The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

“Bring the World In” By Hosting a Vegetarian Exchange Student in Baltimore, MD!

Posted on April 07, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

PAX is a non-profit educational foundation dedicated to providing exchange opportunities to teenagers around the world by matching them with placement in a U.S. high school and host family. Host families come in all shapes and sizes and include: single parents, retirees, ‘empty nesters’, young couples with small children, as well as two parent families with teenagers. As the Baltimore/Baltimore County Community Coordinator for PAX, I am presently seeking host families for two Vegetarian female students from Spain and Germany for the 2014-2015 school year. To accommodate school placement, I am looking for host families that live in Northern Baltimore City or in Baltimore County, areas North and Northwest of Baltimore City. To find out more about this wonderful opportunity, please contact: Meredith Safford at 410-382-5359 or email at merrysafford@yahoo.com. For more information on PAX, visit: http://www.pax.org/ More placements for vegetarian students are needed throughout the country.

VEGAN DINNER IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2014

Posted on April 02, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

In conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, The Vegetarian Resource Group will be hosting a vegan dinner in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 6pm. The dinner will be catered by Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. Dietitians, members, students, and the public are welcome to attend!

Buffet Includes:
Crisp vegetable tray with onion, cucumber, or garlic dip
Garden Salad and Prince Dressing (house dressing made with soy milk)
Dinner Rolls or Cornbread

Sides (choice of 2):
Tender Greens
Sweet Potatoes
Herb-Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Entrees (choice of 2):
Southern Style Baked B-B-Q Tofu
Smothered Steak with Gravy and Onions
Cheesy-Spinach-Tofu Lasagne
Mediterranean Cauliflower with CousCous

Dessert: Apple Pie or Vanilla Delight Cake

Beverage: Lemonade

BBQ Tofu

LOCATION: Morehouse School of Medicine, GA
1.9 miles from the Georgia World Congress Center

PAYMENT: $25 by September 1, 2014. Includes tax and tip. If seats
available, $30 after September 1. Send payment to The Vegetarian
Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; Call (410) 366-8343 with a credit card Monday to Friday, 9AM to 5PM Eastern Time, or go to www.vrg.org/donate and write Atlanta dinner in the comments area. Refunds only made if we can replace your seat.

NAME:
NUMBER ATTENDING: x $25/person before 9/01/14= $ Enclosed
NAMES ATTENDING:
ADDRESS:
STATE/ZIP
E-MAIL:
PHONE:
DONATION TOWARDS VEGETARIAN OUTREACH: $
TOTAL ENCLOSED: $


Veg Outreach Booths: Spring 2014

Posted on March 31, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LABELING QUESTIONS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES

Posted on March 31, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

A college food service asked us:

1. Should a dish containing pasta free of eggs as an actual ingredient,
but listed as a possible cross contact (due to the sharing of equipment
that processed product with egg) be labeled as vegan or vegetarian?

2. If a dish contains sugar (an unknown source), should it be labeled as
a vegan or vegetarian dish?

If you are a college student or work at a college, please e-mail your
opinion to vrg@vrg.org. Thank you.

-The Vegetarian Resource Group
http://www.vrg.org/fsupdate/index.htm
http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Vegetarian Video Scholarship Contest Deadline: July 15, 2014

Posted on March 28, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

In a further effort to help young people think innovatively and creatively about vegetarian and/or vegan advocacy, The Vegetarian Resource Group is pleased to be offering the Vegetarian Video Scholarship Contest again in 2014! We will be offering one $500 award and two $250 awards. The deadline for this scholarship is July 15, 2014.

Applicants should create and submit a video relating what they want to tell others about vegetarianism and/or veganism.

Some possible topics include: food, nutrition, your feelings about veganism and/or vegetarianism, water usage and vegetarianism, vegetarianism and animal rights, or other vegetarian 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.

Click here to find out more about scholarship rules and how to apply.

Not sure where to start? Check out past winner, Sienna Scheid’s, “NOW IS THE START” below or browse other past winners’ videos.

Ingredient Guide Update Vitamin D2, Vitamin D3

Posted on March 26, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou

Vitamin D2
Alternate names: ergocalciferol, calciferol
Leading commercial sources: fungal (yeast, mushrooms), plant (sugar
cane), petrochemical
Found in: wild mushrooms, UV-irradiated mushrooms
Used in: non-dairy milks, bread and bread products, vitamin supplements
Used as a: food fortifier, nutritional supplement
Definition: Ergocalciferol is a secosteroid which is similar to a
steroid hormone although it is commonly referred to as a vitamin.
Ergocalciferol is an inactive precursor to the active form of vitamin D2
believed to be used by the body in many ways including regulation of
calcium absorption for bone health.
Manufacturers:
Lallemand Inc. reports that “Lallemand Bakers Yeast is a vegetarian,
non-fortified source of Vitamin D, which is both dairy and animal-free.
Yeast requires a carbohydrate source to grow; the most economical are
molasses and corn syrup” (Source).

Sichuan Neijiang Hui Zin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. states that their
“Vitamin D2 comes from sugarcane of natural plant” (Source).

Jamieson Laboratories Ltd. says their vitamin D2 is “extracted from the
sugar cane stalk” (Source).

Synthesia, a.s. reports that they manufacture pharmaceutical grade
vitamin D2. “Production is synthesis by organic chemicals” (Source).

Classification: Vegan
Entry updated: March 2014

Vitamin D3
Alternate names: cholecalciferol, activated 7-dehydrocholesterol, calciferol
Leading commercial sources: animal (lanolin from sheep’s wool); lichen
(fungal/algal)
Found in: some fish and fish liver oils, egg yolks, lichen
Used in: dairy products, infant formula, cereal, juice, bread and bread
products, margarine, vitamin supplements
Used as a: food fortifier, nutritional supplement
Definition: Cholecalciferol is a secosteroid which is similar to a
steroid hormone although it is commonly referred to as a vitamin.
Cholecalciferol is an inactive precursor to the active form of vitamin
D3 believed to be used by the body in many ways including regulation of
calcium absorption for bone health. When 7-dehydrocholesterol in the
skin is exposed to adequate sunlight, cholecalciferol is produced giving
vitamin D its nickname: the sunshine vitamin.
Manufacturers: DSM reports that “cholesterol isolated from lanolin is primary raw
material for D3 manufacturing” (Source).

ESB Developments Ltd. states that they “…can confirm the lichen is not
grown on any corn/sucrose media nor do we artificially feed it in any way” (Source).

Classification: Vegetarian
Entry updated: March 2014

For more information on Vitamin D, see
http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2009issue2/2009_issue2_vitamin_d.php

For more information on ingredients, see
http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

To support Vegetarian Resource Group research, go to:
https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, go to:
http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

The contents of this article, 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 judgement about whether a
product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or
confirmation on your own.

The Vegetarian Resource Group is now on AmazonSmile

Posted on March 26, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group is now an organization listed on AmazonSmile. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to VRG whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. Support VRG by starting your shopping at smile.amazon.com and selecting “The Vegetarian Resource Group.”

Make your purchase by March 31, 2014, and Amazon will make an additional $5 donation to VRG!

Soy Cheese Pizza at Domino’s Pizza® in Israel: A First for Major Pizza Chains

Posted on March 24, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

Domino’s® Pizza Israel debuted what it calls a vegan pizza in December
2013. After contacting Domino’s® American corporate office to find out
more information The VRG received a call from a Domino’s® employee
working in Holland followed by email contact with the Domino’s® Israel
VP of Marketing.

Ido Fridman at Domino’s® Pizza Israel replied to us by email about the
vegan menu option in January 2014. Here is that exchange.

Q: We’d like to know the ingredients in the pizza including the dough,
sauce and cheese.
A: I apologize in advance for that, but all the raw materials of our
products are presumed trade secrets and I cannot reveal them.

Q: If not, can you assure us that all of the ingredients in this pizza
are all non-animal including no eggs or dairy or ingredients derived
from them such as honey, whey, casein, gelatin, rennet, etc.?
A: I can assure you that all of the vegan pizzas at Domino’s® Pizza
Israel are non-animal…There are no ingredients derived from animals with
all that implies – period.
What is important to note is the work environment, such as the makeline
or stove, etc., where we make the pizzas is not vegan…We also have in
the store mozzarella cheese, meat, etc.

Q: Can you tell us if the cheese on the vegan pizza is soy-based?
A: Domino’s® maintains commercial confidentiality with regards to raw
materials, but I will deviate once and…[confirm] that the vegan cheese
is actually based on soy.

Q: Is it possible that the same utensils and cookware are used for the
non-vegan (including dairy-containing) ingredients including
dairy-containing doughs, sauces, etc.? Do you take any precautions to
avoid cross-contamination?
A: Operating procedures at Domino’s® Pizza Israel are very clear and
contain strict adherence to use separate tools such as a slicer (pizza
cutter), [when] using…vegan ingredients such as vegan cheese, etc.
As I mentioned preparation areas such as makeline or oven are common to
all types of pizzas. Finally I note that we do our best to avoid
mistakes but sometimes mistakes can happen. [At the] end of the day
these are people who prepare our pizzas and not machines. I will also
say that the issue of errors that may occur has been…[discussed] and
agreed upon in advance…[by] Domino’s® Pizza Israel and the Vegan
Friendly Israeli organization that was part of the process of developing
the new vegan pizza.

Q: How is the pizza selling there? Do you know if it will be a permanent
menu item?
A: I apologize in advance but I cannot discuss the results of sales of
vegan pizza or future plans of Domino’s® Pizza Israel.

Q: Are there any plans to offer the vegan pizza in other countries
including the US?
A: Don’t know…

The VRG also asked Fridman if the dough conditioner L-cysteine often
derived from duck feathers or human hair was used to make the dough of
the vegan pizza. We have not yet received a reply to this specific question.
In an attempt to get a reply, we asked an Israeli member of Vegan
Friendly to call Fridman.

The member reported to us by email that she had called Fridman to ask
specifically about the dough ingredients. She replied to us that she had
been told on the phone that the dough was “a vegan dough.”

Ingredient statements on the Domino’s® Israel website were not evident even after translation attempts were made. A brief description of the Domino’s® vegan pizza was seen on another Israeli website: “Comes with fresh dough without eggs or animal fat with soy cheese of ‘Nature Delhi’”

Readers may note that Domino’s® Pizza USA posts all of its ingredient
statements on its website. L-cysteine is listed on the Domino’s® USA website as an ingredient in three of its five crusts. The VRG was told in November 2013 by a senior
level employee at Domino’s® USA that “non-animal” L-cysteine is used in
those crusts (Source).

For more information on fast food and quick casual restaurant chains
visit vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php

Readers interested in learning more about Israeli vegan food initiatives
brought about by vegan activists including the one at Domino’s® Israel
led by Vegan Friendly may view the following links(VRG poll results
are cited in the first link.):

The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications,
including The 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 employees or company statements.Information
does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best
judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research
or confirmation may be warranted.

There are many ways to stay connected to The Vegetarian Resource Group!

Click here to get our blog delivered right to your inbox.
For updates on all kinds of vegetarian- and vegan-related topics subscribe to our free enewsletter.
To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at
givedirect.org/give.
To join The Vegetarian Resource Group and receive Vegetarian Journal, go
to vrg.org/member/2013sv.php.

VRG Submits Comments to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Posted on March 14, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

On March 3, 2014, The Vegetarian Resource Group respectfully submitted comments to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee regarding information about vegetarian and vegan diets to be included in the 8th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Drawing from a wealth of literature related to vegetarian and vegan nutrition, VRG suggested the following:

  • Continue to include detailed, specific information about vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Provide specific information about foods to avoid/eat less.
  • Reconsider the use of 3 cup-equivalents of dairy per day.
  • Consider the Impact of Dietary Choices on Food System Sustainability.

Click here to read the full Dietary Guidelines Testimony.

The contents of this 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.

Update on Papa John’s: Vegetarian and Vegan Menu Options

Posted on March 12, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

The VRG received an email asking us to confirm which pizzas at Papa
John’s were vegetarian or vegan. Our online reader had seen conflicting
information and hoped we could clarify it for her.

Papa John’s is one of the largest pizza chains in the United States
today with approximately 4,200 corporate-owned and franchised locations
in all fifty states and thirty-five countries since its opening in 1984.

The VRG spoke with an employee in the Research & Development Department
at the Papa John’s corporate office in February and March 2014.

We learned that the original dough is all-vegetable. Here is its
ingredient statement along with that for the dustinator used when making
the dough:

Pizza Dough: Unbleached enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley
flour, wheat starch, ascorbic acid, enzyme, niacin, iron as ferrous
sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar,
soybean oil, salt, yeast [fungal or bacterial derivatives – NO animal
derivatives]. No trans fat.
Dustinator: Wheat flour, semolina, soybean oil.

The thin crust dough at Papa John’s contains a dairy ingredient:

Thin Crust: Unbleached Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour), water,
soybean oil, cultured wheat starch, yeast, salt, natural and artificial
flavors (milk), dextrose, calcium propionate (preservative) and soy
lecithin.

The R&D staff member at Papa John’s told us that “L-cysteine is not used
in the pizza doughs…There is no cheese dusted on the crust or baked into
the crust.”

The pizza sauce at Papa John’s is all-vegetable. Its ingredient
statement reads as follows:

Pizza Sauce: Vine-ripened fresh tomatoes, sunflower oil, sugar, salt,
spices [oregano, black pepper, basil], garlic*, extra virgin olive oil
and citric acid. *Dehydrated

A question on the Papa John’s website FAQ page concerns whether animal
fats are used in the sauce. Papa John’s response: “We do not use animal
fats…in our sauce.” (Source)

The most frequently used cheese at Papa John’s is mozzarella. Here is
its ingredient statement:

Cheese: Part-skim mozzarella cheese (pasteurized milk, cultures, salt,
enzymes [chymax – NOT animal derived]), modified food starch [derived
from corn], powdered cellulose (added to prevent caking), whey protein
concentrate, sodium citrate, sodium propionate (added as a preservative).

We were told by Papa John’s that the three-cheese and the two-cheese
blends used on select pizzas contain cheese made with animal rennet. The
small packets of Parmesan cheese are also non-vegetarian for this reason
according to a Papa John’s R&D employee.

Cheese – Three cheese blend: Provolone, Fontina, Fresh Asiago Cheese
(Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Powdered Cellulose
added to prevent caking.
Cheese – Two cheese blend: Parmesan/Romano: Cultured Milk, Enzymes,
Salt, Cellulose to prevent caking, Natamycin to protect flavor.

The last question on Papa John’s FAQ page concerns vegetarian options. The website states:

“The popular Papa John’s vegetarian pizzas are the Garden Fresh pizza
and Spinach Alfredo pizza…You can always build your own vegetarian pizza
to your personal preferences.”

The website description of the Garden Fresh pizza reads as follows:

A veggie lover’s delight! Our Garden Fresh pizza is covered with pizza
sauce then layered with fresh-sliced onions & green peppers, gourmet
baby portabella mushrooms, ripe black olives, fresh sliced Roma tomatoes
and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.

We asked Papa John’s if the Garden Fresh Pizza could be ordered without
the cheese. Here’s the response we received: You can customize any pizza.
We have many customers who order the Garden Fresh pizza with our tomato
pizza sauce, the vegetables and no cheese.

Papa John’s also offers a Spinach Alfredo Pizza. Its website description: Delicious doesn’t have to be complicated. This irresistible pizza has a rich and creamy blend of spinach and garlic Parmesan Alfredo sauce.

We asked Papa John’s if the Spinach Alfredo pizza is made with one or
both of the cheese blends containing animal rennet. We were told that
“only mozzarella” cheese is on this pizza.

The VRG also asked “Does the Parmesan sauce on the Spinach Alfredo Pizza
contain Parmesan cheese made with animal rennet?” We received this
reply: “Spinach Alfredo Sauce does not contain animal rennet.” (Papa
John’s bolded “does not contain animal rennet.”)

We asked: Can the Spinach Alfredo Pizza be ordered without the Parmesan
sauce?

Papa John’s told us: The sauce has Parmesan Cheese in it. You can order
the pizza without the sauce. However, the sauce does not contain animal rennet.

The ingredient statement for the Parmesan Alfredo sauce:

Spinach Alfredo Sauce: Skim Milk, Spinach, Cheese Blend [Cream Cheese
(Pasteurized Cultured Milk and Cream, Salt, Stabilizers (Xanthan, Carob
and/or Guar Gum), Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Skim Milk, Cheese
Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk,
Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Romano Cheese (Pasteurized Sheep's
Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes)], Canola Oil, Whey, Natural Flavor
(Contains Milk and Soy Lecithin), Contains 2% or less of the following:
Modified Food Starch, Salt, Maltodextrin, Flavor Enhancer (Hydrolyzed
Soy Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Canola Oil, Natural Flavor), Corn
Syrup, Cultured Milk Powder, Garlic, Sugar, Spice, DATEM, Mono- &
Diglycerides, Xanthan Gum, Dextrose, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum,
Carrageenan, Caramel Color, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Annatto (Color).
*Product does not contain animal rennet

The VRG also asked Papa John’s about kitchen protocols to keep meat,
meat products and dairy separate from vegetables and the original dough.
Here are our questions and Papa John’s responses:
Q: Can you comment on how well kitchen staff keep meats and meat
products away from vegetable-based ingredients/menu items?
A: Products (meats, cheeses, veggies) are opened and placed into
separate, clean and sanitized covered Lexan pans. They are then stored
in the refrigerator.
Q: Are there strict protocols in place regarding utensils, pans, bowls,
cutting surfaces, placement in cold storage, etc.?
A: All Lexan pans, utensils, and cutting surfaces are clean and
sanitized between uses.
Q: Could the same pizza cutter be used to slice an all-vegetable pizza
after slicing a pizza covered with meat products or even after slicing a
cheese pizza?
A: Separate pizza cutters are used for products with different
sauces. An all-vegetable pizza could be sliced with the same pizza
cutter as used to slice a cheese pizza or a meat topping pizza.
Q: Are cutters always sanitized between uses?
A: Pizza cutters must be washed every two hours, or anytime after
cutting a pizza with jalapeno peppers, anchovies, or banana peppers.
Q: Do you have separate pans used to bake thin crust pizzas and others
to bake original dough pizza?
A: Our pizzas are baked on pizza screens (as opposed to pizza pans). We
do not have separate screens for original and thin crust pizzas.
Q: If the same pans are used for both doughs, are the pans sanitized
between uses?
A: Pizzas are baked on carefully “seasoned” pizza screens. Placing of
the seasoned pizza screens in water will cause sticking of the crusts to
the screens.

The VRG asked Papa John’s if a patron could request that only a newly
sanitized pizza cutter be used to slice a pizza made to order without
the cheese. We received this reply:

Yes, you can certainly ask the manager on duty to do this for you. Our
store team members are most happy to help our customers with special
requests for cutting their pizza.

For more information about Papa John’s, readers may visit: papajohns.com
For more information on microbial rennets and chymosin: vrg.org/blog

For more information on fast food and quick casual restaurant chains
visit: The VRG website.

The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications,
including The 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 employees or company statements. Information
does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best
judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research
or confirmation may be warranted.

There are many ways to stay connected to The Vegetarian Resource Group!

Click here to get our blog delivered right to your inbox.
For updates on all kinds of vegetarian- and vegan-related topics subscribe to our free enewsletter.
To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at
givedirect.org/give.
To join The Vegetarian Resource Group and receive Vegetarian Journal, go
to vrg.org/member/2013sv.php.

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