The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

My Internship with the VRG – University of Maryland Nutrition Student

Posted on February 15, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Casey Brown, Intern (left in photo)
 
Last February, I received an email from Charles, the VRG Co-founder, asking if I would be interested in doing an internship with The VRG over the summer. I was so excited for this opportunity since it revolved around my passion: veganism. At first, I was worried I would not be able to accept the internship since I already was working part-time and scheduled to take multiple summer classes. However, The VRG was willing to work around my schedule so that I could have this experience.

The first task Charles gave me was to determine my schedule. He sent me an email of potential projects I could work on throughout the summer and additional booths that I could volunteer at. Charles customized the projects around my resume to meet my interests, so I was looking forward to all of them. Scheduling gave me practical experience that I know will help me with planning and time-management for my future careers. While I stayed on track with my schedule initially, I soon began to realize that some of my projects would take longer than I originally thought that they would, and I had to make many adjustments to my schedule over the summer.

Although I had been volunteering with The VRG through online opportunities since early 2015, I first met the staff in May last year at Green Festival, an event located in DC. Later in May, I came to the office for the Dietetic Intern Day, where I was able to meet the Dietetic interns from the University of Maryland, College Park. This was a great experience for me, as a Dietetics student, since I was able to connect with many others in my field of interest. It was also an eye-opening event since I realized that not all dietitians are entirely familiar with vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. It was really exciting to know that this was one of the interns’ rotations and knowing that they would go home with many resources and an increased knowledge of vegan lifestyles thanks to The VRG.

My first official day in the office was in early June, and on this day, Charles gave me a tour of the office and a huge stack of vegan books to take home. He explained the history of The VRG to me and told me the multitude of things they are involved with. That evening, my family asked me how my day was and what my internship was like. I tried to explain everything that The VRG does, but I just wanted to say “everything.” They do product reviews, restaurant guides, outreach, publish books, supply tons of resources, etc. I simply could not sum it all up.

One of my favorite projects was cooking vegan dishes for a local soup kitchen, Our Daily Bread. It was a great experience being able to donate healthy, delicious vegan meals to those in need, and it was even more exciting when we were able to visit the center. We met with the Volunteer Coordinator who told us that over one third of the people that they serve preferred the vegetarian options! This was such exciting news, and I am hopeful that many others in the community will continue to donate vegan dishes to their organization.

There were two other interns with me over the summer: Alicia and Heather. While they were here, one of the places we visited was Tuttie’s Place. Here, we were able to meet with about thirty students ranging in age from 5-17, and we had the chance to teach them about the health benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets. We shared a simple vegan banana ice cream recipe with the kids, and the majority of them loved it, saying they wanted to make it again at home with their families! It was really nice being able to get involved with outreach, educate the community, and be able to see the impact we were making in the children’s lives. They may not have wanted to transition to a vegan lifestyle after our event, but they were more educated, aware, and open to it. Many of them were hoping to implement a meat-free day within their households every week!

I also worked on many research projects and write ups over the summer. One project that Heather and I worked on was to determine the vegetarian/vegan options at the national parks. To do this, we reached out to each of the national parks to determine whether or not they offered vegetarian/vegan options within the parks, and many of them told us that they did. For the ones that didn’t have any options in the park, we searched the surrounding area for vegan-friendly restaurants that people could visit, and we made a list of these.

We also interviewed old interns and scholarship winners for an article for the 35th anniversary of The VRG. In this, we asked each person about either their experiences interning with The VRG or winning the scholarship and how it influenced them to this day. This article will not be published in Vegetarian Journal until later this year, but it was really exciting and inspiring to hear each of their answers and to see how The VRG continues to impact their lives up to 15 years later.

I worked on many additional projects including a write-up of how to be vegan on a budget, providing tips for parents whose teen is making the transition, compiling nutritional information about all the different brands of vegan cheeses, and more. These were all interesting to work on and informative, so they can hopefully help many people who are vegetarian/vegan or considering the lifestyle.

In addition to all of my projects, I was also able to volunteer at many booths around Baltimore and DC. These included the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference, Green Festival, a farmers market, Vegan Soulfest, DC Vegfest, the VSDC’s Life-Affirming Thanksgiving, and others! I enjoyed each of these booths and the unique audiences that they attracted! It was an amazing opportunity to be able to connect with so many people who were either vegetarian/vegan or interested in making the transition at booths like TAFA and Vegfest. However, it was also really exciting and necessary to educate others in the community who were less knowledgeable about vegan and vegetarian diets at booths like the Green Festival and the farmer’s market.

I was also able to attend the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. At this event, the other interns and I were able to sample many vegan products from a multitude of vendors. These items included vegan ice cream and cheeses, cruelty-free lotions, and much more. We went home that day feeling stuffed, satisfied, and overwhelmed. This event really opened my eyes to the growing market for vegan products and the increasing demand for these items.

I am extremely grateful for all of the connections I made throughout my internship as well. The VRG staff are all so kind, helpful, and welcoming, and it is always exciting to come into the office! Although I grew up in Maryland, I am not very familiar with the Baltimore area, and they told me numerous places to visit, events to go to, and restaurants to eat at! I also was able to meet and work with a few other summer interns, including a student from Germany, who I never would have met outside of this organization. Though we all worked while we were in the office, we typically tried a new vegan restaurant every week, and I was able to try Indian, Ethiopian, and multiple other cuisines that I hadn’t tried before.

I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. While it was considered a summer internship, I have continued volunteering with The VRG since then. This internship has helped me make new connections with fellow vegans and Dietetics students, learn many ways to be an activist in my community, and grow my knowledge and passion for veganism. I am so thankful to Debra and Charles for giving me this opportunity.

For information about VRG internships, see http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group internships and other outreach, donate at www.vrg.org/donate

2nd ANNUAL VEGAN MAC ‘N CHEESE SMACKDOWN & BALTIMORE VEGAN WEEKEND FEBRUARY 17-19 2017

Posted on February 15, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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More than 1000 people came in 2016. They wanted the creamy mac ‘n cheese goodness… without the dairy. And the Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown delivered. Now it’s back, and anchoring the city’s first citywide Vegan Weekend in Baltimore.

Baked, stove top, bubbly, or slow-cooked – mac ‘n cheese expresses the style of the individual making it. Experience the best Baltimore has to offer on Saturday February 18th at the 2nd Annual Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown, where local chefs and cooks will compete for vegan-cheesy excellence. The Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown will be held from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Baltimore City Community College, 2901 Liberty Heights Ave, Baltimore MD 21215.

Contestants’ vegan mac will be judged on mouth feel, taste and texture. Categories include Best Overall Mac ‘n Cheese, Best Gluten-Free, Best “From Scratch” (ie, no processed ingredients), People’s Choice, and Most Like Grandma’s. This event is open to the public and costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door. More than 1500 guests are expected to taste the city’s finest in vegan mac n’cheese! The Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown is a fundraiser for THRIVE Baltimore.

Thrive Baltimore is a dynamic community resource center located in the Station North community of Baltimore City. Run by a collective of food, environmental and social justice activists, our mission is to provide education, resources and support to anyone interested in adopting a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Part of Thrive Baltimore’s mission is to provide free plant-based cooking demos, nutrition lectures, food tastings, film screenings and other fun, informational programming in an open, socially conscious environment that makes it a space where all are welcome. We’re dedicated to encouraging people to make healthier, kinder choices that will enable them to live more sustainable lifestyles.

The Smackdown is part of the first city-wide Vegan Weekend, featuring a veg food crawl around the city on Friday Feb. 17 with more than 20 Baltimore restaurants offering plant-based specials. On Saturday night, the fun continues with an AfterParty at Thrive Baltimore and on Sunday Feb. 19, local eateries will offer a Vegan Brunch, followed by a Vegan Pizza Party at Paulie Gee’s in Hampden.

Event sponsors include PEP Foods, Baltimore Vegan Drinks, A Well Fed World, Better Health Better Life, Open the Cages Alliance, Follow Your Heart, MOM’s Organic Market and EmbroidMe.

Website & Tickets:http://www.pepfoodsinc.com/fundraisers/#macncheese

PARADISE MEADOW OMEGACRANS AND OMEGA-3

Posted on February 14, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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We were sent a notice that the Paradise Meadow brand features the OmegaCrans Omega-3 Fortified Dried Cranberries, fruits that are enhanced with Decas’s own cold pressed cranberry seed oil, making OmegaCrans a natural source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

When we wrote Decas to confirm that the omegas were vegetarian, they said,
“OmegaCrans are vegetarian! The Omega-3 comes directly from the cranberry seeds.
See: https://www.decascranberry.com/retail-sweetened-dried-cranberries

The Vegan Guide to Stockholm, Sweden

Posted on February 14, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Julia Mathew

According to a March 2016 study conducted by Novus for Djurens Rätt, the largest animal rights and welfare group in Sweden, when asked “Are you a vegetarian or vegan” 5% of individuals responded that they were vegetarian and 3% said they were vegan. However, the parameters of the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ were not clearly defined so the study results could be skewed. Many vegetarians and vegans live in the capital city of Stockholm and Skåne, or the southernmost county of Sweden. Younger generations are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of animal agriculture and are changing their diet and lifestyle as a result. According to a poll run by Demoskop and commissioned by Djurens Rätt, Sweden’s largest animal welfare and rights organization, Swedish individuals in the 15-34 year old demographic most commonly associated themselves with vegetarianism or veganism. Among non-vegetarians, the poll further stated that there was an increase in interest of purchasing vegetarian products, going from 26 to 37 percent in a single year.

Having visited Sweden multiple times, I have always been thrilled to see the expansion of the vegan movement in such a historically animal product-based society. Veganism is becoming a sort of trend among Swedish youth, as information on the environmental and non-ethical aspects of animal products are becoming more widespread in Scandinavia. There are many popular Swedish bloggers who are changing outsiders’ perspective on plant-based food through their colorful, modern, and artful social media accounts.

Of the Swedish cities I have been to, such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uppsala, and Malmö, I have never had any problems eating vegan in my experience. Stockholm is a beautiful city encompassed by water due to its 14 inclusive islands. There are countless vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants and cafes throughout the city. Most cafes have plant-based milks available. Oatly is among one of my favorite plant-based milks and is becoming an increasingly popular non-dairy milk option in cafes. Oatly is a Swedish oat milk company that produces various vegan products such as milk, creamer, yogurt, fruit juices, and ice cream. Astrid och Aporna is another great Swedish brand that has its own line of products, as well as its own fully vegan grocery store in both Malmö and Copenhagen. Look out for these brands if you’re in Scandinavia!

Vegan-friendly Restaurants, Cafes, and Shops

• Bagar’n Horstull (Hornstull T-bana): Serves vegan semlor, cookies, and sweets; some vegan options available
• Chutney (Katarina-Sofia): Serves Mediterranean plates, burgers, and tofu dishes; 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly
• Delivore (Hornstull): Serves bagels, sandwiches, smoothies, salads, and milkshakes; 100% vegan
• Govinda (Södermalm): Serves various Indian dishes, has a weekly menu; 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly
• Hälsocafét (Södermalm): Serves salads, raw pizza, chili, burgers, fruit bowls, and cakes; 100% vegan
• Hermans (Katarina-Sofia): Offers a hearty buffet which includes mixed salads, potato and pasta dishes, bread, pastries, and various dishes; 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly
• Hermitage (Gamla Stan): Offers a hearty buffet serving soups, daal, potato and rice dishes, salads, curry, and various dishes; 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly
• Naturbageriet Sattva (Gamla Stan): Offers pastries, bread, sandwiches, tea, and coffee; vegan-friendly
• Reload Superfood (Vasastan): Serves acai bowls, hearty salad bar, sandwiches, smoothies, and raw cakes; vegan-friendly
• Sally Voltaire & Systrar (Norrmalm, inside Åhléns City): Serves soup, sandwiches, and various salads; serves some fish but has many vegan options
• Södermalm Vegetariska (Södermalm): Serves moussaka, nacho and falafel plates, burgers, chili, wraps, and vegetable stir fries; 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly
• Sthlm Raw (Hornstull): Serves salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, and pastries; 100% vegan and mostly raw
• Lao Wai (Vasastan): Serves various tofu, noodle, seaweed, vegetable, and soy protein dishes, as well as homemade ice cream; 100% vegan

Specialty Shops & Health Food Stores

• Goodstore (Hornstull, Katarina-Sofia): Carries various Swedish and imported vegan food products and cosmetics; 100% vegan shop
• Paradiset (Södermalm): Offers produce, various vegan food products, and cosmetics; vegan-friendly

“Opinion Polls”. Djurens Rätt. Updated 19 Janurary 2017.
“One in ten Swedes is vegetarian or vegan, according to study.” Independent. 24 March 2014.
Ibid.

VRG Offers Two $5,000 Scholarships plus One $10,000 Scholarship – Deadline is February 20th!

Posted on February 13, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, The Vegetarian Resource Group each year will award $20,000 in college scholarship money to graduating U.S. high school students who have promoted veganism/vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who do not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs.

One award of $10,000 and two awards of $5,000 will be given. Entries may only be sent by students graduating from high school in spring 2017. Deadline is February 20, 2017. We will accept applications postmarked on or before February 20, 2017. Early submission is encouraged.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegan/vegetarian diet/lifestyle. Payment will be made to the student’s college (U.S. based only). Winners of the scholarships give permission to release their names to the media. Applications and essays become property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. We may ask finalists for more information. Scholarship winners are contacted by e-mail or telephone. Please look at your e-mail.

For details on the contest, see: http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

Shamayim vAretz National Retreat 2017

Posted on February 13, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Jewish Welfare Organization

Everyone is welcome to join Shamayim v’Aretz for six vegan gourmet meals, insightful talks and presentations, community building, spiritual growth, outdoor activities and lots of fun at our fourth annual national retreat at the Pearlstone Retreat Center just outside of Baltimore, MD . The retreat will take place March 17-19, 2017. For information, see

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/shamayim-varetz-national-retreat-2017-tickets-27897626552

New Restaurants Have Been Added to The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada

Posted on February 10, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor
Alice & Friends' Vegan Kitchen

Alice & Friends’ Vegan Kitchen

The Vegetarian Resource Group maintains an online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada. Below are some recent additions. The entire guide can be found here: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

To support the updating of this online restaurant guide, please donate at:
www.vrg.org/donate

Alice & Friends’ Kitchen
5812 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60660
Alice & Friends’ Kitchen allows you to experience vegan cuisines from around the world. They offer a range of appetizers, soups, and salads in addition to a wide variety of entrees that include Korean BBQ, Thai Curry, Golden Tofu Steak, and Kung Pho. Their Kung Pho is made with textured vegetable protein, red and green pepper, cabbage, onion cashew, hot chili, and house-made Kung Pao sauce, and it is served with brown rice. They also offer unique drinks including a green tea shake and mango lassi, and they have many homemade desserts. Alice & Friends’ is the perfect restaurant with friends since everyone will be able to find a dish they will love!

Back To Eden Bakery
2217 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR
Back to Eden Bakery is a 100% plant-based and gluten-free bakery located in Portland, Oregon. They have multiple raw, sugar free, and soy free options on the menu as well. The ingredients they use are all fresh, and they aim to get seasonal, local, and organic ingredients when possible. For breakfast they serve regular, savory, and dessert pastries, which are baked fresh every day. These include a millet bar, a sunflower cheese tart, and a chocolate PB crunch bar, respectively. For lunch you can enjoy various salads, chili with cornbread, daily soups, and more. You can then finish your meal with some delicious dairy-free ice cream. They offer both soft-serve ice cream as well as traditional hard scoop options, which can be served plain, as a shake, a float, or a sundae.

Bar Velo
394 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Bar Velo is located near the Hewes Street J and M and the Broadway G. There is live music in the venue on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Try fettuccini with slow roasted tomato sauce, basil oil, olives and breadcrumbs or homemade flatbread with marinated tempeh, hummus, pickles and red slaw.

Ginger Root
1164 First Ave.
New York, NY 10065
Ginger Root prepares everything fresh, never frozen and they get their vegetables delivered every two-three days. They have a broad menu with 18 main dishes, 11 noodle bowls and six rice dishes. Their most popular main dishes are their Mango Soy Protein for those with a sweet tooth and the General T Soy Protein for those who like some spice. The Scallion pancake starter and pumpkin cheesecake desert are also recommended!

Globally Local
252 Dundas St.
London, ON N6A 1H3 Canada
Fast food that is totally vegan! Here you can find many vegan friendly fast food favorites such as burgers and fries. They also have a breakfast menu with items like French Toast or the Scramble Burrito. Be sure to check out their website/Facebook for information on specials and ordering.

Plant Pure Café
1115 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Plant Pure Cafe’s menu items contain No added oils. They don’t serve fried food, and every meal is below 500 calories. Plant Pure Cafe offers bowls, sandwiches, and wraps. They also have vegan soft serve ice cream.

Sweet Hereafter
3326 SE Belmont St.
Portland, OR 97214
They have a large selection of cocktails (and they are served in mason jars!). Their sprawling covered patio is perfect for Sunday afternoons and warm summer nights. Try the pretzel plate and Rosemary Almonds; they both get rave reviews. They also serve various bowls, Blackened Tempeh Sandwich, Tofu Bahn Mi, and more.

The Good Sort
5 Doyers St.
New York, NY 10013
The Good Sort is located in Chinatown. They serve vegan lattes, baked goods, and breakfast congee bowls. The Good Sort is located near the 4, 6,6x, the J,Z, and the N,Q subway stops at Canal Street.

Vegan Donut Gelato
330 Needham St.
Modesto, CA 95345
Vegan Donut Gelato is a small colorful shop with a few small tables and seats. They offer a wide variety of vegan donuts such as vanilla cream, strawberry cream, glazed, chocolate, twists, jelly, coconut, sprinkles, and even donut holes. They also offer a few pastries like apple fritters and cinnamon rolls. The shop has received raving reviews on Yelp by both vegans and non-vegans alike.

USDA Removes Animal Welfare Reports From Its Website

Posted on February 10, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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According to ABC News, The Agriculture Department has removed animal welfare inspection reports, enforcement records and other information about the treatment of animals from its website, citing privacy and other laws. The records have been removed “based on our commitment to being transparent … ,” the online message says. Some of the information can be found at:
https://mega.nz/#F!0RQFCIhR!3QACg2IX2fvYuBi8SzG3Kg

The Humane Society of the United States challenges the United States Department of Agriculture over mass removal of animal welfare records. See:
http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/02/hsus-challenges-usda-mass-removal-animal-welfare-records.html?credit=blog_post_020617_id8766

Thanks from VeganWork.com

Posted on February 09, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Dear VRG Team,

First off, thank you for the work you do maintaining the very useful resource that is VRG.org. When I transitioned to a vegan diet over 15 years ago, your site was an indispensable resource at the time. And ever since I have had occasion to consult your site on various topics.

Last month I launched VeganWork.com, a niche job board for vegans and vegetarians. I am writing to ask if you would kindly link to VeganWork.com.

On VeganWork.com, visitors can browse jobs by state and select cities.

Chris

Chris Schults
VeganWork.com

Soy Growers, Soyfoods Association Defend Soymilk, Oppose Dairy Pride Act

Posted on February 09, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The American Soybean Association sent out this information:

“In a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee members today [2/6/17], the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) objected to draft legislation that would restrict the marketing of soymilk. S. 130, referred to as the Dairy Pride Act, would prohibit the term “milk” from being used with soymilk and soymilk-based products, under the premise that the term “milk” is misleading to consumers. “This legislation is unnecessary as no confusion in the market exists,” argued ASA President Ron Moore and SANA President Wendy Behr in the letter, noting that the term “soymilk” has been in commercial use since 1947. “Consumers of soymilk clearly understand that the product is derived from soybeans rather than bovine milk, and a large percentage consume it for just that reason due to dietary choices or restrictions.”

A full copy of the letter can be found at:
https://soygrowers.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/HELP-letter-2-17.pdf

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