The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

LATINO OUTREACH BY THE VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP

Posted on January 11, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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We have given away thousands of our Spanish coloring books El Arco Iris Vegetariano. These have gone to young people when we’ve tabled at Latino Festivals and to other groups to give out from El Paso, TX and Chicago, IL to Washington State to Florida.

They have been shared with first graders by a school nurse working in a depressed economic community in California. And the booklets have even traveled to Ecuador.

We have run out of the coloring books and need $600 to reprint. Please consider donating $10, $25, $50, or $100, Of course with a $500 donation, we can reproduce more, and even cover some of the postage to ship these handouts.

To donate, go to www.vrg.org/donate

Write to print Spanish coloring books in the comments section. Or send a check to VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Thank you so much for your support.

2015-2020 DIETARY GUIDELINES RELEASED — HEALTHY VEGETARIAN EATING PATTERN INCLUDED

Posted on January 08, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

The new Dietary Guidelines have been released by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a resource for health professionals and policymakers as they design and implement food and nutrition programs that feed the American people, such as USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, which feed more than 30 million children each school day. The Dietary Guidelines also provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Included in the Dietary Guidelines is a Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern.
See http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-5/

The text of the Dietary Guidelines states: “The Healthy Vegetarian Pattern is adapted from Dietary Guidelines Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, modifying amounts recommended from some food groups to more closely reflect eating patterns reported by self-identified vegetarians in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This analysis allowed development of a Pattern that is based on evidence of the foods and amounts consumed by vegetarians, in addition to meeting the same nutrient and Dietary Guidelines standards as the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern. Based on a comparison of the food choices of these vegetarians to nonvegetarians in NHANES, amounts of soy products (particularly tofu and other processed soy products), legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains were increased, and meat, poultry, and seafood were eliminated. Dairy and eggs were included because they were consumed by the majority of these vegetarians. This Pattern can be vegan if all dairy choices are comprised of fortified soy beverages (soymilk) or other plant-based dairy substitutes. Note that vegetarian adaptations of the USDA Food Patterns were included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. However, those adaptations did not modify the underlying structure of the Patterns, but substituted the same amounts of plant foods for animal foods in each food group. In contrast, the current Healthy Vegetarian Pattern includes changes in food group composition and amounts, based on assessing the food choices of vegetarians. The Pattern is similar in meeting nutrient standards to the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, but somewhat higher in calcium and fiber and lower in vitamin D due to differences in the foods included.”

“To follow this Pattern, identify the appropriate calorie level, choose a variety of foods in each group and subgroup over time in recommended amounts, and limit choices that are not in nutrient-dense forms so that the overall calorie limit is not exceeded.” See Table A5-1 http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-5/

Readers may also be interested in VRG’s My Vegan Plate.
http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/MyVeganPlate.pdf

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BARNARD MEDICAL CENTER

Posted on January 07, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Barnard Medical Center, which opened on Jan. 5, 2016 in Washington, DC, says:

The Barnard Medical Center provides more than medical care. It also helps you tackle the root causes of illness, with extra attention on improving health through prevention and nutrition. That means that, although medications often play a key role in health, if your problem is nutritional, we will help you tackle that, too. Perhaps you won’t need medications at all.

For appointments, see: http://www.pcrm.org/barnard-medical-center

Scientific Updates Reported in Each Issue of Vegetarian Journal

Posted on January 06, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Vegetarian Resource Group publishes Vegetarian Journal each quarter of the year. In every issue we include our quarterly column called Scientific Update, where we take a look at recent scientific literature on veggie diets.

Here’s a recent installment:
http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2015issue4/2015_issue4_scientific_update.php

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

BECOMING A VEGAN CHEF, WORKING IN A VEGAN RESTAURANT, AND MORE by Angie Riccio

Posted on January 05, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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When I first declared myself vegan eleven years ago, the world was a different place. Going out to eat meant subjecting yourself to a dry salad with no croutons, and asking to hold the cheese. As of 2015, we have created a community that does not only accept veganism, but has entire restaurants dedicated to delivering the best products, freshest ingredients, and devotion towards dietary friendly meals. Being able to go out with your family and friends and order a three course meal with dessert is a dream that has become a reality.

For myself, I always wanted to be the one behind the kitchen walls creating decadent courses without having to ever learn how to cook a steak or crack an egg. Working in a strictly vegan restaurant can be very difficult, but also one of the most satisfying careers you can choose. I myself, have worked in multiple vegan establishments as a line cook, head chef, baker, pastry chef, barista, and bartender. Throughout my career, I have gathered questions from those interested in the field as well as filled with concern on how to make a living flipping veggie burgers and saying, are you ready for the check? I want to use my experience, both positive and negative, to influence others into following their dreams to becoming a vegan chef.

What is a chef?
People often use the term cook and chef interchangeably to describe someone in the back of the house. Chef is a title that you can achieve by obtaining a two to four year degree, where a cook is someone who prepares food in a kitchen without having any formal training. Becoming a chef is a bit more complicated than throwing on non slip shoes and showing up on time. The job is tiresome, with a minimum of eight hours on your feet, five to seven days a week. The job is tedious, with a revolving door staff, constant shift changes and training. Becoming a chef, a line cook, pastry chef, prep or even assembler can consume your life. With the negative side out of the way, there is something new to look forward to almost every single day in the kitchen. Experimenting with recipes, ordering new ingredients and products world-wide, becoming friends with your co-workers, and learning the vast knowledge they have to offer as well as a chance to prove yourself on every dinner plate. Those eight hours a day begin to fly by with wanting to stay late in order to help with the brunch rush or come in early to see this season’s beet shipment. Covering shifts, starts to mean more to you than money in your pocket, but joy that you will have more time in your home away from home. When the back of the house becomes tiresome, or if it is not your cup of tea from day one, there are ways to expand to the front of the house.

The food industry is forever changing, always at full speed and offering new positions every day. The work environment does not have to be in a restaurant; it can be in a bakery, a coffeehouse, a hotel, a bed and breakfast, and extend to wherever food is being sold. Being a chef, a professional cook, has endless possibilities that are worth ditching your personal life and free time for.

How is being a vegan chef different?
Although, for most vegans or vegetarians this question may seem unnecessary, it is something to consider before committing to your new career. As a vegan chef, your choices of restaurants to be employed at are cut in half and more. Refusing to work with meat, eggs, and dairy might not work unless you are applying for a position at a strictly vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Luckily, the world is changing. Today, more US residents are living the vegan lifestyle and new upcoming establishments are popping up left and right. When I was fourteen years old, living in New Hampshire, there was one vegetarian restaurant in the entire state, about an hour and a half away from my house. Without means of transportation, and a family who didn’t enjoy traveling; I was out of luck. Once you find your dream work destination, the fun really begins.

Working as a vegan baker, chef, or in the front of house, you are committing to more than just a new job but to supporting a very important cause. By working among other vegans, you are opening your eyes to the opportunity of growth. In your career you will learn how to take your skills to the next level by not only caring for the products you are producing but the lives you are saving by nourishing others and allowing them to learn how delicious vegan treats are. Working together we can make a difference, one plate at a time. You gain the knowledge to be able to substitute for dietary restrictions. Your knowledge of nutrition will help you understand when to consult customers who have allergies with certain foods, questions that you need to triple check the answer on and providing others with smiles after eating a delicious meal. The job will be difficult on you mentally and physically but there are some things you can do in preparation.

I work in a kitchen; Now what?
The hours are long, your back is killing you, the shoes are two sizes too small, and worst of all it’s over 100 degrees in the summer and you are dressed head to toe in chef whites. It takes time to truly get in your field and embark on your new journey. Before you throw in the apron and quit after a hard first week, there are some things you can do in preparation.

1. Become confident. Practice at home, take a night class, and study from magazines and cookbooks. I understand you just spent a lot of money on college, or that you just received a job that is working you to the bone but practice does make perfect.

2. Love what you eat; love what you make. If you are a healthy eater, do not work with cheesy pizza (even if vegan) and greasy fries. Make what you enjoy, so you are able to put your whole heart into what you love. As a pastry chef, I am not a huge fan of decorating cakes, and one of my first jobs was a cake decorator. I found myself clocking in and out as the shift was scheduled and running out the door and dreading the next day. Once I left that job and found a kitchen that challenged me, and produced more than just cakes, my attitude lifted and I was able to love my work. I brought work home with me, in a positive way. I went to work smiling, and arrived early and volunteered to stay late. Work where you love.

3. Have a passion for working in the kitchen. If you switch from job to job, and you are not getting a great sense of willingness, it’s time to quit. Not everyone can be a chef. It takes dedication, and obsession with new flavors, trends and becoming a foodie. If you are finding yourself not interested in the culinary arts, it is ok! You can still find another career. Try working in the front of the house, with the accounting or in management. You have your entire life to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. If your degree says one thing, but your heart says another, follow your heart till you are able to find happiness and a steady income.

4. Understand going from start to bottom. There is no shame in graduating with a degree and walking into a kitchen as less than the head chef. The kitchen you walk into is going to have employees who have been working there way up to head chef or executive manager. People who work hard are promoted, but they started from making appetizers, soups, and cold dishes. When you have worked your way up to line cook and sous chef, you are working for your manager. All the work you do is directly being watched by the owner or the manager of the restaurant. When the manager witnesses your hard work, they are going to be the ones directly complimenting your work and promoting you. The harder you work, the most likely you are to understand, and love your position at work.

5. Stay on top of your field. Always search the internet for what’s hot, what’s not and what’s trending. Read cookbooks, watch cooking shows, and visit restaurants near and far. The best thing you can do to feel comfortable in your field, is to be on top of your game. While visiting a new eatery, order small plates and lots of them in order to fully grasp a feel on their style and product. Once you feel comfortable in your field, it will show in your work.

6. The last bit of advice is networking. Become involved in the culinary field and in as many organizations as your can. Become Servsafe certified, Allergen Certified, American Culinary Federation, Personal Chefs Association of America, Women in FoodService, etc. These will look great on your resume as well as give you a safe, professional place, to go when you have questions. Show up at local food competitions, vegetarian food festivals, follow local chefs on social media, local markets, farmers markets, co-ops, community kitchens, gardens, and stores that cater to the vegetarian lifestyle. Having friends and role models within your city can help you find a job or keep you invited to local events. Networking is very important.

How to really survive the life as a chef
Take a deep breath; the hard work is almost over. You have your job, you have the skills, you are practicing, studying and networking before, during and after work, and most of all, you are happy. There are a few final things to consider during your career as an industry vegan chef. One of the largest questions I receive is how do I make an honest living wage. Starting from the bottom and working your way up, means starting with a small pay check and working your way up in salary. Most vegan establishments are currently privately owned, and pay a living wage but not enough to pay off your culinary school loans on top of your rent. While this is the case, pick up as many hours as possible or a second job. This is not ideal, but it will keep you driven and on top of your payments. Consider paying your loans through a system that measures your paycheck and takes a percentage. As your pay goes up, the loan company will take more from your check until you are at a stable salary where you can pay the monthly minimum while still putting food on the table. The industry is always growing and rapidly changing.

Never be afraid to change jobs due to a better offer, or an opportunity to perfect your skills. With having your mind at ease when it comes to money and where you need to work, the last bit of advice I have is work as hard as you can for as long as you can. When I started in the industry, I worked seven days a week with no social life to be where I am today. In my current management position I have a steady five day a week work life where I am able to take days off, and pay my loans monthly. I have time for friends and family, even if at one time I did not. I am 24 years old, and a proud vegan chef who gets to go to work everyday with ingredients I care about while saving hundreds of animals’ lives. I am excited for my growth in the industry and understand I have a long way to go, and I am more than happy to go along for the ride. I encourage everyone to work in the industry as a vegan chef to inspire vegans everywhere to eat fresh and eat plenty!

For more information, see:
http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2014issue3/2014_issue3_vegan_chef.php

http://www.vrg.org/blog/2015/12/28/being-a-vegan-student-in-the-johnson-and-wales-culinary-arts-and-nutrition-program-by-angie-riccio/

The Vegetarian Resource Group is looking for Volunteers who are Fluent in Spanish

Posted on January 04, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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The Vegetarian Resource Group has numerous veggie materials written in Spanish on our website. See: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/information_in_Spanish.htm

We’d like to continue adding more Spanish information; however, we’re in need of volunteers who are able to proofread Spanish materials and give feedback if edits need to be made. Let us know if you’re are able to volunteer by emailing vrg@vrg.org Thanks!

Last Chance to Support The Vegetarian Resource Group in 2015!

Posted on December 31, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

New-Years

Please consider donating $25, $50, or $100 to The Vegetarian Resource Group so we can continue promoting the veggie message for years to come. Better yet, become a Life Member for $500! Your support and kind words are greatly appreciated. Happy 2016!

To donate, visit: http://www.vrg.org/member/donate_buttons.php

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

Posted on December 31, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

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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

eLOVate Vegan Kitchen & Juicery
1705 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
eLOVate has an eclectic menu featuring a number of dishes ranging from classic cafe cuisine to creative fusion dishes. Check out popular items like the Jackfruit Tacos or the Crabless Cakes. Or opt for a flight of cold pressed juices. Be sure to look into the desserts as well. Free parking available with validation. Accepts reservations.

Gnome Café
109 President St.
Charleston, SC 29403
Simple design gives Gnome Cafe a fresh and clean atmosphere. From the look of it, you might expect to find a lot of salad on the menu. You’d be wrong! This menu is chock full of comfort food. For breakfast (which is served all day) have a burrito, a fresh bagel, pancakes, a hemp sausage biscuit, or the southern grit bowl. For lunch you’ll see options from all over the map including taco salad, pad Thai, the bulgogi Korean bowl, or go all-American with a Reuben or a buffalo fried chicken sandwich. Sides include mac and cheese, onion rings, and Brussel sprout slaw.

Homegrown Smokehouse and Deli
1628 SW Jefferson St.
Portland, OR 97201
This unique smokehouse and sub shop is complete with a deli counter stocked with an array of homemade, sliced “Schmeats” which you can purchase by the pound! There’s smoked “Be-If”, smoked salami, smoked pastrami, and maple ginger “H-Yam”. They also have a variety of sides, just as you would find in any deli counter, such as slaw, potato salad, beans, and their own “creamy mac-noncheese”. Sandwiches include standards like the “Philthy Nocheese Stake”, a take on the Philly cheese steak, and originals like the “Macnocheeto Burrito”. In answer to your next question: Yes, it’s a mac and cheese burrito.

icreate Café
130 King St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
iCreate café is the perfect place to hang out. Not only are they a café, but they also have movie nights, live musicians, and computer training classes available. They are well known for their vegan food and organic coffee. Some of the available vegan dishes include veggie Paninis, falafel wraps, and a platter of hummus and baba ghanouj with pita and veggies. They also offer vegan ice cream and other desserts. If you are looking for some entertainment and good food this is the perfect café to visit.

Purple Sprout Café
341 E Dundee Rd.
Wheeling, IL 60090
The Purple Sprout offers a wide selection of vegan fare with many gluten-free and raw options. For breakfast, stop in for crepes filled with either fruit or a chickpea and vegetable scramble. The lunch/dinner menu offers interesting selections such as the raw cashew and basil pizza, or the black bean and hemp burger. In addition, be sure to see what is available in their constantly changing deli and hot food cases. They offer a wide range of desserts, many of which are also raw. At the juice bar you will find an amazing array of fresh juices, juice blends, smoothies, and shots.

Sugar Plum Sweet Shop
324 15th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
Part of Seattle’s well know “Plum Restaurants” family of vegan establishments, Sugar Plum is located in the Capitol Hill area and offers vegan soft serve ice cream with a selection of cones and toppings, as well as brownies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, tarts, and other baked confections.

High School Seniors: Apply for Vegetarian Resource Group College Scholarships Today!

Posted on December 30, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

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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

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group – Become a Monthly or Quarterly Donor!

Posted on December 30, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group is an activist non-profit organization that does outreach all-year-long. We table at different events through the USA and also send literature free of charge to other groups/individuals doing educational activities in schools, hospitals, camps, restaurants, libraries, etc. around the country. Our ability to continue doing this depends on people like you! Your donations allow us to promote the vegan message whenever we’re called upon for assistance. Please consider becoming a monthly or quarterly donor to VRG. Thanks so much for your support. You can become a monthly or quarterly donor online here: https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

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