Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: Cold-Brew Coffee from My Italian Mama

The Spooky Vegan's Cold-Brew Coffee

I've been brewing my own iced coffee for years and I like to bring my own 20 oz iced black coffee with me wherever I go in case I need an extra jolt of energy. I usually make my iced coffee from coffee I have brewed in my coffee maker the night before...I let it cool overnight, then pour some into my cup with ice cubes for the day and stick the leftovers in the fridge for use the next day.

I've noticed that my coffee has been a bit bitter lately (even after regular cleanings with vinegar of my coffee maker and trying a new coffee), so instead of chucking out my old coffee maker and buying a new one, I decided to try something that my mom has been doing a long time...cold-brewing coffee! I come from a long-line of Italians that love their strong espressos and dark, rich roasts, so I knew I could trust my mom for advice on cold-brewing coffee (without any fancy equipment). Plus, I had tasted her amazingly strong concoction on visits home, so I knew it was going to be good!

My mom recommends using 1 cup of coffee for every 2 cups of filtered water. The smallest batch you want to make will be 2 cups ground coffee to 4 cups water, which will yield approximately 4 cups. You can use any kind of ground coffee you like - my mom prefers the Kirkland brand coffee at Costco (the kind you can get in a big tub). I like using Starbucks' Caffe Verona or one of their other dark roasts. You can even use the cheapest coffee you can find and it will still be tasty!

Use a big glass pitcher or metal pot (please don't use plastic or a groddy plasticky flavor will ruin your brew, not to mention all the nasty chemicals that will seep into it!) and mix the ground coffee and filtered water (should be room-temperature, but it's okay if it is cold, too). Give the grounds and water a few good stirs, then cover and leave on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours.

Once the 24 hours is up, strain the coffee sludge out of your cold-brewed, concentrated coffee. To do this you'll need to use a fine sieve (I use this one). Put a coffee filter in the sieve and place over a small pot or bowl. Pour your cold-brew a little at a time (take it slow and steady!) through the filter/sieve. The coffee will be thick and sludgy, so take your time and change out the coffee filter if it gets clogged (I always have to do this a few times since the sludge has a tendency to clog the filter/sieve).

After you are done filtering, pour your cold-brew coffee into a carafe and chill! Or enjoy right then and there with some ice in a glass. This will make some really potent iced coffee (this is essentially coffee concentrate!), so if it is too strong, you can always dilute it with some water. It is common to dilute the coffee with a one-third coffee concentrate, two-thirds water). For a stronger cup of coffee, use a one-to-one ratio or don't dilute at all! You can also add some almond, coconut or your favorite non-dairy milk/creamer if you prefer.

The cold-brew method yields an extremely smooth, flavorful coffee that is perfect for making iced coffee. I don't think I'll ever go back to using my coffee machine after trying the cold-brew method! Remember to listen to your mothers, cuz Mom is always right!

Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Mom! Love you!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beauty Review: Root Beauty Skin Care

Root Beauty is an all-natural, organic skin care line based in Los Angeles that is committed to offering good-for-you products that don’t contain harsh chemicals or nasty toxins. Their simple products are based on essential and/or natural oils that have proven their healing power for centuries.

Not all their products are vegan, but their deodorants, hand cream and moisturizers all use vegan ingredients. Their lip balms, body butter and body scrub all contain beeswax or honey, so beware if you are vegan.

They were kind enough to send me some of their vegan products for review, including their women’s deodorant, Balancing moisturizer and hand cream.

A few weeks ago I tried North Coast Organic’s vegan deodorant with solid success (read my review), so I was interested to see how Root Beauty’s vegan deodorant held up. Root Beauty’s deodorant for ladies worked great for me! Instead of coming in a solid bar, this one comes in a little tub. You scoop out a little bit and smear it on your armpit. It melts directly on the skin and absorbs well. The deodorant smelled delicious and contains only four ingredients - organic arrowroot powder, baking soda, organic virgin coconut oil and organic rosemary oil. It did a fantastic job of controlling odor all day! Plus, at $15 a pop it is totally affordable and the tub will last you quite some time.

An interesting sidenote: I recently read that before trying a natural deodorant you should let your body’s pH levels reset themselves, so you should go without deodorant for a week. Please keep this in mind if you find yourself having issues with any natural deodorant you are using, especially if you experience itchiness or redness when you first use all-natural ingredients. This can also happen even if you do “detoxify” before using natural ingredients, so just be aware this is your body’s method of adjusting. Of course, if you do experience itchiness or redness that lasts more than a few days or gets worse, stop use of the product!

The next product I tried was the Balancing moisturizer, which is in oil form and comes packaged in a dropper style bottle. This product is specifically formulated for oily/combo skin (I picked it out to suit my skin tone, they also have Hydrate and Restore moisturizers) and contains natural ingredients to even out this type of skin. It contains organic grapeseed oil, organic bergamot oil, organic niaouli oil, organic lavender oil and vitamin E oil. These ingredients work together to create a powerful moisturizer that has anti-aging, antioxidant, antiseptic, disinfectant, and softening properties. While I didn't notice any reduction of find lines or wrinkles after using this moisturizer, I did notice that my skin felt healthier and more resilient after using it. You can wear this moisturizer under makeup, but I only used it before bed. It does take a bit more work to apply than “regular” moisturizer – your face must be completely wet, then you take a few drops of the moisturizer and pat it into your face, then finish by patting your face dry with a towel. Not too difficult, but more work than just slathering some lotion on your skin. I liked it, though, and really enjoyed this beauty ritual before bed, especially since it also smelled so yummy! The only downside is that it is a bit expensive at $39, but using a few drops every day makes this stuff last forever! That, combined with the moisturizer's benefits and pure ingredients, actually make the price point worth it.

The last product from Root Beauty I tried was their hand cream. WOW, does this stuff smell delicious! Like the other Root Beauty products, it is formulated with all natural and organic ingredients - organic shea butter, organic coco butter, organic jojoba oil, organic sweet almond oil. It went on like dream and kept my hands silky smooth! Honestly, I wanted to slather it all over me! My only complaint was the packaging, which probably isn't even a legit complaint since I had a sample size, plus the complaint isn't really aimed at Root Beauty anyway, but here it is: I hate it when lotion or moisturizer comes in tubs and I have to scoop it out…it always ends up under my fingernails, ick! Put it in a tube or a pump and I’m happy. Seriously, that is my only issue and it’s not really even an issue for this specific product!

If you care about what goes on your skin (and you should), I highly recommend checking out Root Beauty for all-natural and organic skin care. Their products are really simple and pure, and are highly effective at giving you that natural glow!

Check them out at!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Most Effective Way to Go Green on Earth Day (and Everyday)

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Since everyone’s focus today is on making the world a better place by going green, I wanted to bring to your attention the single easiest and most effective thing YOU can do to save our planet – adopt a mostly plant-based diet or go entirely vegan! It is easy, simple and not only helps the environment, but will also improve your health. Choosing a plant-based vegan diet (or at least reducing your reliance on animal products) is certainly the most “green” thing you can do not just on Earth Day but everyday!

Even if you simply decrease your consumption of animal products (say, minimizing your dairy, egg and meat intake) you can do a lot to help the Earth and yourself! Truth be told, raising animals for food is polluting our lands, our water and our air, not to mention our bodies. Factory farming is the leading culprit of gas emissions, which contribute in large part to global warming and climate change. The chemicals that factory farms emit are a public health hazard and get into both the air and water. Not to mention that the actual animals who are slaughtered are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics that people end up ingesting. And take a moment to think about all the living, sentient animals that are slaughtered just because people like the taste or tradition of eating meat/diary/eggs. These poor animals are needlessly exploited all their short lives and the abuse they suffer is shocking. I could go on at great length about this, but if you’d like to read more about any of these issues all that is needed is a simple Google search to discover the truth.

This can all be changed if people opened their eyes, accepted some responsibility in caring for the Earth, lived more compassionately and took action to save the planet and their health! All that is needed to start are simple dietary changes that will result in helping solve environmental, ethical and health issues.

If you think eating a plant-based diet is too drastic, difficult or just too different, you can always start small. Small is always better than nothing at all! A few ways to do this would be to participate in Meatless Mondays or cut out a few animal products from your diet at a time. Also, there are so many plant-based alternatives out there that easily replace milk, cheese and other animal products. Most grocery stores carry plenty of vegan products as well…once you start on your plant-based diet you’ll be surprised how many products are “accidentally vegan”. I promise you, it isn’t hard and you’ll be on the road to a plant-based way of life in no time! Even if that isn’t your aim, reducing intake of animal ingredients will help a lot – you’ll feel better and will also be helping the Earth.

If you decide to go on this journey, your eyes will definitely be opened to a better and healthier way of living, both for the Earth and for yourself!

Today also kicks off US Veg Week – pledge to go veg this week and you’ll receive free recipes!

You can also find tons of vegan recipes, advice, etc. with a simple online search. There are countless online vegan communities, blogs, forums as well as films, documentaries, books, etc. on the benefits of going vegan.

I can also answer any questions you might have about adopting a plant-based diet, so feel free to leave any questions/comments/concerns below! I would be happy to send you recommendations for sites, films, books, etc.

Happy Earth Day and I sincerely hope you consider adopting a plant-based diet for the planet’s health as well as your own!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Film Review: The Lords of Salem (2013)

Believe it or not, The Lords of Salem was a movie I was eagerly anticipating. I know that this film has either been under the radar or just plain dismissed by many people, but I was honestly looking forward to it ever since I saw the leaked footage of a teaser shown at a Rob Zombie concert. It’s not that I am a big Zombie fan; sure, I dig most of his music but his films are a different story and the only one I truly enjoyed was The Devil’s Rejects. The Lords of Salem felt different than his other film projects, though. The Lords somehow seemed special and I gleefully anticipating its release.

It finally saw a limited release in theaters this weekend, and luckily it was playing at a theater near me. I had heard mixed things about the film (pretty much either “I loved it!” or “I hated it!”) going into it, but I stayed away from reading any reviews and tried to go in with an open mind. I knew it was going to be different than his other films, heavy on visuals and light on story.

The story is about a Salem, Massachusetts DJ named Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) who receives a vinyl record from “The Lords”, which contains one ominous-sounding song. The song seems to be mysteriously linked to “the lords of Salem”, a coven of witches who worshiped Satan and were burned at the stake in the Salem Witch Trials. Heidi soon starts having strange visions of the witches…have the lords returned for revenge or is Heidi slipping into madness?

What lurks in apartment #5?

Well, I can say that I wasn't disappointed in the film and that The Lords of Salem may be my favorite Rob Zombie film to date! I know many people might not enjoy it as much as I did – it has a sparse narrative and instead relies heavily on nightmarish visuals with shocking iconography (plus some awesome sound design and music). Sure, there are some moments that are a bit too over the top (like the sequence at the end that felt a bit too much like a shock-rock music video trying its hardest to blaspheme everything), but for the most part it was a real dark pleasure.

Its visuals reminded me a lot of the older Satanic worshiper/witch films, like the disturbing The Devils from 1971, but its structure also reminded me of the Italian horror films from the ‘70s/’80s. I adore those movies, but they rely solely on an emotional gut reaction rather than be founded on rationale. Lords of Salem is a lot like that, featuring stunning visuals and eliciting an emotional response of dread rather that focus only on a linear storyline. It felt looser, freer and definitely more dangerous not knowing exactly what was real and what wasn't in the film! God, and some of the visuals will haunt me for days!

The feelings of unease and dread were helped immensely by the genius sound design and soundtrack. The music was done by none other than John 5 (best known for his guitar work in Marilyn Mason). The song Heidi hears by the Lords is a simple but discordant piece of music that managed to raise goosebumps on my arms every time I heard it in the film – and it is played again and again. It is so deliciously dark and ominous – I loved every note of it!

Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace and Judy Geeson

I also enjoyed the performances in the film. Sheri Moon Zombie, whose performances can sometimes grate on my nerves, played the strong but lost Heidi perfectly. I sympathized with her and really felt like I was there experiencing hell with her. The other actors really shined as well, especially Judy Geeson who played Heidi’s overly concerned landlord and her two sisters, played by Patricia Quinn (Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show!) and Dee Wallace (who needs no introduction if you’re a horror fan). Ken Foree and Jeffrey Daniel Phillips are also excellent as Heidi’s fellow DJ’s.

The performances were awesome, but another thing I appreciated were that all the effects in the movie were practical – no CGI or any other digital nonsense, just plain creepy creatures and nightmarish visages that truly looked like they had crawled from the pits of hell. And if I had witnessed some of those monsters in real life, you bet your bottom dollar I would go insane…and that’s if I was lucky! Some truly demented creatures were spawned from Rob Zombie’s nightmares and put into this movie, let me tell ya!

The Lords of Salem is not your typical horror movie. Most people won’t even like its hallucinogenic feel, but I for one adored this crazy concoction of witches, Satanism, creepy creatures, curses and one lone rocker trying to make sense of some astoundingly eerie visuals. It was recently announced that this may be Rob Zombie’s last horror film, and though this is sad considering the potential he showed in this movie, I also think that if this is Zombie’s last horror film at least he’ll go out with a bang!

Rob Zombie also wrote a Lords of Salem book, which I am very excited to read as it goes into much more detail than the movie!

The Lords of Salem DVD on Amazon (pre-order)

The Lords of Salem book on Amazon

The Lords of Salem soundtrack on Amazon

Friday, April 19, 2013

Power to the Veg Vegan Swap

All the goodies I received in my first vegan swap box!

Recently through the astounding community of amazing vegans on Instagram (my user name is thespookyvegan if you want to look me up) I was introduced to a veggie group on Facebook called Power to the Veg that organizes and hosts a monthly vegan swap. I love mailing people goodies (and of course receiving goodies in the mail!) so I couldn't wait to join this fun swap!

It works like this: You join the group and each month you can sign up to participate in the swap. If you sign up, you are matched with a fellow vegan and are responsible for buying them $20 worth of vegan goodies (anything from non-perishable food items to beauty supplies to handmade items) and shipping them by the 15th of the month. In return, you receive a vegan box curated by someone else in the group. How cool is that? It sounded like so much fun I decided to participate in April.

Once I received the name of the person I would be buying for, I reached out to them to find out their preferences and allergies. Then I went shopping! I visited Viva La Vegan all-vegan grocery store in Rancho Cucamonga (read about my visit HERE) to pick up a few hard-to-find items and the rest of the goodies I picked up at my local Mother’s Market. I had so much fun shopping for my match! I bought vegan lip balm, vegan soap, a patch with a vegan bunny on it and tons of snacks for her. I shipped off my package via USPS Priority Flat Rate for under $10 and she received it a few days later.

I received my package from my match a few days later…it was like Christmas! Though my match lives in Southern California like me, she managed to find items I hadn't tried before. As you can see above, I was a very lucky girl to get such a kick ass swap box my first time! I got lots of simmer sauces, kale chips, pomegranate chips, popcorn, candy, bars, drink mixes, protein shake mix, a cute card and even an adorable little owl clip!

This vegan swap was so much fun, even though I already receive a monthly box from Vegan Cuts. There is just something so special and unique in getting a unique vegan package that is specially made for you…it’s like getting a care package from a friend or family member! Plus you get to try vegan products from other places and new items you may not have tried yet.

Have you tried a vegan swap before or done one with friends?

Would you like to? If so, you can find Power to the Veg on Facebook! If you join by the 5th of the month you will be eligible to join in the swapping fun for that month!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beauty Review: Lush's Jasmine and Henna Fluff Eaze

I have been using Lush’s Jasmine and Henna Fluff Eaze since this past January, when I received it as a gift for my birthday. Here is the product description from the Lush website:

“If your hair is a little fluffy, frizzy, dry, or out-of-control, Jasmine and Henna Fluff Eaze is made for you. Our specialty hair treatment, it's packed with copious amounts of moisturizing and nutrient-filled oils including organic jojoba, almond, Brazil nut and extra virgin coconut oil. It works brilliantly on curly hair as well, as all of the oils help define the curls and add loads of shine. And if that doesn't stop passerby’s from stopping in their tracks, the jasmine fragrance will stick with you for days after using it, so you'll have irresistibly soft, shiny and sexy smelling locks.”

My hair is fluffy, frizzy, dry and out-of-control when left to its own devises, so I definitely was excited to try this treatment. I generally try to use it at least once a week on my hair before shampooing…usually on the weekends since I can leave it in longer. The consistency of the product is a bit runny, but I scoop out a bunch and slather it all on my hair, from roots to tips (it is a little messy, but I don’t mind). I have really thick hair, so this takes about 10 minutes to completely coat it all. Then, I put my hair up and leave it on for 30 minutes or, if I need extra deep conditioning, a few hours.  Then I hop in the shower and shampoo and condition my hair as normal.

Once out of the shower I notice my hair has a softer feel and smells of yummy jasmine (yup, the smell lasts even after shampooing and conditioning!).  My hair is easier to manage and style after using Lush’s product.  Even if I don’t style it I find that it is less frizzy and fluffy.

When I do straighten my hair, I notice that my hair is sleeker, smoother and shinier. Also, I notice the henna really brings out the red in my hair (I have red hair, but this treatment helps punch up the color). A word of warning…this product will naturally bring out the red in your hair because of the henna, so if you don’t want a red tint then steer clear! Also, if you use heated tools on your hair like a straightening iron, the henna will stink while you are applying heat to your hair. It does go back to smelling like jasmine after, though it doesn't last as long as if you hadn't applied heat to your hair!

I really liked this product and the only real downside is that I use it up so fast! One container lasts me about a month if I use the treatment just once a week (I use about ¼ of the product each time). I think maybe if the consistency of the treatment was a bit thicker and not so runny it would last longer, too. However, Lush actually recommends using ¼ of the container for short hair and the whole container for long hair in one sitting, so I guess that is how they designed it to last.

Overall, I really do love this product and will continue using it as a deep conditioner for my normally coarse and unruly locks or when I need an extra boost of red tint to my hair.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Product Review: North Coast Organics Deodorant and Lip Balm

Confession time: I tend to sweat a lot. My body gets hot really easy (which is often since I live in SoCal and it is pretty much always warm here), plus whenever I get nervous or anxious (again, often), I sweat. So finding a decent vegan deodorant that works well is super-important to me since I'm such a sweaty broad.

In the past, I've used Herban Cowboy’s and Nature de France’s Le Stick deodorants and have had moderate success with those. I've unfortunately found that those and most natural deodorants just don’t offer the same protection as my pre-vegan, chemical-laden deodorant, which isn't just filled with nasty, bad-for-you ingredients, but most likely also contains animal bi-products and is cruelly tested on animals. It goes without saying that I would rather use a slightly less effective vegan deodorant than a bad-for-you and a bad-for-the-animals deodorant.

Though Herban Cowboy and Nature de France’s deodorants were the best vegan “stick” products I’d found, I've always been on the search for other deodorants that work more effectively and eradicate all smelly odors.

Luckily, North Coast Organics was gracious enough to send me their deodorants to put to my sweat test! This independently-owned company also makes lip balms, which they also sent me. All of their products are vegan, handmade and organic. Their ingredients are pure, natural and do not contain any icky chemicals. You can even pronounce them all!

The first thing that struck me about the products was the edgy packaging…I am a sucker for skulls, so I was immediately drawn to the “Death by Lavender” deodorant, especially since it proclaimed it was an “elite assassin of odor”!  It has a strong lavender smell, which I love! After being in contact with my skin a few moments, the deodorant melted just a bit and went on smoothly. I really, really loved the lavender smell, which lasted all day! It did a great job at keeping me smelling fresh and feeling clean!

The next deodorant I tried was the Revolver deodorant, scented with cedar wood, cypress and clary sage. I suppose this is the more “manly-smelling” deodorant they make, but I love manly-smelling deodorant! In fact, I usually prefer it over flowery, feminine deodorants (this explains why I love using Herban Cowboy’s deodorant so much!). This deodorant’s scent was more subtle than Death by Lavender but just as pleasant! I felt this deodorant was a bit stronger than Death by Lavender and worked better to totally eradicate odor (though both contain basically the same ingredients, so maybe this was all in my mind!).

I really liked both deodorants, but while they worked well they didn’t completely get rid of all odor. Believe me, they did an admiral job, and I will definitely continue using them, but I still noticed a bit of stinkiness when working out hard or when I sweated a lot in hot environments (like that one March weekend where it was like 85 degrees…ick!). For every day wear, though, these worked really well.

As an added bonus, I also got some lip balms to review. The two kinds made by North Coast Organics are WMD and LSQ. WMD was my favorite, with essential oils of cinnamon, ginger and tea tree. It went on smoothly and really gave my lips some much-needed moisture! I keep it by my bed now and put it on every morning and night! The LSQ was a bit rougher and didn't go on as smooth, but I did enjoy the scent of peppermint, spearmint and tea tree from its essential oils!

North Coast Organics makes solid vegan, organic and natural products. I love the homemade aesthetic of the products, the clever packaging and the fact that they are all-natural and vegan, but I really love that they WORK! I found that though the deodorants may not eradicate 100% of odors on especially warm days or during tough workouts, they still do a pretty amazing job 90% of the time, which is more than I can say for most all-natural deodorants!

North Coast Organics products can be found in select stores or ordered from their website!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Film Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Ghouls, most of you know I retired from reviewing horror movies quite some time ago, but seeing Evil Dead Thursday night has inspired me to do a quick little review of the movie!

When I first heard about the Evil Dead remake, I pretty had the same reaction as I do for most “reimagings”…rolling my eyes and thinking “another one?” I didn't have much faith in the project AT ALL and wrote it off as another insipid remake. Months passed, and then the teasers and trailers came and with each one I felt my interest pique more and more, until I got to the point where I was actually excited for the movie.

I very rarely see movies on opening weekend cuz I am getting crotchety in my old age and if I go to a packed theater I usually grumble about those rude jerks who think it is ok to talk or play with their cell phones the whole movie. Plus it’s expensive!! However, I’ll make an exception for movies that I am really, really excited about…like this one. I even went to a 10 PM Thursday showing of the flick even though I had to get up for work at 5 AM on Friday (which means I barely got 4 hours sleep). I braved the obnoxiousness of the crowds last night and you know what? The crowd was so groovy and just as excited for the flick as I was so I didn't even care that we were packed into the theater like sardines! Plus we got there super early to ensure primo seating and proper snacks.

Even though I was stoked for the movie, I tried to keep my expectations in check. Remakes are notorious for letting fans down, but I was really hoping this one would live up to the buzz!

The film was an extremely bloody, clever remake that walked the fine line between serious scares and pure fun. I really love how director Fede Alvarez (who also co-wrote the film with Diablo Cody and Rodo Sayagues) broke up the somber tension with gleefully over-the-top gore and several laugh-out-loud moments. One minute it is cleverly winking at you and the next minute it is making you jump out of your seat!

Speaking of scares, the film has plenty! And these aren’t your typical jump scares either, but are much more insidious and creep up on you. Plus, if the scares don’t get you the ooey-gooey gore will! This film is drenched in blood and its practical FX are pretty damn impressive (no CGI was used that I could notice). Severed limbs, stabbings, gunshot wounds, rotting skin, people burned alive, self-mutilation, nail gun wounds, and so on – this flick has it all!

This isn't just a brainless gorefest, though, because I also liked how Alvarez, Cody and Sayagues revamped the story. I especially appreciated the backstory as to why the five friends are at the remote cabin in the first place, which was really quite clever and acts as the perfect cover for the demonic presence to take possession of a certain character without the other characters suspecting anything out-of-the-ordinary until it is too late. And of course there is a nice little surprise at the end that turns your assumptions about certain characters on their head! These layers that were added to the original story really lend themselves well to the film and elevate it beyond a simple remake to a film that stands on its own.

I have to give props to the whole cast for great performances, but specifically I loved Jan Levy as Mia and Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric. Pucci got the most laughs from me with his character’s straight-faced wisecracks. And Levy did an amazing job as the first to fall victim to the demonic forces. This film really shows off her range as an actress, which may seem weird coming from a horror film, but it’s true! From vulnerable to evil to badass, she was a firecracker!

All in all, Evil Dead was a fun film that I had an awesome time watching. It’s got scares, some tongue-in-cheek laughs, and rivers of blood. It doesn't step on the original’s toes and actually builds and expands on the original story in a clever way.

Go see it, now!! And stay through until after the credits for a groovy surprise!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Visit to the World's Largest All-Vegan Grocery Store, Viva La Vegan!

Viva La Vegan Grocery Store

This past weekend I made the pilgrimage to the world's largest all-vegan grocery store, Viva La Vegan, in Rancho Cucamonga, CA! It is only about an hour away from me, but I had never made the trip up there before. They carry all sorts of vegan groceries, plus beauty and health products, clothes, shoes and even have a deli on-site! It is like mecca for vegans - everything in the store is vegan!

I have the luxury of having several natural health food stores (Mother's Market, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe's) less than 10 minutes away from my home and these usually carry all the vegan necessities and treats I need. However, it was so nice to be in a store where I knew EVERYTHING was vegan and I didn't have to constantly check labels. Plus, they actually carried some vegan products I had been lusting for but had never found (hello, Cocomels Coconut Milk Caramels!).

Go Vegan! - Viva La Vegan Floor plus deli dining area

I wandered around the store for at least an hour, discovering new vegan products or gleefully finding products I'd seen no where else. Some highlights included finding their large selection of Hurraw! and Crazy Rumors lip balms, browsing their book section, snagging their last bag of Phoney Baloney's Coconut Bacon, checking out their huge Beyond Meat selection and discovering their expansive vegan candy section!

My haul from Viva La Vegan included (pic below): Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs, Vegan Bunny Patch, Alternative Baking Company Pumpkin Spice Cookie, Surf Sweets Fruity Bears and Sour Worms, Wayfare Pig Out Whole Grain Bacony Bits, Go Raw Pizza Flax Snax, Nacheez Dairy Free Nacho Sauce, Road's End Organics Alfredo Style Chreese Sauce, Butler Soy Curls, Cocomels in Java and Original Flavor, Phoney Baloney's Coconut Bacon, Go Raw Banana Bread Flax Bar, Deva Vegan Hair, Nails and Skin Vitamins, Hurraw! Lip Balm in Green Tea and Coconut flavors, Crazy Rumors HibisKiss Lip Color in Breeze, "None More Vegan" pin!

Their staff was friendly, even when I bugged them to check if they had any more Go Max Go Thumbs Up bars (they were all out) and Phoney Baloney's Coconut Bacon (I had to be content with just one bag). Everyone there was nice and even the shoppers themselves seemed so joyful to be in an entirely vegan store!

The only downside were that the prices tended to be a bit high for products I could normally find in other stores (their Veganaise was pretty pricey at around $8 when I could find it elsewhere for $5 or $6), but on average I found that most of their prices were comparable to other health food stores. Plus, for hard-to-find items the prices were worth it! And I don't mind paying a bit more to support an all-vegan business!

Viva La Vegan truck in the parking lot

Viva La Vegan is located at 9456 Roberds Street in Rancho Cucamonga, California. There is plenty of parking in the parking lot adjacent to the store or on the street. Plus, there are lots of beautiful neighborhoods to drive through on the way there!

If you are in the Southern California area, I highly recommend making the trip to Viva La Vegan! I am already planning on going back sometime soon!

Viva La Vegan Grocery - website
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