The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Celebrate the Arrival of Summer with These Vegan Recipes!

Posted on June 20, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Costa Rican Fruits

Posted on June 18, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Priscilla Broadwater

As a native of Costa Rica I can say that there is a myriad of fruits in my country. If you have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, it won’t take you too long to notice that there are fruits everywhere. Some of them you probably didn’t know existed.

Back in 2006 I was working as a tourist guide. My job required me to take groups of foreign students on a tour around Heredia city (located in the Central Valley) with the purpose of allowing them to become familiar with the area and the culture. We took public transportation because we wanted them to become familiar with the Costa Rican currency. My other duties were to show them the location of certain bus stops, supermarkets, and drugstores in case they ever needed anything. My favorite place to take them was the Central Market, which is located in the middle of the city. At this market, many sellers and farmers gather up every day to sell their products.

At the Central Market you can buy just about anything, for example: fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, plants, smoothies, sandwiches, traditional Costa Rican food, shoes, clothes, umbrellas, wooden toys, etc. I loved seeing the students’ faces as we walked into this market. As one student said to me, “you brought us to fruit land.” I had an acquaintance at the market who always allowed us to try the fruits he was selling; the students just loved it! The best part was seeing their faces and their reactions as they tried those exotic fruits they had never seen before. They always took plenty of pictures. Often I would hear them say, “We need to show our parents some of the cool fruits we tried.”

The following list provides just a few names of some of the most common fruits found at the Central Market in Costa Rica:

Manzana de agua (water apple): This fruit is called water apple because it’s red like an apple, but when you bite into it, it’s really juicy. The dark red ones are very sweet. This is a very refreshing fruit.

Guanábana (soursop): This fruit is sweet and juicy; commonly used to make juice, milk shakes, and ice cream. Its skin is green and inside contains a white flesh that’s chewy but tasty.

Guaba: The shape of this fruit is quite different from others. It’s thin and about 18 inches long; however, they can be shorter or longer. Inside there are seeds covered by a lightly fibrous and sweet white flesh. Kids love this fruit because after they eat the pulp, they wear the seeds as earrings.

Guayaba (guava): Americans know this fruit by the name of guava. It can be eaten when still green, or you can let it ripen. This is one of the most common fruits in Central America. People make guava jelly; which they often put on bread, crackers, and some pastries.

Mamey: The mamey looks a lot like a sweet potato, but slightly bigger. The pulp has a grainy texture and it is rich and sweet.

Granadilla: A granadilla is the size of a medium orange. Usually they are orange on the outside, but the color can vary. Inside there is a sweet and juicy group of seeds, wrapped in a thin clear layer. As a kid, this was my favorite fruit.

Mamón Chino (Rambutan):
This fruit is colorful; its thick and hairy looking skin can be red, yellow, or orange. Inside there is a seed covered by a translucent fleshy layer. Its taste is sweet, but can be slightly acidic.

Jocote: When green they are tart and very tasty; most people sprinkle on some salt before every bite. Once Jacote ripen, they are very juicy and sweet.

Marañon: This fruit looks a little bit like a water apple, and it’s also called cashew apple. On top of the fruit there is a hard shell that sticks out. Inside that part there is the nut known as cashew. The actual cashew nut contains a toxin; therefore they need to be properly roasted before you eat them. This fruit is sweet and notorious for a strong smell and taste.

Carambola (star fruit): The entire fruit is edible; as you cut it you can see the shape of a star, which is why it’s called star fruit. Usually people make carambola juice, which is very refreshing.

Cas: Cas belongs to the guava family, which is why they look so similar. Cas is a little bit sour and the size of a plum. This fruit is used to make juice which is delicious.

Cacao: Like many people already know, the seeds inside the cocoa fruit are used to make chocolate. The silky sour/sweet and creamy pulp that surrounds the cocoa seeds tastes very good; however, don’t expect it to taste like a chocolate bar.

Papaya: This fruit is very popular in Costa Rica. When not ripe it’s used to make what Costa Ricans call, “Papaya Salad,” a popular and unique dish. When the fruit is ripened it is dark orange inside and very sweet. As a kid, I loved to pop the little black seeds that come inside.

Craft Glues and Paints: Mostly Petrochemical but Carmine Present in Some Testors® and Plaid® Paints

Posted on June 18, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, VRG Research Director

A long-time member recently asked The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) about the glues and paints used in model kits. He was interested in building models using only vegan materials defined as materials which contain no animal ingredients nor were produced using animal-derived products.

After speaking with several model kit companies and craft glue and paint manufacturers in March to May 2014, The VRG discovered that most of the currently available kits, glues, and paints are derived from petrochemicals (petroleum or natural gas) that originated long ago from ancient animal and plant matter. A major exception is insect-derived carmine derived from carminic acid used as a color in some craft paint.

Model Kit Companies

The VRG contacted a few model kit companies to find out if they produced their own paints or glues or had any recommendations.

A customer service representative at Revell® told us that their American model kits contain only the plastic model parts. (Revell in Germany includes paint and glue in its kits.) Polystyrene plastic is used. Polyvinyl chloride tires are sometimes included. A Revell employee recommended Testors® paint for their kits.

Hasegawa® told The VRG that “most paints and glues are synthetic but can’t guarantee that there are no animal products.” At our request the service rep looked at the ingredient label on a can of spray paint and noted that “other ingredients” were listed with no further information provided. They had no information on the plastic parts.

A twenty-year employee at Tamiya® told us that he “doubted very much” that animal products were in the paint or glue saying that he was “99.9% sure that there were no animal ingredients.” He informed us that polystyrene is the plastic used for their model kit parts. Synthetic acrylic paint is used and rubber cement is sold separately. No further information was available.


The VRG identified craft glues without animal-derived ingredients according to company information. However, we received no complete ingredient statements as companies told us that their ingredient formulations were proprietary. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available for glues yet they list only the potentially hazardous ingredients which in most cases are petrochemical-based. Possible animal-derived glue ingredients such as gelatin or the milk protein casein would not be listed on MSDS sheets.

Elmer’s® website stated that no animal products are used in their glue:

Elmer’s does not use animals or animal parts to make glue. Our products are made from synthetic materials and are not derived from processing horses, cows or any other animals.

Elmer’s products appropriate for model kits are:

The VRG called Elmer’s about the rubber cement and learned that it also does not contain animal ingredients. Customer service representative Brian told us that “all of Elmer’s products are synthetic.” He said that they never used animal products although the milk protein casein was in a glue produced by Borden® (dairy company) in the early 1900s (source).

Weldbond® also produces vegan glue. According to its FAQ page:

Weldbond® is not tested on animals and does not contain any animal by-products. This product is Vegan Friendly.

The VRG spoke with the technical department at Weldbond and learned that its glue would not work well with certain plastics including those commonly used in model kits such as styrene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


The VRG received an email reply from Plaid® that manufacturers several craft paint brands listed on this page:

We were informed that,
Plaid products contain no food products, no food by products. No animal products and no by-products of animals. Plaid products are not animal tested…Plaid product ingredients are proprietary information and not available for public review.

After we received this email The VRG called Plaid and asked specifically about carmine. A customer service representative told us that their paints contained “natural pigments.” She didn’t know if carmine was included in this category but would ask the chemist, and mentioned that there is a Plaid paint color called “carmine” but didn’t know if carmine was in it.

She called back to relay information provided by the chemist. She said that “…some Plaid paint products contain carminic acid.” She could not specify which ones but said “…all Plain paint brands may contain it.”

Testors® paint produced by RPM International® Inc. is a major hobby paint brand. When we first contacted Testors by phone and asked if animal products were in their paints, we were told that no animal ingredients were present.

The VRG called Testors again and asked specifically about carmine. The product support representative told us that she would have to ask in the lab. Later she replied by email,

I heard back from the lab at Testors. We regret to inform you that carminic acid is in many of our colors.

‘We do use carmine, as it is a red pigment and it is derived from carminic acid which comes from scale insects. Red pigments are combined in many colors to make the actual finished pigment.’

During a followup call The VRG learned that carmine or carminic acid would not be listed on a paint label. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) list only hazardous ingredients and so carmine even if present would not appear. Here are some MSDS examples of red paint products found on Testors website:

Revving Red One Coat Lacquer Spray:

Pearl Red Aztek® Airbrush Paint:

We were told that both brush-on and spray Testors paints could contain the insect-derived pigment. No listing of specific paint colors produced with carmine is available from Testors.

In foods and beverages, carmine can be used to produce orange, pink, red and purple shades (source). This page also contains general information about carmine.

Readers may note that in 2009, the FDA ruled that carmine must be declared on food and cosmetics labels due to the possibility of severe allergic reactions in some people (source).

The contents of this article, website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

Vegan Restaurants in U.S. & Canada Recently Added to our Restaurant Guide

Posted on June 16, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Vegan Restaurants in U.S. & Canada Recently Added to our Restaurant Guide.

These vegan restaurants were recently added to our online restaurant guide. To find restaurants in your area, please visit:

Charlie was a sinner
131 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
(267) 758-5372
Vegan/natural foods/bar. Charlie was a sinner is a vegan bar with a full vegan menu. Enjoy creative foods like Saffron Artichokes, Korean-Style Fried Tofu, and Confit Potato Cup & Mushroom. The restaurant/bar is located in Center City. Reservations are accepted. Open daily for lunch and dinner through late night service. Full service,
fresh juices, espresso/cappuccino, beer/wine/alcohol, VISA/MC, $-$$.

Dough Bakery
100 Hurt St., Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 380-1400
Vegan/bakery/deli. Dough Bakery is a completely vegan bakery and deli. Their sandwich and soup specials are ever-changing but previous offerings have included the French Dip sandwich, “Meatball” sub, Chickpea Pasta soup, Cuban Black Bean soup, and Cuban sandwich. Enjoy sweets including cupcakes, cookies, coffee cake, and muffins. Cakes can be ordered for that special occasion. Dough Bakery is located in Inman Park, just east of downtown Atlanta. Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Closed Monday. Counter service, take-out, catering, VISA/MC/AMEX, $.

Sweet to Lick
78 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, NY 11596
(516) 385-8833
Vegan/bakery. Sweet to Lick puts more personality and creativity into their treats than one can possibly imagine! They have enough cookies, cakes, and pastries to satisfy even the most indulgent sweet tooth. Tasty treats include Chocolate Chip Cookies, Rocky Road Bars, Peanut Butter Mousse, S’mores Cake, and Swiss Rolls. Looking for something savory instead? Sweet to Lick has you covered. Check out their Facebook or Twitter pages to see what creative dishes they are serving. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Open Sunday for lunch. Counter service, take-out, soymilk, special beverages, VISA/MC/AMEX/DISC, $-$$.

Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co.
1277 Bloor St., W., Toronto, ON M6H 1N7
(416) 998-3321
Vegan/bakery. Through Being Cool is a cute little all-vegan take-out bakery. They make everything in-house including doughnuts, cookies, tarts, and preserves. In addition to baked goods, TBC offers oven-ready meals to-go; foods may include lasagna, cabbage rolls, pierogies, and mac & cheese. They are located in Bloordale Village. Cash only.
Open daily. Take-out, espresso/cappuccino, soymilk, $.

Vegan Cuisine
11743 Edinger Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 839-8305
Vegan/Vietnamese. Vegan Cuisine offers an all-vegan menu of Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy foods like Bliss Chow Mein, Wonton Noodle Soup, and Lotus Root Salad. They also offer a few Western dishes such as Spaghetti with Ground Grazing Moon Meatless Balls.The café features many delicious desserts and specialty beverages as well. Outdoor seating is available. Open Wednesday through Monday for lunch and dinner. Closed Tuesday. Full service, take-out, fresh juices, smoothies, soymilk, non-alcoholic beer/wine, VISA/MC, $-$$.

Issue 2 2014 of Vegetarian Journal is now online!

Posted on June 13, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor


Here are just some of the topics covered in this issue of Vegetarian Journal:
Guide to Vegan Milks
Going Amok in Cambodia
What Do Vegetarian Groups Consider Vegetarian and Vegan?
Injectable Vitamin B12
Kid-Friendly Vegan Entrees
Vegan Cooking Tips: Quick Salad Dressings
Vegetarian Action: Sprouting Veganism Through a School Garden

Former VRG Scholarship Winner Continues to do Veggie Outreach

Posted on June 13, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Seema Rupani
Project Manager, Eat Drink Politics

Hello, my name is Seema; I received a scholarship from The Vegetarian Resource Group several years ago ( and I am a big fan. I am now working with Eat Drink Politics, and I wanted to share this new report from Michele Simon on the dairy industry. It shows how the government is teaming up with the dairy industry to promote foods like Domino’s pizza, McDonald’s shakes, and Trumoo sugary milks in schools.

You can download the full report here:

VRG Hosts Lunch for Local Dietetic Nutrition Interns

Posted on June 11, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

On May 30, 2014, VRG was happy to be able to share information and vegan food with ten dietetic nutrition interns from the University of Maryland.


Posted on June 11, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

In a further effort to help young people think 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, Sienna Scheid’s, “NOW IS THE START” below or browse other past winners’ videos.

Honor Fathers with Vegan Cuisine

Posted on June 09, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

Celebrate the father’s in your life this Father’s Day by serving vegan dishes! Here are two recipes to get you started.

Hearty Macaroni Dinner (from Simply Vegan)
Serves 4

2 cups elbow macaroni
4 cups water
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
3 cups no salt added tomato juice
4 teaspoons chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
10 ounces frozen corn
19-ounce can kidney beans, drained (or 2 cups cooked kidney beans)

Cook pasta in water until tender. Drain.

Sauté onion in oil in a large pot. Add remaining ingredients, as well as cooked pasta. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Tofu Burgers (from Meatless Meals for Working People)
Serves 4

2 cups firm tofu, crumbled
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon oil
½ cup water or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons oil for frying

Blend or mash tofu well and add remaining ingredients (except oil for frying). The easiest way to do this is in a food processor, but you can do it by hand. Mix well.

Form patties and fry in oil in a large frying pan on both sides until brown (approximately 10 minutes).

Serve warm on whole grain bread with lettuce and sliced tomato.

VRG Booth at the Charles Village Festival

Posted on June 09, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Devlyn Perugini, VRG Intern

Over the weekend, May 31st to June 1st, The Vegetarian Resource Group held a booth at the 18th annual Charles Village Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. This is a yearly festival filled with live music, vendors, crafts, a 5K race, and the Charles Village Garden Walk.

On Saturday, we worked with Mark Rifkin, a vegan dietitian. Mark was able to give professional opinions to people with health concerns. Mark was a reliable source who was taken seriously. Chris Dietrich worked with us on Sunday. Chris is an animal rights activist. He was very passionate about promoting vegetarianism and it showed through his enthusiastic conversations. Chris suggested an alternative to meat, called, Beyond Meat, which a lot of people seemed to be interested in. Miss Mason Dixon, Cara Marrero, also helped us on Sunday. See:

Volunteers: Matt Baker, Cara Marrero and Chris Dietrich and Co-Director, Charles Stahler, working the VRG table at the Charles Village Festival.

My experience with working at the booth was truly amazing. I realized that I love talking about vegetarianism and could do it all day long! I felt like I truly made a difference for a good amount of people visiting the booth.

For example: There was an older man who was hesitantly approaching us. I offered him one of our Journals and asked if he had any questions. He told me that he had tried to be vegetarian but had a difficult time. He was hungry and couldn’t make it affordable. I showed him the My Vegan Plate informational paper and pointed to the protein section. I explained to him that he could buy beans and rice in bulk and experiment with different types of tofu and alternatives. He didn’t know that there were different types of tofu and seemed excited when I told him that they’re easily found in grocery stores. I had an in-depth conversation with him and his wife. They both were pleased and seemed relieved that they had new information to assist them. Before they left, the man thanked me and told me that he was going to try being vegetarian again. He was happy and it was rewarding to see that. In short, I really enjoyed working at the booth. I felt so proud to stand with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

If you would like to volunteer at VRG booths, contact Nina at
If you would like to intern at VRG go to
If you would like to support VRG outreach, donate at
To join VRG go to

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