The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

VRG Organization Timeline

Posted on September 07, 2010 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Recently we were reflecting on VRG’s history and the wonderful things we’ve been able to do, with your help, in the past almost 30 years. To support VRG’s projects such as the ones below, click here.

Organization Timeline
A Sampling of Accomplishments

1982:

  • In September Charles Stahler (activist), Debra Wasserman (activist), Ernie Kopstein (vegan medical doctor), Audrey Fluke (nurse), and Norris Fluke (Master's swimmer) met and started Baltimore Vegetarians (BV), which later becomes The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG).
  • In November we hold our first pre-Thanksgiving vegetarian potluck dinner, which has been an annual event since the beginning and in December we sponsor an alcohol-free and smoke-free vegetarian New Year's Eve party and receive great publicity in newspapers and on the radio and TV.
  • Our first newsletter was a 4-page typed written publication.

1983:

  • Hold a highly successful Tofu Cooking Demonstration with a standing room crowd.
  • Sponsor signs on buses in Baltimore promoting vegetarianism.
  • Continuing our innovative campaign to get the word out, the group set up an activity at a local Children's Fair where kids prepare their own healthful snacks. We also spoke at a high school, sponsored our first World Vegetarian Day Conference, gave a cooking demonstration in the plaza next to City Hall, donated food to a local soup kitchen, performed cooking demos at local health foods stores, hosted camping trips, organized booths at the Baltimore City Fair, and distributed information at a community college.
  • Another great success was when, on October 1, 1983, our local
    Mayor proclaimed World Vegetarian Day in Baltimore. Since then, many localities have followed suit.
  • We published the cookbook Vegetarianism for the Working Person – Quick and Easy Recipes, which later is renamed Meatless Meals for Working People.

1984:

  • Started writing "Beyond Carrot Cake," a vegetarian column for a free community-based newspaper in Baltimore.
  • We also had mentions in publications such as What's New in Home Economics and Women's Circle Home Cooking.
  • We published the Healthy Holidays cookbook and produced "Be Kind to Animals-Don't Eat Them" and "Vegetarians Are Sprouting Up All Over" bumper stickers, as well as vegan recipe postcards.
  • VRG's first annual essay contest was mentioned by the National Science Teachers Association.
  • Debra Wasserman served on the consumer board of the local Giant supermarket chain.
  • A mention of our cookbook Vegetarianism for the Working Person – Quick and Easy Recipes in Changing Times magazine resulted in over 800 orders for this book, which launched VRG as a publisher.
  • We have a street-level vegetarian window display at the main branch of the Pratt Library in Baltimore city for 6 weeks.
  • Baltimore Sun runs editorial called "Eating Less Meat," which promotes our group.

1985:

  • Researched and produced our first "Guide to Fast Food," which answered questions such as "Which Fast Food Chain(s) Doesn't Fry Their French Fries in Lard?" This piece earned mentions in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and by the Copley News Service, to name a few. Requests for the guide and our other materials came from the American Heart Association, Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, Vogue magazine, the Captain of the RMS Queen Mary, the Arkansas Democrat, People Weekly, Self, Shape, and even the Camp Fire Girls.
  • Ruth Ransom, our first volunteer Registered Dietitian, helped us create a 4-week vegetarian meal plan and an alternative version to the four food groups, which interestingly was very similar in concept to the Food Pyramid promoted many years later by government and health professional organizations.
  • Sponsor weekend vegetarian camping trip in Lebanon State Forest, NJ.
  • Because of having members around the country, started using the name Vegetarian Journal on our newsletter.

1986:

  • We sent information for distribution at the American Dietetic Association (ADA) annual meeting.
  • Our newest dietitian, Suzanne Havala, produced a "Guide to Vegetarian Weight Loss," a "Hospital Survival Guide," and "Osteoporosis: Beyond a Simple Answer."
  • We continued our commitment to educating teachers, children, and parents by giving a presentation on vegetarian diets at an in-service for home economics teachers in Baltimore County Public
    Schools.
  • We receive $500 grant from the Ahimsa Foundation, which was significant to us.
  • Exhibit at Baltimore City Fair. Volunteers build a booth for us to use.

1987:

  • VRG's Nutrition Advisor, Suzanne Havala, was chosen to be the primary author of the ADA position paper on vegetarianism, which accomplished the following: 1) Put health advantages in perspective with health risks; 2) Abandoned the complementary protein myth; 3) Updated information on B12; 4) Set the record straight concerning vegetarians and calcium; and 5) Reiterated that the daily requirements for protein can be easily met in a vegetarian diet. The position paper increased health professionals' acceptance of vegetarian eating patterns.
  • VRG Co-Director Debra speaks at the Toronto, Canada Vegetarian Society Vegetarian Festival on the waterfront.

1988:

  • Gave assistance to Child Magazine (among others) for a story on vegetarianism, and offered our materials in the program of the Society for Nutrition Education annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.
  • We exhibit at The American Dietetic Association Annual Meeting for the first time.
  • We sponsor a World Vegetarian Day Convention in Baltimore.
  • We exhibited at the Natural Products Expo East show.

1989:

  • Had outreach booths at the annual conferences of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers.
  • Vegetarian Times said about The VRG's work: "Holding their own within the mainstream — not just working against it — is part of the secret of their success… VRG quickly outgrew its local status to become one of the largest, most well-run vegetarian resource bases in the country."
  • We produced our Vegetarianism in a Nutshell poster and our first brochure titled Vegetarianism in a Nutshell.
  • We sponsored our first summer weekend conference held in Ocean Grove, NJ.
  • Exhibit at Children's Fair in Baltimore sponsored by the Children's Theater Association.

1990:

  • Baltimore Vegetarians officially becomes The Vegetarian Resource Group.
  • Sheila Schwartz of the Humane Education Committee in New York City created a lesson plan to go along with our newest handout, I Love Animals and Broccoli Coloring Book. She distributed both to NYC school teachers.
  • The VRG's contact information was given in the New York Times, resulting in over 300 phone calls in two days. As soon as the phone stopped ringing, we were deluged by over 1,500 letters requesting information.
  • Debra Wasserman, Charles Stahler, and Reed Mangels, PhD, RD did an 8-minute CNN television segment, which aired five times in a three-day period.
  • We sponsored a weekend gathering at the shore in Spring Lake, NJ.

1991:

  • VRG publishes Simply Vegan – Quick Vegetarian Meals, which includes a great nutrition section by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. At the time, it was extremely rare to see the word "vegan" on a book cover.
  • Reed Mangels, PhD, RD appeared on CNN and spoke about our "Teenagers and Vegetarianism" brochure.
  • At the Annual Meeting of the American Home Economics Association, we gave a presentation on "Tofu, Tempeh, and TVP."
  • We published 30 quantity vegan recipes in servings of 25 for use by food services.
  • VRG also ran an Adopt-A-Classroom Program this year and was able to send materials to over 75 classrooms.
  • VRG sponsors a one-day conference in New York City with over 700 attendees. We also sponsor a one-day conference in Baltimore, MD.

1992:

  • Debra had a letter to the editor published in The New York Times headlined, "Chefs in US: Must Recognize Demand for Vegetarian Cuisine," and it offered information and quantity recipes. The letter was prominently boxed off and it brought us a lot of attention in the food service industry. Inquiries for our materials have ranged from a US Air Team requesting advice concerning a proposal for serving vegetarian foods, to the Food Service Director at Gallaudet University, to the Omaha Steaks company.
  • VRG sponsors a Vegetarian Conference in the Pocono Mountains,
    PA July 23rd-26th.

1993:

  • Due to a feature in Parade magazine, we received thousands of requests for vegetarian information. Mentions in the consumer publication Workbasket and the employee wellness periodical The Hope Heart Newsletter, resulted in similar responses.
  • VRG had a booth at the American School Food Service Association's (ASFSA) annual meeting in Boston and thanks to several generous donations we were able to hand out 1,000 of our Quantity Vegan Recipe Packets for free.
  • In November, The Vegetarian Resource Group had a booth at the American Heart Association's Annual Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty thousand people attended this convention, including 13,000 doctors. There were several hundred booths displaying surgical equipment and/or pharmaceutical products. We were one of only a handful of booths promoting diet and prevention of heart disease.
  • VRG creates computer software game called The Vegetarian Game.
  • VRG starts publishing Vegetarian Journal's Foodservice Update.
  • We also publish Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Food Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
  • VRG sponsored a vegetarian conference and day-long canoe trip in Luray, VA July 8th-11th.

1994:

  • VRG publishes The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cooking — Healthy Traditions from Around the World, by Debra Wasserman.
  • VRG sponsored a one-day event of cooking demos and natural foods samples in Baltimore.
  • Debra gave a vegan cooking demonstration on Good Morning America in September.
  • Published Simple, Lowfat & Vegetarian — Unbelievably Easy Ways to Reduce the Fat in Your Meals, in February. This 368-page book was written by Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., with lowfat vegan recipes by Mary Clifford, R.D., and a foreword by Dean Ornish, M.D.
  • VRG exhibited at the USDA NET (Nutrition Education and Training program) Promoting Healthy Habits for Our Children conference.
  • VRG exhibited at the American Academy of Family Practitioners annual meeting.
  • The Vegetarian Resource Group had an exhibit again this year at the annual meeting of the American School Food Service Association (ASFSA), held this year in St. Louis, Missouri. VRG was also invited by ASFSA to present two sessions on vegetarianism for conference attendees. Julie Hoskins, M.S., R.D., presented a two-hour session on incorporating vegetarian items into school menus, and Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., gave an hour-and-a-half lecture on the health and nutritional aspects of vegetarian diets.
  • VRG commissions a Roper Poll to find out how many adults are vegetarian and/or vegan. At this time about 1% of the US adult population is vegetarian.
  • VRG sponsors vegetarian conference in Western Maryland July 7th-10th.
  • VRG publishes two new brochures: Vegan Diets in a Nutshell and Una Dieta Vegetariana (Spanish).

1995:

  • Brad Scott, a VRG volunteer, sets up VRG information on Envirolink.
  • The Vegetarian Resource Group presented two poster sessions at the Annual Meeting of The American Dietetic Association. The first session, titled "Creating Vegetarian Nutrition Education Materials in Conjunction with a Supermarket Chain: A Unique Collaboration," highlighted the vegetarian nutrition brochure which was co-produced by the VRG along with Wegmans' supermarket chain. The second session was entitled "Vegetarian Nutrition Online," and it focused on the VRG's continuing efforts to provide information on vegetarianism on the Internet.
  • The Vegetarian Resource Group conducted a Roper poll of 8- to 17-year- olds to find out the number of young vegetarians in the United States. Almost two percent of 8- to 12-year-olds say they don't eat meat, fish, or fowl. A little over one percent of teens are vegetarian.
  • VRG publishes Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales, which is a vegan children's story-cookbook. We also publish a second kid's handout called I Love Animals and Broccoli Shopping Basket.

1996:

  • In 1996 Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the US and Canada was mentioned in The New York Times.
  • VRG publishes Guide to Vegetarian Restaurants in Israel, as well as a Spanish version of its Heart Healthy Eating Tips brochure.
  • VRG publishes Vegan Handbook, which includes the best articles from previous issues of Vegetarian Journal.
  • VRG Nutrition Advisor Suzanne Havala works with the national Meals on Wheels program to create menu alternatives for its clients. Cathy Conway, RD tests quantity recipes for VRG in various settings in New York City. Menus are released the following year.
  • VRG starts VRG-News, our online newsletter.

1997:

  • Jeanne Bartas completed Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Food Ingredients. Jeanne's year of detailed research took her beyond dictionary definitions. By contacting food companies, and then their suppliers, she played detective as she tracked down the actual commercial sources of the ingredients.
  • Seven 4-H interns worked in The VRG office for two days. Most were from cattle ranches. We had the interns taste-test and write an article about various soy ice creams. It was a great learning experience for all of us.
  • Our website www.vrg.org went live in January, 1997. The Tufts University Nutrition Navigator awarded the VRG website one of their highest rankings for a nutrition website.
  • VRG commissions a Roper Poll to find out how many adults are vegetarian and/or vegan. At this time about 1% of the US adult population is vegetarian.
  • VRG publishes Conveniently Vegan.
  • VRG is now listed on the combined Federal Campaign National List.

1998:

  • VRG Food Service Advisor Chef Nancy Berkoff gave a vegetarian presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Food Service.
  • VRG's Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, authored a chapter titled "Nutrition Management of the Vegetarian Child" in the Pediatric Manual of Clinical Dietetics, published by the American Dietetic Association.
  • Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD, becomes our Foodservice Advisor.

1999:

  • Nancy and Debra gave a culinary demonstration at the ADA's Annual Meeting concerning the introduction of vegetarian foods into institutions.
  • VRG sponsors a Zogby poll to find out how often restaurant customers were ordering vegetarian meals. 5.5% of adults said they always order a vegetarian meal when dining out; 11.7% said they often order a veggie dish; and 40.8% said they often order a veggie dish. 38.9% said they never order a veggie dish when dining out.
  • VRG hosts an intern from Japan for 6 months.

2000:

  • VRG commissions a Zogby Poll to find out the number of adult vegetarians. Defining vegetarians as those who never eat meat, poultry, or fish, Zogby arrived at the figure 2.5% of the statistical population who can be considered vegetarian. .9% are considered vegan.
  • VRG also sponsored a Roper Poll to find out how many kids are vegetarian. 2% of kids between the ages of 6 and 17 are vegetarian.
  • VRG publishes Vegan in Volume, which contains quantity recipes for institutions. Many university and restaurant chefs use this book.
  • VRG starts an online vegetarian parent's group through Yahoo for parents to exchange ideas and help one another.

2001:

  • VRG published another update of its Guide to Fast Food and Quick Service Chains, which was quoted in the book Fast Food Nation and Atlantic Monthly magazine, referencing our information about natural flavorings in McDonald's French fries.
  • VRG's Nutrition Advisors Reed Mangels and Suzanne Havala are awarded Awards of Excellence in Service and Leadership from the American Dietetic Association's Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group.
  • Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD gave a lecture titled "Implementing Vegetarian Menus into Food Service" at the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting.
  • VRG starts offering an Online Course on Vegetarianism taught
    by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD
  • VRG publishes Vegan and Vegetarian FAQ book. We also print vegetarian placemats.
  • VRG publishes Vegan Meals for One or Two.
  • The VRG is featured in an article on vegetarianism in the National Education Association magazine reaching two million educators.
  • VRG featured on Tofurky package.

2002:

  • Thanks to a generous donor, VRG begins offering two $5,000 scholarships annually to graduating High School Seniors promoting vegetarianism in their school/neighborhood. The first award was given in spring 2003.
  • At the Natural Products Expo West trade show for the health food industry, Nancy gave a demo on Meeting the Needs of Your Vegan Customers.

2003:

  • Vegetarian Resource Group Harris Interactive survey of adults — 2.8 percent of those surveyed said they never eat meat, poultry, or fish/seafood. A majority of the vegetarians said they never eat meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy products, eggs, or honey. Thus, over half the vegetarians can be classified as vegans.
  • VRG's Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, is co-author of the American Dietetic Association's new Position Paper on Vegetarianism.
  • VRG publishes Vegan Microwave Cookbook.
  • VRG's Co-Directors Charles Stahler and Debra Wasserman are inducted into the North America Vegetarian Society's Vegetarian Hall of Fame.

2004:

  • VRG Co-Director Charles Stahler is interviewed by the Associated Press concerning the impact Mad Cow Disease has had on the vegetarian movement. The resulting article sent reader's nationwide to VRG's website www.vrg.org
  • VRG publishes Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes.
  • VRG's nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, co-authored The Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications 2nd edition. This is a textbook.
  • VRG sends testimony to the USDA about revising the Food Guide Pyramid.
  • Fantastic Foods sponsored VRG so we could give Meatless Meals for Working People to 1,000 dietitians at the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association.

2005:

  • VRG commissions Harris Interactive® poll of youth — 3 percent of 8- to 18-year-olds are vegetarian (that is, they say they never eat meat, poultry, or fish/seafood.)
  • VRG publishes the 4th edition of Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. We also publish the 4th edition of
    Meatless Meals for Working People, which we has sold over 90,000 copies.
  • VRG exhibits at the School Nutrition Association Convention.

2006:

  • VRG publishes a second vegan Passover cookbook called Vegan Passover Recipes.
  • VRG researcher Jeanne Yacoubou does an article for Vegetarian Journal called "Vegetarian Certifications
    on Food Labels " What do They Mean?"
  • VRG's Foodservice Advisor Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD, presented 8-hour culinary education workshops at American Culinary Federation's regional conferences.
  • VRG publishes the 4th edition of Simply Vegan.
  • Thanks to generous donors, VRG establishes The Eleanor Wolff Intern Scholarship that allows VRG to offer a paid summer internship for a student in need including housing.
  • VRG commissions Harris Interactive® poll to find out how many adults are vegetarian or vegan. 2.3% are vegetarian and about half of these vegetarians are vegan.
  • VRG publishes a full-color version of our Vegan Diets in a Nutshell for tabling.

2007:

  • VRG celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a special edition of Vegetarian Journal.
  • VRG researcher Jeanne Yacoubou writes an article for Vegetarian Journal on Egg Labels and Certifications: What do they Mean?" to point out that free-range chickens do not have to go outside to be labeled free-range, beak-trimming is acceptable under organic law, etc.
  • VRG exhibits at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly.
  • VRG volunteer Mark Rifkin, RD starts offering Call-a-Dietitian Day from the VRG office every other month.

2008:

  • VRG publishes Vegan Seafood: Beyond the Fish Shtick for Vegetarians.
  • VRG conducts a Zogby Poll to find out How Many People Order Vegetarian Meals When Eating Out. 6.7% of American adults always order a veggie meal when dining out.
  • VRG's online vegetarian course is accepted by the American Culinary Federation for chefs completing their continuing education credits in nutrition.
  • VRG did a survey to determine which are the top mainstream restaurant chains offering vegetarian options.
  • VRG publishes a full-color updated version of its Heart Healthy Eating Tips brochure.

2009:

  • VRG commissions Harris Interactive® poll of adults: In the survey, 3% of U.S. adults indicated they never eat meat, poultry, and fish/seafood. They were classified as vegetarian. About 1/3 to 1/4 of the vegetarians (one percent of the U.S. adult population)
    also never eat dairy, eggs, and honey, and were classified as vegan.
  • The American Culinary Federation asked VRG Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff to do an 8-hour seminar for culinary educators.
  • VRG's Nutrition Advisor speaks at the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting.
  • VRG's researcher Jeanne Yacoubou writes a Vegetarian Journal article titled "The Vegetarian Solution to Water Pollution."
  • VRG exhibits at Green Festivals.
  • VRG publishes a full-color Vegan Nutrition in Pregnancy and Childhood brochure.
  • VRG's Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, is co-author of the American Dietetic Association's new Position Paper on Vegetarianism.
  • VRG hosts interns from Utah, Ohio, and Japan.
  • VRG mailed Vegetarian Journal to 1,000 doctors in Colorado.
  • Over 150,000 people per month continued to visit the VRG website.

2010:

  • VRG commissions Harris Interactive® poll via its YouthQuerySM online omnibus service. In the poll, 3% of U.S youth indicated they never eat meat, poultry, and fish/seafood. They were classified as vegetarian. About 1/3 of the vegetarians (1% of the U.S. youth population) also never eat dairy, eggs, and honey, and were classified as vegan. One-third of the vegetarians (1% of the U.S. youth population) were vegan, except for honey.
  • VRG volunteer Heather Gorn helps redesign VRG's website www.vrg.org
  • VRG's Co-Director writes Vegetarian Journalarticle on organic farmers.
  • VRG publishes full-color brochure titled "Save our Water."
  • Reed Mangels, PhD, RD co-authored a new edition of the "Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets" textbook.
  • VRG's updated Guide to Food Ingredients placed on line at www.vrg.org.
  • VRG's updated Guide to Naturals Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada placed on line at www.vrg.org.
  • VRG presents an abstract at the American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition concerning Vegetarian and Vegans staying vegetarian.

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