The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on November 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Natalie Allen, VRG Intern

When visiting Reno, Nevada, many spend their time gambling in the casinos, however, Reno’s up and coming MidTown district is The Biggest Little City in The World’s twist on the “hipster” scene. The MidTown district runs up South Virginia Street in downtown Reno. In Midtown tourists and locals can dine and shop along the Truckee River. MidTown consists of only local businesses, many which bring an environmentally sustainable approach to the way they are run. Restaurants use local ingredients and supply many vegetarian/vegan dishes, while shops sell local, Fairtrade, and organic products. With MidTown’s location being so close to the Truckee River, guests can enjoy the aesthetic and peaceful atmosphere which MidTown has to offer, while being able to socialize with local business owners. Reno is such a small city, and the MidTown district rests at the heart of it all.

Often times it is hard to decide where to eat in MidTown. With every restaurant generating lots of buzz, customers feel bombarded by all of the great restaurant choices they are able to make. Restaurants like Greatful Gardens and The Laughing Planet Cafe offer an ample vegetarian/vegan selection on their menus.

Recently, I took my good friend Maddie out to eat at The Laughing Planet Cafe. Although she is not a vegetarian or vegan, she found the idea of going out to lunch there to be exciting. From school, we drove the twenty minutes to downtown Reno. Right off of South Virginia Street rests Laughing Planet Cafe, located at 650 Tahoe Street which is directly opposite of South Virginia. We pulled into the small parking lot and as we hopped out of the car we recognized their logo of a happy green planet. The logo represents exactly what they stand for! There is a patio out front and tons of space inside to eat.

We grabbed a menu and decided what we were going to order. Overall, everything can be made vegetarian/vegan. Daiya cheese is available along with substitutes of tofu or tempeh for every meat dish. Maddie decided on the vegan “Thai Bowl” ($9.00) which included, “baked organic tofu, garlic green beans, and steamed broccoli on brown rice or jasmine rice, topped with cilantro lime slaw and served with Thai Lemongrass Peanut sauce.” I decided on the “Tempeh Royale” burrito ($8.50) which included, “Brown rice, Smart black beans, tempeh, sautéed kale, pico de gallo, and fresh guacamole.”
We both got a cookie and sat down outside on the patio with the vibrant afternoon sun on our backs. Within ten minutes we were served our food and eating began. My burrito was simply delicious. I had tempeh before and had classified it as not my thing, but Laughing Planet made me want to have tempeh every day; at first I was convinced it had to be real meat. The kale was an unexpected player in my burrito that not only added flavor, but was a great way to sneak in a healthy vegetable into a burrito. The guacamole really brought everything together. At a decent price, The Laughing Planet’s “Tempeh Royale” burrito is a magnificent burrito that proves eating vegan is just as good and at times even better than eating meat. My friend Maddie loved the baked tofu in her bowl yet found the sauce a bit too spicy for her taste and didn’t end up eating every last bite like I had. The setting at Laughing Planet was wonderful, I was able to take my friend Maddie out to lunch at a place where omnivores and herbivores could eat in peace. For any vegetarian and vegan living in the Reno area, The Laughing Planet Cafe is a restaurant you need to try. Afterward we spent our time perusing the shops up and down South Virginia Street, which marked a great end to our Thursday afternoon. Thanks Laughing Planet!

For more information see:
For information on vegetarian restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada, see:

Please Give a Gift Membership to Family and Friends this Holiday Season!

Posted on November 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Through December 31, 2017, you can give a gift membership to The Vegetarian Resource Group (includes a 1-year subscription to Vegetarian Journal) for $15 each (40% discount). This is a terrific way to share the vegan message, as well as support VRG.

Gift subscriptions can be done online by simply typing in your message and the address(s) of the gift recipient(s) in the comments field. Click here: Gift Sub


Posted on November 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Alicia Hückmann, VRG intern

Taking off from Newark New Jersey for Germany, I got on my plane (United Airlines) with relatively great expectations because of the vegan menu provided by Lufthansa on my flight to the USA. Dinner was indeed quite good. It was something like Indian curry, a cookie, and a small salad. It turned out, however, that the staff apparently didn’t think that “requires special menu” applies to breakfast as well. In the morning, every passenger received a menu consisting of (dairy) yoghurt and a butter croissant. When I asked for a dairy-free, egg-free meal, they gave me a muffin containing eggs, a bit of butter, and about 5 grapes. When flying as a vegan, remember always to carry some extra food with you just in case!

Vegan Options at Olive Garden®

Posted on November 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Along with a detailed chart of vegetarian and vegan menu items, there are definitions of “vegetarian” and “vegan” on the Olive Garden website. Here is their definition of “vegan”:

…Vegan is defined as not including animal meat, stock, rennet or gelatin from an animal or any animal by-products of any kind including honey. We’ve also outlined if the item contains egg, dairy or cheese (and what the source of the rennet is – microbial, animal, or vegetable). Because many of our recipes contain poultry, meat and fish products, our kitchens are not “animal free.” While we use safe food handling procedures, it is possible for any food item to come into contact with animal products during preparation and/or cooking processes. If a dish or item is not on this list, you can assume that it is not…vegan.

The VRG lists here only the menu options designated as “vegan” on Olive Garden’s chart:
• breadsticks
• marinara dipping sauce
• minestrone soup
• pasta selections
• angel hair
• cavatappi
• fettuccine
• gluten-free rotini
• rigatoni
• small shells
• spaghetti
• whole wheat linguine
• sauce selections
• marinara
• tomato
• steamed broccoli

Olive Garden also presents some information helpful to vegans on its FAQ page:
Here are some of their Q&As:

Q: Is the dairy in your breadsticks in the bread or in the garlic topping?
A: There is no dairy in our breadsticks or in the breadstick topping. The garlic topping is made from margarine.

Q: Do your breadsticks contain egg or dairy?
A: No. The breadstick – made with or without the garlic topping – does not include egg or dairy. The garlic topping is made with margarine.

Q: Does your pasta contain egg?
A: No. Our pasta does not contain egg, but our filled pastas like Cheese Ravioli and Ravioli di Portobello do have egg, and all of our pastas are cooked in the same pasta cooker.

Q: Does your pasta contain dairy?
A: No. Our pasta does not contain dairy, but our filled pastas like Cheese Ravioli and Ravioli di Portobello do have dairy, and all of our pastas are cooked in the same pasta cooker.

Q: Is the minestrone soup vegan?
A: Yes. Our minestrone soup is vegan.

Q: Does your marinara sauce contain dairy?
A: No. The marinara sauce does not contain dairy.

There is a page on Olive Garden’s website about its “handmade soups and sauces.”

There is no information on whether the minestrone soup or marina and tomato sauces contain sugar. Nor is it known whether the margarine in the breadstick garlic topping is dairy-free. There is no Ingredient Statement on the website. Interested diners should contact Olive Garden directly to find out more information.

The contents of this posting, 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 judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For information on other chain restaurants, see
For information on vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the USA and Canada, see

Final Reminder: The Vegetarian Resource Group’s 35th Annual Vegan Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck will be this Sunday, November 20th at 5 PM

Posted on November 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

VRG will be celebrating Thanksgiving vegan-style in Baltimore. Details can be found here:

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

Posted on November 17, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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:

To support the updating of this online restaurant guide, please donate at:

Bayberry Café
502 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Try customer favorites like the scallion pancakes with homemade mango salsa or General Tso’s soy protein. Stop in for a $9 lunch special that includes miso soup, a spring roll, and brown rice with an entrée. Bayberry Cafe has dairy-free smoothies, freshly squeezed juices, and a variety of teas to complement your meal.

Green House Café
68 Broadway, Ste. 101
Fargo, ND 58102
The Green House Café is located in the heart of downtown Fargo and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert plus a weekend brunch. Specials change daily, and the menu includes everything from homemade breakfast pastries and hot coffee to brown rice bowls, sandwiches, and soups. For a heartier meal, try the zucchini parmesan or the barbeque veggie burger with cole slaw and fries. Stop in on the weekend for brunch and choose from pancakes, waffles, French toast, tofu scramble, biscuits and gravy, or oatmeal.

Living Kitchen
Charter Square Building
555 Fayetteville St., Ste. 100
Raleigh, NC 27601
Living Kitchen’s menu offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also boasts a juice and smoothie bar, alcohol, and dessert. Start the day with a Biblical Breakfast – warm slices of cranberry-walnut bread are topped with peanut, almond, and coconut butter and fig preserves. For a quick bite, try the Sweet Potato Sushi Rolls or Vietnamese Pho. Salads can be topped with a veggie burger or falafel. Pasta entrees are made with zucchini noodles and sandwiches can be served on gluten-free bread.

Luhv Vegan Bistro
101 North York Rd.
Hatboro, PA 19040
LUHV Food, known for producing exceptional vegan burgers like the black bean, roasted poblano, and plantain patty, is bringing its products to a brick-and-mortar location. The restaurant’s simple menu features a LUHV burger paired with soup, salad, chips, or a pickle. Soups include Energy “The Original” with kale, white beans, lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas, Sweet Potato Jalapeno, and Power Chili made with six different beans, flax, and hemp. Salads include Caesar with chickpea croutons, Spinach with white beans, lentils, and quinoa, and Garden with cauliflower, cabbage, and mushrooms. Add an extra patty onto your burger if you’re really feeling hungry! Gluten-free buns are available.

1221 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M5R 3P5
Planta focuses on serving environmentally friendly, plant based meals. Enjoy a cold pressed juice with brunch or stop by for dinner and order the Spinach Ricotta Ravioli. Planta serves pizza, pasta, large and small entrees, and dessert!

The Southern V
513 Fisk St. Unit B
Nashville, TN 37203
A food truck minus the wheels, The Southern V operates with window ordering only and has a limited amount of outdoor seating. Specials change weekly, and the establishment is only open on weekends, but you don’t want to miss out on the homemade desserts, pastries, or soul food. Primarily a bakery, The Southern V serves a variety of donuts, pies, cakes, and desserts. Try a Snap-Crackle-Yum Treat made with vegan marshmallows or one of the many flavors of Southern Fried Pies, a Nashville favorite! Indulge in a decedent weekend brunch with French toast, pancakes, and waffles or choose more savory options like a veggie-filled quiche, vegan butter biscuit, and chick’n and waffles. For lunch or dinner, grab some chik’n fries, BBQ ribz, or vegan chops and gravy.

The Space
1128 Edgewater NW
Salem, OR 97304
Chose to relax in the longue, on the patio, or at the deck while enjoying a show, drinks, and a fully vegan menu. Try the loaded nachos with house made queso, guacamole, and salsa. Hummus tacos are topped with pickled onions, slaw, lettuce, and olives. For a quick treat, try a freshly baked snickerdoodle with non-dairy milk. The Space proudly serves prominent West Coast based vegan brands, including Tofurky, Field Roast, and Follow Your Heart. With sandwiches, bowls, tacos, burritos, and wraps, you can satisfy your hunger and not be too full to dance!

Urban Vegan Kitchen
41 Carmine St.
New York, NY 10014
For brunch try a Belgian Waffle or Tofu Scramble Plate. For lunch enjoy Chickpea Hush Puppies, Urban Macro Bowl, or Happy Shrimp Po’ Boy (made with seitan). At dinner, sample Classic BLT, Green Curry, Lasagna, or Seitan and Gravy. And don’t forget to try one of their delicious vegan desserts!

3011 Gulden Ln., Ste. 102
Dallas, TX 75212
From pizza, pastas, and salads to southern favorites like Frito pie and fried pickles, V-Eats is located in the Trinity Groves neighborhood of Dallas. With a spacious atmosphere and a menu topping out around $15, you’ll find great food for a great price. Try the seitan Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes, onion rings, and grilled veggies or the Spicy Penne Arrabbiata with crumbly vegan sausage, shiitake mushrooms, pesto, and tomato sauce. Non-alcoholic drinks include unique items such as Ginger Brew, Cactus Pear Lemonade, and Strawberry Hibiscus Iced Tea.

Viva La Vegan
1265 Lee St. SW
Atlanta, GA 30310
Non-descript in appearance but filled with friendly employees and hearty meat-free options, Viva La Vegan offers a variety of burgers, wraps, and sandwiches along with a small appetizer menu. The menu clearly lists soy-free and soy options. Popular soy-free options include the Philly made with jackfruit, the Rueben made with portabella mushrooms, and Falafel topped with kale and served with dill fries. Popular soy options include the Vegan Chili Dog, Chicken and Waffles, and Fishless Po Boy. There are also three raw wraps featured; wraps are bound by seaweed, kale, or dehydrated coconut.

Zen Cuisine
150 E. College St.
Durango, CO 81301
Choose from a variety of soups, noddle bowls, and rice bowls at this Asian fusion restaurant, which is open only for dinner. The menu also features unique cold dishes such as Raw Pad Thai and Chilled Silk Tofu. Try the vegan sushi rolls or Miso Ramen made with whole wheat noodles, tempeh, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms. Steamed dumplings are stuffed with tofu and edamame and are served with truffle oil.

Consider Giving a Friend or Family Member a Vegan Cookbook from The Vegetarian Resource Group Book Catalog

Posted on November 17, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Whether your friend or family member is vegan or perhaps just interested in adding more vegan cuisine to their diet, consider purchasing a book from the VRG online book catalog. The Vegetarian Resource Group Book Catalog offers a wide range of vegan books including:

Simply Vegan
Vegan Meals for One or Two
Vegan Brunch
Teff Love
More Fabulous Beans
Soups On!
Nona’s Italian Kitchen
Vegan Soul Kitchen
Artisan Vegan Cheese
Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks for Vegans
Food Allergy Survival Guide
The Joy of Vegan Baking
The Natural Vegan Kitchen
Asian Fusion
The Indian Vegan Kitchen
The 4-Ingredient Vegan
The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook
The Almond Milk Cookbook
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Grills Gone Vegan
The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book

And so many more….

FREE media mail shipping for orders over $30 in the United States only!
Visit to order books online and support VRG’s outreach at the same time!


Posted on November 16, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Vegan dietitian John Westerdahl sent us this information:

The new motion picture Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Corporal Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist combat medic who unarmed, single-handedly rescued 75 soldiers during the battle of Okinawa, in the midst of a hail of enemy gunfire. The battle is recognized by historians as one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. For his unselfish acts of heroism, Doss was awarded America’s highest military distinction the Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss, a Private First Class at the time of the Battle of Okinawa, is presented as a devout Seventh-day Adventist, who holds firm to keeping the Sabbath, a vegetarian diet, and refusal to bear arms of any kind. He was maligned and physically abused by fellow recruits and ostracized by commanding officers who sought to drum him out of the Army.

Desmond Doss, who passed away ten years ago, was a devout member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Here is an interview of Desmond Doss.

The Vegetarian Resource Group Will Hold Their 35th Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Potluck on Sunday, November 20, 2016 in Baltimore at 5 PM!

Posted on November 16, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


VRG will be having its 35th pre-Thanksgiving vegan potluck on Sunday,
November 20th at 5 pm. The event is open to the public and is being held
in the Roland Park section of Baltimore City at the North Baltimore
Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210. The cost is
$4 per adult (children can attend for free) plus a vegan dish that
serves 4 per adult in your party. We are also collecting canned veggie
food that will be distributed to those in need. Please share the
information with your friends!

Details on this event can be found here:

For Thanksgiving recipes, see

VRG’s book VEGANS KNOW HOW TO PARTY makes a great holiday gift.
To purchase go to:

Vegan Options at Panera Bread®

Posted on November 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Panera has a Featured Eat Well, Your Way Vegan Menu on its website where this restaurant chain’s working definition of “vegan” appears:

At Panera, [“vegan”] means no animal sources: no meat, fish, shellfish, milk, egg or honey products, and no enzymes and rennet from animal sources allowed.

Complete ingredient information is easily accessed under each item’s photo on Panera Bread’s website.

Sorbitan monostearate is an ingredient in Panera breads which is used in the production of the yeast in the breads. Since a part of this ingredient (i.e., the stearate) could be derived from tallow, we wanted to determine its origin. Panera told us in September 2016 that this ingredient is “vegetable-sourced.”
Here is a list compiled by The VRG of vegan bread products at Panera:

• Country
• Sourdough
• French Baguette
• Sea Salt Focaccia
• Ciabatta
• Sesame Semolina
• Rye

Sara Burnett, Director of Wellness and Food Policy at Panera Bread, confirmed that the dextrose in the French Baguette, Sea Salt Focaccia and Ciabatta “is wheat-based” (i.e., not derived from cane sugar).

Following are questions that The VRG asked Sara accompanied by her responses. The chain was
very helpful and willing to accommodate.

Q: Has the sugar and/or brown sugar in the following been filtered through cow bone char?
• Hoagie Roll
• Blueberry, Everything, Plain, and Sesame Bagels
• Steel Cut Oats with Apple Chips & Pecans
• Steel Cut Oats with Strawberries & Pecans
• White Balsamic With Apple-Flavored Vinaigrette in the Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad
• Roasted Tomato Sofrito Blend of the Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa
• Pickled red onions of the Greek Salad
• Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing of the Seasonal Greens Salad and in the Kid’s Seasonal Greens Salad

A: My understanding is that there are two types of sugar sources (beet and cane). The cane sugar producers still employ the use of bone char (natural charcoal) for filtering, while beet sugar producers do not use bone char. We source both cane and beet sugars for our menu, so we cannot guarantee for all instances the sugar used in all products from all vendors that the bone char (natural charcoal) method is not used. [VRG Note: Today, most, though not all American-processed cane sugar is whitened through a cow bone char filter.]

Looking at all of the bagels’ ingredients The VRG notes that with the exception of the Blueberry, Everything, Plain and Sesame Bagels, all of which contain sugar and/or brown sugar, all of the other bagels at Panera Bread contain dairy and/or honey.

The VRG also asked Sara several specific questions about certain menu options which could be made vegan if one or two components were left off. We wanted to determine if these dishes arrived pre-made at the restaurant or were prepared in-house such that certain components including dairy products and sugar especially in dressings or sauces could be left off. We inquired:

Q: May the Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad (specify “without chicken”) be ordered without the White Balsamic with Apple-Flavored Vinaigrette?
Q: May the Greek Salad and the Kids Greek Salad be ordered without the feta cheese? Without the pickled red onions?
Q: May the Seasonal Greens Salad and the Kids Seasonal Greens Salad be ordered without the Balsamic Vinaigrette?
Q: May the Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa be ordered without the roasted tomato sofrito blend and feta cheese?
Q: May the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich be ordered without the crumb topping and feta cheese?
Q: May the cinnamon sugar topping be left off of the Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apple Chips & Pecans and the Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans?
A: We welcome order modifications to our menu items, including those you’ve suggested…

Q: May the Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal be ordered without honey?
A: Yes. The honey is not included in the base recipe.

Q: Is cinnamon without added sugar available in-store for your oatmeal dishes?
A: Yes.

Q: Are almond and/or soy milk options for your smoothies? Can someone purchase a fruit smoothie with almond and/or soy milk only?
A: Yes. We have almond milk available in-cafe that can be requested in a fruit smoothie…The smoothies just have to be requested as “no yogurt; add almond milk.” The smoothie bases are all dairy-free…We introduced a carrot pineapple smoothie this fall that is vegan.

Q: Is the natural flavor in the White Balsamic with Apple-Flavored Vinaigrette in the Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad all-vegetable?
A: Yes, [the natural flavor is] all-vegetable.

Q: Are the natural flavors in the smoothies, blueberry bagel and in the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich from all-vegetable sources?
A: Natural flavors are all from botanical sources.

Q: Do you offer a non-dairy cream cheese spread for the bagels?
A: As for the non-dairy, we offer peanut butter and preserves in cafe upon request. We do not have a non-dairy “cream-cheese like” spread.

Q: On your Panera Kids Menu there is a peanut butter & jelly sandwich served on Classic White Bread which contains milk. Can a non-dairy bread be substituted?
A: All of our sandwiches can be made on any other bread on the menu.
On the vegan menu page of the Panera website appears the following disclaimer:

All items are prepared in the same kitchen area where non-vegan products are prepared. We can prepare your order as you would like it to be; however, we cannot guarantee there will be no cross-contact between our ingredients.
Panera’s Director of Wellness and Food Policy provided more detail about their kitchen protocol:
We portion all our meats in the same area as fruits/vegetables; however our practice is to wash surfaces and equipment in between the different ingredients being prepped. We store meat and plant ingredients on our lines side by side, however we do our best to prevent any cross contact between any and all ingredients. Similar to allergens, if a guest is highly concerned about preparation, they should ask to speak to a manager who can do their best to address the guest’s concerns.

Readers may also be interested to know about Panera Bread’s No No List:

Glycerides, which could be animal-derived, will be permanently removed from Panera’s menu by the end of 2016. Several animal ingredients also appear on this list but are not currently in any menu items. These are carmine/cochineal, lard and L-cysteine. Panera states that its list is not exhaustive.

The contents of this posting, 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 judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For information on vegetarian and vegan restaurants, see

For information on other chains, see

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at
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