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Navigating Farmers Markets

Editors note: We’re glad to bring you content from others in our community that are committed to a vegan lifestyle. This post is from Cheryl Still, who is working this summer with a local farm bringing wonderful produce to our local farmer’s markets. She offered to share her expertise with you, and we’re thrilled to be able to share it with you.  We are so lucky to live in Michigan and experience all the seasons. From hot summer days to frosty winter nights, Michigan has so much to offer in regards to local fruits and veggies. If you need help figuring out how to enjoy all of Michigan’s plentiful harvests, here’s a quick guide that will help you find farmers markets and shop smarter. Make sure you read to the end to find some recipes for what to do with one of my favorite vegetables! Navigating Farmers Markets Do you have a favorite farmers market? Fulton Street, Ada, Holland, Muskegon, and the YMCA Veggie Van are just a handful of the markets around West Michigan supplying fresh food for individuals, families, and restaurants. With seasonal Michigan produce now in its prime, here’s what you need to know for successful navigation of local markets this summer and fall. West Michigan Farm Markets – This website is a great resource (organized by county) to provide you with farmers’ market names, addresses, directions, dates and hours, and websites. In addition, you will also see if the markets accept Bridge Cards, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project Fresh, and Senior Market Fresh. What’s In Season In Michigan? Buying fruits and vegetables during their Michigan growing season can help you save money and enjoy the pristine flavors of the season. So, how do you know if the produce at the markets is in-season, last year’s crop, or grown in Michigan greenhouses? Here’s a helpful guide from A Healthier Michigan. The article In Season In Michigan provides an alphabetical list of fruits and vegetables and which months they are in season. Last Year’s Crop Some produce at the markets are from last year’s crop. Root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips, onions, and garlic store well over the winter. This enables farmers to provide these items right away in early summer. Other examples of last year’s crops typically include maple syrup and apples being sold in June and July. It’s valuable to remember that fruits like grapefruits, oranges, mangos, bananas,...
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What does it mean to be vegan-friendly?

I’m very proud to announce that Jon and I are featured in this month’s Grand Rapids Magazine article Vegan-Friendly and Getting Friendlier. The piece is a great look at the overall vegan movement in Grand Rapids, and touches on many of the people working hard to make our city the best it can be. The thing I love the most about the article may be the title itself – it really embodies a belief on which my vegan activism is based; friendliness. I believe that by being open, understanding, and inviting, I can have the most effective and open conversations with people who don’t see things exactly as I do. I’ve never found vilification to be an effective method of activism. In fact, it stops dialogue dead in its tracks. Much of the success we’ve had with Vegan Grand Rapids is proof that being open and friendly works. The only way we are ever going to reduce meat and dairy consumption is through steady, incremental change. Some of those changes may be bigger leaps forward, but most unfold slowly. The truth is, progress in any movement always takes time. It may feel frustrating to inch our way forward, but progress is progress. Once you move to a vegan lifestyle, you pretty quickly realize that it’s not a big sacrifice at all. In fact, it can be hard to understand as a new vegan why more people don’t connect the dots as you just have yourself  – if you can choose a diet that doesn’t hurt the planet, your body, or an animal, why wouldn’t you make that choice every time you sit down to eat or purchase a pair of shoes? I’m passionate about helping the planet and I recognize that meat and dairy farming is a major contributor to climate change and pollution. I understand that a meat-free diet is healthier for our bodies and could help people live longer and help us save billions of dollars on health care costs. Vegans, by definition, are also passionate about ending the suffering of the billions of chickens, cows, and pigs tortured every year in this country to become food. It’s easy to become angry over this inescapable fact when you know how easy it is to live a vegan lifestyle. We can choose to eat with regard to the health of the planet, our bodies, and the animals, or we can choose to disregard all of...
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Sustainability needs to extend to the menu

Have you seen the documentary Cowspiracy? It’s an informative, well produced film and is widely available on streaming platforms such as Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, carve out some time this weekend. I had the chance to see the film again recently as part of WMEAC’s Film Series. I was again reminded how powerful the narrative is in this film. If you have seen it, you know the drill. To save the planet we need to take action individually in our own lives. Yes, we need to be conscious of our water usage. Yes, we need to consider alternatives in transportation, and find other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our daily choices. But most of all, eating a plant-based diet easily has the biggest impact that we, as individuals can have on the environment. I won’t go into all their facts as to why in this post, but watch the movie and check out the site where they lay it all out. Sustainability is quite the buzz-word these days. Visit many of our wonderful local businesses in GR and you’re sure to hear it. Let me be clear about this before continuing this post. I truly believe that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Meaning that any steps to help the environment are great, but if a business is going to tout themselves as sustainable, we need to understand what that means and they should be held accountable to that standard. The impetus for this post comes from a wonderful article in the most recent edition of Rapid Growth Media. A local entrepreneur, Stanley Samuel, has come up with an ingenious way of helping smaller craft breweries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are produced naturally as part of the brewing process. Awesome! Love to see Grand Rapids become greener. There are plenty of ways we constantly hear local restaurants getting “greener.” You produce zero waste…. Wonderful. You’ve reduced greenhouse gasses released at your business to zero…. Amazing. You installed a rain garden… Fantastic. But here’s the thing. If you’re serving 20,000 cheeseburgers every year – even from a local, “humane” farm – you’re not an environmentally sustainable business. Period. Eating one pound of beef is equivalent to showering for ONE YEAR. And a new study shows that you’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm. More than one of our local breweries, companies that are...
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Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro to speak in Grand Rapids at Science on Tap event

Few people can claim to be as successful in their activism as Paul Shapiro. Currently he serves as Vice President of Farm Protection for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he has been a leading force in bringing about positive change in the treatment of farm animals. His work at HSUS involves legislation aimed at forcing farmers to treat animals better, and consumer side efforts that force companies to demand change from their suppliers. Recently Paul’s team helped usher in a game changing moment for the movement when McDonald’s announced they would only source eggs from cage-free suppliers.  He’s an inductee of the Animal Rights Hall of Fame, and is the founder of Compassion Over Killing – leading the once High School club into a major national force for farm animal protection. On top of it all, he’s a helluva speaker. We’ve been lucky to see Paul speak a couple of times, and when we had the opportunity to bring him to Grand Rapids, we were all over that! We’ve partnered with Science on Tap Grand Rapids for this very special event. If you’re not familiar with them, Science on Tap, “is an opportunity for conversation, debate, and interaction between scientists and the public while drinking a beer.” Sounds pretty good, right? Throw in some great vegan food options at the SpeakEZ Lounge, and it’s going to be a great night. What: Science on Tap in Grand Rapids When: October 26th, 7pm Who: Paul Shapiro, VP of Farm Protection, HSUS Why: Because it will be awesome Where: Speak EZ Lounge. 600 Monroe Ave NW. So please, RSVP to this event and get it on your calendar. It’s free, and tickets are not required. You’re not going to want to miss this...
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The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop-up Bakery a Smashing Success!

The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop Up Bakery was a great success, with hundreds turning out to drink great coffee and eat awesome local vegan baked goods.


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Keeki Pure and Simple

Finding health and beauty products that fit our ethical standards can be tricky for vegans. Luckily for us, Natalie Bauss of Keeki Pure and Simple wants consumers to know that you don’t have to sacrifice your ethics or health for beautiful skin, lips, and nails. Keeki offers a variety of products for face, skin, nails, and lips that are cruelty-free and earth-friendly. They are also locally produced, being based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They never test on animals and are Leaping Bunny and PETA certified as well. I recently sat down with owner Natalie Bauss, and asked how she got started. Natalie is a mother of two who lives on an organic farm in West Michigan. She told me that her daughter Kiana (nicknamed Keeki), like many young ladies, was constantly painting her nails, and this left Bauss concerned about the chemicals that she was being exposed to. You probably know the overwhelmingly noxious smell of nail polish and remover. That can’t be good for you. Knowing what she put into her children’s body in terms of food, she discovered that what they put ON their bodies was just as important. “Our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs up to sixty percent of what we put on it.” Bauss explains. She decided to take matters into her own hands, and her daughter’s namesake company was born. “I started out creating recipes in my kitchen from things we’d grown on the farm, just experimenting,” she says. Her daughter Keeki now develops, tests and critiques all products before they hit the shelves. Here are some of my favorite Keeki products: 1. Nail Polish:     I was impressed by how quickly the polish dried, but the most amazing part was when she told me to smell the nail polish. The normal chemical fume smell of nail polish was non-existent! They come in many colors, named after delicious treats. Note: Be sure to use their nail polish remover, because it took quite a bit of elbow grease to get it off with the traditional remover I had at home. 2. Day Rejuvenating SPF 15 Lotion & Night Rejuvenating Serum:   I absolutely love this dynamic skincare duo. They are made with high quality, non-GMO ingredients like walnut oil, pomegranate oil, and aloe vera, and green tea. I used this for a month and wanted to share my before and after photos...
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August’s Kitchen Vegan Chef’s Table, February 22

Every month, Chef August “Auggie” Treu of August’s Kitchen creates a special dinner for a small group in an intimate setting. The Chef’s Table event is special and only a handful of people have the opportunity to experience it. Chef August’s last vegan event featured such delicacies as Tofu Tom Yum soup, Eggplant Gratin w/ Mushrooms & Artichoke, and a delicious CranApple cobbler for dessert. MI Local Food Beet wrote about the dining experience here if you’re interested. Chef Auggie learned about vegan food from Chef Kevin Dunn at GRCC, who introduces many of his students to vegan cooking. Many of Chef Dunn’s students have ended up embracing vegan cuisine and incorporating it into their post-college careers, like Chef Auggie. His next vegan dinner will be February 22 at 6 pm. Seating is limited to 16 and will sell out quickly, so be sure to get your reservation today! The menu includes 6 courses and is just $50 per person. Here’s what you’ll get: Grilled Fig & Radichio with Balsamic Reduction Soup of the Day Fresh Baked Bread with Herbed Tofu Spread Ratatouille with Soba Noodles Nathan’s Greens with House Dressing Peach Cobbler Tea, coffee, and water will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own beverage as well. Bring your own bottle of wine or beer! Chef Auggie will provide wine glasses, beer glasses, and a cork screw if you need it. To sign up, please call (616) 340-1160. Payment is due on the day of the event. Cash or check only. August’s Kitchen is located at 1604 Diamond NE in Grand...
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Vegan Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a hard time for ethical vegans. 45-million turkeys will be killed to celebrate the year’s harvest, and it also marks the start of the holiday season. It’s a long stretch of time where we’re constantly put in tough situations, looking at that once-living-now-roasted holiday centerpiece. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 67-million turkeys will be killed for food. It can be a really tough time of year for those of us who don’t think animals should die for food! At Vegan GR, we show our friends and family that we eat great compassionate meals during the holiday season by bringing delicious dishes to all gatherings we’re invited to. Oftentimes, we get asked for the recipes or told that what we brought is better than the “real” version! Here are a few staples that have made it into our Thanksgiving routine. Vegan GR Recipes Pumpkin Pie Holiday Roast Cornbread Stuffing Easy Mushroom Gravy Looking for more ideas? Here’s a list of our favorite food bloggers. Post Punk Kitchen – Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s PPK claims to be the best place in the world for vegan cooking and baking. We totally agree! Vegan Dad – Mostly original recipes from a vegan father. Lots of great, inventive seitan recipes.We really love his stuff. His blog is not as active as it once was, but the recipes are still great. Chef Chloe – A Food Network Challenge winner, Chloe Coscarelli has a nice collection of creative and easy-to-make vegan recipes. Oh She Glows – Angela Liddon’s award winning website is packed with awesome recipes that work every time. We’re partial to her dessert work, specifically the brownie 3-ways recipe! Veggie Bon Vivant – A spicy ginger and self-proclaimed “vegan-ish” food blogger from right here in Grand Rapids. Have a safe and happy holiday season! We’d love to see you at our holiday party on Dec. 10! Hurry and reserve your tickets today. We’ve got limited seating and we’re getting close to sold out! Click here to...
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5 Vegan Blogs You Should Be Reading

While we cook quite a lot in our house, recipe blogging is not a skill we have. I mean, who has time to take pictures and write stuff down when there’s food to eat?! Thank goodness the world is full of others who are not afraid to write their recipes down, supplement with gorgeous pictures, and share them with the rest of us. Here are a few or our favorites from west Michigan helping to spread the vegan love one blog at a time! The Vegan Belle is a food, lifestyle, and parenting blog, with a focus being on vegan cooking. The author, Kate, is from Chattanooga but now calls Grand Rapids her home. The goal of The Vegan Belle is to prove that you can cook delicious food without animal products. The website is gorgeous and the pictures of Kate’s food will have you drooling. They are so perfect you can almost smell the aromas coming off the dishes!  You will be wowed with such recipes as her Pistachio Crusted Tempeh Filets with Pumpkin Sauce or, if you need something for the kids, Easy Peasy Mac and Cheese. What do you get when you put one busy “veganish” redhead in the kitchen? A collection of (mostly) quick recipes that anyone can follow. That’s Veggie Bon Vivant. Adrienne’s recipes are usually adapted from one of her favorite cookbooks, like this recipe for Sweet Potato, Kale, and Chickpea Soup that can be made in the crock pot. One of our favorite recipes that we found on her website is for Peanut Buttercream frosting. To veganize it, just substitute So Delicious plain greek yogurt in place of the heavy whipping cream. It’s best with just about anything! 86 Lemons features not just vegan food recipes, but also DIY projects and shopping finds. The recipe sections is where this blog shines! Gorgeous pictures highlight Livvy’s recipes, from sloppy Joe’s to pumpin oatmeal cookies, this blog really has something for everyone. Kind of Hilzey is written by Jessica and she knows her way around the kitchen. She is not afraid of, well… ANYTHING. We’ve seen her make her own kombucha, nut cheeses, and skin care products. He blog is chock full of all the fun projects she takes on. Not only does she share recipes, but she also shares her favorite grocery store items and other goodies. One of her most recent posts was a recipe...
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Donkey Taqueria Arrives in Grand Rapids

When Paul Lee announced he was opening a new Taqueria across from The Winchester, to be honest, we didn’t have high hopes. Lee’s offerings at The Winchester are notoriously vegan-UNfriendly.


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