Browsing Tag


0 In DIY/ Food/Supplements/ Recipes/ Wellness

Vegan Meal Replacer Smoothie Recipe ft. Orgain


One of my favorite fast and nutritious breakfast options is this vegan meal replacer smoothie. Most mornings, I’m rushing out the door so I need something that is easy to make and fast to clean-up. This recipe takes less than 5 minutes! Wanna know the best part? It has a total of 30g of plant-sourced protein! Scroll down the post for the recipe…¬†ūüćďūüćĆūü•õ

Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored and contains no affiliate links. The recipe is my own! 


Vegan Meal Replacer Smoothie



  1. Add all ingredients to NutriBullet
  2. Blend until smooth

Nutrition Value Highlights (estimate):

  • 30g protein
  • 16g fiber
  • 43% daily calcium
  • 35% daily iron
  • 515 calories (remember, this is a meal replacer so this is a proper¬†calorie count for breakfast)

A common misconception about a plant-based diet is that it’s hard to get enough protein, iron, and calcium. In reality, many meat-eaters do not meet these daily nutrient goals either! If anything, converting to vegetarianism forced me to be more mindful of what I consume which has lead me to be healthier than ever. As you can see above, this one shake helps me meet my daily nutritional goals while tasting great.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think. If you have any recommendations for things I should add, let me know because I love to change it up every now and then. Have a great weekend!

xoxo Caitlyn |

0 In Food/Supplements/ GIVEAWAYS/ Wellness

Simply Gum Review & Giveaway: Natural Gum & Mints!

Simply Gum Review & Giveaway |

Simply Gum Giveaway |

Disclaimer: All thoughts & opinions are my own. I did receive some of these products from Simply Gum in return for my honest review. However, I have been using and loving these products long before speaking to the Simply Gum team! 



How to Enter the Giveaway:

  • Complete¬†at least¬†one entry option in¬†the Gleam plugin provided on this page by first entering your name/birthday/email. Remember, the more entry options you complete, the better your odds of winning but additional entries are not required. Certain entry options are weighted more heavily than others.

Simply Gum Giveaway

Rules & Disclaimer: 

  • Open to the U.S. and Canada to anyone 18 or older with a valid mailing address.
  • You may enter the giveaway anytime between November 10th and November 21st 11:59 pm EST.
  • (3)¬†winners will be randomly generated using the Gleam Plugin and announced November 22nd at approximately 12:00 pm EST on this blog post, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • All entries requiring following/liking will be checked and verified before the winner is drawn ‚Äď any missing¬†likes/comments will not be credited as an entry.
  • I run giveaways for my readers who are genuinely interested in the products I am offering. Entries completed with social media accounts used solely¬†for giveaways will not be counted. Although the giveaway winners are randomly generated, if you are chosen as one of the winners and I see you did not follow this rule, I will manually invalidate your entry and¬†have a new winner randomly generated.
  • Once the¬†winners are selected, I will personally contact him/her with the email address he/she used to enter the giveaway¬†in order to obtain his/her shipping address. If no response is made within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
  • I have not been paid to feature any of this brand.
  • No purchase necessary.

Simply Gum

Have you ever considered what your favorite mints or chewing gums are made of? I know I never did until I came across Simply Gum at my local Whole Foods. While waiting to check-out, I remember picking up a pack of their gum and being fascinated by the clean/simple ingredients. I bought a pack and quickly fell in love! It made me question what was in my favorite Trident and Orbit gums.

Conventional Gum vs. Simply Gum

Conventional Gum vs Simply Gum |

After doing some research, I couldn’t believe how “dirty” the formulas are of conventional gum products. Aside from artificial¬†flavors, colors, and preservatives, the most concerning listed ingredient is “gum base”.

What exactly is gum base? Good question. The FDA allows 46 different chemicals to fall under the umbrella of “gum base” but¬†does not require manufacturers to disclose which ones they used in their gum. Investigators have found most conventional gums are made of a¬†mixture of synthetic elastomers, resins, plasticizers, and fillers. In other words, you may be unknowingly chewing on a mixture of plastic, glue, or gelatin (anyone else grossed out?!¬†ūü§Ę).

What makes Simply Gum different? They use only 7 completely natural and easy to pronounce ingredients in their chicle base gum! That means it is free from plastic, aspartame, or anything synthetic. The chicle base is made from the sap of the sapodilla tree making it 100% biodegradable and therefore, better for the planet!¬†ūüĆ鬆To top it all off, Simply Gum only uses natural flavors to give their gums their yummy taste.

Product Review: Simply Gum | Chewing Gum

Simply Gum Review |

Pictured are 4 of the 6 chewing gum flavors offered by Simply Gum (not pictured: Coffee & Maple). All of the flavors are made of the same base with their only difference being which natural flavor is added. The mint and cinnamon are my personal favorite but they are all great! These gums have become a permanent addition to my purse!

Shop: Mint | Cinnamon | Fennel Licorice | Ginger | Coffee | Maple

Simply Gum Review |

Each package comes with approximately 15 pieces of gum. As you can see, the gum is naturally brown since it is made from chicle base instead of synthetic man-made materials.

Simply Gum Biodegradable Wrappers |

One of the extra special details put into this product is the post chew wraps! In my personal experience, the gum tends to stick to your fingers after you chew it so I love these included biodegradable wrappers. It’s the little things that make all the difference.

Now let’s talk about what’s in your favorite mints…

Simply Gum Mints vs Conventional Mints |

Vegetarians and Vegan Beware of Conventional Mints —¬†Until recently, I never paid attention to the ingredients in my favorite mints. However, when Simply Gum launched their new all natural mints, again I was prompted to pay more attention. To my horror, I discovered Altoids and many other mints contain gelatin: a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones (typically from cows or pigs) with water (Source: PETA). Be right back as I go vomit.. but seriously, how gross!? As someone who follows a plant-based diet, I never would have thought to be suspicious of my mints containing animal products.

Simply Gum’s Mints are 100% Vegan! —¬†Made with only cane sugar, calcium stearate (vegetable based binding agent), and all natural flavor, these are most definitely the cleanest and simplest mints on the market! Even with such a simple formula, these mints are strong and will leave you will fresh breath. It goes to show you, all of those added ingredients found in conventional mints are simply not needed.

Product Review: Simply Gum | Mints

Simply Gum Mints Review |

The original mint flavor is definitely my favorite, but I love all 3 flavors! The tin is perfect for sharing and how gorgeous is their branding?! If you haven’t gotten your hands on these yet, you have to ASAP! I’m personally more of a mints girl than a gum girl so these are my absolute favorite and are always in my purse.

Shop: Mint | Cinnamon | Ginger

Simply Gum Mints Review |

Each tin comes with 45 pieces so these mints will last you a long time! I’m always sharing them with my friends and they have never noticed they were any different than conventional mints – that’s proof they are just as effective!

Simply Gum Review & Giveaway |

The Simply Gum Mints are the perfect addition to my vegan leather Angela Roi bag!¬†ūüĎú¬†I always have them and my gum on hand.

Where to Buy Simply Gum Products:

Store Locator | | Amazon

This giveaway ends November 21st at 11:59 pm! Good Luck!

As always, if you have any questions you can email me through my contact page. Did this post convince you to switch to all natural chewing gum & mints? Let me know in the comments section below!

xoxo Caitlyn |

0 In Food/Supplements/ FYI/ Resources

Allergy-Friendly & Vegan Halloween Goodies: 2017

Allergy-Friendly & Vegan Halloween Candy |

Halloween is right around the corner so I thought it would be fun to share with you what I’m handing out to the kiddos this year. ūüć¨ūüćęūüć≠¬†Working as a nurse, I meet so many children with life-threatening food allergies. It seems like nut, gluten, and dairy allergies are only becoming more common. With those kids in mind, I decided to seek out various Halloween treats that were allergy-friendly. I also made sure to pick products that were 100% vegan as part of my personal preference. I’m a firm believer that all of our favorite treats can be made without the use of animal products (i.e. gelatin, dairy, eggs, etc.).

What do I mean by allergy-friendly?¬†I’m referring to products free of the top 8 most common allergens:

Allergy-friendly Halloween Treats |

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many yummy vegan and allergy-safe options this year. I bought most of the products at my local Target too! My friends over at free 2b were kind enough to send me a bag of Halloween treats after I reached out to them!

ūüéɬ†For those of you who have not bought Halloween candy yet, I hope this post inspires you to pick some allergy-safe options. There is still time to order online or head to your local Target to purchase some of the products featured in this post. Have a¬†happy and safe Halloween!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and I am not being paid to feature any of these brands. This post does not contain affiliate links. As always, all thoughts/opinions are my own! 

Allergy-friendly & Vegan Halloween Goodies: 2017

Allergy-Friendly & Vegan Halloween Candy |

Allergy-Friendly & Vegan Halloween Candy |

Sun Cups for Halloween |

free 2b Sun Cups

Finally, a replacement for the beloved peanut butter cup that is safe for those with nut allergies. Allow me to introduce you to Sun Cups, a top-12 allergen-free candy filled with roasted sunflower butter and coated in vegan chocolate! I can’t even begin to put into words how yummy these are. Plus, free 2b offers a wide variety of other allergen-free candies – check them out here!

Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Mass*, Sugar, Cocoa Butter*), Sunflower Seeds, Organic Powdered Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice, Tapioca Starch), Organic Palm Fruit Oil**, Sea Salt.

Certifications: Vegan | Top-12 Allergen Free | Rainforest Alliance Certified |Project Non-GMO Verified | Fair-trade Certified Ingredients | Kosher

free 2b Sun Cups |

Buy Online: Thrive Market or free2b Online Store

Yum Earth Organic Gummies for Halloween |

Yum Earth Organic Gummy Candy

What kid (or even adult) doesn’t love gummy snacks?! I specifically love these gummies because they are made without gross gelatin (an ingredient derived from various animal body parts¬†ūü§Ę). Therefore, these are one of the few gummy products available that are 100% vegan!

Ingredients: Organic Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Organic Color from Concentrate (Apple, Carrot, Pumpkin, Blackcurrant), Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Carnauba Wax.

Certifications: Vegan |Top-8 Allergen Free | USDA Organic |Project Non-GMO Verified | Gluten-free | Nut-free | Dairy-free

YumEarth Organic Gummies |

Buy Online: Target

Yum Earth Organic Lollipops for Halloween |

Yum Earth Organic Lollipops

These organic lollipops taste so yummy without all the artificial flavors and colors found in conventional lollipops. Every flavor tastes great so I know all of the kids will love them!

Ingredients: Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid, Colored with Concentrate (Carrot, Blackcurrant), Colored with Organic Concentrate (Carrot, Apple, Blackcurrant), Turmeric (Color) Organic Annatto (Color).

Certifications: Vegan | Top-8 Allergen Free | USDA Organic | Project Non-GMO Verified | Gluten-free | Nut-free | Dairy-free

YumEarth Organic Pops |

Buy Online: Target

Black Forest Organic Sour Heads for Halloween |

Black Forest Organic Sour Heads

How awesome is it that there is an organic alternative to Sour Patch Kids?! Formulated with 100% natural ingredients and free of artificial colors/flavors, these are definitely a better option for the sour candy lovers out there.

Ingredients: Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Potato Starch, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Cornstarch, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Colors (Black Carrot Juice, Carrot Juice, Turmeric).

Certifications: USDA Organic | Project Non-GMO Verified | Gluten-free | Dairy-free

Black Forest Sour Heads |

Buy Online: Target

BOOMCHICKAPOP for Halloween |

Angie’s Boomchickapop (Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn)

This popcorn is seriously addicting! I have to admit, I may have eaten a bag or two before putting them aside for the trick-or-treaters. I love this Kettle Corn because it is lightly sweetened so it is not overwhelming or as unhealthy as other options out there. With such a clean formula and great taste, these single serving bags are perfect for handing out on Halloween!

Ingredients: Popcorn, Sunflower Oil, Cane Sugar, Sea Salt

Certifications: Vegan | Top-8 Allergen Free | Project Non-GMO Verified | Kosher | Gluten-free

Boomchickapop Kettle Corn |

Buy Online: Target

Happy Halloween! |

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to comment below or contact me through my contact page.

Check out my other Halloween Posts too: Peanut Butter Cup Spider Cookies | Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups Review

Happy Halloween! Be safe and have fun!

xoxo Caitlyn |

0 In Food/Supplements/ Wellness

Vegan Halloween Spider Cookies – Justin’s PB Cups

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

How adorable are these peanut butter cup spider cookies!?¬†ūüē∑ūü•ú¬†After browsing Pinterest and seeing so many cute Halloween dessert ideas, I became inspired to recreate one using only all-natural & vegan-friendly ingredients. Although I would not call these “healthy”, they do contain clean ingredients you can actually understand/pronounce! I believe if you’re going to treat yourself to sweets, you should still be conscientious of what’s in them.

Instead of using regular mini Reeses, I swapped them for mini organic Justin’s peanut butter cups! The Justin’s team was kind enough to send me over a few peanut butter cups when I told them I was writing this post so thank you Justin’s!

Below is my favorite vegan peanut butter cookie recipe. It is extremely simple and takes only 20 minutes to make! Right after the recipe I’ve included instructions on how to make the spider cookies! Enjoy!¬†ūüē∑

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookie |

Recipe: All-Natural / Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies¬†ūü•ú


  • Dry:
    • 1¬†cup¬†brown sugar
    • 2/3¬†cup¬†oat flour
    • 1¬†tsp¬†baking soda
    • 1/8¬†teaspoon¬†fine salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter and brown sugar until creamy. Once creamy, mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients together (oat flour, baking soda, and salt).
  5. While beating the peanut butter mixture, gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture until dough forms. Add the almond milk until combined but be sure to not over mix!
  6. Roll 2 tbsp of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined pan. Slightly flatten the balls with your palm.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookie edges start to turn golden (be careful not to burn them!).
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

How to Make Spider Cookies¬†ūüē∑


  • Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (available online or at Target)
  • Vegan Chocolate Frosting (I used Wholesome Organic Chocolate Frosting)
  • Candy Eyes (available at Walmart, Target, Michael’s, AC Moore, and some grocery stores)
  • Piping bag (can also use a regular ziplock bag with corner snipped)
  • Optional: spider-web doilies¬†ūüēł¬†(available online at¬†Walmart, I saw them in both Target & AC Moore)
  • Optional: orange napkins


  1. Using a small amount of frosting, stick¬†a Justin’s peanut butter cup face down in the center of a cookie.
  2. Add frosting to a piping bag and pipe 8 spider legs on top of the cookie. If you do not have a piping bag, add frosting to a ziplock bag and snip off a tiny piece of one of the bag’s corners to use to pipe the legs.
  3. Attach the eyes using a small dot of frosting.
  4. Place in the fridge to cool.
  5. Optional: Lay a spider web doily over an orange napkin to display your cookies on!

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookie |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Vegan Peanut Butter Spider Cookies |

Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups |

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

If you read last’s years¬†Halloween post, you know I am a die-hard Justin’s peanut butter cup fan (I eat way more of these than I care to admit). If you are a chocolate-loving fan of Justin’s nut butters, I guarantee you will LOVE these!¬†ūüćę

Why I Love Them:

  • The chocolate is super rich and the perfect compliment to Justin‚Äôs smooth peanut butter.
  • They are 100% natural and USDA certified organic (no hidden scary ingredients).
  • They are Rainforest Alliance Certified (learn more about this impressive certification)
  • The palm oil found in Justin‚Äôs is certified sustainable meaning it does not lead to¬†deforestation and habitat loss!
  • The dark chocolate cups are vegan! (please note: they are manufactured on the same equipment as the milk chocolate cups but the equipment is thoroughly cleaned in between batches to prevent cross-contamination)

Justin's Peanut Butter Cups |

Justin's Organic Peanut Butter Cups|

Justin's Organic Peanut Butter Cups|

Swap out your peanut butter cups! |

I hope you try this recipe and love it as much as I do! Have a Happy Halloween!

xoxo Caitlyn |


0 In Home

My Cruelty-free Fall Wish List: 2017 Edition

fall cruelty-free fashion & beauty wish list |

I have had my eye on so many fun fall-inspired products lately so I thought I would summarize them into a post! As always, everything is 100% cruelty-free and/or natural where applicable. Maybe my fall wish list will inspire you to treat yourself and get more into the fall spirit!

Disclaimer: This post does include affiliate links from which I earn a small commission. Any earnings go straight back into my blog and help fund this site and its giveaways. Thank you for your support! 

My Fall Wish List

Autumn Pillow |

1. Autumn Truck Throw Pillow | PCB Home

  • Shop This Pillow: Autumn Truck

  • How cute is this pillow from Etsy?!¬† Throw pillows are an easy way to decorate your house each season and I’ve had my eye on this one. I like that it is simple enough to not clash with the other decor in my house and it will match pretty much anything. Side Note:¬†I would totally buy every product from PCB Home if I could afford it because they are all so adorable!

Vegan Leather Jacket from Lulu's |

2. Bae Brown Vegan Leather Moto Jacket | Lulu’s

  • Shop This Jacket: Brown (pictured) | Similar: Black, Green, Tan

  • In the years since becoming a vegetarian, I have swapped out all my leather products for vegan alternatives (read my post about vegan leather to learn why). I had a similar Michael Kors leather jacket that I was in love with so when I saw this vegan jacket on Lulu’s I fell in love. A cute vegan leather jacket with my favorite pair of distressed jeans is one of my go-to fall outfits.

Vegan Leather Bag |

3. Madeline Mini Bucket | Angela Roi

  • Shop This Bag: Bordeaux (pictured) | Other Colors: Black, Cloud

  • Ever since Angela Roi launched their latest collection, I have had my eye on this bucket bag. I love the deep red color (called bordeaux) mixed with the gold hardware. It’s the perfect color to carry you from fall into the holiday season. Best of all, this bag is made of one of the highest quality vegan leathers I’ve ever come across.

Vegan Crossbody |

4. Zuri Multifunction Pouch | Angela Roi

  • Shop This Bag: Cloud (pictured) | Other Colors: Black, Bordeaux, Russet

  • I love a good compact crossbody bag and this one from Angela Roi is beautiful. The off-white vegan leather would work year-round making it a great addition to your purse collection!

Pumpkin Enzyme Peel from Erin's Faces |

5. Pumpkin Enzyme Peel | Erin’s Faces

  • Shop This Product: Pumpkin Peel

  • What gets you more in the mood for fall than pumpkin?! From carving pumpkins to eating pumpkin pie, we have found so many ways to utilize this amazing fruit (yes, pumpkin is a fruit – don’t worry, I didn’t know either).¬† Loaded with Enzymes, Antioxidants, Zinc, Iron and Vitamins C and K, pumpkin is amazing for your skin. This product from Erin’s Faces has rave reviews so it is at the top of my must-try list.¬†ūüéÉ

Vegan Over The Knee Boots |

6. Issac Black Vegan Suede Over the Knee Boots | Steve Madden

  • Shop These Boots: Black Over the Knee

  • Over the knee boots are such a fall staple so it’s no surprise I had to include a pair on my fall wish list. I was surprised to see these boots are made from 100% man-made materials making them vegan-friendly!

Vegan Suede Booties |

7. Marissa Light Cement Taupe Vegan Suede Ankle Booties | Lulu’s

  • Shop These Booties: Taupe

  • Another fall shoe staple are cute booties! They automatically make any outfit 10x cuter and come in so many adorable styles. I love the color of these vegan suede booties mixed with their natural wood heel.

Vegan Black Suede Booties |

8. Amaia Black Suede Lace-Up Ankle Booties | Lulu’s

  • Shop These Booties: Black

  • I know these are the 3rd pair of shoes on this list but when I saw the lace-up back I had to include them!¬†ūüė欆As with the other shoes on this list, these are 100% vegan!

Lily Lolo Eyeshadow |

9. Laid Care Eye Palette | Lily Lolo

  • Shop This Product: Eyeshadow Palette

  • This eye palette from Lily Lolo has great reviews and just happens to contain so many perfect fall shades. I’m not a big eyeshadow girl but I like to use a little on special occasions so I know this palette would be a great addition to my makeup collection.

Lauren B Beauty Cruelty-free Nail Polish |

10. House of Blues Nail Polish | Lauren B Beauty

  • Shop This Shade: House of Blues

  • There is something so edgy and chic about black nail polish. It goes with everything and is perfect for the fall. This polish from Lauren B Beauty is actually not totally black but instead an extremely dark blue. As with all their polishes, it is cruelty-free and 7-free!¬†ūüíÖ

Lauren B Beauty Cruelty-free Nail Polish |

11. Laurel Canyon Lover | Lauren B Beauty

  • Shop This Shade: Laurel Canyon Lover

  • When I saw this color it immediately made me think of fall! This 7-free/cruelty-free polish from Lauren B Beauty is the perfect balance between a true red and burgundy. This shade could easily transition from fall into the holiday season.¬†ūüíÖ

Uptown Lip Velvet |

12. Uptown Lip Velvet | Clove + Hallow

  • Shop This Shade: Uptown

  • I love a beautiful matte lip for the fall and have had my eye on this specific one ever since it was launched. These lip velvets from Clove + Hallow dry in a beautiful matte finish without drying out your lips. This specific shade keeps selling out before I can buy it! It is safe to say, this product is at the top of my wish list.¬†ūüíĄūüíč

Orgain Pumpkin Spice Protein |

13. Pumpkin Spice Vegan Protein Powder | Orgain

  • Shop on Amazon: Pumpkin Spice Protein

  • I have been so eager to try the pumpkin spice flavor of my favorite vegan protein powder! Luckily it is available on Amazon Prime (whoop whoop). Packed with 21g of plant-based protein, Orgain’s protein powders are a great way for us vegetarians to get enough protein in our diet. I have yet to try a flavor of Orgain I didn’t like so I know this pumpkin spice flavor must be delicious!¬†ūüéÉ

Osmia Pumpkin Facial Soap |

14. Pumpkin Facial Soap | Osmia Organics

  • Shop This Bar: Pumpkin

  • Here’s another great pumpkin infused facial product but this time it’s from Osmia Organics. This soap works as a mild exfoliator that leaves skin soft and nourished. Side Note: This product does contain honey so it is NOT vegan-friendly.¬†ūüéÉ

I hope you enjoyed my fall wish list! What fall products have you had your eye on? Let me know in the comments section below!

xoxo Caitlyn |

0 In FYI/ How to...

How to Survive a Long Flight: Carry-On Essentials


Hello! This post outlines what I consider carry-on essentials for a long flight. After years of experience, I have learned it is just as important to pack for your flight as it is to pack for your vacation!

*Read the previous post in this series on “Choosing Your Seat”

Please note, this post does contain affiliate links.

carry-on essentials from

Helpful Hint: Pin the image above for future reference!

Tip #2: Carry-On Essentials

Know What You’re Allowed

We all know how strict airlines are with what you can and can’t carry-on a plane. Although the rules tend to be consistent amongst each airline, I always recommend you double-check¬†your airline’s carry-on policy before getting to the airport. This will prevent you from possibly being forced to check a bag you intended to carry-on.

Carry-On Policies

Since long flights tend to book-up, airlines follow their carry-on policies very closely on these flights. Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on and one personal item in the cabin with you (but keep in mind, these rules are constantly changing).

  • Carry-On: A small size luggage that must be stored in the overhead compartment (small luggage, weekender bag..)
    • Approximate Dimensions:¬†9″¬†x 14″ x 22″ = 22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm (including handles and wheels)
  • Personal Item: Any item that can fit under the seat in front of you (purse, briefcase, backpack, laptop bag, diaper bag..)
  • Additional Items: Most airlines will allow you to bring other little items on board with you in addition to your carry-on/personal item, such as a pillow, blanket, umbrella, or jacket.

Picking the Perfect “Personal Item” Bag:

On a long flight, your personal item will be your survival kit (you may think I’m being funny, but I’m not)! It is best to store anything you will need access to during your flight in your personal item¬†since it will be stored under the seat in front of you. Therefore, I like a bag that is spacious yet compact enough that it doesn’t take away all of my leg room.

Here are some vegan bags I recommend:

What To Pack!

Now that you have the perfect bag picked out, let’s discuss what you should consider packing for the flight. It may seem like a lot, but you can pick and choose which are essentials for you during a long day of travel. (Side Note: all suggested items are made from non-animal materials or faux leather!)

Click here for a condensed PDF version of this carry-on packing list!

Travel Wallet &/or Passport Holder —¬†

Traveling is a good time to switch out your regular wallet for something a bit larger that can hold all your important travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel information, car rental, cash, credit cards, etc..). Organization is key! Plus, some wallets come with technology to prevent hackers from stealing your credit card information using RFID. Here are my picks:

Pillow & Blanket

The ones the airline provides are reused and it’s unclear what their sanitation process entails between flights (if there even is one). Since flights can get chilly¬†& if you tend to be cold, dress in layers and pack a light blanket. If you are a fan of neck pillows, try to find one that inflates or is compactable. Here are my picks:

Self-Care Items

Just because you are on a long flight does not mean your personal care routine goes out the window. Remember, you are going to be on a flight for the majority of your day! Side Note: If you are comfortable with it, I recommend going make-up free so you can easily care for your skin during your flight.

  • Facial Wipes:¬†Use these to freshen up mid-flight or prior to landing. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better with a clean face! Confession, I have even used these on my underarms¬†when my connecting flight got canceled and I was stuck in an airport for hourssss. #lifesaver — Here are my picks:

Clothing —

Here is my advice on dressing/packing clothes for a long flight:

  • Please wear socks!! You will most likely have to take your shoes off while going through security so make sure you are wearing socks with your shoes otherwise you are going to find yourself barefoot in the dirty airport.¬†ūüė£
  • Consider your footwear carefully… Make sure to wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on quickly since you’ll have to do this at the security checkpoint. Also, keep in mind the climate of your final destination!
  • Dress in layers! Airplanes can feel warm/stuffy when you first get on but once you reach altitude the cabin quickly gets chilly. Save room in your bag by wearing a sweater/sweatshirt onto the plane (you can always take it off and use it as a pillow).
  • Pack or wear appropriate clothing for your destination!¬†A long flight often equates to a drastic change in climate. If you’re heading somewhere tropical, yoga pants and a pair of flip-flops in your carry-on will keep you comfortable upon arrival. Going somewhere cold? Have a jacket in your carry-on or easily accessible from your luggage.

Electronics —

Entertainment —

  • Many long-distance flights have seatback entertainments systems which are a life saver! However, if watching TV is not for you, make sure you have some other source of entertainment. Long flights are prime time to start that book you’ve been meaning to read! Here are some suggestions:
    • Books/magazines
    • Adult coloring book & colored pencils
    • Drawing pad

Food/Snacks —

  • It is always better to pack your own meals & snacks. However, there are certain types of foods you should stay away from on a long flight. I have an entire post on what-to-eat during long-distance flights coming soon (“How to Survive a Long Flight: Meals & Snacks”). Stay tuned!

Miscellaneous Items —

Did I miss anything? I hope not (if I did, let me know in the comments)! This list may seem like a lot to pack but I promise it will all fit in your personal item and be a life saver on your flight.

Click here for a condensed PDF version of this carry-on packing list! 

Thank you for reading!

29 In Fitness/ Food/Supplements/ GIVEAWAYS/ Wellness

December Giveaway (Week 3): Get Healthy Kit!



Nichelle P.



Who else wants to start 2017 off on the right foot when it comes to health!? I think we all do. This week’s giveaway is all about getting healthy and being prepared for the new year. My hope is that these prizes will help your new year’s resolutions become a reality!¬†ūüí™

This giveaway features three brands that I absolutely love: Orgain, inkWELL Press, & GoMacro. Up for grabs are..

Enter the giveaway below and keep scrolling past the giveaway plugin to learn more about each prize!¬†ūüėä

Enter the Giveaway

Inkwell Press Fitness Planner / Orgain / Go Macro

  • Open to anyone at least 18 years old with a valid U.S. or Canada mailing address.
  • You have until Saturday, December 24 at 11:59 pm EST to enter.
  • The winner is randomly generated through the Gleam Plugin.
  • The winner will be announced Monday, December 25 at 12 pm EST via this blog post, social media, and¬†email.


  • Use the Gleam plugin below to enter the giveaway (may take a few moments to load).
  • How to Enter: Submit at least one entry option using the ‚ÄúGleam‚ÄĚ plugin provided on this site.
  • There are opportunities¬†to earn extra entries and¬†increase your odds of winning!
    • Simply pick and choose as many or as few as you would like. You need to complete at least 1 entry to be added to the giveaway pool.¬†Additional entries¬†are completely optional.¬†
    • Certain entry options are weighted more heavily than others.
    • If you are already following on any of the social media platforms, that is fine ‚Äď just list your name/username for it to be counted!
    • All entries requiring following/liking will be checked and verified before the winner is drawn ‚Äď any missing¬†likes/comments will not be credited as an entry.


What You’ll Win:

Orgain | Organic Vegan Protein Powder 2lb (Chocolate, Vanilla, or Natural Unsweetened) = $39.99

  • There are a lot of plant-based protein powders out there.. but how many are organic and actually taste as good as they are for you? In my opinion, Orgain is the best vegan protein product on the market. This is the only protein powder I will drink. I drink a shake once a day so it has become a staple of my plant-based diet. Winner gets the choice between a vanilla, ¬†chocolate, or unsweetened 2lb tub.
  • Ingredients & Nutrition Facts:

inkWELL Press | Fitness Planner (Blue Herringbone) = $29.00

  • This brand makes near perfect planners (what I’ll be using for 2017) and was featured in my¬†“Choosing Your Perfect Planning System” blogpost. I am in love with their Fitness Planner. It’s the perfect sidekick to help you tackle your 2017 fitness goals from beginning to end! Click and scroll through the pics below to see details of each page/book section.
  • Features:
    • 3 Months of Daily Fitness/Food Logs with Weekly + Monthly Check-Ins
    • Fitness Resource Section =¬†portion size references, calories burned guide, & healthy snack¬†ideas
    • Ultra Thick 140 gsm (100#) Paper = no bleed through or shadowing on pages
    • Lay Flat True Gold¬†Wire Binding
    • Hardcover Design with Matte Laminate Coating (6″x8″)
    • Full Color Throughout!

GoMacro | Protein Bar 12-pack (winner picks flavor) = $34.68

  • Are you looking for a protein bar that is actually good for you and not full of scary ingredients and a ridiculous amount of sugar? Say hello to the GoMacro MacroBar! These bars have become a staple in my diet (especially as a vegetarian on busy days at work) and are definitely my favorite protein bar currently on the market. They are USDA Certified Organic, 100% Vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-Free Certified, Kosher Certified, sustainably sourced, and free of common allergens such as soy, eggs, and¬†dairy. What’s not to love?! With so many flavors I am confident there is one for everyone’s palate. My favorites are¬†Protein Pleasure,¬†Protein Replenishment,¬†Protein Purity, & Sweet Rejuvenation.
  • Check out all their flavors and nutrition info here.
  • Side Note: They also recently launched their Thrive bars which I’ve tried and loved!

Wouldn’t you love to win all these healthy prizes!? Make sure to get all your entries in by¬†December 24th at 11:59 pm! Good Luck!

xo Caitlyn

Disclaimer: This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Orgain, inkWELL Press, or GoMacro. There are no affiliate links included in this post. All opinions are entirely my own!

5 In FYI

All You Need to Know About Vegan Leather

vegan leather

So what do you do if you want to live a cruelty-free lifestyle but like the aesthetics of leather? Luckily, as with most animal derived products, there is a vegan option. Below is everything you need to know about vegan leather!

What is Vegan Leather?

Vegan leather refers to any material that was designed to look like leather without the use of animal products. In most cases, these materials are a form of thermoplastic, meaning they can be shaped/molded as a liquid but keep their shape as a solid. Such characteristics allow them to be molded, dyed and manipulated to feel and look like genuine leather.

Differences in Types of Vegan Leather:


Over the years, many materials have been tested and used as forms of leather substitutes. Today, the most common versions of vegan leather are composed of either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU). You may not realize it, but you already use these materials in one way or another. For instance:

  • polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    • Third most common plastic in the world (aka ‚Äúvinyl‚ÄĚ)
    • Commonly used to make plumbing/pipes, window frames, IV tubing, credit cards, inflatable products, flooring, etc‚Ķ
  • polyurethane (PU)
    • The #1 most common¬†plastic in the world (you unavoidably come into contact with it daily!)
    • Commonly used to make plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic¬†cartons, straws, bulletproof vests, toys, etc‚Ķ
    • Considered less harmful for the environment than PVC

Other materials not as commonly used are recycled nylon, cork, rubber, paper, kelp, cotton, cardboard, and tree bark!


Mimicking the texture, durability, and quality of genuine leather is not an easy task so there are differences in quality of vegan leather. Depending on the materials and methods used, the process can either be extremely cheap or extremely expensive. These factors are reflected in the final product:

  • ‚ÄúCheap‚ÄĚ Vegan Leather = can¬†have a strong plastic¬†smell, feel thin/flimsy, usually made from PVC, tend to be manufactured in sweat shops ūüôĀ
  • ‚ÄúHigh Quality‚ÄĚ Vegan Leather = hard to decipher from genuine leather, look and feel like the real thing, usually made from PU or other newer alternatives (i.e. nylon, cork, rubber, paper, kelp, cotton, cardboard, treebark, etc.), tend to be humanely manufactured

Advantages of Quality Vegan Leather:

A major advantage of vegan leather is that the¬†items end up being extremely durable and water resistant. I have owned a few of my¬†Matt & Nat vegan leather bags for several years and they look the same¬†as the day I got them! They are easy to clean (wipe with a damp wet cloth) and you do not have to worry about them getting ruined in the rain! ūüôā

Of course, the biggest advantage to vegan leather is that you get the aesthetics of real leather without the cost of an animal’s life.

Criticisms of Vegan Leather:

As functional as the materials PVC and PU may be, they do have their downsides. I’m sure you have heard of the negative environmental impact these and other plastics have since they are not naturally biodegradable and difficult to recycle. If untreated, these materials can remain in landfills for hundreds of years. Even worse, improperly disposed of PVC has been shown to leak toxins into landfills contaminating soil and water supplies.

Just because it’s vegan doesn’t automatically make it cruelty-free or ethical…

In this case, I am not applying the term ‚Äúcruelty-free‚ÄĚ to animals but instead to people. Yes, vegan leather does not harm animals but it can harm the humans who make it. During the manufacturing process, when thermoplastics are heated they release extremely toxic substances. If inhaled, these fumes can have serious health implications.

Because of the dangers of producing these plastics, they are often outsourced to factories overseas (most often China). While some factories are regularly inspected and audited to ensure safe working conditions, many slip under the radar. Without proper regulations, these workers are often overworked, underpaid, and forced to work in a dangerous environment.

We are ethically responsible to make an informed decision when purchasing products. I believe you should always ask yourself, who made this and where does it come from? This type of mindset will change the way you see the world and the products you buy.

How do I know if a vegan leather product was ethically made?

When looking to buy vegan leather, you have to do some research. Companies like Matt & Nat have strict guidelines in place for their factories and are passionate about their environmental footprint. For example, while the majority of Matt & Nat products are made from PU, they also utilize recycled materials in their line of products such as cork, nylon, and rubber. The majority of the linings in their handbags are made from recycled plastic bottles! They also require their factories be certified by the SA8000 standard, an auditable social certification for decent workplaces, and they perform random inspections to ensure these standards are a reality.

Ethically responsible companies will provide information about their manufacturing methods on their websites. If you still have questions, you can always send an email.

Some ethical vegan leather brands include: Matt & Nat | Angela Roi | Wills | Olsenhaus | Beyond Skin

If vegan leather is bad for the environment, shouldn’t we just stick to real leather?

To be honest, genuine leather is no better. You may not know, but animal leather has to go through a process known as ‚Äútanning‚ÄĚ. This is a process in which animal skins are treated with chemicals to prevent them¬†from breaking down and growing mold (after all, it is made of an animal that is supposed to decompose). These chemicals are highly carcinogenic to workers and tend to find their way into water sources.

Some eye-opening videos about the tanning process of animal-grade leather:

In addition, your leather products didn’t necessarily come from an animal someone ate. The leather and fur industry kill thousands of animals each year solely for the sake of fashion. This increases the livestock industry which is already responsible for over 50% of all greenhouse gas emission (I recommend watching Cowspiracy for more information).

What about the leather products you already own?

When switching to a cruelty-free lifestyle, you have to make some decisions regarding leather. Do you keep the leather items you already own or do you sell them/give them away? The answer to this question depends on what you’re comfortable with. I personally sold many of my leather items that were in good condition. Giving away your leather items means one less leather item will have to be purchased and maybe one more animal spared. I decided to keep one pair of leather boots that were already worn in. I figured I should get the most use out of them possible out of respect for the animal and replace them with a vegan option when the time comes.

My Favorite Ethical Vegan Leather Brands:


I hope you found this article informative and learned something new! Weighing the pros and cons, I am personally a fan of vegan leather and recommend you try it for yourself.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and/or experiences with vegan leather¬†in the comments section below ūüôā

Thanks for reading!

xo Caitlyn

Sources: Creative Mechanisms | Wise Geek | | Gizmodo


September Giveaway: Matt & Nat Vegan Handbag





Cruelty-free Vegan Handbag by

Matt & Nat


Enter the Giveaway:

  • For U.S. and Canada residents only.
  • You have until Tuesday, September¬†26 at 11:59pm EST to enter.
  • Winner will be announced Wednesday, September¬†27 at 12pm EST via¬†social media¬†and¬†email.


  • Use the plugin below to enter the giveaway by performing at least 1 of the dropdown options. You can do as many or few as you like. Certain options are weighted more heavily that others. If you are already following on any of the social media platforms that is fine – just list your name/username to be counted!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Matt & Nat:

Short for mat(t)erial and¬†nature, this brand offers some of the highest quality cruelty-free vegan accessories and shoes out there. Being a vegan brand means they do not use real leather or any other animal-derived¬†materials¬†to make their products (yay!) ūüôā Instead, Matt & Nat uses their signature high-quality vegan leather and recycled plastic bottles, nylon, cork, and rubber!

If you aren’t already sold, here are a few more facts:

  • All bag linings are made of 100% recycled materials (plastic bottles or nylon). Matt & Nat uses approximately 21 plastic bottles/bag which adds up to over 120,000 plastic bottles repurposed per year!
  • Their products¬†are manufactured¬†in small, ethically operated factories in China which are regularly inspected to ensure quality working conditions for their workers. Read more about their brand transparency¬†here.

The Bag: 

  • Value = $110
  • Dimensions = 8″ x 5″ x 2.25″
  • Shoulder Strap Drop = 23″ (completely removable, fixed length)
  • Description: Black vegan crossbody bag with removable/fixed length strap. Front flap with magnetic snap closure. Accordion sides.
  • Interior: 12 card slots, 4 bill compartments, zipper coin pocket, logo-embossed tag. 100% recycled nylon lining.
  • View on Matt&¬†
Front of Bag

Front of Bag

Strap removes easily and can be stored inside bag when not in use.

Strap removes easily and can be stored inside the bag when not in use.

No need to use a wallet! All money and cards can be stored in the interior pockets.

No need to use a wallet! All money and cards can be stored in the interior pockets.

Easily styles as a clutch.

Easily styles as a clutch.

Convienant removable shoulder strap.

Convenient removable shoulder strap.

You have until Tuesday, September 26 at 11:59pm EST to enter. Good luck!

*This post is not sponsored by Matt&Nat

0 In Food/Supplements/ FYI/ How to.../ Wellness

How to Become a Vegetarian: A Step By Step Guide

How to Become a Vegetarian |

Switching to a plant-based diet is a decision that deserves a lot of thought. I thought about going vegetarian for a while before actually starting the lifestyle change. I have to admit, I gave more thought to WHY I should become one and not as much to HOW to (properly) become one. That being said, I am writing this post for any of you who have been considering it.

Before getting started, I want to make it known that I know¬†not everyone wants to be a vegetarian and I don’t write this thinking everyone should be. It is a very personal decision and I respect that. ūüôā¬†And remember, I ate meat for the first 23 years of my life so I would never judge someone for doing the same. This post is simply a resource for those interested that I wish I had before I made the switch!

How to Become a Vegetarian

Now,¬†let’s get started.

1. Ask yourself WHY you want to switch to a plant-based diet. 

  • This is the most important step because your answer to “why” is what is going to guide you through the entire process. When it feels tough or you start having cravings, it is going to be what keeps you on track and motivated. I wrote an entire post on why I made the switch (read it here), but everyone has their own reasons. Do your research and be honest with yourself. If you are not passionate about this lifestyle then it will never work for you.

2. Pick what type of plant-based diet you want to follow.

  • Dependent on your reason(s) for going plant-based, you may want either more lenient or strict diet guidelines. In other words, you may want to remove all animal products from your diet or eliminate¬†certain animal products. Read my post on types of plant-based diets to help decide which one fits your needs.

3. Map out your nutritional needs.

  • It is important to match your caloric and macronutrient needs (protein, fat, carbs) with your lifestyle.
  • Your nutritional needs will vary based on your gender, activity level, and personal philosophy. If you’re not sure what your target¬†caloric intake and macronutrient ratios should be, I recommend starting with the presets on the My FitnessPal App (Computer,¬†iPhone, iPad, Android). This app calculates each value based on your body mass index, activity level, and ideal weight. If you disagree with the app’s presets you can manually adjust them to fit your needs. Starting out, I logged all my meals/snacks on the app to ensure I was eating enough calories but also getting the right portions of macro/micro nutrients. (Side Note: For those of you who do not wish to switch to a plant-based diet, I still recommend this app. There is a misconception that by going vegetarian you will become malnourished but the average American’s diet is not properly managed.)¬†
  • As with any major dietary change, you should make sure you are following up with your doctor and getting annual physicals/blood work. If you have a complex medical history, I recommend consulting your doctor before changing your diet.¬†

|| Once you have completed these first three¬†steps, I recommend one of¬†two methods to start implementing this¬†diet/lifestyle change. One doesn’t necessarily work more effectively than the other across the board; it all depends on the individual. Read both and see which one sounds more realistic for you. ||

4. Think gradual baby steps!

  • Unfortunately, it is not realistic to switch to vegetarianism overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard of people who have done this but it is much¬†easier said than done. Gradually changing your diet will make the change less noticeable and easier to make a permanent part of your life.
  • Option #1: Start by¬†cutting out certain types of animal products at a time. I recommend eliminating red meat first (beef, pork, lamb, veal, etc). You can start by replacing these foods with chicken/turkey/fish alternatives if that makes the change less drastic for you. Next, gradually start eliminating chicken and turkey meat. Many believe this is the hardest step in the process since these meats are staples¬†in most people’s diets. However, almost everything made with chicken can be made with an alternative (think eggplant, avocado, tofu, imitation meat – sounds gross but most¬†are¬†made from natural plant proteins & fibers, etc.). You will slowly redesign your favorite recipes to fit your new plant-based lifestyle. I can confidently¬†say, there is a vegetarian version for just about¬†every meat-based meal.¬†Once you have reached this point, you can consider yourself a pescetarian (what I am although I follow a vegan diet most days). To be able to truly call yourself a vegetarian you must eliminate fish and seafood. If veganism is your ultimate goal, gradually eliminate eggs and dairy. The entire process¬†can be as fast or slow as you like!
  • Option #2: Start by eliminating meat and/or animal products from your diet for one day of the week. You can eat meat as your normally would the other 6 days.¬†Use those regular¬†days¬†to prepare for your plant-based day by writing out¬†your meals and researching new recipes. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. Gradually increase the number of meat-free days per week. Like option #1, this can be as gradual as you like. If you start feeling overwhelmed, slow down. There is no rush!

5. Always be prepared. 

  • More than likely, you aren’t going to be able to always prepare your own meals. Although restaurants and food¬†stores are introducing more vegetarian options, there is still much progress to be made. Before going out to eat, I recommend looking up the restaurant’s menu. If you are going to a sports game or theme park,¬†you will notice sometimes vegetarian options are so limited you have to choose between a hot pretzel and mozzarella¬†sticks. In an effort to not eat like a picky 5-year-old, you have to plan accordingly. When vegetarian options are limited, try to eat something small before you go out (I suggest a¬†protein shake) and¬†have vegetarian-friendly snacks on hand.

6. No diet is perfect and mistakes can happen. 

  • Every vegetarian’s worst nightmare is the thought of accidentally eating meat (esp. if you went vegetarian for the animals). I will admit, it happened to me and I immediately felt sick to my stomach (I¬†thought I bought¬†tuna when it was actually chicken salad ūüôĀ ). A sudden rush of panic and immense guilt came over me and I felt like all my previous efforts were wasted. No one is perfect and mistakes happen. These mistakes are more likely to happen when eating out which is why I recommend cooking for yourself as much as possible. If it happens to you, think about what went wrong and make an effort to be more careful in the future. One mistake does not discredit the impact your previous efforts have had on the lives of animals!

I hope you have found this post helpful! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Leave them in the comments section or contact me directly by email.

Final thoughts: I am significantly happier living a plant-based lifestyle¬†and think of food completely differently than I use to. This lifestyle’s benefits are truly endless.

Thank you for reading!