The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Starting an Animal Rights Organization at School

Posted on August 02, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Heather Francis, VRG Intern

Are you dedicated about fighting for animal rights?
Do you go crazy over Non-Dairy Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream?
Are you inspired to make a difference in your school’s cafeteria?
Do you want to start an animal rights club?

If you said yes to all of those questions, and don’t know where to start, don’t worry. I have compiled a condensed list of steps as a guideline in creating an animal rights group in high school or on your university’s campus.

Meet with your group
1) First, find people who are interested in Animal Rights
· It’s time you start befriending those who are interested in making a difference, and those who are already. Talking about the idea of creating an organization is a great way to start introducing new people into the movement. Also find an advisor (a professor on campus, or teacher) who is interested in animal activism
2) Once you find a handful of people:
· Meet-up together. Find a place in the center of campus or in someone’s dorm. Go out for some delicious vegan food together.
3) Vote on an Executive Board
· President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. As time goes on you may think about adding a Social-Media Liaison or an Event Planner for what you feel is most needed for your campus community.
· In the beginning stages of your organization it’s important to choose a strong leadership team who are invested in the organization so the organization will begin with dedication.
4) Discuss ways to do outreach on campus to find more members
· Use flyers, social media, and/or blast emails.
· Ask teachers/professors if you are able to talk in class about the organization.
· Reach out to other organizations on campus to ask them to advertise the organization.
5) Decide on a name!
· Choose a name that’s simple, to the point, and could be made into an acronym. For example: The VRG (The Vegetarian Resource Group) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Obtain Charterment
1) Contact Student Government on campus and figure out how to get chartered as a group on campus.
2) Set up rules/regulations for your club (Some schools have a constitution you could adopt with said rules/regulations in it)
Examples of these rules include:
· Approximation of when the club votes for a new executive board
· How many meetings one has to attend to be a general member
· Meeting times and days
· Who counts the votes
· What happens if there is a tie
· How often the executive board meets
3) Get chartered
· This is dependent on your school’s requirement. It may take up to a month or perhaps a week to be recognized as a school organization. Personally, for my school, organizations are only able to become chartered in the spring semester.
4) Understand Funding
· All Schools are different. Some schools use matching funds, which means they will match the amount of money your organization raises, or they provide funds to you.
· To begin, know how you hope to utilize the funds given to your organization.

Become educated on animal rights issues related to the environment, health, and ethics.
· Watch: Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, Soul Food Junkies, Blackfish, and more.
· Read articles online: The Vegetarian Resource Group, One Green Planet, PETA, and more.

Create a network
· Create Social Media accounts for your group using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
· Jump on your school’s organization portal(if there is one).
· Start mobilizing and and reaching out to students on campus about your organization.
· Make connections with animal rights campus organizers on your campus.
· Keep reaching out to similar organizations on campus, such as The Environmental Club, Public Health Club, or a Nutrition Organization.

Congratulations, you’re officially an organization…now what?
1) Set meeting dates/times
2) Vote in needed Executive Board members
3) Start brainstorming with your club about events to do on campus or for the community for outreach
· Pay Per View
· Leafleting
· Information Tables about cruelty-free make up, factory farms, and the vegan/vegetarian diet
· Taste Testing using Vegan Food (Use Vegfund.org to apply for Vegan Taste Tests on your campus)
· Movie Night on campus (Watch Cowspiracy or Vegucated)
· Vegan Potlucks
· Yoga night
· Smoothie Bar
· Cosponsoring Events with other organizations
· Vegan/Cruelty-Free Bake Sale
· Meatless Monday Campaigns
· Protests/Petitions
4) Begin to notice the difference your organization has already made

In conclusion, from my personal experience, I know it definitely won’t be easy to start an organization. There’s a lot of dedication involved. When I was petitioning for more options in the dining halls through my organization, someone said to me “If there is going to be more vegetarian options then there will be less burgers, and I want to eat burgers.” People will shake their head, or they will make jokes about how you’re a “hippie” organization. My advice is to rely on your passion and keep pushing to make a difference in the animal rights field.

Links for more information:
http://www.peta.org/action/activism-guide/start-animal-rights-group/

http://www.peta2.com/about/frequently-asked-questions/how-do-i-start-an-animal-rights-group-at-school/

https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/starting-a-pet-adoption-organization/starting-nonprofit-help-animals/\

http://adoptacollege.org/
Vegfund is a non-profit organization where you can apply for grants to hold taste testing, pay per view, or larger scale outreach programs to students on campus related to animal rights.
See: http://www.vegfund.org/

Free Resources for your organization:
http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/

http://www.chooseveg.com/vsg
http://veganoutreach.org/order-form/

VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP VEGAN THAI DINNER IN BOSTON AT MY THAI VEGAN CAFE

Posted on August 02, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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Sunday, October 16, 2016, 6 PM

The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a vegan Thai dinner
at My Thai Vegan Café in Boston on Sunday, October 16, 2016 during the
annual meeting of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meet VRG
advisors Reed Mangels PhD RD, Catherine Conway MS RD, Debra Wasserman,
Charles Stahler, and vegetarian dietitians from around the country.
All are welcome.

MENU:
Tom Kha, Thai Coconut Soup with tofu
Thai Mango Salad
Nam Prik Kaeng Kari with tofu (Yellow Curry) and brown rice
Pad See Ew. Wide rice noodles with Chinese broccoli and vegan gluten.
Fruit cocktail for dessert or other fruit
Tea and cold water

This will be a plated sit down dinner.

TO RESERVE: Send $30 person (includes tax and tip) (Under eight is half
price) with names of attendees to The Vegetarian Resource Group,
P.O. Box 1463,
Baltimore, MD 21203.
Call (410) 366-8343.

You can also pay at www.vrg.org/donate and write Boston Dinner in the Comments. Refunds after September 30th only if your seat can be replaced.

Hope to see you there!

A Distinguished Treat for the Dainty Herbivore — Blossom in New York City

Posted on August 01, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Alicia Hückmann, VRG Intern from Germany

Known to be one of the best places to visit as a vegan, the vibrant city
of New York offers a broad variety of restaurants and cafés that serve
delicious plant-based alternatives. A considerable number of these are
not just vegan-friendly but manage to run without using any animal
products altogether. One of the most famous of these restaurants is
called Blossom. The first Blossom restaurant was founded in Chelsea
(Manhattan) in 2005 and thanks to its ever growing popularity, two new
branches with their own different menus have been opened in Carmine and
Columbus (both in Manhattan) over the last few years. According to their
website, each of them uses organic and local products and supports small
distribution companies.

I decided to dine in the original Blossom location in Chelsea which is
only a couple of minutes away from the 23rd Street A and C train subway
station. It is located in a modern and young yet rather quiet
neighborhood and can be spotted easily thanks to its big sign that is
impossible to miss. Upon entering the door, I was amazed by a classy,
dim-lit interior with about a dozen bigger and smaller plants that added
perfectly to the elegant ambiance. Although I had not made a reservation
in advance, I managed to get a table immediately.

After being welcomed by a very attentive waiter, I ordered vegan lasagna
as my main dish. The food arrived within less than 10 minutes and could
be eaten right away because of its perfect temperature. I almost could
not believe the melting tapioca cheese was actually not a dairy product
considering its appearance, smell, and texture. The taste came very close
to that of traditional lasagna as well although it is possible to tell
them apart. Despite this, the meal was excellent in its very own vegan
way thanks to the great balance of seitan, tofu, and spices as well as
delicious slices of roasted eggplant and sautéed escarole that were
served along with the lasagna. Compared to the non-vegan equivalent, its
flavor was also much richer and less greasy. Considering the size of the
portion I was served, however, this twenty dollar meal was relatively
pricey for me (on a student budget), which is the only fault I can find.

I also ordered, apple cobbler with a tiny scoop of ice cream for ten
dollars. Again, the meal was delicious. When the dish arrived, I could
already smell the deliciously blended combination of flavors that
awaited me: Fruity baked apple complimented by savory cinnamon served
with a sweet vanilla sauce and creamy vanilla ice cream.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend Blossom to anyone planning to eat
out on a special occasion. Both the classy ambiance and the exquisite
food fit the needs of a romantic candle light dinner, a birthday dinner,
or even a business dinner. Students and low-budget travelers who cannot
afford to pay $35 for the occasional dining out (including taxes and
tip) should probably save this experience for a very special occasion
(or person).

For more information on Blossom, check their website: www.blossomnyc.com

If you would like to learn more about dining out in New York as a
vegetarian or vegan, go to the VRG’s online restaurant guide at
www.vrg.org/restaurant/New_York.php or visit our national restaurant
guide at www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

Fluffy Chocolate Chip Vegan Pancakes

Posted on July 29, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

pancake

By Heather Francis, VRG Intern

As a runner and nutrition student, you could expect my favorite meal to be a loaded fruit salad or nice cream topped with kiwi and chopped nuts. Maybe it’s a hearty green curry with potatoes or a fresh salad loaded with arugula and topped with flax seed. That’s not the case; although I do love that entire list. My go to meal for breakfast or dinner are fluffy, moist, warm, and gooey chocolate chip pancakes. Of course, I do add a ton of fruit on top of the pancakes when I’m eating them.

I devour a stack of pancakes at least 3-4 times a week, and when I say a stack of pancakes, I’m talking The Leaning Tower of Pisa worth of pancakes. I have played around with different recipes, and have come up with my best and favorite one which I’m most-willing to share with you. Enjoy!

Serves 4-5

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour (I use the brand Veganic Spelt Flour. I have tried using whole wheat flour, but spelt comes out a lot better and tastes terrific.)
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon 100% pure dark maple syrup
½ medium-sized lemon (optional)
½ cup vegan dairy-free chocolate chips
½ pint blueberries, 1 banana, ½ pint strawberries, walnuts, pecans (optional add-ins)
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread
1 teaspoon organic powdered sugar

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, spelt flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
2. Stir in the almond milk, vanilla, and syrup. Add more almond milk to desired batter texture.
3. Squeeze ½ the lemon into the mixture along with chocolate chips and optional other add-ins.
4. In a medium-sized skillet pan, over medium heat melt the Earth Balance butter and measure out three ¼ cups of the batter onto the pan.
5. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown and flip them over and cook until golden brown. Make sure when making the pancakes they are completely cooked on the inside, test this by using a fork and putting it through the middle.
6. Repeat until you finish the batter.
7. Once they are all cooked, serve with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and/or walnuts/pecans.
8. Top with powdered sugar and maple syrup.
9. You can then eat them like cookies or as regular pancakes.

Note on Syrup: You don’t have to put syrup on these, they’re sweet enough as is, but ever since I was a little kid I could not eat or make pancakes without drowning them in syrup. So of course, I buy the Whole Foods Dark Maple Syrup. Not too sweet and not processed with High Fructose Corn Syrup. The syrup may be expensive, but it’s delicious and worth it. Also, when using it in the pancakes it’s not as watery so it aids to the pancakes ability to stay intact.

Enjoy these Vegan Peach Recipes!

Posted on July 28, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

BASKET OF PEACHES-2

Several years ago, The Vegetarian Resource Group ran an article titled “Peach Passion” in Vegetarian Journal. Now that peach season is in full swing, we thought we’d share this piece once again.

Debra Daniels-Zeller provides the following recipes:

CINNAMON-PEACH OATMEAL WITH TOASTED WALNUTS
CREAMY PEACH SALAD DRESSING
LIME-CILANTRO PEACH SALSA
COCONUT-PEACH SOUP
TEMPEH TERiYAKI WITH PEACHES
GRILLED BALSAMIC PEACHES
CARDAMOM-PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
PEACH CASHEW CREAM
LEMON-PEACH JASMINE RICE PUDDING

Head to your local farmers market and enjoy some fresh peaches today!

The article can be found here: http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue2/2006_issue2_peach_passion.php

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal in the USA, visit: http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

Vegan Offerings at the Shore in Ocean Grove, NJ

Posted on July 27, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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VRG staff members have been visiting the Jersey Shore town of Ocean Grove for many summers. This year we were excited to find new vegan options on the boardwalk. Dunes Boardwalk Café is located in Ocean Grove near the border of Asbury Park, NJ and is a food court housing many food options.

Coney Waffles offers several flavors of vegan ice cream as well as vegan waffles to go along with this frozen treat. You’ll also find It’s All Good Kitchen. They serve organic juices, smoothies, Build Your Own Bowls, house-made hummus, and more.

For further information see: http://www.dunesboardwalkcafe.com/
For information on veggie restaurants throughout the USA and Canada see: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

Vegan SoulFest will be held in Baltimore Saturday August 20, 2016

Posted on July 27, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

vegansoulfest

Save the date! Once again, Vegan SoulFest will be held in Baltimore this summer at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), 2901 Liberty Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215. On Saturday, August 20th, between noon and 7PM you can dine on a wide range of vegan cuisine, visit vegan booths, hear speakers, plus much more. The Vegetarian Resource Group will have a table at this event. Stop by and say hello!

For details see: http://www.vegansoulfest.com/

HOW HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CAN PROMOTE VEGAN DIETS IN PUBLICATIONS

Posted on July 26, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

image (1)By Sasha Keenan, VRG intern

As a recent high school graduate, I can attest to the often crooked priorities of adolescents. We are usually caught up in the temporary: scrolling through our Twitter feeds, chatting about the latest drama, and stressing over prom dresses. Consequently, we sometimes fail to discuss broader issues.

I maintain that awareness is the first step to change–no one can begin to fix a problem if they don’t see a problem. That’s why I made a tenacious effort to promote veganism throughout my high school career.

I never wanted to change every one of my readers by writing about veganism. Instead, I hoped to start a conversation with my peers and shed light on a matter that is not given enough attention. In retrospect, I am happy with the work that I did because it encouraged people to ask questions, and, more importantly, to question themselves.

Promoting a veggie diet in a publication as a high school student might require a leap of faith, but can also allow young people to take the first step towards change. Here are a few ways to be successful when writing about your diet as a high school student:

1.Decide what type of publication works best for you

With each different high school comes a unique student newspaper set up. At my school, our publication was considered a “student forum for expression” and was published exclusively online. Since our publication was not technically owned by the school, we were able to publish whatever we wanted to without prior review from administration. This made it easier for me to publish articles about veganism for my school publication. Other situations might not allow as much leeway, and in that case you could start your own blog or newsletter. Either way, it’s important to determine what type of publication you’d feel most comfortable writing for.

2. Develop your voice and solidify your stance

Since you’ll be writing frequently, it’s a good idea to develop a voice that’s both unique and familiar to your readers. Perhaps more pertinently, you should decide what it is about veganism that matters to you–ethics, environmental issues, health–and infuse your writing with the passion you feel for a particular problem. Personally, I’m very concerned with water resources and droughts, so whenever I wrote about veganism, I would always tie my point to the shocking truths about water consumption and livestock production. As a result, my readers were consistently encouraged to care about the issue, too.

3. Advocate for yourself on social media platforms

Teens have the advantage of being social media savvy–use this to your advantage. Each time you publish an article, tweet it out, post it on Instagram, link it to Facebook, or email it to your relatives. I’ve found that almost 90% of the traffic we received on my high school publication was from social media link clicks. In other words, it’s unlikely that readers would go directly to your site, but if they saw a link to your article on social media with an eye-catching picture attached, they would probably check it out.

4. Submit your work to publications with wider audiences

Once you’ve got the writing and sharing down, challenge yourself by submitting your work to a publication beyond the walls of your high school. Though this may seem daunting, it’s relatively easy. Most major publications have a teen branch, and several online blog-like publication including The Odyssey and Elite Daily are always willing to accept work. By doing this, you’ll be reaching a larger audience and making a name for yourself as a writer.

VEGAN IN A NUTSHELL BROCHURE – HELP US REPRINT!

Posted on July 26, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

We have sent tens of thousands of our Vegan in a Nutshell brochure to groups and educators around the country, from Virginia to Nebraska to New York to Oregon and Texas. They have been used by dietitians, by programs serving low income communities, at VegFests, by activists tabling, and with college students. We have run out and need to reprint. Please consider a donation of $25, $50, $100 or more at www.vrg.org/donate

Thank you for your support.

vegan_nutshell

KAYA’S KITCHEN IN BELMAR, NEW JERSEY

Posted on July 25, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

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By Heather Francis

The other evening, my girlfriend and I went to Kaya’s Kitchen in Belmar, New Jersey. It’s funny because she has lived close by Belmar all her life and had no idea this all-vegan restaurant existed. We tried it out, and fell in love with the place. Walking in I noticed a table to my left full of pamphlets, business cards, and magazines of events and businesses in the area related to health and fitness. Already I knew I was going to consume a great meal.

We sat down in a booth. I’d like to mention how it took us maybe twenty minutes to choose what to get because of how overwhelming the menu was and it’s COMPLETELY vegan. Stroganoff? Enchiladas? Wings? Seitan Ribs? Seitan Steak? There was so much to choose from.

My girlfriend recently became vegan and had never been to a vegan restaurant before, so for her it was an entirely new experience. We ordered a take on her favorite meal — an appetizer of Tempeh Wings. They were spicy, and the breading wasn’t too heavy. The “ranch” was my favorite part. We devoured most of them and prolonged the last two on the plate. We moved onto our second course almost immediately which was a shared plate of Hungarian Perogies.

The perogies with the creamy Hungarian sauce along with onions and spinach, created a savory and absolutely delicious sensation. I was filled almost completely just eating half the plate. We definitely took our time eating the perogies but overtime they disappeared. I was left heartbroken.

When finished, our waitress brought over the dessert menu, which was on a miniature chalkboard. There was an assortment of vegan cupcakes and a tempting chocolate cake, but my stomach was too full to handle dessert.

Probably the best part of the atmosphere of the restaurant included the live music that started before we paid our check. There was a band playing instruments and singing on a small stage in the corner in the back of the restaurant. We waited just long enough to hear a few songs. Before leaving, I noticed how the customers in the restaurant doubled in size since we got there, almost filling every seat. I wondered how many people there were vegan themselves.

The food may be a bit pricey, but it’s also a lot of food that can be shared with whoever you go with, or you can take half of it home. The service, the music, and the food is worth a trip over to Kaya’s Kitchen if you’re ever in Belmar, New Jersey. On the plus side, it’s also a few minutes from the beach. I know for a fact I’m going to return to Kaya’s Kitchen. The idea of eating vegan stroganoff still intrigues me.

If interested, please visit their website: http://www.kayaskitchenbelmar.com/

For more information on other vegetarian/vegan restaurants please visit: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

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