The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Reflection on My Internship at The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on June 23, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

Myrial Holbrook

My time in Baltimore at The Vegetarian Resource Group has been an amazing experience—I’ve observed and taken part in a non-profit organization and a broader movement, enhanced my nutritional knowledge, and renewed my passion for vegetarianism. I’ve only been here for three weeks, but the VRG has expanded my horizons professionally and personally.

I started out at the outreach booth at the Baltimore VegFest. With that experience, I was already amazed by the number of vegetarians and vegans and their enthusiasm for the cause. I had always been the minority—a vegetarian in mostly-omnivorous Columbus, Ohio. For the first time, I felt that I had become a part of something bigger than my own personal choice to become a vegetarian—I had become part of the movement.

The VegFest was a great first experience for my internship with The VRG, but it was only the beginning. On my first office day, Charles led me around the office, a small but mighty powerhouse of the health, nutrition, and ethics that support the veg lifestyle. That day, we were also visited by the University of Maryland dietetic interns. I have never met with a dietitian, so this experience was particularly enlightening. We discussed the ethical dilemmas that a dietitian faces in both corporate and counsel settings, possible vegan meal plans, and the changing needs of clientele. I realized how important it is to make nutritional expertise accessible to the public, for so few people actually take this initiative in their diet planning, even when they really need to.

After the dietetic interns left, I began my work as an intern in earnest. I wrote blog posts and articles on vegan hotspots in my hometown, Columbus, reviews on restaurants here in Baltimore, Veggie Bits on vegan products (free samples here at The VRG are a fabulous perk of the work), my experience and diet as a vegetarian athlete, research into vegan labeling at supermarkets, the new black bean burger at Wendy’s, and vegan options at Disney World. I learned to be skeptical about nutritional information, especially in terms of product verification. In my pursuit of information about the new black bean burger at Wendy’s, for example, I realized how much probing and investigation this kind of nutritional research requires. I called and e-mailed customer service, press representatives, nutritionists, and corporate authorities of Wendy’s and still could not obtain the exact ingredients of the burger to confirm or deny the burger’s classification as vegan. I learned how nebulous the definitions of vegan and vegetarian can be depending on the person or corporation, and how you must examine every product carefully to determine if it is suitable for your particular dietary preferences and needs. Before my internship I trusted labels and company statements. Now, however, I realize how important it is to do your own research and confirmation.

In addition to writing articles, I also did design work at The VRG. As editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, I have some experience with and greatly enjoy page layout design. I was able to put my skills to use in the design of a postcard for The VRG that will be distributed at future booth events. I also did some HTML coding and graphic design for a picnics landing page on The VRG website. This work helped me to understand what a non-profit organization must prioritize on paper and online in terms of vision and message. For example, I went through many versions of the postcard in order to bring continuity and consistency to both sides of the postcard. I also had to develop an effective categorization system for the picnics landing page. Through these projects my focus expanded from novice design to a professional awareness. Debra and Samantha, with their expertise in design, helped me to gain this professional awareness through their careful attention to detail and their helpful edits.

My projects during my internship at The VRG expanded my professional focus, but perhaps the most important aspect of my internship was the networking. Months before my internship even started, Charles was emailing me contacts of present and past interns, possible future professors for me to meet with when I go to Princeton next year, Ohio dietitians, people who shared my language or international interests in Spanish and Chinese, and other figures in the movement. Networking with these amazing people helped me to start thinking about my future path as a vegetarian, a college student, and an instrument of change. Once I arrived at The VRG, I continued to meet wonderful people. I met a holocaust survivor who became an animal rights activist, owners of local restaurants and bakeries, vegans and vegetarians aspiring to bring their lifestyle to kids and retirement homes through personal projects….Meeting these wonderful people was amazing, but I am especially grateful for my connections with The VRG staff–Charles informed me of the factors and motivations in movements and non-profits; Debra conversed with me about design and her experiences in international relations and Spanish; Samantha helped me with my professional designs and gave me delicious samples to try for Veggie Bits; Nina represented a great example of how to conduct outreach for a non-profit and was always willing to provide recommendations for eclectic events in Baltimore; the other interns were accepting and diverse, and I learned so much from our conversations about our experiences with vegetarianism and The VRG. These connections have widened my perspective of the movement and renewed my passion for spreading the vegetarian lifestyle. Through my experience at The VRG, I am thoroughly equipped to bring back what I have learned to my friends and family. Perhaps the knowledge that I share with them will have enough of an impact to finally persuade them to make the switch to vegetarianism and advance the movement.

My experience here at The VRG has been absolutely phenomenal. My only complaint is that it has been too short—three weeks have flown by and I’m ready to continue here. Although I can’t stay in Baltimore, I will continue my work for the movement. For me, this internship is only the beginning of my commitment to The VRG and its mission.

Myrial completed her High School internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group. She will be entering Princeton University this fall.

1 to “Reflection on My Internship at The Vegetarian Resource Group”

  1. Samantha says:

    Great write-up! We loved having you and good luck in the fall!

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