The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

VEGAN EATING IN COSTA RICA

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group recently received the following note:

I was wondering if you guys help vegan startups? We have a fast-casual plant-based restaurant in Costa Rica that we would like to bring to the rest of the world. Here is some information: www.luvburger.com

Fabrizio Pilato
Founder & CEO
LuvBurger

“Vegan Street Fair in Los Angeles, California Makes History”

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

by Marc Bernstein (age 11 – vegan since age 8)

Never before has there been an event like this.Never before has there been a vegan crowd like this. On March 1st, the vegan community of Los Angeles held the first ever Vegan Street Fair. The streets of Bakman and Weddington in North Hollywood were closed off. Months in advance city permits had to be filed and approved to be able to do this. Over fifty food vendors were arranged and set-up early that morning. The Board of Health and the Fire Department went through and inspected after set-up and gave their okay. The DJ started blaring music.Crowds were waiting to enter the streets. At 11:30am food ticket booths opened and at 12pm food stands began serving, which they did non-stop doing for the next six hours when the event ended at 6pm. The fair began with a crowd and it never seemed to shrink throughout the six hours of the event despite Mother Nature.

Crowd gathering at Vegan Street Fair in LA

Crowd gathering at Vegan Street Fair in LA

Mother Nature decided to visit this event in full force. She must be vegan and wanted to celebrate with us. Rain came and went with major downpours. That was so un-LA especially for March. Even more extreme than that, though, was the hail that then came down. The hail pellets were like lentils pouring from the skillet in the sky. Some people complained but some of us danced and sang in the rain and hail.

Why does the vegan world, though, seem to have so many negative people? Instead of appreciating the precipitation that LA so needed, some whined and complained about it. Some people therefore left, but no matter how many left that many more seemed to still come. The complainers were outnumbered by appreciators about 100:1.

Some people also complained about the crowds and some even bashed it online and were telling others not to go, but still the crowds came and came. Most of us really appreciated it.How amazing it was that about ten thousand people packed the streets for the first ever Vegan Street Fair especially in LA where people are usually afraid of precipitation of any kind.

Still, so many people packed the streets. Not everyone, though, who went was vegan. That was great because even non-vegans enjoyed the totally vegan foods and stuck it out through the crazy weather. They enjoyed tasting and learning about being vegan. The event was right by the Orange and Red Metros, and people heard and saw something going on and came to check it out. Also, some of the non-vegan restaurants brought in non-vegan customers to try their new vegan foods. According to Veg Kids, about half of the families who stopped in the Kids’ Area were not vegan. At least they were vegan open and vegan curious. They had plenty of opportunity to learn there. This was a great event because of the outreach and growing the vegan world. Since it was free to attend, plenty came.

Credit goes to Jessica Shay and Ken Schoech who dreamed up this amazing Vegan Street Fair (www.VeganStreetFair.com) and made it a reality. It took a lot of work to make this happen and they deserve a lot of credit. Credit also goes to Vegan Camp director Andy Mars (whose is entering his 23rd summer of vegan camps www.VeganCamp.org) and of Veg Kids (www.VegKids.org) who helped put the amazing Kids’ Area together.

It is hard to say whether the best part of the event was the crowd, the food, or the games. In the Kids’ Area, there were activities for kids who need to move, activities for kids who want to create, and activities for kids who like to think. The kids’ area had air hockey, animal origami, chalk-in, conscious coloring, cool comics, friend or food, giant twister, guessing jar, healthy info, hexagonal hockey, hopscotch, peace banner, tic tac toss, vegan jello, and word games.

Beyond that, the vendors included AFC Soy Foods, Azla Vegan, Beet x Beet, Best Gumbo in the Hood, Blöde Kuh Artisan Tree Nut Cheese, Bramble Bakeshop, Broke Hungry Vegan Catering, Charlie’s Brownies, Clean South, Divine Dips Vegan Ice Cream, Donut Friend, Doomie’s Home Cooking, Follow Your Heart, H.O.P.E.- Healthy Organic Positive Eating, Health ‘n Spice, Herbivore, Hugo’s Tacos, Hummus Republic, Ihsan’s Falafel, India Jones Chow Truck, Jones Soda, Joni Marie Newman, Just The Food, Karma Baker, Le Beaux Chocolats, Life is Sweet Bakeshop, Luscious Organic Desserts, Main Squeeze Lemonade Truck , Mud Hen Tavern, Om-Brosia, One Veg World, Organix, Plant Food For People, RawFiv5 Rachel’s Cosmic Cuisine, Rabbit Hole Cafe, Ridiculous Baking, Sage, Shugah Mama, Southern Fried Vegan, Sub Zero Ice Cream, Sun Cafe Organic, Vegan Pizza, Vegans Rock, VegeTaryn, Vegucated, Vromage, Whole Foods of Glendale.

Not all the vendors were vegan businesses but everything they had at this event had to be vegan. It was good for some people to see that they can get vegan food even at nonvegan places. It was also really good for the nonvegan places to see how many people want vegan food. Maybe some of them will expand their vegan menus. But some of the vegans attending only wanted to support the totally vegan places, and there was plenty there for them to enjoy. [www.veganday.com has the list and a map of the totally vegan places around LA.] We are pretty lucky to be vegans living in LA where being vegan sometimes seems so common and normal. It is the way the world should go and it is the way the world will go. Hey, we had close to ten thousand people packing the streets of The Vegan Street Fair to enjoy the variety of vegan foods!

Vegan Slider at Vegan Street Fair in LA

Vegan Slider at Vegan Street Fair in LA

One of the things that made the Vegan Street Fair so great was that it was made like a real New York style street fair and the vendors were not allowed to charge more than $3 for any food item (but there were surcharges on buying tickets and that brought some food items to $4). That made it so that we could each try a bunch of different foods from different vendors. Smaller prices made it more affordable, and smaller portions made it more possible. But to quote my cousin Ben, I was “an eating machine.” I bought $32 in tickets (well, yah, it was a special one day event to splurge) and got to eat beefless skewers, chickun drum stix, a chocolate truffle, a corn dog, creme brulee, a donut, fried ravioli, a ham and cheese croissant, a pizza bagel, porridge, a slider, and smoky nut cheese. Some people complained about the lines, but I had no problem getting to eat from ten different vendors. Everything I had was really excellent except I felt I wasted money on a pizza bagel that I could have made better myself in the toaster oven at home. I had never had something like fried ravioli before and that was so good. The corn dog was totally amazing. The chickun drum stix were delicious. I am hungry now thinking about all of this. Pretty much everything was so good. I am sorry that I could not try every single food at the fair but I did my share.

Vegan corn dog at Vegan Street Fair in LA

Vegan corn dog at Vegan Street Fair in LA

And despite or maybe partially because of the rain and the hail it was such an exciting day. It was one of my favorite days ever. My favorite part was when Andy Mars started singing really loudly in the middle of the street to raise people’s spirits and get them to sing with him, “Let the Sun Shine In.” Someone’s grandmother even started dancing with him singing under the rain and hail. He brought sunshiney smiles to many peoples’ faces.

What an amazing first Vegan Street Fair it was. I don’t know if we can ever top it but we sure can try. I can’t wait until the second annual Vegan Street Fair.

by Marc Bernstein (age 11 – went vegan at age 8 due to his positive experience at and positive influence from Camp Exploration ) with assistance and editing by his cousin Ben (age 16) who prefers to remain relatively anonymous.

Petition to USDA & HHS on sustainable Dietary Guidelines

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group recently received the following request:

Hello,
I am a public health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and I posted a petition on change.org asking the Secretaries of USDA and HHS to resist pressure from big food corporations (esp. the meat industry) to take sustainability out of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

I’m writing to ask if you would be willing to share the petition. Even though the petition is not specifically about promoting totally veg diets, it describes the environmental impact of meat production and the importance of having dietary guidelines that recognize the links between our food choices and the environment. We have over 1,000 supporters after two weeks.

Thank you!
- Jillian

USDA and HHS Secretaries: Don’t let big food corporations weaken the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Link: www.change.org/dietary_guidelines

Summary:
For the first time, a team of experts advising the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that our government’s advice on healthy eating should take sustainability into account—the ability to provide nutritious diets now and in the future. Based on an extensive review of evidence, they recommend eating more plant-based food, fewer animal products, and a variety of wild and farmed seafood.

This is important because current agricultural methods lead to water pollution from nutrient and pesticide runoff, high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, poor animal welfare, increasing antibiotic resistance, and areas of high animal density that produce more manure than can be safely used on local cropland. Many of these negative ecological outcomes present serious health risks to consumers, workers, and communities. Reducing demand for meat and producing animal products more sustainably would help address these problems.

Predictably, certain food corporations and their allies in Congress are wasting no time in pressuring the USDA and HHS to remove this information from the final version of the Guidelines, which are updated every five years. I started this petition so Americans can show their support for Dietary Guidelines that value the conservation of natural resources and recognize environmental impacts of our food choices.

ISSUES WITH CANDY LABELING

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

One study reported: The results demonstrated that the species detected from DNA were compatible with the information provided on candy labels only in a few products. DNA traces of undeclared species, including fish, were found in most samples, and two products were labeled as vegetarian but contained porcine DNA.

For more information see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25754444

Where Can You Buy Vegan Easter Candy Online?

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Amanda’s Own Confections
Chocolate Decadence
Mama Ganache (dark chocolates)
Natural Candy Store

Premium Chocolatiers
Rose City Chocolatier
Sjaak’s

Vegan Essentials

Finally, if you are interested in making your own homemade Easter “Eggs”? Check out this article from The Vegetarian Resource Group: https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2010issue1/2010_issue1_matzo.php

In March 2015 The Vegetarian Site Will Give 10% of Their Sales to The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on March 13, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Don’t forget to stock up on your favorite vegetarian products from The Vegetarian Site this month! For the full month of March 2015, The Vegetarian Site will give 10% of their sales to The Vegetarian Resource Group!

The Vegetarian Site sells vegan footwear, belts, wallets, bags, and other accessories, food products, books, personal care items, plus much more. They are always adding new items in their store.

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group by shopping online at: http://www.thevegetariansite.com/cgi-bin/miva?Merchant2/merchant.mv+

VEGAN PASSOVER RECIPES

Posted on March 12, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Traditionally there are many food restrictions during the eight days of Passover. If you’re vegan, preparing a wide variety of foods during Passover can be overwhelming at times. Below are several vegan recipes that you can prepare during Passover. You can also purchase the books mentioned below from The Vegetarian Resource Group at: http://www.vrg.org/catalog/

French Onion Soup (from Vegan Passover Recipes)
(Serves 4-5)

This hearty soup can be served as an entrée, paired with steamed or braised greens.

2 pounds (about 4-1/2 cups) assorted onions (red, yellow, white, sweet, etc.)
Vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup finely minced carrots
5 cups vegetable stock
2 whole matzo, broken into crouton-size pieces
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Peel onions and slice very thinly. Separate the rings.
Spray a large pot with oil. Allow to heat. Sauté carrots briefly, about 2 minutes. Add onions (the pot should be very full). Over a low flame, allow onions to cook, stirring to turn, until they are caramelized. This can take up to 45 minutes.
Add stock and cover. Allow soup to simmer for at least 1 hour, until flavors blend.
Serve very hot, garnished with matzo and fresh mushrooms.

Beet Salad (from The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook)
Serves 6

4 cups cooked fresh beets (or two 16-ounce cans, drained beets), finely chopped
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill and toss once before serving.

Sweet Potato Kugel (from No Cholesterol Passover Recipes)
Serves 12

6 small sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
3 apples, peeled and grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup matzo meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup fruit juice or water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Press mixture into a large baking dish. Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees until kugel is crisp on top. Serve.

Fruit-Nut Chews (from No Cholesterol Passover Recipes)
Makes 60

Here’s a great treat for children!

2 cups matzo meal
2 cups farfel
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins or chopped dates
¼ cup potato starch
½ cup oil
1 cup water
1 cup mashed potatoes (about 2 ripe bananas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in nuts and raisins or chopped dates. Beat potato starch, oil, water, and mashed banana together. Beat into dry mixture.

Drop onto oiled cookie sheets with a teaspoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

2015 VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The deadline for our $20,000 in college scholarships for this year’s graduating class has passed. All the applicants are well above their peers, but we have at least ten applications that are off the charts. Volunteers are looking at the entries and we will be getting back to semi-finalists with more questions by April. Thank you to Nina who is doing an extraordinary job coordinating all the flowing of entries back and forth.

The next deadline for the one $10,000 and two $5,000 scholarships is February 20, 2016 for 2016 high school seniors.

For more information, see: http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

If you would like to sponsor additional scholarships or internships, please donate at www.vrg.org/donate. Write your intention in the comments.

Or send a donation to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

VRG VEGAN RESTAURANT GATHERING IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

On Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 6pm, The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a dinner gathering in Nashville, TN at Sitar Indian Cuisine.

Network with Vegetarian Resource Group staff, volunteers, and other dietitians from around the country during the annual meeting of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dietitians, VRG members, students, and the public are invited. Location is near the Lowes Vanderbilt, a FNCE (conference) hotel.

BUFFET MENU:
Samosa (potato and pea turnover)
Salad
Papadum (thin and crispy lentil crackers)
Roti (whole wheat bread)
Chutney
Rice, Tea
Yellow Dal (lentils)
Chana Masala (chickpeas)
Baingan Bhurtha (eggplant)
Bhindi Masala (okra)
Vegetable Patia (fresh vegetables with sweet and sour mangoes)
Fruit

PRICE INCLUDING TAX AND TIP:
Payment before September 5, 2015: $25
Payment after September 5, 2015: $30

Refunds only made if we can replace your seat.

To pay, send to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, call (410) 366-8343 Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, or go to www.vrg.org/donate and write in the comments Nashville Indian dinner and names of attendees.

Enter The Vegetarian Resource Group 2015 Video Contest!

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group will once again be having a video contest. Create and submit a video relating what you want to tell others about veganism. Some possible topics include food, nutrition, water usage and vegetarianism, animal rights and vegetarianism, and other topics which appeal to you. Four $250 awards will be awarded.

Deadline this year is July 15, 2015; however, we encourage you to start sending in your entries soon.

For details on the contest see: http://www.vrg.org/videoscholarship.php
To see previous winning videos visit: http://www.vrg.org/veg_videos.php

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