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Veg Outreach Booths: Spring 2014 0

Posted on March 31, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Who says you can’t be in more than one place at one time? Just this past weekend, VRG held booths in New York City at the NYC Veggie Pride Parade, Hadley, MA at Valley VegFest and Fairfax, VA at the National Capital Area Bake Show! Volunteers handed out hundreds of pieces of veg literature and even performed a vegan baking demo!

Of course, without all of our wonderful volunteers, none of these outreach efforts would have been possible! We would like to thank Reed Mangels, Whitney Blomquist, Natalie Evans, Becca Kaplan and Amanda Riley so much for their incredible work and dedication as well as all of those who came out to support us. We are extremely grateful to have such an amazing team here at VRG.

Our amazing volunteer, Whitney Blomquist, representing VRG at the National Capital Area Bake Show in Fairfax, VA.

VRG will be participating in a variety of events this year! Come check us out at:

Worcester VegFest
Worcester, MA: DCU Center
Sunday, April 6, 2014
11am-5pm

PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting
Bethlehem, PA: Historic Hotel Bethlehem
April 24, 2014

EcoFest
Baltimore, MD: Druid Hill Park
April 26th, 2014
11am-5pm

Spring Into Good Health Festival
April 26th, 2014
Baltimore, MD: Paul’s Place
1-4pm

Baltimore VegFest
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Baltimore, MD: UMBC
11am-4pm

New events are always being added to our calendar so please check the “Upcoming Events” section on our homepage at vrg.org for updates. If you would like to volunteer at any of these events please contact our Outreach Coordinator, Nina Casalena, at ninac@vrg.org.

Halfway Revelations 0

Posted on August 01, 2012 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Aileen McGraw

By the time my internship with the Vegetarian Resource Group began in early June, I had lived the vegan lifestyle for over two years. Cruelty-free diets and compassionate living brought familiar comfort. I knew the philosophies and strategies behind vegetarianism and veganism. At least, I thought I did.

One of my first projects was writing about balancing veganism with Type 1 diabetes – two factors that define much of my daily life. I hardly remember the years before my diagnosis with diabetes, but 17 years eating meat and other animal products remain vivid in my memory. Before the VRG piece, I rarely thought to consider these two driving forces together. Diabetes and veganism were parts of a whole, and through the writing process, I put into words something my body knew all along: my medical condition and dietary preferences inevitably connect with one and other. This became more than a general idea as I researched and fact-checked the article, diving into resources within VRG and the American Diabetes Association. Intern revelation number one: complete.

Starting at the VRG had me asking myself, “What do I want out of my internship?” The VRG comprises an amazing community of writers, professionals, interns, readers, sponsors and supporters of compassionate living. My resource pool is endless, and my experiences find even greater potential while interning long-distance from Chicago. I attended Chicago’s first annual Veggie Pride Parade, later exploring the wealth of VRG information on vegetarian festivals. I wrote up a blog entry filled with my opinions and perceptions of the parade, soon submitting it to the Baltimore VRG crew. I eagerly awaited their thoughts. Is it vegan of me to love feedback, to see how my words and actions impact others and our environment? After receiving the VRG response, I poured over revisions and comments. Surprisingly, the input surprised me. Intern revelation number two: witness politics. Recognize the achievements of everyone. Sure, I blogged about my experience, but more importantly, I had the opportunity to share information about Chicago’s vegan community and learned the importance of writing without bias.

As I reach the halfway point in my VRG internship, I keep reevaluating my concept of sustainable living. New challenges come to my attention while co-writing a vegan-backpacking article (who knew shoe glue can contain animal products?). The vegan lifestyle takes on a broader meaning when surveying senior living options. Fresh perspectives show me that vegetarian action happens at all ages (take, for example, Justice Beske and his mother, Marla Rose, who make kid-friendly Vegetarian Starter Kits together).

Intern revelation number three (and four, five, six…): ongoing. So far, my VRG internship catalyzed a redefinition of compassionate living, what it means to me, and how it influences community. I look forward to continuing this growth!

Interested in interning with VRG? See Internships & Scholarships at VRG!

Baltimore VegFest Report! 0

Posted on May 14, 2012 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Mary Herbranson
VRG Catalog Manager/Outreach Coordinator

On Saturday April 28th, a partly sunny day with peering rain clouds in the sky, the UMBC Vegetarian’s club and The Humane League hosted the second annual Baltimore VegFest on UMBC’s campus in Arbutus, Maryland- just 10 minutes south of Baltimore. It was clear any threat of wet weather couldn’t hold back vegetarians, vegans, and the merely curious from this free community event. With 65+ exhibitors made up of a combination of non-profits and green-minded commercial vendors there was no shortage of compassionate causes to learn from. The crowds gathered information and giveaways while working up appetites for the 100% vegan food vendors. Veteran volunteer, Dorothy Kenny, intern Amanda Matte, and I watched with watery taste buds as folks walked by with filling falafel wraps, delectable Indian Cuisine, sweet treats like cookies and fudge and much more. Before long I was in the line for fresh-pressed juice from Zia’s Café – a treat we could enjoy while engaging with the friendly individuals who dropped by our booth.

Long time members from Frederick, Maryland came by to check out our newest publication, Vegans Know How to Party, a couple from Easton, Maryland wanted resources to give local restaurants to encourage them to offer vegan options which are scarce in their ‘meat & potatoes’ town, a registered dietitian came by to give us her contact information to add to our referral database and to see what volunteer opportunities are available for her to work on from home, and college students gave their input on the status of vegan options from their campus food service and picked up bumper stickers, magazines, and coloring books to use as a reprieve from seemingly endless finals cramming.

We were situated within eye’s view of the main stage, where we caught parts of Erica Meier’s (Executive Director for Compassion of Killing) animated presentation and our attention was drawn again by the chuckles roused from Ben Shaberman’s reading from his collection of essays, The Vegan Monologues- which we sell at our outreach tables and is available in our bookstore. Throughout the event live music, cooking demonstrations and announcements from the raffles filled the air. As with most veg fests there was something for all ages and the festival guests were most appreciative! My cousin brought his two young ones, Mia age 6-almost-7 and Matthew age 4, who with smiles passed out magazines and brochures to passersby…really who can refuse a tiny blonde haired, blue eyed kid? With their help we passed out 500 copies of Vegetarian Journal and every hand in site carried VRG handouts and we had lots of inquiries about our website and how to become a member of the organization.

The time flew by and before we knew it, we were wrapping up what few materials were left and carrying boxes to the car. Fortune placed us tabling next to Land of Kush, and I was sure to buy some satisfying vegan soul food to offer to my cousin’s family as a thank you for their support of our outreach efforts. Dorothy went the extra mile and coordinated the effort with food vendors to personally collect remainder trays of food and samples to donate to a local food shelter.

We’re grateful for the artful skills of Balance Photography in Catonsville, Maryland. They were generous enough to share some stellar shots from the event! For more information: email balancephotography@gmail.com or visit, http://www.balancephotography.net
Check out Rissa & Nathaniel’s vegan blog: http://www.dirtyhippiebohemiangirl.com

We were thrilled with the opportunity to participate in this local vegan festival and hope the future brings many more!

If you are interested in volunteering at a booth like this, please e-mail vrg@vrg.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 VRG continue to sponsor outreach booths like the one mentioned above. To donate, please go to http://www.vrg.org/donate.



Putting on a Vegetarian Festival — Vegetarian Festivals Galore! 4

Posted on September 07, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Yasmin Radbod

Vegans love to eat vegan, talk about being vegan, buy vegan products, and be jolly with other vegans. And what better way to accomplish all those goals than to have a vegetarian festival in your community? We have all heard about vegetarian festivals around the nation: DC VegFest, Veggie Fest Chicago, Baltimore VegFest, Central Florida Veg Fest, Richmond Vegetarian Festival, World Vegetarian Festival in San Francisco, Indy Veg Fest, and so many others. Last year The Humane League of Maryland and UMBC Vegetarians (I am the President) created Baltimore VegFest, and it was quite a success. I had been to DC VegFest a couple of times, and always wanted to start a similar festival in Baltimore, so we did. Now that I have lived the tale I am here to tell you that with some dedicated, passionate vegetarians, some fundraising, and organization, you can start your own vegetarian festival, too. In my exploration of how to run these festivals I interviewed organizers of all the above festivals, and I came to many interesting conclusions about organizing the festival, finances, leadership, public relations, selecting vendors, special events, and choosing a location and date.

Always keep in mind that you do NOT have to run a festival alone. Of course you should have a group of people as passionate as you about the event, but co-sponsoring and co-organizing with other organizations can be highly effective, especially if you do not have the means, time, or ability to complete much of the work yourself. For Baltimore VegFest, UMBC Vegetarians (a student organization) co-created the festival with a nonprofit organization, The Humane League. This was a great balance of responsibilities because our student group was able to publicize to younger people in the area to come out, whereas The Humane League reached out to many other nonprofit organizations and vegan hubs in the area. Financially, it was a great set up as well. UMBC Vegetarians was able to request funding from UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA). Most universities have a SGA which appropriates spending to registered student organizations. What this meant was location fees, set up, chairs and tables, food costs, and more, were all covered by UMBC. Other successful partnerships in creating festivals include Compassion Over Killing (COK) and the Vegetarian Society of DC (VSDC) who split responsibilities for DC VegFest.

If you think cosponsoring is not an option for your festival, and even if it is(!), make sure to have a committee or leadership team. No festival can succeed without clear direction. Jessica, one of the organizers of Indy Fest, says, “Our organizing committee fluctuates between 4-6 people each year. Typically one person keeps the event’s to-do list going and makes sure things are getting done on time. All committee members, even the main organizer, get their hands dirty and put time and effort into the planning by taking on a particular portion of the event, for example- raffle, volunteers, vendor care, supplies, etc.” One observation I have made about these festivals is that even if all the organizers of a festival have clear, designated roles, everyone must be willing to pick up the slack if need be and help out in areas that may not be their expertise. Brenda from the Richmond Vegetarian Festival states, “Christopher is our lead coordinator. He is extremely detail-oriented and ensures that everything runs smoothly from start to finish. Mike Ogilivie started the first iron chef-like competition at our event this year. He also does a phenomenal job at building new signage every year (think Tim Tooltime). Leslie is the master of organizational skills. She maintains our database and also corresponds with each and every vendor as contracts are received to make sure everything is in place and expectations are met. I do much of the PR. I reply to all incoming correspondence and arrange for our media interviews. I am also notorious for sending emails to folks around the country letting them know of our festival as well as other festivals that are going on around them. Eric Vrable is our newest volunteer. He helps Mike with website development and maintenance. Josie and Lauren organized the Kid’s Patch; Josie also coupled as the volunteer coordinator.” It is great to have a close knit group of organizers, such as what Brenda describes, because it makes everything run smoothly and efficiently. When delegating and choosing responsibilities for your committee members, make sure everyone enjoys what they are doing, including you!

Veggie Fest Chicago uses a great system of leadership organization, and the roles they assign everyone might be useful for you to use as well:

We have 9 team leaders:
Jonathan Kruger: Public Relations, Team Coordinator/Children’s program/signs/memorabilia/program guide/decorations/hotels
Mike Ribet: Vendor Relations/Demos/Food Court/Health Dept./Site Map/Vegetarian Challenge/Depot Manager/Purchasing
Phil Vedova: Clean up/Parking/Greening/Fire Dept./Police Dept./Security
Cathy Gallagher: Speakers/Registration/Greeters/First Aid
Tushar Mukwana: Financials/budgets/accounting/ticket sales
Jay Linksman: Legal/Compliance/communication
Babita Ribet: Volunteers/Vendor recruitment
Gaetan Charest: Infrastructure/Plumbing/Electrical/landscaping/Stage-sound/Audio Visuals
Jay Mooney: On site manager/sponsorship

Raising money, and then keeping that money organized, is no simple task. All of the vegetarian festivals I researched seek donors and sponsorships. It can be difficult first starting out to find sponsorships, but they do exist, and do not hesitate to ask around to local and national organizations. Sponsorships benefit all the parties involved: the sponsor gets plenty of free advertisement and the festival gets added revenue and publicity through the sponsor. Besides sponsors, fundraise! Fundraising can be easy and fun, especially if you have volunteers or friends who are willing to support the cause. Hold vegan bake sales, yard sales, etc. If you have a student group working with you, ask them to hold fundraising events on campus. If you are representing a nonprofit then hold potlucks, parties, poetry slams, or other lively events to raise money as well. Think about whether you want to charge people for attending your festival.

Also, when I say “donors” above, I am primarily referring to food. Many vegan or vegetarian food companies WANT to advertise their products, and vegetarian festivals are the perfect way for them to do so! Sometimes all it takes is visiting a website of a company, getting a contact, or even filling out a donation form they provide online. It is really worth it to have free samples available to people attending your festival. Everyone will be happier! At Baltimore VegFest, we had numerous companies donate food. We even had over ten boxes of vegan ice cream sandwiches shipped to us, for free. There are some clothing companies or online grocery stores which may be willing to donate stickers, pins, shirts, or the like, too. Once you have money for your festival estimate all your costs (food, renting a space, tables and chairs, publicity, sound equipment, guest speakers or other events, etc.) and begin to allot your money as needed. Cut down where you can, and assign someone the role of being in charge of food. For the Indy Fest, Jessica describes, “To keep track of our funds, we have set up a bank account under the group’s name. We have one treasurer currently who has signing privileges for the checking account. Most expenses are agreed upon by the group before they are made; however, small expenses that people make by picking up random needs are reimbursed as necessary.” This might work for you. Whatever you do, always know where your money is and how much you have!

Now you need to advertise for your event. Jon from Veggie Fest Chicago says, “We do a bit of everything but Internet marketing and social media is becoming our most effective tool. But we make up flyers, posters, radio and TV ads, articles in the papers, some display ads in key magazines, and word of mouth. We have a program called Friends of Veggie Fest which is a way for businesses to network with each other to help get the word out.” Dixie Mahy, the President of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society states, “At first we sent our Press Releases or flyers to newspapers and other media for free calendar listings. As we grew, we started placing paid ads in newspapers and magazines. Our flyers were simple but later we were able to pay for graphic artists to create eye appealing, professional looking post cards and posters. At our event, at first we just had one page description of speakers, vendors, etc. We now have a printed program with photos and bios of speakers, lists of vendors and organizations and paid ads from vendors to help pay for the printing.” This is a great strategy! If you have any friends or colleagues who design, ask them to help create a logo and flyer for your festival.

And who is going to vend at your festival? I personally think seeking vendors is one of the most enjoyable parts of running a festival because there are always such interesting and wonderful vegan businesses that deserve the spotlight! Furthermore, it is beautiful to know you are introducing non-vegans to so much vegan love! In searching for vendors, start local. If you have friends who make DIY items, ask them if they would be interested in selling their handicrafts at your festival. If you live in or nearby a big city, chances are there are restaurants close by which do offer vegan and vegetarian options. You do need to choose, however, if your festival is going to be completely vegan or only vegetarian. Some festivals encourage vegan food to be offered without making it mandatory. Also, choose whether you want all-vegan companies to vend, or if you want to allow companies that do sell non-vegan items to vend. Should you have Trader Joe’s there? What about Whole Foods? Make sure your team has reached a consensus about vending options. For example, Veggie Fest Chicago is organized by the nonprofit The Science of Spirituality. Their guidelines for vendors are as follows, “We select mostly vendors who have some value to the vegetarian way of life, healthy living, and good vegetarian food. But we do have vendors that are broad in scope – a small amount to round off the booths to make the festival more acceptable to all. The Science of Spirituality promotes the lacto vegetarian diet but at Veggie Fest we have all the different types of vegetarians: Raw, Vegan and Lacto-Vegetarian. But there is no meat, fish, fowl or eggs in any of our vendors.” Figure out what your mission is, what you support, and what you want others to be exposed to at your festival.

Most festivals feature special events in addition to vendors. Popular events include guest speakers, cooking demos, and live music. For Baltimore VegFest, a friend of mine who attends UMBC freestyled about veganism for the crowd. Being creative and finding artists who want to share their talent to vegetarians and non-vegetarians is the best way to find great acts. Erica Meier, the Executive Director of COK, and organizer of DC VegFest, describes, “It’s important to us that this event offer attendees a wide range of information about the many benefits and the ease of choosing plant-based foods – and one of the ways we can share all of this is through our speakers. Featured speakers have included best-selling authors, doctors, bodybuilders, chefs, a news anchor, professor, and a beauty queen—all of whom are vegetarian or vegan and discuss how a meat-free diet is better for our health, the planet and animals.” In 2011, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Wayne Pacelle, and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau will be speaking at DC VegFest. At the World Veg Festival, organizers create many interesting events: “We do different things each year depending on our volunteers and talent. For example, we have had three vegan fashion shows with the one last year coordinated by Karine Brighten who did a fantastic job renting a runway, spotlights, costumers, vegan clothing & accessories, vendors, etc… When we moved to our new facility, we were able to set aside in the courtyard a couple of tables for a children’s corner with books, coloring books, and other appropriate vegan activities in order to encourage families to attend and to teach children about animals and vegetarianism. A lot of activities depend on who is and what is available. As an added attraction, we have had yoga on the lawn outside our facility as we are in the Golden Gate Park and that seems to be very organic. Speed dating was suggested by one of our board members two years ago and it turned out to be quite successful.”

Lastly, you must chose a location and date for your festival. Brainstorm early! You do not want to miss out on your dream space. Figure out what regulations and prices exist for various locations, confer with your leadership, and reserve the space as early as possible. All types of different spaces have all types of benefits and negatives. For instance, in choosing an outdoor space (depending on the season), you risk bad weather hindering your festival. On the other hand, if it is outdoors, it is not as crowded as indoors, you do not have to worry about heat or air conditioning, and people can bring their companion animals. Steve, who organizes the Central Florida Veg Fest, states, “Keeping the location the same each year provides consistency for attendees and vendors, but it also makes the organizers’ jobs easier, because we don’t have to learn the details of a new park every year (i.e., learning where electricity and water are located, where the big puddles form during a rainstorm, etc).” Locating nearby bathrooms and plenty of trashcans is especially important in reserving a location as well. In picking a date, plan around other big events to ensure that people who attend yours! For Baltimore VegFest, we almost make the mistake of putting our festival on Earth Day last year. Instead, we moved the festival to a week after Earth Day to make sure we got a big crowd. If you know of a nearby festival going on the same season as yours, talk to their organizer and figure out a date that is will not interfere with their event.

I want to give you all some words of advice before I send you off! Here are some comments interviewees made that will surely help you in your endeavors:

Want a veg fest in your city? Just get some people together and give it a try!! Take the first step and others will help, you’ll be surprised. And remember, it doesn’t have to be the biggest event ever. Growing your community and festival size is part of the fun!
-Jessica, Indy Fest

Start planning early and get the word out. Every year organizing the event gets easier and easier as word of mouth travels. It’s important to get your sponsors and vendors committed early on (through a discounted fee) so that you have an idea of what your budget will look like.

Two years ago I sent emails to vegetarian societies across the country, in every state that had one, actually. I volunteered to pass along what we had learned to any group that was interested in beginning their own vegetarian festival in their respective city. In the past year we have had three different groups contact us about potentially starting festivals in the coming year. When we were just getting started the coordinator of the Charlottesville festival was very helpful in giving advice in getting us up and running. I wanted to pass along all that we have learned to anyone who is willing to undertake such a worthwhile commitment. I just updated a list of all the vegetarian festivals/expos in the country on my website: http://www.brendaveggie.com/Events.html. I hope that one day every state will have at least one festival.

-Brenda, Richmond Vegetarian Festival

Since our event [World Veg Festival] has evolved over the years, it has been difficult for me to tell someone else how to start one. If I were to try to make it more concise, I would suggest the following:

  • I think you might need a group of people already organized in order to draw from that group, a few dedicated people to be the Core Committee and divide up the duties – soliciting donations or vendors, flyers & publicity, treasurer, and finding speakers and demo presenters.
  • You will also need some money to cover costs until you are able to get some revenue from the event. The amount of money needed would be determined by the cost of the venue, copies for flyers & mailings, although we do mostly e-mailing now, and cost of any speaker fees. If you don’t have any seed money, you will have to donate money and be reimbursed after the event that hopefully has made money.
  • Find a suitable hall or venue that has reasonable rent and can accommodate tables for vendors and separate rooms for cooking demos and speakers. Assess your situation to see how much you need to charge at the door. More people will come if you can keep the door donation fairly low, especially if you are trying to get non-vegetarians to come.
  • Assess your local scene for speakers and cooking demo presenters who will donate their time. It is nice to have someone well known as a main speaker who will do it for free especially if he or she has books or DVDs to sell. Some will ask for travel expenses. Add entertainment by vegan entertainers if you have the appropriate space.
  • Solicit sponsors from local health food markets and other vendors.
  • Publicity is very important. It is easier these days because of the internet. Compile addresses of newspapers, TV, radio, etc., for sending out PSA announcements and calendars by mail and e-mail. Get as much free publicity as you can. Later, you may want to do paid ads.
  • It is helpful to have a website to promote the event.
  • If you have more than one speaker or demo presenter, create a program to be handed out at the event.
  • Start modest and then you can grow each year as you gain a reputation. You can add activities to your event depending on the talent.
-Dixie, World Veg Festival

Best of luck, everyone! Questions? E-mail Yasmin at vrg@vrg.org.

Vegan Food on College Campuses 5

Posted on August 30, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Lindsey Siferd and Jessica Friend

Many students, when applying to college, have several worries. Will I like my roommate? Are my classes going to be difficult? Will the food be good? For vegan students, the last question is even more important– will there be food for me to eat?

Luckily, many colleges are expanding their dining services to include vegan and vegetarian options. Below is a list of twelve Maryland and DC universities and colleges that offer vegan food for students. Hopefully you will find this list useful in your college search, but remember that the best way to find out information is to talk directly to the college’s food service provider. Many of the websites listed below have phone numbers, and talking to someone on the phone or in person is the best way to get the most accurate information.

Disclaimer: The Vegetarian Resource Group does not endorse or vouch for the accuracy of any of these sites. We are only including them as a reference for people who are interested. For the most up-to-date information on vegan options at these schools, please call the food service providers directly.

American University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Montogmery College, Salisbury, Stevenson, St. Mary’s College of MD, Towson, UMBC, Univeristy of MD- College Park, Washington College

American University

Washington, DC

American University provides several options for vegetarian and vegan students on campus. Students can use the comment card feedback system to communicate with Bon Appetit kitchen staff about what they would like to see on the menu and in recent years many students have pushed for more healthy and diverse vegetarian options. There are several dining halls including the Terrace Dining Room, the Marketplace, the Tavern, the Eagles Nest, and the University Club that all cater to vegetarian and vegan students.

Terrace Dining Room, or TDR, as the students call it, is the main campus cafeteria. TDR features a salad bar and a vegetarian/vegan station called Cucina Verde. Hummus is a staple at the salad bar and the entrées change every meal. Cucina Verde features dishes such as Asian tempeh with rice, sweet and sour seitan, fried buffalo tofu, vegan scallion mashed potatoes, and vegan Korean barbecue. Students can also enjoy vegan raspberry marble cheesecake with chocolate crust, vegan fudge, and vegan chocolate coconut-cream pie at the dessert station. Breakfast at Terrace Dining Room features a cereal bar with soy milk and a bagel area.

The Tavern serves veggie burgers and grilled vegetable quesadillas. There is also a boxed lunch counter perfect for students on the go which serves a roasted vegetable wrap with your choice of fruit.

The Marketplace is home to several vendors that cater to vegetarian and vegan students. Panini Express serves the Market Caprese sandwich filled with grilled mozzarella, tomato, basil, and balsamic dressing. Field of Greens is a salad bar with a variety of vegan toppings including tofu, chickpeas and a variety of fresh vegetables. Students can also try the Veg Out bagel at Einsteins or the veggie samosas at MegaBytes.

Each student’s dining plan comes with Eagle Bucks that can be used at several off-campus locations. Vegan students can try the Tuscan hummus at Angelico Pizzeria, the veggie sushi rolls at Satay Club, or go to Whole Foods and pick up their favorite snacks.

American University's Eco-Sense Club supports sustainability on and off campus. Recently, members of Eco-Sense created a campus garden to promote eating local, fresh foods. Eco-Sense members also held meetings to discuss using vegetables grown in the garden as a part of the new "farm to fork" section of the Terrace Dining Room.

Sample Vegan Menu from Cucina Verde:

  • Tomato Bisque
  • Sweet Onion Soup
  • Orange Green Beans with Peppers
  • Gluten-free Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms
  • Kung Pao Tofu

Link to American University’s Dining Website:
www.american.edu/ocl/dining

George Washington University

Washington, D.C.

George Washington University (GW) is implementing changes in their dining hall which, according to GW Today, will provide more "fresh, made-for-you choices." GW has two dining halls and a coffee shop, each of which has options for vegans. The main dining hall is called Marvin Hall J Street. Starting in the 2011-2012 school year, this dining hall is offering new choices and expanded hours. Marvin Hall has many stations, and their station called The Diner at J Street is open late nights as well. Vegetarian and vegan selections are clearly labeled.

Marvin Center J Street Stations with Sample Vegan Options:

  • Freshen’s Energy Zone- fruit smoothies (ask for non-dairy), fruit juices
  • Little Italy- made-to-order pasta, vegetable topping
  • Kosher Deli- ask for made-to-order sandwiches
  • Simply To Go- salads
  • The Diner at J Street- oatmeal, made-to-order options, baked cinnamon apples
  • Fresh Food Bars- vegan/veg bar, salad bar, fresh vegetables
  • Asian Fare- vegetable hand-rolled sushi
  • Homestyle Favorites- roasted potatoes

The other eatery on-campus is called Pelham Commons, and sells groceries along with cooked-to-order meals. Their coffeshop, G-Dub Java, features fresh prepared tossed salads along with coffees. GW also offers Sunday Night Dinners at J Street, which in the past has included "vegan options," according to GW’s official website.

The company that runs GW Dining is Sodexo, and they offer a link to their website, Balance Mind, Body, and Soul, which offers health and wellness information, as well as a link to "Ask the Dietitian." The website also includes a nutrition calculator, in which students can choose different food items and find out the nutritional information for each one. The calculator also indicates if the item is vegan or vegetarian.

This website also shares some recipes for students who choose to make their own meals, including some vegan ones, such as a Minted Orange Salad. Also for students who wish to eat off-campus, Java Green Café, an all-vegan and vegetarian restaurant, is only a few minutes walk away.

Students wishing to affect change in dining services can fill out an online comment card or e-mail one of the managers. Students can also form their own clubs; so if students are interested in creating a campus vegetarian or vegan club, they can do so.

Link to Sodexo’s GW Dining Services Page with Menus, Hours, etc:
http://gworlddining.com

Link to GW Dining Services Facebook Page:
www.facebook.com/gwdining

Link to Sodexo’s Balance Mind, Body, and Soul Website with Nutritional Information:
http://balancemindbodysoul.com

Link to GW Today Article about Changes in Dining Hall:
http://gwtoday.gwu.edu/aroundcampus/refreshingcampusdining

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins University works closely with its food-service provider, Aramark, to accommodate both vegetarian and vegan students on campus. The University has several on-campus eateries and menus for each facility can be found on-line.

The Fresh Food Café is self-service, all-you-care-to-eat facility which features a vegetarian/vegan station. Past entrees have included vegan chili and a sweet Thai tofu stir fry.

The best option for vegetarian and vegan students at Johns Hopkins is Nolan’s. This dining hall features a salad bar, a pasta station, and an omelet station that can make a vegan omelet at students’ request. Nolan’s also features Home Zone which serves a daily vegetarian entrée. A sample menu could include jerk tempeh, arugula lasagna, chick pea "crab cakes," and green herb gumbo.

At the Levering Food Court students can try fresh sushi, salads or made-to-order sandwiches. Levering Food Court Options include Levering Leaves a salad station that gives students the option to choose marinated tofu as the protein topping for their salad and Peppercorn Grill which serves grilled veggie burgers. Levering Food Court is also home to Bella Gusta Pizza, Savory Deli, and several other vendors all serving options for vegetarian and vegan students.

The Charles Street Market is a fully stocked campus market featuring fresh produce and organic vegetarian snacks. The Charles Street Market also includes Charles St Subs, which serves an eggplant Parmesan sandwich and Panini Express, which serves vegetarian paninis. Students can also find freshly made salads at the Charles Street Market such as the spicy Chinese noodles salad or the smoked penne pasta salad.

Across the street from campus on University Parkway is One World Café, a restaurant that students wanting to venture off campus can visit for vegan and vegetarian food.

Johns Hopkins University also participates in "Meatless Mondays." The Office of Sustainability at Hopkins and several student groups including Students for Environmental Action and Eco-Reps all joined in a campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of decreased meat consumption. The "Meatless Mondays" campaign promotes a diet high in fruits and vegetables for health and environmental reasons. The meals served at "Meatless Mondays" range from new vegetarian pizza options to special vegetarian soups to a portabello mushroom cheese-melt.

Link to Johns Hopkins’ Dining Website:

www.jhu.edu/hds/dining

Loyola University

Baltimore, MD

At Loyola University, vegan and vegetarian students have a variety of campus dining options to choose from.

Boulder Garden mimics a food court with several vendors catering to vegetarian students. Moe's Southwest Grill offers vegetarian quesadillas, WOW Café & Wingery serves veggie burgers and grilled veggie wraps, and Il Piatto offers veggie pizza and eggplant Parmesan.

In the Andrew White Student Center students can visit Ikigaii Sushi for the veggie rolls or Mein Bowl for authentic vegetarian Asian cuisine.

Simply to Go in Sellinger Hall provides prepackaged foods for vegetarian and vegan students on the go including fresh salads and sandwiches. Past menu items included a vegan vegetable soup and vegan chocolate cake.

Iggy's Market is located on the west side of campus in Newman Towers. It is set-up similar to a grocery store and provides both grocery store items and fresh meals. There is always a vegetarian option available.

Students may use funds from their Evergreen dining account at participating off campus locations. These include Subway, S'ghetti Eddie's, and the Egyptian Pizza Co., all of which offer vegan or vegetarian menu items.

Interested students can apply to be a part of Loyola's Student Dining Committee. These students work alongside dining staff to come up with creative and delicious new menu ideas.

Link to Loyola University's Dining Website with hours, menus and locations:

www.loyola.edu/dining

Montgomery College

Germantown, Rockville, Takoma Park/Silver Spring

Montgomery College, the community college system for Montgomery County, has three locations, all of which are managed by Chartwells. Each location has one café, called Café MC, which offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as to-go options.

The menu for each location can be found online at Chartwells’ website. Weekly specials are listed online as well. Chartwells website states that each café offers soy milk, daily vegan entrées focusing on legumes as a protein source, and canola and olive oil in most of their cooking. Food is labeled vegan or vegetarian.

Germantown Food Stations with Sample Vegan Options:

  • Breakfast Value Meals- Continental Breakfast (w/fruit cup, bagel, and fresh juice)
  • Mesquite Ranch Grill- black bean burger
  • Fresh Fusions- roasted salsa and corn chips, tomato basil soup
  • Deli Counter- build-your-own sandwich option
  • Outtakes (to-go cooler)- celery and peanut-butter, fruit cup

Rockville Food Stations with Sample Vegan Options:

  • Breakfast A La Carte- bread, hash brown potatoes
  • Mesquite Ranch Grill- veggie burger, black beans, nachos with salsa
  • Fresh Fusions- rotating list of international paninis, vegan options in the past
  • Chop’d and Wrap’d- build-your-own salad, build-your-own sandwich, peanut butter and jelly

Takoma Park Food Stations with Sample Vegan Options:

  • Breakfast Value Meals- Continental Breakfast (w/fruit cup, bagel, and fresh juice)
  • Mesquite Ranch Grill- nachos with salsa
  • Fresh Fusions- roasted salsa and corn chips, tomato basil soup
  • Chop’d and Wrap’d- build-your-own sandwich option
  • Outtakes (to-go cooler)- pita and hummus, fresh fruit

As for nutrition, Chartwells has nutritional information available online for any item on the menu, as well as for every menu item at their corporate eateries. Another interesting tool offered online is a program called Nutrition Journal, which allows MC students to enter the foods they eat each day, and helps them make sure they are balancing their nutrition properly.

The Chartwells’ website also has a feedback section, where students can make suggestions.

Students also have the option of using one of the microwaves around campus if they bring their own food.

Link to MC Chartwells Website with Menus, Hours, Nutritional Info, and More:
www.dineoncampus.com/montgomery

Link to List of Vending Machines and Microwaves with Maps:
http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Department.aspx?id=5102

Salisbury

Salisbury, MD

Salisbury University is working to increase awareness of vegan and vegetarian students on-campus, and is expanding their vegan options. There are several places to eat on-campus, including grab-and-go options. Their dining service, called University Dining Services (UDS), publishes a monthly publication called "Café Express," which lists the menus for that month. On these menus, each item that is vegan or vegetarian is labeled. The menus for each dining hall are available online as well.

Commons is the main dining hall, and they have several options for vegan students. Their salad bar always has fresh vegetables and there is fresh fruit every day. They also have soy milk and fruit juices for vegan students. Commons is divided into different stations, and each one has different options for vegans. Here is an example of a vegan option from each station:

  • Fiesta Express- vegan chili and refried beans
  • Lotsa Pasta-vegan marinara sauce and pasta
  • Wok n Roll- cooked-to-order stir-fry with tofu and fresh veggies
  • S.S. Grillers- vegan Boca Burgers
  • Veggie Patch- three vegetables every day
  • The Bistro- red beans and rice, tofu spinach lasagna

UDS also offers nutritional information online for students. The nutritional listings for all of the stations in Commons also states whether or not the food item is vegan, making it easy for students to find out what they are eating. If students have more questions about nutrition, Salisbury has a university dietitian, who students can call or e-mail.

Salisbury also has several options for vegan students in a hurry. A coffee shop called Cool Beans serves Starbucks coffee, and any of their drinks can be made with soy milk. Cool Beans also offers smoothies for students with names like "Strawberry Starburst" and "Mango Moon," all of which can be made with soy milk instead of dairy. Their on-campus sub shop, called EZ Coasterz, offers a veggie wrap made with the student’s choice of vegetables. Salisbury also has various "satellite dining" places with grab-n-go options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Examples of vegan fare at these spots includes cereal, peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, veggie wraps, and garden salad.

An interesting event for vegans is the Vegan Candlelight Dinner held each semester by UDS. It is billed as an "elegant gourmet dinner," and costs no extra money for students on a meal plan. A past menu was Greek-themed, and included grilled mushrooms with kalamata olives & sun-dried tomatoes, grilled eggplant salad, and spinach artichoke dip.

For students interested in getting involved or making changes, there is an on-campus group called the F.O.O.D. Committee, composed of students, faculty, and UDS staff. F.O.O.D. provides input on dining services. Students can also leave feedback online or e-mail UDS. There is also a club called the Vegetarian Student Association.

For students making their own meals, the Wellness Programs at Salisbury offer a list of healthy vegan and vegetarian recipes, such as tri-color stuffed peppers.

Campus Menus, Nutritional Information and More from UDS website:
www.salisbury.edu/dining

Wellness Programs Webpage with Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes
www.salisbury.edu/wellness/Recipes/HealthyEntrees.html

Stevenson University

Owings Mills, MD (Main Campus)

Vegetarian and vegan students at Stevenson University have a variety of options. At all dining halls menu items are clearly marked with a "V" for vegetarian or "VG" for vegan. Stevenson's food provider, Sodexo, offers nutritional information on-line as well as a nutrition calculator for students interested in finding out their specific daily and weekly intakes.

The main cafe, called Mustang Grill, is an all-you-can-eat facility. Here students will find a soup and salad bar with vegetarian and vegan options. Past selections have included a vegetarian creamy potato soup and a vegan American bounty vegetable soup. Soy milk is also available. Students have the right to inquire about the contents of all menu items and the staff can often make special accommodations for vegan students such as substituting tofu for other proteins. At Mustang Grill, there is a daily vegetarian entrée. Past menus have included a vegetarian jambalaya, a pesto pasta bowl, and a vegetarian lentil Shepard's pie. Mustang Grill also serves vegan chicken nuggets, vegan veggie burgers, and vegan strip steak at students' request.

Both of Stevenson University's campuses feature a variety of specialty eateries. The Owings Mills campus is home to Jazzman's Cafe and Pandinis. Here students can try the vegan hummus wrap from Pandinis or the Jazzman's signature salad. The Greenspring campus features Simply to Go, Sandellas, Grill 155, and Subconnection. At Simply To Go, students can choose from a variety of pre-packaged salads. At Sandellas, students can try the veggie quesadillas or the tripoli cheese grilled flat-bread. Grill 155 serves veggie burgers and Subconnection offers a vegetarian sub with roasted squash, broccoli and onions.

At Stevenson University each dining plan comes with flex dollars that students can use at neighboring off-campus restaurants. Vegan students can use their flex dollars at participating locations including Edo Mae Sushi and Tahinas Mediterranean Grill.

Health Services and the Wellness Club have partnered to bring "Wellness Wednesdays" to Stevenson University. "Wellness Wednesdays" are held frequently throughout the year and include health education and guest speakers. Previous "Wellness Wednesdays" events included a health fair where students could get more information on vegetarianism. Stevenson also publishes a Fun101 guide listing several vegetarian restaurants in the area.

Sample Menu:

  • Monday-Vegan Couscous and Chickpea Burger vegan
  • Tuesday- Penne with Fra Diavolo Sauce
  • Wednesday-Tofu Fried Rice
  • Thursday- Roasted Vegetable and Rice Burrito
  • Friday- Polenta with Plantains

Links to Stevenson’s Dining Services and Sodexo’s Website:
www.stevensondiningservices.com
www.sodexo.com

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

St. Mary’s City, MD

St. Mary’s College of Maryland has one main dining hall on campus and a few smaller eating locations. Every place on campus has a vegan option. The food service provider, Bon Appetit, is committed to providing students with healthy food and balanced meals.

The main dining hall on-campus is called The Great Room, which is buffet-style. On weekdays there is a station called "Greens & Grains" that serves vegan and vegetarian options. Past menus have included stir fry, make-your-own vegan burritos, and sweet and sour seitan. The Great Room also has a special fridge for vegan students, which has soy milk by the carton, special dips, and vegan cereals. Vegan "chicken" nuggets and veggie burgers are available every day.

Everything in the Great Room is labeled as "vegan," "vegetarian," or "gluten-free," on-site, and the main line in the buffet always has at least one vegan option. Popular options are vegan marinara sauce and whole-wheat pasta, fresh local vegetables, and vegan fried rice. Weekly menus can be found online.

St. Mary’s also has options for students on-the-go. The on-campus coffee shop and grocery store, called The Daily Grind, has all-organic coffees, soy milk, and smoothies that can be made vegan. The Lewis Quad grab-and-go has sandwiches and salads. Two other options for students on the meal plan are Quiznos Subs and the Upper Deck Grill. Open longer than the Great Room, Quizno’s has a make-your-own sub option, which has a variety of vegetables. There are also salads which can be made vegan. The Upper Deck Grill has vegan burgers available.

As far as nutritional information, Bon Appetit’s website has a nutrition section for vegetarians and a has an "Ask an Expert" section so that students can submit questions.

If students wish to get involved with making changes in the dining hall, students can join the Food Services Committee, which is part of the Student Government Association. Students can also submit comment forms online at Bon Appetit’s website, and also fill out cards in The Great Room itself.

For students who are not on the meal plan, St. Mary’s has a vegetarian and vegan co-op that is entirely student-run. Students buy and cook all of their own food, and there is a separate fridge for vegan food.

Bon Appetit’s St. Mary’s Website with Campus Menus, Hours, and More:
www.cafebonappetit.com/stmarys

US News and World Report Article Listing St. Mary’s as a Veggie-friendly College:

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2011/06/07/colleges-that-offer-courses-choices-for-vegetarians?PageNr=1

Towson University

Towson, MD

At Towson University vegetarian and vegan students have a variety of choices. Students can choose from several meal plans including a vegetarian option. Towson University has two all you can eat dining halls and nine a-la-carte eateries, all of which cater to both vegetarian and vegan students.

The icon system helps students to easily identify food choices. Items marked with the VEGETARIAN symbol contain no meat, fish, poultry, or shellfish but may contain dairy and eggs. Choices marked with the VEGAN option contain no ingredients from animal or dairy products. The nutrition program at Towson University is directed by a registered dietitian and nutrition counseling is available for students with more questions.

Vegetarian and vegan students can now participate in Towson University's T-Veggie Program, introduced in Fall of 2009. T-Veggie allows students to substitute soy-based alternatives for most meat menu items. Just ask the server to make it T-Veggie style!

Towson University's two main dining halls, Glen Marketplace and Newell Hall, are all you can eat facilities. Vegetarian and vegan students can choose from a range of entrees including Italian vegetable bake, soy chicken lo mein, spinach souffle, and vegetable paella. Both dining halls also offer a separated vegetarian soup and salad bar. Here students can try Greek salad or vegan gumbo. The nine a-la-carte dining facilities at Towson also offer a range of foods for vegetarian students.

Towson University Advocates for Animals and the Environment is a student organization focused on bringing awareness to how animals are treated in the meat and dairy industry and supporting an overall healthy lifestyle. Students interested in joining can find more information at www.involved.towson.edu.

Sample Menus:

  • Tofu Jambalaya
  • Baked Sweet Potato
  • Green Beans
  • Pita Chips
  • Caribbean Rice
  • Fried Plantains
  • Spicy Collard Greens
  • Pita Bread

Link to Towson’s Dining Services Website with Dining hours, Menus, and more:

www.towson.edu/adminfinance/auxservices/dining/locations

Link for Students Interested in Joining "Advocates for Animals and the Environment":
www.involved.towson.edu

UMBC

Baltimore, MD

The University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) has a variety of vegan options for students on campus. They have several dining halls and food places, including Fresh Fusions, an all vegan/vegetarian eatery. Vegan students also have an option available at every place on campus, information which is compiled in a pamphlet made by the UMBC Vegetarian Club, which can be found here. The company that runs UMBC dining services, Chartwells, makes menus available online, along with hours for all of the dining halls and eateries.

At the main dining hall, called True Grit’s, vegans have the option of a variety of specialty foods, soy milk, and other protein options, including peanut butter, beans, soy, and tofu at every meal. Vegans can also ask for their food to be prepared separately, and have the right to ask food servers and cooks to change their gloves. Past menus have included tofu curry and red skin potatoes.

Fresh Fusions is the best option for vegans, with multiple options in soups, entrées, and sides. Options are from all around the world, so vegans can sample a variety of cuisines. A sample menu for this eatery might be Cuban black bean soup, a rice and pinto bean burrito, and roasted salsa and blue corn chips on the side. Another past menu was tomato basil soup, a portobello wrap, and Mediterranean couscous and lentil salad.

All of the food on the menu is labeled with a blue leaf for vegan food, and a green leaf for vegetarian food. The salad bar in True Grit’s has a variety of legumes such as peas, beans, edamame, and more.

Dining Halls:

  • True Grit’s (several vegan options)
  • Fresh Fusions (all vegan and vegetarian)

Corporate Food Places with examples of Vegan Offerings:

  • Au bon Pain- oatmeal, cucumber salad, fruit cups
  • Jow Jing- lo mein, tofu
  • Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina- tortilla chips, veggie taco salad w/o tortilla
  • Famous Famiglia- pasta w/marinara sauce, garlic knots (w/o Parmesan)
  • Mondo Subs- vegetable wrap with hummus
  • Chik-Fil-A- garden salad w/o dressing, waffle fries
  • Mesquite Ranch- black bean garden burger w/o bun, fries, tofu salad
  • Starbucks- coffee w/o flavoring, juices

As for nutrition, Chartwells has nutritional information available online for any item on the menu, as well as for every menu item at their corporate eateries. Another interesting tool offered online is a program called Nutrition Journal, which allows UMBC students to enter the foods they eat each day, and helps them make sure they are balancing their nutrition properly.

If a student is interested in making changes in the food service, they can join the Student Dining committee, or see all of the minutes from past meetings online. The Chartwells’ website has a feedback section, where students can make suggestions. Students can also join the UMBC Vegetarians Club, a student club which has done events in the past like handing out Tofurky in November and attending Baltimore VegFest.

When it comes to alternatives to the meal plans, UMBC is looking towards implementing some sort of co-op system for students on campus. Minutes from a May 1, 2011 Student Government Association meeting indicate that UMBC is looking to the University of Maryland College Park co-op system for inspiration.

For students living on-campus or making their own food, UMBC students run a blog called UMBCEats, which includes several entries from a vegan student. This blog includes some easy vegan recipes for college students as well.

Campus Menus, Nutrition Information, and more from Chartwell’s UMBC website:
www.dineoncampus.com/umbc

Student-Run UMBCEats Blog:
http://umbceats.com

Links to Vegetarian Pamphlet and Fresh Fusions Sample Menus:
http://umbchealthandwellness.blogspot.com/p/umbc-campus.html

Homepage for UMBC Vegetarians
http://my.umbc.edu/groups/veg/home

University of Maryland-College Park

College Park, MD

Both dining halls at the University of Maryland have vegetarian, as well as vegan options. In each dining hall there is a salad bar which offers separated vegetarian and vegan options including hummus, tofu, and a daily vegan soup. Vegan deli is offered in both dining halls. Soy milk is also available. Menus for vegetarian and vegan students change by the week and are planned by the campus dietitian and a Vegetarian Advisory Board composed of students, nutritionists and dining services staff.

Dining halls at College Park are set up cafeteria style. Students can choose from a variety of stations for eat-in or take-out. The North Campus Diner features Sprouts, a completely vegan station serving vegan Philly cheese-steaks, vegetable chowder, soy chicken carbonara, and even vegan grilled cheese! The South Campus diner is home to Seasons 12, a stir-fry station which offers vegan options and is open for lunch daily. Students can choose from a variety of fresh ingredients including broccoli, carrots, ginger, pineapples, tofu, and vegan noodles and have them sautéed as they wait. Campus restaurant Adele's in the Stamp Student Union also serves veggie burgers.

Students looking to connect with other vegans and vegetarians on campus can join VegTerps, a College Park student organization founded to promote the "veg" lifestyle. In addition to community outreach and advocacy events, students in VegTerps have also started VegOut, a bi-weekly outing to explore vegetarian and vegan eateries in the D.C. Metropolitan area. Go, Terps!

Sample Menu-Sprouts:

Lunch

  • Barbecue Falafel Sub Sandwich
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Fresh Fruit

Dinner

  • Enchilada Casserole
    Choice of…
  • Spanish Style Cranberry Beans
  • Lemon Sage Yellow Lentils
  • Winter Storm Blend (Wild Rice, White Rice, Red Chili Orzo, Yellow and Green Split Peas)

Link to UMD’s Dining Services Website:

www.dining.umd.edu

Washington College

Chestertown, MD

Washington College is a small campus, but has a variety of vegan options for students. They have one main dining hall, a coffee shop, and three smaller eateries, and each place has a vegan option. The company that runs Washington College dining services, Chartwells, makes menus available online, along with hours for all of the dining halls and eateries.

The main dining hall is called Hodson Hall Commons. Vegans have the option of a variety of specialty foods and other protein options. They also have a special refrigerator with soy milk, soy cream cheese, and soy margarine spread, including peanut butter, beans, soy, and tofu at every meal. Vegans can ask for their food to be prepared separately, and have the right to ask food servers and cooks to change their gloves. Past menu items include a grilled vegetable wrap with basil aioli, vegan sausage, and roasted Yukon potatoes with onions and peppers.

Students also have the option of eating at one of the other eateries on campus.

List of Eateries, along with examples of a vegan option:

  • Mondo Subs- "Very Veggie" sub
  • Coyote Jack’s Grille- salad tossed-to-order
  • Java George- coffees with soy milk
  • Sassafras Outtakes- salad, coffees, various snacks

All of the food on the menu is labeled with a green sprout in the shape of a V for vegan food, and a green leaf for vegetarian food.

As for nutrition, Chartwells has nutritional information available online for any item on the menu, as well as for every menu item at their corporate eateries. Another interesting tool offered online is a program called Nutrition Journal, which allows Washington College students to enter the foods they eat each day, and helps them make sure they are balancing their nutrition properly.

If a student is interested in making changes in the food service, they can join the Student Dining committee, or see all of the minutes from past meetings online. The Chartwells’ website has a feedback section, where students can make suggestions.

Chartwells Washington College Website with Campus Menus, Nutritional Info, and More:
www.dineoncampus.com/wc

Lindsey and Jessica are 2011 summer interns at the VRG office.

The Vegetarian Resource Group at SHIP 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Lindsey Siferd

VRG Interns at SHIP booth

VRG Interns Jessica, Lindsey, and Yasmin staffing the VRG booth at the School Health Interdisciplinary Program conference in Towson, Maryland.

This past Monday, August 1, two other VRG summer interns and I staffed an outreach booth at the School Health Interdisciplinary Program (SHIP) conference in Towson, Maryland. Considering that the last two booths I worked at were an outdoor festival and a farmer’s market in Baltimore, this conference was a very different experience.

SHIP was taking place at the Sheraton North Hotel, and I arrived bright and early on Monday morning. The VRG had a table with a tablecloth and comfortable chairs already set up, and I received a nametag as well. Since SHIP is a conference catering to health professionals, teachers, and anyone involved with the school system, we had packed a lot of materials that were directed towards children. I set up our booth with these materials, which included the “I Love Animals and Broccoli Coloring Book” and lesson plans, my new “My Vegan Plate” coloring page, the vegetarian chapter from the Pediatric Manual of Clinical Dietetics, handouts on veganism in pregnancy and childhood, being a vegan teenager, and many more. We also had all of our books on display and a colorful VRG sign.

VRG booth at SHIP

Soon after I set up, the other VRG interns, Jessica and Yasmin, arrived. It was great to do a booth with just interns, because we were able to talk to each other about our experiences with interning this summer, and also share different points of view with the people stopping by our table. Yasmin is a vegan who is head of UMBC’s veg club on campus, Jessica is a nutrition major at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I am a vegetarian English major from St. Mary’s College of MD, a small liberal arts school. All of these different backgrounds came together in an unique way, and we had many people ask us about why we chose to intern at the VRG and about our experiences with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Several visitors to the booth were interested in materials for their students, and they were pleased to see materials that dealt with nutrition for children. One woman took a sample of all of our materials, and said she wanted to show these to her contacts in the school system in order to help convince them to serve healthier school lunches. Several also said they wanted to check out our website’s section on teens, family, and kids.

We were also surprised by the number of people that wanted materials for themselves, or their children or relatives. In this aspect, the SHIP booth was like the other two booths that I worked– people were personally interested in a meatless lifestyle, and wanted the tools to maintain one. One woman had even subscribed to our journal for several years, and was interested in buying our “Vegans Know How to Party” book for an event she was having later that month.

I think it was important for the VRG to have a table at the SHIP conference– we were able to reach a group of professionals who work within the school system, many of whom advocate for a healthier lifestyle for their students. Many people expressed their excitement at our presence at the conference, and were glad that we had free Vegetarian Journals and a variety of handouts for them to take. For the interns, it was also a way for us to experience tabling at a professional event, something which we all learned from. I hope that the VRG can continue to table at events like SHIP, and further help those in the school system aid students in pursuing a healthier lifestyle.


If you are interested in volunteering at a booth like the one above, please e-mail vrg@vrg.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. To donate, please go to https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565.

Vegan at College 101 1

Posted on July 29, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

Vegan at College 101

Tips from People Who Know

By Jessica Friend and Lindsey Siferd

The Vegetarian Resource Group has compiled a list of tips to help you survive (and thrive!) as a vegan college student. We interviewed thirteen current students at various universities around the country about their experiences as being vegan at college. They are a diverse group of students– some go to large universities and some are at small colleges. Some have been vegan since birth, some started more recently. A few are even leaders of vegetarian and/or animal rights groups, but all are activists in some way. They all had advice to share for incoming and current students who wish to live a vegan lifestyle at school.

First Step- Do Your Research

Deciding which colleges to apply to can be a tough decision for anyone, and as a vegan student, it’s especially important to do thorough research. Many students will be living on their own for the first time, and it’s important to know what each college does to ease that transition. Tailor your search to include the criteria most important to you and remember to investigate the dining options thoroughly. Will you be allowed to bring a fridge or microwave? Are freshman required to purchase a meal plan? Which halls, if any, have communal kitchens? Most schools offer sample menus on their websites but you can also contact dining services for more information. You may also want to find out if the school has a co-op or a veg-friendly club.

You can check out our article on vegan-friendly colleges in the Maryland area to get a feel for some of the options that different schools offers. US News and World Report has also compiled a list of eight vegetarian-friendly schools around the country, which is a good place to start.

Colleges that Offer Courses, Choices for Vegetarians
Slideshow: Best Colleges Catering to Vegetarians

Why become vegan?

Whether or not they had been vegan since childhood, or only became vegan in more recent years, all of the students were concerned with human or animal rights, and many wanted to reduce environmental impact as well.

Claire Askew, a junior at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR and a former VRG scholarship winner, said that she became a vegan because she was against oppression of any kind. Askew said, "After a few months of being vegetarian, I stumbled across some information about how dairy cows and egg-laying hens are treated. I was shocked that they live in the same conditions as animals raised for meat, and even more so to learn that they do get killed for meat in the end. In short, I realized that by continuing to buy dairy and eggs I was continuing to support factory farming, and that wasn’t being true to the ethical beliefs that got me to go vegetarian in the first place."

Several of the students saw veganism as a way to take action, and a way to challenge the ethical dilemmas they saw posed by a meat-eating lifestyle.

Sarah Alper, a sophomore at Smith College in Northampton, MA, said, "Since I was brought up in a vegan household, I didn’t really decide to become vegan, but I’ve stayed vegan for ethical reasons–it’s better for animals and for the environment, and it’s a pretty simple way to put some of my values (compassion and responsibility, for example) into action on a daily basis."

Nina Gonzalez, at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, and another former VRG scholarship winner, responded similarly to Sarah in terms of veganism as being an active choice. She said that in high school she realized that she could make an impact by adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle. "Four to five times a day I could make a choice," said Gonzales.

University of MD Baltimore County (UMBC) junior Yasmin Radbod and Eastern Illinois University grad student Mekenzie Lewis also extolled the health and environmental reasons for veganism. Radbod, who is the president of her school’s vegetarian and vegan club, UMBCVeg, said, "The environment was my original reason. Afterwards, I became involved in all aspects of veganism: personal health benefits, animal activism, and the environment. I call it the ‘three-pronged approach.’"

Lewis stated similar reasons; "I had been vegetarian for a year and had been reading up on benefits for the environment and for health it just seemed like a worthwhile challenge I wanted to accept.and it stuck!"

For students who adopt a vegan lifestyle, Alper suggested thinking a lot about your own personal motivations, and being prepared to answer questions from others. She said, "You’ll meet a lot of people who may be interested in vegetarianism and veganism. Many college students are exploring different lifestyles and you can promote vegetarianism and/or veganism by being an approachable and knowledgeable resource."

Butte Community College student Emily Maybee echoed Alper and the other students’ statements on impact; "Remember that regardless what anyone says, you do make a difference. It may seem small but think of all the people you are setting an example for in your life including your friends and your family. It is possible to influence people for the better and towards a more compassionate world."

Get Involved

For many of our vegan students, maintaining their lifestyle at college meant getting to know the chefs at the dining hall at their schools. Making these connections can often help greatly increase the quality and options of the vegan food on campus.

When you first arrive on campus, check out the dining hall. Are there vegan options beyond a salad bar? Is the vegan and vegetarian food labeled? Are there different utensils for meat and non-meat options? If you are unsatisfied with what is available, talk to the chefs or head of dining services.

"Don’t be afraid to complain to your university about your dining options. Actually, ‘complain’ makes it sound like it’s a bad thing. It’s not! My first semester of college I was so disappointed with their vegan options that I called the head chef of our dining hall. For that entire year, I met with the head chef and other associates about creating better options. And it worked," Radbod says of her experience.

Students can also be creative in their approaches to making change in the dining hall a reality. Gonzalez ordered vegan cookbooks online and has plans to pass them onto the chefs at school so that "both vegan, and healthier, more diverse options can make their way into the dining hall." She also made a point to meet the head of her school’s food services during freshmen orientation. This early effort lead to a positive relationship, allowing Gonzalez to get Tofurky served at Seton Hill’s Thanksgiving dinner.

New York University sophomore Danny Neilson lives a raw food vegan lifestyle, so he has worked out a unique deal with the NYU dining hall. Dining services staff cut out some of Neilson’s meals in the dining hall, and in exchange gave him money to use at certain local health food stores. Solutions such as these show that most universities are willing to be flexible to accommodate their students.

If all else fails, Maybee offers this simple advice, "Ask! Ask your dining hall manager what options they have. If you don’t like something, speak up…[as] you are the one paying for your food you should have a say."

Many students, such as UMBCEats blogger Stefanie Mavronis, find that getting directly involved on campus is a rewarding experience. It can help you share your experience as a vegan student, Mavronis says, and make a tangible change for current and future students.

University of California San Diego student Alisha Utter started a group on campus called P.E.A.C.E. (People for the Elimination of Animal Cruelty through Education). She says, " Whether a curious carnivore or veteran vegan, I recommend all students embrace college as an opportunity to explore themselves and challenge the misconceptions and assumptions that they may carry… As a generation, we have the ability to improve the welfare of others, beginning with those without a voice."

Find Other Veg Students

College is where diverse groups of individuals come together, making it the perfect time and place to find people who share common interests and goals. For vegan and vegetarian students especially, a good support system is key to maintaining their lifestyle.

A great way to find other veg students is to join a club. You can check your colleges list of student-run organizations for veg-friendly clubs. Once you’ve checked the list and found a club you like, join it! If there isn’t a veg-friendly club at your college or university you can start one of your own. Rachel Horner used the website Meetup to network with other vegans in her area to find out about upcoming potlucks, outreach events, and trips to animal sanctuaries. Her friends eventually helped her to organize an activist group at Towson University, Towson University Advocates For Animals and the Environment.

Finding other vegan or vegetarian students in your college community can also be a great way to network or get involved. Many college students use their schools veg-friendly club to advocate for better dining options. Think strength in numbers. Jennie Plasterer organized vegan potluck dinners with her school’s vegetarian and vegan club, VegIU; Alisha Utter advocated for Tofutti ice cream in her campus market with UCSD’s P.E.A.C.E. club.

Be Creative

In your attempt to avoid culinary boredom in college, it helps to keep an open mind. A little creativity can and will go a long way.

Try mixing and matching items from different food stations, augmenting food from the dining hall with items from co-ops or grocery stores and trying items that you’ve never tasted before. A seemingly "odd" combination could become your favorite dish. University of Chicago student Elizabeth Brehrens suggests bringing items from the salad bar to the sandwich or pasta station; fresh spinach or cherry tomatoes can be great in a wrap or with noodles. When Sarah Alper began school at Smith College, she tried a bunch of dishes she admits she would have never touched at home. Says Alper, "I enjoyed some of them, and became a much less picky eater in the process!"

When you do find something that works for you, as Mekenzie Lewis said "eat a lot of it!" Lewis suggests making slight variations on old favorites, such as trying different flavors of hummus with standard veggies. Taking a familiar dish and choosing a different grain or protein is not only healthier, it’s more exciting and doesn’t require a lot of effort.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a kitchen, use it! You can adapt recipes from your favorite vegan cookbook to fit your college lifestyle. PETA has an agenda book with tons of dorm friendly vegan recipes you can make; it was a favorite of Indiana University student and VegIU president Jennie Plasterer. UMBC’s Yasmin Radbod used to prepare vegan cookies or muffins from her favorite cookbook in her dorm halls communal kitchen. She even let her fellow students serve as taste testers!

Easy Food Options

The students had variety of suggestions for easy food for hungry vegan students on a limited budget.

For students who might be living in a dorm, check out your communal kitchen. If access is limited, there are still some easy vegan foods that you can store in your dorm room. Rachel Horner suggests that it is a good idea to stock up on foods that don’t require cooking, such as pita chips, hummus, and fruit. Some other easy snack ideas include granola mix, bagels, peanut butter, and dried fruits.

Many of the students suggest investing in a small refrigerator for your dorm room. This can allow you to keep more foods in stock. Stefanie Mavronis says, "The best thing that I can suggest is keeping big amounts of things that can keep and that you can eat throughout the week. Lentils with good spices, greens like kale, and stews with lots of beans and vegetables are my favorites."

If you do have access to a microwave, Nina Gonzalez suggests keeping microwavable foods handy. She suggests Annie Chun’s miso soup, calling it "high class ramen." Sarah Alper suggests instant oatmeal, to which a variety of toppings can be added.

If you live in an apartment, either on or off-campus, there are several options for cheap and easy food. Many students prefer making pasta of some kind. Claire Askew and Yasmin Radbod say that spaghetti is easy to make, and Sasha Clark suggests using whole-grain pasta as much as possible.

A kitchen also allows you to make staples, like sauces, that can be used in several dishes. Sarah Alper says, "I like to make peanut sauce with some combination of peanut butter, sugar, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce (or salt), and anything else that sounds good and is available. Then I add water to make the sauce the consistency I want. It makes almost anything more interesting and substantial: pasta, apple slices, raw or steamed vegetables, rice, tofu, etc."

What’s your favorite dish?

"Noodles or rice with Thai peanut sauce and tofu and fresh veggies"
-Claire Askew, Lewis and Clark College (former scholarship winner)
"Spaghetti. I add…organic spinach and sprinkle vegan Parmesan cheese on top!"
-Yasmin Radbod, UMBC (VRG intern)
"Chicken" A La King"
-Sasha Clark, University of Mary Washington
"Homemade pizza"
-Sarah Alper, Smith College
"Grilled veggie pizza"
-Mekenzie Lewis, Eastern Illinois University
"Refried bean dip with a good salsa!"
-Stefanie Mavronis, UMBCEats Vegan Blogger
"Vegan Pad Thai"
-Nina Gonzales, Seton Hill University (former scholarship winner)
"Seitan piccata"
-Rachel Horner, Towson University
"Guacamole with raw veggie chips"
-Danny Neilson, Columia University
"Strawberry shortcake cupcakes!"
-Alisha Utter UCSD

Thank you to Sarah Alper, Claire Askew, Elizabeth Behrens, Sasha Clark, Nina Gonzalez, Rachel Horner, Mekenzie Lewis, Stefanie Mavronis, Emily Maybee, Danny Neilson, Jennie Plasterer, Yasmin Radbod, and Alisha Utter for their time in being interviewed for this article.

This article was written by Lindsey Siferd and Jessica Friend, who were both summer interns for the VRG. If you are interested in becoming an intern with the VRG, please visit http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php for more information.

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Posted on March 22, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

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