Items from my Etsy shop

Friday, October 12, 2012

Loving Hut Tampa!

Hey there everyone, it's been quite awhile since my last post, hasn't it. Please forgive me, I just started my first full time job, which I love, so I haven't had a lot of time for blogging. I decided to do so today because yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a Loving Hut restaurant for the first time! For those of you who don't know, Loving Hut is the largest chain of 100% vegan restaurants in the world. That's right, 100% vegan! It is ran by followers of a woman named Ching Hai (more on her later) and serves Asian-inspired dishes. As luck would have it, this restaurant is in the same neighborhood as my new job. The neighborhood in general is fairly vegan-friendly due to the fact that it's near the University of South Florida (USF), which stands a good chance of being named the most vegan-friendly college by PETA. Needless to say, I love that aspect of the neighborhood! Now, onto my restaurant review.

Today I went for a morning/afternoon meeting at my new job. Loving Hut closes at 3 (it re-opens for dinner at 5), and I got out of my meeting around 2:30. I figured that I would simply go in, order something to go (no drive-thru), and eat in my car. When I got there, three other people also went in. The owners were very accommodating, and insisted that we all stay and sit at the tables, despite the fact that it would mean we'd be there after 3. There were a total of about 8 customers, myself included. I only saw two staff members, but the service was very good for such a small staff. They brought out cold water fairly quickly and took our orders in order of arrival. I wasn't extremely hungry, so I choose the Spring Rolls and a Coconut Delight smoothie. I must admit, it was very nice to be able to go to a restaurant where I could order anything from the menu without having to ask about the ingredients! It was also nice not to have to explain to the wait staff what "vegan" means like I've had to do at other places. Here, I could simply sit back and enjoy!

The meals were brought out within a half hour of ordering, which is fairly good for a table service restaurant with a small staff. I got four pretty good sized rolls with dipping sauce. The rolls were good plain, but the dipping sauce was DELICIOUS! I happily devoured all of them.

The coconut smoothie was also a nice treat. It had a very good flavor and is the perfect treat on a warm day (it's still in the high 80s here).

As I said, the service was also good. The owners, whom I believe are husband and wife, were also the servers. He cleaned the tables and took the orders, while she brought out the food. They were very good about asking if I needed anything, and even came over to refill my water without me having to ask.

The environment of the restaurant is very clean. The man explained as he was cleaning the tables that they used only natural cleaners such as vinegar and water so we didn't have to worry about chemicals touching our food. I really liked that!

If you have heard of Loving Hut, you've probably heard people say that they think that the owners of the restaurant are part of a cult. From what I saw, this is probably true, however, it is not a dangerous cult. They follow the teachings of a woman named "Ching Hai" or "Supreme Master", who teaches mediation and is considered enlightened. She preaches a message of love and peace. In every Loving Hut, they have TVs playing "Supreme Master TV", which is a channel showing her video messages and other vegan-related things. The good thing about it is the TVs are kept at a low volume (with captions on screen), so if you don't want to watch it, you can easily ignore it. From what I saw, the topics were mostly about animal cruelty on farms and global warming. In other words, the same thing you find on most mainstream vegan websites. The owners are NOT pushy about their religious beliefs. I did not hear or see them discuss religion with anyone in the restaurant. They simply have the TV on and have pamphlets written by Ching Hai on a table that you are welcome to take if you want. In other words, you don't have to worry about hearing a sermon while you are eating.

Another thing I like is the fact that the most expensive item is only $9! Pretty good prices for a table-service place.

In summary, if you are a hungry vegan in the USF area, definitely check out Loving Hut. I know that I loved it and can't wait for the chance to go back again!

Here is the website, including a full menu:

Until next time,

The Vegan Hippie Freak!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two Pleasant Surprises at The Mall

Today while shopping at one of my local malls, I was walking by a store called The Body Shop when several things in their window caught my eye and I was pleasantly surprised to see the following:

Yes, a mainstream store that is proudly proclaiming the fact that they are against animal testing and 100% vegetarian! I stopped in the store, where I found three lip gloss tubes for $10 (and they were made in the UK, not China!). At the register, they had a paper where you could put your name and e-mail address to receive information about efforts to end animal testing around the world. Naturally, I put my name down and they gave me a coupon as a thank you for doing so. When I got home, I looked at their website and found that the proceeds from some of their products are donated to charities dedicated to stopping child sex trafficking, domestic violence, and HIV awareness. Pretty awesome, isn't it?

A little while after I bought my lip glosses, I came across another store called LUSH. I saw on their sign that they sold handmade soaps and bath products. I love handmade soap, so I decided to take a look and see if any vegan soaps were available. As soon as I walked into the store, I saw several product signs with stickers that said "vegan" on them. In fact, about 98% of the products in the store were vegan (according to the store clerk, the few non-vegan items contained lanolin and honey). I was in heaven! I bought a bath bomb called "Phoenix Rising" ( purple color, apple cinnamon scent). I haven't tried it yet, but it smells wonderful. Another awesome thing about LUSH is that they take a VERY strong stand against animal testing and make every effort to ensure that their suppliers treat employees fairly. Here are two quotes from their website:

". For LUSH where we buy our ingredients from is the first opportunity we have for influence. One of our first priorities is to ensure the material and the company doesn't test on animals, a policy we've run for over a decade. We always try to deal direct with a producer if we can to get as close to growing or making it as possible. We are also fortunate in what we don't buy, for instance unnecessary packaging. By selling naked products you can afford products with the best quality ingredients and we save the garbage men a job. Really, it's about mutual respect. Respect for you and your wishes to buy great products with ethical and sustainable natural ingredients. It's respect for our suppliers, who have a right to earn a decent wage and it's respect for the environment that can provide the ingredients. It's not always an easy path and we have had plenty of hurdles but it is ultimately greatly rewarding and led us on some great adventures, too!" (,en_US,pg.html)


"LUSH is firmly committed to a policy that not only inhibits testing our products and ingredients on animals, or engaging with third-party suppliers to do so on our behalf, but that also prohibits buying any ingredient from any supplier that tests any materials on any animals for any purpose. This policy is unique in the cosmetics world and is pioneering a new way to stop animal tests for cosmetics. LUSH runs a Supplier Specific Boycott Policy. By doing this, we give an economic incentive to suppliers and have convinced two companies to switch to cruelty free practices as a result. If a company will alter their practices, we will buy their goods." (,en_US,pg.html)

LUSH is headquartered in Canada, and their products are made in North America as well.

So if your looking for a alternative to the traitors known as Urban Decay (who recently had their "leaping bunny" certification REVOKED due to the fact that they are now selling in China, which requires them to test their products on animals. Check out this article for more info.) , you'll definitely want to give the Body Shop and LUSH a try. It's always feels good to know that you're supporting companies that are friendly to both people and animals.

Here are the companies websites:

The Body Shop:


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Product Review: HerbanLuxe Vegan Mascara

Hi, I'm back with another vegan product review! Recently, I have been looking for 100% vegan eye makeup that is also safe for sensitive eyes. As you know from previous reviews, I found a great vegan mineral eye shadow on Etsy (from a seller called MadisonStreetBeauty ). Since then, I'd been looking for a vegan mascara. I looked at the offerings from the mainstream brands that don't test on animals, but all of them contained non-vegan ingredients. So I decided to check Etsy and was happy to fins a seller called HerbanLuxe who makes vegan mascara in both black and brown. She had a sample size of brown mascara for a total of $8.50 including shipping, so I decided to give it a try and bought it. The mascara arrived this afternoon and I tried it on immediately.

I LOVE this mascara. I wore it for about 5 hours (mostly indoors, except for walking the dog) and even spent 20 minutes jogging (again indoors) while wearing it. There were no smudges or clumps and it did not irritate my eyes. It should be noted that this mascara is NOT waterproof, so I wouldn't recommend wearing it if you know it will rain or there's a high chance you'll cry. But if your looking for a high quality, affordable vegan mascara, I recommend that you give one of the ones below a try. I for one will definitely be buying the full size version when my mini one runs out!

The mascara comes in both black and brown, with mini and full size versions of both available. The full size costs $12.50 including shipping.

Brown Mini Mascara $8.50 including shipping. Get it here: Brown Mini Mascara

Brown Full Size Mascara $12.50 including shipping. Get it here: Brown full size mascara

Black Full Size Mascara $12.50 including shipping. Get it here: Black Full Size Mascara

That's all for now. Bye!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Eating Animals

 I love reading and I'm low on cash, so I like to visit my local library and check out books. I especially love non-fiction political style books because they make you think. On my last trip to the library, I picked up a copy of "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. I just finished it last night, and it is a great book. I really like it because it goes in depth about exactly what happens on modern farms. Mr. Foer spent over three years researching the book and it shows. He personally visited a couple of different factory farms (including once in the middle of the night with an animal liberationist) and got a first hand look at what goes on. The book includes pieces written by factory farmers, a couple of small family farmers, and animal rights activists. He talks about his upbriging and the food culture of his Jewish American family. He also talks about how he waffled between meat eating and vegetarianism for years until he decided to find out where meat actually comes from after his son was born.

  The chapters in titled "Influence/Speechlessness" and "Pieces of Paradise/Pieces of Shit" are particularly good. In "Influence/Speechlessness", he describes the horrific conditions on poultry farms. He talks about not only the suffering of the birds, but how modern poultry farming puts humans at risk. Humans are put at risk by poultry farming in two main ways: the birds are housed in cramped spaces, which means that diseases such as the flu can easily spread from chicken to chicken and from chicken to human (hello bird flu!). Because of this risk, the birds are given routine anti-biotics, which end up in entering the human body when the birds are eaten. This contributes to the development of anti-biotic resistant bacteria.

 In "Pieces of Paradise/Pieces of Shit", the author describes the conditions on the hog farms owned by Smithfield, the largest pork supplier in the US. The book describes how Smithfield often disposes of the pigs shit by simply spraying it up into the air. The shit contains poisons like carbon monoxide and cyanide, which are released into the air (scary). This has caused the rates of respiratory illnesses such as asthma to skyrocket in towns near pig farms. He also mentions how workers near the waste pits have fainted from the smell, fell in the shit and drowned in it! He goes into detail about the inhumane gestation crates and includes quotes by workers who talk about beating the pigs to death. In a later chapter he includes the account of a worker (at another farm) who admitted to cutting off a pigs snout and then rubbing salt in it in order to cause more pain.

In short, if you want to educate your meat eating friends and family about what they are really supporting when they buy meat, then give them a copy of "Eating Animals". It will definitely open their eyes. Those are my thoughts on the book. Bye until next time!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vegan Review: Muir Glen Organic and MorningStar BBQ Riblets

As everyone knows, fresh, home-cooked food is healthiest. However, if you're like most people you are often too busy to cook, so sometimes it's nice to have things like frozen dinners on hand. I have recently tried two new vegan quick-fix meals: Muir Glen Organic Southwest Black Bean Soup and MorningStar Hickory BBQ riblets.

 Muir Glen Soup:
I really liked the flavor of this one. It has some of my favorite vegetables like beans, onions, and peppers. It was spicy but not too hot, at least in my opinion. Since it contains beans, the soup is a fairly good source of protein and only has 130 calories. The bad thing about it is that it's full of sodium (680mg). That being said, as long as you're not on a sodium restricted diet and don't eat foods like this regularly, it isn't all that bad. The best thing about the soup is that it requires no preparation, you simply heat up and eat. Muir Glen Organics makes two other vegan soups (lentil and tomato basil) and all of them are clearly marked vegan on the front of the label. I always like it when I don't have to read ingredients! I'm glad that I got two cans because I definitely plan to enjoy this soup again in the future. If you want to purchase the soup, you can find a store locator at

MorningStar Hickory BBQ Riblets:

When I first became a vegetarian, I really liked MorningStar products and ate them quite a bit. Unfortunately, only four of their meals are vegan (and only two of those meals are available at stores near me). The other day I was looking in the veggie meals section of the frozen foods and saw the Hickory BBQ Riblets. I hadn't seen these before, so I decided to take a look at the ingredients. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the words "100% vegan" at the bottom of the nutrition label. I loved BBQ when I ate meat, so I decided to give these a try. I am very glad that I did because they are DELICIOUS! Even my omnivore mother said that they smelled delicious and she wished she could try one (she has a soy allergy). If you're looking to introduce BBQ meat lovers to vegan food, I'd highly recommend these "riblets". I doubt that they'll even notice that they are meatless unless you tell them! I look forward to eating these riblets again.

FYI: The other MorningStar Vegan Meals are Vegan Veggie Burgers, Sweet 'n Sour Chick'n, and Vegan Chick'n Meal Starters. You can see if they are available in your area via the store locator at
Anyway, those are the reviews of my latest vegan culinary adventures. Talk to you again soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vegan Makeup!

I'm not the kind of woman who wears makeup everyday. Unless I'm doing something really special, I usually go makeup-less. That being said, every once in awhile I get in the mood to wear it again. I hadn't purchased any makeup since I became a vegan, so I wanted to make sure the make-up that I bought was cruelty free. I also have the added issue of being allergic to the ingredients in many mainstream make up items, so I also had to make sure they were hypo-allergenic. Here are my reviews of a couple of the items that I purchased.

1) Mineral eyeshadow from Madison Street Beauty at

Reg. Price: $5

 I LOVE eyeshadow, but since my eyes are very sensitive, there are only a few types of eyeshadow that I can wear without my eyes watering. I had heard that mineral eye shadows were supposed to be great for people with allergies because the ingredients are more natural, so I decided to give them a whirl. Thankfully, I found a wonderful Etsy shop that sells handmade mineral makeup called Madison Street Beauty. I LOVE this shop because of their very wide selection of vegan items, and the fact that all of their items are all-natural, talc free, hypoallergenic, and of course are never tested on animals. They were having a great 60% sale when I bought my eyeshadow, so I was able to get two of them for about the same price that you would pay for one in a regular store. The colors that I bought are "Heliotrope" (the dark purple) and "California Sun". So far, I have worn the California shade. I wore it for about 4.5 hours indoors and I really like it. It didn't bother my eyes at all and there was no visible creasing. The store is currently listed as "on vacation", so you can't purchase anything right now, but I'd advise you to sign up to be notified when they re-open. I know that I will definitely be a repeat customer!

California Sun


2) Physician's Formula

  Another makeup brand that I like is Physicians Formula. There foundations are wonderful for sensitive skin, available at mainstream stores, not tested on animals, and they make some of their products in North America. Unfortunately, you have to be careful because some of their brushes are made with animal hair (yes, I know, yuck). However, I can recommend one of their foundations which I have used that is 100% vegan: Mineral Wear Talc-Free Liquid Foundation. It is easy to apply and doesn't bother my skin. I like the fact that it has a built in applicator. You can find a list of Physician's Formula's vegan products here:

There are many other cruelty free cosmetics companies out there. A great resource to help you find them is PETA's Cruelty Free Companies list. It is a list of companies that have certified to be cruelty free. The list even tells you whether or not the company is vegan. On the flip side, they also have a list of companies to avoid. You can find those lists at PETA's cruelty free companies list .

Until next time, have fun with being beautiful inside and out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teriyaki Tofu Recipe

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a very experienced cook. I usually avoid cooking whenever I can. However, since I've become a vegan I have found it necessary to cook from time to time (eating frozen veggie dinners every night can get tiring and isn't always healthy), so today I decided to pick up some raw tofu and try out a scrambled tofu recipe. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the recipe with me to the store and forgot about some necessary ingredients. I didn't want to eat a frozen dinner tonight so I decided to look up another tofu recipe. Before I became a vegetarian, teriyaki chicken was one of my favorite meals. I was curious to see if there were any teriyaki tofu recipes out there. The first result that popped up was from the Care2 website. I took a look at it and it looked like it was very easy to make.All that needed to be changed to make it vegan was a simple substitution of agave for honey. I said to myself "why not give it a go?" I'm glad that I did. The recipe was very easy to follow and it turned out great. The only negative thing about it is that it is not a quick dinner. It requires anywhere between 45mins to 2 hours 20 minutes to prepare.  The reason it takes so long is that the recipe says to let the uncooked tofu marinate for anywhere between 30mins-2hours. I marinated it for about 1 hr 50 min and then it took about 20 minutes to cook the tofu. If you have the time, letting it marinate for close to 2hrs is worth it because it was delicious in my opinion.

Here is the recipe (original is here: )
1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup good-quality tamari or soy sauce (I used regular soy sauce)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated, including peel
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey (I used agave nectar )
grated rind from juiced lemon, to taste
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular flour)
black pepper to taste
oil for frying
1. Combine tamari, ginger, lemon juice, honey, and lemon rind in a small bowl.
2. Place tofu slices in a single layer in a baking pan and pour marinade over them. Turn to coat. Allow tofu to marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to two hours.

3. Remove tofu and reserve marinade.
4. Combine flour and pepper on a plate. Dip tofu slices in flour mixture, turning to coat.

5. Brown tofu in oil, about 5 minutes per side, adding oil as needed. When all slices are browned, add reserved marinade and simmer 10 minutes.

Here is how it turned out for me: