June 5, 2011
By Lindsey Siferd, VRG intern
As a summer intern at The Vegetarian Resource Group, I have already been exposed to so many new experiences, and learned new skills, all in my first three weeks. One of the most interesting experiences that I have had so far was to help set up and participate in tabling for a VRG booth at the Federal Hill Jazz and Blues Festival in Baltimore, Maryland.
Before the festival, I worked with Mary, one of VRG’s staff members, to pack books and materials for the table. I learned that a lot goes into the planning and packing for one of these events, and how important it is to bring a variety of literature for people to peruse and take with them. The VRG has such a wealth of pamphlets and books, and they even have coloring books for children (and adults).
The day of the festival, I met Mary in the morning on a block in Federal Hill to set up our booth. It was an exciting festival to be working at, as there were several food, craft, and jewelry vendors, as well as live music all day. There were not many non-profits present, so it was important for us to be there. It was kind of surprising and ironic though, when we saw that they gave our table a spot right across from the pit beef and BBQ vendors. This did not daunt us, however, and we proceeded to set up our table with a brightly colored tablecloth and all of the information we had packed.
Working the table turned out to be a great experience. It was fun to connect with so many people who were vegetarian, vegan, or interested in learning more. Everyone who approached us was friendly, and many had their own stories to tell. Several people came up and said, “Oh, my sister is a vegan” or “My son wants to go vegetarian” and got a copy of the Vegetarian Journal for them or signed them up for the mailing list. It was nice to see so many people looking out for each other. We also met a few dietitians, some of whom already knew about the VRG and were interested in learning more to tell their clients.
Many people brought their children, so we gave away many coloring books. My favorite part was talking to the people who said they had always wanted to try to go vegetarian, but didn’t know how to start. Luckily, we had lots of great resources on hand, such as “Vegetarianism in a Nutshell” and a thorough ADA position paper full of information about nutrition. I also got to learn about several Baltimore vegetarian and vegan restaurants that I can’t wait to try out!
Another VRG volunteer named Dorothy came later in the day to help Mary and I table. She is a vegan, and was really enthusiastic about talking to people, and I learned a lot from her. It was good to have a volunteer, a staff member, and an intern all working one booth, because we all brought different experiences to the table (no pun intended).
The VRG does booths across the country, and at all different kinds of events, and I think it was important to work this particular festival to reach out to people who might not normally have access to information about vegetarianism or even know that the resources are out there. It was great to work with Mary and Dorothy, and get out in the community to speak directly with people. I hope to be able to work more events like this in the future!
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a non-profit organization which educates the public about vegetarian and vegan diets. A vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, or fowl. A vegan is a vegetarian who also does not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs.
To learn more about the Vegetarian Resource Group and vegetarian and vegan diets, please visit www.vrg.org or write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.
If you are interested in volunteering at a booth like the one above, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For a list of other ways to volunteer and get involved with the VRG, please visit http://www.vrg.org/getinvolved.php.
Donations from individuals like you help the VRG continue to sponsor outreach booths like the one mentioned above in your community. To donate, please go to https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565.