The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

UPCOMING VEGGIE THANKSGIVING EVENTS

Posted on November 04, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Below is a list of some of the veggie thanksgiving meals that are happening around the United States this year. Enjoy the holiday season!

The Vegetarian Resource Group, Baltimore, Maryland
Please join us at VRG’s 33rd Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Potluck on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at 5:00PM at North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210.

Admission is $4 per adult; children are admitted free. Bring a vegan dish – made without meat, fish, fowl, milk, cheese, eggs, honey, or other animal-derived ingredients – that serves four as a contribution from each member of your party. Also, we encourage everyone to bring their own plate and utensils to reduce waste but will have some disposable ones available.

If you are unable to cook, you may bring a prepared vegan dish for four from a local natural foods store or restaurant. Also, we encourage you to bring a non-perishable vegetarian canned food item to donate to the church, who will distribute it to those in need.

We can always use some extra hands for this event! If you would like to volunteer, please contact Nina at ninac@vrg.org.

For more information contact The Vegetarian Resource Group: (410) 366-8343 or vrg@vrg.org

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Poplar Spring, Maryland
Saturday, November 22, 2014; 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Come celebrate Thanksgiving WITH the turkeys – join our friendly turkeys and all their friends in celebrating a cruelty-free Thanksgiving potluck. Please bring a vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs) dinner or dessert item to serve 8. $10.00 suggested donation to benefit the animals. No charge for children under 16. For information call (301) 428-8128 or contact info@aniamlsanctuary.org.

Vegetarian Society of Washington DC, Bethesda, Maryland

Vegan Dinner and speaker
Thursday, November 27, 2014, 12-4 pm
Hyatt Regency Bethesda
7400 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
See: http://www.vsdc.org/Thanksgiving_Event.html

Farm Sanctuary’s Celebration for the Turkeys
Orland, California November 8, 2014
Acton, California (Los Angeles area) November 15, 2014
Watkins Glen, New York November 22, 2014

At Farm Sanctuary, we do Thanksgiving a little differently. At our shelters, the turkeys are the guests of honor! Celebrate with us this November as we treat our rescued turkey residents to a grand feast of stuffed squash, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. After spending the day getting to know the turkeys and other rescued animals that live at our sanctuaries, you will be treated to a gourmet vegan Thanksgiving feast of your own!

During dinner, guests enjoy a lively speaker program with presentations from Farm Sanctuary staff and special guests. This fun, feel-good event is perfect for families, individuals, long-time vegans, and those simply interested in learning a little more about animals. We welcome you to join us in celebrating this unique holiday tradition! For information see: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/events/2014-celebration-for-the-turkeys/

Florida Voices For Animals, Tampa Bay, Florida

See: http://tampavegthanksgiving.com/

Vegetarian Society of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
See: http://www.vsh.org/thanksgiving/

Northern Vegans, Negaunee, Michigan

Please join us on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27th at 2pm. The potluck will be held at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Negaunee on 520 US-41 (on the corner of US-41 and Baldwin Ave.).

Please bring a vegan dish to share (Vegan omits all animal products including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. Anything from the plant kingdom is vegan.). Also please bring a serving utensil for that dish.

Please bring your own table service: plate, utensils, and cup. We really appreciate that. This will help reduce waste and cleaning time and it is the most environmentally-friendly way to go (rather than using disposable items).

Water, tea, and coffee will be provided. Please bring your recipe or ingredient list to help those with food allergies. You can join this event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1539457322950936/?context=create&source=49

Vegetarian Society of South Jersey Annual Thanksgiving Potluck and Vegan Bake Sale, Burlington, New Jersey
Saturday November 22, 4pm; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1308 Burlington-Mt Holly Rd (Rte 541), Burlington, NJ 08016
Please bring a non-dessert dish to the potluck. VSSJ members: $3; $8 family; Non-members: $6; $15 family (to cover hall rental). Be green: get $1 off ($3 family) if you bring reusable place settings!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for setup, cleanup, and to bake. To volunteer, RSVP, or for more info, please contact us at thevssj@gmail.com or 609-848-VEG1 (8341).

Vegan Thanksgiving at Katz JCC, Margate, New Jersey
See: https://www.facebook.com/TheVSSJ/posts/567043253395807

Triangle Vegetarian Society, Durham, North Carolina
The Triangle Vegetarian Society announced: We are again having our big Thanksgiving extended daytime seating at Cafe Parizade in Durham. For the past decade, we have been hosting the country’s largest vegetarian (in fact, fully vegan) Thanksgiving; in 2013, we had 620 people at Parizade and 184 at Kipos Greek Taverna the Monday before Thanksgiving. We started taking reservations on November 8th, 2013, 20 days before Thanksgiving, and received 611 reservations that first day, with fifty coming in the first minute and a half.

I am delighted to announce that we are again also having a pre-Thanksgiving feast. This time, it will again be the Monday before Thanksgiving (November 24) from 6-9p. The venue will be Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh. When Irregardless was opened in February 1975 by Chef Arthur Gordon, the area’s longest established chef, it was Raleigh’s first vegetarian restaurant. It no longer is all vegetarian, but features a number of tasty vegan dishes on its menu. Before we moved our huge event to Cafe Parizade, we had Thanksgiving at Irregardless in 1997 and 1998.

We expect to sell out both all-vegan events quickly. Please visit trianglevegsociety.org/thanksgiving for full and updated details, including about making reservations. The current plan is to open for reservations, for members (at a discounted price) as well as non-members on Saturday November 8th at noon. Thanks to our awesome webmaster Ken Guttman, you should find it easy to make reservations online, but Brian Donlon can be called 919-914-3504 for assistance. Please do not call the restaurants as they cannot make reservations.

The menu hasn’t been set yet, but is again expected to include some no-added-fat dishes and many soy- and/or gluten- free choices. We aim to again have a bountiful raffle of many exciting products and services. You will be able to purchase raffle tickets when you make your reservations, and we will also sell tickets at the events.

The all-inclusive price is the same this year, $27 for members, $30 for non-members, $8 for children ages 5-10, and no charge for younger children. An important goal of mine with this event is to show off how great fully plant-based food is, and we generally don’t turn people away due to finances. I try hard to keep prices low, but if a job loss or difficult financial situation presents itself, please contact me and we’ll see what can be done so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving with TVS. Northwest Veg, Portland, Oregon (Details to come!)

Join Northwest VEG, other vegans, vegetarians, and veg-curious people as we celebrate community and healthy plant-based food. This 11th annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck will stimulate your palate and give you the opportunity to meet new people. Doors open at 4:30pm; Event begins at 5pm. See: http://nwveg.org/thanksgiving

Vegetarian Society of East Tennessee
Annual Vegetarian Thanksgiving, Sunday, November 23, 6 pm, at the First Seventh-day Adventist Church, Kingston Pike, 3611 Kingston Pike. Bring a dish, bring a friend, renew your membership. Live music by Allen McBride on the hammered dulcimer. $5 members, $6 non-members, $3 child, $15 max per family. Extra $7 to attend without bringing food. Door prizes, books sales, white elephant booth. Volunteers needed! Contact: director Bob Grimac at 865-546-5643 or visit http://www.vs-et.com/

FLOWER CHILD RESTAURANTS

Posted on October 31, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

According to Restaurant News, Fox Restaurant Concepts is planning to
grow outside its home state of Arizona over the next three years, and
is ramping up expansion of its new fast-casual Flower Child concept.

Flower Child marks items on its menu as vegetarian or vegan, such as
Sesame Soba Noodles, Indian Spiced Cauliflower, Quinoa with Mushroom and
Rosemary, Organic Tofu and Mushroom Pho, and Thai Dye.
See: http://iamaflowerchild.com/

For information about restaurant chains, see: http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php

For information about vegetarian restaurants, see:
http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

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

National Plant-Based Prevention of Disease (P-POD)

Posted on October 31, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The annual national Plant-based Prevention Of Disease (P-POD) conference series is intended to offer an evidence-based look at how the risks of society’s major preventable diseases may be affected, and reduced, by certain plant-based approaches to eating. Our Nov. 14-16, 2014 1st annual P-POD Conference is being hosted by the Department of Health and Wellness, University of North Carolina Asheville. For details see: http://preventionofdisease.org/about-p-pod/

Lactation and the Vegan Diet

Posted on October 29, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant and will be breastfeeding your vegan child, you can find terrific information on Lactation and The Vegan Diet on The Vegetarian Resource Group’s website here: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/lactation.htm

This information comes from Simply Vegan.

Vegan mothers may also be interested in The Everything Vegan Pregnancy.

WaWa Convenience Stores

Posted on October 29, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Please note that WaWa carries hummus and many fruit and vegetable snacks, so it’s easy to find alternatives to cheese if you are stopping there for gas while traveling. However, a reader of The Vegetarian Resource Group’s website www.vrg.org asked WaWa questions about the cheese they carry and we thought we’d share his letter and WaWa’s response.

Good Morning VRG!

I frequent vrg.org very often for news and insight into updates on the vegetarian world. I have learned so much from your website, and have been able to make much better decisions about what I eat and where because of your site. I would like to submit my own contribution in the form of information.

Wawa is a popular quick stop gas station and convenience store in the northeast as well as down the east coast. I get lunch there every so often. Since I have not seen anything on vrg.org about Wawa, I decided to do a little digging of my own. It went something along the lines of animal-derived rennet and animal-derived enzymes, and how many cheeses they use have it.

I’m forwarding the email I received as a response from them. Most of their other “allergens” can be found on: http://www.wawa.com/WawaWeb/Nutrition.aspx, as well as an ingredients list for many of their food items.

I did note in my original question to them that their response will be shared with online vegetarian communities unless they ask me otherwise, which they have not.

Thank you for the wonderful job you do on vrg.org. vrg.org is my go-to guide when I have a question about anything related to ingredients or restaurants.

Satisfied “Groupie”
-Navin Muneshar

Wawa Quality Assurance
260 W. Baltimore Pike
Wawa, PA 19063
October, 21st 2014

Dear Navin,

Regarding animal enzymes in cheese processing, enzymes are used as a clotting agent in the cheese vat to facilitate the separation of curd and whey. While most barrel and block cheeses utilize vegetable or microbial based enzymes; calf rennet, the traditional source, can be used in some specialty products.

Hydrolyzed protein can also be an ingredient in some cheeses and is protein that has been hydrolyzed or broken down into its component amino acids. While there are many means of achieving this, two of the most common are prolonged boiling in a strong acid (acid-HVP), strong base, or by using an enzyme such as the pancreatic protease enzyme to simulate the naturally occurring hydrolytic process. Enzymes used could be derived from animal, vegetable, or microbial.

Over our many different products, Wawa uses a variety of cheese that come from multiple different suppliers. Each vendor uses different processes and has different declarations regarding what kind of enzyme was employed in the production of their cheeses. In an effort to aid our vegetarian customers we have broken each of our used cheese products into four categories based on how each supplier declares their cheese enzymes:

“Animal Enzymes Used”

· Sliced Fontina Cheese

“Enzymes are of non-animal origin”

· All cubed cheeses in pre-packaged salads.

· All cubed cheeses in pre-packaged “Snacks”: Protein Pack, Pepperoni Pack, Fruit and Cheese Tray etc.

· Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Natural Blend.

· Sliced Swiss Cheese- “Microbial Rennet- Vegetable base.”

· Sliced Pepper Jack Cheese.

· Sliced Provolone Cheese

To our current knowledge (in this next category only) – animal based enzymes have not been used for these products, to date, due to the inherent cost to the producers (Vegetable and Microbial are much cheaper and easier to use.) Our suppliers in this listing, however, leave the option open to use them if, and when, needed:

“Supplier does not specify a requirement with their suppliers and it is possible that either type could be present in trace amounts in the products we package or process.”

· Shredded Sharp Cheddar.

· Shredded Mozzarella.

· Sliced Sizzli Cheese’s

· Sliced Sharp Cheddar.

· Soft Cream Cheese (separate from cream cheese in pretzels.)

No comment or declaration in product specification:

· Pre-made Wraps and Sandwiches – These are made by one of our vendors who receives their cheese from their own suppliers, we unfortunately do not have access to this information.

· Sliced American- No official statement regarding the cheese enzymes. However:

· Hydrolyzed Protein (Animal/Vegetable)- Listed as ‘No’

· Beef and beef derivatives- Listed as ‘No’

· Pork and pork derivatives- Listed as ‘No’

· Macaroni and Cheese- No official statement regarding the cheese enzymes. The supplier does, however, declare Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten which is a vegetable based enzyme.

Again, based on price and ease of use; Vegetable and Microbial based enzymes are the primary enzymes used in common cheese productions. Generally speaking, only very expensive artisanal and specialty cheese’s use animal rennet’s in their production.

I hope this extra information was helpful to you and that you are still able to enjoy our product offerings! If we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us via our website: www.Wawa.com.

With Regards,

Wawa Quality Assurance Team

The contents of this 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.

For information on restaurant chains, visit http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php

For information on vegetarian restaurants, visit http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

For information on a few vegan cheeses, visit

http://miyokoskitchen.com/

http://chicagoveganfoods.com/products/teese-vegan-cheese/

http://us.daiyafoods.com/

http://www.tofutti.com/dairy-free-cheeses/

http://followyourheart.com/cheesekarma-gourmet

http://www.vrg.org/blog/2012/04/28/vegan-mac-and-no-cheese-with-zucchini-cream-sauce/

Vegan Grocery Shopping In a Local Middle Eastern International Supermarket

Posted on October 28, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Dina Gharib, VRG Intern

Koko Market is a small, international grocery store located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a family owned business, with a heavy emphasis on the Middle East, but also supplies goods from all over the world. What you may not know is that small ethnic stores such as this one are filled with a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian goods for half the price of your local supermarket. With much patience, and deep observation, you can find everything you need to satisfy your global taste buds, while supporting your local small business.

If you’re a tea enthusiast and American teas doesn’t satisfy your complex palette, Koko market offers a wide variety of traditional flavors like Earl Grey from England, to more exotic flavors like Darjeeling from India. If that doesn’t satisfy you, they also have Green, Ceylon, Back, Ginger, Sage, Hibiscus, and Star Anise teas, shipped from all over the globe. For the juice lovers, Koko market offers pure juices varying from mango, apricot, and pomegranate to guava, peach, and cherry. These juices are all vegan, and don’t contain any artificial additives or preservatives. For the date lover, Koko market offers a wide variety of fresh dates, for half the cost of your local supermarket, with a 30-ounce container of Delget Noor dates costing a mere $4.99. Other varieties for sale include fresh California grown Medjool dates, on the vine Bahri dates, or the sweet and sticky Khalas date.

In the canned goods section, you’ll find authentic Egyptian, Lebanese, or Palestinian Ful Medames (cooked and mashed fava beans) prepared according to each country’s tradition. After close observation I also found that all the canned and prepared stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage, and stuffed peppers were all vegan. If that wasn’t enough to make me a happy patron, they also had a wall of canned hummus in multiple varieties. They also had canned Baba Ganoush, as well as cans of a hummus tahini mix. If you’re more of a tahini (sesame paste) fan, Koko market has endless varieties all for less than $5.

In the jarred food section I discovered a delicious eggplant and hot pepper vegetable spread, along with a vast amount of olives ranging from Green, Black, Stuffed, and Kalamata. For those looking to add a kick to their dishes, the store offers canned and jarred Harissa (hot pepper paste) for less than $4. If you’re a fan of pickled vegetables, they offered a whole section dedicated to a wide variety of pickled vegetables and fruit, from traditional Egyptian pickled lemons or turnips, to exotic Indian pickled mango.

In the freezer section, the items that I found to be vegetarian were the vegetable samosas, prepared falafel dough ready to be balled and fried, ready to eat falafel that came with a side of tahini dipping sauce, and a variety of vegetables ranging from Taro root to Molokhia (jute leaves) .

Craving a sandwich? Grab a quick $2 bag of pita bread that is delivered fresh daily! If you feel like preparing a meal, Koko market offers a large selection of dried legumes such as fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas. For hearty grain substitutes they offer, couscous (granules of durum wheat), freekeh (roasted green wheat), and Bulgur wheat. If you’re an avid rice eater, they offer a wide variety ranging from brown, basmati, jasmine, and white to traditional Egyptian rice. Finally to top off the endless possibilities of extravagant meals, they offer a huge selection of oils imported from countries such as Greece and Turkey. These oils include Sesame oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Avocado oil, Flaxseed oil and Grapeseed oil. Finally if you’re craving a heavily aromatic and flavorful dish, check out their wall of spices and seeds featuring Star anise, Flaxseed, Pumpkin seed, Mustard seed, Gram Masala, Ginger, Curry, and Turmeric, as well as their prepared spice packets for traditional ethnic dishes such as Biryani, Mihshi, Dahl curry, and Vegetable korma.

Don’t be afraid to visit local ethnic markets in your neighborhood!

Pumpkin Recipes Perfect for Fall

Posted on October 24, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

It’s the Perfect Time of Year to Prepare Pumpkin Recipes! Enjoy the following with family and friends.

Pumpkin Smoothie (from Vegans Know How to Party, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD)
Serves 4

1 cup canned pumpkin (unsweetened)
1 cup vanilla soy yogurt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon organic brown sugar
2 cups ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve in a small glasses, as this is very rich.

Pumpkin Bread (from Vegan Microwave Cookbook, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD)
Makes 9×5-inch or 8×4-inch loaf pan, or about 10 slices

1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon clove powder
½ cup oil
4 Tablespoons silken tofu
½ cup chopped walnuts, almonds, or mixed nuts (optional)
1 cup canned pumpkin (unsweetened)
Vegetable oil spray

In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients (except oil spray) until well combined.

Spray a 9×5-inch of 8×4-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil. Spread batter evenly in the pan. Place an inverted shallow bowl or saucer in the center of the microwave or use a microwave baking rack. Place the loaf pan on the bowl or rack. Microwave on MEDIUM for 9 minutes. Rotate and microwave on HIGH for 2-5 minutes. Check for readiness with a toothpick inserted in the center.

Note: If possible, use a loaf pan with straight, rather than sloped sides for microwave baking.

Moroccan Couscous and Pumpkin (from The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, by Debra Wasserman)
Serves 4

1 pound pumpkin, seeds removed and chopped
1 cup water
1 cup couscous
1 small onion, minced
¼ cup slivered onions
¼ cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup

Steam chopped pumpkin in water in a covered pot over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer in covered pot for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let covered pot sit for 3 minutes longer. Stir and serve immediately.

Join VRG at Vegan SoulFest in Baltimore on October 25!

Posted on October 24, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group will just be one of many amazing exhibitors at Vegan SoulFest in Baltimore tomorrow, October 25th. We will have plenty of copies of The Vegetarian Journal and your favorite vegan cookbooks so make sure to stop by our booth and say hi! You can find more details about the event below.

Saturday, 10/25 from 12p-5pm
Downtown Cultural Art Center
401 North Howard Street, Baltimore

Vegan SoulFest is a celebration of culture and vegan living in Baltimore. This is a free event featuring delicious vegan food, nutrition experts, vegan cooking demonstrations, raffles, contests, a children’s area, live entertainment, free prizes, special invited guests and much more!

Here’s our lineup of activities so far:

Speakers:

Dr. Ruby Lathon – Plant-based Nutrition
Dr. Milton Mills – Human Anatomy and the Plant-based Diet
Marc Steiner of WEAA’s 88.9FM The Marc Steiner Show – panel discussion on Afrofuturism and Afroveganism

Cooking demos:

Chef Luz – Vegan Food Kids Will Eat
Antoinette St. Clair (TrueSelf TotalHealth) – Healing with Raw Foods
Chef Greg (Land of Kush) – Vegan Comfort Food
Chef Bey (Son Deys at The Grind House) – You Won’t Believe its Vegan!
Celebrity Chef Ayinde Howell (ieatgrass.com) – Cooking for Vegans Dating Non-Vegans

Other activities:
Magic Baltimore 95.9FM Onsite
Children’s activities provided by Nsoroma Academy
Live entertainment provided by JKai Productions

Everyone is welcome at this event – vegans, vegan-friendly and anyone who’s curious about this lifestyle and would like to learn more. The goal of Vegan SoulFest is to spread awareness about how the vegan lifestyle can improve personal health and our relationships with other people, animals and our natural environment. Come out and join us for this fun, educational event and let’s start a dialogue about how we can all move towards a healthier, more sustainable future for everyone in Baltimore.

Exhibitor, vendor and non-profit registration is still open. Food vendor registration opens 9/15. Sponsorships are welcomed.

Thanks to our financial sponsors:
The Land of Kush, Better Health, Better Life, Stolen Outfitters, Alternative Cultures, A Well-Fed World, Humane League of MD, Humane Society of US, TrueSelfTotalHealth, United Poultry Concerns, FARM, Unbeetable, Exittheapple

Media sponsors:
BMoreNews.com, Yelp Baltimore, The Marc Steiner Show and The Center of Emerging Media, The Baltimore Times, Magic 95.9FM MagicBaltimore.com,

Partners:
The Land of Kush, Better Health, Better Life, Stolen Outfitters, Park Heights Community Health Alliance, Get Fit with Councilman Mosby, Open the Cages Alliance, Alternative Cultures,

Check the website for more info at http://www.vegansoulfest.com.

What Did I Wish I Knew as a New Vegetarian?

Posted on October 23, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Dina Gharib

Switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can be one of the most rewarding decisions humans can make. While the movement is still expanding, it’s no secret that you’ll be bombarded with questions and concerns about your lifestyle. I have compiled a list of the top ten tips I wish I knew as a new 16-year-old vegetarian, and the different ways to approach them.

1. Everyone will have an opinion about your diet.

Even if you haven’t talked or seen them in years, random individuals will comment on your dietary lifestyle, asking the ever popular “How do you get your protein?” The way to handle this is simply by educating them with pure facts. If you provide them with opinion, they will assume that you’re following a trend. When you provide answers with factual research behind them, you’ll be sure to educate them without coming off as confrontational. Remember that our lifestyle is very peaceful, so stick to the core beliefs.

Want more information about protein? Visit: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

2. Individuals will argue that caring for animals means that you don’t care about humans.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, vegetarians are compassionate about all living things. It shouldn’t be insinuated that we have to only care for one or the other. It’s extremely possible for vegetarians to care for humans AND animals. Provide a subtle response such as “I am a vegetarian because I’m interested in human rights.” Next, direct the conversation towards the nutritional and environmental benefits of going vegetarian. We are changing the world for animals, people, and the entire planet.

3. Someone will always bring up religion in your conversation.

No matter what religion you are, someone will tell you that animals are on this earth solely for human consumption; a statement which is simply absurd. No matter what religion you observe, do your research so you can have a valid response. In my scenario as a Muslim female I was questioned with the religious aspect at every family gathering. My response has simply been, Islam is a religion of peace, and therefore God will not punish me for not slaughtering animals. He put all living things on this earth, so he should be the one who takes them off of it. Visit: http://www.vrg.org/links/Religion.htm for a great resource as to why your religion is vegetarian friendly.

4. There is a vegetarian option for EVERY meat product.

Burgers, Check. Cheese steaks, Check. Orange chicken, Check. The amount of options that vegetarians have is endless. You can get a delicious, hearty meal, without sacrificing flavor, or animal life. Not to mention these substitutes are even more nutritious than their counterparts.

5. Play around with new fruits, vegetables, and legumes you wouldn’t ordinarily use.

The world of fruits, veggies, and legumes is HUGE. There are so many combinations of these delicious foods so there is no reason to only be eating rice and beans every day. Foods such as lentils can take part in many different recipes. Your options are endless, ranging from a big bowl of southwestern chili, a hearty sloppy Joe, or an exotic Indian curry. Play around and you’ll be sure to find amazing new recipes.

6. Take advantage of the versatility of fruits and vegetables.

There are so many things that you can do with individual vegetables, that meals should never be boring. Have a cauliflower? Make cauliflower crust pizza or pineapple fried rice. Have a zucchini? Make zucchini fritters or zoodles (Zucchini noodles). The versatility of vegetables is remarkable, so don’t be afraid to get creative!

7. The vegetarian movement is huge!

If you ever find yourself feeling alone, due to the lack of support from relatives or friends, join a vegetarian club or volunteer at your local vegetarian organization. You’ll meet so many people who share your interest. You’ll be sure to make new friends, who will want to explore your local vegetarian hot spots.

To find a vegetarian organization in your area, visit:
http://www.vrg.org/links/local.htm

For a list of vegetarian organizations, visit:
http://www.vrg.org/links/VegetarianOrganizations.htm

8. Be open-minded about meat substitutes.

Tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc. Meat-eaters are typically unfamiliar with these foods. Due to their unfamiliarity, these foods usually come with a negative connotation. But these foods are extremely versatile and inexpensive. You can bake, boil, stir-fry, grill, or sauté these with your favorite veggies for a meal that tastes and functions as a meat product. Ignore the negativity and experience it for yourself!

9. Educate!

Don’t be rude or snobby to those who are uneducated about our lifestyle. Simply educate them on all the benefits of being a vegetarian. We want to encourage people to make dietary changes; we don’t want to drive them off with rude responses. Even if people provide you with the most outlandish anecdotes, stay positive. I’ll never forget the day my father legitimately argued with me because, “All vegetarians are low in iron, so they turn to cannibals.” This ridiculous argument was countered with hours of research to prove to him that vegetarian diets cause the exact opposite reaction. Now my father tries to spend at least two days a week on a vegetarian diet.

10. The Jokes will never end.

While at times they may get annoying, take them with a grain of salt. You’ll eventually get used to them, and acknowledge that it isn’t a form of disrespect. I am the butt of endless jokes at family gatherings, and the creative ones always get a laugh out of me. On the other hand, the classic “Grab some grass from outside for your dinner” has garnered many eye-rolls. The most important rule is to shrug them off. Just think of it as really bad stand-up comedy.

THE NUMBER OF VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN THE USA GROWS

Posted on October 22, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Did you know that in 1993 there were approximately 55 vegan restaurants in the USA and that in 2014 there are at least 485 vegan restaurants in the USA? This number continues to grow rapidly and does not include vegetarian restaurants.

To see The Vegetarian Resource Group’s online guide to veggie restaurants in the USA and Canada visit: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

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