The Vegetarian Resource Group is proud to present Gretchen Coleman of Des Moines, Iowa with a $5,000 scholarship for her work in promoting vegetarianism in her community and her outstanding effort towards providing healthy, vegetarian food for the hungry.
From its start when she was in third grade, Gretchen’s vegetarianism was a struggle for her family to understand. “Being from Iowa,” says
Gretchen, “the diet is typically a ‘meat and potatoes’ type of meal.” Gretchen began to question this lifestyle that was so inherent to her
family from a young age. To her, the idea of eating something that was once alive and breathing seemed “like the most selfish thing,” and she
decided to stop eating meat.
In her first year of high school, Gretchen began working at Fresh Café and Market, a restaurant serving fresh and seasonal smoothies and sandwiches. Before Gretchen was employed at Fresh Café and Market, it did serve fish and chicken, but since she joined their staff, she encouraged and assisted them to stop selling any meat or fish. This job has demonstrated and increased Gretchen’s awareness about vegetarian issues, knowledge about vegetarian health, and dedication to the vegetarian lifestyle. Through her job, she talks to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike about the health benefits of vegetarianism and the reasons for living a meat-free life.
Gretchen also has devoted over 200 hours to community service during high school. She worked on the student board of Meals from the Heartland, a group that provides vegetarian meals to hungry people in Des Moines, as well as Haiti and some parts of Africa and the United States. This year, Gretchen helped organize fundraisers and made over $1,500 for the organization. She also has given her time at a local animal shelter, as a dog volunteer, making sure the dogs stay happy and get an adequate amount of attention each day.
Gretchen hopes to continue influencing people to lead healthier vegetarian lifestyles throughout college and plans to study dietetics. “I know I can make a huge difference in the lives of people by promoting natural and vegetarian living,” says Gretchen.
For more information about The Vegetarian Resource Group scholarships, see http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm
To donate towards future scholarships, please visit http://www.vrg.org/donate
By Hillary Blunt, VRG Intern