Monday, April 23, 2012

Gone to Tumblr!

Since March 30, 2010, we've been blogging here at Savvy Vegan, helping you live the vegan lifestyle on a dime. And yet, just as MySpace is a mere memory, it's time to move on from our blogs as well. On that note, we couldn't be more thrilled to debut VegNews on Tumblr! We'll meld behind-the-scenes scoop such as what's for lunch and the newest products arriving at the office with our favorite content from around the web, event photos, and more. It's a bit bittersweet to say so long to the blogs we've worked so hard to build, but, well, they're just so five years ago. As always, thank you for reading. Here's to what's next!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cheap Eats: Veggie Burgers

The Topic: Cheap, tasty veggie burgers you can make in no time flat with Online Editor Anna Peraino

The Dish: With so many vegan burgers to be found in your neighborhood freezer section these days, how is one to choose which patty is best, while risking the dreaded over-priced hockey puck? My roommate’s parents went mostly vegan a few months ago, and they recently shared this criminally easy veggie burger recipe with us. A combination of brown rice, black beans, corn, and spices, these savory patties are heavy on the flavor while being light on the wallet. You’ll never have to play Russian roulette with your grocery budget again.

Easy Veggie Burgers

Makes 4 jumbo patties

What You Need:

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ear of cooked corn, cob removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

What You Do:

1. In a food processor, process all ingredients until mixture resembles ground meat.
2. In a lightly oiled frying pan over medium-high, cook patties 3 to 5 minutes each side.

The Final Word: Hate black beans? Use white. Think corn is ho-hum? Try beets. The great thing about this recipe is that it serves as the beginning of your wildest veggie-burger dreams. And no, I’m not talking about the kind of dreams where giant veggie burgers chase after you or vegan cheeseburgers rain down from the sky (though the latter does sound pretty awesome).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stocking Your Vegan Bar

The Topic: Bringing on the booze without breaking the bank with Editorial Assistant Rashida Harmon

The Dish: If the rising popularity of the Vegan Drinks movement is any indication, vegans are no strangers to the party scene—and what better time than St. Patrick’s Day weekend to bust out the brewskies, pump up the jams, and let loose, vegan style? Most seasoned bar-hoppers are well aware that one pint too many can lead to a state of drunken dementia, wherein any attempts at frugality crumble with each gulp. To protect your pocketbook while sustaining your buzz, here are my tips for stocking your home's vegan bar on the cheap.

1. Buy Bulk
If you can tolerate astounding levels of overstimulation, wholesale and overstock stores such as Costco, Smart & Final, and Grocery Outlet can be excellent sources of quality booze—often in massive quantities. Though inventory at each store varies by location, veg-friendly beer brands such as Blue Moon, Gordon Biersch, and Pyramid Brewery can be found by the truckload at some Costcos, while Grocery Outlet and Smart & Final have a vast selection of wine and spirits. Sniffing out confirmed vegan products may require a keen eye (and a refined palate), but with comprehensive guides such as Barnivore circulating the web, you’ll be sipping on a cruelty-free drink in no time.

2. Go Generic
Vegan-friendly favorite Trader Joe’s is a veritable bastion of boozy bargains if you steer clear of brand names. Its beloved Charles Shaw reds—known in many circles as "Two Buck Chuck" due to their $1.99 pricetags—have received the vegan seal of approval, as have many of its generic microbrews. The store's summery beers, such as the Mission St. Hefeweizen and Simpler Times Lager, are refreshingly cheap compared to corner-store counterparts. If you’ve got partying on the brain, load up your cart with the aptly named Frugal Joe’s Ordinary Beer, as low as $3.99 for a six pack.

3. Get Crafty
What’s a cocktail without a few fancy flourishes? Specialty drink mixes, infused liquors, and other alcoholic accoutrements can set you back a pretty penny, but with a little bit of creativity—and a healthy dose of patience—you can DIY your way into a bar display that’ll have your guests green with envy long after St. Patrick’s Day is over. Whip up your own simple syrup by dissolving two cups of your favorite granulated sweetener into one cup of boiling water, then add lemon and lime juice for a homemade sour mix that'll kick up your margarita an extra notch. Slightly more adventurous mixologists can try their hand at DIY bitters by steeping aromatic herbs and spices in grain alcohol for two weeks. You’ll save at least $10 and finally have an excuse to use up the extra stuff on hand in your pantry!

The Final Word: Whether you like your drinks shaken or stirred, or prefer a fine glass of Merlot, your days of doling out big bucks for booze are over. If your well-stocked vegan bar is slow going, or you’re finding yourself flush with cabin fever, you can always venture out to happy hour at a local vegan-friendly bar to get your drink on at a discount. No matter where you are, grab a buddy, keep some H20 handy, and leave your big bills at home!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Scoring Cute, Cheap Vegan Shoes

The Topic: Uncovering vegan shoes that are chic and budget-friendly with Editorial Assistant Hilary Pollack

The Dish: SHOES. Oh my gawd. Shoes. A source of obsession for people of all kinds, but a continued source of frustration for vegans, footwear can make or break an outfit, a stroll, or a hike. Forrest Gump's mama said that there's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes, so make the best impression possible by picking a pair that is fashionable, sturdy, and cruelty-free. While designer vegan shoes can go for several hundred bucks a pop, fear not—there are thriftier ways to get your kicks. 

1. Vintage
Want a one-of-a-kind look without a three-digit price tag? Vintage shoes come (very literally) in all shapes and sizes, and can give you a unique bang for a decent buck. Thrift stores offer the luck of the draw, but for shoes, I prefer eBay, which has a thorough search function that makes it easy to find styles in your size. Type in "vintage vegan shoes," and you'll find everything from knee-high riding boots to sparkly 1960s pumps to gladiator sandals, all for less than 50 bucks. To ensure the best fit, measure your trustiest pair with a ruler and compare to a seller's measurements. Some people may have difficulty getting past the idea of "pre-worn" shoes, but I'm not one of them. There is nothing to fear—the risk of contracting fungus from used shoes is actually very low, and a swish of anti-fungal spray can add peace of mind. 

2. Etsy
We only find more and more reasons to love Etsy every day, and its shoe selection is just another brick in the (awesome) wall. A combination of new and designer shoes offers a one-two punch of more than 1,300 different options, which span every material and aesthetic imaginable. I'm crushing on these size 6-1/2 1980's studded Victorian velvet boots, but unfortunately I clock in at an 8-1/2. No problem, though—I've got these cute navy pumps on my side.  

3. "Accidentally Vegan" 
Not all non-leather shoes think of themselves as vegan, but that doesn't mean they won't help you look good without wearing animal products. Payless Shoe Source ,Target, and Forever 21 have many faux-leather, faux-suede, and faux-shearling flats, boots, and heels to choose from—and check out the handbags and wallets while you're at it. Online shops Lulu's and Modcloth straddle the line by using the "v" word to describe their synthetic leather shoes, and are both majorly on-trend. These cutout cage booties from Lulu's are a steal at $37, or peep these kitten-tapestry platform boots from Modcloth (!!!)—an amazing way to pay homage to your feline friends with every step. 

4. Google Shopping
You know how when you search on Google (this little website that you might have heard of), the vertical menu on the left helps you refine your search to focus on images, maps, videos, news, shopping, or more? Type in "vegan shoes" and any other defining characteristics of your desired kicks, click "shopping," and voila! I typed in "vegan platform boots" (I LIKE BOOTS, okay?) and found more than 3,300 results, and you can even sort by price to find a look that matches both your wardrobe and your wallet. 

5. Vegan Online Stores
You may be wondering why I've listed vegan online stores last, since they seem like one of the most obvious ways of finding cruelty-free accessories from compassionate designers. They are! But I'm here to help you think outside the (shoe)box, and look for less obvious ways to score reasonably priced, leather-free shoes. That said, MooShoes, VeganChic, and Alternative Outfitters are definitely ahead of the pack, with sales galore and shoes that look cool, not corny.

The Final Word: While many of us wish that we could afford Cri de Coeur, Beyond Skin, and Olsenhaus kicks on the regs, we've got to eat (yay!) and pay bills (boo!) too. Shoe shopping on a budget is totally possible with a keen eye and a list of vegan-friendly sites that won't leave you frowning in fugly clogs. To get the most out of your favorite kicks, consider getting them resoled or repaired if they are merely marred but not ready to kick the bucket. Recycle, reduce, and reuse includes shoes! Now get out there and strut your stuff. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Tips to Beat What Ails You

The Topic: Natural, inexpensive ways to feel better with Associate Editor Jennifer Chen

The Dish: Lately, many VN staffers and my husband have been nursing colds, upset stomachs, terrible sinus infections, and sore throats. I don't like relying on conventional medicine to solve what ails me, mainly because growing up, my mom always gave me home remedies instead. When I found out that I was deadly allergic to aspirin, I sought out natural cures for headaches. Besides, who knows what chemicals and not-so animal-friendly ingredients are in over-the-counter medicines? So here are my tips for soothing some common illnesses. (I'm not a doctor so please don't take this as medical advice. Consult your physician if you have any serious health issues.)

1. Upset stomach. One word: ginger. This simple little root is a staple in my kitchen pantry. Not only can you use it when cooking, but it helps me when my stomach is upset. I grate about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger into a hot mug of water and sip it. If the taste of ginger is too strong for you, you can add a little agave to sweeten it. Ginger is also great for treating colds, motion sickness, and nausea. I like Yogi Tea's Ginger Tea as well. Another option is peppermint oil. I use a drop or two in filtered water and drink it when my stomach isn't right. Peppermint oil is strong, so a little goes a long way.

2. Sore throat. I swear by Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat for sore throats. My husband has had a terrible sore throat for several days and had an important meeting where he had to talk the whole time, so I gave him mug after mug of this tea. One of the main herbs in the tea is slippery elm bark, which I recently learned from Spork Foods' Jenny Engel, is a natural remedy for sore throats.

3. Headaches. After discovering my severe allergy to aspirin, I turned to essential oils instead of meds. I bought a small in-room electric diffuser and use lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oils in rotation. I use lavender essential oil for headaches and alleviating stress. I mix peppermint oil with a little almond oil and rub it into my temples for immediate relief. You can also add a few drops of either oil in a hot shower for even more aromatherapy. But don't use peppermint oil straight out of the jar because it can cause a bad skin reaction. I use the brand Aura Cacia and you can find $1 off coupons  here.

4. Allergies. I also suffer from terrible allergies (I am like the bubble boy from Seinfeld) and used to rely on antihistamines to cure stuffy noses and sneezing attacks, but now I put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in my diffuser before I go to sleep. It works like a charm. I also swear by the neti pot. Here's a video explaining how to use it. Maybe it looks a bit scary but it's totally worth it. Trust me, I had to spend 15 minutes convincing myself to use it. But my allergies are much, much better.

5. Restless sleep. When you're not getting enough sleep, it can really hurt your immune system. As someone who has trouble falling asleep, I found that this free Falling Asleep meditation podcast knocks me out in 15 minutes. The hosts, Jesse and Jane Stern, talk you through a visualization exercise that just works every time I use it. In fact, it's so good that I usually fall asleep halfway through.

The Final Word: Hopefully, you're feeling in tip-top shape, but when you're under-the-weather, try some simple cures to get back to normal. If you need even more tips, check out our Top 10 Detox Foods for other food-related treatments. I'd love to know if you have any tried-and-true home remedies, so please share in the comments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines So Cheap, They're Free!

The Topic: Scoring super sweet points with your honey for zero dollars with Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria

The Dish: Yep. The day is here. Frankly, if you're just now thinking about how to celebrate Valentine's Day, it might be a tad late. But! There's always hope for a holiday miracle, right? Here are three ideas for super-last minute ways to woo your sweetie—and the best part is, they're all totally free! (Plus, let's say maybe you don't have the romance going on right now. These ideas work well for friends' birthdays, surprises to brighten a sibling's day, or any other time someone in your life needs a little pick-me-up—just leave the mushy stuff out of what you send to friends and family, or awkward results can ensue.)

1. Say it and save trees. You've probably already seen the cheeky, snappy offerings at, but did you know that you can make your own? That's right! For the cost of the few moments it takes to choose a background color, image, and come up with some creative text, you can send your sweets a personalized, eco-friendly valentine, totally free of charge. You know what scores big points with everybody? Loving the environment!

2. Say it with pictures. Pinterest has pretty much taken over our lives here at the VNHQ, and we couldn't be happier about it. How does this apply to your love interest? Make the lucky so-and-so a board! Collect images of things that you know they'll adore. From unlikely animal friends to a collection of amazing vegan sandwiches, whatever your paramour prefers you can pull together a collection of awesome images that will brighten his/her day.

3. Say it with style. From our hometown, this written-in-the-sand proposal from last year is one of the most creative ways to pop the question we've ever seen. Sure, an actual artist was hired to do this, so this exact idea wasn't free, but recreating it on your own beach, with your own skills? That, friends, is as free as the air. And, as you probably tell your sweetie every day, "Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you." If you live in a sand-free city, try mapping out your love. Another San Franciscan (what can we say, we're a mushy bunch!) rode his bike 27 miles with his GPS tracking the trip. The result? A map in the shape of a heart all around the city!

If you do have a buck or two lying around, check out our Valentine's Day VegNewsletter, which is packed with great recipe ideas, events, and discounts to ensure a fabulous night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

5 Vegan Drugstore Beauty Buys

The Topic: Getting (and sitting) pretty with drugstore beauty and body essentials with Online Editor Anna Peraino

The Dish: I'm sure it's no surprise when the soaps, moisturizers, makeup, and cleansers that keep us looking good can wreak havoc on our wallets. With some of the world's most popular beauty buys topping off at $140 per ounce (Here's looking at you, La Mer), one might think that keeping our bods clean, healthy, and looking like 140-bucks-an-ounce will break the bank. Not so! Many inexpensive, vegan products are just waiting on the shelves of your local drugstore and often work just as well as the expensive stuff. Below are five of the VN editors' favorite drugstore buys that definitely don't cost an arm and a leg. (Disclaimer: I can't promise everything in them is all-natural or organic, but at least they're cheap and totally vegan, right?)

1. Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith's Rosebud Salve, $5.59* (0.8-oz. tin). Loved by fashion and beauty editors the world over, this lip balm is light, smooth, and works like a charm. And it's multipurpose to boot: The salve also treats rough cuticles, diaper rash, minor burns, and even blemishes. A tip from a Rosebud user: If you can find the tins of Strawberry Lip Balm, clear the shelves.

2. Alberto VO5 Hot Oil Weekly Intense Conditioning Treatment, $3.99 (two treatments). Whether it's constant blow-drying, winter weather, or bad genetics, sometimes your tresses need a little TLC. Enter: Alberto VO5. This stuff has been around for decades, and for good reason: It works. The oil gives the one-two punch of moisture and strength for your mop, all for two bucks a pop.

3. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $9.59 (12 fl. oz.). I read labels all the time that say "Dermatologist Recommended," and usually don't believe a word of it (truth in advertising!). My own personal dermatologist actually recommended this calming cleanser for my sensitive skin a few years ago, and I've never looked back. The fact that it's loads cheaper than any of that fancy stuff is just the icing on the cake.

4. Tom's of Maine Soap Daily Moisture Natural Beauty Bar Soap with Olive Oil and Vitamin E, $5.99 (two 4-oz. bars). All-natural and all-soothing, this sud-maker is sure to make your skin baby soft. And the more you use it, the better your skin gets. Plus, Tom's gives 10 percent of its profits to human and environmental causes. That's a lot for a bar of soap.

5. Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion, $10.49 (12 fl. oz.). Green tea, aloe, and chamomile combine to create one of the best lotions we've ever used. It's also hypo-allergenic and unscented, so those with sensitive skin can benefit from its über-moisturizing effects.

The Final Word: If you want to get more DIY with your beauty routine, this Lavender-Rosemary Scrub works wonders for a pittance. To simplify even further, try Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria's go-to scrub for soft and supple skin: mix two tablespoons of sugar with olive oil and scrub away! I also hear that dousing your hair in a can of flat beer is a great way to add shine and body post-shampoo. And everybody knows how cheap a can of PBR is.

* All prices from