Go Vegan in 5 Simple Steps

I have blogged a lot about why to go vegan, but I have not written much about how. Considering we are beginning a new year (resolutions anyone?), now is the perfect time to take the leap and try out a vegan lifestyle.

You can pledge to try vegan for the month of January here. It’s called Veganuary! Thousands of people all over the world are have already pledged. Whether you are interested in the vegan lifestyle for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, this is a fun and simple way to give the vegan lifestyle a try. So here are five steps to help smooth your transition to vegan!

1. Crowd Out Animal Products. A mistake many people make when going vegan is cooking the same meals, minus the animal products. This method certainly will not help you to maintain the vegan lifestyle long term. In order to stay satisfied and enjoy the vegan lifestyle, you must replace the animal products you eat with vegan alternatives. I recommend filling your fridge with many varieties of vegan protein, such as Gardein vegan meats, varieties of tofu, and tempeh, as well as vegan dairy products such as plant-based milks, yogurts, and cheeses.

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All vegan and all delicious!

People  often ask me whether I miss eating animal products. It is easy for me to respond with no, because I now have plenty of delicious vegan foods I enjoy instead. So I recommend chasing away cravings by adding many new, exciting, and delicious vegan foods to your diet.

2. Research the Animal Industries. Before I was vegan, I was vegetarian for about a week. I had never done any research on the animal industries and had no clue how animals were treated. It was quite clear to me that meat came from animals who had been killed, but I was unaware of the cruelty in the dairy and egg industries. Because I thought that taking milk from a cow did not kill her, I still saw dairy products as food. But once I did my research and discovered the dark truth (Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated year after year, have their babies stolen from them so humans can drink the milk, and are slaughtered once their bodies are exhausted), giving up dairy was easy. So I encourage you to learn all you can about the animal industries through simple Google searches, watching undercover investigations such as from Mercy for Animals, and watching documentaries such as Vegucated, Cowspiracy, Food Inc, and Forks over Knives. Many are available on Netflix!

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3. Find a Vegan Role Model. Chances are, you do not know a vegan in real life. I never met any vegans until I started college! So find a vegan role model, whether it be a celebrity or animal rights activist. My role model, who was part of my inspiration to go vegan, is Alissa White-Gluz. She is the singer for the band Arch Enemy, as well as a longtime vegan and animal rights activist. Having a vegan you admire and look up to will help you to stay motivated!

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If you do know vegans personally, connect with them. To meet other vegans, join an animal rights or vegan group in your area. Alongside others who share the same lifestyle, you will feel much more confident in your decision to live vegan.

4. Veganize your Favorite Foods. What food is stopping you from going vegan? Is it ice cream? Cheese? Burgers? I felt much better about my lifestyle change once I had looked up recipes of all of my favorite foods or found vegan versions of them at the grocery store. It turns out, when you go vegan, you do not have to give up any of your favorite foods! Whatever your favorite non-vegan food is, chances are a delicious vegan version is out there or is simple to prepare. (You can even cook with the same recipes, just replacing the animal products with vegan alternatives.)

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Vegan grilled cheese and tomato soup. You name it, there is is a vegan version of it!

And be sure to give veganized foods a chance. Don’t expect them to taste exactly like your old favorites. They will taste a bit different, but embrace that difference. Different can be a good thing!

5. Learn from your mistakes. It is a given that you cannot be a perfect vegan. I have accidentally consumed animal products a few times since going vegan. In my first week vegan, I accidentally used a sauce that contained oyster extract. I once accidentally ate a granola bar that contained honey. I have accidentally purchased non-vegan makeup. The list goes on. But the key is to not let these slip-ups get to you. You are already doing all you can to help animals, and there is no way you can reverse your mistakes. Do not dwell on them, whether they be accidental or not. Simply move past them and continue working your hardest to help animals. All the good you are doing far outweighs these tiny mistakes.

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These are my five steps to going vegan! I hope you find these helpful. I strongly encourage you to try vegan this January. You have nothing to lose! I promise, with proper planning, the switch to the vegan lifestyle will be far easier than you think. I always wonder why I did not go vegan sooner!

If you have any further questions, ask away! I would love to help you in any way I can. Good Luck!

Best,

Leila

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Crushed Velvet: A New Year’s Eve Makeup Look

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2015 is almost here! In spirit of the new year, I created this makeup look inspired by iridescent crushed velvet and all things sparkly and new. I used the Urban Decay Ammo Palette and Too Faced Natural Eye Palette; however, the colors I used were quite basic, so any similar shadows you own will work. I hope you enjoy!

Steps

1. Begin by priming the lids so the colors stay vibrant all night long. I am using Urban Decay’s primer potion, as always.

2. To achieve a sharp cat-eye effect, apply a piece of tape to the outer corner of each eye.

3. Begin by lightly defining the crease with a cool matte taupe shadow. Then, apply a shimmery white shade to the inner corner and inner third of the lid.

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5. Using a flat shader brush, pack a shimmery champagne shadow onto the lid.

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6. Using a smudger brush, take a shimmery black and lightly apply this to the outer V of the eye and draw it precisely into the crease. Blend with a fluffy brush and repeat. Attempt to blend the shadow up and out to lift the eyes. When the desired intensity in the crease is reached, take a bit of the matte taupe shade on the fluffy brush and blend slightly above the crease to soften any harsh lines and give a faded effect.

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7. Reapply the champagne shade to the lid and the white to the inner corner. Then, taking a sparkly shadow on your index finger, dab the center of the lid and repeat until desired intensity is reached. (Beware of fallout! It would be wise to do your face makeup last for this look, but brushing over your face with a fluffy brush should remove most of the glitter.)

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8. Intensify and blend the crease once more. Then, take the black shade on a liner brush and apply to the lower lashline. Highlight the brow bone with a matte white. To finish the eyes, apply a thin line of liquid liner, winging it out at the end, and line the waterline. Curl the lashes and apply a few generous coats of mascara, or even false lashes for a glamorous look. Lastly, fill in the brows with a powder and then set them with a gel.

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9. For an ultra dramatic lip, apply a dark red lipstick (I am using Black Orchid from wet n wild). Now for a special twist: take a bit of the shimmery champagne eyeshadow on your finger and dot the center of your upper and lower lips. Blend with your finger so it looks natural and build up to reach the desired effect.

I usually hate shimmery lipsticks, but I love the delicate touch of iridescence this technique adds to your lips. It’s so eye-catching and pretty, perfect for a New Year’s Eve party!

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This is the finished look!

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I hope you found this tutorial helpful! If you try it out, I would love to know what you think.

There is no better way to start the year than with a new makeup look! If you are not already, make 2015 the year you go cruelty-free! I assure you, you will be looking more beautiful than ever, both inside and out! 😉 ❤

Best,

Leila

Vegan Winter Fashion Staples

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It is officially winter now! If you live in a climate that receives cold, snowy winters like I do, then warm winter clothes are a must. However, many winter clothing pieces such as coats, sweaters, and boots are made from cruelly obtained animal fibers and skins. Fortunately, cruelty-free vegan alternatives are just as warm and stylish! In this post, I will share my vegan winter fashion staples.

Jackets and Coats

There are plenty of warm coats that are made free of down, wool, and leather. Mine is from the company Columbia. I love how warm it is, despite how thin and lightweight it is. When the temperatures are subzero, I like to layer it with a faux fleece jacket for added warmth.

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Columbia Jacket. Sticker from peta2.

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Columbia Jacket and Aeropostale Fleece.

Warm Sweaters

Warm and snuggly sweaters are my go-to in the wintertime. Sadly, some sweaters are made from wool or angora. Fortunately, many stores carry vegan sweaters in a wide variety of styles and colors. Lately, I have been loving longer, oversized sweaters. They give a dressier vibe to an outfit and can also be worn with leggings.

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Sweater from PacSun

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Sweater from H&M

Cozy Socks

Wearing cozy, crew-length socks with boots is a great way to keep your feet warm in the winter. Thick socks look so cute paired with boots. I love the extra texture they add to an outfit. Target and American Eagle carry many varieties of cozy, wool-free socks.

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Leftmost two pairs of socks from American Eagle, rightmost two pairs from Target.

Waterproof Boots

Warm and waterproof boots are a must for staying warm in the winter snow. I adore these faux leather black combat boots I found on Amazon.com. Their thick rubber sole keeps my feet dry in rain and snow. I love the edgy flair they add to any outfit.

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Boots by brand Soda, from Amazon.com

Hats, Gloves, and Scarves

Hats, gloves, and scarves are a must for protecting your fingers, ears, and face from the cold during the winter. Sweaters and jeans can get repetitive, so a cute beanie or scarf adds an eye catching touch to a plain outfit. Don’t be afraid try out fun colors and prints to fight the drab, gray winter!

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Matching hat and gloves from Meijer, scarf from Kohl’s.

No matter how you choose to dress this winter, please dress vegan! Before purchasing a garment of clothing, always read the label. If it contains wool, angora, leather, silk, or down, save a life and leave it on the shelf.

I hope this post gave you some compassionate winter fashion inspiration. Please let me know what your winter fashion staples are! 🙂

Best,

Leila

Golden Holiday Makeup Look

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To me, the perfect holiday makeup look features warm, metallic tones and a classic red lip. I think this subtle gold eye with a hint of sparkle paired with delicate winged liner is the perfect look to wear to any holiday occasion, from a party to a family gathering. I will be using the Too Faced Natural Eye palette, but any other eyeshadows in similar colors will work. I hope you enjoy!

1. Begin by priming your eyes so the colors remain smooth and vibrant all night. I used Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, my all time favorite primer.

2. Apply a metallic base. I am using the Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow from Josie Maran in Playa del Pink. I applied this all over the lid, in the inner corner, and up to the crease.

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3. Apply a matte white shade over the metallic base. I am using Heaven from the Too Faced Natural Eye Palette. This will give a more subtle, pearly effect.

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4. Blend a cool, matte taupe shade into the crease to soften and define. I used the shade Velvet Revolver.

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5. This is the fun part! Wet your brush slightly using water or a makeup setting spray, if you have one. Lightly dip into a shimmery gold shadow. I used Honey Pot. Apply this to the lid with back and forth motions, keeping it out of the crease and inner corner. I love the dramatic effect applying eyeshadow wet brings to your eye makeup

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6. Return to the taupe blending shade and redefine the crease, softening any harsh lines so the gold blends seamlessly with the crease.

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7. For an extra pop of sparkle, take a glitter shadow and dot this into the inner corner of the eye, bringing it up slightly onto the inner portion of the lid. I am using the shade Nude Beach.

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8. Add a thin line of liquid eyeliner and a dainty wing to elongate the eyes and add a bit of flair. I am using the felt tipped liner from Sonia Kashuk. Curl the lashes and add mascara. I used the Volume Plumping mascara from Elf. Finish the eyes by setting your brows with a clear gel and fill them in if you wish. I used the brow gel from Anastasia.

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9. The finishing touch to the makeup look is the bright, bold red lip. I am using the Megaslicks Balmstain from Wet n Wild in Red-dy or Not. I love how long lasting and creamy this lipstick is.

Done! This is the completed look: (And yes, I got my septum pierced)

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I hope you enjoyed this Golden Holiday Makeup Look! If you try it out, I would love to know what you think. But no matter how you wear your makeup this holiday season, make sure it is cruelty free! Compassion is always in season. ❤ Happy Holidays!

Best,

Leila

Vegan Mint Hot Cocoa

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I have a confession to make…I have developed a *bit* of a hot cocoa obsession! It turns out that hot cocoa is the perfect drink for studying, rewarding yourself for studying, and for post exams…You get it, I drank a lot of hot cocoa during exam week! But Starbucks soy hot chocolate is not kind to the wallet, so I decided to make my own budget-friendly mint hot cocoa that is just as delicious! Here is how:

Ingredients

1. So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk

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2. Nondairy milk

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3. Enjoy Life dairy-free mini chocolate chips

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4. So Delicious Coco Whip

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Directions

From here, making the mint hot cocoa is super easy!

1. Pour mint chocolate milk into mug. The milk is quite thick so, if you wish, dilute with nondairy milk until you reach your desired thickness.

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2. Add a tablespoon of chocolate chips.

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3. Heat in the microwave for 3 minutes.

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4. Stir well and add coco whip if desired.

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5. Done! Ready to enjoy! ❤

Holidays are a time for indulging your sweet tooth, but be sure to keep your chocolate away from your pets! Even small amounts of chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. There are many delicious treats at the pet store that are safe for your companions’ enjoyment.

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Dahlia wishes she could have a taste of this drool-worthy hot chocolate! 😛 She will have to stick to doggie-treats instead!

This is how I make super delicious mint hot cocoa! If you try this recipe, I would love to know what you think!

Happy holidays!

Best,

Leila

Vegan & Cruelty-Free Holiday Shopping Guide

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The final week before Christmas is a busy time for shopping. I know I will be scrambling to pick out gifts for my friends and family this weekend! As if the stress of finding the perfect present was not enough, the cruelly obtained fur, wool, leather, and cosmetic products can turn the mall into a minefield! So in this guide, I will provide some pointers for shopping cruelty free, my favorite stores, and a few gift suggestions. Good luck with your holiday shopping!

Why Shop Cruelty-Free?

That angora sweater is so cute! I need those leather boots! But Revlon’s lipsticks are so nice! Why should I care that they aren’t cruelty-free and vegan?

At the end of the day, these things are just things. No, your life does not depend on you getting those boots into your closet. There are other lipsticks out there. The good news is, your favorite stores carry plenty of other cruelty-free, stylish alternatives that work just as well! A sweater, pair of shoes, or an item of makeup is not worth someone’s entire life. If the tables were turned and you were in the animals’ place, you would hope for compassion, too.

what they must endureHow do I know if something is cruelty-free and vegan?

First, read the label. It is an item of clothing, the label should be around the collar, waistband or sewn into the side of the garment. Check either side of the sole of the shoe or underneath the tongue to find what materials were used. If the garment contains leather, wool, angora, fur, silk, or down, leave it on the shelf.

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For makeup and personal products, first read the ingredient label to check if it is vegan. Avoid beeswax, milk proteins, albumin, or casein. For a complete list of animal products to look out for, look here. To check if the product was tested on animals, pull out you phone and conduct a quick google search. Just type “Does brand-name test on animals?” It only takes a minute, but saves lives! Items marked with a leaping bunny or the bunny with heart ears are cruelty free but not necessarily vegan.

Which stores carry the best variety of vegan and cruelty-free gifts?

This depends upon your geographical location, price range, and person you are shopping for, but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Bath and Body Works.

All Bath and Body Works brand items are cruelty-free. They do not test their products on animals; however, their sister company Victoria Secret does. They carry plenty of wonderful body lotions, perfumes, spa products, and candles. Most are vegan, but not all, so be sure to read the ingredients. They even carry men’s products, too! The price range is quite affordable. You could definitely find a nice gift for under $20. I would highly recommend this store for your holiday shopping!

2. American Eagle Outfitters

This store has a great selection of vegan sweaters for women and men. Their jeans are amazing as well. The price tag is a bit steeper here (most items are $30-$50); however, I think the quality and durability make the expense worthwhile.  They carry perfumes and colognes as well. However, their animal testing policy is very vague, only saying they are “against animal testing.” This could mean that they comply with animal testing policies when it is required by law, so I do not recommend purchasing their personal products.

3. H&M

H&M carries a huge variety of vegan, cost-effective clothing items. They recently stopped manufacturing products containing angora, which is a huge win for animals. They still carry wool and leather though, so beware. They carry a wide variety of styles for men, women, and children, so you are sure to find something nice if you look hard enough!

4. Ulta

Ulta is my favorite place to buy makeup because they carry both high end and drugstore brands. So I can get fancy with Urban Decay, or I can go budget-friendly with NYX.  In addition to makeup products, they carry spa and hair items, as well as many nice holiday gift sets. They also have excellent deals in their online store that are unavailable in store, so you can pick out your holiday gifts from your couch. 😉 They do carry brands that test on animals, so be aware of this while you are shopping.

5. Lush

This store is completely cruelty-free, but does carry products that contain animal ingredients. They carry a wide variety of body, hair, cosmetic, and fragrance, gift sets, and bath products.  Conveniently, all of the products that are vegan are marked with a “V” symbol on their website. Their products are not terribly pricey and high quality, too.

Help!! I have no idea what to get!

Shopping cruelty-free and vegan is not restrictive at all. There are many awesome vegan and cruelty-free gifts in every store. Here are a few gift suggestions!

1. Holiday Treat Stocking

Single gifts can be hit or miss sometimes, especially if you are shopping for someone picky. By assembling a stocking full of smaller gifts, such as candy, cosmetics, and technology items, there is bound to be something they like. This gift is also very easy to personalize depending on the person.

2. Quality time

Material things cannot compare to spending time with friends and family. So instead of buying a physical present, you could purchase  tickets to see their favorite band in concert, a small outing, or a night out to dinner and a movie. Spending time together during the holiday season can be the best gift anyone could ever receive from you!

3. Giving to a Cruelty-Free Charity

Despite our efforts, not everyone will be shopping cruelty-free this holiday season. Many animals are losing their precious lives for the presents people scramble to buy and soon forget about. Equally unfortunate, many people living in our own communities cannot afford to buy presents or food at all. To bring more happiness to the world, you can donate to a cruelty-free charity in a loved-one’s honor. Just make sure the charity does not test on animals, donate livestock, or discriminate against people based upon race, sexual orientation, or any other identities.

A great idea would be sponsoring an animal at a local farm sanctuary! Farm sanctuaries are nonprofit and rely upon donors to support and rescue animals from horrifying cruelty. A small donation can help to give an animal the life of peace and safety it deserves. For an extra special treat, you could go on a trip to visit the animals at the farm sanctuary together!

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This is Jefferson from the SASHA Farm Sanctuary in Michigan! You can sponsor Jefferson and his friends here.

A present that cost someone’s life is no present at all. Please make this holiday season joyful for everyone by only purchasing cruelty free and vegan products.

Best,

Leila

My Eighteenth Birthday!

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I (finally) turned eighteen on Tuesday the 16th! I had an amazing day, so I thought I would share it with you!

I began the day bright and early, taking a 7:30 AM train back home from college. Conveniently, the day before had been my last day of finals. After a super fun 5 hour train ride (sarcasm), I finally made it home!

For lunch, I made the boxed vegan Mac and Cheese from Earth Balance in the cheddar flavor, which is really amazing stuff!  I also added some steamed broccoli florets. I know I’m supposed to be an adult now, but boxed mac and cheese will always have a special place in my heart.

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And of course, I had to spend the afternoon with my favorite pet tortoise, Macantosh!

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Then, I took a trip to Trader Joe’s. One of the items I picked up was this pack of soy ice cream sandwiches! Can’t wait to try them!

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For dinner, we went out to one of my favorite restaurants, Flat Top Grill. This is a super nice restaurant for anyone with dietary restrictions. You simply make your own stir fry by picking out the ingredients yourself and filling your bowl. There are plenty of fresh veggies, vegan protein such as seitan, tofu, and mushroom protein, and and many vegan sauces. If you wish to avoid contamination, you place a white stick into your order so they cook it in a separate wok. Here is my dinner:

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There was a Barnes and Noble right down the street, so we stopped in and looked around. I picked up the January issue of Alternative Press because it contains the annual holiday poster special with twenty pictures of some of the best in alternative music artists for 2014.

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I also found this adorable peta2 ad in the issue of Alternative Press! Love it; such an important message! It is amazing to see that animal rights activism is being spread far and wide.

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After we got home, it was time for cake! My family made me these chocolate vegan cupcakes using an accidentally vegan chocolate cake mix, soy milk, and Ener-G egg replacer. They also topped them with vegan vanilla frosting! The cupcakes are placed in the shape of a turtle. The rightmost cupcake has 2 chocolate chips for eyes!

IMG_20141216_222059108They were so kind to make these amazingly delicious cupcakes for me! I love that they went out of their way to make this extra special gesture for me on my birthday! My family is the best. ❤

My sister gave me this amazing candle from Bath and Body Works as a gift. It is mint mocha bark scented! It is so cute! I love the little mason jar it comes in. The scent is amazing. It smells like minty hot chocolate! I am obsessed! ❤

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That was my eighteenth birthday! It was a super exciting birthday for me, as I had been looking forward to turning eighteen for a long time. It feels both amazing and scary that I am officially an adult now! All of  the birthday wishes from my friends and family really made me feel the warmth and fuzzies!

It was also my first birthday being vegan. As you can see, I was still able to enjoy the same tasty treats as I enjoyed as a non-vegan. From mac and cheese, to ice cream, to cupcakes, to stir fry, anything can be made vegan! I have said it before and I will say it again: When you go vegan, the only thing you have to give up is cruelty!

Best,

Leila