The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

VEGAN WRAPS TO SAVE TIME

Posted on July 30, 2015 by The VRG

By Lily Donofrio

Humans have a natural tendency to innovate. We are always looking for ways to speed up our daily tasks and make our lives easier. Many people fall victim to skipping breakfast or lunch due to lack of time. Wraps are easy to prepare and great for on the go munching. They are delicious and packed with nutrition and are easy to customize as preferred.

Spicy Hummus Wraps
Whole wheat tortilla
Lentil hummus (recipe below)
Spinach
Roasted peppers
Sriracha sauce
Spicy Veganaise (recipe below)

Lentil Hummus:
1 cup slightly overcooked cooked lentils (easier to blend)
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Spicy Veganaise:
1/2 cup Vegenaise(vegan mayonnaise)
2 Tablespoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon lime juice (optional)
Mix ingredients together well.
Spread Lentil Hummus and Spicy Veganaise onto a tortilla, layer with spinach, peppers, and then drizzle with Sriracha sauce. Fold into wrap formation.

Avocado Chicky Salad Wraps
20 large, rinsed lettuce leaves
2 mashed avocados
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup chopped spinach
Juice of one lime
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ red onion, chopped
Salt to taste

Combine and mix mashed avocado, cooked chickpeas, lime juice, red onion, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, salt, and chopped spinach. Dollop mixture generously into lettuce leaves and fold avocado salad laden leaves into a wrap formation.

Green Machine Wrap
3 Tablespoons guacamole
½ cup spinach
¼ cup sprouts
2 Tablespoons edamame
Spinach tortilla
Layer ingredients on the tortilla as preferred.

Asian Lettuce Wrap
Large piece of lettuce
1 cup crumbled tofu
¼ cup chopped red pepper
⅓ cup shredded carrots
2 teaspoons diced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 to 2 teaspoons ginger powder
⅓ cup crushed walnuts
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
⅛ cup sesame oil

Combine everything except for the lettuce leaves and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the tofu from sticking. Serve warm in cold, fresh lettuce leaves.

Veggie Wrap
Shredded carrots
¼ avocado
Cucumber
Hummus
3 Tablespoons cooked quinoa
Spinach or shredded kale
Whole grain tortilla

Layer your wrap with however much of each ingredient you prefer, starting with the tortilla as a base, then the hummus.

Lily is a long-distance Vegetarian Resource Group intern. She lives in Florida.

My Internship

Posted on July 30, 2015 by The VRG

By Ivy Grob

Julie Andrews once said, “Sometimes opportunities float right past your
nose. Work hard, apply yourself, and be ready. When an opportunity comes
you can grab it.”

When I first got the email from Charles Stahler back in January about a
possible internship in Baltimore with The Vegetarian Resource Group, I
was overwhelmed with the possibility. Lots of circumstances were unsure,
but one thing stood out as definite in my mind; this was an opportunity
that I could not let pass me by. Plans became final as emails were
exchanged back and forth and it was decided that I would be the 2015
recipient of the Eleanor Wolff Scholarship. My heart was overrun with
joy that it would actually be feasible for me to travel from Florida
because of the kindness from the donors of the scholarship. And as the
spring semester of my first year of college ended and summer finally
arrived, opportunity transformed into reality.

My first day at the VRG office was a full orientation to the operation
of a non-profit, grassroots organization. I was stimulated by
conversation about my environmental interests, and my learning
experience began right away as I was informed about many environmental
organizations that I didn’t know existed. I felt very behind the curve
about current issues, but as my nerves calmed I realized I should not be
embarrassed, as I was here to learn and soak up as much information as I
could. I was endowed with an armful of VRG literature and cookbooks (a
perk to every intern) and I began right away on my assigned projects.

The VRG office is an environment that I had never encountered before in
my professional life; everyone is very laid back and the schedule of the
day is up to you. I learned quickly that this can be a blessing or a
curse but I was determined to finish each article in a timely fashion.
The VRG caters the topics of the articles you write to your interests,
so with my major being Environmental Science, I wrote my projects based
around this background. My assignments included a Teen FAQ about
starting a composting club for environmental benefits and how it relates
to promoting vegetarianism; how to do a vegan class at a Girls Inc.; and
an article exploring whether or not the dining options at my school, The
University of Florida, were truly vegan friendly. Aside from these
larger pieces, I also wrote environmental questions for the vegetarian
game, restaurant guide posts and restaurant reviews, and Veggie Bits for
the Vegetarian Journal. These were especially fun to write, and gave me
good practice with contacting representatives in a professional manner
in order to request new vegan products. I tried everything from vegan
food coloring and nail polish to macaroons and vegan meatballs.

I had the opportunity to see the city of Baltimore and to experience my
first VegFest in Richmond, Virginia by working outreach booths. This
was my favorite part of my internship, and it was incredible to see how
vast the vegan community really is. Even to those who were not vegan or
vegetarian, I was able to have fruitful and civilized conversations with
many people, and to those individuals not willing or ready to make permanent
changes, I was able to offer suggestions to help them in their daily
lives. The VRG strives to be a positive presence for vegans and
non-vegans alike, and I’m glad I got to participate and see this
firsthand at the booths.

Most of all throughout this internship, I have had the opportunity to
grow into a vegan activist that I didn’t previously know existed within
me. By working in an environment of such like-minded people, I never
have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes by expressing my vegan
beliefs. Before this internship, I thought being vegan just meant you
change your diet and the fabric of your clothes, but now I see it as so
much more. Every time you choose a vegan meal, you are choosing to be an
activist, you are choosing a healthy environment, and you are choosing
to save the life of an animal. As with any important revelation in your
life, you want to have other people have the same passionate
understanding as you. This internship has compelled me to share my vegan
beliefs with others, and has made me realize how important it is to
share as so many people still don’t know what vegan means. I’m truly
grateful to The VRG for this opportunity, and I will continue to promote
veganism for the rest of my life.

For information about The Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see:
https://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group outreach, donate at:
https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

Or join at:
http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

Visit The Vegetarian Resource Group Booth at the Animal Rights National Conference in Virginia

Posted on July 29, 2015 by The VRG

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The Vegetarian Resource Group will be having a booth at the Animal Rights National Conference (AR2015) taking place July 30 – August 2, 2015 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center hotel located at 5000 Seminary Rd in Alexandria, VA, just outside Washington, DC. If you’re attending this event, please stop by our booth and meet VRG staff, interns, and volunteers.

For more information on this conference see: http://www.arconference.org/

ANDREW PUCCETTI FROM ILLINOIS IS A 2015 VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP $5,000 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER

Posted on July 28, 2015 by The VRG

In eighth grade Andrew was on a biology field trip to a farm. He said, “When we first got there they passed around a chicken and let us hold her and bond with her. It was then that they told us our first ‘experiment’ would be chopping this chicken’s head with an axe and dissecting her … On this same trip they took two of my classmates hunting and killed a deer … The day after the trip I immediately stopped eating meat and decided that I would dedicate my life to speaking up for animals, because they cannot speak for themselves. It was a little later that I learned further about our food industry and chose to become a vegan.”

Not too long after this trip, Andrew discovered that the Humane Society of the United States had a student advisory board. “I emailed them to see how I can become involved and they asked me to become a member. On this board, I advised the organization on how they can best reach the youth with a message of compassion for animals. It was there where I met a girl not too much older than me who had started her own nonprofit organization. I was extremely impressed and inspired. It was then, at age fourteen, that I started Live Life Human (www.LiveLifeHumane.org) … Along with these accomplishments, I have been on the youth advisory boards for both peta2 and Mercy for Animals, advising them on their campaigns. As someone who was so dedicated to educating young people about vegetarianism and showing compassion towards animals, I became a youth outreach intern with Mercy for Animals … Another organization I have been involved in is Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, a summer camp that empowers teenagers to take action on a cause they care about.” YEA Camp is all vegan. Andrew was an intern and counselor in training for three summers.

“A huge thing I learned in my activism career is to only take on what you can handle, and only work on the effective projects. I now try to take on the projects that I know will save the most animals. I am lucky in that I know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, as I have chosen to dedicate my life to helping animals. I plan to get my undergraduate in biology and then apply to veterinary schools … There are also not too many vegan veterinarians and I would like to set an example for that community … Awarding me a scholarship is an investment in the future of the vegetarian movement as a whole. I will be working to help animals and spread vegetarianism throughout my career. I plan to be involved in the vegetarian movement for my entire life. The (scholarship) money will truly be used to make the vegetarian movement stronger.”

To apply for the 2016 scholarships, go to: https://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

To financially support additional scholarships or internships, you can donate at www.vrg.org/donate; The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; or call (410) 366-8343.

JAIRO JAVIER FROM ILLINOIS IS $5,000 VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP 2015 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER

Posted on July 24, 2015 by The VRG

One of Jairo’s references stated that, “Jairo has been a vegetarian in a community where vegetarianism is rare and not easy. Throughout his school career he has attended a number of PETA protests and has volunteered with Mercy for Animals. I have never met a high school student so dedicated to the rights of others (humans and nonhumans).” Other references reported, “Jairo is the most environmentally aware and animal conscious high school student that I know.” “He has been an active member of buildOn Leadership Team, also know as b.L.T. His peers jokingly called it bacon, lettuce, and tomato club, but Jairo refused and insisted that its official nickname be the broccoli, lettuce and tomato club. To my surprise, the entire group voted in his favor.”

Jairo wrote: “I live in a Mexican/Latino based community. Some find it surprising because the Mexican culture is full of spices and meat … I ran an after school club called Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals my freshman year. We made sure to be recognized in school by requesting a veggie burger for our lunch menu. We talked to the lunch personnel until we got it established. I have also been a major part in my school’s community garden.” Jairo helped with the setup of the garden and became the Garden Team’s student president. He stated, “I teach people how easy it is to get a decent snack and meal out of the garden. My biggest success is my delicious ceviche, in comparison to its counterpart. Everyone loves it and are surprised that is vegan.”

Jairo says he has attended various protests and proudly led protests himself with students from his animal rights club. At first, “No one believed that I was an activist because I was a quiet kid in school.”

“I made a decision to major in business management in college. With a bachelors degree in business, I will know the ins and outs of owning a business and open my very own vegan restaurant. It will be named El Vegan. With this alone I will show the mouth watering food that is offered and therefore contribute to my community, with a healthier outlook. I am Latino. I am vegetarian. I am a fighter, and I am an achiever. I set goals for myself and with my commitment and determination, I do as much possible to get them done. I love community service. I like knowing that I have an input in the structure of my community. The more people see how we can help each other out, the less violent our streets will be. The path to equality and peace is through service and understanding.”

To apply for the 2016 Vegetarian Resource Group college scholarships, go to: https://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

To financially support additional scholarships or internships, you can donate at www.vrg.org/donate; The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; or call (410) 366-8343.

The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook, by Chef Ron Pickarski

Posted on July 24, 2015 by The VRG
photo courtesy of www.eco-cuisine.com

Photo courtesy of www.eco-cuisine.com

Ron Pickarski is a veteran Executive Chef, IKA Culinary Olympic Gold Medalist, and creator of vegan food items sold under his Eco-Cuisine® line. Pickarski has written a new vegan cookbook for consumers that includes over 400 recipes with multiple variations as well. You’ll find numerous helpful tips and recipes ranging from salads, dressings, and condiments to side dishes, sauces, soups, sandwiches, entrées, pastries, and other desserts. Sample dishes include Asian Coleslaw, Coconut Lemon Cream Cheese, Squash Polenta with Fennel, Cajun Roux, French Curry Sauce, New England Sea Vegetable Chowder, BBQ Tempeh, Seitan Swiss Steak, Italian Pistachio Pilaf, Florentine Cookies, Mango Sorbet, Lime Torte, Brownies, and much more. Please note that this is a gourmet vegan cookbook. Photos are included.

Below are two recipes from this book to enjoy this summer.

Quinoa Bean Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
(Makes 4¾ cups)

1½ cups cooked kidney beans, drained (15 ounce can)
1½ cups cooked black beans, drained (15 ounce can)
1½ cups cooked quinoa
½ cup whole kernel corn, frozen, thawed
½ cup roasted walnuts
½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup fresh stemmed, chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon agave syrup or organic sugar
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in any order. Best to refrigerate the salad for at least an hour to let the ingredients fuse.

Italian Pistachio Pilaf
(Makes 6½ cups)

1¾ cups water
1 cup white basmati rice
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
2 cups seitan, thinly sliced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons fennel seed powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sliced scallions
½ cup chopped pistachios (optional to roast nuts)

In a 2-quart sauce pan, bring water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon salt; cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed. Turn heat off, fluff rice with a fork, then set aside.

In a 10-inch frying pan, sauté onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the seitan, pepper, fennel seed powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice, scallions, and pistachios; mix well and serve.

Variation: Substitute beans, tempeh, or tofu for the seitan.

The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook (ISBN 978-0-692-41536-8) is a 400-page hardcover book. It is published by Eco-Cuisine Inc. and you can purchase this book for $35.98 at Eco-Cuisine.com.

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group – Become a Monthly Donor!

Posted on July 23, 2015 by The VRG

The Vegetarian Resource Group is an activist non-profit organization that does veggie outreach all-year-long. We table at different events through the USA and also send literature free of charge to other groups/individuals doing educational activities in schools, hospitals, camps, restaurants, libraries, etc. around the country. 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 donor to VRG. Thanks so much for your support.

You can become a monthly or quarterly donor online here: https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

Calcium Stearate in Foods: Vegan

Posted on July 23, 2015 by The VRG

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Introduction

Calcium stearate is an anticaking agent used in a wide variety of foods including salt, spices, confections, snack products and dry mixes. The VRG noticed while doing a Spring 2015 update on stearic acid and its derivatives that several websites and books list calcium stearate as being primarily derived from cows or pigs. When we discovered from food ingredient manufacturers and suppliers that most calcium stearate used today in food products is from vegetable oils, we decided to check food labels and contact food companies to confirm if the calcium stearate present today in foods was indeed mostly or even solely vegetable-derived.

To accomplish this, we made extensive use of the Internet for locating edible products containing calcium stearate. Google® images of nutrition and supplement labels listed thousands of mostly pharmaceutical products. We went through the pages excluding supplements and any foods containing meat and/or dairy.

An immediate observation we made while searching for calcium stearate-containing foods was that very few products today contain calcium stearate unlike twenty years ago when it was more common. There are many substitute ingredients available today to take its place in foods such as silicon dioxide. (Calcium stearate, magnesium stearate as well as stearic acid are more commonly included today in dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals serving as binders or lubricants. Recent VRG research on the latter two ingredients also shows that for food and drug uses today, magnesium stearate and stearic acid are vegetable-derived in all cases we could find.)

Here is a list of food products containing calcium stearate. In every case, The VRG was told by company employees in May-July 2015 that their calcium stearate was vegetable-derived. Below the list are more details from the phone conversations and email exchanges we had while researching each product. (We’ve included Tums® products here because they are commonly used.)

Foods That Contain Vegan Calcium Stearate

Glutino’s® Strawberry Breakfast Bars

Dutch Foods® Baked Potato Crisps (ketchup flavor), Salt-n-Vinegar Chips, Rip-L Chips

Rainy Day Foods® Applesauce

Lawry’s® Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub

Fiesta Spices® products

Cookies Food Products® Flavor Enhancer & All-Purpose Seasoning

Also Salt®

Sencha Naturals® Green Tea Mints

IceChips® Candy

Barkley’s® mints

Smarties® candy

Tum’s®

Food Products

The VRG discovered that Tastefully Simple® sells a dry mix called Jalapeño Popper Warm Dip Mix containing calcium stearate but was unable to find out ingredient source information from the website.

We were told on the phone by one company representative that “we need a doctor’s note before our vendor will release source information.” When we replied that our ingredient inquiry was based on ethical reasons as vegans and not any specific health reasons, the representative only repeated her company’s policy about receiving a doctor’s note before any ingredient information beyond what is on a label could be given to consumers.

The Glutino consumer response team initially replied by email that the calcium stearate in their Strawberry Breakfast Bars “is sourced from apple powder.” The VRG found this response puzzling given that neither calcium nor stearic acid (from which calcium stearate is formed) is typically derived from apples on a commercial basis nor are they major constituents of apples. We asked Glutino to check with their food technologists to confirm.

A few days later The VRG received a call and an email from Glutino apologizing for their error. They wrote:

The calcium stearate used in our Glutino Breakfast Bars is [from] a vegetable source. Since it can be a combination of vegetable oils, we do not have the specific ingredient, but it is definitely a plant-based ingredient. So sorry for any confusion in our previous answer.

In early July 2015 The VRG noticed that calcium stearate was no longer listed in the ingredients statement for the bars (Source).

Some Dutch Foods snack products contain calcium stearate including the Baked Potato Crisps (ketchup flavor), Salt ‘n Vinegar Chips and Rip-L Potato Chips.

We called them and were informed on the phone that the “calcium stearate in all products containing calcium stearate is vegetable-derived from corn or canola.”

Rainy Day Foods sells an applesauce that has calcium stearate listed on its ingredient label. A Rainy Day Foods employee contacted their supplier, Tree Top®, who sent a Vegan/Vegetarian Statement about this product:

Dried apples, formulated fruit preps, fruit purees and concentrates are made from wholesome fruit, and do not contain any dairy or animal products. These products are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

No beef or animal by-products are used in the processing or production of these products.

Spices and Salt

We contacted McCormick’s about their Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub.

When we initially wrote to them through their website contact form we received this email response from a consumer affairs specialist:

The calcium stearate in our Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic and Chile Rub is used as an anti-caking agent used for free flowing. It is an additive that makes ingredients blend well together. The main sources it would be derived from are mineral, vegetable or animal.

When we asked if the natural flavors in this product were animal-derived we received this response:

I am sorry, but that information is proprietary. Please be advised this product is not considered vegan. Natural flavors are flavors extracted from natural sources – from the rind, juice, leaves, roots or bark of fruits, herbs and spices. The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractives.

The VRG called McCormick’s for clarification and more information. We spoke with one other consumer affairs specialist on two occasions. During those conversations we learned that there were three different suppliers for the calcium stearate in Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub. All three had been contacted about their ingredient source. We were informed by email that Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub contains no animal products and the calcium stearate listed on the ingredient statement is vegetable- based.

The Food Safety Manager at Bolner’s Fiesta Products® responded to our request for information about the calcium stearate in several of their products. He assured us on the phone that the calcium stearate in their products was derived “from a vegetable source.” The VRG asked if he knew which vegetable source was used. The Food Safety Manager checked with his supplier and called us back within minutes to inform us that their “calcium stearate is derived from palm oil.” He also asked if we’d like a complete list and so assembled the following for us:

Brisket Rub

Carne Guisada

Chili Mix

All of the Fajita Seasonings

Game Fish Seasoning

Garlic Salt

Garlic Pepper

Jerky Seasoning

Lemon Pepper (both salt and NS)

Meat Tenderizer

Onion Salt

Pico de Gallo Con Limon

Spanish Rice

Texas Style Steak

Seasoning Salt

Season-it-All

Chipotle Hamburger

The Food Safety Manager of Fiesta Products added: “Many of our blended items will have calcium stearate or silicon dioxide to be used to help prevent clumping.”

Cookies Food Products Flavor Enhancer & All-Purpose Seasoning contains calcium stearate. We called Cookies about their ingredient source and an employee followed up by email: “Just received word that the calcium stearate is from a vegetable source.”

The salt substitute Also Salt contains calcium stearate. We received an email reply to our inquiry about its source and were informed it’s a “plant source.”

Confections

Sencha Naturals sells Green Tea Mints containing calcium stearate. We requested source information by email and received this reply:

Our calcium stearate in our green tea mints is not from an animal source. Our calcium stearate is plant-based and our mints are vegan.

The VRG spoke with a representative of Ice Chips Candy about the calcium stearate in their products. Initially we were told that their calcium stearate was “…from a local winery…a by-product of grape processing.”

Doubtful that calcium stearate came from wine processing, The VRG requested that Ice Chips contact the winery for confirmation that it was the calcium stearate that was derived from wine processing and not something such as tartaric acid or cream of tartar which may be derived from wine processing.

We received this email reply from Ice Chips:

I just spoke with one of the Grannies that formulated the Ice Chips.

I apologize for giving you incorrect information, but the calcium stearate is not a product of wine-making (that would be the cream of tartar).

She did not have the exact source we get those from handy, but did assure me that both ingredients have been tested and checked, and are completely vegan. That’s actually something that the FDA allowed us to keep on our tins after double checking our sources.

There are “natural flavors” listed on the Ice Candy tins. The same company representative informed us by email that …all of our flavors are plant-based. We do list “vegan” on every flavor except the three that contain milk.

All of our flavor concentrates/oils are made specially for us by Nature’s Flavors®.

Barkley’s Mints
is the only product The VRG has seen thus far on the market that explicitly states the source of the calcium stearate used in their products on the product label. In parentheses after “calcium stearate” appears “vegetable based.”

Smarties candy contains calcium stearate. On the company website there is a vegan declaration:

Smarties ingredients contain no animal products…Our Smarties products are entirely free of meat, fish, dairy and eggs. You can rest assured that the calcium stearate is plant derived, and that no animal products were used in the processing of our candy’s ingredients…

There are some products with the Smarties brand that are not manufactured by Smarties Candy Company. We recommend always checking a product’s ingredients prior to purchase. Additionally, if the UPC number on the packaging begins with “0 11206”, you can be assured that the product is vegan and manufactured in a facility that makes solely vegan products.

Supplements

Many Tums products contain either calcium stearate or magnesium stearate. We spoke with a product specialist who informed us that there are “no animal derivatives in Tums…magnesium stearate and calcium stearate are not of animal origin…”

Here is a list of Tums products containing calcium or magnesium stearate:

Tums Freshers – cool mint and spearmint flavors

Tums Extra Strength Sugar-Free

Tums Smoothies – assorted fruit; assorted tropical fruit; berry fushion; peppermint flavors

Tums Kids

Tums’ product specialist pointed out that one Tums product contains a dairy ingredient: Tums Chewy Delights. This is stated on labels.

Conclusion

This list of foods containing calcium stearate is probably not exhaustive. It is representative of the types of food products that calcium stearate could be found in today. Since The VRG could not find even one animal-derived calcium stearate-containing food product and considering what ingredient manufacturers and suppliers had told us, we consider this a vegan ingredient noted with the caveat that although it is theoretically possible that calcium stearate for food use could be derived from lard or tallow, it is not so on a commercial basis in 2015. For more discussion and support of this classification see: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2015/05/06/anti-caking-agents-including-calcium-and-magnesium-stearate-non-animal-according-to-us-industry/

Animal fat-based calcium stearate does have wide applications in several non-food related industries today including the cosmetics, plastics & rubber, paint & coatings, construction and paper industries although some companies have expressed concern over the safety of animal-derived ingredients.

For a historical overview: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/alwayssomethingnew/Animal32.pdf

For more recent information:

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-articles/animal-derived-agents-in-disposable-systems/1090/

http://www.doverchem.com/Portals/0/Stearate%20BSE-TSE%20Statement.pdf (Dover’s site concerns non-food uses only.)

http://www.peter-greven.de/en/food-additives/

http://www2.mallinckrodt.com/active_pharmaceutical_ingredients/stearates/ (ingredient source listed by clicking on number before chemical name under list titled “Stearates Products”)

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.

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at:
http://www.vrg.org/member/donate_buttons.php
Join at: http://www.vrg.org/party/index.php

CHLOE FALKENHEIM FROM VIRGINA IS 2015 VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP $10,000 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER

Posted on July 22, 2015 by The VRG

Chloe said she became vegetarian at age 9 during a family dinner. Though her parents didn’t become vegetarian, she feels lucky they were supportive.

Chloe wrote: “I founded my vegetarian club at Yorktown High School, called Students Advocating Vegetarian Eating (SAVE) in my sophomore year, and have been president since. Through the club, I met with the Food and Nutrition Services directors at Yorktown High School. The directors agreed to add falafel, bean wraps, couscous salad, and tomato sauce (instead of meat sauce) to the school menu and we designed a labeling system to facilitate eating vegetarian and vegan in the cafeteria. I brought speakers, such as from the Humane League, to talk to 500 students about factory farming and the benefits of vegetarianism. I successfully advocated adding plant based nutrition to the Yorktown High School teacher’s health curriculum. My club has given out 2,000 food samples. We were awarded $945, mostly from Veg Fund, to do so … The club was originally called ‘The Animal Rights Club,’ but I decided to change the branding to focus more on vegetarianism … I started the school garden through the Roots and Shoots club at my high school. I mentored a fellow club member to apply for a grant from the Pollination Project for $1000. We also raised $842 through a fundraising partnership with Chipotle … We grew plants such as basil and broccoli and we delivered them to the cafeteria to be included in the school’s meals.”

Chloe said when she started these activities she couldn’t find a youth activist and felt isolated. “Then I realized that if there was no youth vegan community, I would create one. That is how I founded Vegetarian and Vegan Youth (www.VegYouth.com), a non-profit network of student leaders and youth … I built the VegYouth 110-page website myself. I wrote over 50 articles about vegetarianism and veganism and about starting student groups … I hired three unpaid summer interns and managed 25 volunteers. I correspond with an advisory board of 16 leaders in the vegetarian movement.

Chloe’s references said about her: “I can wholeheartedly say that I have never met another 17-year-old with such fervor and drive … I consider Chloe to be a force of nature … She is being viewed as one of the top movement builders for vegan and vegetarian youth nationwide.”

Chloe stated, “I had a shy personality growing up and had to overcome it to do much my vegetarian activist work … Initially I was perfectionistic and had extremely high expectations for activism … I felt as if I had to give out 1,000 samples in each sampling event. With time I learned to let go and appreciate each small success, and I realized that they add up to a lot.”

Beyond college, Chloe hopes “to have a career that addresses multiple world challenges. I would like to improve the food system and food policy to make healthy, sustainable food cheaper and more abundant … Vegetarianism already encompasses so many social justice issues that I care about – the environment, human rights, hunger, health, and animal rights …” She said with this scholarship, “the financial support would free me to be able to support many more teens and college students to become vegetarian and leaders for vegetarianism.”

To apply for the 2016 Vegetarian Resource Group college scholarships, go to:
https://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

To financially support additional scholarships or internships, you can donate
at www.vrg.org/donate; The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; or call (410) 366-8343 9am-5pm ET Monday through Friday.

Getting Involved in Organic Farming

Posted on July 21, 2015 by The VRG

Written by Anne Custer, VRG Intern

Veganism, as many know, is not just a diet, but a complete lifestyle change. Becoming more aware of where food comes is a common interest among vegans. Learning about environmental effects of meat and dairy production made me more aware and concerned about the way our world is treated. This new awareness led me to start my own garden and compost pile and hopefully one day to work short term on an organic farm. I’m not saying all vegans are gardeners and tree huggers, but veganism does come with a greater appreciation and respect for the Earth.

Have you ever been curious about gardening, composting, or small scale farming? Working on an organic farm would allow you to experience and learn about all of these facets and more. Devlyn Perugini, former VRG intern, has experienced this first hand while working on a farm for two months on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. She still credits it as the “greatest, most rewarding and life changing experience.” As a high schooler, Devlyn was intrigued by a booth at her local farmers market and decided to talk to them about her budding interest in organic farming. They allowed her to come work on the farm whenever she wanted. She later found out about World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) which is an organization that connects host farms with people willing to work on a farm for short or long term stays. Check out their website, wwoofusa.org, for opportunities across the United States, including Puerto Rico.

On the website, you can search based on many different criteria including diet. If you click “Vegan” under diet with no other criteria, there are still over one thousand farms to choose from! Devlyn was a vegetarian while working on the farm and had no problem sustaining her lifestyle. She said there was a vegan staying on the farm as well and she maintained her diet “healthfully and comfortably.” She says, “We had everything we needed readily available to us.” That certainly is a perk living on an organic vegetable farm.

As for day to day tasks, Devlyn was up early at 6:00 am to start fieldwork and then to eat breakfast at 8:00 am. They would work for three more hours, take a lunch break, and then work for two more. After the eight hour work day, they were done for the day as long as they were ready for the big harvest each Thursday. “The fieldwork on any particular day could include, weeding, harvesting, creating new seedlings, planting the new seedlings, composting or daily chores such as, watering the new plants/trees, feeding the chickens*, making breakfast or any other side job.” (*Vegans may feel more comfortable on a farm that doesn’t raise chickens.) Devlyn also said the farm she worked at not only attended farmers markets, but delivered food to different restaurants and cafés, a local Whole Foods, and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Hawaii.

Devlyn’s advice for people interested in this type of work is to be prepared to work hard. “If you can’t or don’t want to work hard then it would be best to not invest your time and money on something that you may have to leave.” She suggests trying out a local farm for a day and if you could picture yourself doing it for a longer period of time, give WWOOF a try. WWOOF is said to be a credible, safe website. An annual membership allows you to see different farms, read reviews of experiences, and ask farmers specific questions. You can easily find a farm tailored to your particular interests and geographical preference.

“My most valued advice I could give would be to be accepting of change. Understand that it will be a beautiful adventure that you can create incredible memories. Try your best and follow your heart.” Big thanks to Devlyn for sharing her experience and challenging others to live their dreams.

For more information on organic farming, visit: https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2010issue2/2010_issue2_farmers_view.php.

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