The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Celebrate Passover with Vegan Dishes!

Posted on March 12, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group offers No Cholesterol Passover Recipes, by Debra Wasserman. This book features 100 vegan dishes following Ashkenazi Jewish traditions suitable for Passover. Among the recipes you’ll find in this book are Passover Muffins, Carrot Cream Soup, Eggplant Caviar, Chopped “Liver” Spread, Sweet Potato Kugel, Layered Vegetable Casserole, Stuffed Cabbage, Fruit-Nut Chews, and Festive Macaroons.

Start your morning off with the following Passover breakfast recipe:

(Makes 8 small pancakes)

3 small ripe bananas, peeled
½ cup matzo meal
¾ cup water
2 teaspoons oil

Mash bananas in a small bowl. Add matzo meal and water. Mix well.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Form 8 small pancakes in the heated pan and fry about 10 minutes total until brown on both sides.

You can order No Cholesterol Passover Recipes through our online catalog or by sending $15 (including postage and handling) to Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Also available in our catalog are Vegan Passover Recipes and The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook.

My Internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on March 10, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Karen Leibowitz

I started my internship last May and after learning and experiencing
so much a few months later it came to an end. On the first day, Charles gave
me book upon book about vegan nutrition, recipes, and other information.
From that first day, I’ve contributed articles to the VRG website,
wrote restaurant reviews, created recipes, and translated recipes to
Spanish. I also created a 3-day Mexican meal plan and had it approved by
the registered dietitian that works with the VRG. I wrote several Veggie
Bits and food reviews on vegan products, all to be published in The Vegetarian
Journal. I created a survey that gathered information concerning
organizations’ opinions on what should be labeled as vegetarian or
vegan. I gained experience running booths with other interns and
volunteers at several farmer’s markets, festivals, and other events,
providing VRG resources and selling books. I learned about how
non-profits function and how they can thrive. I gained experience
working in an office setting and learned the details behind how events
are organized.

I came into the VRG as a public health major, but as the internship
progressed and after meeting vegan nutrition professionals, I changed my
major to dietetics and am now on my way to pursue a career as a
registered dietitian. I always had a strong interest in nutrition but
this internship gave me the motivation I needed to begin pursuing this
more challenging route to health improvement. I believe that being a
registered dietitian can have a heavy influence in changing the way
people eat. If I can be part of that influence, I can help lessen the
suffering of animals and the occurrence of diseases caused by consuming

The people that work at the VRG are an amazingly friendly and motivated
group of people. I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning
from a group that does so much to provide resources for vegans and

If you are interested in a Vegetarian Resource Group internship, visit:
To support Vegetarian Resource Group outreach, donate at

Become a Monthly Vegetarian Resource Group Donor

Posted on March 07, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group greatly appreciates the support given by our Monthly Donors. You can join our monthly giving group with a minimum gift of just $10 a month by going to You will be part of a network of givers who support our outreach efforts on an ongoing basis. These donations allow us to continue vegan education in a wide variety of avenues including schools, doctor and dietitian offices, libraries, various professional conferences, animal rights events, health fairs, environmental festivals, and much more. Thank you for your support!

Do You REALLY Know How To Use Google?

Posted on March 07, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Laura McGuiness

Being an activist is hard work. You usually have people fighting you
and you’re most likely spending your life refuting these arguments
(hopefully with the proper evidence). Well, what if I told you that I
could make these counter-arguments a little bit easier? Interested? You
should be!

The world needs to educate themselves further on their knowledge of
databases! By being able to successfully use a database and yield
results, your life researching and developing counter-arguments will be
simplified tenfold. There are a few tricks to manipulating databases,
however. But I’m here to make it seem easy!

Let’s pick a topic to research. I became a vegetarian when I was 10
years old and was diagnosed with low iron reserves a couple of years
later. Throughout my life, people have been blaming my iron depletion on
the vegetarianism. I, however, maintain that vegetarianism is not the
reason I suffer from this. If I want evidence supporting my decision, I
will turn to my friend, the database…

What Is A Database?

A database is just a collection of information that is organized in such
a way to provide easy retrieval. You already know of a database, in fact
you probably use one every day. Google. Google is just an agglomeration
of information, organized in such a way so when you type in a simple
sentence, it focuses on your keywords and retrieves information on those
topics from the depths of its information collection.

Which Database Do I Choose?
Choosing a database is the hardest part of researching. There are tens
of thousands of databases out there and each one has its own specialty.
There are databases based completely on children’s novels, adult novels,
psychology, nutrition, or even automotive repair. There are databases
for everything. Literally.

The best advice I can give you for choosing a database is to look
around. Research databases. (After all, I’m sure they have a database
for databases!) What I do is visit my university or public library
website; usually somewhere they will have a list of databases broken up
into categories so you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for.

At the library I work at, we use something called “Encore,” but at my
university (for my English classes at least) I would use “Literature
Resource Center.” For information on vegetarianism and nutrition,
however, I would probably choose the database, Medline. Medline was
created by the National Library of Medicine, so I think it’s safe to
say, they would know a little bit about nutrition.

But since I mentioned Google as a database and it’s probably the most
accessible choice, that will be what I use in my examples. Although I
recommend finding a database that specializes in one particular area,
google serves its purpose — just be careful of what websites you pull your
evidence from. If the website doesn’t end in “.org,” “.edu,” or “.gov,”
they’re really not a reliable source.

How Do I Use A Database?
I could write a hundred pages simply on how to effectively use a
database. But for the sake of simplicity, I’ll limit it to five things
you should know.

1) Boolean Operators—I love them!

•Boolean Operators are essentially: OR, AND, and NOT.
•You must capitalize boolean operators or databases will ignore the
•Most databases (including Google) automatically insert AND between
your words.
•You would use boolean operators to limit your search. That’s what you
want to do in a database. This isn’t Ask Jeeves, where you type an
entire question, this is a database. You want keywords. If I am typing
“vegetarianism AND iron”. I will get articles, books, etc. with both of
those keywords inside of them.
•If I typed “vegetarianism OR iron,” I would get search results back
with either the word “vegetarianism” or the word “iron” in it. That’s
not what I want, however. By putting these search parameters into
Google, for instance, I got several websites that were talking about
iron but not vegetarianism or vice versa. Since that’s not what I want
right now, I wouldn’t use the boolean operator “OR.”
•If you want to exclude words from your search results, use the boolean
phrase, NOT. If I am looking for iron deficiency in vegetarian females
and not males, I would use the search terms, “vegetarianism AND iron NOT
males.” This particular boolean phrase however does not seem to work
with google, so I would limit this to other databases.
•Using Boolean Operators requires some thinking, however. Databases
look at your commands in the order you typed them, so if you are using a
combination of AND and OR, you need to group the keywords together in a
phrase. This can be a little bit complicated, so look at my example and
try it for yourself.

“(vegetarianism OR veganism) AND iron”

This would bring up results containing either the keyword vegetarian or
vegan and iron. Since I knew that vegetarianism and veganism were a
connected concept and I wanted to limit it to one or the other, I
included it there.

2) Phrases—Have fun with them!
•Parentheses or quotes are used for phrasing. You already saw a bit of
the phrase above with the boolean phrases when I used parentheses.
Basically, if you want to search a phrase instead of a single word, you
would surround the adjacent words in either quotation marks or parentheses.
•If I wanted to search not just about iron, but about iron deficiency,
I wouldn’t just put the word “iron” because that will produce results
ranging from cases of freakishly high iron to cases of average levels to
examples of extremely low iron. If what I am searching for is
specifically iron deficiency, my phrase will be: vegetarianism AND “iron
deficiency.” That will only yield results that include the phrase, “iron

3) Truncation—Open up your world of search results.
•Truncation is used with words that either have multiple endings
(vegan, vegetarian, vegetarianism, vegetables, veganism, etc.) or if I
want to leave a single letter available for possible deviation (woman,
•If you want to find information on all word forms of vegan/vegetarian,
you would cut off the word at a spot that would allow for fluctuations
in the ending/spelling.
•There are multiple symbols used for truncation. Usually it’s an
asterisk (*), but it can also be an exclamation point (!), a question
mark (?), or a pound sign (#).
•So, if I want to look up information about not just how vegetarianism
is linked to iron deficiency, but also how veganism, vegetarians, or
vegans relate to iron deficiency. I would type this in as my search:

“veg* AND “iron deficiency”

•If I am looking for iron deficiency in women, I would want to see
search results with both “woman” and “women” present. In this case, I
would use truncation for a single letter:

“iron deficiency” AND wom*n

4) Fields—Pay attention to them!
•Different databases offer a different number and selection of fields.
A few common ones would be: author, title, publisher, genre, and keyword.
•These are usually located next to a drop-down menu of certain
databases. Obviously this is not part of Google’s search options, but if
you’re using an academic database, these fields can help you find
extremely relevant results.
•For instance, if I was looking up the book Under the Skin by Michel
Faber (an amazingly thought-provoking science fiction novel reversing
the roles between humans and animals in slaughter houses), I would not
type in “Michel Faber” as the title or publisher. Instead, listing him
as the author and Under the Skin as the title would be the best way to
find the book I’m looking for. I can even go as far as listing that
book’s genre as fiction and finding the publisher to narrow down my
search results even farther. If I couldn’t remember the exact title, but
remember it had something to do with the word “skin,” I would type
“skin” into the keyword field.
•You don’t have to choose a search field. If you don’t, the database
will assume the information you’re searching is a keyword, and usually
provide too many results with not enough relevancy to the topic you are

5) Stop words—avoid them!
•Stop words include: a, an, the, in, of, on, are, be, if, into, which.
•Most databases simply ignore these words because they are not relevant
to your search and are used too often. If they did take these words into
account, you would be getting twice as many search results because any
articles including these stop words would be included.
•Try not to use these! Instead rely on Boolean Operators and phrasing
to get your point across.
•If your title or phrase has to include one or more of these words (if
you don’t include them, it will come up with a completely different
topic), use phrasing around the word.

Under “the” Skin

•Using that as your searched topic will force the database to include
“the” in your title and not give you a bunch of unnecessary results
with variations of book titles including the words “under” and “skin.”

So the next time you are doing a research project for school, trying to
find information on Google, or simply creating a refutable argument, use
these database tips! If you would like to learn more about how to
successfully operate databases, most university (and sometimes public)
libraries offer simple classes and tutorials on the subject. Librarians
are also always there to help; if you ever want clarification or extra
help manipulating a database, ask a librarian! They have received
schooling in this topic and would be glad to pass on their knowledge to
the public.

Laura McGuiness wrote this piece while interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Vegan Cuisine

Posted on March 05, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day we are sharing these recipes by Enette Larson, PhD and found in Vegan Handbook. You can order this book published by The Vegetarian Resource Group through our Online Catalog.

(Serves 4)

1 pound potatoes, sliced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 medium leeks
1 cup soymilk
1 pound kale or cabbage
½ teaspoon mace (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons margarine

Cook the potatoes and parsnips in water until tender. While those are cooking, chop the leeks (greens as well as white parts) and then simmer them in the soymilk until soft. Next, chop the kale or cabbage and cook until tender.
Drain the potatoes, and season with the mace, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked leeks with soymilk. Finally, blend in the cooked kale or cabbage and margarine. The texture should be that of smooth potato with well distributed pieces of leek and kale or cabbage. Garnish with parsley.

Scannels’ Soda Bread
(Makes 1 loaf; 8 slices)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup oat bran
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
¼ cup currants or raisins
1 cup soymilk plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the dry ingredients well. Blend in the caraway seeds and currants or raisins. Add soymilk stirring to make a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf and put into an 8-inch oiled round pan. With a floured knife, cut an X into the top. Bake loaf at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into slices when cool.

Revisions to the WIC Food Package Make Sense

Posted on March 05, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

As the name suggests, the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) Program was
developed to protect the health of low-income pregnant and post-partum
women, infants, and children up to age 5. The program provides
participants with vouchers that are used to purchase specific foods that
are identified as being nutritious. More than nine million people
receive WIC benefits each year. WIC is administered by the USDA, which
issued a final rule on food packages on February 28.

One important change for vegans and others avoiding dairy products is
that medical documentation is no longer needed for program participants
to get vouchers for soy beverages and calcium-set tofu in place of cow’s
milk. Of course, not all states allow soy milk or tofu to replace cow’s
milk but for those that do, it will be easier for this substitution to
take place. As of 2011, 71% of state agencies allow soy milk to replace
cow’s milk and 40% allow tofu to replace cow’s milk.

Other positive changes include:
• Previously, the only kind of tofu that was allowed was tofu that had
been prepared using only calcium salts. This kind of tofu is not
available in many marketplaces. The new rules allow tofu that is
calcium-set but which contains other coagulants like magnesium chloride.
State agencies are encouraged to choose brands of tofu with the highest
amounts of calcium to be included on their lists of foods approved for
purchase with WIC vouchers.
• Refried beans, without added sugars, oils, fats, vegetables, or meat,
have been added to the list of allowed legumes.
• Whole wheat pasta has been added to the list of whole grain options.
Other whole grain options include brown rice, bulgur, barley, oatmeal,
or corn or whole-wheat tortillas as well as whole-wheat bread
• WIC participants can receive vouchers to purchase fruits and
vegetables. The value of these vouchers has been increased from $6 per
month to $8 per month for children. Women are given $10 per month for
fruit and vegetables purchases.
• State agencies are required to allow organic fruits and vegetables to
be purchased. In the past, some states did not allow organic products to
be purchased with WIC vouchers.
• Fresh bananas can be used in place of some of the jarred baby food.
• States are given the option of allowing families with 9-11 month old
infants to purchase some fresh fruits and vegetables in place of some
jarred baby food.

Implementation of these changes will begin May 1, 2014.

The Vegetarian Resource Group was one of more than 7,000 groups and
individuals who submitted comments to the USDA recommending specific
changes to the WIC Program. We are delighted to see that many of the
suggestions we made were implemented, including removal of the
requirement for medical documentation in order to get vouchers for soy
milk or tofu and increased dollar amounts for fruit and vegetable purchases.

Chipotle to Expand Tofu Sofritas to New York and New England March 3rd!

Posted on February 28, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Thursday, February 26, Chipotle announced in a tweet that starting on March 3, 2014 they will be offering their Tofu Sofritas Burrito in the Northeast United States. Still haven’t got a chance to try the new menu item? No worries- while it is not clear when, Chipotle claims that they hope to eventually make the vegan Tofu Sofritas Burrito available nationwide! Read more at

More on Chipotle’s Tofu Sofritas:
Chipotle Expands Vegan “Sofritas” to Entire Northwest (July 2013)
Chipotle to Launch Sofritas in Southern California (May 2013)
Chipotle Mexican Grill® Now Offering Brown Cilantro-Lime Rice in All Locations and Testing a Vegan Garden Blend™ at Select Locations (February 2012)

Vegetarian Video Scholarship 2014: One $500 Award, Two $250 Awards!

Posted on February 28, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

In a further effort to help young people think innovatively and creatively about vegetarian and/or vegan advocacy, The Vegetarian Resource Group is pleased to be offering the Vegetarian Video Scholarship Contest again in 2014! We will be offering one $500 award and two $250 awards. The deadline for this scholarship is July 15, 2014.

Applicants should create and submit a video relating what they want to tell others about vegetarianism and/or veganism.

Some possible topics include: food, nutrition, your feelings about veganism and/or vegetarianism, water usage and vegetarianism, vegetarianism and animal rights, or other vegetarian topics which appeal to you. Humor and feelings are appreciated. All videos should be positive, not be critical of anyone, and not include any footage of animal cruelty. You may submit a video you have already made.

Click here to find out more about scholarship rules and how to apply.

Not sure where to start? Check out past winner, Noam Lautman’s, “NO MORE MEAT” below or browse other past winners’ videos.

Viva La Vegan® Pizza at Ledo’s Pizza®

Posted on February 26, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

Launched in October 2013, Viva La Vegan® is a vegan pizza offered at
Ledo Pizza® restaurants. There are approximately one hundred Ledo®
restaurants located mostly in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC with
a few others in West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. A store
locator can be accessed on the Ledo Pizza® website. Each Ledo Pizza® restaurant is independently owned and operated.

Viva La Vegan® is described on the Ledo Pizza® website:

Our flakey crust, topped with LEDO sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes, black
olives, red onions and jalapenos. Baked then topped with fresh avocado
and drizzled with our lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil.

The VRG spoke with employees at Ledo Pizza’s® corporate office in
Maryland and to the manager of a suburban Maryland Ledo Pizza®
restaurant in February 2014 to find out more information about the Viva
La Vegan® pizza.

We learned that the pizza crust does not contain dairy ingredients,
honey, or other animal ingredients such as lard. The crust does not
contain L-cysteine. The FAQ page on the Ledo Pizza® website states: “Our
crust is not made with any animal products.”

The VRG was told that the pizza sauce is all-vegetable. The FAQ page on
the Ledo Pizza® website states: “Our sauce contains soy oil, California
tomatoes, fresh veggies, and spices.” The complete ingredient statement
for the Ledo® sauce is also found on the website:

Vine-Ripened Fresh Peeled Ground Tomatoes, Extra Heavy Tomato Puree, A
Special Blend of Spices and Herbs (Sugar, Salt, Aromatic Herbs, Spices),
Soybean Oil, Fresh Onions, Fresh Garlic.

A Ledo’s® corporate employee confirmed on the phone that this sauce is
on the Viva La Vegan® pizza.

There is no cheese on the Viva La Vegan® pizza. Currently there is no
vegan cheese option at Ledo Pizza®. Patrons interested in this option
should speak with the manager of their local Ledo Pizza®.

Concerning cheeses served on other Ledo® pizzas, the FAQ page on the
Ledo Pizza® website states: “Our cheese is made with vegetable-based
rennet.” Ledo® employees in the corporate office confirmed this on the
phone with The VRG.

We asked the manager of a Ledo Pizza® restaurant about the likelihood of
meat products coming into contact with the Viva La Vegan® pizza or with
the utensils and pans used to make it. She told us that “Contact with
meat products is possible.” She suggested that vegan patrons request
that the pizza cutter be sanitized before cutting a Viva La Vegan® pizza
to ensure that it hasn’t been in recent contact with cheese or meat from
other pizzas. The manager pointed out that since only doughs touch the
pans and all the doughs are dairy-free, the pans are never of concern
for vegans.

Ledo’s® also makes a gluten-free crust which is all-vegetable. An
ingredient list for it appears on its website:

Water, Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Olive Oil, Evaporated Cane Juice,
Tapioca Flour, Fresh Yeast, Salt

According to a Ledo’s® employee in the corporate office, a patron could
request that the gluten-free crust be used to build the Viva La Vegan®
pizza. The gluten-free crust is available only in a small size at this

For more information on fast food and quick casual restaurant chains
visit The VRG website.

The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications,
including The 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 employees or company statements. Information
does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best
judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research
or confirmation may be warranted.

There are many ways to stay connected to The Vegetarian Resource Group!

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Join VRG for 2 years and receive a FREE copy of Simply Vegan!

Posted on February 26, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Now when you join The Vegetarian Resource Group for 2 years, you not only receive a subscription to our quarterly Vegetarian Journal, you also get a FREE copy of the updated 5th edition of Simply Vegan!

Simply Vegan includes:

  • Over 160 vegan recipes that can be prepared quickly.

  • An extensive vegan nutrition section. This material is thoroughly researched, documented, and frequently cited by others. No vegan should be without this material.
  • Sample menus and meal plans for vegans.
  • Food definitions and origins.
  • Data on cruelty-free shopping by mail, including where to buy vegan food, clothing, cosmetics, household products, and books.

To take advantage of this amazing offer please go to:

Already have a copy of Simply Vegan but still want to join? Check out our other membership options at:

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