The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on July 17, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Karen Leibowitz
VRG intern

The Vegetarian Resource Group hosted a booth at the Waverly Farmer’s Market in Baltimore. We had several meat-eaters approach us and pick up materials for their son or daughter. People had lots of questions for us because they had a family member or friend who is vegetarian. We noticed several people talk about the challenges of having food allergies, and referred them to our website for nut-free and gluten-free vegan meal plans. A local middle school teacher grabbed several coloring books and “Vegetarian Nutrition for Teenagers” brochures for her classroom. Other vendors approached our booth and thanked us for being there, because they were vegetarian and appreciated the outreach.

Hosting booths is rewarding because we have the opportunity to encourage people to explore vegetarianism/veganism by providing resources to make it easier.

If you would like to volunteer at VRG booths, contact Nina at

If you would like to intern at VRG go to

If you would like to support VRG outreach, donate at

To join VRG go to

White Castle Welcomes Vegetarians

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

By Karen Leibowitz

Famous for their petite square hamburgers and the restaurant’s appearance in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, White Castle is now serving veggie sliders in select New Jersey and New York locations (see list of locations below). And to a vegetarian’s relief, they are only 99 cents! A refreshing figure compared to other fast food chain veggie options. White Castle uses Dr. Praeger’s brand of veggie burgers for their sliders (see list of ingredients below). Judging by the hype from online vegetarian communities, it seems the taste has received positive reviews. If you have tried White Castle’s new veggie sliders, please comment with your thoughts.

Ingredients: Carrots, onions, string beans, oat bran, soybeans, zucchini, peas, broccoli, corn, soy flour, spinach, expeller pressed canola oil, red peppers, arrowroot, corn starch, garlic, corn meal, salt, parsley, black pepper.

Fun Fact: Kumar is a vegetarian on the set of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the White Castle hamburgers he bit into had been replaced with veggie burgers.

Veggie sliders are available in the following locations for a limited time:

New Jersey

2995 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City 07306

987 U.S Highway 9
South Amboy 08879

8 LaFayette Rd.
Metuchen 08840

5151 Stelton Rd.
South Plainfield 07080

680 Somerset St.
New Brunswick 08901

New York

550 E. Fordham Rd.
Bronx 10467

213-17 Northern Blvd.
Bayside 11361

43-02 Queens Blvd.
Sunnyside 11104

175-28 Hillside Ave.
Jamaica 11432

2221 Hylan Blvd.
Staten Island 10306

During the month of July 2014 The Vegetarian Site will give 10% of Their Sales to The Vegetarian Resource Group

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Site ( supports a different non-profit organization each month. This month they have selected The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Site sells vegan footwear for men and women, belts, wallets, bags, and other accessories, food products, books, personal care items, plus much more.

Support VRG by shopping online at:


Posted on July 11, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The following information is from Vegan in Volume, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD and published by The Vegetarian Resource Group. Special thanks to VRG intern Karen Abbe-Leibowitz for updating this section from the latest edition of the book. Karen is studying nutrition in college. You can order Vegan in Volume here and if you want to share vegan food service information (including recipes) with your local school, see:


Kids make eating an experience, perhaps unplanned on your part! Depending on the age of the children, design the menu to be easy to eat, relatively quick to serve, and to contain a variety of temperatures, colors, flavors, and textures.

Portion sizes should reflect the children’s ages. If you are following federal school food lunch guidelines (see below), be sure you have the portion sizes correct for the particular food you have on the menu. For example, peanut butter, beans, and commercially-prepared tofu may all be used as a meat alternative, but the portion sizes for each one differ. (See this PDF for meat alternates guide:

The USDA’s guidelines for school foods are constantly undergoing changes. With the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, schools are required to provide healthier food and beverage options. Menus are designed based on recommendations of the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) (limit saturated fat to 10% of calories; limit sodium intake; choose a diet low in cholesterol; increase intake of fiber-containing foods; eat a variety of foods, etc.). (See pages 6, 24-25, and 71 of the following PDF:

Schools now have standards which offer a wider variety and increased amount of fruits and vegetables served, and allow commercially-prepared tofu as a meat alternate. This could be good news for vegans, as the selection and amounts of ingredients would have a wider range. The USDA school lunch program is in a constant state of revision so you should be sure to keep up on current changes (a good source for this is the USDA’s website at:


This information is pertinent to those concerned with elementary, middle, and high schools receiving USDA reimbursement. The following resources are USDA tools for nutrition education and healthy meal preparation in schools. These materials can be accessed by your local school food service director and are also found online.

• The HEALTHY MEALS RESOURCE SYSTEM is a resource for food service staff and chefs that contains quantity menus and recipes with several vegetarian (no meat, fish or fowl, but including dairy, honey, and eggs) and vegan (no meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs, or honey) options – be sure to thoroughly check ingredient lists as some meal titles sound like they may be vegetarian but are not. The recipes have nutritional analyses, state the food group (meat alter-native, fruit, etc.), and many include photographs for garnish suggestions. The recipes section also provides links to PDF files of cookbooks and recipe collections for quantity school lunch meal preparation.

• The FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLE (FFVP) TOOKLIT provides templates, handouts, and other resources to help implement a successful fruit and vegetable program. The program allows a wider variety of produce for students, including those enrolled for free and reduced-price meals. This would provide more options for vegetarian students.

• The SPECIAL DIETS PAGE on the USDA website provides a link to a wealth of resources concerning vegetarian diets. Includes MyPlate tips for vegetarians, handouts, lesson plans, recipes for food service, and other materials.

The USDA materials are a good resource to become familiar with because they have been approved by the USDA for use in the schools. For this reason, when working with schools which receive government reimbursement and must follow USDA rules, we suggest you start with the resources mentioned above. These are already being used in many school systems and meet the requirements outlined by the government. Commodity ingredients are also something to be familiar with since they are often incorporated into many of the recipes. Commodities are food ingredients available to the schools through the federal government for free or at greatly reduced prices. Commodities allow school food services to operate within their budgets and to serve meals to more children. In the past, vegetarian commod-ities have included varieties of dried and canned beans, peanut butter, dried and canned fruit, vegetables, and rice. Commodities vary depending on the avail-ability, year, and region. The school food service director is expected to take advantage of the commodities program whenever possible. (See this webpage for current commodity foods available:

Remember the constraints under which school food service personnel must work. They usually have tight budgets and a very short time period to feed a large number of children. Their menus and food preparation techniques must follow very precise guidelines. Change is a long and detailed process, but happens. For example, soy yogurt can now be exchanged for dairy yogurt in breakfast smoothies. (See: http://www. Have patience with your local school food service personnel and understand that they may need assistance in adding vegetarian/vegan menu options. For example, rather than asking for vegan options in general, have some suggestions prepared. We have included some vegan recipe names below that appear in the HEALTHY MEALS RESOURCE SYSTEM. You might want to suggest them when speaking with your school food service staff.

New items which are added to school menus must fit nutritional standards for breakfast and lunch, must fit into the school’s budget, and must be able to be produced on a large scale (and may have to withstand freezing, reheating, or being transported). (See for a guide to USDA meal requirements for school lunches.)

An important part of meal planning is making sure the food provided is accepted by the students. The Offer versus Serve (OVS) policy states that students must be offered all five components of lunch (fruit, vegetable, meat/ meat alternate, etc.), but may decline up to two of the five. This policy is optional in elementary and middle schools, but required in high schools. Nutrition education is an important part of the student’s decision in declining or accepting a food. However, short meal periods allow little or no nutrition education to occur in eating areas. Some other methods of nutrition education are including nutrition education in teachers’ lesson plans, or implementing taste testing periods or other events to introduce students to new healthy foods (See the Special Diets page for lesson plans). Some schools have budgets for nutrition education and some do not.

The more you can bring in grant money, children, parents, the PTA, local merchants, and approved recipes, the easier the transition for the Director. Also many schools run on menu cycles in order to help with costs because they can project their expenditures. This may be a slight obstacle if the Director is really tied to the cycle menus; however, it is not insurmountable. Any changes
to the menu means new recipes have to be printed, tested, scaled correctly, meet serving size guidelines for the day and week, taught to the cooks, new production sheets generated, and priced. All this requires time and money and therefore patience on your behalf.


School breakfast and lunch guidelines require that children receive at least one-fourth and one-third, respectively, of their daily nutrition and energy needs.

The USDA provides an online resource center of a large variety of samples menus that are in full compliance with the USDA guidelines. Some are listed below:

• Best Practices Sharing Center
• Menus That Move: Cycle Menus and Recipes
• Healthier Kansas Menus

Note: Currently, there are federal school regulations that govern the type and use of soy permitted. The regulations change, so be sure to check periodically. Specifications for tofu and soy yogurt:

Regulations on meat alternates: 6967e402df712f14a1e064a3d738a564&ty=HTML&h=L&r=PART&n=7y4.


Posted on July 11, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group recently received the following message:

Hello. My name is Stacy Howell and I work with a non-profit organization that looks for families to host international students. We have some students that are vegetarian. These students are usually the most difficult students to find good homes for. I wanted to reach out to you and see if any one you know may be interested in hosting a student. For more information, see

Here is a one student we are trying to place:
Justin from the Netherlands is a sportive guy. He likes soccer a lot, but also likes to swim. He received 8 swimming diploma’s and is very proud of that. He looks very well after his body, eats healthy, is a vegetarian but is able to adapt to a new situation and to adjust. He also trains at a sportcentre. He likes to watch movies with his friends and has a close family. He would like to have a close HF as well. He wants to learn new sports, like USA Football and basketball. In the future he would like to start his own company

Thank you for your time.

All the Best,
Stacy Howell
Louisiana Regional Coordinator
EF High School Exchange Year
(225) 620-7218

Nutrition News for Children

Posted on July 09, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

“Nutrition News for Children” is from Vegan in Volume, published by The Vegetarian Resource Group. This fantastic vegan quantity recipe cookbook is written by Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD. Special thanks to VRG intern Karen Abbe-Leibowitz for updating this section from the latest edition of the book. You can order Vegan in Volume here: If you want to share vegan food service information (including recipes) with chefs and others, see:

As children grow, so do their vitamin and mineral needs. Vitamins A,C, E, and the minerals calcium, iron, and zinc may be low, because children who may not care for the foods in which they are contained use these nutrients quite quickly.

Remember that hydration is important for children, as they may become dehydrated without becoming thirsty. Make every ounce count toward good nutrition by offering soy or rice milk (flavor it with puréed fruit or garnish it with an apple slice or an orange wedge), fruit juices, vegetable juices, or even water! Freeze puréed fruit, fruit juice, or chocolate soy or rice milk to create frozen treats that help to hydrate.

The USDA’s MyPlate guide is an illustration of the recommended portions of the five food groups. It is a fun learning tool for children and an easy guide for adults to follow. The MyPlate website provides a detailed daily food plan based on the age of the child. In the table below, we have included a vegan kids’ version of the daily food plan.


Support VRG with iGive!

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

You can now help support VRG when you shop online with iGive! When you make a purchase through iGive, from one of the 1,482 online retailers available, a percentage of the proceeds are donated to The VRG. The best part is, there are absolutely no extra costs for you!

It’s a great time to get started with iGive because for each new person who joins in July, $5 will automatically be donated to The VRG. Click here to get started with iGive today!

Donations allow our organization to continue vegan education and outreach nationwide! We appreciate your support!

Don’t wish to use iGive but would still like to donate? Check out or direct donation page:

July 2014: The Vegetarian Site Donates 10% of Their Sales to VRG

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

During the month of July 2014, The Vegetarian Site will give 10% of their sales to The Vegetarian Resource Group!

The Vegetarian Site ( supports a different non-profit organization each month. This month they have selected The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Site sells vegan footwear for men and women, belts, wallets, bags, and other accessories, food products, books, personal care items, plus much more.

Support VRG by shopping online at:

PAX Academic Exchange Seeks Host Families for Vegetarian Students

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

We received this note from Kelsey Maloney at PAX. Note: If you live in Baltimore, Maryland and are interested in hosting vegetarian exchange students, you can contact Meredith Safford at 410-382-5359 or email

PAX is a nonprofit Department of State designated international high school exchange program. We have exceptional students that come from over 70 countries around the world. These students have been picked out of thousands of applicants. Students come fully medically insured, and are responsible for all personal expenditures. Host families are asked to provide living arrangements, a suitable study environment, and participation in family meals. During the year, students attend local high schools- the details in which we at PAX arrange. Also, throughout the entire stay students and host families are supported by a local community coordinator.

This year we are searching for host families for some of our exceptional students that are vegetarians. We at PAX feel it would be best to place these students with families that are familiar with a vegetarian diet.

It is our hope that you can share this information about PAX with your members and have anyone interested in hosting or learning more about our program contact me at

More information can also be found on our website at

If interested, I can send over profiles of certain students we have available that will sure to be a match for any family!

Celebrate July 4th Vegan Style!

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

It’s that time of year when you might want to grill your next meal. The Vegetarian Resource Group offers a wonderful book called Grill Gone Vegan in our book catalog.


You’ll find recipes for grilling a wide range of dishes including Grilled Baby Artichokes, Seitan Satay, Roasted Corn Chowder, Portobello Bruschetta, Smoky Buffalo Tofu Wraps, Maple-Glazed Grapefruit, and Grilled Nectarines with Five-Spice Granola. The book also provides recipes for rubs, marinades and sauces, as well as delicious side dishes to go with your grilled dishes. Finally, nutritional analyses are provided, as well as color photos of the delicious meals.

You can also order this book through the mail for $26 (including postage and handling), by sending your payment to Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Your book purchases support our outreach work!

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