The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Vega One Nutritional Supplement

The time has finally come; my review of Vega One Nutritional Shake. I have been using it now for about a month and a half so I have had a lot of time to put together what I hope is a thorough, fair, and informative review. A few caveats to keep in mind: I am not a dietitian. Any recommendation or health information I offer is made using sound research. Always consult with a doctor before starting any new supplements, particularly if you have any health problems. Please let me know if there are any questions or clarifications needed about any of the information I provide. Also, I have not in any way been compensated by Vega for this review. All products were purchased by me and the opinions I offer are completely my own. This review is for the Vanilla Chai flavor but Vega also offers berry, chocolate, and neutral flavors.

For anyone not familiar with Vega One I will start with a brief overview. Vega offers 100% plant-based nutrition and contains no soy, dairy, or gluten, making it ideal for those with food allergies or restrictions and vegans. One scoop of Vega powder offers 15 grams of protein, 6 grams fiber, 1.3 grams Omega 3, 50% of the daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake, probiotics, antioxidants, and 3 servings of greens. It can be mixed with any liquid to make a shake and can be used as a meal replacement. The complete list of all the ingredients can be found here, as they are too numerous to list. Suffice to say that this shake provides nutrition from a broad spectrum of sources.

My initial intention in using this product was as daily meal replacement during my weight-loss journey (I say journey because it makes it sound fun; it’s been anything but). With only 136 calories per serving it seemed like a great way to feel full without packing on calories. The first problem I encountered with this approach was the price. Vega is very expensive. One container has 22 servings and costs $39.99. Making one serving every day would result in spending about $70 per month. That’s a luxury a lot of people can’t afford and certainly one I couldn’t, so I revised my plan to using it only on work days, which cut me back to only 3 servings a week, thus extending the use a great deal.

As for the taste, I actually like it. As I said, I’ve only had the Vanilla Chai and I mix it with Silk, but I can definitely taste the vanilla. Robert has even tried it a few times as breakfast before a hike and he liked it too. He just couldn’t get over the ‘chalkiness’. I don’t think any protein shake will ever be completely free of that grittiness. I just expect it so it doesn’t bother me but certainly someone who doesn’t like that should try some of the smaller packs of Vega before committing to an entire container. That would be a hell of a way to waste 40 bucks.

I started off by using it for breakfast. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination so I prefer simple meals. Throwing some powder and Silk Fruit and Protein into my blender bottle is as easy as it gets. Unfortunately the effect of fullness didn’t last as long as I had hoped and by 10 o’clock I would be in a hypoglycemic fuzz, consuming anything to get my body back in balance. Not exactly the best way to try and lose weight. My theory on why the shake didn’t fill me up for long is because of the Insanity workouts I do in the morning. Those workouts put my body into a high metabolic state, thus consuming carbs and proteins much quicker than normal. Vega is meant for sustained nutrition, not a recovery fuel, which would typically provide a higher ratio of carbs to protein to promote muscle repair and replenish energy. Our bodies digest carbohydrates first, followed by proteins, then fats. Vega One only contains 12 grams of carbs, so they used up quickly after a workout and then the body burns through all the protein. So I switched up the plan and began using it as a snack between meals. I would eat a breakfast, usually a bowl of Kashi and soy milk, and then around 10 drink half of the Vega. Lunch would follow around 12 or 1, then the rest of the shake around 3 and dinner between 5 and 6. I work from 9-9, so I have to plan my meals well, especially since I rarely actually get a lunch break; I just eat when I can. This worked out well as I was staying full between meals, but I was still snacking too much after dinner. I think the time I ate the most calories was between 4 and 9. A few chips here, a piece of candy there. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to keep my calorie count too high.

That left one other strategy to try and that was using the shake as dinner. I still eat breakfast, and then snack on some fruit and nuts before lunch. My lunches are big; usually a large bowl of veggie pasta salad or regular salad with some seitan. I eat the most calories now at lunch and then have an afternoon snack. Then I have my shake for dinner. This has become my ideal meal plan because my body digests the shake properly, keeping me full and not craving food at eight o’clock at night. It also helps that I’ve rid my locker of chips and sugary granola bars! And since changing to this method I have lost a few pounds!

Vega One is not meant as a weight-loss supplement but combined with proper diet and exercise it is a very effective aid to provide balanced, sustained nutrition with limited calories. It simply is the best product on the market that offers such a wide array of benefits. But it is not for everyone. Obviously the price is a big hurdle to get over. Also people who already watch their diets carefully probably know exactly what nutrients they do and don’t need and Vega One may be more than what is needed. Some people don’t believe in a shake as a meal; I was told by someone when I started using it that “If you can’t chew it, it isn’t a meal.” I don’t agree with that; however it is important to realize that Vega One should not replace a sensible diet, and I would never use more than one serving a day. There is such a thing as supplement overdose and it’s not a good idea to try and get all nutrients from a pill or powder. That having been said, people who are looking for a complete, convenient nutritional supplement would be hard pressed to find anything better. I do recommend only starting with half a scoop for the first few days, to see how your body reacts. I didn’t notice any side effects, but some might experience digestive issues if they are drastically increasing some of the nutrients (like fiber) from their normal diet.

Vega offers a huge line of other products including energy bars, on-the-go smoothie mixes, and an entire line dedicated to fueling before, during, and after performance sports. Gabby at The Veggie Nook has actually reviewed the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, which helps the body recover quicker after intense workouts. I am hoping to try this soon, maybe when in two weeks when I get into the really hard workouts of Insanity. The Vega website also contains recipes that use Vega but don’t involve smoothies, like raw carrot cake and quinoa salad.

I hope this gives anyone who has been considering adding Vega to their diet some useful information. I did plenty of research before deciding to purchase Vega and I suggest that everyone else do the same. I can honestly say I am glad I use it and it has become an integral part of my diet. If anyone else has used it, I’d love to hear how you think it works!

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One Lovely Blog Award

I have had the fortune and honor to have been nominated twice in the last week for the One Lovely Blog Award. I really can’t express how cool it is to be a part of such an awesome blogging community and every day I discover new blogs that I just can’t get enough of.  A HUGE thank you to Valid Vegan and Lindsay is Vegan for the nominations!

Here are the rules:

•Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

•Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.

•Tell them 7 facts about yourself.

•Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award.

•Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.

•Resume blogging your regular posts.

For the sake of time on your behalf for reading, I will treat this as one nomination and only tell you 7 mundane things about myself and only nominate 15 other blogs.  Gotta save up for other awards, right? 🙂

So, 7 facts  about me that I didn’t share on my last award:

1)      I still love the band Linkin Park even though they are considered a bit, oh, whiny by some. I will absolutely be getting their new album today.

2)      The sound level on anything I’m listening to (TV, stereo, MP3 player) has to be set on an even number or a multiple of 5. So 15 is okay, but not 17. I have been like that for as long as I can remember.

3)      I love to read and even though my bookshelves are literally overflowing I won’t get an e-reader. I just don’t like the idea of reading from something other than a physical book.

4)      I have an intense fear of clowns and spiders, no doubt aided by watching Stephen King’s IT as a young child. Thanks, Mom, for allowing your young child to watch a clearly adults-only movie!

5)      I went to see The Lord of the Rings in theaters 6 times including twice by myself because I loved it so much.

6)      I don’t walk in my bare feet at home. I have to have socks or slippers on.

7)      We name our cats after unique character names or mythological figures. Our female kitty is Yvaine from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and our boy is named Loki. And we named him that before the movie Thor made it popular; however he does live up to his mischievous namesake.

And now for my nominations in no particular order:

1)      *Vegan Sparkles* I love this blog not only for her awesome recipes, but also as a testament to how cool it is to commune with someone a half a world away (She’s in Australia, I’m in Colorado, USA).

2)      Jason and the Veganauts-You might know this blog better as Watch Me Lose 150 Pounds; Jason recently underwent a major ego trip and decided he needed his name in his blog. Despite that, I still love reading about his vegan adventures and his weight-loss journey.

3)      Veganmonologue-Simple, homemade recipes that aren’t intimidating and use easily accessible ingredients. This is how you do vegan on a budget!

4)      Veggie What Now?-A recent post about making slow cooker mac and cheese had me hooked!

5)      My Beauty Bunny-These gals know so much more about makeup than I could ever hope to and they also host some amazing giveaways. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, they only review cruelty-free products. Win!

6)      JL Goes Vegan-the vegan adventures of JL are a lovely read. There was a great discussion about ‘How Vegan Are You’ on her blog that gave a lot of insight into how dedicated (or not) some are to the idea of cruelty-free vegan living.

7)      Epicurean Vegan-a fellow Coloradan who blogs some seriously yummy recipes; I never thought to make pigs in a blanket using Smart Dogs until I read her post!

8)      Bittersweet-Hannah posts some of the most jaw-dropping photos of food I’ve ever seen.   Oh and her recipes are pretty good too.

9)      FatFree Vegan Kitchen-Loads of healthy, filling recipes that don’t use refined fats.

10)   Turning VEGANese-a fellow blogger on the path to veganism. Sometimes it really is about the journey and not the destination.

11)   Keepin’ it Kind-More awesome vegan recipes, plus restaurant review of the Los Angeles area. Great guide if you are in the area and need vegan restaurant options.

12)   Vegan Beauty Review-I love checking out other cruelty-free review blogs. You never know what products you might stumble upon!

13)   Ricky Gervais…Obviously-I’ve mentioned my love for Mr. Gervais before but I’m a bit sad that he won’t be doing a 4th season the The Ricky Gervais Show. Still, he’s a vegetarian and adamant supporter of animal rights, so he’s alright in my books.

14)   Jennifer M. Eaton-One random fact I have not told you (until now) is that I have always, ALWAYS, wanted to be a writer. I wrote a sh*t ton of silly stories in elementary and middle school and I relished every essay I wrote in advanced placement English in high school. Jennifer’s site is a great place for aspiring writers to learn what it takes to become a published author.

15)   Sexy Tofu-A blog about vegan food and sex. Yeah, you read that right.

Whew! I hope I did justice to the blogs I nominated; I probably could have written a paragraph about how great each one is. Please check them out and make sure to come back to visit me later in the week when I get back to the reviews!

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I Can See Clearly Now…

I have gone through many eyewear phases in my life, ever since I was cursed with poor vision in middle school and required some artificial help to see. I started with glasses, then switched to contacts a few years later. Throughout high school I stayed with the contacts, then decided to switch back to glasses. After getting throughly annoyed at having to carry both regualr glasses and prescription sunglasses and switching them out everytime I went in or outside, I went back to contacts. I have kept my most recent glasses for emergencies and actually needed them last week when I nearly seared my corneas off after apparently rubbing my eyes after cutting a habanero. But I have turned a blind eye (get it??) to the fact that the lens solution I use is as far from cruelty-free as you can get.

Thankfully I remembered to ask a clerk at Sunflower Market (like Whole Foods, for those who aren’t in Colorado) if they carried contact solution. He led me right away to Clear Conscience, saying it was the product he uses and loves. And now it is the product I use and love. Before I was using the expensive hydrogen peroxide solution that supposedly cleans better than other solutions, but I have had no problems since switching. This is the old-fashioned rub, rinse, and soak solution so it takes a little more time compared to just placing them in the container with the other stuff I used, but it’s worth it. Also the lenses can be used after only a 30 minute soak, whereas with the other solution it was a minimum of 6 hours to allow the peroxide to neutralize. Honestly I don’t know why I ever though putting a caustic solution in my eyes was ever a good idea, except that it’s what the optomitrist recommended.

The cost is also nice; a 12oz bottle is $8.99 and I was paying $11.99 for the same amout of the other stuff. Clear Conscience does sell online but it’s a bit more expensive thanks to shipping costs so use their store locator to see if it’s carried near you. They also sell a travel-friendly 3oz size and some cute endangered animal lens cases online. And if the cruelty-free aspect isn’t enough to sway you, 10% of their proceeds go to environmental and animal welfare organizations. Thanks to Clear Conscience I can knock one more product of my list of non-cruelty free products I need to transition from 🙂

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Fun in the Sun

With summer rapidly approaching it’s time to discuss sun safety. No matter where you live it is important to apply sunscreen. Every day, even in the winter. Melanoma is the most common forms of skin cancer and it kills an estimated 8,790 Americans each year (Skin Cancer Foundation). It is no joke and yet so many people are blasé about taking simple preventative measures. So I thought I would do my bit and recommend a great cruelty-free sunscreen in hopes that it will encourage anyone out there who’s on the fence about daily sunscreen application to make it a part of their daily routine.

Sunscreen was one of those products that was difficult to replace when we went cruelty-free. Almost all of the major brands like Banana Boat and Coppertone are owned by non-CF companies and what brands we could find didn’t offer protection higher than SPF 15. Thankfully a lot has changed in a short amount of time and there are many CF products that offer up to SPF 45. My favorite one so far is Alba Botanica Hawaiian Soothing Green Tea in SFP 30.

It contains a lot of natural moisturizers like aloe vera, sunflower oil, and jojoba. The scent isn’t overpowering at all and is more flowery that the usual coconut smell you get with sunscreens. The best part is how well is goes on the skin. A lot of sunscreens are very thick and leave the skin almost sticky. This sunscreen is more like a lotion so it absorbs quickly and is water resistant for up to 40 minutes. I used it just about every day in place of my usual lotion during the summer. It’s even suitable for use on the face since it isn’t oily; a bonus for those with oily or combo complexions like me. All of Albas products are broad spectrum, meaning they protect against UVA and UVB rays thus providing maximum protection.  And don’t freak out that no CF sunscreens (that I know of anyway) offer SPF higher than 45. The Skin Cancer foundation recommends that SPF 30 is fine for prolonged sun exposure and the FDA has said there is little evidence to suggest that lotions with SPF higher than 50 offer better protection. So as long as you take the other appropriate measures of skin protection (wearing protective clothing, limiting exposure, reapplying sunscreen after swimming) you should be fine. Make sure you apply enough to cover your whole body, an amount equal to the size of ahot glass. If you need help with how much that equates to, take out your favorite shot glass, fill with liquor of your choice and drink. Okay so that probably wasn’t useful but that’s not the point, right? 🙂

Alba products can readily be found at big chain stores like Target and Walmart and are some of the most affordable, quality CF products you can find. They are100% vegetarian; however they do use some animal ingredients. Their stance on use of animal ingredients:

Our products contain no meat or by-products of animal killing. We also reject all cruelly obtained animal ingredients, even if an animal is not killed. We limit our use of animal products to ingredients that are naturally created by and have no future use to the animal such as beeswax.

I personally have no problem with this, but staunch vegans will want to check the ingredients carefully before purchase. Thankfully Alba provides ingredient lists for all their products online.  So now you have no excuse for not using sunscreen, and remember that suntanning booths are no better, especially if you don’t want to look like this:

 

I don’t care what anyone says, looking like the Cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt is not sexy. I’ll take blinding white thighs over this look any day.

And that concludes this PSA on sunscreen.

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Shake, shake, shake…and some other random stuff

Before I get to the review for this week I have a few little odd n’ ends I want to address.

First, I just started the Insanity workout. If you haven’t seen the infomericals for this program, check it out here. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to put myself through. I’m on day 3 and I already feel more in shape and very empowered by how well I’ve kept up. But it’s a 60-day program, 6 days a week so we’ll see how I hold up. Just don’t be alarmed if I disappear off the blogoverse…it might be because I’m still trying to pull myself off the floor 🙂

Second, for all you Denver veggies out there, the Vegan Van will be at Civic Center Park every Thursday! Barb and I went there for lunch today and it was awesome! Unfortuantely they don’t offer their full menu, so I hope it rotates each week because I want to try everything. Barb had the Groovy Ruby-a reuben with Denver Seitan Corned Befe, curry kraut, and horseradish beet creme. I looked cool becasue the creme was pink; not something you see in a sammie often! I had the Freak Out-veggie balls with herbed marinara and avocado pesto ricotta. It was so good, the meatballs had a great taste and the ricotta was a unique and yummy twist on the usual provelone cheese addition to most non-vagan meatball sandwiches. I didn’t take a pic this time, but I get the feeling we’ll be eating there just about every week, so I’ll make sure to post some next time!

Speaking of Barb, she got an awsome shout-out from Daiya today: her mac-n-cheese bread bowls were listed at top of their monthly recipe round up! Congrats Barb, and if you haven’t visited her blog yet, go now! No, wait, go after you finish my post 🙂

Some not-so-great news: Urban Decay is no longer cruelty-free. I found this out from My Beauty Bunny. They have decided to sell their products in China, a country that still requires animal testing. UB won’t perform the testing, so they claim they are still technically cruelty-free, but that’s a matter of semantics.  Read the entire article here, which includes CCIC’s position on why they are removing UB from the Leaping Bunny list and UBs statement.

Okay, so on to the review. When I decided I was going to try Vega One protein mix I knew that I needed a good bottle to shake it up in. Wouldn’t you know that right by all the protein powders there were a lot of bottles made specifically for mixing. I love trying out new gadgets and I saw the Blender Bottle. Specifically made for mixing, the BB comes in 20oz and 28oz capacity and claims that the patented wire whisk can mix the thickest  ingredients into a smooth liquid. So, does it work?

Warning: A Sorta-Scientific Experiment Ahead

I bough two 20oz bottles; one for me and one for Robert. For the experiment I put a half scoop of Vegan into each bottle, added 4oz of Silk Juice and Protein to each and added the whisk to one bottle. I capped them and shook each one for 20 seconds. I uncapped each, looked for lumps (neither had any) and took a drink from each to assess for grittiness. I can honeslty say I couldn’t tell the difference between the two. As with just about any kind of protein powder, some ‘chalkiness’ remained, but that’s pretty normal. I don’t think any powder will ever be good enough to mix completely. Maybe the BB works best with larger amounts but I have used it with a full scoop of Vega and 10oz of liquid and the consistency was the same.

There might be a little less ‘grit’ in this bottle, but really it’s hard to tell

I do like that the lid caps very tightly but you have to make sure you push it down hard until it snaps or else you’ll have smoothie all over the wall. However I feel confident that this could tip and wouldn’t leak a drop. The lid and bottle are dishwasher safe, but not microvave safe and they don’t recommend putting hot liquids into the bottle. There are measurement lines so it’s easy to see how much you’re pouring in although they can be a little difficult to see with clear or light liquids.  They fit perfectly into a cup holder and the mouthpiece is about the size of a regular 20oz bottle so it’s easy to drink from without fear of making a mess, especially if you drink and drive like I do 🙂

All in all, it’s probably a gimmick and I’ve already seen knock-offs for sale at my gym but in the end I still fell like I got a quality bottle for $9 that serves its purpose. Blender Bottle now offers Sport bottles that feature rubber grips and a loop for carrying and come in more vibrant colors. All the bottles are BPA-free. Check out all their products at blenderbottle.com

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