The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook, by Chef Ron Pickarski

Posted on July 24, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor
photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Ron Pickarski is a veteran Executive Chef, IKA Culinary Olympic Gold Medalist, and creator of vegan food items sold under his Eco-Cuisine® line. Pickarski has written a new vegan cookbook for consumers that includes over 400 recipes with multiple variations as well. You’ll find numerous helpful tips and recipes ranging from salads, dressings, and condiments to side dishes, sauces, soups, sandwiches, entrées, pastries, and other desserts. Sample dishes include Asian Coleslaw, Coconut Lemon Cream Cheese, Squash Polenta with Fennel, Cajun Roux, French Curry Sauce, New England Sea Vegetable Chowder, BBQ Tempeh, Seitan Swiss Steak, Italian Pistachio Pilaf, Florentine Cookies, Mango Sorbet, Lime Torte, Brownies, and much more. Please note that this is a gourmet vegan cookbook. Photos are included.

Below are two recipes from this book to enjoy this summer.

Quinoa Bean Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
(Makes 4¾ cups)

1½ cups cooked kidney beans, drained (15 ounce can)
1½ cups cooked black beans, drained (15 ounce can)
1½ cups cooked quinoa
½ cup whole kernel corn, frozen, thawed
½ cup roasted walnuts
½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup fresh stemmed, chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon agave syrup or organic sugar
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in any order. Best to refrigerate the salad for at least an hour to let the ingredients fuse.

Italian Pistachio Pilaf
(Makes 6½ cups)

1¾ cups water
1 cup white basmati rice
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
2 cups seitan, thinly sliced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons fennel seed powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sliced scallions
½ cup chopped pistachios (optional to roast nuts)

In a 2-quart sauce pan, bring water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon salt; cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed. Turn heat off, fluff rice with a fork, then set aside.

In a 10-inch frying pan, sauté onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the seitan, pepper, fennel seed powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice, scallions, and pistachios; mix well and serve.

Variation: Substitute beans, tempeh, or tofu for the seitan.

The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook (ISBN 978-0-692-41536-8) is a 400-page hardcover book. It is published by Eco-Cuisine Inc. and you can purchase this book for $35.98 at

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group – Become a Monthly Donor!

Posted on July 23, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group is an activist non-profit organization that does veggie outreach all-year-long. We table at different events through the USA and also send literature free of charge to other groups/individuals doing educational activities in schools, hospitals, camps, restaurants, libraries, etc. around the country. Our ability to continue doing this depends on people like you! Your donations allow us to promote the vegan message whenever we’re called upon for assistance. Please consider becoming a monthly donor to VRG. Thanks so much for your support.

You can become a monthly or quarterly donor online here:

Calcium Stearate in Foods: Vegan

Posted on July 23, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS


Calcium stearate is an anticaking agent used in a wide variety of foods including salt, spices, confections, snack products and dry mixes. The VRG noticed while doing a Spring 2015 update on stearic acid and its derivatives that several websites and books list calcium stearate as being primarily derived from cows or pigs. When we discovered from food ingredient manufacturers and suppliers that most calcium stearate used today in food products is from vegetable oils, we decided to check food labels and contact food companies to confirm if the calcium stearate present today in foods was indeed mostly or even solely vegetable-derived.

To accomplish this, we made extensive use of the Internet for locating edible products containing calcium stearate. Google® images of nutrition and supplement labels listed thousands of mostly pharmaceutical products. We went through the pages excluding supplements and any foods containing meat and/or dairy.

An immediate observation we made while searching for calcium stearate-containing foods was that very few products today contain calcium stearate unlike twenty years ago when it was more common. There are many substitute ingredients available today to take its place in foods such as silicon dioxide. (Calcium stearate, magnesium stearate as well as stearic acid are more commonly included today in dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals serving as binders or lubricants. Recent VRG research on the latter two ingredients also shows that for food and drug uses today, magnesium stearate and stearic acid are vegetable-derived in all cases we could find.)

Here is a list of food products containing calcium stearate. In every case, The VRG was told by company employees in May-July 2015 that their calcium stearate was vegetable-derived. Below the list are more details from the phone conversations and email exchanges we had while researching each product. (We’ve included Tums® products here because they are commonly used.)

Foods That Contain Vegan Calcium Stearate

Glutino’s® Strawberry Breakfast Bars

Dutch Foods® Baked Potato Crisps (ketchup flavor), Salt-n-Vinegar Chips, Rip-L Chips

Rainy Day Foods® Applesauce

Lawry’s® Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub

Fiesta Spices® products

Cookies Food Products® Flavor Enhancer & All-Purpose Seasoning

Also Salt®

Sencha Naturals® Green Tea Mints

IceChips® Candy

Barkley’s® mints

Smarties® candy


Food Products

The VRG discovered that Tastefully Simple® sells a dry mix called Jalapeño Popper Warm Dip Mix containing calcium stearate but was unable to find out ingredient source information from the website.

We were told on the phone by one company representative that “we need a doctor’s note before our vendor will release source information.” When we replied that our ingredient inquiry was based on ethical reasons as vegans and not any specific health reasons, the representative only repeated her company’s policy about receiving a doctor’s note before any ingredient information beyond what is on a label could be given to consumers.

The Glutino consumer response team initially replied by email that the calcium stearate in their Strawberry Breakfast Bars “is sourced from apple powder.” The VRG found this response puzzling given that neither calcium nor stearic acid (from which calcium stearate is formed) is typically derived from apples on a commercial basis nor are they major constituents of apples. We asked Glutino to check with their food technologists to confirm.

A few days later The VRG received a call and an email from Glutino apologizing for their error. They wrote:

The calcium stearate used in our Glutino Breakfast Bars is [from] a vegetable source. Since it can be a combination of vegetable oils, we do not have the specific ingredient, but it is definitely a plant-based ingredient. So sorry for any confusion in our previous answer.

In early July 2015 The VRG noticed that calcium stearate was no longer listed in the ingredients statement for the bars (Source).

Some Dutch Foods snack products contain calcium stearate including the Baked Potato Crisps (ketchup flavor), Salt ‘n Vinegar Chips and Rip-L Potato Chips.

We called them and were informed on the phone that the “calcium stearate in all products containing calcium stearate is vegetable-derived from corn or canola.”

Rainy Day Foods sells an applesauce that has calcium stearate listed on its ingredient label. A Rainy Day Foods employee contacted their supplier, Tree Top®, who sent a Vegan/Vegetarian Statement about this product:

Dried apples, formulated fruit preps, fruit purees and concentrates are made from wholesome fruit, and do not contain any dairy or animal products. These products are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

No beef or animal by-products are used in the processing or production of these products.

Spices and Salt

We contacted McCormick’s about their Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub.

When we initially wrote to them through their website contact form we received this email response from a consumer affairs specialist:

The calcium stearate in our Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic and Chile Rub is used as an anti-caking agent used for free flowing. It is an additive that makes ingredients blend well together. The main sources it would be derived from are mineral, vegetable or animal.

When we asked if the natural flavors in this product were animal-derived we received this response:

I am sorry, but that information is proprietary. Please be advised this product is not considered vegan. Natural flavors are flavors extracted from natural sources – from the rind, juice, leaves, roots or bark of fruits, herbs and spices. The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractives.

The VRG called McCormick’s for clarification and more information. We spoke with one other consumer affairs specialist on two occasions. During those conversations we learned that there were three different suppliers for the calcium stearate in Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub. All three had been contacted about their ingredient source. We were informed by email that Lawry’s Asian Ginger, Garlic & Chile Rub contains no animal products and the calcium stearate listed on the ingredient statement is vegetable- based.

The Food Safety Manager at Bolner’s Fiesta Products® responded to our request for information about the calcium stearate in several of their products. He assured us on the phone that the calcium stearate in their products was derived “from a vegetable source.” The VRG asked if he knew which vegetable source was used. The Food Safety Manager checked with his supplier and called us back within minutes to inform us that their “calcium stearate is derived from palm oil.” He also asked if we’d like a complete list and so assembled the following for us:

Brisket Rub

Carne Guisada

Chili Mix

All of the Fajita Seasonings

Game Fish Seasoning

Garlic Salt

Garlic Pepper

Jerky Seasoning

Lemon Pepper (both salt and NS)

Meat Tenderizer

Onion Salt

Pico de Gallo Con Limon

Spanish Rice

Texas Style Steak

Seasoning Salt


Chipotle Hamburger

The Food Safety Manager of Fiesta Products added: “Many of our blended items will have calcium stearate or silicon dioxide to be used to help prevent clumping.”

Cookies Food Products Flavor Enhancer & All-Purpose Seasoning contains calcium stearate. We called Cookies about their ingredient source and an employee followed up by email: “Just received word that the calcium stearate is from a vegetable source.”

The salt substitute Also Salt contains calcium stearate. We received an email reply to our inquiry about its source and were informed it’s a “plant source.”


Sencha Naturals sells Green Tea Mints containing calcium stearate. We requested source information by email and received this reply:

Our calcium stearate in our green tea mints is not from an animal source. Our calcium stearate is plant-based and our mints are vegan.

The VRG spoke with a representative of Ice Chips Candy about the calcium stearate in their products. Initially we were told that their calcium stearate was “…from a local winery…a by-product of grape processing.”

Doubtful that calcium stearate came from wine processing, The VRG requested that Ice Chips contact the winery for confirmation that it was the calcium stearate that was derived from wine processing and not something such as tartaric acid or cream of tartar which may be derived from wine processing.

We received this email reply from Ice Chips:

I just spoke with one of the Grannies that formulated the Ice Chips.

I apologize for giving you incorrect information, but the calcium stearate is not a product of wine-making (that would be the cream of tartar).

She did not have the exact source we get those from handy, but did assure me that both ingredients have been tested and checked, and are completely vegan. That’s actually something that the FDA allowed us to keep on our tins after double checking our sources.

There are “natural flavors” listed on the Ice Candy tins. The same company representative informed us by email that …all of our flavors are plant-based. We do list “vegan” on every flavor except the three that contain milk.

All of our flavor concentrates/oils are made specially for us by Nature’s Flavors®.

Barkley’s Mints
is the only product The VRG has seen thus far on the market that explicitly states the source of the calcium stearate used in their products on the product label. In parentheses after “calcium stearate” appears “vegetable based.”

Smarties candy contains calcium stearate. On the company website there is a vegan declaration:

Smarties ingredients contain no animal products…Our Smarties products are entirely free of meat, fish, dairy and eggs. You can rest assured that the calcium stearate is plant derived, and that no animal products were used in the processing of our candy’s ingredients…

There are some products with the Smarties brand that are not manufactured by Smarties Candy Company. We recommend always checking a product’s ingredients prior to purchase. Additionally, if the UPC number on the packaging begins with “0 11206”, you can be assured that the product is vegan and manufactured in a facility that makes solely vegan products.


Many Tums products contain either calcium stearate or magnesium stearate. We spoke with a product specialist who informed us that there are “no animal derivatives in Tums…magnesium stearate and calcium stearate are not of animal origin…”

Here is a list of Tums products containing calcium or magnesium stearate:

Tums Freshers – cool mint and spearmint flavors

Tums Extra Strength Sugar-Free

Tums Smoothies – assorted fruit; assorted tropical fruit; berry fushion; peppermint flavors

Tums Kids

Tums’ product specialist pointed out that one Tums product contains a dairy ingredient: Tums Chewy Delights. This is stated on labels.


This list of foods containing calcium stearate is probably not exhaustive. It is representative of the types of food products that calcium stearate could be found in today. Since The VRG could not find even one animal-derived calcium stearate-containing food product and considering what ingredient manufacturers and suppliers had told us, we consider this a vegan ingredient noted with the caveat that although it is theoretically possible that calcium stearate for food use could be derived from lard or tallow, it is not so on a commercial basis in 2015. For more discussion and support of this classification see:

Animal fat-based calcium stearate does have wide applications in several non-food related industries today including the cosmetics, plastics & rubber, paint & coatings, construction and paper industries although some companies have expressed concern over the safety of animal-derived ingredients.

For a historical overview:

For more recent information: (Dover’s site concerns non-food uses only.) (ingredient source listed by clicking on number before chemical name under list titled “Stearates Products”)

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 judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at:
Join at:


Posted on July 22, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

Chloe said she became vegetarian at age 9 during a family dinner. Though her parents didn’t become vegetarian, she feels lucky they were supportive.

Chloe wrote: “I founded my vegetarian club at Yorktown High School, called Students Advocating Vegetarian Eating (SAVE) in my sophomore year, and have been president since. Through the club, I met with the Food and Nutrition Services directors at Yorktown High School. The directors agreed to add falafel, bean wraps, couscous salad, and tomato sauce (instead of meat sauce) to the school menu and we designed a labeling system to facilitate eating vegetarian and vegan in the cafeteria. I brought speakers, such as from the Humane League, to talk to 500 students about factory farming and the benefits of vegetarianism. I successfully advocated adding plant based nutrition to the Yorktown High School teacher’s health curriculum. My club has given out 2,000 food samples. We were awarded $945, mostly from Veg Fund, to do so … The club was originally called ‘The Animal Rights Club,’ but I decided to change the branding to focus more on vegetarianism … I started the school garden through the Roots and Shoots club at my high school. I mentored a fellow club member to apply for a grant from the Pollination Project for $1000. We also raised $842 through a fundraising partnership with Chipotle … We grew plants such as basil and broccoli and we delivered them to the cafeteria to be included in the school’s meals.”

Chloe said when she started these activities she couldn’t find a youth activist and felt isolated. “Then I realized that if there was no youth vegan community, I would create one. That is how I founded Vegetarian and Vegan Youth (, a non-profit network of student leaders and youth … I built the VegYouth 110-page website myself. I wrote over 50 articles about vegetarianism and veganism and about starting student groups … I hired three unpaid summer interns and managed 25 volunteers. I correspond with an advisory board of 16 leaders in the vegetarian movement.

Chloe’s references said about her: “I can wholeheartedly say that I have never met another 17-year-old with such fervor and drive … I consider Chloe to be a force of nature … She is being viewed as one of the top movement builders for vegan and vegetarian youth nationwide.”

Chloe stated, “I had a shy personality growing up and had to overcome it to do much my vegetarian activist work … Initially I was perfectionistic and had extremely high expectations for activism … I felt as if I had to give out 1,000 samples in each sampling event. With time I learned to let go and appreciate each small success, and I realized that they add up to a lot.”

Beyond college, Chloe hopes “to have a career that addresses multiple world challenges. I would like to improve the food system and food policy to make healthy, sustainable food cheaper and more abundant … Vegetarianism already encompasses so many social justice issues that I care about – the environment, human rights, hunger, health, and animal rights …” She said with this scholarship, “the financial support would free me to be able to support many more teens and college students to become vegetarian and leaders for vegetarianism.”

To apply for the 2016 Vegetarian Resource Group college scholarships, go to:

To financially support additional scholarships or internships, you can donate
at; The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; or call (410) 366-8343 9am-5pm ET Monday through Friday.

Getting Involved in Organic Farming

Posted on July 21, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

Written by Anne Custer, VRG Intern

Veganism, as many know, is not just a diet, but a complete lifestyle change. Becoming more aware of where food comes is a common interest among vegans. Learning about environmental effects of meat and dairy production made me more aware and concerned about the way our world is treated. This new awareness led me to start my own garden and compost pile and hopefully one day to work short term on an organic farm. I’m not saying all vegans are gardeners and tree huggers, but veganism does come with a greater appreciation and respect for the Earth.

Have you ever been curious about gardening, composting, or small scale farming? Working on an organic farm would allow you to experience and learn about all of these facets and more. Devlyn Perugini, former VRG intern, has experienced this first hand while working on a farm for two months on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. She still credits it as the “greatest, most rewarding and life changing experience.” As a high schooler, Devlyn was intrigued by a booth at her local farmers market and decided to talk to them about her budding interest in organic farming. They allowed her to come work on the farm whenever she wanted. She later found out about World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) which is an organization that connects host farms with people willing to work on a farm for short or long term stays. Check out their website,, for opportunities across the United States, including Puerto Rico.

On the website, you can search based on many different criteria including diet. If you click “Vegan” under diet with no other criteria, there are still over one thousand farms to choose from! Devlyn was a vegetarian while working on the farm and had no problem sustaining her lifestyle. She said there was a vegan staying on the farm as well and she maintained her diet “healthfully and comfortably.” She says, “We had everything we needed readily available to us.” That certainly is a perk living on an organic vegetable farm.

As for day to day tasks, Devlyn was up early at 6:00 am to start fieldwork and then to eat breakfast at 8:00 am. They would work for three more hours, take a lunch break, and then work for two more. After the eight hour work day, they were done for the day as long as they were ready for the big harvest each Thursday. “The fieldwork on any particular day could include, weeding, harvesting, creating new seedlings, planting the new seedlings, composting or daily chores such as, watering the new plants/trees, feeding the chickens*, making breakfast or any other side job.” (*Vegans may feel more comfortable on a farm that doesn’t raise chickens.) Devlyn also said the farm she worked at not only attended farmers markets, but delivered food to different restaurants and cafés, a local Whole Foods, and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Hawaii.

Devlyn’s advice for people interested in this type of work is to be prepared to work hard. “If you can’t or don’t want to work hard then it would be best to not invest your time and money on something that you may have to leave.” She suggests trying out a local farm for a day and if you could picture yourself doing it for a longer period of time, give WWOOF a try. WWOOF is said to be a credible, safe website. An annual membership allows you to see different farms, read reviews of experiences, and ask farmers specific questions. You can easily find a farm tailored to your particular interests and geographical preference.

“My most valued advice I could give would be to be accepting of change. Understand that it will be a beautiful adventure that you can create incredible memories. Try your best and follow your heart.” Big thanks to Devlyn for sharing her experience and challenging others to live their dreams.

For more information on organic farming, visit:

Everything You Ever Needed or Wanted to Know About Picnics, Vegan Style

Posted on July 17, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor
Image created by VRG Intern, Myrial Holbrook.

Image created by VRG Intern, Myrial Holbrook.

Picture it, the perfect picnic: a summer sun shines down on families and friends toting red checkered blankets and baskets laden with delicious food, and all around them, nature hums and buzzes in beautiful harmony. Burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, salads, cookies, cakes, and pies galore…it’s a meat and dairy lover’s paradise, right? Or so you once thought. With the right recipes and tips, the comfort food at picnics can be 100% vegan and 100% delectable. Below you will find all the essential recipes to satisfy your savory side, your sweet tooth, and everything in between. You’ll find prepare-ahead recipes to bring to picnics as well as easy options to make on-site. If you’re not much of a picnicker, but you do like to camp or grill out, these recipes can still be great options for you. We’ve also included articles with specific tips, tricks, and recipes for picnicking, camping, and grilling alike. Bon appetit!

Menu Ideas

Main Courses:

Oat Nut Burger
Greens Quiche
Meatless Black Bean Burrito
Multi-Veggie Burger


Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, and Sweet Onion Salad
Pineapple-Carrot Salad with Citrus Dressing
Corn Relish Salad
Herbed Potato Salad
Potato Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing
German Potato Salad
Mexican Cole Slaw
Asian Slaw
Easy Pasta Salad
Middle Eastern Macaroni Salad
Pecan and Red Pepper Pesto Macaroni Salad
Wild Rice Picnic Salad
Cold Quinoa Salad

Side Dishes:

Pinto Beans with Watercress or Arugla
Dried Tomato Tapenade
Couscous Taboulleh
Chunky Bean Spread
Better Baked Beans


Lemony Blueberry Muffins
Chocolate Chip-Raisin Blondies
Unbaked Oatmeal Peanut Butter Fudgies
Citrus Slices
Delicious Cherry Pie

Your A-Z of Picnic-Related Articles

Cold Salads for Warm Months
Cookies, Cookies, Cookies
Cool, Crisp Summer Salads
Deli Salads
Fast Sandwich Spreads
Flavorful Salad Dressings without the Oil!
Gourmet Grilling
Menu Construction Lecture-see Grill On!, Summer Sandwiches, Beyond Green, and Happy Ending sections
Picnic Pleasures
Spring is in the air and so is the smell of veggie dogs!
Traveling with Vegan Children-see Car Travel section
Vegan Backpacking
Vegan Dishes without the Added Oil, Salt, or Sugar
Vegetarian Journal’s Guide to Veggie Dogs

Thanks to Myrial Holbrook for compiling this piece while doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

My Visit to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

Posted on July 16, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Ivy Grob

I’ve been an environmentalist my whole life, and when I became a vegan, it was for the environmental reasons. It look me a while to make the connection that all animals, including the ones typically eaten, are also part of this environment that I’ve made my life mission to protect. Animal rights were never important to me until this stage of my life, something I cannot fathom since I grew up surrounded by animals and the wildlife of coastal Northern Florida. Veganism has taught me to extend my love to animals beyond cats and dogs, and to see all creatures as worthy of respect and care. So when I heard there was a farm animal sanctuary just outside of Baltimore called Poplar Spring, I knew I had to go.

As I drove through the beautiful, lush Maryland countryside, my excitement grew and grew. I was finally going to be able to check going to an animal sanctuary off of my vegan wish list. The moment I stepped out of the car I knew I was in a special place. There was a welcoming cow hanging out at the entrance to the driveway and a flock of geese and ducks waddling across the road towards the pond. The vegan bumper stickers on all the other cars served as a good indicator that I was going to be among like-minded, passionate people. I arranged ahead of time to volunteer, so I headed over to the sheep barn to meet the co-director, Terry, and I got to work. Throughout the morning I helped clean up animal pins and fields, with plenty of breaks to stop and admire the animals.

At noon, the tour began and I was able to learn more about the story of Poplar Spring. This animal sanctuary is located in Poolesville, Maryland and is home to over 200 rescued animals on over 400 acres of land. They are able to operate solely from public donations and do not rely on any other assistance. The animals that they care for come from abused and abandoned situations, and they are brought to Poplar Spring to be rehabilitated and to live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort. I was able to experience the care Poplar Spring gives to their animals firsthand. During the tour we visited pigs, chickens, turkeys, horses, cows, goats, sheep, and even had the privilege of seeing the peacock up close and personal. To the owners of Poplar Spring, every animal is a family member and they know each one by name.

My favorite part of the day was feeding bananas to the pigs and rubbing the backs of cows as they stare back at you in wonder. I was filled with amazement at the stories we were told about what some of the animals have gone through, and it made me glad that I am able to live a lifestyle that promotes non-violence. If you live in the Baltimore or Washington, DC area, or ever find yourself passing through Maryland, I highly suggest a visit to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. If you are able, you can donate while on the farm or through their website, where you can also find out how to sponsor an animal. If you are unable to do either of these things, you can still help animals everywhere by choosing compassion every single day. Veganism is compassion.

Ivy wrote this piece while doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

What Should I Do if I’m Discouraged After Being Vegan for a While?

Posted on July 16, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Anne Custer

A few months or maybe years into your journey you may become
discouraged. You may ask yourself if it’s all worth it because it may
seem like you are the only one that cares. Well, you aren’t! If you need
an extra push or a reawakening into veganism, here are some great
resources that helped me get back on track.

I found the following helpful because they inspire me to continue on in
veganism through the realms of cooking, health, and the environment.
Seeing all the healthy food prepared in documentaries inspires me to
create my own recipes and try new food. Watching people lose weight, get
off their medication, and reverse their diseases makes me excited to
enter the health field. Reading other people’s experiences and following
their journey encourages me to continue on in my own. And finally,
learning about the ways the meat industry affects the environment fuels
my passion to live sustainably.

Forks Over Knives
Hungry for Change

Becoming Vegan

Omnivore’s Dilemma

My Eclectic Kitchen
Oh She Glows
Fork & Beans
Minimalist Baker

In addition to resources, find a group of local vegans who share your
values. Visit to find a group in your city. Once you plug into a community, you may find it easier to be vegan because
you have people supporting you. You never know who you might meet! Get
involved in your local vegan or vegetarian society. If your city doesn’t
have one, consider creating your own. Someone else is probably looking
for the same thing. Attend a local vegan or animal rights festival or
conference. There you can talk to different organizations, sample
delicious food, and learn more about the movement. I’m positive you will
walk away encouraged just seeing all the people who are as passionate
and involved as you are. Also, it may be a good idea to write down why
you became a vegan. That way, you can look back and remind yourself of
how you felt when you first made the switch. Finally, try a new vegan
restaurant. Food never fails to make me happy and being in an all vegan
restaurant makes me excited (and a bit overwhelmed) because I can choose
anything on the menu and it’s safe to eat. Here is a list of restaurants
across the United States and Canada that cater to vegan diets:

Visit the VRG site for more resources and answered questions:

Anne Custer wrote this piece while interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Ipanema Café

Posted on July 14, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

This Fourth of July weekend I had the opportunity to return to my hometown of Richmond to visit my family. Only three and a half hours on the Amtrak separated me from Baltimore and an awesome dinner on the patio of Ipanema Café. The café is neatly tucked in underneath an apartment complex and barber shop across the street from Insomnia Cookies. Located on West Grace Street, Ipanema is sure to please vegetarians and meat eaters alike. We walked into the dimly lit restaurant and must have looked confused. The friendly staff explained that there is only one menu and it’s posted on a chalkboard on the wall of the café. Once you’ve decided what you want, you find a place to sit and a waiter will come take your order. We opted for the quaint patio seat outside. Each table had a beautiful mosaic decoration on it and we were shaded by a tree decorated with lights next to our seat. Our waitress came bearing water and a tall glass bottle for refills. I ordered jackfruit tacos al pastor and patiently waited for it to be served.

anneRichmond is an eclectic city and the people are the same so it was fun to sit and people watch while we waited for our food. Once served, I dug into a delicious meal bursting with flavor and spice. The black bean and corn salad was the perfect mild compliment to the spicy tacos. The potatoes were crispy and hearty side. The jackfruit was seasoned with cayenne pepper and served on two thin corn tortillas with onions and cilantro. It was similar to barbeque in the way it pulled apart easily. This was my first jackfruit experience and it did not disappoint. After I was finished, I became increasingly curious as to what jackfruit actually was. I didn’t want to be a pretentious vegan and pretend to know every fruit and vegetable there ever was so I asked our waitress to explain. Jackfruit is an essentially bland tropical fruit grown in areas of Southeast Asia. It soaks up any flavor added to it and has a “meaty” texture. You can buy it in a can at Asian food stores.
After that mystery was solved, I wondered how my parents liked their food since I dragged the meat-eaters to this vegetarian restaurant. My dad ordered the Caesar salad (sans tofu) and my mom ordered a smoked Gouda sandwich. My dad doesn’t really enjoy crotons, but he said these were seasoned perfectly and tasted great especially with the crisp lettuce and vegan Caesar dressing. My mom’s sandwich came with a side salad and sweet potato fries. The dressing on the salad was a homemade ginger that was light and tasty. The actual sandwich, although not vegan, was topped with tomato, thyme, and caramelized onion. Based on their clean plates, I didn’t feel bad making them eat vegetarian for one meal. Looking back at their menu, I’m excited to try the hummus and fried chickpea wrap and the BBQ jackfruit sandwich next time I go. My only regret from eating at Ipanema Café is not ordering dessert.

For a list of vegetarian restaurant across the U.S. and Canada, visit:

Written by Anne Custer, VRG Intern.

Vegan Options at SaladWorks

Posted on July 10, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Anne Custer

SaladWorks prides themselves in claiming to be the first and largest fresh-tossed salad franchise. Eat it in store or take it to go, all items are made-to-order right in front of you. Eating vegan there is particularly easy, especially with their helpful website. Go to, click “Allergens,” then select your allergens or dietary restrictions and you have yourself a list of all menu items that are safe for you to eat. They even have a section where they offer modifications for menu items that can be made vegan or allergen free. If you don’t want to go to the website yourself, here is a list of items considered to be vegan. I did discover that three of the dressings listed honey as an ingredient, so those will not be included on this list. There are a few items listed as containing enzymes and natural ingredients. I have reached out to SaladWorks to verify that these are from vegan sources, but have not heard a response.

I’ve eaten at SaladWorks a few times and thoroughly enjoyed my fresh, customizable meal. I will advise you to not be overwhelmed with all your options and put them all on one salad. It will still be a hearty meal, but some of the flavor combinations will not compliment each other. I was caught in this trap the first time I went, but I figured my way out and now know how to order a delicious salad.

Here is my order:

·Green Peppers
·Sunflower Seeds
·Balsamic Vinaigrette

Another great thing about the website is you can plug in your order to get the nutrition information! My salad is 230 calories with 12 grams of plant protein. Customize yours at:

As for vegan menu items:


Garden Deluxe


Baby Fresh Mix
Fresh Spinach
Romaine/Iceberg Blend


Apple Chips
Chow Mein Noodles
Glazed Pecans (Made with brown sugar)
Sunflower Seeds
Tortilla Chips
All Vegetables


Balsamic Vinaigrette
Classic French
Italian Vinaigrette
Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette
Oriental Sesame


Spring Vegetable
Three Bean Chili


Spicy Brown Mustard

Breads (contain enzymes except focaccia breads):

Wheat Focaccia
Wheat Rolls
White Flour Tortilla
White Focaccia
White Rolls
Whole Wheat Tortillas

Carvery Dressings (Select Locations):

Nutty Sesame
Balsamic Dijon


Greek Salad, No feta
Caprese Panini, No garlic spread or cheese

For more information about dining at chain restaurants, visit:

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.

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