The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Veganizing the Dining Hall — Montclair (NJ) State University

Posted on July 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Heather Francis
Intern with the Vegetarian Resource Group

I was vegan for about nine months before starting my first year at college. When I visited the school, there were at least two vegan options available during visitations, like salad or a wrap with hummus spread. So I wasn’t worried there would be no food available for me when I moved in.

In my high school I had a friend and whenever I would go over her house she always had chocolate almond milk in her fridge. So of course, I would be the one to drink it (all of it). I never bought it for myself because I knew if I did it would disappear in the matter of three days. When I went to my dining hall for the first time, I 100% recall screaming of joy. There was a chocolate soy milk machine, and chocolate almond milk in the fridge. I was in heaven. I believed it was a sign I would be eating amazing that year.

Then a month goes by. The soy milk machine stopped producing soy milk, because the workers forget to fill it along with the almond milk in the fridge. Then the vegan options became routine. The salad bar started to look like mush. I was in a rut of feeling like I was eating garbage. I started to despise Sam’s Place. So then I turned to eating at restaurants on campus. There was a Vegan option at Which Wich, our school’s deli. There was Guacamole and chips available at Chili’s. The diner on campus had a hummus platter.

Yes there were options elsewhere. Even the sushi bar had vegetable sushi rolls. Now I couldn’t complain because some schools don’t have any vegan food available to purchase. It just came to a point where I started to become annoyed and angry with the food service on campus. I started taking bananas every time I could. I mean I would walk into the dining hall and stuff up to eight bananas in my book bag or run out with them in my hands.

Funny story: there’s a bagel place in front of campus on the ground level of College Hall, popularly known as Einstein Bagels. They have smoothies there but all of them are made with Greek yogurt. I was craving a fruit smoothie, so I decided to try to veganize it for myself. I asked them to make me one without the Greek yogurt and use soy milk. They were confused, and the person at the cash register had to ask to make sure they could change the menu item. The manager was reluctant to do it because he or anyone else who worked there had never made one vegan before. They were hesitant about making it, and the manager had me wait to try it so he could have it become available for other students. It was sugary, but delicious. This is the moment I started thinking about creating change on campus.

Second semester rolls around and I was scared going back to school because my home cooked meals were gone and I would be stuck going back to Sam’s Place to eat hummus and pita. Well during my second semester, I was taking an animal right’s class and a few of us in class were complaining about the dining hall foods.Three of us realized we had to stop complaining, so then our complaints turned into the creation of a petition to demonstrate that many people wanted more vegetarian/vegan options on campus. Justine, a student who was part of this group was able to get the Senior Director of Residential Dining’s business card. We emailed him to set up a meeting to show him our petition and our thoughts on implementing more vegan/vegetarian options. We went to the Student Center dining room to meet with him, and we were all nervous he would shoot us down along with our petitions. Instead when he met with us, he explained his ALREADY existing plan of incorporating more vegan options at Sam’s Dining hall and eventually in Freeman, which is the other Dining Hall on campus.

His list included:
· A stir-fry station
· A sushi bar
· Dried fruits
· Guacamole
· Quinoa
· More “All-Natural” cereals
· More fruit/vegetables
· A vegan station (for next semester)

And we gave him our list:
· Vegan Desserts
· Smoothies/Juices
· Vegan Station
· More fruit/vegetables
· Healthier Cereals
· Making sure the signs are correct when saying “vegan”
· Veggie Burger
· Making sure there’s a vegan option everyday

What really struck me was how open and eager he was for change. He didn’t say no when we asked to meet with him. Instead, he was pleased about doing so. He explained how no one had ever asked for change in the dining halls, which I found funny because there are a few thousand students who live on campus. These students are also students who complain the food is awful or make videos about how horrible it is to eat there.
So moving forward after the meeting, he made it clear he wanted to keep meeting with us and keep in touch because he wanted to make sure he was receiving information and ideas directly from the student body. In Freeman dining hall, there were recipe books, VEGAN recipe books, used as decoration. I mentioned this to him, and he had no idea they even existed. Justine sent him more links for recipe books for him to try to cook up meals for the next school year, along with a few of our own suggestions.
We didn’t expect there to be change right away but a week and a half later there were dried fruits by the oatmeal bar. There was avocado at the salad station along with couscous and quinoa. I had friends texting me excitedly sending me pictures of their food because there was more added to the selection of food.
On Earth day he reached out to me and asked us to have a booth at both dining halls so students had information on eating vegetarian along with information about our Animal Rights group. Then at the end of the year there was a lunch where we met with the workers of dining services, and student government. We ate lunch, talked about current and future improvement. We said goodbye for summer knowing there was going to be change in the dining hall’s foods.
Afterwards, I went to Sam’s place and found there were vegan cookies by the Gluten-Free Section. Never had I been so excited about a food item at all as my time as a freshman, not since the chocolate soy milk I had on the first day of school. I think my excitement existed because I waited all year to be able to eat dessert when all my friends were chowing down on ice cream or fudge brownies. Listen, I know it’s not healthy but eating a good cookie every once in awhile aids your body more than hurts you.
Anyhow, I hope this inspires any students on reaching out for change. Sometimes all it takes is a simple email. Change doesn’t happen overnight. We had this meeting in the beginning of April and it will take until the next school semester for there to be significant changes in food choices; it’s worth the petitions, the meetings, and the work so a positive adjustment CAN and WILL happen.

LEXVEGFEST OCTOBER 1, 2016

Posted on July 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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LexVegFest (October 1, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 2312 Palumbo Dr, Lexington, KY 40509) is the first annual VegFest in Lexington and central Kentucky sponsored by GA Sanctuaries and Housewarmings. Our mission is to celebrate and promote plant-based lifestyles for health, environment, and compassion for animals. LexVegFest will feature local speakers, delicious food and drink, vendors, cooking demonstrations, informative exhibitors, children’s activities and more.

Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lexingtonvegfest/
Contact: lexvegfest@gmail.com

FREE Ebook from Dixie Publishing, THE VEGAN COOKBOOK

Posted on July 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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We’d love to give your vegan community the opportunity to have the new FREE Ebook from Dixie Publishing, THE VEGAN COOKBOOK. THE VEGAN COOKBOOK by Jack Truman has just been released on Smashwords, and will be in other online distribution channels shortly. The new Ebook is a compilation of 497 plant based family recipes compiled over Jack’s lifetime.

Here’s a link to the Free Ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/644653

Below is a synopsis of the book and a brief bio of Jack as well. Feel free to share this free ebook with your vegan community.


Synopsis:
THE VEGAN COOKBOOK: 497 RECIPES is a collection of 497 healthy, mouth-watering plant based recipes free from any animal products. Author Jack Truman, a lifetime vegan and animal rights activist, has compiled a collection of his favorite family plant-based recipes over a lifetime.

Obesity is a growing problem in America. According to science, Animal Agriculture is the leading primary source to Climate Change. Millions of animals are slaughtered by the hour for human consumption. And a meat-centered diet is a major factor in Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and all major diseases.

By adopting a plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle, individuals can save the lives of animals, save their own lives from obesity and disease, and end Global warming. THE VEGAN COOKBOOK : 497 RECIPES is a healthy, nutritious resource of great recipes, free from any animal products.

Author bio: Jack Truman is an award-winning filmmaker and 30 year veteran of stage and film. A former professor at Texas A and M University, Truman has also appeared in several television series and major motion pictures. Combined, Truman’s films have screened at over 400 film festivals worldwide to date. Jack was on the Short film Jury at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He has a Master’s degree in Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Business.

VEG DINING CARDS

Posted on July 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

VegDining.com is pleased to donate 10% of all VegDining Card purchases by VRG subscribers and supporters during July and August. The VegDining Card is an international vegetarian discount card with over a hundred vegetarian restaurants and other businesses offering discounts to cardholders on their goods and services. Visit VegDining.com to order your card (be sure to mention “VRG” to ensure a donation will be made on your purchase). VegDining is a guide to vegetarian dining, promoting vegetarianism around the world since 1999.

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OUR DAILY BREAD

Posted on July 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Heather Francis, VRG Intern

For one of my first projects at The Vegetarian Resource Group, I made and donated vegan casseroles to Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, Maryland. Another intern, Casey Brown made three casseroles, while I made two (Brunswick Stew, and Cream Bean and Potato Casserole with Carrots). It only took me a few hours to make them, and I was even able to save a little of each to try for myself. They were delicious and super EASY to make. The ingredients were cheap; the bulk of the ingredients for the casseroles were in cans- potatoes, beans, and carrots. When it came to bringing the casseroles to Our Daily Bread, we had to make sure they were frozen and tightly sealed with foil.

Brigette, VRG’s volunteer coordinator brought us to the facility to drop off the casseroles. We were able to talk to the Volunteer Coordinator there and see inside the kitchen and facility. It was awesome because as soon as we walked in we were immediately thanked at the front desk for donating casseroles, and then even more since we brought vegan options. We went to go see the kitchen, and the first table we saw in their kitchen was a table with a ton of veggie plates. On the veggie plate was Peanut Butter and Jelly, Macaroni and Cheese, Fruit Salad, half a banana, a small salad, and a donut. We learned through talking with the Volunteer Coordinator, that out of 600 people served a day, there seemed to be about a ⅓ asking for the vegetarian option instead of an option containing meat. This shows how important it is to provide a veggie option because the option doesn’t just not contain meat but also includes more vegetables making it a healthier option.

So if you’re ever looking for something to do or you want to help with an important task, whip up some vegan casseroles and donate them to Our Daily Bread, if in Baltimore, or your local feeding facility wherever you live. It’s a great cause and I’m super confident in knowing these casseroles are going towards people who need it. There definitely needs to be more healthier options to those who are homeless and hungry. This is a great way to give back, while also offering a more sustainable way of eating.

Below is a link attached to a blog post earlier this year about Our Daily Bread, and also directing you to their website with any questions you may have about the program and if you wanted to get involved yourself.

http://www.vrg.org/blog/2016/03/10/vegan-casseroles-for-our-daily-bread/

Vegan Summertime Picnic

Posted on July 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Sasha Keenan, Vegetarian Resource Group Intern

Summer is in full swing, and the most delicious way to welcome the warmer weather is with a hearty vegan picnic. Twists on classics like chicken salad sandwiches and coleslaw make this menu familiar and simple–grab a blanket, pack your basket, and enjoy the sunshine with these recipes.

Chickenless Salad Sandwiches
(serves 3)

19 oz. package Beyond Meat chicken-free grilled strips, cut into cubes
⅓ cup diced celery
⅓ cup halved seedless grapes
¼ cup walnuts, diced
⅓ cup vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon fresh dill
6 slices bread of your choosing

Put Beyond Meat cubes into a bowl with celery, grapes, and walnuts. Add vegan mayonnaise and stir. Then, add in lemon juice, salt, and dill while continuing to stir the mixture. Evenly scoop the salad onto bread and serve.

Spicy Edamame Hummus
(serves 4)

1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 clove of garlic, diced
¼ of water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon tahini (sesame butter)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon of desired vegan hot sauce
Pinch of salt

Cook the edamame and diced garlic in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, using water instead of oil. Once the edamame and garlic has browned, turn off heat and set aside to let cool. When cooled, put the edamame and garlic into a food processor and chop until a chunky mixture forms. Add in lemon juice, lime juice, tahini, and hot sauce and pulse. Finally, add cilantro, cayenne, and salt. Keep chopping until smooth. Serve with fresh cucumbers and carrots.

Quinoa kale-slaw
(serves 4)

2 cups red quinoa, cooked
2 cups shredded kale
1 cup carrots, grated
⅓ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 medium avocado
⅓ orange, juiced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Clove of garlic, diced

Place cooked quinoa, kale, carrots, and red bell pepper in a bowl with a cover and set aside. Slice the avocado and put in a food processor with juiced orange, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic. Process until mixture is smooth and liquefied. Pour dressing mixture over dry ingredients. Put lid on top of bowl and shake until dressing mixture evenly covers quinoa, kale, carrots, and red bell pepper. Let cool in fridge for an hour and serve.

Grilled Peach Bars
(serves 4)

For the filling:
2 Tablespoons vegan butter
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2 fresh peaches
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumble:
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup organic brown sugar
¼ stick vegan butter
1 medium banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt 2 tablespoons vegan butter and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in the microwave for 5 seconds. Halve peaches and remove pits. Using a basting brush, coat peach halves with butter and brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle remaining brown sugar and cinnamon on peach halves evenly. Heat grill to high. Grill peaches flat side down until golden brown and cooked through. Set grilled peaches aside to cool.

In a small bowl, mix rolled oats and ½ cup brown sugar. In a larger bowl, using a mixer mix ¼ stick vegan butter, banana, and vanilla until whipped consistency is reached. Add dry contents of small bowl to the butter mixture and mix, using hands if necessary. Pack about ¾ of the crumble mixture into an 8×8 inch pan.

Put grilled peach halves into a food processor and process until a jelly consistency is reached. Spread processed peaches over crumble mixture in pan. Add remaining bits of crumble mixture over peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool, slice, and serve.

Organic Veggie Meals Delivered to Your Home or Office

Posted on July 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Do you want organic veggie meals delivered to your home or office?

http://trifectanutrition.com/vrg

Use coupon code TRYVEGAN for 30% off your first order.

Vegan Foods to Prepare for Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Friends

Posted on July 14, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Christiana Rutkowski

Looking to impress some friends or family with some vegan dishes and/or vegan products? This article includes tasty, awesome recipes and products to make and share with those in your life. Many people believe that a vegan diet might seem “restrictive,” or “lacking variety” because it does not include animal products. These recipes and products will prove the opposite, showing that there is nothing “boring” about a vegan diet.

The recipes below were made on various occasions for my own family and friends, including some individuals who are vegetarian, but others who are not vegetarian as well. Some of those individuals who tried (and loved!) these recipes are huge meat eaters and insisted that these dishes were some of the best they ever had.

For those who love Alfredo sauce, this fettuccine cauliflower Alfredo recipe from the website Oh She Glows is an absolute hit. Not one negative comment was said about this dish, but instead comments from my friends (some vegetarian, some not) like, “Wow, it tastes exactly like the real thing,” or “This is one of the creamiest, tastiest pasta sauces I’ve ever tried, it HAS to have cream in it” were said instead. The recipe can be found at: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/20/cauli-power-fettuccine-alfredo-vegan/

The next recipe is one that takes a little labor in the kitchen, but is so worth it when you take that first bite. The recipe is taken from the vegan cookbook Thug Kitchen. This dry-fried tofu and vegetable pad Thai recipe will not disappoint. I cooked this dish for my family and some neighbors on Father’s Day and everyone loved it. One of my neighbors stated, “The tofu tasted so crispy and flavorful, I didn’t know tofu could taste this way.” My dad, someone who is a little skeptical about vegan dishes, could not stop raving about it and said it was a great dish for his “special day.” The recipe can be found at: http://www.nachoaveragecook.com/vegetable-pad-thai/

Another classic dish that is very common among families and individuals is pasta with a delicious pesto sauce. This creamy avocado pesto pasta from Ceara’s Kitchen was a dish I prepared for my boyfriend and his entire family and when they had other options like meat and cheese to eat with dinner, they chose this dish over the animal products instead. The recipe not only refrains from using animal products, but it also is oil-free. The recipe can be found at: http://www.cearaskitchen.com/vegan-avocado-pesto-pasta/

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The last recipe is a bit exotic but incredibly simple to make and tasty. It is a simple lentil curry. I prepared this dish with the recipe from Simple Vegan Blog for my family once as well as my friends another time and again, they all loved it. The spices create a hearty, comforting meal that fills you up with the lentils and basmati rice. Something so simple, yet one of the most satisfying dishes I feel I’ve ever had. The recipe can be found at: http://simpleveganblog.com/vegan-lentil-curry/
Last but not least, two products that I feel should be recognized as outstanding snacks are Nature’s Bakery’s brownie bars and Lenny & Larry’s complete cookies.

Nature’s Bakery brownie bars are a product that I had given to my boyfriend and a few friends to try and all of them asked, “How are you eating this? Is it vegan?” These brownies taste so much like a traditional brownie, people get stumped on how it could be “this good, yet it is vegan.” You can get these products in many local grocery stores or from their website, https://naturesbakery.com/.
Along with the brownies, Lenny & Larry’s complete cookies are also a product I have got lots of my family and friends hooked on. This giant vegan cookie comes in a ton of different flavors and so far none have been a disappointment. These cookies can be found in many different grocery stores or on their website (or Amazon). See www.lennylarry.com/shop/

Noticing Vitamin D on the label, we asked about the source. This was the response from Lenny & Larry’s. Thank you for your email. There is not Vitamin D3 in the cookies. This was an error during the printing of the cookie film. With the new run of film, this item will not be listed.

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

Taking Action for Animals

Posted on July 13, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Casey Brown, VRG intern

Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) is an animal rights conference presented by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This is a unique conference that allows people to learn effective strategies for animal advocacy. It was held June 17-June 20, 2016, and throughout the weekend various workshops, sessions, and lobbying opportunities were offered. This event included speakers Wayne Pacelle, the President and CEO of HSUS; David Carter, the 300-Pound Vegan; and Dr. Michael Gregor, the author of How Not to Die.

As an intern with The VRG, I was able to volunteer at the conference to share our resources with the community. Many people who visited the conference were interested in cooking and eating more plant-based foods. They were eager for recipes and information pertaining to a vegan lifestyle. We were able to provide them with many of our resources including our Vegetarian Journal, recipe books, and brochures addressing the environmental benefits to a plant-based diet, nutritional aspects to veganism, and much more. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories during the conference. We spoke with a man from South Africa who bonded with his young niece through nature, and he was looking forward to sharing resources with her to show her the connection between nature and food. There were multiple people that were looking for resources they could take home to share with others. People wanted copies of The VRG Journal to put in their break rooms at work, coloring books to share with their students, and any additional resources to carry around and share with people they meet throughout the day. It was inspiring to see the changes and initiatives people are taking in order to spread the lifestyle throughout the world, and it is exciting to be a part of this movement. Overall, this was a fun event, and it was a great opportunity to educate the community and interact with other organizations.

To volunteer at VRG booths or in other ways, contact Brigette at vrg@vrg.org

To support VRG outreach, donate at www.vrg.org/donate

Who Would Think? Ben and Jerry’s

Posted on July 13, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Many readers have told us how wonderful the Ben and Jerry’s new vegan ice cream is. Two members told us that they took a factory tour and had great vegan ice cream afterwards. For those of us who have been vegan for decades, how amazing that now you can take your kids or grandchildren here.

Ben and Jerry’s Factor Tours

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