The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Dietetic Intern Day at VRG

Posted on June 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Casey Brown

I went vegetarian back in high school with little knowledge of my dietary needs during the transition. I was motivated by ethical reasons, and I focused most of my research on that aspect rather than learning more about my nutritional needs. I was living in a meat-eating household, and I had to cook my own meals if I wanted to remain vegetarian. This meant that I ate a lot of pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and trail mix. I never met with a dietitian during this transition. However, I think it definitely could have been beneficial for me. It would have made the transition much easier, and I would have been much healthier and more prepared starting out.

On one of my first days interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group, dietetic interns from the University of Maryland came in as part of their rotation. This was an opportunity that allowed them to learn more about vegetarian/vegan diets so they would be well rounded in their future careers. This is definitely an important topic for them to cover, considering the growth in vegan and vegetarian diets worldwide. As part of the event, everyone brought in a vegan dish to share for a potluck lunch. This allowed the interns the chance to be creative and experience vegan cooking first hand, opening them up to the variety of vegan substitutes and alternatives that are available. This will be essential during their career when they are working with vegan and vegetarian clients since they can provide them with practical examples of recipes and meal ideas, so that they can be more prepared than I was during the transition

During the event, the interns did an activity to come up with different vegan meal plans for various age ranges. It was interesting to see what ideas everyone came up with since some of the groups kept it simple, while others were more creative with their meals. They made important considerations since they knew that many kids would want simple foods like sandwiches and fruit, while adults might prefer tofu, rice and beans, or other meal combinations. They incorporated factors like time, which might affect working parents, and taste preferences, which might affect children and teens, while they were designing their meal plans. They also provided a variation of meals, offering an assortment of grain and legume combinations, multiple sandwich and snack ideas for school lunches, and even different breakfast options. Some of the meals relied on plant-based combinations, while others used alternative “meat” and “dairy” options to make the transition easier. Overall, it was an exciting event that allowed the interns to engage in conversations with one another and with vegans from VRG to enhance their understanding of these diets and provide them useful knowledge and skills that will be necessary for their careers.

While these interns came from different backgrounds, some were meat-eaters who “could never go vegetarian” and one was completely vegan, they all offered a lot of insight and were very open to learning more about these diets. The interns left with a multitude of vegan books and resources from VRG, which they can use to further educate themselves on this topic and use as a reference in their future career. The interns will hopefully continue to educate themselves on these diets and prepare themselves to work with clients coming from various backgrounds. While I never thought about visiting a dietitian when I transitioned to a vegetarian or a vegan diet, I think it would have helped me. Many people could benefit by meeting with a veggie-friendly dietitian, so they can be more educated and well prepared during their transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

For information about becoming a registered dietitian, see

For information about Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see

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To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, go to


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