The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

More Restaurants Added to The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada

Posted on January 26, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group maintains an online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada. Below are some recent additions. The entire guide can be found here: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

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B52 Vegan Bakery & Café
5202 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
B52 Café focuses on traditional American fare and savory pastries for breakfast and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods for lunch and dinner. Though most of the cuisine is Mediterranean, vegan cinnamon rolls, brownies, cookies, truffles, and more can still be enjoyed! Along with vegan staples such as tofu scramble and buckwheat pancakes.

Be Well Kitchen
4th Street Market
201 E. 4th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
After a consultation, the chef customized a unique meal plan for your needs. Programs range from a full day of three meals and a snack to week-long meals. Meals are available for pickup or delivery. Be Well Kitchen is devoted to flavorful and convenient healthy living.

The Cinnamon Snail
The Pennsy
2 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10021
The Cinnamon Snail vegan food truck that serves mostly organic food, prepared without processed or artificial ingredients now has a store front location in Penn Station. Try their Thai BBQ Tempeh with Pickled Red Onions and Thai Basil, Arugula, Smoked Chili Roasted Peanuts and Sriracha Mayonnaise on Grilled Spelt Bread, their famous Beastmode Burger Deluxe, Ancho Chili Seitan Burger Grilled in Maple Bourbon BBQ Sauce with Jalapeno Max & Cheese, Arugula Smoked Chili Coconut Bacon and Chipotle Mayo on a Grilled Pretzel Bun, and a Lemongrass 5 Spice Seitan with Curried Cashews, Arugula, Sichuan Chili Sauce and Wasabi Mayonnaise on a Grilled Baguette. They also offer vegan desserts.

Dixie Dharma At Market On South
2603 E South St.
Orlando, FL 32803
Traditional southern dishes take on a plant-based twist at this market location. Dixie Dharma’s BBQ is known for its immaculate similarity to authentic pulled pork. Indulge in a “sloppy joe” or “baked mac ‘n cheese” at this hip location in central Florida.

Harvest Beat
1711 N 45th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
Harvest Beat is a restaurant on a mission. By creating prix-fixe menus based on the current availability of ingredients from local farmers and from their own gardens, which reduces the need for food storage and ultimately, food waste, and by composting all food scraps, they are keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum. Naturally, as the ingredients are always changing, so does the menu. This dish, served as the 4th course on a December menu, should give you an idea of the kind of fare served at Harvest Beat: eggplant roulade, jester squash mousse, grilled whiskey poached kohlrabi, Romanesco spears, micro arugula, and autumn olive chutney. There is also a limited take out lunch menu available offering soup and a sandwich wrap.

Kindred
1503 30th St.
San Diego, CA 92102
Located in South Park, Kindred boasts a wide selection of vegan cocktails. The menu features a number of classic dishes made vegan. Snack selections include Fried Pickles and Seitan Skewers. Main dishes range from the Memphis BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich to the Beet Risotto. Be sure to check out the weekend brunch menu, too. They are open late.

Nutritious You
6583 Midnight Pass Rd.
Siesta Key, FL 34242
The menu at Nutritious You includes a wide variety of snacks and cuisine with a health-conscious twist. Restaurant goers may recognize their snacks from various health food stores. The restaurant itself includes a wide variety of items including desserts, spreads, and take home items. Menu staples include options like Vegan Pizza or Falafel.

Revolution Juice
150 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Revolution Juice’s specialty is serving plant-based drinks to promote a nutritious and environmentally-friendly diet. Try their Carrot Ginger Curry, Vanilla Date-orade, or their Ginger Juice Shot from an expansive menu of juices, juice shots, smoothies, sorbets, coffees, teas, soups, snacks, and more at this juice bar which is located right between Newton and Belvidere Street.

Root
223 W Walnut St.
Lancaster, PA 17602
Root is the perfect vegan restaurant/bar to visit if you are in need of good vegan food and/or drinks! They offer a wide variety of specialty vegan foods including mushroom sliders, spinach dip, pizza, and Caesar salad! These typically non-vegan dishes are made with tofu, vegan cheeses, and mushrooms, and are much more delicious as a result. Stop in and enjoy a nice meal and vegan drinks!

Valhalla Bakery
2603 E South St.
Orlando, FL 32803
Valhalla Bakery is the perfect place to go to satisfy your vegan sweet-tooth craving. The cozy bakery is known for its Nanaimo bars, cupcakes, and artfully presented custom-order cakes that are suitable for any occasion from a birthday party to a wedding. Their ever-changing menu is also filled with a selection of pies, cookies, muffins, pretzels, tarts, buns, doughnuts, and even some gluten-free baked goods.

VeganBurg
1466 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
VeganBurg’s specialty is making completely vegan burgers. With the aim to promote an environmentally sustainable and nutritious diet, VeganBurg’s menu is full of options such as the Smoky BBQ (a mushroom burger high in beta-carotene) or the Tangy Tartar (a crunchy alfalfa burger with vegan tartar sauce). VeganBurg is not limited to burgers. Their sides include their Seaweed Fries and Handmade Spinach Pops, and they have a selection of vegan sweets. VeganBurg also has a Kiddie Meal for younger ones.

Vegebitez
9-2460 Neyagawa Blvd.
Oakville, ON L6H 7P4 Canada
Enjoy a wide range of fresh juices, vegan milk shakes, and more. For a late breakfast meal (served all day), you can sample muffins, parfaits, chickpea waffles, and scrambled tofu. For lunch or dinner try a wide range of salads, sides, and appetizers along with different types of burgers and sandwiches.

TALK TO OTHER VEGGIE YOUTH

Posted on January 26, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Want to talk to fellow vegetarian and vegan teens and young adults?

VegYouth is holding our first monthly chat of the year on Saturday, January 30th at 2 PM EST. We will discuss different ways to make a difference for animals, environment, and health through veg choices and advocacy. Those of all experience levels welcome. We’d love to have you there!

Join our Facebook to have access to the chat link.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/vyalliance/

Organizer Chloe was The Vegetarian Resource Group 2015 college scholarship winner.

http://www.vrg.org/blog/2015/07/22/chloe-falkenheim-from-virgina-is-2015-vegetarian-resource-group-10000-college-scholarship-winner/

This year’s deadline for the college scholarship is February 20, 2016.
See: http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

PROJECT JUICE

Posted on January 25, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Project Juice states that they will be offering these seasonal dishes in their stores in Northern and Southern California. For locations, see: http://www.projectjuice.com/locations

Menu Items and nutritional information (complete ingredient lists are available upon request from Project Juice):

· Soba Protein Noodles with Roasted Sweet Potato and Almond Thai Dressing
o This dish combines macrobiotic black bean soba noodles, which are lightly tossed in coconut aminos and toasted sesame oil, with roasted sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, kale and crunchy cashews. It’s served in almond Thai dressing.

· Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets & Quinoa and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
o Arugula, roasted beets, quinoa, pickled onions, dried cranberries, candied pecans, pomegranate vinaigrette.

· Caesar Salad with Chickpeas & Cashew Parmesan and Caesar Dressing
o This salad combines romaine lettuce with kale, carrots, red cabbage and chickpeas, tossed with lemon juice and cracked pepper. The cashew Caesar dressing and vegan cashew Parmesan, made fresh with nutritional yeast, rounds out this dish.

· Roasted Vegetable Salad with Black Rice and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette (*available in NorCal only)
o This seasonal item is full of roasted veggies – turmeric roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, delicata squash and kale – paired with forbidden black rice and golden raisins, freshly roasted almond slivers and balsamic dressing.

· Veggie Spring Rolls with Thai Sesame Dipping Sauce
o Made with rice papers. Rolls are paired with a creamy Thai sesame dipping sauce.

· Blueberry Acai Chia Pudding
o Chia seeds, blueberries, acai.

· Quinoa Protein Oats
o With maple syrup drizzle and vanilla and candied walnut toppers.

The dishes range from $6.95 to $11.95 and are now available at all Project Juice locations.

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.

For information on quick service chains see http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php

For information on vegetarian restaurants, see http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

How Vegan Can Chocolate Be? By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Posted on January 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Vegetarian Resource Group received a question about vegan-dedicated equipment (i.e., equipment that has never been in contact with animal or dairy ingredients) used to create chocolate. Our reader wondered if Divine Treasures http://dtchocolates.com/ located in Manchester, CT used this type of machinery since their chocolates are described as vegan on the website.

Divine Treasures
We spoke with Diane Wagemann the chocolatier founder and owner of Divine Treasures about her equipment. She told us that

“All of the equipment in my factory is vegan-dedicated. The equipment operated by my European suppliers to make the chocolate which I use to create my handmade divine treasures is not vegan-dedicated… My suppliers told me that they run cocoa butter by itself through their system after a milk chocolate run to ensure that any dairy residue is completely carried away.”

The chocolate Diane purchases from Europe is certified USDA Organic. The sugar is also certified USDA Organic. USDA Organic sugar has not been decolorized through cow bone char. Most non-USDA organic cane sugar is whitened through a cow bone char filter today in the United States.

Diane told us that the chocolate from her European suppliers is also “certified Fair Trade by the European community.” Diane’s chocolates do not carry this label nor the USDA Organic label because “…it is prohibitively expensive to pay the certifying agencies for use of their labels.” So Diane describes her handmade chocolates as “socially responsible.”

Divine Treasures chocolate is made from Peruvian cocoa beans shipped to and processed in Europe “the old-fashioned way…because they know chocolate.” There the chocolate is conched which means “the cocoa, sugar and other ingredients are thoroughly ground and blended producing a smooth and creamy texture…My high-quality chocolate is conched for a very long time up to three days rather than a few hours like inexpensive chocolate is.”

Here’s more information on conching: http://www.cacaochocolade.nl/main.php?lng=1&p=inhoud&h=5&g=1&s=5&z=0&sp=

From her European chocolate suppliers Diane receives “chocolate blocks containing cocoa, sugar, lecithin and vanilla…then I temper it on my machines to further enhance its mouthfeel to create my divine treasures.”

More information on chocolate tempering may be located here: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2015/11/chocoloate-chemistry-cocoa-butter-crystal-structure-emulsion

Here’s a How It’s Made segment that takes viewers inside a chocolate manufacturing plant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkVlDRiB7j8

Diane commented on this video by saying:
“The video is interesting but the conching is not included. This would be done at the beginning stage before the truck delivers the chocolate. We do a lot of the same things but most things are done by hand. I would love to be able to afford the equipment and people that are doing all the chocolates. Dreaming positive and maybe someday we will be there.”

Although Diane would like to use chocolate that has been made on vegan-dedicated equipment from start to finish, she told The VRG that “it costs over one million dollars to buy equipment…there’s not a big enough market for vegan chocolate so chocolate makers run more than just vegan chocolate.” Diane told us that “I wish that vegans who complain about vegan purity issues would understand this.” A vegan herself for 16 years, Diane told The VRG that “95% of my customers are not vegan…they are people looking for high-quality chocolate.” “… “In this world we’re all trying to do the best we can.”

Allison’s Gourmet
Another hand-crafted, organic and fair trade vegan chocolatier, Allison Rivers Samson of Allison’s Gourmet http://www.allisonsgourmet.com/ echoed Diane’s frustration about the lack of vegan-dedicated equipment in her own way. She commented in 2012 at The VegNews Guide to Vegan Chocolate http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4371&catId=2 that

“…there are currently no manufacturers of the raw materials for organic chocolate (chocolate liquor) that have 100% dairy-free facilities. So for us, a 100% vegan company, even though the manufacturer of the base of our organic chocolate flushes the machines with thousands of gallons of organic dairy-free chocolate, we still must say “may contain traces” on the label. While this may present some confusion, there are some people (especially children) who have life-threatening allergies to dairy. In those cases, we encourage people to err on the side of safety. Another reason to eliminate dairy in the world!”

“Hopefully someday soon, the demand will be high enough that there will be facilities that produce exclusively dairy-free organic chocolate in exclusively dairy-free factories.”

The VRG asked Allison in January 2016 if there are now any chocolate liquor manufacturers who operate vegan-dedicated equipment. She replied by email:

“Thank you for checking in on this. I wish there was progress. Unfortunately, there are still currently no dairy-free, organic chocolate liquor manufacturers.”

Vegan Chocolatier Cooperative
The VRG asked Diane of Divine Treasures if she thought it ever feasible that vegan chocolatiers would create a cooperative in which they collectively purchase and use the equipment keeping it 100% dairy-free. Diane replied

“I think if everyone used high-quality chocolate it could work… It’s coming… It may not be because of vegans but [as someone told me] because of the demand for dairy-free products by people who are allergic to dairy.”

Daren Hayes, founder of Stirs the Soul, is a chocolatier who makes his own organic and fair trade raw chocolate starting from stone-grounding raw cocoa beans all done on his own equipment. http://www.stirsthesoul.com/about.htm Daren agrees that a vegan chocolatier cooperative would be a great way to ensure the production of vegan chocolate on truly vegan-dedicated equipment and he would be interested in participating. (Note: All of Daren’s products are vegan except four flavors of one variety which contain honey.)

As consumer demand for vegan chocolate and other vegan products grows, it becomes more likely that one day there will be vegan businesses using their own exclusively dairy-free equipment. Mintel Group Ltd. market research suggests this in a late 2014 report: http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/number-of-global-vegetarian-food-and-drink-product-launches-doubles-between-2009-and-2013

Specifically with respect to vegan chocolate this report revealed:

“…there has also been considerable growth in the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products launched carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim. Whilst just 4% of chocolate or sugar products launched in 2009 carried a vegetarian claim, this rose to 9% in 2013. The proportion of these products launched with a vegan claim similarly rose from 1% in 2009 to 2% in 2013.
Further to this, the number of chocolate and sugar confectionery products using a glazing agent boasted even larger growth with 32% of these products carrying a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ claim in 2013, up from 13% in 2009.”

“Among chocolate and sugar confectionery products there is increasingly demand for vegetarian ingredients, reflected by the increasing use of both vegetarian and vegan claims on new product launches. Ingredients will continue to be scrutinized by consumers and manufacturers need to be responsive and proactive to quell any consumer concerns,” concluded Laura Jones Mintel Global Food Science Analyst.

More on Cocoa Butter as a Dairy Sanitizer
Intrigued by the use of cocoa butter as a dairy sanitizer for equipment The VRG sought out more information. We discovered a patent application for this use: http://www.google.com/patents/WO2012167873A1?cl=en suggesting that cocoa butter cleaning of chocolate-making equipment occurs in industry.

The VRG spoke with Claus Davids of Koco, Inc. a supplier of processing and packaging systems specifically for the food, cocoa, confectionery and baking industries. Claus discussed the use of cocoa butter to clean equipment by describing it as “the go-to” substance to flush machinery runs during changeovers and referring to it as a common practice. He said cocoa butter flushing would require “large amounts” of cocoa butter and be a very time- and labor-intensive process. He thought it would be difficult to thoroughly clean the equipment because of all the piping connections in the equipment’s lines. He further cautioned by email:

“I’d like to note, for clarification here, that cocoa butter is not a miraculous cleaner for dairy or anything of that sort. It does not guarantee elimination of dairy, at least not that I know. The only way to guarantee 100% dairy-free chocolate is to have a dedicated line of equipment where dairy is not used. We see this in kosher facilities, where they will not even consider making milk chocolate because it is so hard to eliminate dairy from the machinery and pipework. I would be hesitant to trust any company that claims to be dairy-free… In order to do this, they would have to tear down every piece of machinery and hardware and clean it completely.”

The reason cocoa butter is used as a cleaner is that you cannot bring water into a chocolate making operation – it breeds bacteria and puts the entire line at risk for contamination.

Interested readers may find information on kosher concerns in chocolate production: http://www.ok.org/v1/Content.asp?ID=171

Daren the chocolatier from Stirs the Soul was also doubtful of cocoa butter as a dairy residue remover from chocolate equipment saying its effectiveness “is subject to the equipment and the kitchen.”

When The VRG asked Allison of Allison’s Gourmet if her chocolate supplier uses cocoa butter to run through potential dairy residue on equipment she replied

“Our chocolate supplier processes their chocolate liquor where it’s grown, thus Peru and Ecuador. As stated on our website, thousands of pounds of dairy-free chocolate are flushed though the machines after processing milk chocolate. This is our allergen statement about dairy, which appears on each page that contains chocolate:

“Due to the limited demand for 100% dairy-free organic chocolate, the raw ingredients for organic, fair-trade chocolate are processed on equipment also used to process milk chocolate. The machines are cleaned meticulously between runs, and thousands of pounds of dairy-free chocolate are flushed through the machines.”

“For safety and legality, we must state that there could be a chance that chocolate items may contain traces of dairy, even though dairy is never an intended ingredient.”

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.

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

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, join at http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

Or Donate at www.vrg.org/donate

Where to Buy Non-dairy Valentine’s Day Chocolate Online

Posted on January 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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If you’re looking for chocolate gifts to buy for Valentine’s Day, we have you covered. Here are several online options:

http://www.veganstore.com/category/vegan-valentine

https://store.veganessentials.com/valentines-day-gift-ideas-c106.aspx?utm_source=Campaign+Created+2016%2F01%2F14%2C+2%3A46+AM&utm_campaign=jan16&utm_medium=email

http://www.chocolatedecadence.com/product-categories/valentines-day

http://www.arayachocolate.com/vegan-and-dairy-free/

http://www.premiumchocolatiers.com/valentines-c-28.html

http://www.allisonsgourmet.com/vegan-valentines-day-gift-set.html

Dining Advice For Vegans, by a Vegan, From the Restaurant Staff Point of View By Angie Riccio

Posted on January 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Ordering Out or Staying In:
After countless attempts of ordering take-out, I still always have a sneaking suspicion when I open my take away box that my order will not be vegan friendly. As a foodie, I love going out to eat and ordering take away from restaurants. There is something so thrilling about having a night off from the stove and allowing someone else to impress me with their masterpiece. From sushi, to Thai, Moroccan, and raw vegetable dishes, I refuse to limit my palate to any foreign or native spices that I can indulge in.

After developing the speech that is required for the appropriate questions (such as what kind of oil do you use? Is the fialator (fryer) shared, causing cross contamination? Is there any vegan wine or beer on the menu? Is there dairy in the sauce or egg in the breading?); there are still questions that are left unanswered every time you place your order: micro-ingredients, kitchen cleanliness, cross-contamination, and trusting your lifestyle in the hands of the waitstaff and chef. Is it best to lie, say it is an allergy, or to stay in and not eat out at all?

As the world becomes more vegan friendly with labeling indicated on menus, and a waitstaff who is informed of current food trends, ordering out has become less stressful. Having worked in the industry for eight years, I have heard it all; whether it’s an extreme allergy, a gluten intolerance, a nut sensitivity and even those who do not trust the symbols on the menu that everything I prepare is vegan.

I have met friends through school and the industry who have countless stories of “ridiculous” customers “drilling” them with questions on whether or not meat is prepared on the same grill as the veggie burger during preparation. After interviewing friends and family on their experience behind the line, I am appalled by some of the experiences those who are so close to me have had both for the positive and the negative. I have collected these stories to share advice on how to order out or whether you should just stay in.

The “I’m Ashamed to Ask”:
“I was in a wraps-and-smoothies place staring at the menu. I asked the woman behind the counter, “What’s vegan?” She answered “It’s like vegetarian, but also no eggs or dairy.” I paused for a moment and said “Thank you… what on the menu is vegan?”

Most of the interviews that I took, were from those who were ashamed to ask too many questions when it came to placing their order. Instead of asking the details, Alex decided to get straight to the point: what is vegan in your establishment? To avoid long conversations, myself and others often will jump the gun and either look for symbols on a menu and if they are not able to find anything leave or just bluntly ask, well what can I have? Asking too many questions can make the server flustered and seem as though they do not care about your order, while asking too few questions can leave you sending your meal back after finding a cheese crumble on your salad. While ordering try to follow a few simple rules to help yourself and your server.

1. When ordering from any kitchen, make sure to first read the menu entirely. Just like reading directions, you need to review the facts before asking questions.
2. Ask open ended questions. Do not assume there is nothing the kitchen can do for you, and always be thankful for the servers’ time.
3. Read the situation. If the restaurant is very busy and the waitstaff seems to be giving you short answers that leave you anxious about the meal you will be receiving, ask to speak to a manager or tell your server you are willing to wait.
4. Do not be afraid to leave. Leaving a restaurant is not an insult. It simply sends the message you are not interested in eating there. To avoid this, look up menus ahead of time, or give the establishment a call explaining what you can, and cannot consume. Eating out should never be seen as a chore, it is simply a luxury. Take your time, and find the right meal for you that leaves you feeling confident and satisfied.

The Friendly and not so Friendly, Carnivore:
“As a non-vegan pastry chef. I’ve been asked many times to make something vegan. I know a lot of chefs that see it as a great burden, that it stifles their art or something. I never looked at it that way. It is a bit of a challenge to think outside of what you want to do. But I would do my best to make something nice and seasonal. Now as a business owner I try to offer something vegan when I can, but since it’s not my specialty I’m hesitant to do a lot of vegan desserts as there are plenty of wonderful bakeries in the city of Portland that are strictly vegan.”

This quote comes from my very own sister, Tanya, who is owner and chef of Village Patisserie in Portland, OR. Growing up in a society where making vegan food can seem a like a chore, is depressing. Knowing your client base, however, can make a chef take a look at their product and consider what’s best for their establishment. My sister has never looked at vegan food as appetizing or the lifestyle as noble, but more of an inconvenience. Throughout her classical training, and industry experience she was never faced directly with a need to cater for a vegan lifestyle until being a business owner of her own. I am proud to know she is producing vegan products for her customers and giving them something to enjoy off of her menu.

When you walk into an establishment with no vegan options clearly stated on the menu,

1. Ask your server. Most of the time, they will be very helpful when it comes to dietary and lifestyle choices.
2. Do not be afraid to explain. If you simply say, I am vegan, the staff member may not know what that means. Before opting out and just ordering a side of broccoli, take the time to tell the server what you are looking for and what you are looking to avoid.
3. Be understanding. The waitstaff is not in the back of the house, and may not know the first thing about cooking or baking. Help them help you.
4. Make suggestions and do not be afraid to go back. Just because you had a hard time finding something to eat, does not mean that your request has gone unnoticed. Like my sister, chefs are looking to provide a service to their customers and help them leave happy. Take the time to thank your server and the kitchen if possible for being so helpful and ensure them you will be back.
5. Lastly, never apologize. This is your life, and it is not a mistake. Just because the menu does not fit your needs, does not make it your fault. Your questions do not make you a problem, and your order is valued just as every guest who walks in the door.

I have met industry workers on both side of the spectrum. I have been told that they refuse to destroy their talent on something such as vegan food. I have been laughed at when I asked if they would make a vegan meal for a guest, followed by a hand showing me the door. I have been told there is no cheese on my sandwich, when I am looking at a slice of cheddar. I was told most vegan food tastes like grass or dirt and the popular “well there is always salad.” If you come across anyone like this in your life, be sure to not waste your time and energy. As I read more and more menus, I am pleased that more vegan options are headed our way in restaurants world-wide but there will always be places who truly do not understand why you have picked to follow your lifestyle. If you ever feel uncomfortable while going out to eat, talking to a waitstaff member or the chef, the best advice I have is to leave. It is not worth getting sick from carelessness of those who are not willing to provide you with the meal you deserve.

Trust No-One:
“I always say I’m allergic because I’m afraid that if I say I’m vegan people will purposefully do me wrong as a big joke or spit in my food, believing that I’m some sort of high and mighty jerk.”

After getting scoffed and multiple sets of eye rolls, followed by “Let me ask the chef,” Rebecca sadly, apologizes for being a “pain.” Having to state a fake allergy can make restaurants and chefs question your motive when it comes to preparing you a proper meal. When gluten awareness came forward in 2014, hundreds of human beings came forward with an intolerance to gluten, chefs began to question the actuality of the epidemic. All over the internet, forums popped up with fab diets, stating that gluten was the cause an abundance of overweight. The industry before we knew it blew up with chefs preparing gluten free dishes, and questioning, is it an actual allergy? As we lie to our chefs and scare them into preparing us food, are we really making a difference by missing the opportunity to share the wisdom we have of a vegan lifestyle? Before jumping to if I take a bite of butter, I may die, take a step back and consider a few alternative options.

1. Teach. Teach your server why you are vegan and what veganism means.
2. Feel out the situation. If the restaurant is being verbally or indirectly rude, leave. There is not enough time in the day to feel bad about asking which pasta is egg free. There are other restaurants who deserve your money.
3. If it is an allergy, be very straight forward about your needs. I am suggesting taking the route that does not having you lying about allergies, but if you suffer with an allergy or intolerance, make sure the facilities is compatible. Most chain restaurants state what the kitchen is free of online or on the menu.
4. Never apologize. If you end up leaving an establishment due to harassment, just explain that you find the restaurant cannot provide you with a safe, vegan meal. Turnover rates are very high, and your spot will be replaced by someone who feels comfortable eating there.

My mother, who has taught me the ins and outs of veganism has shown me how to be straightforward with your server. She has gone out to eat on multiple occasions, gotten drinks, looked at the menu and asked what the kitchen could make for her that is suitable for a vegan diet. She often gets apologies from the kitchen for not having it stated on the menu and producing her a fantastic dish out of ingredients they have in stock. Being reassured to have a voice is something we all should recognize as we continue to grow as a community.

At the end of the day, no matter what advice you have been given the only real advice is to never compromise your lifestyle for a great meal. Being vegan is not a trend nor is it a fad. It’s here to stay! Following a few minor steps can help you feel confident when you walk into every restaurant, and ordering the perfect meal for you. Remember to take the words “I’m sorry,” out of your vocabulary when it comes to your lifestyle. You are here, you are vegan, be proud. Never forget to speak to your server when it comes to what you are ordering, never order a nervous meal, never let the establishment make you feel uncomfortable and always thank the chef for recognizing your diet and providing you a delicious meal. When it comes to packaged foods, try not to stress, always read labels and use your resources. If you find a restaurant you love, that was accommodating, or with an amazing vegan menu, make sure you share it within the community, because together we can make a difference. I hope this article helps you, the way it helped me. I realized that times are changing and that I am happy to be able to go to a restaurant with my family, cook at home from ingredients bought at the local market and feel confident and satisfied each and every day.

Vegan Activities to Play Indoors with Children during the Winter

Posted on January 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Vegetarian Resource Group has a number of vegan activities you can do with your children at home. Start having fun!

Veggie-Friendly Memory Cards
http://www.vrg.org/family/memory_cards.php

Veggie Counting Game for Kids
http://www.vrg.org/family/memory_cards_math_game1.php

Watch some of the videos that won our annual video contest
http://www.vrg.org/veg_videos.php

Encourage children to enter our annual essay contest
http://www.vrg.org/essay/index.htm

Have your child color VRG’s My Vegan Plate
http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/MyVeganPlateCP.pdf

TESLA AND VEGAN CAR SEATS

Posted on January 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

imageAccording to The New York Times,
“For the eco-conscious car buyer, Tesla’s luxury electric vehicles, with their neck-snapping acceleration, are proof that performance doesn’t have to be sacrificed at the altar of saving the environment.

But for some discerning consumers, there is a nagging problem. The leather in the seats and steering wheel requires slaughtering animals, and the cloth substitute doesn’t quite measure up for a vehicle that can cost more than $100,000.

Now, in response, comes the Tesla that even a luxury-minded vegan could love. Synthetic leather, in a shade Tesla calls Ultra White, is available as an option for the new Model X sport utility vehicle.” For more information, see:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/01/15/automobiles/from-tesla-a-new-car-smell-that-vegans-can-get-behind.html?emc=edit_ct_20160114&nl=personaltech&nlid=20193005&_r=0&referer=

Vegan Soup Recipes

Posted on January 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We’ve got a wide selection from previous issues of Vegetarian Journal for you to choose from. Get cooking!

Soups of South America
https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2012issue1/2012_issue1_soups_southamerica.php

Vegetarian Soups from the Middle East
https://www.vrg.org/recipes/vjmesoup.htm

Miso Soup
https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2000jan/2000janmiso.htm

Hot, Hearty Soups
https://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2005issue1/vj2005issue1soups.htm

Holiday Soups
http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2015issue4/2015_issue4_holiday_soups.php

If you would like to subscribe to Vegetarian Journal visit:
http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

The Vegetarian Resource Group 2016 Scholarship Contest for Graduating High School Seniors in the USA

Posted on January 14, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

GRADUATES

If you are a High School Senior who promotes veganism/vegetarianism on an ongoing basis, or if you know a student who is doing this, please let them know about The Vegetarian Resource Group College Scholarship Contest. Each year, The VRG offers three scholarships to graduating High School Seniors – Two $5,000 scholarships and one $10,000 scholarship.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a veggie diet/lifestyle. Payment will be made to the student’s college (U.S. based only). Winners of the scholarships give permission to release their names to the media. Applications and essays become property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. We may ask finalists for more information. Scholarship winners are contacted by e-mail or telephone. Please don’t forget to look at your e-mail.

Entries may only be sent by students graduating from high school in spring 2016. Deadline is February 20, 2016. We will accept applications postmarked on or before February 20, 2016. Early submission is encouraged. For details on these scholarships, and to see information on previous winners visit: http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm

If you would like to donate to additional money to go towards VRG scholarships or internships, go to www.vrg.org/donate

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