it to be. I’m so glad that first page hooked me in and I gave it a second chance because it has become one of my favorite YA reads this year.

Why You Need Vegan Leather in Your Life

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Leather is a bit of a paradox in that it has a beautiful aesthetic but comes at an ugly cost. I’ve been a vegan for two years now, but just recently, I learned disturbing facts that forever changed my opinion on leather goods. So, prepare to hear the worst, but also prepare to hear how you can change and hopefully prevent this ugly practice.

China is the world’s leading producer of cheap leather, which means that a lot of animals are killed every year to produce purses, gloves, belts, etc. But, what if I were to tell you that dogs make up a large amount of the slaughtered animals to provide cheap leather for you to wear? How does that make you feel to hear that man’s best friend are turned into gloves, belts, and wallets?

According to the Guardian’s report on this issue, “The US banned the importation of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by fines up to $10,000, as part of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. But distinguishing dog and cat leather from cow, sheep and pig leather is no easy matter, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to pass off leather from dogs as leather from legal animals. A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that in 2014, the US imported $8.5bn in leather articles from China. It is unknown how much of each year’s total might be dog or cat leather.” Essentially, it is almost impossible to discern dog from other animals like lambs or cows. After the leather is tanned and cured they all look alike, and the only way to prove its species is to use a DNA test; and even that might be difficult since hardly any DNA might be left after all the chemicals used to process it.

According to One Green Planet, “the Chinese Leather Industry Association claims that they have no knowledge of dog leather industry, [however] an undercover investigation from PETA showed that this horrific practice is alive and well in the country.” In November 2014, an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment (PETA) Asia infiltrated one of the slaughterhouses where dogs were being bludgeoned and skinned to be made into leather. According to PETA, “one employee told the investigator that this facility bludgeons and skins 100 to 200 dogs a day.” Just this one facility kills upwards of 200 dogs per day. I’ll let you do the math per week, per month, per year. Now multiply that figure with however many slaughterhouses you think are doing this in China. No matter how you calculate it, the outcome is too high.

There’s no denying it. This is a horribly gruesome practice. There are currently no laws protecting the slaughter of dogs in China since they are considered livestock, not pets. There are also no laws that dictate how the animals (in this case, dogs) are slaughtered. So, many are bludgeoned to death. This made my heart break to hear about this practice, but I cried upon seeing PETA’s undercover footage showing this practice. In that moment, I felt so helpless. Mainly because, this was happening half-way around the world. What could I possibly do?

Well, after researching, I learned that no matter what you think, there is always something you can do to help. In this case, the most effective way to end this horrible practice is to use the power you have with your money. Let your dollars, your economic decisions, speak for you and say no to leather.

I understand that leather has a nice aesthetic look to it, and if you’re like me then you like the way leather looks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s why I want to share with you these vegan leather purse brands that provide that beautiful leather appeal without the pain and torture of being made from dogs, or any animal for that matter.

Here are my Top 5 Vegan Leather Purse Brands that offer great quality and affordable prices.

  1. Gunas

If you are a fan of the Hermes Birkin bag, then you are in for a treat. Gunas offers a Birkin dupe called Hermit that looks fashionable at around $100.

  1. Urban Expressions

If you are a fan of Chanel boy-bags, then you should check out Urban Expressions Sheena for only $55.

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  1. Melie Bianco

This L.A. based company offers a great selection of fashionable bags. Be sure to check them out at the end of the season for their sales. I ordered two purses from here because they had their buy one get one free promotion. You can easily find purses in the $35-$70 range, plus free shipping on orders more than $50. Just signing up for their newsletter can get you 50% off your first order.

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  1. Matt & Nat

This company offers the most variety with the types of bags they have. They are a little bit pricier with bags ranging from $70-$200. However, they also offer vegan leather shoes and belts. I’m in love with their vegan leather boots for Fall.

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  1. Urban Originals

This is another great brand that sells their bags at retailers like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s, making it easier to find these vegan leather purses in person.

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Here are other Brands that are also selling Vegan Leather Purses

  1. Mod Cloth
  2. Free People
  3. Nordstrom
  4. Saks Off 5th

Just make sure to type in “vegan leather” in the search engines on their websites and a lot of results will come up for you.

But if want a high-end fashion bag, well there’s also an option there for you. Stella McCartney only sells vegan-leather products. So, you’ll never find any real leather, feathers, or fur at her store, which is awesome!

So, just remember that the cost of cheap leather from China is a lot higher than you might think. But, you don’t have to let any dogs, or any animal for that matter, die for your fashion. All you need is vegan leather in your life. And with every dollar spent on this material, you help drive the economic push towards sustainable fashion without ending a single life. Hopefully, someday soon, the practice of killing dogs for leather goods will be outdated and gone forever.

Further resources and works cited

  1. Kearney, Lauren. “Could Your Purse Be Made Out of Dog Skin? The Truth Behind the Dog Leather Industry.” One Green Planet, 12 Apr. 2015, onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-truth-behind-the-dog-leather-industry/.
  2. Weissman, Alanna. “Is Your Leather from China? It Might Be Made of Dog or Cat Skin.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 July 2016, theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/31/dog-cat-leather-china-us-congress-trade-peta.
  3. “Dogs Bludgeoned and Killed in Leather Industry.” PETA Investigations, PETA, https://investigations.peta.org/china-dog-leather/.

Vegan Eats: Charlotte, NC

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Whenever I think of good southern comfort food, I’m easily reminded of Charlotte, North Carolina. And North Carolina loves to boast about its heavenly BBQ. My dad and his family live in Charlotte, so I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to try all the delectable vegan eats in this beautiful southern city. So, come on y’all. Let’s get our eat on!

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30 Day Abs – Does it Work?

Last week, my husband had asked me if I wanted to join him for one of his workouts. I thought nothing of it and said sure, but it was during the workout I realized how weak I had become. The last six months have been super hectic between juggling multiple jobs and querying agents for my novel. So, I haven’t had much time to work out on a consistent basis, which is really frustrating for me. I used to have such great core strength and I used to run and have plenty of energy and endurance. But now, I know I’m nowhere near the fitness level that I feel most comfortable being at.

So, for the month of September, I will be going back on the fitness train. But, I’m not going to lie, I really had no idea where to look for solid advice on getting back on a fitness regime. So, I did what every other 20-something-year-old millennial girl does, I wandered down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. There are a lot of fitness regimes on Pinterest that look too good to be true. They seem to be misleading in offering a quick fix solution with titles like 30 Day Abs and Eliminate Cellulite in 14 Days. It sounds good, but do they really work? If I just follow the workouts, is that enough to transform my body as advertised?

Of course, I’m curious to see if it is really as good as it sounds. So, there are three things that I am going to be putting to the test this month.

  1. I’m going to see if I can eliminate cellulite on my glutes and hamstrings. This is one I seem the least hopeful for since I know it’s very difficult to get rid of cellulite. So, instead of just doing this for two weeks, I’m going to do it for the whole month of September and see if that helps with results.
  2. I really want to improve my core strength and help with appearance of my abs. I think my upper abs are great right now, but as I did sit-ups (not crunches) with my husband I realized that I’ve lost my lower ab strength. So, I’m hoping this 30-day ab challenge will increase my core strength and hopefully show some cool results.
  3. Lastly, I want to improve my endurance as a runner. So, I’m going to follow this 8-week running schedule which will hopefully build up my endurance slowly but surely.

I won’t be drastically altering my lifestyle or diet. I eat a relatively healthy vegan diet, but I also eat plenty of carbs (bread, in particular), sugars (like Starbucks drinks and alcohol) and fatty foods (potato chips are my weakness). I want to see the impact of these workouts on my body and see what the results are purely because of these exercises. I’ll be posting weekly updates to see how I’m finding the exercises, the schedule, and the results from it. Below, you’ll find the plans I’ll be following and if you want to try it with me feel free to contact me and share your experience.

6 Exercises to Get Rid of Cellulite in 14 Days30-day-ab-challengerunnningroutine

Back To School Reading List

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School is back in session. Here in Olympia, school starts on September 6th and with that, this time of year makes me long for good books with school themes. Maybe because I was a student for so long. Or, maybe, because as a teenager, school was a sanctuary from my home life. Either way, I love how schools in YA/children’s books seem mystical, as if it is its own character in the book. Hello, Hogwarts anybody? I mean, the room of requirement proves how alive and sentient the school is as a character. So, here is a list of my favorite books that make back to school sound like an awesome adventure awaiting you.

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Most people hope to have an owl bring them their official Hogwarts letter inviting them to study witchcraft and wizardry. But, I had always wished to stumble upon the mirror of Erised. I was so fascinated by that as a child and I still hope to come across it someday.

2. Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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An American boarding school in the city of Paris – check. A vicarious experience of living in dorms – check. French culture and French food – check. A cute, promising romance – check. Say no more, I’m in.

3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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In a world plagued by magically awesome heroes and world-building details seen in the likes of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, this novel focuses on characters that are usually seen in the background in these types of stories. You know, the ordinary kids – the non-heroes, who try to live ordinary teenager lives with ordinary teenage problems in a world where the biggest challenge of all is trying to attend prom when the school keeps getting blown up – again.

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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This book does a great job at detailing what it feels like to be an outcast or misfit in your school, whether that’s because you are poor or it’s because you are a shy introvert. This story about first love perfectly showcases the dynamics of how teenagers’ homes impact their school life as well their relationships with friends and boy/girlfriends.

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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The story of Junior has such a special place in my heart since it parallels to my Native American grandfather’s up bringing about an Indian basketball player leaving the reservation to play for the all-white farm town high school. With a great narrative, fresh humor, and awesome cartoons, this book is bound to find a special place in your heart too.