The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Feeding Your Non-Vegan Significant Other

Posted on September 12, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Savannah Lawrence, VRG intern

Relationships are complicated enough without adding a vegan diet into the mix, so what happens when your significant other doesn’t also eat vegan? He or she may believe that romantic candlelit dinners or one day living together and planning meals together are now impossible, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
My fiancé comes from a meat-loving family, but now that we live together and therefore eat together, we’ve found ways to make it work. Today my fiancé eats a meat-free diet 90 percent of the time, and most nights he’s doing the cooking, too! Here are the ways in which I’ve positively introduced him to vegan dishes:
• Avoiding fake meat products
He draws the line at fake meat because he doesn’t enjoy the texture or taste, especially because he still eats meat. So to add protein into our meals, I rely mainly on beans, whole grains, and vegetables instead.
• Cooking separate dishes when I do want to eat fake meat products
I like to add veggie crumbles to my pot pies, chilies, and pasta sauces whereas my fiancé likes to add ground beef. To please both our palates, we make two separate dishes with all the same ingredients expect for the meat or fake meat. All it takes is an extra pot or dish. He cooks his own meat before we cook the rest of the meal and uses separate cooking and serving utensils to avoid cross-contamination.
• Easing him into the colorful world of fruits and vegetables
Tomatoes and spinach used to be on his black list when it came to fruits and vegetables, but I’ve learned that if I use baby spinach or petite diced tomatoes, he’ll comply. When they’re small, I can sneak them into a dish without him noticing!
• Cookbook shopping and meal planning together
We spent a weekend afternoon at the bookstore, choosing vegan cookbooks together, so we could ensure that we both liked the recipes. Now that we have cookbooks we both like, we sit down together once a week to choose recipes. We both look at the ingredients to ensure that we’ll both enjoy the meals. His favorites are crockpot meals because he can come home from work to dinner already made!

Dining out doesn’t have to be a problem, either. My fiancé lets me have the final say on a restaurant when we dine out because he knows that my diet may limit our choices. He always has me pre-screen the menu and make the final call on whether or not we eat at a particular place.
Perhaps your significant other isn’t quite as patient during this process. Then I would recommend pre-screening a menu and making the restaurant recommendation before he or she has the chance to suggest another location. Think about his or her tastes, too. If it’s a vegan restaurant, are there dishes he or she would enjoy?
If these tips sound too good to be true because your significant other isn’t so accepting of a vegan diet, begin by establishing some ground rules and communicating openly. Here are some questions to get you started:
• Are you comfortable having meat and dairy products in the house? If so, do they need a separate place in the refrigerator and/or separate cooking materials?
• Will you cook separate meals or the same meals most of the time?
• What won’t your non-vegan significant other eat that you will?
• What restaurants in the area can accommodate both your needs and tastes?
• Is your non-vegan significant other willing to exercise patience when picking a restaurant in an unfamiliar area (like when you’re traveling together)?

You don’t have to date a vegan to continue happily living your vegan lifestyle. You just have to be willing to work with your significant other until you find a routine that works for you both. Remember to be patient and understanding because this may be a new process for him or her!

Savannah wrote this piece while doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group. She is a student at Stevenson University in Maryland.

Vegan Recipes from Northern Germany

Posted on September 09, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Alicia Hückmann, VRG intern visiting from Germany

Although Germany is a comparatively small country, travelling to the North (if you only know the South) and vice versa can be a bit of a cultural shock. The further down you go, the more rural and traditional it gets (and the more difficult it is to understand dialects). The north on the other hand is very urban and modern: It is no coincidence that eight of the biggest German cities are located here. But this does not mean that our Nordlichter (“polar lights,” which is how we call our northern neighbors jokingly) lack a traditional culture or a traditional cuisine as you are about to find out.

Kale-potato soup – a healthy starter from northern Germany (original recipe)
Serves 3-4

If I had to name the most iconic ingredient of German cuisine, I would go for potatoes. Originally cultivated by the native inhabitants of South America, they were brought to Europe in the 16th century by Spanish Conquistadors. In the following centuries, these tough tubers would manage to feed millions in years of bad harvest and war when all other crops had failed. As a result, potatoes have remained an immensely popular, substantial food up to this day.

Kale on the other hand is a vegetable that is enjoyed by people in one specific German region in particular: The north. In fact, our Nordlichter seem to love their kale so much that the cities of Bremen and Oldenburg have an ongoing argument about it – they both claim that they are responsible for sparking kale’s popularity in Northern Germany.

The starter of my northern German meal is a tasty combination of both ingredients. Enjoy!

2 potatoes
¾ pound (12 oz) kale
1 onion
1 leek
1 carrot
¼ stalk celery
2 tsp oil
2 tsp organic sugar
7 oz silken tofu (blended)
Salt, pepper, and parsley, to taste

Peel the potatoes and chop them into chunks. Chop kale into bite-size pieces. Dice the onion and the leek. Cut the carrot and the celery into small pieces and sear them in 2 tsp oil for a minute. Add the sugar to the seared carrots and celery to caramelize the ingredients, then add the onion and the leek and fry until translucent. Mix with potatoes and kale. Add enough water in a pot so that the ingredients float on top and let everything simmer until the potatoes’ and kale’s texture is soft (about 20 minutes).

Briefly blend the soup (leaving some vegetable chunks) before mixing it with the blended silken tofu. Flavor with salt, pepper, and parsley.

Reibekuchen (Original recipe by Dominik at veganerezepte.eu)
Serves 2-3

Ready for some more potatoes? The following recipe, Reibekuchen, is a simple dish that can be prepared in no time. Their name literally translates to “grated cake,” so be careful if you ever order a “Kuchen” in central or northern Germany – you might end up with savory potato pancakes instead of actual cake! As they are particularly popular in the mid-western area, the Rhineland, make sure you order the right kind of cake! By the way, in some parts of Germany like in the (South), we like to call them “Kartoffelpuffer” (potato poof – because they sometimes make funny sounds when being fried) rather than Reibekuchen.

1 lb potatoes
¾ tsp salt
2 shallots
Pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp soy flour [or other flour can be substituted]
Oil
Apple sauce

Peel and rinse, coarsely grate, and salt the potatoes. Leave them in a bowl for 2-3 minutes before you proceed. In the meantime, peel and dice the shallots. Wrap the potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze as much water out as possible into a bowl. Do not pour the water away. Place the potatoes in a clean bowl to flavor them using pepper and nutmeg. Combine the soy flour with 5 tbsp of the potato water and mix everything with the potatoes.

Pour enough oil into a frying pan to cover its bottom and warm it. As soon as the pan is hot, put some mashed potatoes into the pan. Flatten them by using a spoon and remember to do the edges as well. Lift the mixture every 30 seconds to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and turn it over after 2-3 minutes, and cook 1-2 minutes longer until golden on both sides. Repeat until you run out of potatoes. Serve with apple sauce.

Frankfurter Kranz Cupcakes (original recipe)
Makes 12 cupcakes

Although Frankfurter Kranz (or Frankfurt Crown) might be not as famous as the black forest cake that was featured in the Southern German menu (see: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2016/08/19/southern-german-vegan-menu/), this heavenly butter cream cake from central Germany is certainly one of the most exquisite delicacies Germany has to offer. Traditionally, it consists of multiple layers of biscuit rings, cream, and red jam and is topped with cherries and brittle – so quite the opposite of a healthy dessert! For this reason, I decided to come up with a less fatty and sugary cupcake version.

dough:
2 cups flour
1 cup organic sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
5 tsp vegan vanilla pudding powder
1½ cups vanilla or plain vegan milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

frosting:
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1 cup vegan margarine
1 tsp vegan vanilla pudding powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

filling, brittle, and decoration:
3 tbsp organic sugar
1 tsp vegan margarine
1/3 cup chopped almonds
Red jam (for example, strawberry, cherry, etc.)
12 small cherries or strawberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pudding powder) and gradually add plant milk while stirring. If you use plain vegan milk, you might want to add an additional ½ tsp vanilla extract. Pour the dough in muffin liners and bake for about 20 minutes.

For the frosting, blend the powdered sugar, the margarine, the pudding powder, and the vanilla extract. Let both the frosting and the muffins cool down in the fridge.

In the meantime, prepare brittle for decoration. Put 3 tbsp sugar and the margarine into a pan and wait until melted. Add the almonds and fully cover them in caramelized sugar as quickly as possible. Remove the mixture from the heat, spread it on a sheet of baking paper, and let it harden, then crumble.

Remove the muffins from the fridge and cut about 1-2 tsp out of each top. Fill with an equal amount of jam. Spread the frosting using an icing bag, then decorate with brittle and fruit.

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Grants Promote K-12 School Gardens — Whole Kids Foundation: School Garden Grant Program

Posted on September 08, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Whole Kids Foundation is dedicated to supporting schools and inspiring families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. The Foundation’s School Garden Grant Program provides support for edible gardens at K-12 schools in the U.S. and Canada. These grants of $2,000 are awarded to schools as well as nonprofit organizations working in partnership with schools. Consideration is given to new or existing garden projects at any stage of development that help children engage with fresh fruits and vegetables. The application process for both U.S. and Canadian projects opens on September 1, 2016. U.S. applications must be submitted by October 31, 2016; Canadian applications are due November 30, 2016. Visit the Foundation’s website to learn more about the program.

https://www.wholekidsfoundation.org/landing-pages/school-gardens-landing

Vegan Soulfest

Posted on September 07, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

soulfest

By Casey Brown, Alicia Hückmann, and Marissa Thobe

Recently we, Casey Brown, Alicia Hückmann, Marissa Thobe, and Matt Baker, had the opportunity to volunteer at The VRG’s booth at the third Baltimore Vegan Soulfest. It was a great event, which combined the innovation of the first festival with the size of the second. From sticky buns to “mac & cheese” to freshly made vegan pizzas, it was difficult to taste everything because there was so much food! Dozens of vegan chefs, bakers including Scotty Cakes, tailors such as Compassion Co., and nonprofit organizations including The United Poultry Concerns came together to share their enthusiasm for the vegan movement. There were also speakers including David Carter (“the 300 Pound Vegan”), cooking demonstrations, various children’s activities, and music performances such as a unique rap show about kale.

At The VRG booth, we spoke with many people hoping to transition to a vegan diet, long-time supporters of The VRG, and innovators in the vegan community. Of the people transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, many of the common questions were nutrition related. One man asked us about B12 intake since he was interested in how much nutritional yeast he should consume on a regular basis to meet his RDA. We were able to refer him to our Simply Vegan book to determine the answer for his question. Another lady asked us about the potential health risks of soy, and we were able to answer her question as well as refer her to our website for additional information. Multiple people were interested in learning more about vegan and vegetarian diets for their children and teenagers, so we referred them to our “Vegan Nutrition for Teenagers” brochure and our “Vegan Nutrition in Pregnancy and Childhood” brochure. Marissa, one of our teen volunteers who has recently begun powerlifting, was able to provide herself as proof to parents and concerned non-vegans that teenagers and athletes can be vegan and thrive.

It was great to meet so many fellow vegans at the festival, but it was also awesome to see how many people were interested in the lifestyle. The majority of the people there were interested in general advice for transitioning to a vegan diet. We were able to share advice from our personal transitions, answer their questions, and refer them to many of our resources, specifically our “Vegan Diets in a Nutshell” brochure, our “My Vegan Plate” handout, and a copy of The VRG’s Journal, which has a lot of information as well as some great recipes to get them started. People were very interested in the cookbooks we were selling as well since they were all looking for some great new recipes to help them begin the transition. Meatless Meals for Working People and Vegan Soul Kitchen were popular among the crowd. Our Baltimore Dining Guide handout was also a great resource, and the children’s coloring books were a hit with the kids.

Through this festival, we were able to see how big The VRG’s network is since we met with many friends and long-time supporters of this organization, including a past intern of The VRG. We also were able to help the network grow by connecting with innovators who were interested in using our materials and resources within their own organizations. We spoke with individuals who ran nursing homes and religious groups that were hoping to use our resources to educate the people they work with. We also met with individuals from HaVen, which is a new organization within Baltimore that serves as a vegan community for people to hold meetings, workshops, or just relax. They were interested in using our resources within their group to promote veganism, health, and ethics so we can support each other’s endeavors.

The festival was a great experience, and we are all looking forward to the fourth annual Vegan Soulfest. We are also excited for our next opportunity to volunteer with The VRG at a booth for Eat Well Stay Well in Columbia, MD on September 18, 2016.

To support VRG booths and other outreach, please donate at www.vrg.org/donate

24th International Vegetarian Food Fair

Posted on September 07, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

foodfair

Sunday, 11 September 2016, 1-4 pm
Capital Memorial Church (CMC)

CMC members, hailing from more than 40 countries, present an unlimited “sampling” of authentic international vegetarian cuisines. You can take a small serving of hundreds of items and come back for more if you like! It’s the perfect way for kids to try delicious ethnic foods from Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, India, Latin America, and North America (for kids 10 and younger, it’s FREE!). Seniors age 60 and older (with ID) get a discount. All items will be vegetarian; those which are vegan will be noted. There is free parking or you can take the Metro Red Line, which is four blocks north of Van Ness-UDC and two blocks east of Connecticut Ave. Doors will be open from 1-4 p.m., and food will stop being served at 4:30 p.m.

PRICE: $15 per person, free for children age 10 and under, $10 age 60 or older.
Credit cards accepted.

Capital Memorial Church
3150 Chesapeake Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 362-3668
capitalmemorialchurch@verizon.net
www.capitalmemorial.org

Veggie Action — Meet the Owners of Like No Udder

Posted on September 06, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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VRG Senior Editor Samantha Gendler wrote a Veggie Action piece in the recent issue of Vegetarian Journal on the co-owners of Like No Udder, a vegan ice cream truck.

Rhode Islander Chris Belanger doesn’t think of himself as an activist, but rather as someone who spreads the vegan message one person at a time. It’s something we can all do, but the vegan ice cream truck Like No Udder that he co-owns with his wife Karen has given them a moving platform. “We’re injecting veganism everywhere we go,” Belanger said.

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The entire piece can be found here:
http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2016issue3/2016_issue3_vegetarian_action.php

Chris & Karen Holi

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal, visit: http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

My Experience: Interning for The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on September 06, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Christiana Rutkowski

This summer I was given the opportunity to intern for The Vegetarian Resource Group and I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have been given this chance. Due to the fact that the group is based out of Maryland and I am from New Jersey, I was unable to intern in person during the time of participation. Instead, I was able to complete multiple projects and write various articles for the blog via email, conversing back and forth with various individuals from The Vegetarian Resource Group.

VRG Co-Director Charles Stahler was extremely welcoming and helpful when I had first gone out on a whim, emailing Charles and asking if it would be at all possible to intern from home this summer. I heard back immediately, and in no time I was given the chance to form my own schedule, practicing time commitment skills and organizing my own projects.

Although I was limited in some ways by not interning at The VRG’s location in Maryland, I was still able to complete some really interesting projects and articles. One of the first projects I did was writing a restaurant review of a vegan restaurant in my own town. Not only did this mean getting to try delicious food—but it allowed me to discover one of my new favorite places to eat! Alongside this write-up, participating in other write-ups for other various restaurants allowed me to see how much the vegetarian and vegan diet has expanded. Naturally, this excited me a lot.

As a book fanatic, I could not be more grateful for when The VRG sent me the book Vegetarian Sports Nutrition by D. Enette Larson-Meyer. As an athlete myself, this book quickly became one of my top books I’ve ever read because it introduced me to much more information on not only vegetarianism but how it pertained to athletics and being an athlete. Not only did I get introduced to a new and exciting book, but I was able to keep this book at no cost. It was a very generous gift that I am very thankful for. Writing a review on this book was easy because of how interesting every single part was. [fyi, you can order this book from the VRG Book Catalog: http://www.vrg.org/catalog/

During my time interning, another favorite project of mine was compiling a table of foods labeled “vegan” located in a ShopRite supermarket in my town. Ever since I was younger, I always loved going to the grocery store. This project allowed me to spend tons of time in one while discovering new vegan foods and being able to share them by creating this table. Again, this project showed me how much the vegan lifestyle has expanded over the last year or so and how many different options are available.

Two bigger pieces I wrote included topics like different vegan foods that could be prepared for individuals who were vegetarian, vegan, or those who were neither, and an article written about veganism for my college’s school newspaper. This first article was fun because it allowed me to get creative in the kitchen while also introducing people in my life to vegan foods and meals who in turn then gave me a real-life evaluation on what they thought about the food. To my delight, the reviews were all nothing but positive, and on top of that, it meant consuming delicious food. The second, the article for my school’s newspaper, is something that will be seen by many college students, which excites me because it means that veganism will be reaching new viewers.

This internship experience was a perfect fit: something that allowed me to complete straightforward yet interesting projects from the comfort of my home about something I am passionate about. I have nothing but positive words for The Vegetarian Resource Group and the flexibility, time, and kindness the group displayed while having me intern for them. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

For more information about VRG internships, see http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

To support VRG interns and other outreach, donate at www.vrg.org/donate

Vegetables and Pulses Outlook – The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its latest report.

Posted on September 05, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Vegetables and Pulses Outlook – The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its latest report which “… covers basic supply, demand, price, and trade analysis for fresh market vegetables, processing vegetables, mushrooms, potatoes, and pulses … This feature also includes special articles on U.S. organic vegetable production and dietary assessment of vegetables …”

Document Title: The title of the August 30, 2016 USDA ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook report is “U.S. Dry Edible Pea Area Harvested Projected at Record-High”
Organization: USDA Economic Research Service (ERS)
Source: August 30, 2016 USDA ERS e-mail announcing the availability of the latest Vegetables and Pulses Outlook report
Web site: The August 30, 2016 USDA ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook Report is posted at
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/vgs-vegetables-and-pulses-outlook/vgs-357.aspx
* Specifically at
http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/2135199/vgs-357.pdfThe USDA ERS topic page on Vegetables and Pulses is available at
http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/vegetables-pulses.aspx

VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD will be Speaking at the Toronto ON Canada VegFest at 3pm on Sunday September 11th, 2016

Posted on September 05, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

vegfoodfest

VRG Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD is speaking on the topic “Growing Up Healthy” at the Toronto ON Canada VegFest that is happening September 9th-11th, 2016. The talk is a practical look at nutrition needs of veg babies, toddlers, children, and teens from the co-author of Simply Vegan, The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets, and Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book. This presentation will include strategies to ensure that children are eating healthy foods and ideas for young vegetarians to thrive in non-veg settings such as birthday parties, schools, family gatherings, and play dates.

For details on this event, visit: vegfoodfest.com

Chipotle Vegan Options

Posted on September 02, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

All of Chipotle’s menu items: burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and salads may be vegan-customized. Doing so is easy through several different ways each presented on Chipotle’s website.

A nutrition calculator allows web visitors to use a vegan filter: https://chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator. Doing so renders all and only vegan menu components clickable while non-vegan items are grayed out. As a consumer clicks on desired elements while building a customized burrito or taco, nutrition information appears beside each item and a cumulative total (e.g., calories, fat, sodium, etc.) for the entire menu item displays at the screen’s bottom.

There is also an Allergens & Special Diets page https://chipotle.com/allergens which presents vegan menu components in tabular form. Here Chipotle states:

Our Sofritas is vegan…Vegans should avoid our meats, cheese, sour cream, and our chipotle-honey vinaigrette. Our tortillas, vegetables, rice, beans, salsas, chips, and guacamole are…vegan.

Chipotle lists its complete ingredient statements on another page: https://chipotle.com/ingredient-statement.

On its Dietary Options page Chipotle presents its ingredient information in another manner: https://chipotle.com/dietary-options. Suggested vegan meal options such as a Sofritas soft corn taco or a fajita bowl appear. This page also displays Chipotle’s cross contamination statement:

Individual foods may come into contact with one another during preparation, which is not reflected in these recommendations. Although we make efforts to separate ingredients in our cooking processes and on our serving line, Chipotle cannot guarantee the complete absence of cross contact with any particular ingredient in any of our food.

About added sugar Chipotle states on this page:
While lots of the fresh fruits and veggies in our food are naturally sweet, we don’t add any sugar to our food. Our vinaigrette is made with a small amount of honey…

Chipotle lays it all out for vegans very clearly unlike most chains. Their website is very accessible. Several of VRG’s staff enjoy Chipotle bowls with half pinto beans, half black beans, veggies, rice, and guacamole. These are very filling meals.

For more quick service chain information, see http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php
For information on vegetarian restaurants, see http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php
To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at www.vrg.org/donate
Join at http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

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

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