The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Tasting of American meat alternative and opportunities in Germany for those products

Posted on October 25, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Alicia Hückmann, intern visiting from Germany

Thanks to this year’s Natural Products Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center, I was able to discover some amazing brands and products that I had never seen or paid attention to at grocery stores before. Tofurky was the only US brand for meat alternatives that I had tried before and heard of, so this event was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my horizon. Some of the products that I was very impressed with include:

1. Sweet Earth Naturals – Hickory & Sage Benevolent Bacon
When I opened the package at home, I was actually undecided about whether to fry the strips or throw them out right away. As I actually liked the smell, I decided to give them a try anyway. The best decision I made that day! After no more than two minutes, the stripes’ color had changed to dark red and their texture had become more firm, crispy even. Needless to say, they tasted absolutely heavenly. The combination of spices tasted as good as it smelled and completely blended with the mock meat during the frying process.

2. Vegetarian Plus – Vegan Black Pepper Steak
Of all products at the Vegetarian Plus Booth, this was by far my favorite (as well as a personal Products Expo highlight). Covered in mouthwatering thick, shiny black pepper sauce, this meat alternative looks just as delicious as it tastes. Its texture is close to perfection as it is chewy, yet soft enough to be easily enjoyed. Although it is made from soy, it is virtually impossible to guess because the spiciness of the sauce cover up the soy’s signature taste very well. The food is easily prepared as it only need to be heated up.

3. Hilary’s – Root Veggie Burger
Although (or rather because) this product does not even try to imitate meat taste-wise or appearance-wise, it has become one of my favorite meat alternatives. While it is conveniently shaped and can be used like a meat pattie, it uses plants to create an original flavor rather than reproduce an already existing one. Its texture is extremely soft and fluffy, which is, however, also a little bit of a disadvantage as it tends to fall apart relatively easily. Hilary’s uses natural, organic ingredients for their burgers and is free from common allergens.

4. Jackfruit products – The Jackfruit Company and Edward and Sons
I had never heard of jackfruit before coming to the USA so I was a little skeptical when I was offered samples of a meat alternative made from fruit at the expo. I am glad I tried it anyway! Considering the fact that the cans of jackfruit contained very few ingredients besides the fruit itself, I was even more surprised how tough the texture and how savory the taste was. Jackfruit meat substitutes were some of the products whose taste came less close to that of animal meat compared to others. The reason why I enjoyed them as much as I did, however, was the fact that they had a very unique flavor that blended perfectly with added spices and sauces.

5. Beer Brats – Tofurky
Back in the days when I still ate meat, I used to be a passionate lover of German sausages. In fact, I still remember exactly what they taste like even after not having had any in more than two years. When I first came across Tofurky’s Beer Brats a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrow at the idea of an American vegan brand attempting to imitate German sausages. But after witnessing how they did not only look but also almost exactly tasted like the Bratwursts I grew up with after frying them in a pan, I entirely changed my mind about this product. Who would have thought I would find my favorite vegan version of a German dish in the US? It is amazing what a good recipe and a few spices can do!

In my opinion, meat alternatives in America are generally better at imitating meat products. The foods I tried at the expo were astonishingly similar tasting. Apparently, many Americans attach great importance to alternatives being very similar to meat products that they grew up with or were used to eating as non-vegetarians. This would explain why Vegetarian Plus sells vegan whole turkeys for example.

Needless to say, I merely managed to get a glimpse of the US market for meat analogues during the three months of my stay but this is a rather striking tendency I noticed. Products like Hilary’s burgers remained more of an exception. During my two meatless years in Germany, on the other hand, I observed that the market there is a little more diverse. While some products willingly imitate the shape and texture of meat (like fake Schnitzel, sausages, cold cuts, and patties), this is mainly due to the fact that these shapes are very convenient when it comes to frying, grilling, and preparing food. In regard to taste, many products work with their original soy, seitan, or tofu base’s flavor rather than trying to cover it up entirely. The companies selling products that do are often part of the meat industry and either imitate their own products (like Rügenwalder Mühle) or traditional products popular among meat eaters that claim to taste like the original.

I see three different gaps on the German market for meat alternatives:

1. Meat alternatives that come close enough to animal meat to confuse a regular meat eater
Products that might have a chance to fill this particular gap include those by Sweet Earth Naturals, Vegetarian Plus, and Tofurky. All genuinely German brands I have tried so far either didn’t taste like meat at all or contained many artificial and fatty ingredients.

2. Jackfruit
As I mentioned before, Jackfruit is hardly known in Germany. Although I read a few articles by German bloggers about it, I haven’t seen any Jackfruit products in supermarkets so far. This might be the perfect time for Jackfruit producers to claim the market before European brands catch up with the trend.

3. Vegetable and grain based alternatives
While the German market does certainly not need any more average tofu, tempeh, and seitan products, meat alternatives made from vegetables and superfood like quinoa is definitely a rarity on supermarket shelves. I can imagine that they might even be more appealing to occasional meat eaters and vegetarians alike. As they do not even try to compete with the taste of animal meat, they can create unique flavors that cannot be found anywhere in the traditional omnivore cuisine but are exclusive to the vegetarian one.

Thank you, Samosa House!

Posted on October 24, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Thank You Very Much to Samosa House in Los Angeles, CA for Supporting VRG’s Outreach to Young People!

Samosa House is an entirely vegetarian Indian restaurant and market offering both northern and southern Indian food. They have many unique dishes such as Banana Curry, Hara-Bhara Kabab (spinach and peas kabob), and Soy Tikka Masala (soy nuggets with tomato sauce and coconut milk). They also offer a vegan Mango Lassi (a beverage). After you have enjoyed your meatless meal, check out the Indian spices, sweets, teas, and much more in the store!

Samosa House has been a landmark since 1979. They are located at 11510 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066. They are open daily for lunch and dinner.

For more information on this restaurant see:


Posted on October 24, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


According to the Subway website, their guacamole contains Hass avocados,
jalapeno puree (white vinegar, jalapeno peppers, salt), onion, garlic,
and sea salt. They do not include sour cream in the ingredients.

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 fast food listings, see

For listings of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the USA and Canada,

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

Posted on October 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor
Sweets at Clementine Bakery in Brooklyn, NY

Sweets at Clementine Bakery in Brooklyn, NY

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:

To support the updating of this online restaurant guide, please donate at:

500 Terminal Ave. Unit A05
Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z2 Canada
Soaking over 30,000 organic chickpeas every night, the restaurant lives up to its name. Chickpeas offers six flavors of hummus – black bean, red beet, roasted red pepper, avocado, mango, and kiwi. Regular falafel is offered along with fawaffles – falafel shaped liked waffles – and falafel chips. Warm pita bread and fresh vegetables complement the chickpea-based meals. Specialty coffees and house-made herbal teas are also available.

Clementine Bakery
299 Greene Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238
All their baked goods are organic and vegan. Enjoy Danishes, Scones, Cupcakes, Brownies, and so much more. They also serve sandwiches including Tempeh Reuben, Grilled Cheese, and Tempeh Bacon with Lettuce and Avocado. They also have vegan milk shakes during the summer.

Eve’s Garden
2323 W. Main St., Ste. 105
Dothan, AL 36301
Eve’s Garden offers a vegan menu with dishes ranging from pastas and pizzas to sandwiches, nachos, and enchiladas; there’s also a small breakfast menu. Cooked dishes are clearly noted but most are raw – the pastas are made with zucchini or kelp noodles and sandwiches are served on rehydrated bread. Desserts include salted caramel bars and chocolate ganache. Chocolate cravings can also be met with a chocolate protein shake or chocolate mesquite smoothies. The café has daily specials and a seasonal menu.

Field of Greens
2320 W. Alabama St.
Houston, TX 77098
Field of Greens offers classic American and Mexican dishes with a vegan twist. It is a very inclusive dining establishment because there are gluten free, raw, and sugar free options. The seaweed club sandwich is a unique and healthy sandwich and the spinach enchiladas are highly recommended.

Make, Believe Bakery
214 East 13th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
This is a vegan bakery that also specializes in allergy free baking. Breakfast pastries include Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls, Carrot Zucchini Biscuits, and Scones. They also sell a variety of cookies, brownies and bars, pies and tarts, cakes, cupcakes, and specialty items such as Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.

Modern Love
317 Union Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Enjoy vegan comfort food including Tempeh Stuffed Avocado, Citrus Beet Salad, Curried Fried Rice, Mac & Shews, Epic Eggplant Lasagna, Death By Chocolate Cheesecake, and Dulce De Leche Cream Pie.

Morgan’s Cat Café
35 West Market St., Ste. 1
Redhook, NY 12571
This Cat Cafe is the only place in the Hudson Valley where you can enjoy a gourmet dessert, veggie burgers, wraps, while watching or petting adoptable kittens and cats. Enjoy salads, wraps, burgers such as Asian Slaw Burger and Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, and more.

Sweets By Chloe
185 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012
Satisfy your sweet tooth, choosing from a selection of cakes, cupcakes, cookie, pies, breakfast pastries, and bars. All bakery item are made fresh daily. Full-sized custom cakes can be ordered online at, and slices are available for purchase in store. Flavors include hummingbird, chocolate raspberry, and pumpkin among others. Chocolate and vanilla combinations are available gluten free. The bakery also offers a variety of teas and coffees to complement your sweet selections.

The Beer Plant
3110 Windsor Rd.
Austin, TX 78703
While most bar food isn’t fit for vegans, The Beer Plant is a 100% vegan gastropub with a farmhouse atmosphere featuring bar snacks, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, and some heartier dishes, including battered hearts of palm and pulled BBQ spaghetti squash. The Beer Plant boasts over 40 taps, local wines, and a botanical cocktail list. A kids menu, dessert menu, and non-alcoholic beverages, including local kombucha, nitro coffee, and yaupon tea, caters to beer lovers and beyond. Outdoor seating available and they do take reservations.

Vegeway Burger Drive Thru
7790 S. Jones Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 12571
VegeWay Burger Drive Thru has been described as “In n Out” for vegans. They offer a variety of burgers, fries, and “milk”shakes, and popcorn “chicken.” VegeWay is a one of a kind dining establishment in Las Vegas.

Vegan Garden Pesto by LeGrand

Posted on October 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Alicia Hückmann, VRG intern

What I find somewhat annoying about most dressings is that they come in glass or plastic bottles that will make you poke around with a knife for ages to get the last bits out of the container. LeGrand’s vegan garden pesto, however, is packed in a convenient pouch that allows you to simply press its content out like toothpaste. And if that is not enough already, you can cut the package open and scratch out the remaining drops – which wouldn’t be unusual in my opinion considering how good the pesto is! It basically tastes like liquidized parsley and basil with a slight touch of lemon that will turn every dish into a tasty herb garden. Although I had doubts about the accuracy of the common serving size printed on the back of the pouch at first (2 teaspoons), I changed my mind when I found out how intense the pesto’s flavor is.

Unfortunately, the product is relatively high in fat and sodium, so people who are trying to lose weight or to follow a healthy diet especially should not consume it on a daily basis but rather as a once-in-a-while treat. That being said, LeGrand’s pesto is easily prepared and ready to eat in no time, absolutely delicious, and spices up every noodle dish!

VEGDINING.COM invites you to celebrate World Vegetarian Month (October)

Posted on October 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

vegetables and fruits

Our friends at invite you to celebrate World Vegetarian Month (October). Visit one or more of your favorite veg restaurants during October and for each fully veg restaurant you visit, submit a mini-review (3 sentences or more) on You’ll be entered to win a veg prize, including a $100 VRG gift certificate! Last date to enter Oct 31 – more details and contest entry at

Books Meet Food at Red Emma’s in Baltimore

Posted on October 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Alicia Hückmann, intern visiting from Germany

One of the first restaurants I went to upon arriving in Baltimore was Red Emma’s, a worker cooperative not far away from Penn Station and the Maryland Institute of Art (30 West North Avenue). What’s truly unique about this place, even more so than the food itself, is its alternative spirit as well as its political and social commitment. Founded in 2004 by members of Black Planet Books, Red Emma’s was originally meant to provide financial support for the anarchist book shop by selling food and creating an atmosphere that appeals to a variety of people.

Today, they do not only provide a stage for activist groups, authors and speakers (I witnessed a speech by the transgender community while enjoying dinner there once) but they also encourage customers to make a small donation that funds meals for people in need. Furthermore, there is always an affordable, healthy $5 option on the menu for those unable to spend much money on food. My personal highlight, however, has to be the book store that is crammed with all kinds of genres of leftist and radical literature. There are books on animal rights, cookbooks, social injustice, minority groups, sexual orientation, politics, and feminism; classical novels and children’s books dealing with controversial themes and taboos, as well as works by some of the key figures of sociology like Judith Butler and Michel Foucault.

The actual reason why I first set foot into this restaurant was food, though – vegan food to be more precise. Although Red Emma’s is not 100% vegan (they are all vegetarian), a large part of their menu is (as well as all of their desserts!) and there are vegan alternatives for almost all vegetarian items. I decided to order a spanakopita as my main dish, which is a spinach and cashew-“cheese” filled pastry from Greece. My food was ready to pick up at the counter after a few minutes, so I didn’t have to wait long at all. The spanakopita was served with a small cup of homemade vegan Tzatziki sauce that complimented the flavor of the pastry: As the spanakopita had a rich, savory flavor while the sauce was rather spicy and piquant, they both fitted together really well. For this dish, I paid $6 which is a good deal considering that Red Emma’s uses organic ingredients.

Ordering dessert at Red Emma’s always means making a very tough choice. They usually serve four different kinds of sweet vegan pastry (like whoopie pies, cupcakes, and cake) that they put on display in a showcase. The prices for a piece range between $3-6. I decided to be a little daring this time when I ordered a blueberry-ginger cupcake (I love blueberries but I hate ginger!). Upon taking my first bite, I knew that I had no reason to regret my decision. The muffin was very fluffy, not too sweet and had a slightly tangy touch to it that I really liked. The frosting on top on the other hand was creamy and although it was made from vegan butter, I didn’t find it to be too fatty or greasy.

Red Emma’s is definitely a great place to go if you’re looking for a unique, extraordinary and affordable dining experience. Check out their menu and their website to learn more about them:

For information about other vegetarian restaurants in the United States, see:


Posted on October 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

bvff-logo-newnameThe annual Boston VegFest will be held on Saturday October 22 (11am to 6pm) and Sunday October 23 (10am to 6pm) at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Admission is free and you will find a wide variety of non-profit groups exhibiting, as well as veggie food vendors and more. There are also numerous speakers each day.

For details, visit:

What do I say when people ask about my vegan/vegetarian diet?

Posted on October 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Savannah Lawrence, VRG intern

As someone who enjoys socializing over food, I often get unsolicited questions about my choice to be a vegetarian. Be it dining at someone’s home where there are no meatless options present, attending a holiday dinner at a distant relative’s home, or dining out and having to inquire about meatless options not listed on the menu, it’s hard to conceal that I’m a vegetarian when it’s time to eat. Sometimes I want to hide it because I know that I’ll be peppered with questions regarding my diet once people find out or are reminded. However, I’m there to enjoy my friends and family, not start a debate about animal welfare, the food industry, or the health benefits of a meatless diet.

While other vegans and vegetarians may take different approaches when asked questions about their diets, I don’t wish to discuss my reasoning, and I like to make that known from the start. I treat my diet like I treat my political opinions – neither are something I’ll willingly discuss at any time. While I don’t want to counter with, “Why do you care? It’s not like I ask why you eat meat?” when questioned about my diet, there are a few responses I use that are polite and understanding but still firm. Try one of these non-confrontational phrases to shut down comments you may not wish to engage:

· “I’d like us to have the chance to enjoy our meal without going into detail about our dietary choices, but maybe we can talk about them later.”

· “While I’d be happy to discuss my reasoning for choosing a vegetarian/vegan diet at another occasion, it’s not something I wish to do right now. Let’s set up a separate time.”

· “I appreciate your interest in my lifestyle choices, but my reasons for choosing a vegetarian/vegan diet are personal, so I typically don’t discuss them OR I’d rather not discuss them right now.”

Perhaps the person isn’t so polite and understanding. When attending an Easter dinner at the home of my fiancé’s grandparents, his grandfather loudly proclaimed in the middle of dinner that a vegetarian diet was stupid. If caught in a similarly uncomfortable situation, try responding with, “I respect your choice to eat meat, and I hope that you could respect my choice not to.” As the saying goes, kill them with kindness. Responding with an equally brash comment will get you nowhere; I would’ve only solidified the opinion that a vegetarian diet was stupid!

If you’re willing to discuss your reasoning, consider the setting and company before deciding how detailed a response to give. For example, if sitting at a restaurant with a group of friends, it’s probably not appropriate to give detailed horrors about the meat industry with the insights from the latest PETA videos you saw. A better response may be, “I’ve learned some sad details about how animals at most factory farms are treated, so I decided to stop eating animal products.” If asked for details, consider saying no until people are done eating or ensure that everyone at the table wants to hear the details.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid questions about your diet as a vegetarian or vegan, but there are ways to manage the questions and put yourself in control of the conversations. Maybe you have all the information you need and would love to start a debate, but if you’re just trying to eat your dinner in peace, approach the questions by considering the setting, company, and a respectful yet resolute response. You don’t have to stay silent, but you also don’t have to respond defensively. Take a minute to step back and think before responding, and you’ll create a positive image for vegetarians and vegans everywhere!


Posted on October 17, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Whitney Gray, VRG intern

Looking back on my own childhood, I had no clue what a vegan or even a vegetarian was. I just ate what my parents gave me, which wasn’t particularly healthy and rarely vegan, save for some unadulterated fruit or accidentally vegan junk food (sorry mom, love you). I find my little cousins who I currently live with to have similar taste buds to what I had at their ages, which are 10-12. They’re three boys with huge appetites and they love fast food, cookies, chips, and all the mac and cheese they can fit in their little bellies. But to my surprise, one has been taking an interest in my meals, asking why I eat differently, “What’s the green stuff?,” and “Does it still taste good?” With one happy accident, I got them to try a healthy meal, and they actually loved it.

I decided to make a stir-fry the other day to use up some ingredients I had lying around. My mom and I had bought tons of quinoa a few months back, and discovered that we didn’t like eating it on its own after a few nights of force feeding ourselves and willing it to be delicious. To use it all up, I usually mix about a cup with two cups of jasmine rice and cook it all together. I also had some pre- cooked, marinated tempeh and fresh broccoli in the fridge that I had to use up before it went bad. I threw in a stir-fry vegetable mix from the freezer for some extra veggies. I cooked the mixture in a just a bit of coconut oil and of course added soy sauce and an array of spices until I was satisfied with the flavor.

Right when I was dishing up a portion for myself, one of the boys came in the kitchen begging if he could have some as well. They’re accustomed to eating Chinese takeout at least once a week, so when they see rice, they just assume it’s close enough to what they’re used to. I let him try just about a spoonful and his big eyes lit up. The twins, who are 10, eat like grown men so they ended eating almost all of my stir-fry, but I was over the moon. They kept raving about how delicious it was and one even called it the best rice he ever had. My aunt also had a plate and thoroughly enjoyed it. What was most amusing, however, was that no one noticed the quinoa. The jasmine rice was light brown from the soy sauce, so the color disguised the little quinoa grains mixed throughout the dish. The tempeh didn’t go by unnoticed, but the boys just thought it was meat, even though they know I don’t eat or cook any. One even said, “This could use some meat,” and smirked in my direction just to annoy me and then another chimed in with “The meat is right here, see,” while pointing his fork at a tiny cube of tempeh.

I sat grinning and watching as my family devoured a meal full of new ingredients with no complaints. The thing that people don’t realize about vegan cooking is that it isn’t very different from using animal products. No one boils a chicken breast and just eats it plain, or at least I hope you wouldn’t put yourself through that. If anything, people will at least add salt and pepper to their meals and those with more cooking experiences know how to play around with a variety of herbs and spices to add more flavor. You can take any plant food and create a delicious meal with the right seasoning and cooking methods. I was so happy to show the kids that no, not everything Cousin Whitney eats is gross or weird. It’s just another version of what they’re used to.

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