The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Enter The Vegetarian Resource Group’s 2017 Video Contest!

Posted on April 10, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

video

The Vegetarian Resource Group is once again sponsoring a video contest. We will be awarding one $200 scholarship plus two $100 awards. The deadline for entries this year is July 15, 2017.

Create and submit a video relating what you want to tell others about veganism. Some possible topics: food, nutrition, your feelings about veganism and/or vegetarianism, water usage and veganism, veganism and animal rights, or other veggie topics which appeal to you. Humor and feelings are appreciated. All videos should be positive, not be critical of anyone, and not include any footage of animal cruelty. You may submit a video you have already made.

Aspects of judging include accuracy and judges wanting to share the video with others. Entrants give permission to The Vegetarian Resource Group to post and share the video, to link to and from the video, and share the video with the media.

To see the video contest rules, visit:
http://www.vrg.org/videoscholarship.php

Previous wining videos can be found here:
http://www.vrg.org/veg_videos.php

THE VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP CELEBRATES 35 YEARS OF CHANGING SOCIETY

Posted on April 07, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Support Continued Vegan Education, Outreach, and Activism!

The Vegetarian Resource Group celebrates 35 years of vegan activism in 2017. For those who would like to support continued research and outreach, we will be listing donors names/messages received by May 1, 2017 in Issue 3 2017 Vegetarian Journal.

Donations can be sent to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Donate online at: www.vrg.org/donate or call (410) 366-8343 Mon.-Fri. 9am to 5pm EST.

Support Continued Vegan Education, Outreach, and Activism

Support Continued Vegan Education, Outreach, and Activism

Sending

NATIONAL VEGETARIAN MUSEUM EXHIBIT PREMIERS IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Posted on April 07, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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See: http://www.vegmuse.org/

VEGAN SUMMER CAMP

Posted on April 06, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Did you know there’s a vegan summer camp for young people who want to become more effective advocates? Check out YEA Camp! www.yeacamp.org

Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a life-changing week-long overnight camp with sessions in California, Massachusetts, and New York for youth who want to change the world! And all of the food is vegan! Campers come from all over the country to attend YEA Camp and choose a social issue they want to work on, like the environment, gay rights, racism, animal cruelty, or another cause they care about. Throughout the week they build their confidence, develop concrete skills, make incredible like-minded friends, and leave with an action plan to make a difference on a cause of their choice when they go home. To find out more about YEA Camp, visit www.yeacamp.org.

Public Alert: Some Dream® Desserts Recalled

Posted on April 06, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Public Alert – Dream® Plant-Based, Chocolate-Coated Frozen Desserts for Milk Allergen
From Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition; Constituent Update
Dream® brand, manufacturer of Almond Dream®, Rice Dream® and Coconut Dream® frozen dessert products, is publicly reinforcing to its consumers that the Dream® plant-based, chocolate-coated frozen desserts listed below have been found to contain milk. Some consumers have reported experiencing allergic reactions to milk after consuming these products.

These products are not being recalled and are safe for non-allergic consumers to eat.
The products subject to this notification include:

Product UPC Product Description
84253-28426 Almond Dream Vanilla Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ
84253-28427 Almond Dream Chocolate Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ
84253-29462 Almond Dream Peppermint Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ
84253-29464 Almond Dream Pumpkin Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ
84253-28428 Almond Dream Vanilla Dessert Bars 9.9 FL OZ
84253-33000 Rice Dream Vanilla Dessert Bars 3.2 FL OZ
84253-44460 Rice Dream Vanilla Nutty Dessert Bars 3.4 FL OZ
84253-44470 Rice Dream Chocolate Nutty Dessert Bars 3.4 FL OZ
84253-45504 Rice Dream Vanilla Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ
84253-44450 Rice Dream Mocha Dessert Pies 3.7 FL OZ
84253-44420 Rice Dream Chocolate Dessert Pies 3.7 FL OZ
84253-44430 Rice Dream Mint Dessert Pies 3.7 FL OZ
84253-44400 Rice Dream Vanilla Dessert Pies 3.7 FL OZ
84253-28557 Coconut Dream Dessert Bites 6.6 FL OZ

For consumer inquiries or concerns, please contact the Dream® brand Consumer Care center at 1-888-301-7497. Consumer Care hours are Monday – Friday from 9 AM – 7 PM EDT.

An Interview with Vegan and Gluten-Free Chef Ariel Bangs

Posted on April 05, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Ariel

By Julia Mathew, VRG Intern

Ariel Bangs is a vegan and gluten-free chef providing wholesome and nutritious food through her catering company, Healthy Creations. She also has a donut line called ‘FLAVORGASMS’ and is currently starting up her own donut shop in the Seattle, Washington area. Ariel will be featured in a future “Veggie Action” segment of the Vegetarian Journal. In the meantime, here is a full interview with Chef Ariel Bangs.

Q1: You seem to focus a lot on providing nourishing foods sourced from plant-based ingredients. How did you become vegan yourself? 

When I became vegan, I didn’t know that veganism existed or was a way of life. I am from an Italian, East Indian, and African American family where culture, healthy eating, herbalism, and natural health is our way of life. Over a short period of time I ate various meat dishes as I had always done, because animal consumption was a part of my lifestyle. After becoming ill, each time I tried to eat animals I stopped. I thought maybe I needed a break; I didn’t think it was food poisoning because I made each of the foods that I ate and growing up in a family of nourishers and healers, I knew that food poisoning was not it. So, I decided to stop eating animals for a while; in my mind I thought thirty days. At this time I lived in downtown Seattle, near Pike Place Market and fresh foods were easily available. Because I worked close to the market as well, and I worked in the athletic field, it was easy to stop by the market on my way home from work. My upbringing made the transition easier, mainly because in my family food was always grown, herbs and spices were our staples, and my mom made everything from scratch. My whole family did. My family members have always been farmers and nourishers. They focused on from scratch Italian cooking. My great grandmother came from Italy to Washington cooking all day by choice for our family. My mom, aunts, and uncles were blessed to smell calzones, spaghetti sauce, and other traditional dishes floating into their nostrils as they walked down the street home to my great grandmother’s love. The entire neighborhood was blessed as well.

Q2: How do you think your culinary education/background has affected your approach to veganism? 

My approach to veganism was affected more by my family’s way of life, than by my culinary background. When I was attending school, veganism, food allergies and such were not looked at as valid nor were they a focus until I requested it in each culinary task appointed to me. I always asked to create vegan and gluten-free dishes. I had one chef that encouraged me while I was in school, while the others would blatantly inform me “Sure, but if you do not create to the ability of my instructions and if the creations did not come out as instructed, I would be failed.” So, that was a challenge I happily took on and succeeded each time. The chef that encouraged me immensely is Chef Antoine Rondent at The Art Institute of Seattle. I appreciate every experience I was exposed to at AIS; it allowed me to have thicker skin and to believe in healing through food on a new level. Something changes when you are being instructed by chefs from France, Italy, and Four Star and Michelin Star establishments. As a woman in the culinary industry and a woman of color, you have to put in 300+%. My only regret about culinary school is that I felt I was not prepared for a career in the culinary industry, as I was unable to gain employment because I had no culinary work experience.

Q3: What is the story behind your company, Health Creations? How did you get started and what were your inspirations & goals for the company?

I didn’t intend to open a business; I wanted to help people that were afraid to eat due to their food illnesses and allergies. It’s scary when you don’t know you have an allergy or illness but everything you eat makes you sick. I have always researched about Monsanto, Dupont, GMO’s, healthy eating, nutrition in foods and culture; so it became second nature as people began asking me to help them. When I started HC, I met a woman that kept having miscarriages and I suggested a few dietary changes and questions to ask when visiting the doctor. From that moment on, I began giving her ideas, recipes and suggestions and that is how it all began. Then I continued meeting others and the more I shared, the more people would try to pay me. It took me about five years to accept others money because I was focused on helping people due to my knowledge and compassion. Now, years later, I cook for families with allergies and create vegan gluten-free donuts, through my donut company FLAVORGASMS. My goals are to continue to inspire and help people on a mobile platform, with my cooking classes, private chef services, and donut business.

Q4: Your company concentrates on Caribbean, Cuban, and Venezuelan cuisines. How did you go about ‘veganizing’ these cuisines and did you face any struggles along the way?

Almost all countries began anciently as vegan, because you grew your food and shared with the community. Many communities didn’t eat animals because the animals helped you till the land and other such activities. I researched a lot about which non-animal products were being grown and how they were eaten in the communities I studied. Then I started talking with elders and learning from them. After asking them if I could share what I learned, I started creating for others with the knowledge I had learned.

Q5: I’ve heard that you are currently starting up your own vegan bakery in Seattle. How do you think people (vegans and non-vegans alike) will respond to your new bakery?

My donut shop will not be just vegan, it will be gluten-free, and cater to other allergies, such as nut allergies. People are very receptive to the donuts, however right now most of the population that eats my donuts are non-vegan and gluten-free folks. I believe that those that will love my products will come from every walk of life, because they are a flavorgasmic enjoyment for those with allergies and everyone else.

Q6: I’ve heard great things about your donut company, Flavorgasms Donuts! Was it a true process of trial and error to create more wholesome donuts from bean, grain, and seed flours?

It is always food science when you are focusing on alternative ingredients, which for me is fun because I am a natural experimenter. Creating my mixtures has definitely been trial and error. As with catering to those with food allergies, you are constantly working to create mixtures and products that will be healthy and not harm them. My goal in my products and services is to always create deliciousness that does not taste like it is such (i.e., vegan, gluten-free, etc.)

Q7: How do you think your passion for gardening translates into your food?

Gardening is life; it is our connection to the Earth to the universe, and it is our job as humans to own this responsibility and to give as we receive. So, in gardening it is a cycle of beautiful life. Gardening began as therapy for me and continued to grow into a passionate love as I come from a family on both sides of farmers, herbalists, healers, and nourishers.

Q8: What tips would you give parents who are trying to get their children to shift to a vegan diet? Do you have any suggestions for quick, easy, and kid-friendly meals?

My best advice is to make eating a fun experience. Involve them in growing, harvesting, washing, and preparing meals. Eat what you want them to eat. Consume more fresh and whole foods, versus processed vegan foods. This is where I think we in the vegan community go wrong; we replace animal products with processed vegan products. It’s fine to enjoy them sparingly, but as regular parts of our diet, they are not designed for that. I think its best to start practicing making your own vegan meats out of nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Play around with more whole grains like bulgur, quinoa, amaranth, millet, and GMO-free organic corn. Pick a new fruit and vegetable each week or month. Make it a game with the kids. Also pay attention to what kids have aversions to, because sometimes you can add those fruits and veggies to smoothies, popsicles, ice creams, etc. I offer online classes and spring up 30: a spring clean eating meal plan that compiles a group of people looking to transition into healthier eating,and whom need guidance, recipes, etc. as they take their journey.

Q9: How do you think your cooking and approach to food has transformed people’s view of veganism in your local community?

Because everyone is from a culture, loves some form of culture, and everyone loves to eat, it’s best in my opinion to educate, incorporate love of culture, and bring people together to connect, communicate, respect, and honor culture. While they are doing so, introduce them to the foods that most inspire all of this as one…culture. Because I am an educator in nature, people are drawn to me because I educate them while they are eating and being nourished. I also make the experience comforting, love filled and like being at grandma’s house.

Q10: What is your most popular dish and dessert? What sort of flavors do you think really entice consumers?

I cater to a wide audience. This week my beloved dishes are Pupusas, Curtido, Salsa, Japanese Sweet Potato Donuts, and Cacao Mole Donuts. It is hard to answer that because each consumer is different. Overall what entices customers are wonderful tasting products that are wholesome, taste great, have respect for the culture, and the food as a whole, whether you grow it, buy it or it is given to you, are beautiful. We eat with our eyes, nose, and ears before anything goes into our mouths.

Making Food for Non-Vegans: Winning Hearts to Veganism

Posted on April 04, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Anna Lam, VRG Intern

One of the best ways to convert those you know to veganism is to cook for them. People (especially those who’ve eaten the Western diet all their lives) are so accustomed to meat being a part—nay, the main part—of their meals, that gathering around the table for an all-plant foods meal seems an entirely foreign idea to most. If your goal is to convince those around you (like your friends and family) that a vegan diet is a healthy, tasty, and sustainable diet, it’s a little demanding to suddenly require them to drastically alter their eating habits or to do so in order to accommodate your own. Mindsets can be obstinate, so changing mindsets must be a delicate process. That’s why whenever I visit my family, I make sure to at least offer to cook meals or help cook them. If I have it my way, I completely commandeer the kitchen just to make my being vegan not a burden for others. This way, they don’t feel they are pressured to accommodate me, and I can open their eyes to the bountiful kingdom of plant-based foods that we can all enjoy without another creature suffering for that enjoyment. I’d like to share some of my own tips, as well as meals I’ve prepared for non-vegans, in the hopes that other vegans might consider doing the same.

My immediate family is a family of six. So, if I can help it, I make sure they are eating vegan (and eating well) when I’m home. It helps that my mom doesn’t like to cook, so she always lets me have free-reign of the kitchen. The goal is to make delicious, healthy, and cruelty-free food, because it helps when both parties are happy: the people who are not eating animals and the animals that are not being eaten.

My tip number one is to show your loved ones that they are not missing out on anything by eating vegan. And the better you know your audience, the easier it is to make them see how being plant-based really isn’t all that difficult. My Dad loves red beans and rice, so I made it a point to cook that at least one night when I was home. My little sister loves boiled potatoes, so I made that as a snack for her when she came home from school in the afternoons to tide her over until a vegan supper. In short, focus on making and emphasizing the things they can still eat, and don’t remind them of what they can’t. My brother loves smoothies, so I made him a vibrantly-colored smoothie bowl in the mornings and put the effort into making them as attractive as possible with lots of yummy toppings. My parents live in the South and have developed a taste for Southern cooking, so one night I veganized traditional Southern foods such as cornbread, black beans and rice, and collard greens.

My second tip is not to conflate veganism with “clean-eating” if you don’t have to. For many, the vegan lifestyle ultimately is a lifestyle of compassion, with the welfare of animals being the primary reason for our continued forgoing of animal products. When I cook for my family, I try to make food that is quite tasty, which means that I’m not afraid to use some oil or salt or refined flours in my dishes. I don’t want my family to associate veganism with tasteless, bland food. That makes going vegan seem a lot less appealing to those not quite willing to make the switch yet. This, of course, also more or less depends on your audience. My family regularly consumes food with oil, salt, and refined flours, so to remove these ingredients, which tend to make food taste better for some, and animal products, might be too much to give up all at once. Eating vegan shouldn’t feel like sacrificing good tasting food. If making vegan food healthy helps sell your message, by all means cut the salt and sugar. But otherwise, the goal should be showing people that they don’t have to use animal products in their dishes in order to meet their daily tastes and needs. Granted, it’s important to eat healthy foods—I don’t want to diminish that point. So, while you’re at it, you might consider talking about and incorporating better-for-you alternatives to what is typical in a Standard American Diet. Focus on finding the happy medium between having an awareness of what you’re consuming and allowing you and those you’re cooking for to enjoy food. Remember that it’s possible to still take care of your body without depriving yourself of the occasional brownie.

Below is a meal plan of dinners I prepared for my family and a Saturday potluck with friends. I put careful thought into each of these meals, considering what I felt like would be most appealing to my family and friends’ tastes. This, I think, was crucial and made my efforts a success. My parents reported that they are happily continuing to eat vegan dinners, and staving off their consumption of animal products during the day. My dad said he was more comfortable eating a meal of all plants now, and my mom told me that she thought the taste of real sausage seemed weird to her now. They’ve begun to share recipes with neighbors and friends. It could be in the not-too-distant-future that a single vegan turns into a family of vegans, which could turn into a community of vegans. But it’s these small, initial rippling successes that make such endeavors of mine worthwhile, and why I highly recommend similar efforts on the part of other vegans looking to gently spread the message of compassion without shaming and heaping guilt on others, and instead using small but deliberate actions to make a big difference.

Monday:
Hoppin’ johns with rice
Cornbread flapjacks
Collard greens
Seitan ‘ham’

Tuesday:
    Red beans with turmeric brown rice and Tofurky kielbasa
    Cauliflower wings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGDf7VGuUhQ)

Wednesday:
    Taro bao
    Steamed garlic with coconut oil and garlic
    White rice
    Japanese sweet potatoes

Thursday:
    Pasta salad
    Roasted vegetables

Friday:
    Fried Tofurky kielbasa with caramelized onions
    Baked potato fries
    Fried cabbage with cannellini beans
    Mushroom ‘bacon’

Saturday:
    Vegan chili
    Guacamole
    Brown rice
    Chips and salsa
    Green salad

Finally, I would encourage other vegans to not underestimate the power of cooking a meal for others. Sure, it’s a fun pastime for myself and I get a kick out of sharpening my kitchen skills, but I also do so with the aim of improving the currently deplorable and abject conditions of animals. When my dad said that he felt good about saving a few animal lives by abstaining from meat, I knew they were finally getting it. So, helping in the kitchen is a great way to unburden the people you love with the task of preparing vegan dishes, especially if they’re unsure of how to do so. And, ultimately, it’s a great way to show your loved ones that you care about them and that you care about the animals too.

For more advice on how to deal with family and friends when talking about vegetarianism, visit http://www.vrg.org/teen/#family

TACO BELL RICE WILL BE VEGETARIAN

Posted on April 04, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Taco-Bell-Logo

Taco Bell says:

Our rice has a new flavor. Beginning April 6, Taco Bell is replacing its
premium Latin rice with a seasoned rice, which is certified vegetarian
and will include dairy. For our vegan fans and non-dairy lovers, don’t
worry! We’re working on a new seasoned rice especially for you and will
let you know when it’s available. See:

https://www.tacobell.com/news/statement-regarding-new-rice

The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Annual Essay Contest for Kids

Posted on April 03, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Each year the Vegetarian Resource Group sponsors an essay contest for kids. Winners receive a $50 prize. Entrants should submit a 2-3 page essay on any aspect of vegetarianism/veganism. Vegetarianism is not eating meat, fish, and birds (for example, chicken or duck). Vegans avoid all animal products. Among the many reasons for being a vegetarian/vegan are beliefs about ethics, culture, health, aesthetics, religion, world peace, economics, world hunger, and the environment.

Entrants should base their paper on interviewing, research, and/or personal opinion. You need not be a vegetarian to enter. All essays become the property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. Deadline for the contest is May 1, 2017!

Details on the contest, as well as previous winning essays, can be found here:
http://www.vrg.org/essay/

Passover Starts at Sundown on April 10th — Have a Vegan Passover Seder!

Posted on April 03, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Passover begins the evening of April 10, 2017 this year and The Vegetarian Resource Group is the publisher of several books that feature vegan Passover recipes. Here’s a sample of the recipes found in each vegan cookbook:

No Cholesterol Passover Recipes, by Debra Wasserman
Carrot Cream Soup
Potato Soup
Chopped “Liver” Spread
Easy Grated Potato Pudding
Nut “Cheese” Surprise
Layered Vegetable Casserole
Fruit-Nut chews
Festive Macaroons

Vegan Passover Recipes, by Nancy Berkoff
Onion and Apple Soup
Roasted Pumpkin (or Winter Squash) and Ginger Soup
Citrus Tossed Green Salad with Avocado
Pear and Apple Slaw
Eggplant and Almond Sauce
Coconut Curry over Greens
Spinach and Okra Stew
Cinnamon Matzah Balls

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, by Debra Wasserman
Polish Plum and Rhubarb Soup
Vegetable Soup
Eggplant Caviar
Russian Potato and Beet Salad
Syrian-Style Okra with Dried Fruit
Broccoli and Lemon Sauce
Passover Vegan Kishke
Russian Potato and Mushroom Croquettes

You can purchase these vegan cookbooks from the VRG Book Catalog here: http://www.vrg.org/catalog

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