The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Simply Vegan Is Now Available In the Kindle Store!

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Simply Vegan, by Debra Wasserman and Reed Mangels, PhD, RD is live in the Kindle Store and is available for readers to purchase here:

Simply Vegan is a terrific book to give as a present this holiday season to friends and family members interested in learning more about the vegan life-style. The book has 160 quick-and-easy vegan recipes, a complete vegan nutrition section with many helpful charts, vegan menus and meal plans, plus much more.

You can also purchase the print version of this book directly from The Vegetarian Resource Group in our book Catalog.

Vegan Options at Mellow Mushroom®

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Since 1974 Georgia-based Mellow Mushroom serves pizza, hoagies, calzones, salads, and other popular dishes at over 170 locations in 19 states. The restaurant chain points out on its website that it “…offers a wide selection of salads, hoagies and pizzas that can be customized to a vegan diet.” Participating locations are listed.

On the Mellow website, it also states:

“We offer a large variety of vegetarian options, many of which can be easily made vegan. You’ll find tofu and tempeh which can be seasoned seven different ways and fresh veggies galore throughout our menu. We also offer Daiya vegan cheese, which is free of animal and soy products, and a good source of calcium. Our veggie customers always leave full, happy and satisfied!”

Mellow Mushroom told us in December 2014 that they are developing a vegan menu titled Mellow Mushroom Vegan Favorites that specifies how its menu items can be modified vegan. It will be available in stores and online in the near future.

The VRG received a working proof of the menu which states at the outset:

“Please let your server know you are vegan so we can take extra care. We recognize and respect the choice of a vegan lifestyle and want to provide you with a large selection of high quality and nutritious dishes. Daiya vegan cheese can be substituted on any of our regular menu items.”

Over the course of several months the Vice President of Brand Development at Mellow Mushroom relayed to us more details about its menu items and plans for new vegan dishes. The following is a synopsis of what we’ve learned.

In response to our question about whether the Mega-Veggie and Gluten-Free Veg Out Pizzas could be ordered without the cheese and whether the pizza crust and red sauce are made without all animal- or dairy-derived ingredients including honey, milk, egg, lard, animal flavors and L-cysteine we learned that:

“Any pie can be ordered without cheese, and our dough (regular and gluten-free) and red sauce are all vegan. We also offer Daiya vegan cheese…I would like to point out that none of our cheeses is made with animal rennet.”

Readers may be interested to learn more about the gluten-free crust ingredients and gluten-free kitchen precautions on a special page where it states “Try our new gluten-free crust – now vegan and made with ancient grains”:

The new vegan menu specifies that “our pizza and calzone dough is vegan. Ask for no butter or Parmesan on your crust and substitute Daiya cheese for mozzarella.”

Readers may note that the pretzels are made of the same dough as the pizzas and calzones. Diners should request no butter or Parmesan.

The Vice President of Brand Development told us that “it is standard protocol to use butter and Parmesan cheese [on our dough] unless a guest orders vegan cheese, no cheese or requests it that way.” She added that:

“Our team is trained to not do the butter and Parmesan if a guest orders vegan cheese, but we include that on the menu as many just like to make sure desires are specified…it seems to give them a higher comfort level and we feel that it’s generally a good idea to be specific so a human error doesn’t happen out of force of habit.”

The Vegetarian Resource Group asked if slicers used to cut pizza with meat toppings and/or dairy cheese are used to cut vegan pizzas. We were informed that:

“No, we do not use the deli slicer for any vegan products (protein substitute or vegetable). A separate pizza slicer is held on the line to cut all designated vegan pizzas…It is not necessary [to request sanitized slicers] as we train the proper procedures; however, I would never tell a guest they should not feel comfortable asking about separate utensils.”

Mellow Mushroom offers Avocado, Tempeh, and Tofu Hoagies. Wanting to know if the bread used for Mellow’s hoagies is free of all animal ingredients including honey, milk, egg, lard, animal flavors, L-cysteine, and animal-derived enzymes, we received the following reply:

“All our bread products including our regular and gluten-free dough are vegan with the exception of our pita which is made with milk powder…We don’t have L-cysteine in any…[bread] products except the pita…There is no honey in any of our breads.”

Readers may note that the Tempeh Hoagie is served with pesto mayo which “…is made with mayonnaise…so our pesto is not vegan.” The Tofu Hoagie and the Avocado Hoagie are served with egg-based mayonnaise. Patrons may request when ordering that these condiments be left off. Mellow told us:

“They can be ordered without [cheese and mayonnaise]. We don’t have vegan mayo, but we have vegan cheese (Daiya). It is not…a soy cheese.”

In response to our questions about kitchen procedures we learned that the tempeh and tofu are stored in separate containers and away from meat products. They also are prepared away from meat products. The VRG was informed by a corporate officer that at Mellow Mushroom:

“We train ServSafe storage practices….We train to use a designated part of the grill for any vegan items (which is also required to be sanitized prior to cooking) and use color-coded spatulas that are designated vegetarian/vegan.”

The calzones at Mellow Mushroom consist of dough and red sauce that “…are the same products used for our pretzels and pies, and they are all vegan. And yes, a calzone can be made with vegan cheese and vegetables.”

Mellow Mushroom also offers hummus on its menu. In response to our question about whether the hummus is made without all animal ingredients including honey, milk, egg, lard, gelatin and animal flavors The VRG was informed that “The hummus is vegan.”

The hummus is served with garlic toast points or pita wedges which contain milk. Mellow’s corporate officer suggested that vegans substitute vegetables for the bread because even though “the toast points are a vegan bread…they are brushed with butter.”

We asked Mellow Mushroom if they use sugar in their non-dessert items and received this reply: “We do not use sugar in the non-dessert items.”

According to the new vegan menu herb vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressings are vegan. Salads may be ordered without cheese.

There is a Build Your Own page on the Mellow website which lists the major components of all dishes served at the restaurant:

When The VRG asked about any plans for new vegan menu options, a corporate vice president at Mellow Mushroom told us that:

“We are currently doing R&D on multiple items. We are not sure how many will ultimately make the cut, but they will hopefully appear in the second quarter of next year…They will be part of our core menu. We are working to create a separate menu that includes all our vegetarian and vegan items on our current menu as well as tips to make current items vegetarian and/or vegan.”

For more information on ingredients in specific menu items, readers may visit the Mellow site where an allergen and special diets menu tool is located:

According to Mellow’s Vice President of Brand Development “we consider honey, meats and dairy to be ‘animal products’ for the purposes of our online tool.”

The contents of this article 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 judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For information about other restaurant chains, see:

For information about vegetarian restaurants, see:

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, join at:

Or donate at:

The Vegetarian Resource Group Accomplished So Much in 2014 – Support VRG’s 2015 Outreach!

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Below is a sampling of outreach we did in 2014. To support these type of activities, please donate here:


    • VRG Co-Directors Charles Stahler and Debra Wasserman spoke about the Growth of the Vegan Market at Natural Products Expo East.
    • VRG Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE presented wellness classes for the City of Long Beach’s Senior Centers in California, with a focus on senior vegetarian living.
    • Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE did a presentation for the Arizona Nephrology Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on vegan renal diets. Attendees were mostly dietitians, nurses, and doctors.
    • VRG’s Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD spoke on vegetarian diets in pregnancy and lactation at the Partners in Perinatal Health Conference in Norwood, MA.
    • Reed also did a presentation to the Western Massachusetts Dietetic Association, as well as to the Delaware Dietetic Association.
    • VRG Staff did a 4 hour presentation in our office to 10 dietetic interns from The University of Maryland at College Park.

Outreach to Health Professionals

    • Had a table at the University of Maryland dietetic internship day, which was held at the National Agricultural Library.
    • VRG materials were included in packets given out at the annual meeting of The Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Books Requesting to Use VRG Information

    • Pearson Education asked for permission to reprint our My Vegan Plate in their higher education health textbook titled Nutrition and You with Mastering Nutrition, 3rd Edition.
    • The Dental Hygienist’s Guide to Nutrition from Elsevier will be reprinting VRG’s My Vegan Plate.

Web Media

    • Quoted on a piece appearing on ABC News website concerning Chipotle testing Sofritas (a vegan tofu dish).
    • VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD was quoted concerning non-dairy sources for calcium on the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
    • Our annual scholarship contest was featured in a 51-second video on the Kaplan Prep Test website.
    • VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD was interviewed by, an online community for active people, about heart healthy beans.

Print Media

    • VRG is listed as a resource in an article on obesity appearing in American Journal of Nursing.
    • VRG’s poll figures cited in Albany New York Times Union concerning the number of vegetarians.
    • VRG’s information on Protein was cited in a Forbes magazine article about Jay-Z and Beyonce.
    • The Washington Times called us about alternatives to turkey being served to the military.
    • Reed Mangels was interviewed by Today’s Dietitian magazine about vegetarian diets for older people, The Marquette High School Newspaper in Missouri about vegetarian teens, and Baltimore’s Child magazine about vegetarian children.


    • VRG’s Nutrition Advisor was interviewed on the Dr. Don radio show concerning vegetarian diets for teens.

Outreach to the General Public

    • VRG had an outreach table at Baltimore’s Vegan SoulFest, Washington, DC VegFest, San Francisco VegFest, Chicago Vegan Mania, Philadelphia Greenfest, Baltimore’s Waverly Farmers Market, New York City Veggie Pride Parade, Valley VegFest in Hadley, Massachusetts, Worcester VegFest in Massachusetts, EcoFest in Baltimore, VRG vegan dinner in Atlanta, Georgia at Moorehouse Medical School, Baltimore VegFest, Richmond VegFest in Virgina, Taking Action for Animals in Washington, DC, Western New York VegFest in Albany, NY, Charlottesville VegFest in Virginia, and many other places!

We greatly appreciate your support of our outreach activities. Please donate here:

Prepare Quick Kale-Based Vegan Dishes

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Chef Nancy Berkoff, Rd, Ed.D shares quick-and-easy tips to prepare vegan dishes with kale. See:

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal go to:

New Vegan Restaurants Added To VRG’s Online Guide to Veggie Restaurants

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group has an online guide to veggie restaurants in the USA and Canada on their website. Below are some recent vegan restaurant additions. You can access the guide at:

Cleveland Vegan Catering and Cafe
17112 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107
The vegan based menu consists of organically grown veggies from local farmers. Being health conscious and environmentally kind is their main concern in creating meals with care. Patrons enjoy delectable dishes such as the Spinach Asparagus Omelet made with red pepper, tofu, almond milk, and black salt; as well as the Banana Almost French toast made with cinnamon, apple compote, and coconut whipped cream. Serving dishes with identical tastes as the animal-based products, most diners don’t even remember that they are eating vegan!

307 Old York Rd.
Jenkintown PA 19046
Located down the street from the Hiway Theater. Flora offers an entirely vegan menu with incredibly creative dishes. Choices include Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Tamales, and the Wild Mushroom Duxelle. The menu is served in three courses with the option for dessert, so be sure to bring a hearty appetite. Accepts reservations. BYOB. Cash only.

Gangster Vegan
2454 W Main St
Norristown, PA 19403
Attractively styled dishes show ‘swag’ as the colorful vegetable based plates are named after your favorite Hip Hop culture titles. With delectable pies such as the Sweet Thing consisting of Walnuts, Dates, Sweet Potato, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean, and Coconut oil; and Smoothies and Juices that hit the spot, Gangster Vegan ‘chills out’ even the hungriest appetite.

Green & Tonic
7 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT 06807
098 Boston Post Road, Darien, CT 06820
5 Burtis Ave., New Canaan, CT 06840
85 Railroad Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830
Green & Tonic features a wide selection of juices, smoothies, and snacks. Juice choices range from classic combinations like the Green Monster to exotic blends like the Turmeric Tonic. The menu also has a seasonal selection of salads, wraps, and soups. Choose from hearty options like the Baked Falafel Salad or the Vegan “Tuna” Wrap. There are several locations of this juice bar in Connecticut.

179 SE Mizner Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Multi-colored geometrics with a vibrant vibe, Juceateria takes pride in cleanliness as well as friendliness. Recreating your favorite fast food items into delectable pieces of health heaven, this café still delivers big on the quality. Offering chia, maca, flax, spirulina, goji berries, and raw cocoa. Multi-Menus available including the Juice bar menu, Raw Garden Menu, and Pre/Post Workout Menu, as well as Raw Food Classes.

Jukai Juice
3600 Hickory Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21211
Jukai Juice is located in the Hampden area of Baltimore. Offering juices produced daily by a specialized cold-press which allows the lowest oxidation levels when extracting maximum vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. These low oxidation levels allow the juices to be stored for 3 to 5 days at 38 degrees. Refreshing Juices include the Hulk- which is made from kale, pineapple, green apple, lemon, and ginger. Purchases can be made online as well.

Livehara Café
116 South 20th Ave.
Hollywood, FL 33020
Indoors presents an intimate setting of pleasant soft music piped in along with cool central air and Wi-Fi and booths along a wall. A nice outdoor seating area under umbrellas is also available. Daily Signatures such as the Nori Wrap and Thai Curry Soup are rounded off with guilt free sweets like the Raw Cheesecake. Wash it down with a juice like the Apple Detox or a Smoothie like the Blueberry Bliss.

Seed + Salt
2240 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Seed + Salt features a wide variety of vegan and gluten free menu items. Stop in for breakfast to try the Savory Chickpea Frittata or 72 Hour Granola. Or choose from their many lunch and dinner options like the Eggplant BLT Sandwich. The menu also features a selection of gluten free breads meant to be eaten with their various sweet and savory spreads.

Two Mamma’s Vegan Kitchen
3700 E. 12th St.
Oakland, CA 94601
Two Mamma’s Vegan Kitchen is an eclectic café serving locally and ethically sourced food. They offer a breakfast and brunch menu as well as soups, sandwiches, salads, and entrees. They even have home-made ice cream. This café is truly a vegan heaven!

V Street Food Bar
126 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Located in Rittenhouse Square on 19th St., the V Street Food Bar offers an enormous assortment of different types of street food from around the world. The portions are light to allow for a variety of tasting, and even sharing with your party. Diners are raving about the Mushroom Dan Dan Noodles of zucchini, red chile and Thai basil and the Langos which is a flat round bread with a remoulade sauce, topped with smoked beets, sauerkraut and dill. The flavor combinations are uniquely created to spoil your palate.

7988 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Vromage is located in a strip mall with convenient free parking. They offer a variety of vegan cheeses, as well as sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and platters incorporating the nut-based, aged cheeses such as Veganzola and Mozzarella. The friendly owner also offers free samples.

Zen Mystery Cafe
56 N Federal Highway
Dania Beach, FL 33004
An organic tea lounge located in a meditation center. Its peaceful atmosphere, tall ceilings, and a sweet little sitting nook allows patrons to unwind and enjoy. Choose from starters such as the Raw Vegan Pate and Fresh Veggies or Soup of the day. Mains like the Save-The-Tuna Roll consisting of “sushi” rolls stuffed with rainbow veggies including cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, purple cabbage and mixed baby greens along with flat breads and a vegan spread are sure to please the palate.

We would like to thank our volunteers Shani Stewart, Anne Porterfield Custer and Matt Baker, RN. for their help with the restaurant guide. If you would like to volunteer to help with the restaurant guide or other projects, please contact Nina at


Posted on December 12, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

2014 Winners are featured here:

In 2015, thanks to an anonymous donor The Vegetarian Resource Group will be awarding $20,000 in scholarship money to graduating High School seniors that have promoted vegetarian/vegan diets over an extended period of time in their community, school, etc.

The deadline to enter the 2015 contest is February 20, 2015 and details can be found here:


Posted on December 11, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Earlier this year, The Vegetarian Resource Group did a national survey conducted by Harris Poll of more than 1,200 U.S. youth ages 8-18. We asked the following:

Which of the following, if any, best describes your eating behavior? (Just select one choice.)

    1. You never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry.
    2. You don’t eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry at one meal per week.
    3. You don’t eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry one full day per week.
    4. You don’t eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry at many of your meals, but less than half the time.
    5. You don’t eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry at more than half of your meals, but not all the time.
    6. You never eat meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy, or eggs.
    7. Not any of the above. No answer.

To see the results of this poll visit:

To see other polling results from The Vegetarian Resource Group go to:


Posted on December 11, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Thank you to the Bank of America employee who recently made a donation to VRG, which was matched by Bank of America. To see if your large employer matches donations, see and select “Would you like your employer to match? You could double your donation.”

Thanks so much for your support!

A Vegan Chanukah Celebration

Posted on December 10, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Chanukah is a time that extended families gather together. Here are three vegan recipes you can share with your friends and family during this 8-day celebration.

Tofu/Potato Pancakes
(from Conveniently Vegan)
Makes 8 pancakes – serve 2 per person

2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups water
1 box (about 10-12 ounces) extra firm silken tofu, crumbled
½ cup matzo meal
Small onion, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons oil

Place potatoes in water in a large covered pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes over a medium-high heat. Drain.
Place the cooked potatoes and remaining ingredients (except for the oil) in a food processor cup. Blend until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown pancakes on each side for 8 minutes. Flip over carefully. Serve warm pancakes with applesauce.

Vegan Noodle Kugel (from Vegans Know How to Party)
Serves 5

Vegetable oil spray
One 12-ounce package wide vegan noodles (lasagna noodles work well)
1½ cups silken tofu
¾ cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange zest
½ cup raisins
½ cup drained, chopped canned peaches
1½ cups peeled, cored, and cubed green apples
¼ cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a loaf pan (about 4 inches deep and 8 inches long) with oil. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, and cool. Using a blender or mixer, puree tofu with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and zest.
In a large bowl, combine raisins, peaches, apples, and applesauce. Whip in tofu mixture. Add in noodles and mix until well combined. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden.

Variations: For different flavors, use pineapple or apricots instead of peaches and dried cranberries and cherries or apricots instead of raisins. Whole wheat noodles can be used in this recipe.

Festive Cashew Cookies (from Simply Vegan)
Makes 2 dozen

2 cups raw cashews
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup molasses or maple syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Small jar fruit-only jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grind the raw cashews and rolled oats together in a food processor for a few minutes. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except for the jam. Mix all the ingredients together.
Form 24 round balls and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. With your thumb, form a small well in the center of each ball. Place a small amount of jam in each well. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow cookies to cool before removing from the cookie sheet. These cookies make a wonderful gift!

VRG’s Affinity Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card

Posted on December 10, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group with VRG’s affinity Visa® Platinum Rewards credit card!

When a cardholder activates the card, The Vegetarian Resource Group receives $50. Then for the life of the program, VRG will receive a portion of every dollar that each cardholder charges. The VRG Visa® Platinum Rewards card offers qualified cardholders exceptional benefits including no annual fee, a low APR and reward points for shopping at participating merchants. View FAQs.

Add your support with every purchase when you use the The VRG Visa® Platinum Rewards card. To apply, see:

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