The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Fitness Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia

Posted on October 21, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Ann Custer

This past summer, I volunteered in the food preparation for Camp4Real. The camp is located at different elementary schools in Albemarle County in Virginia. For a week, children in the area participate in fun activities to get their heart rates up and their minds engaged. They take a snack break midmorning where they are served fresh, organic, and vegan food to fuel their bodies.

The menu varies from week to week based on accessibility, but the thought and preparation that goes into it is always the same. An example of a typical week would be as follows. On Monday, campers would make their own cereal. We had shredded wheat, puffed rice, oats, granola, shredded coconut, flax and chia seeds, and other cereal toppings. Milk options included coconut, almond, or rice for those with nut allergies. The camp is very good about not cross contaminating the food and adapting to children’s needs. The kids with allergies always go first. The next day would be smoothies where the children would fill a bowl of their choice of pineapple, berries, bananas, spinach, seeds, and oats. We would blend it for them with the same options of milk and pour it in a cup for them. Wednesday consists of banana splits. We had homemade cashew cream, nut butters, seeds, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and oats. The children loved the cashew cream! It was so cool to see kids enjoying healthy food. The next day was always catered by a local kabob company. They offered the kids grilled veggie kabobs as well as hummus and pita chips. The final day of camp was also always standard: fruit and veggie art day! We had hummus, nut butters, guacamole and salsa to act as the glue. We put out celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, berries, bananas, and of course toothpicks to put it all together! The kids made their creations and then ate them, but not before someone got a picture.

A few other days we switched out were apple sandwiches and whole wheat wraps which both offered nut butters, chocolate chips, seeds, and fresh fruit as toppings. One goal of this camp is to get kids to try new foods and to educate them on the benefits of eating healthy. Before the kids would come up, we would talk about the benefits of the food they were eating on a basic level. Most kids would then go and tell their parents about the food starting a chain reaction of healthy eating habits and education. Children are the investment we should make when we talk about implementing healthy changes to better our population. Camp4Real successfully does this through their program of fun physical activity and delicious vegan food.

For more information see:

Vegan Doritos®?

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou

An online reader recently asked The VRG if any Doritos products available in the United States were vegan. To find out, The VRG in August through October 2014 called Frito-Lay®, maker of Doritos. We spoke with different customer service representatives and nutrition specialists each time.

On the Frito-Lay website, there are several different lists of products suitable for people with special dietary needs: Among those of interest to vegetarians and vegans are lists of Frito-Lay products that do not contain milk, do not contain pork enzymes, or do contain eggs. There are two lists of products certified kosher by two different certifying agencies. There is no list of vegan products on the Frito-Lay site.

We asked Frito-Lay employees why a vegan list wasn’t available. A nutrition specialist told us that “since ‘vegan’ means different things to different people such a list would not be could confuse people.” The specialist advised The VRG to develop its own list based on website ingredient information.

In looking over all of the lists and comparing them, The VRG concluded that there are four possible Doritos products that are vegan-eligible. These four are on the lists of products containing no milk nor pork enzymes and they are not on the list of products containing egg.

Our preliminary vegan list was as follows (Note: keep reading below!):

Doritos Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Salsa Verde Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips
Doritos Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips

The VRG called Doritos again about the ingredients in these products. We discovered that the Salsa Verde Flavored Tortilla Chips listed as containing “natural chicken flavor” is “from chicken.” Therefore, this is not a vegan item.

We also learned that the Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips (sold only in schools’ vending machines) and the Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips contain natural flavors that are not animal-derived.

A customer service representative at Frito-Lay told us that “none of the natural flavors in any Doritos product is animal-based.” A nutrition specialist confirmed this. However, she elaborated further by saying “if a natural flavor contained an animal ingredient it would be identified on the label.” (As we learned, the natural chicken flavor mentioned above is from chicken.)

Doritos employees told us that the sugar used in the Reduced Fat Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips and the Spicy Sweet Chili Flavored Tortilla Chips “is either cane or beet sugar…it depends on our suppliers and availability.” We learned from the customer service representatives and nutritionists that “ingredient processing is not considered a part of ingredient information so we will not be able to tell customers if cow bone char was used.” All Doritos employees read to us from a prepared statement when we asked about the sugar in their products.

The VRG received confirmation from Frito-Lay of our tentative vegan listing for the Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips. The nutrition specialist told us that they are all-vegetable referring to the Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips as “vegan.”

Vegetarians may wish to note that all Doritos products containing cheese or cheese flavorings “do contain animal enzymes” according to two nutrition specialists we spoke with on the phone. The VRG asked if Frito-Lay made such a general statement to avoid potential mislabeling issues as other manufacturers may do or if all cheese and cheese flavoring in Doritos actually contain animal enzymes. The reply we received was “This is true in all cases.” Beside pork enzymes, Frito-Lay provides no further information on which type of animal enzyme or which animal species is used.

All VRG readers may wish to know that Doritos Jacked™ Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored Tortilla Chips contain chicken fat, chicken powder, and chicken broth.

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. 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, sources of microingredients can be unknown, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.


Posted on October 16, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Thank you to Jessica Schiappa, RD, Eric Sharer, RD, and Andrew Getz who staffed our booth at Vegan Mania in Chicago, Illinois. They gave out information to over 360 people who came by the VRG table. Eric and Jessica were also on a vegan nutrition panel.

If you would like to volunteer at VRG booths, contact
To support VRG outreach, donate at
To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, go to


Posted on October 16, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Don’t forget that many employers will match your donation to nonprofits such as The Vegetarian Resource Group, often up to $5,000. A partial list of employers that match can be seen here at by checking employer to match and clicking on Please Select.


Posted on October 14, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

When encouraging your college or other food service to offer more vegan options, you should find out what vegan items their distributors actually carry. This way you will be making practical requests that can be met. Ask the food service manager if he/she can obtain a list, which often changes.

For example, Gordon Food Service operates coast to coast in Canada, and from Michigan to Florida, with plans for further expansion. Their customers include restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, recreational and lodging establishments, and other operators who prepare meals. In 2014 vegan items offered (subject to change and availability) included:

Baked beans

Couscous cooked

Quinoa cooked

Vanilla almond milk

Dark chocolate almond milk



Cole slaw

Cucumber marinade

Pasta fettuccini

Pasta penne

Pasta spaghetti

Roasted red peppers

Cranberry orange relish

Bean medley salad

Bean mojito salad

Couscous apple wheat berry salad

Couscous with feta and mint

Pasta rotini salad

Quinoa salad

“Bacon” bits

Malibu Gardenburger

Alu Chole

Khatte Meethe Baigan


Vegetable base for soups

Creamy tomato bisque

Black bean soup

Plus fruits, vegetables, and grain items.

For a current list from Gordon Food Service, your food service can contact:

Try this Fattoush Salad (omitting the Feta Cheese) with Lemon Garlic Dressing:

For more food service ideas, go to:


Posted on October 13, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group gave out information to over 120 dietitians and other health professionals, who work in setting such as assisted living, continuum care communities, and correctional facilities. Institution staff generally catered to meat eaters, but dietitians enthusiastically took information for their few vegetarian patients, relatives, and themselves.

For information on facilities which serve vegetarian seniors, see

To support VRG outreach, donate at

The Vegetarian Journal Index on is Now Updated!

Posted on October 10, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Thanks to the hard work of Sonja Helman, Alan Polster, and Debra Wasserman, the Vegetarian Journal Index is now up-to-date on The Vegetarian Resource Group website. The index to all the wonderful articles that have ran in past issues of Vegetarian Journal can be found here:

Here are some examples where this index might be useful to you and others interested in a veggie lifestyle:

Let’s say you want to prepare an ethnic vegan dish for dinner. Go to the Cooking and Recipes category then scroll down to Ethnic Cuisine and you’ll find a long list of all the ethnic food recipe articles we’ve published including dishes from countries such as India, Japan, Mexico, Persia, Turkey, Peru, etc. The list of countries is endless.

If you have a friend that is wanting information on vegan diets for children, you might refer them to our Nutrition Section then scroll down to the topic Children Here you’ll find articles on subjects such as Avoiding the Baby Food Trap, The Vegan Teen Athlete, Ways to Get Toddlers to Eat Veggies, etc.

Looking for tips on how to use certain food items? Turn to the Vegan Cooking Tips section in our index and you’ll find quick-and-easy tips on cooking with items such as polenta, soyrizo, vegan yogurt, cornmeal, egg replacers, and much more.

Winners of the Simply Vegan Give Away Announced

Posted on October 10, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

VRG is pleased to announce the two winners of our Simply Vegan Give Away: Jeanette Culpepper and Marya Deluna!

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this contest! We enjoyed reading your comments and appreciate your support! Not a winner but still want your own copy of Simply Vegan? Please visit our online catalog.


Posted on October 09, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Josie is a winner of The Vegetarian Resource Group Video Contest. Josie stated:

I think it’s safe to say that I’m more than just interested in vegetarianism/veganism. I think being vegan is the purest and the most honest thing you can experience in this world. It’s something I hope for everyone, and I wish people weren’t so stubborn, so they could be open to the idea of veganism. I don’t have that narcissistic way of thinking that the rest of the human race has; I know that human beings are the most intelligent species because of that amazing gap from animals to humans called ‘language’, but I know that animals weren’t ‘created’ -if you believe in God- or meant for man to use selfishly. I think that animals should be living comfortably right next to humans, if not as their equals, as their friends. Animals should be respected as souls not much different than ours. Veganism makes me feel more connected to the Earth, and takes the guilt off of my chest because I can honestly say that I am cruelty free. ​

See videos at:

The deadline for our $5,000 scholarship contest for high school seniors is February 20, 2015. For more information go to:

If you would like to support VRG internships or our video scholarship contest, please donate at:

Join at:

Last Call to Join The Vegetarian Resource Group Vegan Dinner in Atlanta, Georgia!

Posted on October 09, 2014 by Nina Casalena, 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 30, 2014. Includes tax and tip. If seats
available, $30 after September 30. 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 and write Atlanta dinner in the comments area. Refunds only made if we can replace your seat.

NUMBER ATTENDING: x $25/person before 9/30/14= $ Enclosed

  • Donate

  • Subscribe to the blog by RSS


    Sign up for our newsletter to receive recipes, ingredient information, reviews of new products, announcements of new books, free samples of products, and other VRG materials.

    Your E-mail address:
    Your Name (optional):

↑ Top