The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Perfect Pita® Vegan Menu Options

Posted on February 23, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
With over 15 locations in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland, Perfect Pita is a family-owned business founded in 1994. Today Perfect Pita also operates Perfect Daughter®, a catering service run by the founder’s daughter. Viewers may learn more about the family business through the video on the site’s About Us page:

Perfect Pita restaurants and catering company offer a Mediterranean-American cuisine. For locations, visit:

Perfect Pita’s menu has a special vegan section including:
•white bean salad
•shepherd salad
•stuffed grape leaves
•navy bean soup

Between August and November 2017 The VRG spoke and communicated by email with Rosario Castro and Fatih Altun at Perfect Pita about their menu. Here are excerpts from the exchange.

VRG: Does your pita bread contain milk or dairy ingredients such as whey?
Perfect Pita: Our pitas don’t contain any milk nor whey.

VRG: Is the Hummus Sandwich all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: Our Hummus Sandwich is vegan.

VRG: Is the tzatziki sauce made with yogurt?
Perfect Pita: Our tzatziki sauce is made with sour cream, not yogurt.

VRG: Is the Falafel Pita all-vegetable without the tzatziki sauce?
Perfect Pita: Yes, it is vegan without the tzatziki.

VRG: Do you make the hummus in your restaurants starting with dry beans?
Perfect Pita: We do make our hummus starting with dry beans.

VRG: Are all hummus varieties all-vegetable? Do any varieties contain cheese?
Perfect Pita: All our hummus (all flavors) is vegan (no meat, no dairy).

VRG: Is the falafel all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: Our falafel is vegetarian and it can also be vegan since our tzatziki sauce comes on the side and you don’t have to necessarily get it. Tzatziki can also be substituted by our vegan hummus.

VRG: Has the falafel been fried in fresh oil? Which kind?
Perfect Pita: We use canola oil.

VRG: Is anything else prepared in the oil used to cook the falafel? If so, what?
Perfect Pita: No, just falafel.

VRG: Is the tabouli all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: Tabouli is vegan.

VRG: Is the white bean salad all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: The white bean salad is vegan.

VRG: Is the navy bean soup all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: The navy bean soup is vegan.

VRG: What are the grape leaves stuffed with?
Perfect Pita: Our grape leaves are stuffed with rice.

VRG: Has the rice in the grape leaves been seasoned with animal flavors or cooked in animal broth?
Perfect Pita: No. The rice in the grape leaves are not flavored with any kind of animal flavor nor animal broth.

VRG: Do you have any salad dressing which is all-vegetable and made without honey?
Perfect Pita: Our homemade red wine vinaigrette doesn’t contain any honey or animal product.

VRG: Has the red wine in the red wine vinaigrette been clarified with an animal ingredient such as albumen or gelatin?
Perfect Pita: We don’t clarify it with gelatin.

VRG: Does the red wine vinaigrette contain sugar?
Perfect Pita: No sugar is added.

VRG: Do the vegetable components of your menu come into contact with dairy products or meat/fish?
Perfect Pita: We do allergen separation and our veggies don’t come into contact with any meat/fish or dairy.
Perfect Pizzas:
VRG: Are the crusts all-vegetable?
Perfect Pita: Pizza crust is vegetarian.

VRG: Is there L-cysteine in the crust?
Perfect Pita: There is no L-cysteine in our crust.

VRG: Is there sugar in the crust?
Perfect Pita: Yes. We do add sugar to our pizza dough.

VRG: Are there any animal-derived ingredients in the red sauce?
Perfect Pita: No.

VRG: What is in the “spinach mix” pizza topping?
Perfect Pita: The spinach mix is cooked spinach mixed with feta cheese and onions.

VRG: Does your feta cheese contain animal rennet?
Perfect Pita: Our feta cheese contains vegetable-based microbial rennet.

VRG: Does the feta cheese contain animal lipase?
Perfect Pita: It contains animal-based lipase from goat.

VRG: Are your mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses made with animal-derived enzymes?
Perfect Pita: Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses [are made with] cow’s whole milk and animal-derived enzyme.

Perfect Pita® Bagel and Pita Bread Are Vegan
Perfect Pita’s Bagel
Rosario Castro of Perfect Pita told us in August 2017 that L-cysteine served as a dough conditioner in their bagel. We wanted to know its source and contacted her supplier, Soft Stuff Distributors® who in turn asked us to contact the bagel manufacturer, Always Bagels®.

Anthony Pariti of Always Bagels wrote to us in September 2017 that “the cysteine is sourced from vegetable fermentation.” When we asked for more explanation, he in turn directed us to speak with the R&D department of his supplier, Puratos®, who sells the dough conditioner that he uses to make the bagels. After speaking with Puratos we confirmed that Perfect Pita’s bagels are made with microbially-derived L-cysteine manufactured by Wacker®.]

Always Bagels: There is no bone char in the filtration. It comes to us white and again the process they described to me is the white color happens during the filtration of the sugar at their facility.

The sugar supplier emailed us a letter from Mark Rudolph, the Quality Assurance and Quality Control Manager at Sweeteners Plus® dated February 2017 regarding “Bone char use in the production of refined sugar /vegan statement”: “Although natural charcoal, or bone char, is sometimes employed as a filter media in the production of refined cane sugar, Sweeteners Plus is not currently sourcing bulk Granulated Sugar manufactured using bone char.

Currently all sugar products, organic and conventional, sold under the Sweeteners Plus label including bulk Liquid Sugars and bulk and packaged Granulated Sugar are manufactured without the use of bone char from sugar beets or sugar cane, neither of which is derived from an animal source.

Our Lakeville, NY facility is certified Kosher, Halal suitable, and uses no additives that contain animal sources.”

Perfect Pita Pita Bread
The VRG learned from Rosario at Perfect Pita that there is no L-cysteine in their pita bread which they make in their restaurants starting from dry flour. She also furnished to us a no-cow bone char vegan declaration from their sugar supplier. There are no dairy ingredients in the pita bread at Perfect Pita.

For more information on Perfect Pita catering:

The contents of this posting, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For more chain restaurant information, see

For information on vegetarian and vegan restaurants, see VRG Online Veggie Restaurant Guide

Vegan Chocolate for Purim

Posted on February 22, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor


Purim starts the evening of February 28th in 2018. Traditionally during Purim (a Jewish holiday) gift baskets are given out to family and friends. Vegans and individuals that are lactose-intolerant will be happy to receive specialty chocolates from Dear Coco for Purim. They are certified Kosher under Star K and include options such as Happy Purim Gift Bag, Purim Truffle “Hamantaschen,” and Purim Truffle Collection.

You can order these vegan chocolates online here:

Join the VRG Parents and Kids Facebook Group!

Posted on February 22, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor


VRG Parents and Kids Facebook Group is intended to be a group that offers support for families raising children on vegan diets and for vegan kids. We envision it as a place to get advice about a wide-variety of topics: pregnancy, birthday parties, school lunches, Halloween, non-leather apparel, cruelty-free products, summer camps, and more. Please use it as a place to share your wisdom, seek advice, or just find a sympathetic ear. The goal is to offer support.

Consequently, any profane, defamatory, offensive, or violent language will be removed. Feel free to disagree, but do so respectfully. Hateful or discriminatory comments regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or political beliefs will not be tolerated. We expect that posts should relate to vegan diets and lifestyles. The Vegetarian Resource Group reserves the right to monitor all content and ban any user who posts in violation of the above rules, any law or regulation, SPAM, or anything otherwise off topic.

Recent discussion topics include:
Online companies selling vegan shoes for kids
Recipe for muffins that include spinach!
Jobs available at veggie summer camp
Plus much more!

Please share this information with any veggie families that you know! Thanks.

“All-in-One Guide to Becoming Vegan” book review

Posted on February 22, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Angélique Complainville


After watching documentaries about the reality of the meat and dairy industry, I decided to go vegan for ethical reasons. That was a little over 2 years ago. Unfortunately for me I didn’t know any vegetarians let alone vegans. So, I took it a day at a time figuring out how to eat, dress and live accordingly to my new-found beliefs. But I wish I could have had access to a book just like the “All-in-One Guide to Becoming Vegan” by Annie Carbonneau. If you are French (like me), the book is also available in French which I think is really going to help make veganism more accessible in France. In French the book is called: le petit guide du tout-en-un du véganisme

The book covers all the basics from why one should go vegan to practical tips on how to transition as smoothly as possible. It starts with a good explanation of why people usually go vegan – for animal rights, environmental reasons, and their health. Annie goes into details which I really appreciate. I think that it’s a great book to have especially if your family or friends don’t understand your choice or if your parents are worried that veganism is not a healthy diet.

Annie goes on to sharing her own experience going vegan as well as practical advice on how to do so healthfully. I like that in the Kindle version, there are direct links to websites she suggests at the end of the book with further resources.

All in all, I think that the “All-in-One Guide to Becoming Vegan” is a great book for those curious about the vegan lifestyle or beginning their journey as a vegan. The book is sold on Amazon here:

Angélique is a student from France who has been vegan for over 2 years.


Posted on February 21, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

We received a letter from an inmate, who said a relative sent him our article, Do Prison Inmates Have a Right to Vegetarian Meals? See:

He has been a vegetarian for ten years. He was informed by a few corrections officers that the facility did not offer vegetarian meals. However, another inmate started receiving a “religious diet,” which included no meat. After he was also told that the facility did not offer vegetarian meals, he spoke to the judge that was presiding over his case and explained he was a Hindu and practiced vegetarianism.

He was told to fill out a “kite” (inmate request form) asking for a religious diet verification form. This form was then sent to the religious institution he identifies with, which filled out the form and returned it to the appropriate officer. This also worked for an incarcerated Buddhist. On the Religious Diet Verification Form, preprinted was Orthodox Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Seventh-day Adventist.

VRG Offers One $10,000 Scholarship plus Two $5,000 Scholarships to Graduating High School Seniors in the USA – The February 20th Deadline is Today!

Posted on February 20, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, The Vegetarian Resource Group each year will award $20,000 in college scholarship money to graduating U.S. high school students who have promoted veganism/vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who do not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs.

One award of $10,000 and two awards of $5,000 will be given. Entries may only be sent by students graduating from high school in spring 2018. Deadline is February 20, 2018. We will accept applications postmarked on or before February 20, 2018. Early submission is encouraged.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegan/vegetarian diet/lifestyle. Payment will be made to the student’s college (U.S. based only). Winners of the scholarships give permission to release their names to the media. Applications and essays become property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. We may ask finalists for more information. Scholarship winners are contacted by e-mail or telephone. Please look at your e-mail.

For details on the contest, see: VRG Scholarship Contest

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group Year-Round – Become a Monthly or Quarterly Donor!

Posted on February 19, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group is an activist non-profit organization that does outreach all-year-long. For example, VRG tables at different events throughout the USA and also sends literature free of charge to other groups/individuals doing educational activities in schools, hospitals, camps, restaurants, libraries, etc. Our ability to continue doing this depends on people like you! Your donations allow us to promote the vegan message whenever we’re called upon for assistance. Please consider becoming a monthly or quarterly donor to The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Thanks so much for your support. You can become a monthly or quarterly donor online here: Donate to The Vegetarian Resource Group

Are you looking for some new vegan shoes for your children? The Vegetarian Resource Group just heard about some options

Posted on February 19, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor


Here’s two companies that offer vegan shoes for children:
Note: These companies also carry non-vegan shoes.

VRG also has an online guide to leather alternatives including shoes, bags, and much more for adults and children here: VRG’s Guide to Nonleather Shoes, Bags, and More

Vegan Restaurants Have Been Added to The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Online Guide to Veggie Restaurants in the USA and Canada

Posted on February 16, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegan Nest

The Vegetarian Resource Group maintains an online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada. Below are some recent additions. The entire guide can be found here:
VRG Online Veggie Restaurant Guide

To support the updating of this online restaurant guide, please donate at:
Donate to The Vegetarian Resource Group

Here are some new additions to VRG’s guide:

Kelly’s Bake Shoppe
401 Brant St.
Burlington, ON L7R 2E9 Canada
Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is located on the western shores of Lake Ontario. This bakery, run by a mother-and-daughter team, makes all-vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free cupcakes (28 rotating flavors!), cookies, donuts, soft-serve, and a variety of other desserts. Teas and coffees are also served. The bakery uses organic and fair-trade ingredients when possible. Seating is limited, so it’s probably best to take your baked good to go. Catering and delivery options are also available; the bakery delivers all throughout the greater Toronto area from Grimsby to Ajax.

La Vellutata
172 5th Ave., Ste. 2
Brooklyn, NY 11217
La Vellutata is located just a few blocks northwest of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The restaurant’s original location opened twenty years ago in Venice, Italy. Its name, meaning “the velvety” in Italian, comes from its signature creamy vegan soups. This stateside outpost also serves vegan burgers, salads, pastries, and desserts for a quick bite on the go.

1265 Queen West St.
Toronto, ON M6K 1L5 Canada
Mythology serves brunch foods, traditional classics, and late-night snacks. Dishes include hearty vegan Benedicts, cinnamon bun pancakes, Reuben sandwiches, poutine, and even a Cobb salad that comes with a vegan hardboiled egg. Served alongside these diner staples are all types of cocktails, mocktails, local craft brews and wines, and classic root beer floats. Mythology is located in the Little Portugal neighborhood.

Nikki Green
320 East State St.
Ithaca, NY 13850
Nikki Green, located in the heart of downtown Ithaca, strives to make vegan dishes that can be enjoyed by both vegans and non-vegans alike. The restaurant’s name references the owner’s omnivore sister, Nikki, who taste-tested the plant-based dishes during their creation. Nikki Green’s menu offers savory veggie and sweet smoothie bowls as well as soups and desserts. Seasonal snacks and treats are also available in the display case.

The Vegan Nest
6 Waldo St.
Worcester, MA 01608
Located just west of the DCU convention center and St. Vincent Hospital, The Vegan Nest serves all-vegan breakfast, brunch, and lunch options. The restaurant also serves a community dinner on Thursday nights with tapas-style items. Ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced when possible. Examples of dishes include the Caprese sandwich, made with cashew mozzarella, the tofu frittata, and the BBQ jackfruit grilled cheese. Gluten-free items are clearly marked on the menu. Various types of healthy beverages and smoothies are also offered. One beverage, the moCa herbal coffee, uses the nutritious maya nut in place of traditional coffee beans.

Venerable Bean Bakery
137 Pleasant St.
Morgantown, WV 26505
Venerable Bean Bakery serves a rotating selection of all-vegan cakes, cookies, pastries, and café items like soups, salads, and sandwiches. The owner Aaron has been vegan for more than 20 years and has a passion for creating delicious vegan foods. The bakery even veganized the classic West Virginia snack, the pepperoni roll. All ingredients are clearly labeled, and gluten-free options are available. The bakery also holds ticketed four-course tasting events outside of their normal hours and takes special orders for cakes and other desserts. Venerable Bean Bakery is located inside of Mountain People’s Co-op in downtown Morgantown.

Viva Vegan
4601 West 12th St.
Little Rock, AR 72204
They serve up tacos, nachos, tamales, and ceviche out of their hot pink storefront, and every dish is vegan and gluten-free. The loaded nachos, topped with Korean BBQ plant protein and jackfruit carnitas, are a customer favorite. A rotating selection of desserts like carrot cake donuts, s’mores cookies, and cheezecakes are also available. Viva Vegan is located at the intersection of 12th and Adams St.

Wicked Willow
1137 Main St.
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Wicked Willow serves vegan comfort food in a colorful midcentury-inspired space. Located in downtown Stevens Point, the restaurant serves up Midwestern classics like chili dogs, goulash, potato salad, and carrot cake. The restaurant strives to run sustainably: the menu is crafted using organic and local ingredients wherever possible, and the décor is sourced from secondhand shops.

Wildflower Vegan Co.
1501 East Altamonte Dr., Ste. 1053
Casselberry, FL 32730
Located just off of Highway 17 by a small lake is Wildflower Vegan Co. Wildflower creates meals alongside the pop-up restaurant Burnamup Vegan Café. Soups and sandwiches, as well as breakfast bowls, tacos, and wraps are served for breakfast and lunch. Soul-food-inspired dishes like BBQ Shepherd’s Pie, chick’n and waffles, and a chili mac burrito can be found on the rotating dinner menu. Gluten- and soy-free options are made upon request.

Be a voice of change: Become a certified health and wellness coach

Posted on February 15, 2018 by The VRG Blog Editor

Health and Wellness

By Marcia Schveibinz

I. What is a health and wellness coach?

Certified Health and Wellness Coaches are professionals who have completed a curriculum through an accredited health and wellness coach training program. They work with individuals and groups using a client-centered process to facilitate lifestyle behavior change and empower the client to achieve self-determined goals related to health and wellness. They apply motivational interviewing skills to assist clients to uncover internal strengths and motivators, and provide them with the tools and resources to assist them with reaching their goals and ultimately sustainable changes. These goals may include: lose weight, eat better, quit smoking, lower stress, or better time management.

Coaches help their clients to discover their underlying reasons for their desire to change. Examples of such reasons may be prevention of a disease that runs in their family, or be around to spend time with their grandchildren, or to perform their jobs more easily. The coach’s job is to ask questions to uncover these personal motivators.

II. What is the difference between a health/wellness coach and a psychotherapist? Or a nutritionist or dietitian?

Although there is some overlap, a health and wellness coach is different from a psychotherapist, a mental health care professional with training in medicine, psychologist, nurse, or social worker. These professionals help clients with depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems that may be getting in the way of realizing their goals. Clients who are suitable for coaching are mentally capable and ready to move forward in making changes in their lives.

A registered dietitian or licensed nutritionist can use their knowledge and training to clinically treat or prevent illness/disease using specific foods and diets. They often prescribe specific diets or meal plans with little input from the clients which may or may not lead to sustainable changes. Unlike a dietitian or nutritionist’s focus, a health and wellness coach takes a more holistic approach and addresses not only diet, but may give equal attention to other aspects such as stress, sleep, relationships, job, etc. The coach follows the client’s agenda, therefore there is no “one size fits all” plan. For instance, if a client wants to become more physically fit, in order to move forward with an exercise plan, factors such as time management, sleep, and diet all come into play to remove any barriers to client success.

III. Is being a health/wellness coach for me?

Becoming a health and wellness coach may be the right fit if you like helping others and are passionate about and live a healthy lifestyle yourself. Other characteristics that lend well to the profession are: good listening skills, empathy, open-mindedness, non-judgmental, patience, mentally well adjusted, and a positive outlook.

In the course of their work health and wellness coaches display a non-judging unconditional respect for their clients and a belief in their capacity for change. They honor that each client is the expert of their own life.

Professionals in a helping field such as a dietitian, nurse, or physical therapist may want to become certified as a health and wellness coach to provide better personalized service to their clients/patients. Personal trainers may want to have the added qualifications in order to add additional services such as a program for weight loss. Certified health and wellness coaches come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some choose to use their coach training to complement their current work with individuals or groups. Others may want to provide strictly wellness coaching services either as a solopreneur or in partnership with other holistic health professionals.

IV. How can I become a certified health/wellness coach?

There is a list of approved transition programs via the International Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaches (ICHWC). Completing a transition program will qualify you to apply to sit for the National HWC certifying examination. ICHWC has all the information you need to know about how to become a certified health and wellness coach.

V. Where can I work as a health and wellness coach?

Health and Wellness Coaches may work at health clinics, physicians’ offices, other holistic health professional offices, non-profit organizations, health insurance companies, or often start their own businesses. There are laws that vary from state to state concerning nutrition counseling. As a certified health and wellness coach, you are not licensed in any states in the United States. Practicing health coaches should review the scope of the nutrition law in their state including all exceptions and exemptions to assess whether they are legally able to use nutrition tools in their practice. The health and wellness coaching profession is more prevalent in some states than others. With the recent development of ICHWC’s national standard and certification for health and wellness coaches, the profession will hopefully see an increase in opportunities to work in this very important field.

VI. Resources

International Consortium for health and wellness coaching (ICHWC) –

Center for Nutrition Advocacy –

Michael Arloski, PhD, PCC, CWP – Author of Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change.

Marcy Schveibinz is a national board certified health and wellness coach and owner of Columbia Nutrition LLC ( For the past 4 years she has been applying her knowledge and skills from her training as a coach as well as a degree in nutrition to help clients lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle in many areas of wellness. She is currently accepting clients for one-on-one weekly or monthly coaching. She can be contacted by phone: 410-935-8353 or email:

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