The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

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

Posted on August 18, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

fika guacamole

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:

DaJen Café and Creamery
4845 N Orange Blossom Tr.
Orlando, FL 32810
DaJen Café and Creamery serves a variety of Jamaican cuisine. This includes Honey Ginger and Chipotle Cauliflower Bites, Jamaican Jerk BBQ Jackfruit Sliders, Jamaican Brown-Stew “Beef,” and Chick’n & Waffles Brunch. In addition to their meals, they also offer scoops, shakes, and sundaes made with Irie Cream, a dairy-free alternative to ice cream. Irie Cream is available in many unique and delicious flavors including Red Velvet Cheesecake, Lime in Da Coconut, and Rum Raisin’ the Roof.

Eden Burger
1437 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43201
Located in the University District, Eden Burger offers classic fast food options with a vegan twist! Enjoy milkshakes, burgers, tempeh tenders, and fries. Eden Burger strives to use organic ingredients.

Fika Vegan Cantina
804 N. Limestone
Lexington, KY 40508
FIKA /fee-kah/ [n]: To stop for a moment to enjoy life with good food, good beer and good friends. If you want to enjoy a ride of flavor, imagination and magic, give Fika Vegan Cantina a try. Their menu has one meal for savory, sweet, decadent, or spicy lovers. If you’re feeling savory, we recommend trying their Min’s Lasagna which is prepared with seasonal organic and locally sourced veggies, house-made vegan ricotta, and gluten-free lasagna noodles from their friends at Lexington Pasta. Or if you’re feeling a little sweet, their Jackfruit Carnitas made with sweet and savory slow-roasted barbecued jackfruit, tucked into a gluten-free corn tortilla and garnished with sliced avocado, lime and cabbage Pico will do just the trick. Feel free to enjoy their large variety of drinks from the bar, and house made guacamole and chips!

The Fix + Co.
1 30th St.
Toronto, ON M8W 3B5 Canada
The Fix + Co. offers juices and smoothies made with seasonal ingredients. You can add vegan protein or other add-ons to any smoothie. Each smoothie is packed with healthy ingredients. For example, The Antidote contains kale, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, Granny Smith apple, parsley, and lemon. The Fix + Co. Outdoor seating is available!

The Food Tank
239 West Center St.
Moab, UT 84532
The Food Tank creates vegan dishes using organic and local ingredients. The Kombucha, the Eggplant and Portobello Gyro, and the Chocolate Coconut bar are all highly praised.

GLAM Vegan
3301 NE 1st Ave.
Miami, FL 33137
“GLAM” is an acronym for “green living animals matter.” GLAM Vegan is located in Midtown Miami. Their signature flat breads are a menu staple. Be sure to try the Pear flatbread. GLAM also offers bowls such as the farro risotto. Outdoor seating available.

The Homegrown Smoker
8638 N. Lombard
Portland, OR 97203
The Homegrown Smoker is the ideal casual vegan restaurant to go to. It is kid-friendly, and has great outdoor seating, in which you can smell the delicious food being prepared. What could be better than vegan barbecue? One of the local favorites is the smoked rib plate, which is served with hush puppies. This delicious dish can be paired with appetizer of fried pickle spears, and the minted sweet tea can be drank to cool down. When you finish eating at the Homegrown Smoker, you can take a stroll through the St. Johns City Park.

Jet Black Coffee Company
11150 NE Weidler St.
Portland, OR 97220
With outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi, this bakery has tons of natural light and an urban nostalgia that will keep you coming back for more than the delicious coffee and vegan baked goods.

The Frying Dutchman Co.
72 Main St. West
Huntsville, ON P1H 1W9 Canada
The Frying Dutchman Co. offers vegan versions of your favorite food truck delights! Be sure to try the barbeque black bean burger and the chili fries!

The Juice Theory
514 Kings Hwy.
Brooklyn, NY 11223
There is something for everyone at The Juice Theory! They offer acai bowls, sandwiches and toasts, smoothies and juices, pre-made “grab and go” meals, and a “build your own salad” option. Many patrons have enjoyed the Avocado Bomb toast, the Burrito Love bowl, or the Chia pudding parfait.

Love Again Local
18 South Church St.
West Chester, PA 19382
This sandwich shop has an extensive selection of all vegan, GMO free meats, cheeses, dressings, and veggies to choose from to be stacked high on your choice of rolls and breads. Not to mention they have a Cuban sandwich dedicated to the owner’s father that is filled with vegan Cuban Pork, Ham, Salami, Swiss cheese, Dill Pickles, and Spicy Deli Mustard, and then grilled to perfection and held together by a Cuban roll. And not to leave seafood lovers out, they also have a sandwich named THE GF BFF* which is a ”Tuna” Sandwich made with your choice of Baked Tofu or Chickpea “tuna” salad, Spinach, Tomato, and a Dressing of Choice. This shop additionally serves salads, cookies, snacks such as fruit popsicles, and organic drinks.

Loving Heart
781 East Hwy 50
Clermont, FL 34711
Loving Heart serves everything from summer rolls and spring rolls, to crispy tofu and pad Thai. They also offer combo plates where you can try several items at once. Also enjoy smoothies and desserts!

Misfit Doughnuts & Treats
982 Monroe Ave.
Rochester, NY 14620
Misfit Doughnuts & Treats offers uniquely flavored doughnuts including Raspberry Rose, double chocolate “Darth Vader,” and S’mores. They also serve pie, cake, cheesecake, cupcakes, and truffles. Misfit Doughnuts are a treat for vegans and non-vegans alike!

Off The Griddle
6526 SE Foster Rd.
Portland, OR 97206
Off The Griddle holds special events such as Milkshake Monday and Sunday Brunch. Menu favorites include the Smokey Bleu Burger and the Buffalo Chick’n Mac & Cheeze. Off The Griddle also has many gluten-free options. They have free Wi-Fi.

Indianapolis, IN
This food truck serves up soul food. They offer delights such as Southern fried cauliflower and biscuits & gravy. Hours and location vary so be sure to follow Vegesaurus on social media.

My Internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on August 17, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Version 2
By Casey Brown, VRG Intern

After interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group last year, I was very excited to have the opportunity to intern with them again this summer. Last summer, I had many great experiences working with the other interns on projects in the office, volunteering at numerous booths in the area, and visiting a summer camp and a soup kitchen in Baltimore. I was excited to learn that I would be able to revisit many of these places, including Our Daily Bread and Tuttie’s Place. I worked on numerous projects throughout this summer, which included volunteering at booths, adding to The Vegetarian Resource Group online restaurant guide, creating a vegan pizza guide, doing Veggie Bits reviews, writing another Vegetarian Action piece for the Vegetarian Journal, working on a research project, and more!

One of the first projects I worked on was creating a lesson plan for TuTTie’s Place. TuTTie’s Place is a nonprofit organization in Baltimore that holds a summer camp for individuals in the Baltimore area. VRG interns visited this camp last year to teach the students about the health benefits of veggie diets and were invited to come back and speak with the students again this year. A VRG volunteer and I created a lesson plan catering to the different age groups within the camp and planned new activities to do with the kids this year. Last year we spoke to the group as a whole, but this year we were able to work in smaller groups with the students. We found this to be effective since we were able to teach the kids based on their age level and get to know the students better since they were in smaller groups. We also brought multiple vegan snacks for the students to sample, so they could get a better taste of veganism. They were all really open to the idea of trying these foods and the majority of the students loved them. We decided to make banana ice cream (only putting frozen bananas through a Yonanas machine) with the students again this year since it is an easy, delicious, and healthy non-dairy dessert. Last summer, some of the students were hesitant to try banana ice cream since this treat was foreign to them. However, this year when we announced we would be making this dessert, we were greeted with screams; the students were overjoyed to be making this delicious dessert again! I had so much fun with the students and was so grateful for the opportunity to visit the camp for a second time.

Last summer, I visited Our Daily Bread twice while interning, and I was excited to take the new summer interns to visit the center this year. Our Daily Bread is a soup kitchen in Baltimore that operates a Hot Meal Program, which serves over 700 people every day. Last year when we visited, they told us that they had a high demand for vegetarian casseroles, with over ⅓ of the visitors preferring the vegetarian plate. The same was true when we visited this year, and the volunteers were extremely grateful for our donations. The Hot Meals Program relies on volunteers and donations to operate, and they stated that they often do not receive many of the vegan casserole options. These recipes are so easy to prepare, and I highly encourage everyone to get involved! I cooked the Creamy Bean and Potato Casserole with Carrots, which only took 10 minutes to prepare and an additional 20 minutes to cook! I definitely plan to continue preparing these casseroles for soup kitchens near my home since these recipes are so simple.

Over the summer, I have represented The VRG at many booths throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I was able to attend Central PA Vegfest, Richmond Vegfest, Waverly Farmers Market in Baltimore, DC Green Festival, and more. I always love attending these events since I am able to connect with many like-minded individuals who are interested in learning more about vegetarianism and veganism. I have met many inspiring individuals through these events and have been able to help many others by providing them with The VRG’s materials. I will be moving to Asheville, NC soon, and I plan to continue doing booths for The VRG in that location.

In addition to the events I have been able to attend, I have also worked on many projects in the office. One of the toughest jobs I had was writing Veggie Bits; this required me to sample many delicious vegan products for upcoming features in the Vegetarian Journal. I was able to try Eat Enlightened’s Roasted Broad Bean Crisps, Amy’s Vegan Margherita Swirls, Crazy Go Nut’s Walnut Butters and Flavored Walnuts, and much more! I will definitely miss being able to sample so many delicious vegan products once my internship ends. Another project I worked on was a frozen vegan pizza guide. In the past I have compiled and compared the different vegan cheeses and yogurts on the market, and this summer I worked on a guide for vegan pizzas. I also interviewed Cam MacQueen for a Vegetarian Action piece in the Vegetarian Journal. MacQueen is an entrepreneur and animal activist from Asheville, NC, and it was an amazing opportunity being able to learn more about her life. It was inspiring to hear about all of the activism she has done. One of the main projects I worked on throughout the summer was a research project that looked at studies involving a plant-based diet. The results from my research will not be available until next year, but I was able to learn a lot working on this project. Other volunteers assisted me with this project, and we were able to read through countless journal articles involving plant-based diets.

I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I have had this summer because of The VRG. I love being involved with this organization since it provides me with many unique opportunities to promote veganism. I have met many passionate and hard-working individuals through my internship and still stay in touch with the interns I worked with last summer. I plan to stay involved with The VRG by doing booths in Asheville, NC and working on additional projects when I have time.

For information on interning for The Vegetarian Resource Group, see:

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group education and outreach, donate at:

Or join at:

The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a vegan dinner at LYFE Kitchen in Chicago

Posted on August 16, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a vegan dinner at LYFE Kitchen in Chicago (at Fairbanks and Ontario) on Sunday, October 22, 2017 during the annual meeting of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meet VRG advisors Reed Mangels PhD, RD, Catherine Conway MS RD, Charles Stahler, Debra Wasserman, and vegetarian dietitians from around the country. The public is welcome.

-Edamame Hummus
-Kale and Cranberry Salad
-Ancient Grain Stir-Fry Bowl with stir-fried vegetables, beefless tips, quinoa, black rice, cilantro, and sweet chili-ginger sauce
-Vegan Thai Red Curry Bowl with garlic-lime tofu, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas, whole grain wheatberries, Thai basil, and coconut curry sauce
-Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie
-Tea or Coffee

The meal will be served family style. Note: Seating is limited!

Send $35 per person (includes tax and tip) with names to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; Call (410) 366-8343 9am-5pm Mon.-Fri. EST to charge over the phone. Or pay at and write Chicago Dinner in the Comments.

# Attending X $35/person = $_____
Donation towards professional outreach: $_____
Total enclosed: $_____

Names of attendees:

Vegan Teens Survival in a City

Posted on August 15, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Davin Cheyenne, VRG Intern

High skyscrapers, great sightseeing, friendly faces, and loads of work opportunities is a major attraction for teenagers living in a city. However, this has its challenges, mainly the health of one’s body. Because we are always on the go and city living is expensive, many teenagers struggle with balancing health and our checkbooks.
Some complaints I get from my peers about going vegan is that there are no quick and filling vegan options readily available. The social settings they are around only offer animal-based meals. Lastly the cost (for example, the price of a tomato compared to a bag of chips is roughly the same price in many stores), can be a deal breaker to many.
So what’s a teen to do in these situations, especially if you are living in a home with meat eaters, like yours truly?

First, take a deep breath…are you breathing? With a little motivation and preparation these obstacles can be tackled. Next, list the foods and meals that you love, even if it is meat-based (like wings and pot-roast). List it! Then make a list of the reasons why you want to be vegan. Doing this will push you to look, think, and create the lifestyle you want for yourself.

For me, I listed the two reasons I wanted to become vegan: health reasons and animals. I wanted to lose weight and lower my risk for family related health issues. Also, I love companion animals; but I realize that farm, and wild animals are beings as well who deserve love.

Second, research filling vegan meals; there is a wide variety of ingredients to choose from. I suggest opting for items such quinoa, rice, tofu, hummus, and beans. Many grocery stores (such as Aldi’s or Safeway), carry these ingredients for reasonable prices. These ingredients can make enough meal portions to eat throughout the week.
Some items that I buy weekly are bananas, oranges, grapes, spinach, tomatoes, bread, and occasionally vegan deli slices and cheeses. Monthly, I stock up on rice, beans, spices, nuts, and seeds.

A typical day of meals in high school for me: breakfast, oats mixed with frozen berries and soy milk; for lunch a bowl of rice with beans, veggies, and a salad to top it; and for dinner a pot cooked meal, like soup or veggie pot-roast.

For me, snacking was a big thing. I had very little time to eat between traveling to classes and heading home from band practice. So, I chose fruits and veggies as cost effective snacks. Fruits (such as apples, oranges), were easy for me to separate in plastic bags and take with me. Bags of nuts and seeds or cucumbers and tomatoes were options when snacking on the go. It was perfect to keep me full, and most importantly cost effective.

Being a teenager put me in the position to start branching out into many social settings. There were my friends in class, in my after school clubs, weekend outings, family events, and church. For many teenagers like me, eating vegan was difficult for my friends and family to accept. I personally know what it’s like to have friends who eat completely differently from me and find it hard to choose vegan-friendly or places with vegan options. We just all want to spend time together without fretting over food options. For this dilemma, come prepared! Reading the menu and reviews from vegan customers before arriving to the restaurant ensures you will not become the friend watching everyone else eat due to the limiting options available. I like to research restaurants that are popular in my area (Applebee’s, Red Robin, Subway, etc.). Then, I call to ensure those options are actually there or use online information to guide me. When I get there, I ask the waiter for the veggie option. The world of veganism is becoming so popular that many fast food chains, restaurants, and fun places (like amusement and sports parks) are beginning to serve vegan-friendly options!

Finally, I want to touch on lack of motivation. It is challenging to live in a fast paced lifestyle in a limited veggie environment. Sometimes it’s easier to set aside one’s own morals and go with the flow to not become the outcast. However, I encourage you to be the change you want to see. I know that sounds cliché but this is coming from someone who went vegan in a public high school where eating vegan was not common. While everyone else ate Cheetos, I ate tomatoes which really set me apart for a while. It wasn’t until I started losing weight and feeling and looking happier and healthier that people started asking me how they could be healthier too. Trust the process: you might be the odd one out, but you can be the face of change!

I hope this helps! Stay focused and be prepared, my friends.

For more information, see:


Posted on August 14, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

To help restaurants incorporate Meatless Mondays, see:

Join the VRG Parents and Kids Facebook Group!

Posted on August 14, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor 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:
School Districts adding veggie options in their cafeteria had a vegan burger taste test – see results
Cool vegan cookbook suggestions
Plus much more!

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


Posted on August 11, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

One Poll conducted a U.S. online survey July 11, 2017 to July 14, 2017 of 1,000 individuals. When asking, “I think a plant based diet means,” with only one choice allowed per person, the responses were:

A Vegetarian Diet: 20.3%
A Vegan Diet: 16.9%
A vegetarian or vegan diet that is composed of whole foods: 17.8%
A whole foods diet, but can include animal products: 13.4%
I don’t know what a plant-based diet is: 23.8%
Other options: 7.8%

In this survey, 35.5% ate one or more vegetarian meals per week. However, only a total of 8.5% said they would describe themselves as a vegetarian, vegan, or eating a plant-based diet.

Of the people eating one or more vegetarian meals per week, when making food choices, most important to them to them was:

Taste: 48.5%
Personal Health: 22.3%
Cost: 13.2%
Convenience: 6.5%
9.5% (Other choices including ethics, religious beliefs, the environment, animal welfare, and not any of these)

From our observations, the people that caused the vegan and vegetarian movement and growth of products to happen had ethical, religious, environmental, and animal welfare beliefs. However, the great success of vegetarian festivals and growth of vegan products in almost every store is because of appealing to people’s taste, cost, and convenience, as well as investors wanting to make money. At vegetarian festivals, the longest lines are often for vegan baked goods or other desserts. People flock to the free or inexpensive festivals as they are low cost. A turning point in vegan products in supermarkets was when Silk Soy Milk moved soy milk from an asceptic package on the shelf to the refrigerator case next to cow’s milk, which made it much more convenient.

Of those that eat one or more vegetarian meals per week, 29.6% said they would buy “Your Favorite veggie burger cooked on the same grill where meat is cooked, if the grill is cleaned first. 26.8% said they would buy a veggie burger from the store. 11.8% said they would buy a meat alternative grown from animal cell DNA obtained ten years ago, which does not currently involve the raising of animals.

Of those that eat one or more vegetarian meals per week, 32.7% stated they would buy “Your favorite dessert containing sugar, if the source of the sugar isn’t specified.” However, only 11.6% would buy “Your favorite dessert containing sugar whitened through a bone char filter, if bone char is not in the sugar.” This seems to indicate that consumers say they will make different decisions based on knowledge. We would recommend clear labeling of sources on packages and on company websites so consumers can make their own informed choices, and have confidence in the business.

So when the respondents think about a plant-based diet, they can have very different ideas of what it means or what is important to them. If a business wants to cater to people on a plant-based diet, based on this survey, the business would need to do more research on their customers to find out what they want. If a dietitian is counseling a patient who says he/she is on a plant-based diet, that health professional would also have to ask more questions.

Note there are always sampling errors in surveys. Since the One Poll was not weighted towards the actual makeup of the U.S. population, we wouldn’t extrapolate these results to make conclusions about numbers in the U.S. population. One Poll surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults online July 11, 2017 to July 14, 2017. One Poll is MRS and ESOMAR accredited.

For information about additional polls, see:

VRG has a Booth at the Waverly 32nd Street Farmers Market in Baltimore

Posted on August 10, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Waverly Farmer's Mkt

By Davin Cheyenne

As dawn approaches, the dew from the previous night melts into the freshly picked soil each farmer touches. Fresh produce such as peaches, cherries, eggplants, and tomatoes are packed into baskets ready to make the one to two-hour journey into the city. During this time the first light is clicked on, as families awaken in their homes preparing for their early morning walk down the street to pick up fresh local groceries for the week. Bag in hand, or foot on the gas pedal, both journeys lead to the same place.

Picture a place that connects the people of the community with the farmlands surrounding them, and where people who come from a low-income background with little education on nutrition, are able to afford cherries and peaches in a friendly atmosphere. With music and dancing filling the walkways this is what Waverly Farmers Market is known for in Charm City.

Waverly Farmers market is a local farmers market conveniently located in Baltimore, and is year-round every Saturday from 7 in the morning to 12 pm. At the market expect to see a parking lot containing eccentric booths full of friendly faces and exciting samples to try, from spicy ginger pickles to homemade kombucha and freshly picked berry jams. Each booth carries a special story with its products. Something I noticed is that there are booths that have been there since the beginning of the markets opening 32 years ago, which are local favorites.

As a Vegetarian Resource Group volunteer, I only expected to hand out Vegetarian Journal magazines, sell books, and give out information on veganism. Instead, I found that the more I listened, the more I, in turn, learned and developed a relationship with each new visitor. Each individual brought along an interesting reason of why veganism is actually important for the community as a whole, from the first person that stepped up to the booth (an older gentleman who has recently converted to vegetarianism due to his fight with diabetes), to a young woman, who since childhood lived on a vegan diet, however, wanted to learn more about the impact environmental and humane reasons of veganism can have on her neighborhood.

I see the important impact volunteering at The Vegetarian Resource Group booth on Saturday had on me. Volunteering allowed me to connect more with individuals and spread the true message of veganism which is a love of all, beyond condition. I made friends with people I believe I will see all around the city, and I can only believe will help with the building of community projects I hope to be a part of in the future.

For information on how to become a part of The Vegetarian Resource Group’s volunteer group please contact Brigette at

VRG Exhibited at the Richmond Virginia VegFest

Posted on August 09, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Richmond VegFest booth

Earlier this summer, multiple interns and volunteers with The Vegetarian Resource Group volunteered at Richmond Vegfest in Virginia. While there, they were able to distribute resources to the crowd and connect with many individuals who stopped by the booth. As usual, our resources including “Vegetarianism in a Nutshell” handouts, “I Love Animals and Broccoli” coloring books, and copies of the Vegetarian Journal were very popular. The volunteers met with a variety of people at the event who all shared a common interest: a veggie lifestyle. Parents stopped by the booth looking for kid-friendly recipe ideas to prepare for their children. The volunteers were able to direct them to our Parents and Kids Facebook group ( and suggest multiple different kid-friendly cookbooks that they could try. Other individuals stopped by looking for resources on transitioning to vegetarianism and suggestions of vegan meat and cheese alternatives that they could purchase. The interns and volunteers had a great time at this event and loved being able to connect with many different people in a lovely park setting.

Veggie Outreach at a Summer Camp in Baltimore

Posted on August 08, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Casey Brown and Marissa Thobe

The Vegetarian Resource Group recently sent five interns and volunteers to Tuttie’s Place in Gwynn Oak, Baltimore. There, we talked to youngsters ages 5-20 about what vegetarianism is, what vegetarians eat, and reasons why people go vegetarian or vegan. The students sampled vegan foods and participated in hands-on activities to learn more about vegetarianism in an interactive manner.

Tuttie’s Place is a nonprofit community organization that provides after-care and summer programs to the youth of Baltimore and residential services to foster care children. We had the privilege of working with over 20 intelligent, young children who were very curious and eager to learn about vegetarianism. The younger children (under 14) were energetic and full of spunk and they were excited to try vegan foods and meet us. The older kids (14 and up) included aspiring musicians, writers, and community leaders from schools all over Baltimore City. They were specific in their questions and thoughtful in their discussions. It was obvious to us that Tuttie’s Place empowers these students and builds their confidence.

Prior to visiting Tuttie’s Place, we formulated a lesson plan according to the age groups of the camp. Tuttie’s Place has students ranging from 5-years-old to 21-years-old, and we knew it would be better to divide them up and educate them accordingly. The classrooms were broken up into 3 sections: 5-8 year olds, 9-13 year olds, and 14-21 year olds. We decided we would start with a general introduction to the entire camp to teach them about The Vegetarian Resource Grouop and the basics of vegetarianism. We also brought different vegan foods for everyone to sample. Then we planned to divide everyone into their separate classrooms and participate in different activities with each age group.

The youngest group (5-8 year olds) would learn about My Vegan Plate, food groups, and vegetarian snacks. The middle group (9-13 year olds) would review My Vegan Plate, learn about vegan sources of calcium, discuss vegan foods and vegan cooking, and learn about Meatless Mondays. The oldest group (14-21 year olds) would guide their discussion focused around questions they had pertaining to veganism and vegetarianism. Throughout the lesson, each of the groups would also have a chance to prepare and enjoy a delicious, non-dairy dessert: banana ice cream.

We initially talked with the entire group to see what they already knew about vegetarianism. Around half of the kids were returning to the camp and remembered VRG visiting last year. The group was familiar with vegetarianism and many of the students knew someone who was vegetarian or vegan. We then asked the students what foods they thought vegetarians ate. Common answers included tofu, vegetables, almond milk, and fruits. We told them about other options including lentils, beans, nuts, and vegan specialty options, and we brought a bag full of vegan food items that they would be familiar with. We had packages of common vegan food items including pasta, chips, oats, Daiya macaroni, vegan deli meats, and plant-based milks.

Next, we sampled multiple vegan products with the students. They were all very eager to try the foods we brought, which included almond milk and soy milk, Daiya macaroni, and Tofurky deli slices. The majority of the group enjoyed all of the products and were very willing to try them. We gave each student two varieties of Tofurky slices and asked them to guess which was real meat and which was vegan meat. This allowed the kids to be more open-minded going into the taste-test, and they ended up really enjoying both flavors. They were shocked to learn that they were actually both vegan! The students also enjoyed the soy milk and almond milk, and we found that most kids preferred the soy milk option. Many students even asked for seconds since they thought it was delicious. We asked the students to raise their hands if they enjoyed the macaroni sample, and most hands shot up in the air since they loved this delicious snack!

After sampling the different foods, we split off into different classes that were based on age groups. This was vital to guiding discussions in the right direction since the younger children had different questions regarding vegetarianism than the older students would.

In the first classroom (5-8 year olds), we taught the students about My Vegan Plate, vegan snacks, and vegan cooking. We began by asking the students if they understood what vegetarians and vegans ate. We were surprised since the students answered perfectly, showing great understanding, and they even mentioned some vegan foods and meals that they regularly ate. We then asked whether the students were involved with cooking at home. The majority of the students said that they were involved in cooking and would often help prepare ingredients under their parent’s supervision. Next, we taught the kids about My Vegan Plate and we were surprised to find that many of the students were already familiar with it. We played a game with the students by asking them which category different foods fell under. Examples included chickpeas, bananas, tofu, soymilk, carrots, berries, rice, peanuts, and pasta. Most students knew which food group each ingredient belonged to, and they only needed a little assistance for the protein category. Following these activities, the students were able to color in “I Love Animals and Broccoli” coloring books, while further discussing vegetarianism.

In the second classroom (9-13 years old), we discussed the terms vegetarian and vegan. The students understood the difference between these terms, but they had a lot of questions about whether certain foods were vegetarian or vegan. They were curious whether vegetarians could eat bread, salad dressing, fish, and other items. These students were very interested in going vegetarian or trying Meatless Mondays. They informed us that they had their own Meatless Monday during camp the previous week and prepared a vegetarian taco dish for lunch. Another student said he wanted to try a vegan day, so we encouraged him to do his own vegan version of Meatless Monday. They all loved cooking and said they frequently helped with cooking at home. They were familiar with MyPlate, so we showed them My Vegan Plate and explained vegan sources of calcium to them. They were very knowledgeable about the different food groups, and we had them each draw what their plate typically looks like and categorize the foods into the appropriate food group. The students understood the importance of eating a diet with a variety of foods, with half of their plate being fruits and vegetables. We then went through a crossword and other games with the students, which challenged their knowledge about the origin of their food. We used the I Love Animals and Broccoli Shopping Basket workbook, which had questions such as “this meat comes from baby cows,” “tofu is made from _”, and “pork comes from which animal.” These questions allowed the students to make a better connection between animals and food. After the activities, we talked with a few of the students who were excited about trying a more vegetarian-friendly diet. They told us that they wanted to make banana ice cream at home with their families, try Meatless Mondays, and try cooking tofu or other vegan alternatives at home. One of the students was hoping to try a cheese alternative, so we told him about vegan brands or options like nutritional yeast or nuts that could be used in place of dairy cheeses. Overall, we had a great time working with these students, and it was awesome to see how excited and curious they were to learn more about vegetarian and vegan diets. They were very engaged throughout the lesson and learned a lot from each other and from us.

In the oldest age group (14-20 years old), we talked about the agriculture industry, how animal products can harm one’s health, and the ethics of veganism. The maturity of the students was imperative to the discussion of these topics. At first, a few of them were opposed to the idea of going vegetarian because of limiting factors such as the taste of meat and family meals being meat-based. A few of the students knew others who were vegetarian, but many did not understand the reasons why one would choose to stop eating their favorite foods, including fried chicken and burgers. We also discussed how more vegetarian foods are being introduced to the market with the increasing demand for plant-based foods. Because of this, vegetarian products are constantly improving in quality and more closely resembling their non-vegetarian counterparts. Many of these foods can often replicate the experience of non-vegetarian meats or dairy without harming animals, the environment, or our health. Our group also addressed the ethics of eating meat and how unnatural it is to drink cow’s milk when humans are the only species to consume the milk of another animal. We brought up the question: if livestock gets nutrients from plants, why not just consume the plants as a primary source of energy and not get the used energy from a secondary consumer? Their reactions to this logic ranged from more complex questions to silent contemplation. The students responded well to commonly unknown facts about animal agriculture. We tried to give them knowledge about the animal agriculture industry instead of telling them why they should or shouldn’t eat certain foods. Our goal was to educate the students so that when they are able to make decisions on their own, they can use this knowledge and wisdom to make smart choices.

During the lesson, each of the classrooms prepared banana ice cream for a healthy, nondairy dessert. The kids were extremely excited when we announced that we would be making this since many of them remembered it and loved making it last year. Prior to the camp, we froze around 30 bananas (split into 2-3 pieces) and put them into gallon-sized bags. We also purchased sprinkles, chocolate chips, peanut butter, fresh strawberries, and a vegan chocolate spread. We brought along plenty of bowls, spoons, napkins, and other supplies, so everyone could enjoy the dessert. We used a Yonanas machine to prepare the ice cream. The Yonanas machine is a fruit soft serve machine that takes frozen fruits and churns them into delicious, frozen, creamy desserts. The machine can be purchased at many stores or online, and it typically costs around $50. In place of the machine, a blender could be used, however the resulting dessert might be slightly less creamy and a liquid might need to be added to help blend the ingredients. For the dessert, each kid got around 3 pieces of bananas to make their ice cream, which was about one banana total. They then topped it with their toppings of choice and enjoyed the delicious dessert!

We all loved being able to talk with and meet the students at Tuttie’s Place. The students’ excitement and curiosity made this lesson exciting and engaging, and we felt that they were able to learn a lot. While not all of the students were ready to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, many of them expressed an interest in it, and we were able to open their minds to the idea. We hope that the students will continue learning more about vegetarianism and we hope to return to Tuttie’s Place again next year to educate the students more about these lifestyles.

Summer Camp Lesson Plan:

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