The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on August 12, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

In conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, The Vegetarian Resource Group will be hosting a vegan dinner in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 6pm. The dinner will be catered by Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. Dietitians, members, students, and the public are welcome to attend!

Buffet Includes:
Crisp vegetable tray with onion, cucumber, or garlic dip
Garden Salad and Prince Dressing (house dressing made with soy milk)
Dinner Rolls or Cornbread

Sides (choice of 2):
Tender Greens
Sweet Potatoes
Herb-Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Entrees (choice of 2):
Southern Style Baked B-B-Q Tofu
Smothered Steak with Gravy and Onions
Cheesy-Spinach-Tofu Lasagne
Mediterranean Cauliflower with CousCous

Dessert: Apple Pie or Vanilla Delight Cake

Beverage: Lemonade

BBQ Tofu

LOCATION: Morehouse School of Medicine, GA
1.9 miles from the Georgia World Congress Center

PAYMENT: $25 by September 30, 2014. Includes tax and tip. If seats
available, $30 after September 30. Send payment to The Vegetarian
Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; Call (410) 366-8343 with a credit card Monday to Friday, 9AM to 5PM Eastern Time, or go to and write Atlanta dinner in the comments area. Refunds only made if we can replace your seat.

NUMBER ATTENDING: x $25/person before 9/30/14= $ Enclosed

Taco Bell® Ingredient Update

Posted on August 08, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

The VRG received an email from an online reader asking for an update on Taco Bell menu items. She specifically requested the latest information on L-cysteine and enzymes in Taco Bell bread products.

In July 2014 we contacted a nutritionist on the Food & Beverage Innovation Team at Taco Bell. She reported that:

“None of our ingredients contain L-cysteine.”

“Enzymes used in our flatbread and tortillas are microbial- and plant-derived.”

“Sodium stearoyl lactylate, mono- and diglycerides and enzymes in the chalupa shell and flatbread “are all plant-derived.”

Distilled monoglycerides in the tortillas “are all plant-derived.”

An “animal-derived enzyme (cow)” is in all three varieties of the Dorito’s® Locos Taco Shells (Cool Ranch, Nacho Cheese and Fiery).

The following Taco Bell menu items “do not contain ingredients from animal origins”:

  • Pinto Beans

  • Black Beans

  • Mexican Pizza Sauce

  • Potato Bites

  • Red Sauce

Note: The VRG asked Taco Bell about the five menu items listed above because their ingredient listings contain “natural flavors” or “flavoring” without any more specification. “Natural flavor” or “flavoring” could be used on a label for animal-derived ingredients. Taco Bell told us that all of the flavorings used in the five menu items listed above are non-animal derived.

Readers may consult Taco Bell’s Ingredient Statement for more information on other menu items not included here:

“Genetically engineered strains of food yeast” are used to make the enzymes in Taco Bell’s cheddar cheese, nacho cheese sauce, and three cheese blend.

Taco Bell’s nutritionist added this comment about their cheese enzymes:

Today, due to the need for Kosher cheese and the cost of using animal sources, genetically engineered coagulants are used. The genetically engineered chymosin is derived from a modified strain of the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis. It is formulated to coagulate the milk so we can make our cheese without the use of animal coagulants. All of the Taco Bell suppliers use genetically engineered strains of food yeast.

“Enzymes that are a combination of animal- and plant-based” are in the pepper jack sauce.

According to the Ingredient Statement listed on Taco Bell’s website:

Carmine is in the Red Strips.

Gelatin is in the reduced-fat sour cream.

Egg and gelatin are in the chipotle sauce.

For more information on quick service chains and restaurants, see:

To support The Vegetarian Resource go to:

The contents of this information, our 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 Added to VRG’s Guide to Veggie Restaurants in the USA and Canada

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

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

Lydia’s Express
6761 Sebastopol Avenue
Sebastopol, CA 95472
For anyone with special dietary needs, Lydia’s Express is a must. Lydia’s menu is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters with options for vegans, as well as those who are gluten free and/or raw. Perhaps the most unique aspect of Lydia’s is their variety of sweet and savory buckwheat crepes on the menu. Try the Gourmet Mushroom Crêpe with local Maitake & Royal trumpet mushrooms, cashew “cheez”, spinach & basil, and vegan pesto sauce, but don’t fill up too much. You do not want to miss the chocolate banana pecan pie.

Modern Love
1319 South 50th St.
Omaha, NE 68106
Isa Chandra Moscowitz, author of several best-selling vegan cookbooks, has now opened a vegan restaurant featuring comfort food! Starters include dishes such as Roasted Carrot Bisque and Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms. Salads include Watermelon Beet Salad and Quinoa Caesar. Main dishes offered include Polenta Romesco and Seitan Marsala. Be sure to save room for one of their desserts including Chocolate Raspberry Tart and Cherry Pie. They also offer homemade sodas. Reservations are accepted.

NV-DA Mrkt
407 W. 6th St.
San Pedro, CA 90731
NV-DA Mrkt is pronounced nun-dah market and means “the sun & the moon” in Cherokee. True to its name, NV-DA will certainly have you feeling closer to the earth. Fresh whole foods are the basis of many of their menu items including smoothies, yogurt, and granola bowls, which you can customize as you please. Put a pep in your step with a Goldenberry Granola Bowl or a Strawberry Moons smoothie packed with fresh, never frozen fruit and cool mint.

3238 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Rejuice is the perfect place to relax and refuel. The juices are certainly the stars of the show, each one having been cold pressed and hand crafted by master juicer, Ron Anthony. Still, the simple, yet elegant, café menu, with a variety of sandwiches, wraps, salads and even a fruit parfait with vegan almond mascarpone will have you falling in love with Rejuice all over again.

Sanctuary Bistro
1019 Camelia St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Sanctuary Bistro’s menu is nothing short of inventive with brunch items such as Tofu and Avocado Benedict and desserts like Raw Pear Cheesecake. If you want something a little more traditional, their dinner menu offers veganized versions of classics such as Wild Mushroom Raviolis and Mushroom and Walnut Stuffed Peppers. As if their appetizing menu wasn’t enough, they also donate 5% of their profits to local animal sanctuary, Animal Place!

Vegan Mario’s Organic Kitchen
625 North Ventura Ave.
Oak View, CA 93022
From vegans to the veg-curious, there is something for everyone at Vegan Mario’s Organic Kitchen. Mario’s serves a variety of fresh and healthy meals aimed to turn anyone on to vegetarian food. Try a nutritious quinoa salad served in a reusable glass jar but make sure to leave room for one of their amazing vegan pastries.

Maryland Veg Events and Land Of Kush Present Screening Of Cowspiracy

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

We are so thrilled to announce that our friends at Maryland Veg Events and Land of Kush are hosting a film screening of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret in Owings Mills, MD this month! Please make sure to come out and support these amazing organizations! Details about the event and the film are as follows:

Date: Thursday, September 11, 2014
Time: 7:30pm
AMC Owings Mills 17
10100 Mill Run Cir
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117

At the screening you will be automatically included in a raffle to win money for your favorite animal charity. You will also have the opportunity to win a gift certificate to the Land Of Kush and Itunes gift cards.

Tickets will be available 8/8 starting midnight.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

Watch the trailer for the documentary at the film’s official website

New 8-page Spanish Handout for Individuals Interested in Becoming Vegetarian/Vegan

Posted on August 06, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

If you have any Spanish speaking friends that are interested in becoming vegetarian/vegan, you may want to direct them to our latest 8-page Spanish handout for beginners. Sample recipes and menus are provided, as well as nutrition information and more. See:

We also have a complete section of recipes, etc. in Spanish on our website.


Posted on August 06, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Thank you to Karen Peissinger-Venhaus for tabling for The Vegetarian Resource Group at this festival. Karen said that most everyone was appreciative of the informative and science-based nutrition literature and books we made available at the event. As evidence of this, of the five boxes of handouts and books sent by VRG, only one was left. Karen reported, “I had a great time today meeting and talking with a variety of people; from raw foodists, to young vegetarians, to new and long-time vegans and vegetarians, and to folks just starting out by limiting the number of meat-based meals each week. Most everyone found some information that was pertinent to their veg journey. Some people asked for vegan and/or vegetarian gluten-free information. Two people asked if The Vegetarian Resource Group could make a presentation to their group.” Thank you again to Karen for this outreach.

If you would like to volunteer at a booth or in another way, please contact Nina at

To support VRG outreach, go to Or join at

The Vegetarian Resource Group Submits Comments on the Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label

Posted on August 05, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Comments on the Proposed Nutrition Label
Submitted by:
The Vegetarian Resource Group
PO Box 1463
Baltimore, MD 21203
July 29, 2014

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA
Nutrition Advisor, The Vegetarian Resource Group

Charles Stahler
Co-Director, The Vegetarian Resource Group

Debra Wasserman
Co-Director, The Vegetarian Resource Group

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label.

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics, and world hunger. In addition to publishing the Vegetarian Journal, VRG produces books, pamphlets, and article reprints. Our health professionals, activists, and educators work with businesses and individuals to bring about healthy changes in schools, workplaces, and the community. Registered dietitians and physicians aid in the development of nutrition-related publications and answer questions about the vegetarian and vegan diet. Financial support comes primarily from memberships, contributions, and book sales. We support the proposed revisions to the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label and offer additional
comments and suggestions.

Indicate the form of vitamin D which is being added to foods.
Vitamin D used in fortification and dietary supplements may be in the form of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)or vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The form of vitamin D which is added to foods is important to vegetarians. The vitamin D3 commonly used in supplements and fortified foods is derived from lanolin from sheep’s wool1 and is not considered to be vegan. Currently some foods and supplements simply list vitamin D without specifying the form. The addition of the requirement to specify the form of vitamin D would be helpful to vegans and to those who prefer to use a specific form of vitamin D.

Require that foods which are fortified with vitamin B12 indicate both the %DV and the absolute amount of vitamin B12 per serving.
Fortified foods and supplements are the only reliable way for individuals who avoid all animal products to obtain vitamin B12. Including the amount of vitamin B12 added to fortified foods and supplements would enable these individuals to monitor their intake of this essential vitamin. This labeling would also be helpful to those age 50 years and older who are advised to meet their RDA mainly by consuming foods fortified with crystalline vitamin B 12 or vitamin B 12-containing supplements.

Require that the source of ingredients that are often derived from animals be identified.
Vegetarians, those who keep kosher or Halal, and others who avoid animal products would benefit from ingredient lists that clearly indicate animal-derived ingredients. Some companies are already voluntarily identifying ingredients such as mono- and di-glycerides, L-Cysteine, and natural flavors as “vegetable” or “from non-meat sources” due to consumer demand. Requiring this type of labeling allows consumers to make informed choices. Our polls indicate that 47% of adults in the United States are eating one or more vegetarian meals each week.2

Consider overall nutrition value.
As advocates for health-promoting plant-based diets, we agree with former FDA head David Kessler, MD that “Whatever form those regulations ultimately take, their goal should be to encourage the sale and consumption of products full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, rather than those loaded with little more than fat, sugar, and salt.”3 This could be accomplished by the development of some sort of overall rating system for foods which would give highest ratings for foods based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and give markedly lower ratings for nutrient-poor foods which have been fortified with vitamins and minerals. Additionally, foods which are high in added sugars should not be able to make nutrition and health claims.

Keep the requirement that calcium and iron be included on the nutrition facts label.
Calcium and iron are essential nutrients which are of especial interest to vegans (vegetarians who do not use any animal products). The requirement to include both the %DV and the absolute amount of these nutrients in foods will help consumers (including vegans) to choose foods which are good sources of these nutrients.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.

1. Yacoubou J. Vegetarian Journal’s Guide to Food Ingredients. Partially updated 2010.
2. Stahler C. How often do Americans eat vegetarian meals? And how many adults in the U.S. are
vegetarian? The Vegetarian Resource Group blog. May 18, 2012;

3. Kessler DA. Toward more comprehensive food labeling. N Engl J Med 2014; 371:193-195.


Posted on August 05, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Unfortunately, VRG is not available to exhibit at Veggie Fest this year but this shouldn’t stop you from attending this wonderful veg event!

(Naperville, IL) It’s almost time to fill up your car with your friends and family and head to the 9th Annual Veggie Fest, the largest vegetarian food and lifestyle festival in North America! With a huge international food court; health professionals speaking on diet, lifestyle, and environmental issues; engaging food demos by restaurant owners, chefs, and authors; an incredible children’s tent with face painting, clowns, and crafts; live music from some of Chicago’s best bands; and over 100 vendor booths to explore, it’s easy to see why over 25,000 people from around the world attended the two-day Veggie Fest last year.

And there’s even more you can do at Veggie Fest! If you’ve been curious about the vegetarian diet, you can sign up for the Vegetarian Challenge to receive free support, recipes, and tips for going vegetarian for 14 days. Thousands of people have felt the benefits of taking the Vegetarian Challenge, and you can, too! And while you’re having a great time at the festival, you also can give back to the community by donating blood or bringing non-perishable vegetarian items for our food drive benefiting People’s Resource Center in Wheaton.

Veg Challenge

Join us August 9-10 in Naperville, IL and you’ll see why the vegetarian way of life is sweeping the globe! Veggie Fest isn’t just for vegetarians — it’s for everyone! It’s a weekend of fun for the whole family, and we can’t wait to see you there!

For the full schedule and more information about Veggie Fest on August 9-10 in Naperville, IL visit:

Vegan Restaurants in USA & Canada Recently Added to VRG’s Restaurant Guide

Posted on August 01, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

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

Choices Kitchen
711 NW 27th Ave.
Miami, FL 33125
This restaurant uses all organic and flavorful ingredients. Customers eat together at long communal tables. Try the homemade chickpea tuna salad, creamy cashew rice, vegan mac and cheese, and pesto butter toast. They also offer desserts like biscottis, peanut chocolate espresso cake, and raw brownies. Check their website for the organic plate of the day. Located near Miami Airport.

3605 Broadway Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
Featuring beautiful, colorful salad with fresh ingredients like shredded root vegetables, plantains, cactus relish, Daikon radishes, and basil oil. They offer an assortment of quesadillas and wraps with ingredients like smoked tofu, soy chorizo, and wild mushrooms. Also offers pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, and desserts including vegan chocolate cake, blackberry crumble, and apple pie tamale pie.

Goji Café
2330 Royal Ln., Ste. 900
Dallas, TX 75229
Features a variety of soy meats and seafood like salt and pepper soy pork ribs, orange glazed soy beef, and sweet and sour soy chicken. They offer fresh options too like spinach-cashew-avocado noodles, braised eggplants, fresh spring rolls, assorted vegetable dishes, and Chinese radish cake. Check out the lunch buffet. Goji is closed between lunch and dinner, so please call ahead for hours.

Holy Cow
110 2nd St NW
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Try the “Banger n’-a-Bun” vegan sausage sandwich, BBQ sandwich made with jack fruit in place of pork, pot pie with vegan cheddar and corn salsa, or rice and beans. Add toppings like black bean chili, chow slaw, braised peppers and onions, and vegan cheddar. Finish off the meal with vegan cookies! Look for the green door and take-out window. Holy Cow also prides itself in being a “no plastic zone”! Cash only.

Kupfert & Kim
First Canadian Place
100 King St. W.
Toronto, ON M5X 1A9
Located at First Canadian Place, this quick-service vegan and gluten free restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes including house-made granola for breakfast and different box meals featuring organic ingredients for lunch and dinner. They also have smoothies and raw desserts.

Nucleus Raw Foods

63 Main St.
Luzerne, PA 18709
Offers raw smoothies and main dishes. Smoothies are customizable with unique ingredients like date caramel sauce, maca powder, and cacao nibs, along with staples like berries, greens, and nuts. Try any of the open face sandwiches made with carrot-buckwheat-flax bread, drizzled with cashew cheddar cheesze. They also offer salads, pizza, and spaghetti made of spiralized zucchini. Check their Facebook for featured items.

1st Annual National Plant-based Prevention Of Disease (P-POD) Conference

Posted on August 01, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

We are happy to announce that the 1st Annual National Plant-based Prevention Of Disease (P-POD) Conference will take place in Asheville NC, November 14-16, 2014.

This is a 16 hour continuing education conference for health professionals. The public is invited. See:

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