The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Long-Distance Internship Report

Posted on August 29, 2011 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The summer before my senior year of college, I found the opportunity to do a long distance internship with VRG, and was happy to be welcomed into a group that does such great work for the vegetarian and vegan community. Even though I am a psychology major, Charles and Reed assigned me projects that were applicable to my major as well as my interest in vegetarianism. I was able to do a majority of my work at home and at a pace that worked best for me. This was great because along with my internship I was also able to do volunteer work at my local animal shelter, and prepare research for a psychology convention.

One of my major projects included reading current scientific research and writing a few paragraphs about the studies and their implications for VRG’s readers. I was unaware that any psychological research had been done in relation to vegetarianism until I wrote two scientific reviews about it! This was helpful for me, because reading research and deciphering the results is a huge part of what I do as a psychology student about to write a thesis.

I also wrote a few “Veggie Bits,” which are reviews on new vegan products. I was excited to see how enthusiastic some companies are about spreading the word about their products, and how easily I was able to obtain samples so that I could write reviews about them. Among these products, I tried vegan cookies, coconut milk ice cream, vegan sour cream, and even vegan shampoo. It was a fun experience and I enjoyed writing about the things I had tried.

In addition, I worked on adding entries to VRG’s Restaurant Guide. Although many of the restaurants I researched are in different states, it was interesting to see how restaurants in other parts of the country incorporate vegan meals into their menus. Working on the Restaurant Guide has inspired me to try to find more vegetarian restaurants in my area.

One of my more interactive projects included going to grocery stores and finding products that are labeled as vegan. Eventually, the list will include all vegan products in the grocery stores and where to locate them, so new vegans will have the convenience of a list of all the vegan products at their particular store. Though I played a small part in this project, it will be exciting to see how the list grows. I think it will definitely encourage vegetarians like myself to incorporate more vegan foods in their diet.

Finally, I did a few smaller projects, which included converting an article into HTML and finding information on senior care facilities that have vegetarian options. I also looked to find vegan orange juice brands at grocery stores.

There are pros and cons to doing a long distance internship. Because of my location, it was difficult to do outreach projects and attend meetings and conferences like many of the Baltimore interns do. I did not get the same face-to-face experience as I would have had if I traveled to Baltimore. Yet, I feel that I have still gained valuable knowledge and experience, regardless of my location, and I was able to apply this knowledge in a different way. Because I chose to do long distance, I was able to go on vacation with my family to California, where I enjoyed a vegan-friendly, eco-friendly environment. I started reading some literature on vegetarianism that further strengthened my views. And as I mentioned before, it gave me the opportunity to do other things like volunteer in an animal shelter, a hobby I thoroughly enjoy.

Before the internship, I had different ideas about veganism, and thought it was very difficult. Going vegan was never really an option for me. Throughout my internship I learned how easy it can be to go vegan. VRG provides articles and resources that make veganism a possibility for even the busiest college student. I am now making a conscious effort to include more vegan foods into my diet. I’m so glad I did an internship with VRG, because it helped me stay committed to making smarter choices with food. I’m happy to be able to pass on all this new knowledge to other people and hopefully influence better eating decisions. VRG has helped push me out of my comfort zone to learn new knowledge and skills, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

For information about VRG internships see:
http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php
Internships are unpaid. We have one paid Eleanor Wolff Scholarship Internship in Baltimore. See:
http://www.vrg.org/student/eleanor_wolff_scholarship.php
To support additional VRG internships and outreach, you can donate at
https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

By Rita Pruzansky, VRG Intern and Psychology student

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