The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on June 27, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Riley Howard

Riley Howard became vegetarian after her sister started ordering vegan literature from PETA. In sixth grade she began bringing pamphlets to school to distribute to students during lunch times. Riley became vegan in eighth grade. She started an animal rights club in high school, which organized campus screenings, bake sales, and vegan potlucks during school. Riley stated, “I’ve found a lot of success modifying my advocacy…I used to show cruelty investigations, but I saw how much more harm that does than good. Instead of having members walk out in the middle of meetings, people stay the whole time, engage in conversation, and perform social media outreach.”

In January of her junior year, she went to Chicago for a month to intern with Mercy for Animals, jumping between office work and outdoor leafleting. She did another internship with them in Los Angeles.

In 2015 at school she organized a screening of Cowspiracy for 200 members from the local community. “I talked to athletic coaches and got them to agree to cancel practice for the screening. Students brought their friends and family.”

She currently had her school agree to add more vegan items to the menu. “They bought a rice cooker, through which they provide self-service rice, quinoa, and other whole grains. They have started offering nutritional yeast and vegan dressings in the salad bar. They’ve agreed to provide a daily vegan cooked meal. Now they sell veggie burgers, portabella sandwiches, vegan grilled cheese, and various vegetables and rice dishes. They also sell vegan sorbet, which has been a huge hit.”

Riley was an apprentice crew leader for the Student Conservation Association in Texas. “I made quite a few vegetable rice/quinoa dishes that were a big hit among all the crew members…I made sure to make food for the group that was not only vegan but tasted good to nonvegans.”

Riley is also a gifted artist. Her work can be found at

One reference stated, “Riley does not simply think outside the box; she affirms that there – is in fact – no box. After thirty years as an educator, I have learned that I have not seen it all, because I have never before experienced Riley Howard. Quite simply, Riley gets it. She gets life’s complexities and its redemption. She gets the purpose of compassion. Riley is helping the environment, animals, humans… all those in need.”

The deadline for the next Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship for graduating high school seniors is February 20, 2017. For details, go to

To support Vegetarian Resource Group internships and scholarships, donate at

Is it more expensive to eat a vegan diet?

Posted on June 24, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Casey Brown

Some people think that vegan diets are expensive and time-consuming, however that is not the case any more than meat-based eating. Vegan diets can be affordable and convenient by focusing on whole foods rather than specialty vegan products and convenience foods. If you are looking to go vegan on a budget, here are some tips!

Tips for budgeting:
● Don’t focus meals around vegan alternatives such as vegan cheese, mock meats, and other specialty items. These make a treat every now and then (even once a day), but they are more expensive. It is healthier and less expensive to focus more on a whole food, plant-based diet that is rich in grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.

● Shop around. Go to a few different grocery stores in the area to compare prices and find the best deals.

● Stay local. Farmer’s markets are a great place to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost. While some of the produce may be more expensive, they often have better deals on in-season harvest. Make sure to look for sales and compare the prices with other stores in the area. If the produce is on sale, items can be bought in bulk and frozen for later (this works great for berries). Many farmers markets also offer ‘seconds’ (blemished and bruised produce) for a discounted price.

● Buy in bulk. As mentioned previously, many vegan staples can be bought in bulk. Wholesale stores, health food stores, and normal grocery stores offer large quantities of food for a lower cost. It is helpful to compare unit prices when shopping in order to determine the best deals. Some foods that are best to stock up on include nuts, seeds, produce, pasta, rice, oats, and other items. Buying large quantities can seem expensive, but it will provide more food for its value. With this being said, it is important to only buy food you will actually use. Otherwise you will end up wasting food and money.

● Buy canned and frozen options when less expensive. Beans and vegetables are good items to buy canned. Dry beans are also inexpensive, however they take more time to prepare. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great way to stock up on these items, and they will last longer than fresh produce. Frozen options are not always cheaper, so it is best to always compare prices while shopping.

● Prepare your own food. Prepackaged and pre-cut foods are more expensive, so it will save you money to prepare them yourself. Preparing your own meals, hummus, trail mix, and other foods can help to eliminate costs.

● Buy store brand foods and go for sales. Store brands typically contain the same ingredients as name brand foods, but at a much lower cost.

● Invest in a reusable water bottle. This way you do not have to buy water bottles at the store every week. These can be filled up at home and while on the go! Opting for water over other drinks is also a cheaper and healthier option. Plus these bottles are better for the environment!

● Plan meals ahead of time. Make a grocery list according to your meal plan and stick to the list while shopping. This will prevent you from buying more food than needed, eliminating food costs and food waste.

● Grow your own garden. This may not be practical for everyone, but growing your own produce or herbs can cut costs, and it is also a really fun experience!

Need some cost effective ideas for meals? Here are some meal ideas you can make while on a budget.

● Oatmeal with soymilk, a banana, and peanut butter or other toppings (cocoa, fruit)
● Smoothies – these are great if you find a good deal on fruit!
○ You can even make a smoothie bowl and top with granola, fruit, or nuts

● Beans with rice, veggies, and any kind of dressing or seasonings you want to add
● Stir-fry with veggies, tofu, and rice
● Pasta with tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, avocado, and spinach
● Burritos with rice, beans, and vegetables

● Banana ice cream
○ Blend together 3-4 frozen bananas, 1 cup non-dairy milk, and fruit, cocoa, PB, or anything else (for flavor)!
● Carrots and other veggies with hummus
● Trail mix, nuts, or seeds
● Fruit

Price Comparison:
(Prices were obtained from Giant Supermarket in Maryland. Prices will vary by brand/store):

• Homemade: $1.19 ($0.21 for one tortilla wrap, $0.20 for 1 serving/0.5 cups black beans, $0.16 for 2 servings of cooked white rice/1 cup, and $0.62 for 1 serving of Daiya cheddar cheese)
• Frozen vegan burrito: $2.69 for 6 oz. Amy’s Organic Non-dairy burrito made with beans & rice. ($0.49/oz)
• Frozen meat burrito: $2.50 for 5 oz. Red’s Natural Foods Burrito Chicken and Cheese ($0.50/oz)

The store-bought burritos are similar in cost. Amy’s burrito is an organic burrito, and it consists of a flour tortilla with pinto beans, rice, and veggies in a Mexican sauce. It costs more than the non-vegan burrito, however it was slightly cheaper per unit price. Red’s Natural Foods Burrito is also organic, and it consists of a tortilla filled with chicken, brown rice, pinto beans, a cheese mixture, and a red chile sauce. These burritos are similar in contents and in price. The homemade burrito is less expensive, and it consists of a tortilla with black beans, rice, and vegan cheese. Other toppings and sauces could be added for minimal cost. Buying any of these options in bulk when possible (either the frozen burritos or the ingredients for the fresh burrito) could help to reduce the cost. But remember, don’t buy more food than you will be able to use.

Ice Cream:
• Pint (2 cups) of homemade banana ice cream: $1.24 ($0.90 for 3 bananas and $0.34 for 1 cup of store-brand almond milk)
• Store bought pint of nondairy ice cream: $4.99 for any flavor So Delicious dairy-free ice cream
• Store bought dairy ice cream: $1.00 for pint serving of store-brand vanilla ice cream (sold by the gallon)

The homemade banana ice cream comes in at a similar price as the store-brand vanilla ice cream. Of course, other ingredients can be added to the banana ice cream for more flavors, which will slightly increase the cost. The non-dairy So Delicious ice cream is fairly expensive in comparison. This is an example of one of the vegan ‘specialty’ items previously mentioned. Meat and dairy replacements can be more expensive at the store, however they make for a nice treat every now and then. Banana ice cream is a great alternative in this situation!
While some of the vegan options might not have been cheaper than the non-vegan options, they are typically similar in price. As mentioned before, as long as you are not relying on specialty vegan products, then your budget should not be more expensive!
See more info at:

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.

Casey is doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group this summer.


Field Roast Dogs and Burgers at Camden Yards

Posted on June 23, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


A VRG staffer attended the Orioles game last night, eager to find out how available Field Roast vegan dogs and burgers would be. Happily, we can report that we saw the vegan dogs and burgers at many O’What a Dog and Baseline Burger locations on each level. The items are listed on the menu board as “Vegan Dog” and “Vegan Burger” clearly so that you don’t have to wait in line at the stand to find out if it is one that serves the option.

When our staffer ordered her vegan dog, the cashier said “I’ll have to check if we have any left! Those things sell out quickly!” Luckily, they did, and it was hot and ready quickly….and delicious!

If your’e vegan and vegetarian at the ball game, be sure to come on an empty stomach to continue showing just how in-demand veg options are!

Other vegetarian options available at Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

Cheese Pizza (Pizza Boli Stands)
Nachos (Nacho Portables)
Fries (Baseline Burgers, Das Sausage Haus, and Baltimore Burger Company)
Soft Pretzels (O’ What A Dog)
Hand Rolled Soft Pretzel (Pretzel Kiosk)
Vegetarian Edamame BAO (TAKO-Asian)
Salads (Pizza Boli Stands, Eutaw Market, Dempsey’s Restaurant)
Veggie Wrap (Eutaw Market)
Fresh Fruit (Eutaw Market)
Vegetarian snack items (Eutaw Market)
Vegan Hamburger and Frankfurters-(Located at O’ what a Dog’s and Baseline Burgers.)


Posted on June 23, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Lauren Hickey was a vegetarian since seven years old. She stated, “As my mother tells it, one day I looked up from my dinner plate and blurted ‘Mommy, what’s this made out of?’ … When my mother so gently explained that the meat I was eating was once an animal, I was suddenly alarmed and upset. I simply couldn’t understand how I would eat something dead that I coo at and cuddle with alive… As a second grader, I soon realized that although being different took a dose of courage, it was strangely thrilling … Since seven years old, I have unwaveringly abided to my principles… In third grade, I stood in front of my enrichment class, beaming as I enlightened them on my area of expertise: vegetarianism… After presenting my slideshow to the class, my mom and little sister strolled into the classroom on cue with samples of mangos and hummus.”

Lauren joined the Colchester Board of Education as a student member in 2014. She states, “Two years ago I initiated a Farm to School program in my town and established our high school’s first organic garden. Colchester’s Farm to School Initiatives is a program that reaches every school in the district with fresh vegetables from local farms and multiple school gardens. I initiated a weekly program at the intermediate school in which I teach a weekly class of 39 students in grades 3-5 about fresh food and environmental consciousness. I wrote and received a grant for fruit trees that the kids planted in the spring. I helped coordinate collaboration between the AP Biology students who took a field trip to the elementary school, where the second graders taught THEM how to compost.”

When teaching the third to fifth graders, “It moved my heart to hear a student tell me that he wants to save the environment and all the animals. I was filled with joy when every kid jumped out of their seat with both hands in the air when I asked, ‘So who liked the kale?’ I even teared up watching the kids take enormous pride in planting trees with their own hands that will bear fruit for generations.”

“My vegetarian journey began when I was 7 years old when I… realized that I could not agree with killing animals… I have made a conscious effort to frame my vegetarian mission in a very positive way rooted in encouragement…” When I was in fifth grade, I wrote an essay for the Connecticut Higher Education Trust on my future career goals and how college would help me achieve them. I declared I would become an ‘animal activist.’ In retrospect, I was not too far off the mark. I plan on going to college and majoring in Environmental Studies… In college and beyond, I plan on promoting vegetarianism by engaging in an environmental or animal activism club, working in the organic garden, and ensuring dining hall food promotes values… Maybe one day I will live out my 5th grade dream of giving speeches around the world.”

The deadline for the next Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship for graduating high school seniors is February 20, 2017. For details, go to

To support Vegetarian Resource Group internships and scholarships, donate at

Please participate in a survey about your attitudes, feelings, opinions, and behaviors concerning social, economic, environmental, and animal-related issues.

Posted on June 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Please participate in a survey about your attitudes, feelings, opinions, and behaviors concerning social, economic, environmental, and animal-related issues.


Dear Respondent:

This is a survey about your attitudes, feelings, opinions, and behaviors concerning social, economic, environmental, and animal-related issues. Please read each question carefully and follow the instructions given. It should take about 5 – 15 minutes to complete the survey. For each Fully Completed survey (or all questions answered) the Vegetarian Resource Group will receive a donation of $1.00.

Click the link below to find study details; then click the ‘next’ button to indicate your willingness to participate and begin the survey. you have any questions about this survey, please contact:

Dr. Karin Braunsberger
Professor of Marketing
Kate Tiedemann College of Business
University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group — Purchase a book from our catalog!

Posted on June 22, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group Book Catalog offers a wide range of vegan books including:

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

“Mutant Vegetarians??” Sensational Headlines and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Requirements

Posted on June 21, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Riccardo Racicot, MS

“Study finds that Vegetarians are Mutant” (1)
“Vegetarian Diet May Alter Human DNA, Raising Cancer, Heart Disease Risks” (2)
“Being a Vegetarian Could Kill You, Science Warns.” (3)

These sensational headlines are based on new research published for advanced access in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution by a research group from Cornell University (4). As a molecular biologist and nutrition researcher I was skeptical about these claims and was eager to learn more about the study. What I found was a fantastic study with exciting findings in need of no embellishment.

This new research focused on the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid plays many roles in the human body and is a main constituent of cell membranes. Dietary sources of arachidonic acid include meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Unlike most omega-6 fatty acids, which are usually consumed in our diet as vegetable oils, arachidonic acid is not found in plants. However, humans are able to convert a precursor found in plants, another omega-6 fatty acid, known as linoleic acid into arachidonic acid. In their study, Kumar Kothapalli and his colleagues at Cornell University found that some people are more efficient at this conversion than others (4).

The reason: Genetics.
To gain a better understanding of the findings of this research I spoke directly with Dr. Kothapalli. According to Kothapalli, the study demonstrated that a population which has been practicing vegetarianism for many generations actively produce more of a particular enzyme known as fatty acid desaturase, which is responsible for converting linoleic acid to arachidonic acid.

Initially, the researchers found different versions of the fatty acid desaturase gene in a Japanese population. In some people they found a small section of DNA to be deleted in this gene. Since we have two copies of each gene, this allows for 3 different variations; those with both copies intact (I/I), those which have one copy with the section deleted (I/D) and those which have both copies with the section deleted (D/D). They found those with both copies intact (I/I) had significantly higher amounts of fatty acid desaturase, indicating they would be more efficient at converting the plant-based linoleic acid to arachidonic acid than those with both sections of the gene deleted (D/D) (4).

Kothapalli and his colleagues then determined how often each variation occurs using human DNA samples. The DNA samples were taken from a population in Pune, India who are primarily vegetarian and have been vegetarian for many generations. Their DNA samples were compared with samples from the United States. The analysis found the I/I variation occurred in 68% of the Indian population and only in 18% of the United States population (4). The researchers then used global genetic data to determine how frequently the variants occur world-wide. Globally, the I/I variation was found in of 70% of South Asians, 53% of Africans, 29% of East Asians, and 17% of Europeans (4).

To confirm that the I/I variation did in fact lead to increased conversion of linoleic acid to arachidonic acid, the researchers performed biochemical tests on human samples. As they predicted, arachidonic acid levels were 8% higher in I/I individuals than D/D (4). The activity of the enzyme was also shown to be higher in the I/I group, with 31% greater conversion of linoleic to arachidonic acid than the D/D group (4).

Overall, what this study truly shows is that over generations, populations who eat predominantly vegetarian diets (that usually include dairy products but not eggs) have adapted to low intakes of arachidonic acid by becoming more efficient at producing arachidonic acid. So, why did these results garner the sensational headlines?

To understand this, we need to take a look at the current hypothesis of how different types of unsaturated fats affect our health. The best model we have today is the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This ratio is used to compare the balance of different types of unsaturated fats in our diets.

According to some, the types of fats we eat have changed dramatically over the past 150 years. These researchers believe humans evolved eating foods such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, resulting in a dietary fatty acid ratio of 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3 (5). Today the intake ratio for the general population has tilted heavily in favor of omega-6 fatty acids to 15:1 (5). This is largely due to the increased availability of seed oils such as soy, corn, and cottonseed and inexpensive grain-fed meats. For vegetarians and vegans this ratio may be even higher because their diets often contain few omega-3 fatty acids. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are mainly found in cold-water fatty fish.

The relatively higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids is believed by some researchers to result in inflammation and pro-inflammatory diseases like heart disease and colon cancer (6, 7). The science on omega-3 fatty acids seems to be pretty clear; they are anti-inflammatory. However, when it comes to the omega-6 fatty acids, specifically arachidonic acid, the science appears to be more complicated. Arachidonic acid itself is a precursor to both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules (8). This connection between omega-6 fatty acids and pro-inflammatory diseases misled some journalists to believe higher arachidonic acid production in those with the I/I variation would make them be at higher risk for those diseases. In reality, vegetarians tend to have lower risks for these chronic diseases (9).

For now, the hypothesis that the dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is relevant for health seems to fall into the realm of expert opinion rather than that of sound scientific findings. Historical fatty acid ratio findings are based on extrapolations from a handful of anthropological nutrition studies and observations on wild animals. The data suggesting a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is harmful come from small studies with few participants, cell culture studies, and epidemiological observations.

Skepticism surrounding these findings seems justified when considering the breadth of data suggesting omega-6 intake is associated with decreased risk of heart disease. Over the past few decades, randomized trials, case-control and cohort studies, and long-term animal feeding experiments have all demonstrated a decreased risk of heart disease for those eating 5-10% of calories from omega-6 fatty acids when compared to eating lower amounts (10). In line with these findings, a 2009 science advisory from the American Heart Association, “recommends that people aim for at least 5 percent to 10 percent of calories from omega-6 fatty acids.” (10).

Kothapalli, however, is a firm believer of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio hypothesis. When asked about the implication of the study for those eating a vegetarian diet he responded: “If they are eating a vegetarian diet they should balance the omega-3s and omega-6s in their diet. Don’t eat more omega-6 from…vegetable oils. They need to balance between omega-6 and omega-3, then they will be okay.”

To gain a better perspective on the extensive amount of variable findings, I met with leading expert on all things fat-related, Dr. Eric Decker, Head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His answer was rather simple: the data are largely inconclusive with the exception that the general population is not currently consuming enough long chain omega-3 fatty acids on average here in the United States. Regardless who you are, vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, you should be eating more long chain omega-3s.

The US Dietary Guidelines suggest consuming the equivalent amount of DHA and EPA from 2 servings of fatty fish per week, which works out to be about 250 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day (11). On average, Americans consume 63 mg of DHA and 23 mg of EPA per day (12). In vegetarians and vegans these intake levels are even lower and sometimes even nonexistent. Vegan dietary sources of DHA and EPA are limited to sea vegetables, fortified foods, and supplements. Microalgae-derived DHA is vegan and widely available in supplement form. Sea vegetables have been growing in popularity in recent years as they are sustainable and provide EPA. A list of DHA and EPA sources can be found below:


Source: Sanchez-Machado DI, Lopez-Hernandez J, Paseiro-Losada P, Lopez-Cervantes J. Fatty acids, total lipid, protein and ash contents of processed edible seaweeds. Food Chem. 2004;85:439-444 and manufacturers’ information.

Unfortunately, as with most nutrition related inquiries, there is no definitive answer as of yet. The beauty of this study is that it brings us one step closer to better answers. As of now we are reliant on unreliable data for our information. With the advent of the fields of nutrigenetics (the study of the effects of dietary patterns on genetics over time) and nutrigenomics (the study of the effects of nutrient intake on gene expression) we are becoming ever closer to making personalized dietary recommendations.

For now, I am able to leave you with three definitive takeaways from this article:
1) Being a vegetarian will not change your genes
2) Being a vegetarian will not kill you
3) Eat more omega-3 fatty acids

1. Hamaker P. Study finds that vegetarians are mutants. Published March 29, 2016. Accessed May 21 2016.
2. Pascual K. Vegetarian diet may alter human DNA, raising cancer, heart disease risks. TechTimes website. Published March 31, 2016. Accessed May 21 2016.
3. Li DK. Being a vegetarian could kill you, science warns. New York Post website. Published March 31, 2016. Accessed May 21 2016.
4. Kothapalli K, Ye K, Gadgil M, et al. Positive selection on a regulatory insertion-deletion polymorphism in FADS2 influences apparent endogenous synthesis of arachidonic acid. Mol Biol Evol 2016;March 29 pii: msw049. [Epub ahead of print]
5. Simopoulos A. Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and genetic variation: nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Biomed Pharmac 2006; Nov;60 (9):502-7.
6. Ramsden C, Zamora D, Leelarthaepin B, et al. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ 2013; 346:e8707.
7. Simopoulos A. The Importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med 2008;23:674-688.
8. Needleman P, Truk J, Jakschik B, Morrison A, Lefkowith J. Arachidonic acid metabolism. Annu Rev Biochem 1986;55:69-102.
9. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of The American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109:1266-82.
10. Harris W, Mozaffarian D, Rimm E, et al. Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: A Science Advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Circulation 2009;119:902-907.
11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.
12. Papanikolaou Y, Brooks J, Reider C, Fulgoni VL. U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008. Nutr J. 2014;Apr 2;13:31.

Riccardo Racicot recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a master’s degree in Molecular Biology.

Dietetic Intern Day at VRG

Posted on June 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Casey Brown

I went vegetarian back in high school with little knowledge of my dietary needs during the transition. I was motivated by ethical reasons, and I focused most of my research on that aspect rather than learning more about my nutritional needs. I was living in a meat-eating household, and I had to cook my own meals if I wanted to remain vegetarian. This meant that I ate a lot of pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and trail mix. I never met with a dietitian during this transition. However, I think it definitely could have been beneficial for me. It would have made the transition much easier, and I would have been much healthier and more prepared starting out.

On one of my first days interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group, dietetic interns from the University of Maryland came in as part of their rotation. This was an opportunity that allowed them to learn more about vegetarian/vegan diets so they would be well rounded in their future careers. This is definitely an important topic for them to cover, considering the growth in vegan and vegetarian diets worldwide. As part of the event, everyone brought in a vegan dish to share for a potluck lunch. This allowed the interns the chance to be creative and experience vegan cooking first hand, opening them up to the variety of vegan substitutes and alternatives that are available. This will be essential during their career when they are working with vegan and vegetarian clients since they can provide them with practical examples of recipes and meal ideas, so that they can be more prepared than I was during the transition

During the event, the interns did an activity to come up with different vegan meal plans for various age ranges. It was interesting to see what ideas everyone came up with since some of the groups kept it simple, while others were more creative with their meals. They made important considerations since they knew that many kids would want simple foods like sandwiches and fruit, while adults might prefer tofu, rice and beans, or other meal combinations. They incorporated factors like time, which might affect working parents, and taste preferences, which might affect children and teens, while they were designing their meal plans. They also provided a variation of meals, offering an assortment of grain and legume combinations, multiple sandwich and snack ideas for school lunches, and even different breakfast options. Some of the meals relied on plant-based combinations, while others used alternative “meat” and “dairy” options to make the transition easier. Overall, it was an exciting event that allowed the interns to engage in conversations with one another and with vegans from VRG to enhance their understanding of these diets and provide them useful knowledge and skills that will be necessary for their careers.

While these interns came from different backgrounds, some were meat-eaters who “could never go vegetarian” and one was completely vegan, they all offered a lot of insight and were very open to learning more about these diets. The interns left with a multitude of vegan books and resources from VRG, which they can use to further educate themselves on this topic and use as a reference in their future career. The interns will hopefully continue to educate themselves on these diets and prepare themselves to work with clients coming from various backgrounds. While I never thought about visiting a dietitian when I transitioned to a vegetarian or a vegan diet, I think it would have helped me. Many people could benefit by meeting with a veggie-friendly dietitian, so they can be more educated and well prepared during their transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

For information about becoming a registered dietitian, see

For information about Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group education and outreach, donate at

To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, go to


Veggie Burgers Rock!

Posted on June 17, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Portobello Mushroom Patties

Zel Allen has written an excellent recipe piece on making your own veggie burgers and condiments at home in the latest issue of Vegetarian Journal. She offers a wide variety of burgers including Mediterranean Portobello Burgers, Open Sesame Nut Burgers, Spiced Green Burgers, Nutty Buffalo Burgers, Whoppin’ Big Lentil Burgers, Moroccan Chickpea Burgers, Falafel Burgers, and Passionate Pecan Pecan Patties.

Burger condiment recipes include Smoky Chipotle Mayonnaise, Creamy Avocado Sauce, Mediterranean Relish, Vegan Ranch Dressing, and Tangy Tahini Sauce. Enjoy!

To read the entire article, visit:

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal, visit:

Seed to Sprout Restaurant Review

Posted on June 16, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Christiana Rutkowski

Located in Fair Haven, N.J., Seed to Sprout is a vegan restaurant tucked away in a little strip shop area. Although the restaurant itself might not be seen right away from the street, the food does not disappoint in the slightest. Serving vegan entrees, homemade vegan baked goods, as well as offering a juice and smoothie bar, this is a place you’d want to sit in for hours and simply admire.

I walked into Seed to Sprout for the first time on a Sunday afternoon to meet a friend for a late lunch. Upon entering, I was greeted by friendly smiles, a calm and serene atmosphere, and the smells of main dishes being prepared whilst simultaneously suspecting the aromas of freshly baked goods. Through the entrance to my right was the counter, surrounded by cookies, scones, muffins, juices, smoothies, and a plethora of other delicious looking options.

The atmosphere of Seed to Sprout was bright and welcoming. The service was very good and the food came out quick. I ordered their “bacon” cheddar melt, which was made from seared and marinated tempeh, caramelized onion, coconut bacon, and cashew cheese, all on their “wheat free millet & flax bread.” It was absolutely delicious. It melted in my mouth, a burst of flavor…I was totally blown away. Along with the sandwich came a kale salad as well.

The prices were reasonable, not too expensive. Before paying, I knew I needed to grab a dessert as well. I had trouble deciding on which one to get, but opted for the chocolate walnut cookie. It was warm, crumbly (so fresh!), and extremely decadent. It was safe to say that the minute I got home, I ate the cookie in a matter of 2 seconds.

To conclude this review, it was absolutely a fantastic first experience at Seed to Sprout. I’d recommend this restaurant to any vegan or person thinking about going vegan. Even if you aren’t interested in vegan food at all, this place still wouldn’t disappoint!

For hours and a menu, see

For information on other vegetarian restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, see

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