The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Casseroles for Our Daily Bread

Posted on October 06, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Casey Brown, VRG Intern

Our Daily Bread is a soup kitchen located in Baltimore that provides full meals and additional services to men and women in need in Baltimore City. Local churches, groups, and individuals donate casseroles, and many others volunteer their time in order to allow this program to serve over 600 people every day.

As an intern with VRG, I baked vegan casseroles to donate to Our Daily Bread. The vegan recipes are provided on their website (, and they are each very easy to make! The first time I made the casseroles, I prepared one of each of the recipes: the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole, the Brunswick Stew, and the Creamy Bean and Potato Casserole with Carrots. This past week, I made two of the Brunswick Stew recipes to donate. Each of the recipes are easy to make, and they use simple ingredients that are often frozen or canned, requiring minimal preparation and cost. While cooking, I would prepare the ingredients for one casserole while another one was in the oven or on the stove cooking. This allowed me to make the most effective use of my time, so I could prepare multiple dishes in one afternoon. Each of the recipes take less than an hour to prepare and cook individually. I thought it was easiest when I made the same recipe twice since I was able to prepare all of the ingredients in bulk, and I was familiar with the cooking process, so it allowed me to prepare them even quicker!

My mom joined me when I was preparing the casseroles since she enjoys cooking and wanted to support the cause as well. She thought these recipes were very easy to make and hopes to continue making them in the future. Since I live about an hour away from Baltimore, I decided to keep the casseroles in my freezer until I was planning to go to the area, which worked out well because they wanted them frozen. When dropping off the dishes, they should be frozen, wrapped in aluminum foil, and clearly labeled with the recipe name.

While we were dropping off the casseroles on both occasions, we were able to visit the center. It was amazing to see the facility and the generous work that they do. Not only do they provide meals to over 600 people everyday, but they also have additional programs to help get people back on their feet and back into employment. The organization is primarily made up of volunteers, and they heavily rely on people’s generosity towards this program. The staff was very appreciative of the vegan dishes since it allowed their visitors to have a wider selection, and it provided a healthier meal option. The volunteer coordinator mentioned the need for more vegetarian options, stating that 200-230 of the 600+ people they serve daily prefer these choices.

If you are looking for a way to get involved in your community or be able to make a difference in someone’s life, then you should consider donating vegan casseroles to a local soup kitchen. The recipes are healthy, low-cost, and very easy to make. It can be a great family activity for you all to cook together, and it will make a huge difference in other’s lives. Even if you are not in the Baltimore area, you should still consider donating these vegan casseroles to soup kitchens near you.

See more about the vegan casseroles on our blog:


Posted on October 05, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Sunday, October 16, 2016, 6 PM

The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a vegan Thai dinner at My Thai Vegan Café in Boston on Sunday, October 16, 2016 during the annual meeting of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meet VRG advisors Reed Mangels PhD RD, Catherine Conway MS RD, Debra Wasserman, and vegetarian dietitians from around the country. All are welcome.


Tom Kha, Thai Coconut Soup with tofu

Thai Mango Salad

Nam Prik Kaeng Kari with tofu (Yellow Curry) and brown rice

Pad See Ew. Wide rice noodles with Chinese broccoli and vegan gluten.

Fruit cocktail for dessert or other fruit

Tea and cold water

This will be a plated sit down dinner.

TO RESERVE: Send $30 person (includes tax and tip) (Under eight is half price) with names of attendees to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

Call (410) 366-8343.

You can also pay at and write Boston Dinner in the Comments.

Refunds after September 30th only if your seat can be replaced.

Hope to see you there!


Posted on October 05, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Hana Takemoto, former VRG intern

College is going really great! In every single dining hall, there are clearly labeled vegan and vegetarian options that taste amazing. I've even heard some people say that they go for the vegan options because they just taste better. Those options definitely seem more nutritious – more vegetables and variety vs. the non-vegetarian options, which tend to have more fried foods and less vegetables. Today for lunch I had tofu, chickpeas and lentils, and stir-fried veggies, and for breakfast every morning they have vegan pastries. The only thing I would add to make my dining hall better is some non-dairy milk, but since there's a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's close by it's not really a problem. Overall, it's a LOT easier to be vegan here at Northwestern than at home.

October is National Pasta Month – Enjoy these Vegan Pasta Dishes!

Posted on October 04, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


October is National Pasta Month – Enjoy these Vegan Pasta Dishes!

Pasta can be prepared in so many ways vegan-style. Here’s links to pasta recipes and tips (as well as pasta sauces) we’ve run in previous issues of Vegetarian Journal:

Make Ahead Pasta Delights

Hot and Cold Pasta Salads

Pasta Perfect

Regional Italian and Sicilian Pasta Sauces

Vegan Mac and No-Cheese with Zucchini “Cream” Sauce

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal, visit:

Being a Vegan Teenager with Disapproving Parents

Posted on October 03, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Alicia Hückmann, intern visiting from Germany

Growing up in a tiny, rural German village as the descendant of sausage-lovers, I was destined to get in trouble when I decided to become a vegan. To be fair, I was already 18 years old and moving into my own flat at that time, so I probably had different opportunities of dealing with the issue than younger teenagers might have. The arguments I regularly got into, the accusations I had to face, and the mistakes I made, however, were probably very similar to those of any other underage vegan. For this reason, I made a list of the three main reasons my parents did not approve of my diet and what I did (or could have done in retrospective) to prove them wrong.

What they said: “Veganism is bad for your health. Your diet is not balanced at all.”
What I heard: “We don’t care if you did hours of research on nutrients because parents always know better and that’s a fact.”
What they probably meant to say: “We worry about you and we want you to be healthy. Some sources say that veganism is not good for teenagers and even though we don’t know for sure whether they are wrong, we would rather you listen to them than take an unnecessary risk.”

Whenever I talk to non-vegans about my experiences following a plant-based diet, health concerns are among the first things they respond with. Not very surprising considering how schools and dietitians constantly tell us that we need cow’s milk for our bones, that meat is full of iron and protein, and so forth. We are raised to believe that animal products are an indispensable part of a balanced diet. And although vegans statistically have a lower risk of developing typical diseases of civilization like diabetes, their diet is more commonly associated with malnutrition and deficiencies by the general public – and probably also by your parents. What many people don’t realize, however, is the fact that most vegans are just as aware of these requirements as they are. After all, switching to a healthy vegan diet often includes research that includes knowledge of nutrients and potential sources for them. For this reason, many vegans are actually much better informed about food than the average meat-eater!

So when talking to your parents about their health concerns, you want to make clear that you did enough research to make a responsible decision. If you haven’t already, check out The Vegetarian Resource Group’s general vegan nutrition guide (, our brochure for vegan teenagers ( or other nutrition related articles ( for scientific facts. Being able to list a few good sources for protein, iron, and calcium as well as to explain how to handle Vitamin D and B12 can be a good way of proving to your parents that you know what you’re doing. Also, put together an exemplary combination of fruits, vegetables, and grains or even a full menu that can provide you with enough nutrients to meet the recommended daily amount of all important nutrients.

If this doesn’t already convince your parents, you can offer to have your blood levels checked on a regular basis (which is something both vegans and non-vegans could be doing anyway). I had my first blood sample taken after about half a year of being a vegan – the results didn’t only take away much of my parents’ skepticism but also reassured me that my planning had worked out perfectly well. Most people when switching diets would not go to this extent though.

Extra burden/misinformation
What they said: “Vegan food is exorbitant; we don’t have enough money for that. Besides, do you expect me to cook for the family AND give you special treatment?”
What I heard: “We have no clue what veganism is all about but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to your explanations and suggestions when we can just give you a rant about it.”
What they probably meant to say: “The decisions you make often affect the entire family, not just yourself. We have enough things to worry about. If you ask for special treatment, it makes us feel like you don’t appreciate that we are already doing so much for you.

Due to the fact that I was already living on my own when I became a vegan, cooking is a rather minor issue for me and my family. The only times it becomes a bit problematic is during weekends and holidays when I come home. As my family’s kitchen is not exactly vegan-friendly – bread, apples, and tomatoes are among the few things that don’t contain any animal products – I often have to rely on them taking me to the closest grocery store in a nearby town.

So this is the first tip I have for you: Go shopping together with your family. Don’t just give them a list of the things you need. When it comes to processed vegan food especially, it can get pretty confusing for non-vegans – and you don’t want their first vegan shopping experiences to be frustrating. If they insist that veganism is expensive, prove them wrong. Instead of wasting your money on meat and dairy alternatives that you don’t necessarily need, try to focus on simple, healthy and cheap food like dry lentils (iron!) and beans (protein!) as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. You and your family will be surprised how much money can actually be saved by cutting down on animal products.

Once you’ve managed to sneak your vegan food into your family’s kitchen, you’ll have to find a solution for family dinners. While cooking for three or more people is already a lot of work, it gets worse if one of them demands a different meal. Then again, do you really need special treatment? Many (side) dishes can be enjoyed by both meat-eaters and vegans as they are – like stir-fried vegetables or soups – and sometimes there is only one or two ingredients that need to be replaced in order for the dish to be vegan. If your parents decide to make a salad for example, ask them to put some of it in a separate bowl before adding any non-vegan ingredients or dressing. Make a list of meals and sides that are vegan “by accident” (like spaghetti with tomato sauce) and that are enjoyed by everyone in the family. In case your parents are not very compromising (or not keen on eating vegetables in general), you’ll probably have to cook for yourself. With hundreds of thousands of quick and easy vegan recipes out there, this should not really be a problem though. Once you move out and have to rely on your own, you will probably be very thankful for this experience, by the way!

One final tip for this section: Never try to shame or convert anyone at the dinner table (or anywhere, ever). The best thing you can do in order to get people interested in and more accepting of your diet is setting a good example. If anyone makes comments about your food (how they could never live without xy, how plants are not filling at all, etc.), surprise your family with a vegan version of their favorite dish, a cake, muffins, or even a full vegan menu.

Growing up
What they said: “Vegan? That’s just another silly phase. Why can’t you just be a normal person like everyone else?
What I heard: “We have no intentions of taking you or your life choices seriously, no matter how grown up you think you are.”
What they probably meant to say: “We are not ready to accept that you are growing up so quickly and making life choices that are so different from ours. It gives us the impression that you are estranging yourself from us, maybe even willingly.

Looking back I know that many of the fights my family and I had about veganism were not about veganism at all. Did you notice that you could replace “vegan” with basically anything in the example above, be it an unusual hobby, a career path you’re interested in, or even the wish to get tattooed? During our teenage years, we struggle to find out who we are and what we want to do with our lives. And as if this wasn’t enough of a burden already, we also have to deal with the fact that our parents are not always happy with the results.

I like to think about my decision to go vegan as the tip of an iceberg. Just like the bit of ice that is visible above the surface, my diet was not actually a big issue in itself after a while, yet something of whose existence my family was reminded of each time we had a meal together. The many arguments we had as a result were not solely centered about veganism but always gradually drifted towards underlying and more deeply rooted issues like the fact that I was living away from home and that they hated my significant other. In the end, it all came back to their fear to lose touch with as well as control over me and to be unable to protect me from making (what they considered) bad decisions. At some point I realized that veganism really only served as a trigger or an excuse to start a fight about the topics they actually cared about.

So if your parents react unreasonably sensitive or aggressive to your new diet, try to look at the bigger picture. Are there any other issues that bother your parents at the moment? Do they have the impression that you are distancing themselves from them?

If yes, I am afraid this is an issue that cannot be solved as easily as the two before. The only tips I can give you for this one: Firstly, don’t join the argument. If you can already guess where it is going to end, make clear that you are not going to have the same discussion again unless they have any new questions that you haven’t answered yet. And secondly, let your parents know that no matter what you do, you will always love and appreciate them. On first sight, going vegan could be (wrongly) interpreted as estranging yourself from your meat-eating family – but doesn’t your choice rather prove that your parents succeeded in teaching you empathy, commitment, and critical thinking?

One final remark: While some parents are very supportive of their vegan children from the very beginning, others will need a little persuading in the beginning. And then there are parents like mine who will slowly start to tolerate their children’s diet choices after a year or longer. I have been a vegan for more than 1½ years now and finally reached a point where my family does not make comments about the food on my plate and mostly leaves me alone during meals. On the other hand, my sister has become a big fan of my cooking skills and always asks me to make a cake when she has a party. In the end, the most effective ways to convince someone that veganism isn’t that bad after all are patience, persistence, and kindness!

The Vegetarian Resource Group Has Compiled a Guide to Veggie Meals in or Near United States National Parks

Posted on September 30, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Casey Brown and Heather Francis, Vegetarian Resource Group Interns

In conjunction with the 100th year anniversary of The National Park Service, over the past couple of months, we have been working on a project where we have been contacting the United States National Parks in hopes of finding out whether or not the parks offer vegetarian/vegan meals.

Over the course of the project we found most National Parks don’t have any vegan options for their park services. What we discovered were convenience stores and snack shacks for many visitors to stop by as they are traveling through the parks. Most convenience stores contain trail mix, nuts, and various fruit selections for vegan and vegetarians alike. Since most don’t have options, we have compiled a list of the National Parks with neighboring veg-friendly restaurants (if there are any). For the parks that do contain veg-friendly options, we added them to the list as well.

Although the list has taken two months to put together, it hasn’t been super difficult to reach these parks. The park rangers and staff working for the National Park Service have been super receptive in answering our questions about whether or not their park has vegetarian and vegan options. For example, in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah The lodge at Bryce Canyon Restaurant contains vegan options on their menu with a Gardein Chicken substitute for lunch/dinner. Also at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room offers two options for dinner that are vegan: Roasted Portobello and a Vegetable Pasta Dish.

To read the entire article, visit:

Abell Street Festival

Posted on September 29, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Casey Brown, VRG Intern

The other weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Abell Street Festival in Baltimore. This event is held every year, and it features live music, non-profit organizations, vendors, food, and much more. It started with “A Day at the Museum” Parade, where many of kids from the community came dressed up in unique costumes. Following the parade, the festival began and the crowd dispersed to look at the various non-profit organizations and vendors that were there.

Another intern, Alicia, and I spent the afternoon at the festival interacting with a lot of people from the community around Abell Street. Throughout the day we met with a lot of vegans and vegetarians and people who were interested in the lifestyle. Others noticed our booth and became really excited because they knew friends who were vegan/vegetarian, and they wanted to take some of our resources and recipes home to share with them. Our Baltimore Dining Guide was especially popular among them since they were able to find information on vegan-friendly restaurants in the area for occasions when they were dining out with their vegan friends and partners.

We also met a man who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and was turning towards a plant-based lifestyle as part of his treatment. He was eager for more recipes and information on plant-based living. We were able to provide him with a copy of our Vegetarian Journal, multiple brochures including “Vegetarianism in a Nutshell,” and books like Vegan Menus for People with Diabetes. He was grateful for the information we provided him and seemed more confident in his decision to opt for a plant-based lifestyle after receiving these resources.

We spoke with another person who used to be a vegan, and he was hoping to transition back into the lifestyle. He was interested in learning more about our personal transitions, and he made sure to take plenty of resources in order to motivate himself. We even met an 11-year-old who told us she transitioned to the vegetarian lifestyle just two days prior to the festival. She was thrilled to see our booth, and her family was able to get information on vegetarian diets for children through our “Vegan Nutrition for Pregnancy and Childhood” brochure and our “Vegan MyPlate” handout. They also made sure to get a copy of Vegetarian journal for more information and recipe ideas. We spoke with another individual who told us that he was raising his son as a vegan. He made sure to take those same resources home as well as one of our “I Love Animals and Broccoli” coloring books. Many people at the festival were from the Baltimore area, and they were excited to hear about the Pre-Thanksgiving potluck that The VRG will be holding at the end of November, as this is a great opportunity to connect with more vegans in the area and to get inspiration for new recipes (see

The other intern and I enjoyed the “young and alternative” environment the festival provided. It was really inspiring to see how many vegans/vegetarians were in the community and to connect with so many people who are passionate about the vegan movement. We are looking forward to the Pre-Thanksgiving potluck, and we hope to see many of you there!

If you would like to volunteer at future Vegetarian Resource Group booths, contact Brigette at

To support VRG outreach, donate at

Or join at


Posted on September 29, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


LexVegFest (October 1, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 2312 Palumbo Dr, Lexington, KY 40509) is the first annual VegFest in Lexington and central Kentucky sponsored by GA Sanctuaries and Housewarmings. Our mission is to celebrate and promote plant-based lifestyles for health, environment, and compassion for animals. LexVegFest will feature local speakers, delicious food and drink, vendors, cooking demonstrations, informative exhibitors, children’s activities and more.

Our Facebook page:

The Notion “You Must Care About Animals More Than People”

Posted on September 28, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Whitney Gray, VRG intern

Sometimes I think to myself that people are strange, but I’ve realized we’re mostly all the same. We like to compartmentalize. There’s so much to take in throughout our lives that it’s easier to make ideas black and white, to label, or to “other” each other based off of the knowledge of a few traits or beliefs. One perplexing comment you may have heard as a vegan is, “Oh, you’re vegan? You must care about animals more than people.” I know I have a few times. Somewhere along the way we’ve been labeled as misanthropic plant pushers, which is at best comical and at worst a little disheartening. It sounds trivial, but what does it mean for veganism if all people hear when they hear the word “vegan” is a self-righteous tree hugger who cares about a cow more than the homeless? Here a few of my points to counteract this accusation that might help you as well.

We’re all Multidimensional
Who said caring about animals cancels out any concern one might have for all of the world’s injustices and social ills? You wouldn’t say that loving your mom has to mean that you can’t love your dad. It’s much like the child in first grade who dumps you because they found another kid to play with and for some reason they believe that they can’t have more than one best friend. It’s always interesting when one of those mournful infomercials with sickly and fragile cats and dogs comes on and someone interrupts Sarah McLachlan’s “In the Arms of The Angel” to say, “Why would I donate to that when there’s plenty of starving children to feed?” (meanwhile doing nothing to feed starving children). I, like many others, have the capacity to care about a variety of causes with animal rights being just one not pertaining specifically to humans.

People are Animals???
I’m sure mostly everyone has heard this in a science class at some point in their life. Humans are animals. We may walk upright, wear clothes, create technology, and enjoy a spoken and written language, but we’re still animals. You don’t have to get into an argument with anyone on whether humans are more important than other animals or not (or weird hypothetical questions on whether you’d save your dog or a toddler about to drown in a river). The main point is that we all contribute something different to this world. Different animals have their different traits and qualities that we don’t, even if some label those as insignificant. Also, let’s not forget that we are the ones senselessly killing each other and killing the planet. And while there can be a lot of anger in such a statement, we are all a part of society, so no individual can be put on a pedestal or condemn the rest of humankind. If I were to hate humans, I’d have to hate myself as well.

Veganism is about Compassion
It is for me personally at least. If anything, veganism has strengthened my patience and understanding towards others. I find that when many people become passionate about an idea, they become angry, vicious, and practically insufferable when they were in the opposite position just moments ago. Because of this, I understand why vegans get type casted at times. However, I want to extend kindness to all sentient beings, including humans that may or may not lead a similar lifestyle or eat a similar diet. Of course nothing is perfect and there are various arguments on whether any of our efforts with veganism or any other cause make a difference, but in my eyes, it’s worth a try.

Bottom line is be confident in why you made this decision and don’t let others place you in a box where you don’t fit. Often times when we are confronted with a concept far outside our worldview, we reject not only the concept as extreme, but also the person. What the people who say, “You must care about animals more than people,” don’t realize is that I’m just their neighbor like anyone else, and not some radical on the fringe of society trying to start an animal revolution a’la George Orwell’s Animal Farm. My advice is let the naysayers know you care for them…and the cows of course.

Review of COOP’s Micro Creamery® Hot Fudge Sauce

Posted on September 27, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By John Lytle

My review:
This is a damn good Hot Fudge Sauce. It demonstrates one of the best possible uses of coconut cream. The taste is wonderful!!! Hope you try this product and enjoy it as much as I did.

This web page has an announcement about the new Vegan version part way down the page:

Yummy Plants review:

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