The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on May 14, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Review of Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, Florida
By Lily Donofrio

“Being a vegan would be fantastic if all I did was come here for my meals” says my meat loving father over a “What’s the Dilly Philly” (a vegan version of a philly cheesesteak, filled with marinated seitan, onions, red and green bell peppers, vegan mozzarella cheese and Veganaise, all on a French deli roll). My mother (a former shellfish lover, spoiled by allergies) agrees through a mouthful of Bay Cakes (“crab cakes” made from chickpeas, chopped celery, and fresh herbs). It took a bit of coaxing before my parents finally consented to visiting Ethos, but they left satisfied and and doe eyed, promising to return in the future.

The decor is swanky and chic, and the atmosphere gives off a fun and comfy vibe. The staff is always accommodating and yields cool characters. The restaurant houses a warm, inviting bar; serving only vegan beers, wines, and spirits. Towards the entrance is a bakery, selling vegan baked goods, either for those popping in for a quick dozen of double chocolate and macadamia nut cookies, or for those leaving so happy and looking for more to munch on until their next return.

My boyfriend and I frequent Ethos often. Every visit, we get the Healthy Trio appetizer (tray of veggies, naan pieces, and blue corn chips; and hummus, olive tapenade, and mango salsa for dipping). On special occasions, we get an additional appetizer of Garlic Knots. For our main course, we split the lasagna (Five layers of lasagna noodles, vegan mozzarella, marinara sauce, and vegetables: zucchini, squash, spinach, and onions). We have never left disappointed, and each visit solidifies our love for Ethos.

For more info, see:


Posted on May 14, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Sunday, May 17, 2015, 1:00pm-4:00pm
$15/person, $10 age 60+, Free for kids 10 and under

Capital Memorial Church
3150 Chesapeake Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

It’s our 23rd International Vegetarian Food Fair, featuring food from Asia/Pacific, Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and, of course, the U.S. Only $15/person, $10/age 60+, and free for kids 10 and under. A perfect way to introduce kids to ethnic food: just let them take a bite of each dish and see what they like! Learn how delicious healthy food can be. All vegetarian, a lot of vegan items, too (all are labeled). All you can eat, a bite at a time. Please join us and spread the word!


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

Following are the comments submitted by The Vegetarian Resource Group on the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This report will be the basis for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

We commend the Dietary Guidelines Advisory committee on the thoroughness of the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. We strongly support the recommendations included in this report to consume generous amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and nuts and to reduce consumption of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, and refined grains. These recommendations are evidence-based and, if followed, will result in substantial health benefits. Many studies have found strong associations between the amount of red and processed meat consumed and risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease.1,2 Researchers from the National Cancer Institute estimated that 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented by people decreasing their red meat consumption.1 For women, a marked decrease in red meat or processed meat consumption was estimated to prevent about 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease.1 Results such as these, as well as results of other studies finding that high intakes of red meat and processed meat have been linked to type 2 diabetes,3 colorectal cancer 4-6 and breast cancer,7.8 lend support to the benefits of limiting consumption of red and processed meats.

Substantial health benefits are associated with plant-based diets and with components of plant-based diets including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.9-11

Based on the health benefits associated with a plant-based diet and the risks associated with red and processed meats, we strongly support having the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include a recommendation to limit red and processed meat intake. These products should be replaced with non-animal foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

We strongly support the inclusion in Dietary Guidelines of a Healthy Vegetarian Pattern as a dietary pattern associated with health benefits. A body of research consistently indicates that a vegetarian dietary pattern is beneficial in the prevention of a number of chronic diseases.12 Specific information about vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian diets should be included in the Dietary Guidelines to meet the needs of consumers.

In addition, we applaud the inclusion of information about food sustainability. We agree with the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s statement that “a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.” We support the inclusion of this message in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015.

The latest edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans represents an opportunity to promote dietary changes that will have a substantial impact on the nation’s health and health care costs and on the global environment. We support the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that Americans consume less meat and more plant-based foods.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.


Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA

Charles Stahler

Debra Wasserman

The Vegetarian Resource Group


1. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al. Meat intake and mortality. A prospective study of over half a million people. Arch intern Med. 2009;169:562-571.

2. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:555-63.

3. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in red meat consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: three cohorts of US men and women. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:1328-35.

4. Ferrucci LM, Sinha R, Huang WY, et al. Meat consumption and the risk of incident distal colon and rectal adenoma. Br J Cancer. 2012 Jan 31;106(3):608-16.

5. Ruder EH, Thiébaut AC, Thompson FE, et al. Adolescent and mid-life diet: risk of colorectal cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1607-19.

6. Magalhães B, Peleteiro B, Lunet N. Dietary patterns and colorectal cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2012 Jan;21(1):15-23.

7. Cho E, Chen WY, Hunter DJ, et al. Red meat intake and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2253-9.

8. Linos E, Willett WC, Cho E, et al. Red meat consumption during adolescence among premenopausal women and risk of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Aug;17(8):2146-51.

9. Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):384S-9.

10. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1643S-1648S.

11. Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:437S-42S.

12. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109:1266-1282.

My Pescatarian Boyfriend

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

By Lily Donofrio

I met my boyfriend through a mutual friend around 8 months ago. He’s one of those “perfect at everything” kind of fellows, with a wicked GPA and insane athletic abilities. He does a lot of right, and so I take his frequently dished-out opinions seriously. I’m what some people would call a firecracker, so I shoot my opinions right back. What’s great about us is that we challenge each other, which makes life fun and interesting.

Austin has been a sugar-free pescatarian for about 4 years. He is part of the Seventh-day Adventist religion, so he does not take part in the consumption of bottom feeders like pork or shellfish to begin with. Most of his peers are vegetarian, but he decided to keep fish in his life. Our mutual friend influenced him to become sugar free, and eventually he shared the convincing doctrine with me.

Growing up in my redneck town, I was the only vegetarian that anyone knew. It was lonely, but it was worth it. When I met Austin, he wasn’t surprised to learn that I was a vegetarian, because it was such a common occurrence in his religion. Once he learned about my living situation, he understood what a “weird” decision I made about my diet. I loved that he was so accepting of my beliefs and habits. Right around the time we started dating, I decided to step it up and become the type of person I wanted to be, a free thinking vegan.

Austin wasn’t thrilled. He has the mind of an athlete, constantly worried about protein intake and proper nutrition. He knew that I took all of that into consideration when beginning my changes. I did all of my research and I sat him down and explained to him my options and my reasons, describing that I had tons of variety in my diet. He reluctantly gave me his support, declaring an open mind.

A few months into our relationship, Austin signed up for an online health class provided through a college closely associated with his high school. One of the major projects in the course required changing one of your habits in a drastic way for a two week long period, in hopes of improving your health. Participants had to keep a detailed journal for the full 2 weeks. Austin decided to go vegan for the full two weeks. I’m not going to lie; I was so excited. I gave him lists of my favorite vegan foods and essentials to stock up on. With his favorite food being cheese pizza, he was quite nervous. The two weeks began amazingly! His transition to almond milk was hard for him at first, but he developed a taste for it as the diet progressed. He learned that meal planning is helpful. He missed his pizza, but the diet interested him, so he pursued. It was quite successful, he had tons of energy and access to all kinds of foods provided by the health store right down the street from his house.

Unfortunately, after the two week term ended, Austin did not decide to stay fully vegan, as I had hoped. He did stick to almond milk though, and he cut down on his cheese intake, which I find to be a great feat! The project gave him a better understanding of the vegan diet, which made life easier on me (alleviating a good bit of his monitoring). He is now fully supportive of my vegan diet. He says that one of the things he likes best about me is that I stand strong for things I am passionate about, like veganism.

Vegetarianism in the Montessori School

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

By Lily Donofrio

A Montessori is an alternative schooling system that practices the beliefs and teachings of Maria Montessori. Their main principle is to have students learn at their own pace, creating a willing and excited student. Based off this environment, free thinkers are born.

My area of expertise at the Montessori is in the Nest program. Students in the Nest range from ages 1-2. In this stage of development, human brains are at their most absorbent, much like a sponge. It is crucial to be very cautious of your words and actions around children at this time.

Everyday at 9:30 am, the class convenes for a snack at their kiddie tables with their kiddie chairs and kiddie silverware. The adults in the classroom sit at the ends of the tables, in the same size equipment. Before every meal, we sing a song, reminding us to be thankful:

“Oh, the Earth is good to me,
so I thank the Earth.
For giving me, the things I need
The sun and the rain and the appleseed.
The Earth is good to me.”

The presence of the adults plays a major role in influencing children. It is crucial for the adults to behave how the children are expected to behave, with exceptional table manners and polite table talk.

Many of the children at the Montessori are raised with a vegetarian lifestyle. With its numerous health benefits, who wouldn’t want to raise their children that way? With this knowledge in mind, teachers plan the snacks to be organic, vegetarian, and allergen friendly. Together we’ve made rosemary potatoes, hummus and crackers, quesadillas, yeast rolls with avocado, assorted trail mix, etc.

Every morning, the teachers set out the tools for making the food eaten at snack time. Children may choose to prep the food for themselves and their classmates. This creates a sense of accomplishment for the child, and a knowledge of the ingredients in the food they’re eating. These principles are bound to have an influence on their future diets.

Education on our food and it’s origin will help to reduce obesity and other diet related diseases. Children at Montessori age are a perfect target for nutrition education, and hopefully what we teach them will carry them through life and influence others.

Here are some of the recipes we use with the children:

- 3 cups of russet potatoes (cut to preference)
- 1/2 cup melted vegan Earth Balance buttery spread
- 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary (chopped)
- Pepper and salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss, and spread on cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and Rosemary is fragrant.

- Whole grain tortillas (2 per quesadilla)
- Veganaise or any vegan mayonnaise (2 Tablespoons per quesadilla; one Tablespoon on each tortilla)
- Daiya Cheddar Cheese (or any vegan Cheddar cheese) (1/2 cup per quesadilla)
- Sprinkle of smoked paprika
Spread Veganaise onto each tortilla and place in an olive oil coated pan over medium heat. Sprinkle cheese onto heating tortilla. Place another tortilla on top of cheese. Flip for even cooking. Once the cheese has melted, take the quesadilla off the stove and sprinkle paprika on top. Cut and serve with optional guacamole or salsa.

(big batch)
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1/2 cup dehydrated blueberries
- 1/2 cup craisins
Combine and serve!

- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 4-1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon organic sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon oil

Combine ingredients. Let sit for 30 minutes in a towel covered bowl, allowing the yeast to rise. Place in a greased mini muffin bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Optional toppings or fillings: avocado, Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, cinnamon and sugar, hummus, vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, or whatever your imagination creates.

Lily is a high school student in Florida writing for The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Vegan Microwave Cookbook is Now Available in Kindle Format

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

KINDLEVegan Microwave Cookbook, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD and published by The Vegetarian Resource Group is now available in Kindle format. Just about everyone would like to come home to a pot of soup that’s been slowly simmering on the stave all day. Or wake up to hot muffins in the morning. Unfortunately, unless you have an enchanted kitchen, these dream dishes are probably not going to materialize until you become acquainted with your microwave.

The Vegan Microwave Cookbook is your key to terrific vegan meals. Many of the recipes will take under 10 minutes to cook. Others may be more appropriate for entertaining. Helpful advice includes:

  • Converting Traditional Recipes to the Microwave
  • If You Can Boil Water, You Can Cook with a Microwave
  • Microwave Baking and Desserts
  • Curries and Casseroles
  • Microwave Breakfasts
  • Suggestions and Recipes for Holidays, Parties, and Entertaining

Enjoy vegan meals by preparing dishes from Basic “Meat” Balls and Individual Pizzas to Microwave Lasagna or Cilantro-Marinated Tofu. Spice up your day with Curried Greens, Toasted Nachos, or German Potato Salad.

Have a sweet tooth? Try Chocolate Fudge, Graham Cracker Molasses Bread, Chocolate Covered Bananas, and Apple Pie.
You can also purchase this book in print format here:

Vegan Hotspots in Columbus, Ohio

Posted on May 08, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Myrial Holbrook

When you think of Ohio, you probably think of football, elections, and cows, in that order. Here in Columbus, we are passionate about our Ohio State Buckeyes and politics, but we’re also home to a thriving food community that has expanded to include a diverse array of vegan and vegetarian options. So where are these veg hotspots?

The answer: everywhere. From farmers markets to the Short North to closet bistros to burgeoning chains, Columbus is a hotbed of culinary diversity, and vegan/vegetarian options are in no short supply. I’ll give you a taste of the best C-BUS veg eats, but know that you have been warned: these treats are too scrumptious to resist.

My first recommendation for you is the Whole World Natural Bakery and Restaurant in Clintonville. As the first vegetarian restaurant in Columbus, Whole World has achieved near-perfection in crafting both the savory and the sweet. The food is surprisingly affordable, the restaurant itself is small yet intimate, the food is one hundred percent vegetarian, and nearly every menu item has a corresponding vegan option. Customers especially love the vegan burger, tofu sloppy joe, black bean nachos, eggplant meatball sub, and seitan gyro, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. Because the restaurant is also a bakery, you simply have to try a dessert. I personally love their pie bars, which come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate coconut, blueberry, chocolate pecan, and lemon. Their cookies and cakes are also divine.

Another must-visit for vegans and vegetarians alike is Portia’s Café. It’s completely vegan, gluten-free, mostly organic, and mostly raw. The café features phenomenal dips: hummus, guacamole, spinach-artichoke (A.K.A. “Spanako), seven-layer, and walnut pâté. For entrées, I love Portia’s Pad Thai, which includes raw kelp noodles tossed in a delicious sauce made from almonds, miso, coconut, lime, lemon juice, Bragg’s aminos, dates, and crushed red pepper. I also like their Spanako Quesadilla, filled with their famous spinach-artichoke dip, brown rice, and Daiya Cheeze. Portia’s desserts are on the lighter side, with options such as raw chocolate or blondie macaroons or fruit and chocolate Cheezecakes. This café is great for a wholesome, no-guilt meal that just might inspire your own cooking. If you visit on a Sunday morning, be sure to try the vegan and gluten-free waffles.

As a final stop in Columbus, visit Northstar Café at one of its three locations. Northstar is not completely vegan or vegetarian, but it merits mention because of its superb veg options and flavors. The service is quick, making it a convenient option for a weeknight or a sit-down dinner destination. The café has great fresh smoothies (my favorite is the blueberry) and cookies (they’re massive), but the savory food is what really gets people excited. The Northstar Burger is a classic favorite, with a homemade patty crafted from a delicious trinity of black beans, brown rice, and beets. The thin crust, whole-wheat, fire-roasted flatbreads are also amazing. The local ingredients and attention to detail make Northstar a crowd-pleasure for both omnivores and herbivores.

The veggie takeover isn’t only happening in the food industry here in Columbus; it’s also thriving in home kitchens. We have farmers markets everywhere that supplement, and even in some cases, supplant, the standard grocery store. My favorite farmers markets are in Worthington and Clintonville, but there are other popular ones in Upper Arlington, Bexley, and just about every suburb in Columbus. Farmers markets are a great place for ingredients and conversations here in Columbus. Every weekend in the summer, I visit my local farmers markets and stock up on leafy greens, peaches, berries, and cooking and growing tips for my own home kitchen and garden.

As you can see, Columbus isn’t just a college town or the epicenter of a swing-state. We’re home to a bustling healthy-living community too. So the next time you’re in Columbus, stop by and try some of these fabulous veg eats. You won’t be disappointed.

Myrial wrote this article while doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Stop By The Vegetarian Resource Group Booth at the Baltimore VegFest

Posted on May 08, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

If you happen to be in Maryland this Saturday (May 9th, 2015) and are attending Baltimore VegFest, be sure to stop by and say hi to the folks staffing The Vegetarian Resource Group table. We’d love to meet you! The festival is held on the campus of The University of Maryland Baltimore County on Erickson Field.

For details on this event see:

Balancing Veganism and Teenage Obligations

Posted on May 07, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Lilly Donofrio

I started my vegetarian journey 2 years ago as a freshman in high school. Coming from a carnivorous family and living in a town famous for its redneck inhabitants and hunting opportunities, it was a shock to everyone. I went cold turkey immediately, eliminating all sources of meat from my diet overnight, and kept it a secret for an entire week. On my first week anniversary, my mom announced that she wanted to go out to dinner, and the venue was my pick. I told her that I wanted to try out this new restaurant downtown that specialized in vegan food. She was hesitant but being the open minded woman that she is, she easily consented. She chose the vegan pad Thai and I watched her fall in love while wolfing down my warm kale salad. Over a gorgeous cashew ice cream with a raspberry drizzle, I announced that I had decided to become a vegetarian. She worried about how to cook for me and how to give me the proper nutrition, but supported me, and still does to this day as a vegan.

Balance is hard to find. I struggle with it regularly. Being a dual enrolling Junior in high school with two jobs and a full time social schedule, balance is important. I have found that the key to staying on top of your nutrition is planning ahead and taking the time to set up meals and snack for the week. Putz around the grocery store looking for your favorite veggie meats, hummus, nuts, and beans. Every Sunday, I set aside an hour or two to prep my foods and jot down what I need from the grocery store. I try to stay away from processed foods, but I always keep a couple cans of lentils, garbanzo, black, and red beans for convenience.

THE FREEZER SECTION IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. There are tons of frozen vegan foods that rock. Buy and test out your favorites. Some essentials I keep in the house: box of mixed greens; frozen wheat grass shots; vegan protein powder; hemp and chia seeds; hummus; avocados; almond/cashew milk; clementines; celery stalks; peanut butter; cocoa powder; vegan cereals. Granola is a HUGE deal. I experiment with different spices and sweeteners every week. Granola is easy to grab and keeps me full. These foods are easy to whip up and keep me feeling good all day. When I’m feeling fancy, I look up vegan blogs and recipes and test my cooking skills.

Grab a friend and tell him/her about the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Get people interested! In the beginning, I was alone in my diet, but now I have successfully converted my best friend, my boyfriend, and my mom. Their support has furthered my love for vegetarianism.

I often cook dinner for my family, which gives me an opportunity to switch up the ingredients to cater to my vegan diet. If another member of my family is in charge of dinner, I take my portion of their veggies and provide my own hearty additions.

Going out with friends has never been drama with me. I can always find a menu option that is easily tweakable. You have to be brave and ask the servers questions about ingredients, which was a major problem of mine in the beginning. There are tons of vegan/vegetarian restaurants out there now-a-days and non-vegetarian places adding veggie friendly dishes.

I love this crazy wonderful lifestyle and it’s requirements are super easy to adopt. Being mindful and planning ahead is the key to doing it correctly and it provides a delicious variety of healthy foods.

Lily is doing a long-distance internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

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

Researcher Looking for Animal Advocates to Fill Out Survey

Posted on May 07, 2015 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group recently received the following note:

I am just starting research on a book and hope you will participate. The book is called Advocates for Animals: An Inside Look at the Extraordinary Fight to End Animal Suffering. I have a book contract with Rowman & Littlefield. Here is the basic information:

I am looking for animal advocates and activists who volunteer, or work, for rescues or other animal-focused organizations. You might also be involved in work outside of an organization. The study involves an online survey plus an optional follow-up interview.

The survey is found at:

The goal of the study is to look at why we became involved in this work, what we actually do for animals, what our goals are in terms of ending animal suffering, and who we, as advocates and activists, are.

I am a longtime animal rights activist, a sociologist, and a vegan for 30+ years. Please visit my website at I can be reached at with any questions.

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