The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

VRG Offers Two $5,000 Scholarships plus One $10,000 Scholarship – Deadline is February 20th!

Posted on January 30, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, The Vegetarian Resource Group each year will award $20,000 in college scholarship money to graduating U.S. high school students who have promoted veganism/vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who do not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs.

One award of $10,000 and two awards of $5,000 will be given. Entries may only be sent by students graduating from high school in spring 2017. Deadline is February 20, 2017. We will accept applications postmarked on or before February 20, 2017. Early submission is encouraged.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegan/vegetarian diet/lifestyle. Payment will be made to the student’s college (U.S. based only). Winners of the scholarships give permission to release their names to the media. Applications and essays become property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. We may ask finalists for more information. Scholarship winners are contacted by e-mail or telephone. Please look at your e-mail.

For details on the contest, see:

Vegan food in your foodservice?

Posted on January 30, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company operating 650-plus cafés in 31 states for corporations, universities, and museums as well as public restaurants.

Bon Appétit Management Company says they were born in the San Francisco Bay Area, and “as a result we’ve always been ahead of the curve when it comes to offering plentiful vegetarian and vegan options at our cafés. Our chefs love the challenge of serving up plentiful interesting offerings … We’ve long conducted “vegan culinary boot camps” across the country to train our chefs to think beyond the salad bar and take inspiration internationally. (Thai pesto, anyone?) Multiple Bon Appétit university cafés are fully vegan or vegetarian, with unique and ever-changing menus. All of our cafés use color-coded stickers to identify items that are vegetarian and/or vegan.” If your foodservice uses Bon Appetit, ask them about their vegan options and training.

Here’s a couscous recipe on their blog.

And a Lentil Salad

For more foodservice ideas, visit

Celebrate the Chinese New Year: Enjoy Vegan Chinese Food

Posted on January 27, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


What better way to celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 28th then by preparing a vegan Chinese dish. Here’s some recipes from Vegetarian Journal to help you out:

Boiled Rice and Mushroom Congee
T’ang Dynasty Cold Fruit Soup
Cabbage Salad
Citrus Snow Peas
Street Side Tofu and Mushrooms
Stir-fried Noodles
Sweet Walnuts

Fried Lotus with Black Rice
Sesame Kale
B&B Stir-fry with Udon Noodles

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal, visit:

FDA Tells The VRG That Vitamin D2 Is Permitted in Orange Juice

Posted on January 27, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

In July 2016 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that vitamin D2 could be added as a nutrient supplement to plant-based beverages intended for use as milk alternatives as well as to non-dairy yogurt alternatives.

[VRG Note: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is derived from fungal or plant sources. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is most often derived from sheep’s wool (lanolin) although a vegan vitamin D3 form is available Vitamin D3 is frequently added to cow’s milk and orange juice.]

The VRG wondered if vitamin D2 was permitted by the FDA to be added to orange juice since nothing in the recent ruling specifically addressed this issue.
We searched Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and located the status of both forms of vitamin D as a food additive.

Here it states that vitamin D3 may be added to juice; Vitamin D2 is not mentioned.

By contrast, vitamin D2 may be added to certain foods:

On this page it states that “Vitamin D2 may be used safely in foods as a nutrient supplement defined under 170.3(o)(20) of this chapter…” but there is no mention of juice. Under that section, the CFR states the definition: “Nutrient supplements: Substances which are necessary for the body’s nutritional and metabolic processes.”

Here’s where the CFR states that it’s admissible in certain foods/beverages to use either form of vitamin D as “vitamin D.” Again, orange juice is not specifically identified in relation to vitamin D2 supplementation.

Searching for more information about FDA’s position on vitamin D2 in orange juice, we contacted a few government scientists who conduct nutrition research.

Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University sent us a link to a pertinent article on vitamin D titled Vitamin D fortification in the United States and Canada: current status and data needs

A footnote in Table 1 Lawful addition of vitamin D to foods in the United States of this article specifies that vitamin D3 is permitted in juices. It appears that Table 1’s “vitamin D” for the other foods/beverages can be either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.

We asked Dr. Dawson-Hughes: Do you know if FDA’s position is that since D2 is defined as a dietary supplement and it is NOT expressly prohibited from being added to juice, then companies may add it to juice?

She replied:
Since milk can be fortified with D2 or D3 (see statement below from the Calvo article), I would think that D2 can be used to fortify other foods.
This is the statement from the article linked above on which Dr. Dawson-Hughes based her conclusion:

…Vitamin D, which includes crystalline vitamin D2 and
D3 and vitamin D2 and D3 resin formed from the irradiation of ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol, can be added as the sole source of added vitamin in the food categories shown in Table 1 and must not exceed the specified limitations …

The VRG also contacted FDA by email and phone for confirmation. Here is our question posed in January 2017 to FDA’s Food and Cosmetics Information Center and Technical Assistance Network (FCIC/TAN) followed by their reply:

Q: … [In the CFR] D2 is permitted in plant-based milks but I see only D3 as allowable in fruit juice.
Are companies in the US permitted to add vitamin D2 to orange juice?

A: Thanks for your inquiry! Yes, vitamin D (2 & 3) can be added to orange juice.

Thank you for contacting FDA’s FCIC/TAN.

The VRG followed up with a phone call to FCIC to inquire about the specific reference in CFR’s Title 21 on which FCIC based its answer.
We began the phone call by asking whether a juice company could add vitamin D2 to orange juice. The immediate response was “If a company has approval.” Wondering which CFR regulation supports this reply, we continued by asking for the CFR reference. We received this answer after being put on hold for a few minutes: “If vitamin D2 is not expressly written as prohibited [in the CFR] it may be used [as a dietary supplement defined in 21CFR170.3] in orange juice.” The call was disconnected while we repeated our request for the CFR reference for this statement.

Related Information:

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own

For information on other ingredients, see
To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at
Or join at

2nd Annual Vegan Mac N’ Cheese Smackdown and Baltimore Vegan Weekend

Posted on January 26, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 9.40.12 AM

Feb. 17-19, 2017

We’re writing because once again, we [Baltimore Vegan Drinks] are co-producing the Vegan Mac N’ Cheese Smackdown, but this year, it’s in the middle of Baltimore Vegan Weekend – spanning Friday Feb. 17 to Sunday Feb. 19. There’s a vegan foods crawl all over Baltimore Friday night, the Mac Smackdown and an afterparty on Saturday, and Vegan Brunch, plus a Vegan Pizza Party on Sunday.

In 2016 just over 1000 guests attended and we had 28 chefs. Our event was covered by the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post, plus it inspired spin-off events in Philly and Asheville. We have a bigger space with parking lots this time and we want to do even BETTER, really pushing the awesome-ness of vegan mac and cheese out into the world.

Here are links to the event pages –

mac and cheese smackdown –

And the Facebook page for the vegan weekend –

Thanks and take care, Rissa

Eating Vegan in Charleston, South Carolina

Posted on January 25, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Heather Francis, VRG Volunteer

Over winter break I traveled to Charleston to visit a friend who goes to the College of Charleston. There were four of us going. The person we were visiting, Leah, is a vegetarian. I’m a vegan, and my girlfriend, Emily came who is also vegan. Our other friend, Mia, isn’t veggie but loves trying vegan food. I was semi-worried about the food choices there, but I didn’t need to be, AT ALL! To share with you all the delicious places I went in Charleston, I’ll go day by day.

When we landed in Charleston the first thought that came to our mind was of food. We were starving. Our friend Leah picked us up from the airport and from there we went to her apartment to drop off our bags. Following that we went to this rad place called Brown Dog Deli. This deli is in downtown Charleston on Broad Street. Now don’t be fooled, this place is not necessarily a deli. They do sell sandwiches, which is their entire menu; however, they don’t sell any cheeses or meats by the slice. They have an outdoor seating area in the very back and we seated ourselves in a booth and were given menus by our waitress. 

They have an entirely vegan/vegetarian section on the menu. It includes seitan, tempeh, veggie burgers, and veggie sandwiches. There are options for a vegan cheese and mayonnaise. I was going to get the grilled “chicken” sandwich made from seitan but they were out of it. Instead I got a sloppy joe on sourdough bread made with seitan. I do have to say it was good. 

Later Leah took us to Folly beach where we explored the beach for a bit, and for dinner she took us to Taco Boy-a Mexican restaurant located on Center St. in Charleston. We ordered and demolished a bowl of guacamole. I got rice & beans and devoured a super spicy cauliflower taco. There was no dessert because I was stuffed from dinner. 

We had fruit for breakfast and then traveled to see this super old tree: Angel Oak in Charleston. If there is one thing I recommend anyone doing when they go to Charleston it would be going to spend time with Angel Oak. It’s s tree that is approximately 400 years old. 

Following Angel Oak, we went to King Street in downtown Charleston where we went shopping and looked in different stores. For lunch, we found this awesome place called Beech. This place sells Poké bowls, wraps, acai bowls, smoothies, and juices. I ordered a Poké bowl made with zucchini noodles, marinated tofu, wakami (seaweed), avocado, ginger, and pickled cucumber, then topped with a sesame ginger sauce. I enjoyed the bowl but I regretted not getting brown rice because the entire meal was cold and I would have enjoyed the warmth of brown rice. I also drank a local kombucha: One Love, which was super tasty.


Instead of eating out again, that night we went to Trader Joe’s and made an Indian curry with frozen veggies, potatoes and fried tofu over a bed of brown rice. We mixed in Trader Joe’s coconut beverage (next time I’ll use coconut cream/milk to create a creamier consistency). The meal was delicious. 

On Saturday, we drove to Savannah, Georgia to run away from the coldness in Charleston and tour the old town. It took us approximately two hours to get from Leah’s house to Savannah. We were hoping to not spend a ton of money on food that day and just have snacks with us. It didn’t necessarily workout as planned because we found this bakery right on Jefferson St. called the British Pie Company. Walking into the bakery my girlfriend and I didn’t think we’d be ordering anything, but we’re pleasantly surprised to find a spicy Moroccan pastry labeled Vegan!!! When checking out the cashier explained that the pastry was recently introduced to their bakery and they also occasionally had chili pies for sale. Emily and I split a pastry-it was delicious. This place is a must go, if you’re visiting Savannah. 

Ate fruit for breakfast. After eating fruit, we went to World Market where we spent maybe an hour looking at an entire store of merchandise from different places of the world. My girlfriend and I found a delicious French kombucha-which has been by far one of the best brands I’ve tried ever (the Asian Pear is the best one).

After going to World market, we drove to Daniel’s Island and ate at a Mediterranean café: Ali Babe on Daniel’s Island. We found over a dozen different vegan options in the display case. I ordered a falafel and hummus wrap and grape leaves. Emily got an orzo salad, leek stew, cauliflower, and a rice salad. We split the meals and it was AMAZING!! 

Ali Baba

We went to Nana’s donuts-a vegan donut shop in Charleston, South Carolina and on Monday all donuts were half priced. The donuts are palm oil free, organic, and made with vegan ingredients. I tried a maple donut, strawberry, and key lime pie donut. I highly urge anyone to go here when they visit Charleston. These are some of the best donuts I’ve had. They are fluffy and the flavors of the donuts aren’t extremely powerful, but a perfect kick.


After Nana’s we drove to Gnome Cafe-a completely vegan restraint in Charleston where I got a chickpea “tuna” salad, and a cheddar scallion biscuit. The Café is open for breakfast and lunch, and they have an awesome menu with salads, sandwiches, breakfast foods, and baked goods. My girlfriend tried the Buffalo fried setain sandwich, which I’d say is the best item on the menu. Leah got a plate of Southern Grits topped with a tofu scramble and kale. Our other friend tried the veggie burger. All of it was awesome. We met the owner of the Café, and she was extremely sweet, and took our picture. I know I’d go here again, and again, and again.

This was our last stop of the trip. As for my experience of eating in Charleston, I must say I was impressed. Charleston has many options for vegans. There were other places that catered to the vegan diet that we didn’t even get a chance to try. So, don’t worry about eating vegan in Charleston, South Carolina because there are a ton of places to try and devour the cuisine.

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

To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, visit

Support The Vegetarian Resource Group Year-Round – Become a Monthly or Quarterly Donor!

Posted on January 24, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

The Vegetarian Resource Group is an activist non-profit organization that does outreach all-year-long. We table at different events throughout the USA and also send literature free of charge to other groups/individuals doing educational activities in schools, hospitals, camps, restaurants, libraries, etc. 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 or quarterly donor to VRG.

Thanks so much for your support. You can become a monthly or quarterly donor online here:


Posted on January 24, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

I found this essay when I was searching for different definitions of faux leather and I do agree with this essay. Firstly, faux leather is really a great alternative for real animal leather, not only because of its cheap prices, but more importantly, it is an animal-friendly option for animal protectionism and vegetarians. In fact, faux leather could be used in so many fantastic places in our life. Apart from clothing, upholstery, and accessories, faux leather is also widely used as shoe upper fabrics and lining fabrics. Actually, my company is running a big faux leather business in China. Visit
Yours sincerely, Leo LIN

Readers may also be interested in

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.

Vegan Menu Options at Subway®

Posted on January 23, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Subway’s US Product Ingredients Guide appears as a PDF link accessible from the right side of its Nutrition Information webpage:

Based on this Product Ingredient Guide and confirmed information from Subway (see below for details), The VRG has developed this list:

Subway’s Vegan Bread Products
• Hearty Italian Bread
• Italian (White) Bread
• Roasted Garlic Bread
• Sourdough Bread
• Wrap

Please note that products and ingredients can change.

Lanette Kavachi, Corporate Dietitian at Subway, wrote to us in September 2016 that “The sugar used in the Italian, Roasted Garlic and Sourdough breads is NOT processed through cow bone char.” [VRG Note: All capitals in “not” are Lanette’s.]

Rye bread is also listed and appears to be vegan. Lanette informed us in January 2017 that “The rye bread is coming off the menu; we are just depleting inventory.” She did not provide any more information on it.

In a follow up email in which The VRG inquired whether Subway had received certificates from suppliers explicitly stating that “No cow bone char was used to process this sugar” Lanette told us that “We specifically asked our suppliers if sugar they used was processed through cow-bone char.”
We asked Lanette about the natural flavor in the Roasted Garlic Bread. We also asked if sorbitan monostearate, possibly made from animal-derived stearic acid, had been used by the manufacturer as an emulsifier in their bread yeast as it is by some other companies. Lastly we inquired if the yeast extract in some Subway breads was made with typically animal-derived L-cysteine as a reaction flavor. Her response to all of these questions was: “The Italian, Sourdough and Roasted Garlic Breads do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.”

Subway’s Wrap contains mono- and diglycerides as well as sugar. Lanette reported to us that “for the Wrap the sugar is not processed through cow bone char and the mono and di-glycerides are plant-derived.”

Subway’s Product Ingredients Guide for Sourdough Bread also lists “dextrose” (i.e, glucose, a simple sugar) as well as “sugar” as ingredients. We asked Lanette about dextrose’s source and processing method and she responded by saying: “The sourdough sugar is not processed through cow bone char.”

According to the second question on the Menu Nutrition FAQ page

Q: What is the origin of the enzymes in the Italian…bread?
A: These ingredients are plant-derived.
Lanette also told us that “The enzymes in the Sourdough Bread…[are] plant-derived.”

The other breads at Subway are not vegan.

Subway breads containing honey:
• 9-Grain Wheat Bread
• Honey Oat Bread
Subway breads containing dairy:
• White Flatbread
• Multigrain Flatbread
• Italian Herbs & Cheese Bread
• Monterey Cheddar Bread
• Parmesan/Oregano Bread

Subway’s VegiMax Patty (the name as it appears on the US Products Ingredients Guide) contains egg whites and calcium caseinate (a milk derivative). Nutrition facts (e.g., calories, grams of fat, protein, etc.) about this product are found on the PDF titled Subway US Nutrition Information accessible from the right-hand menu listed on Subway’s Nutrition page after clicking on “Nutrition Data Tables”:

In that PDF the VegiMax Patty (listed as “Veggie Patty”) appears under the sections titled “Limited Time Offer/Regional Subs” and “Individual Meats.”

Note: Nutrition facts about the VegiMax Patty are not located on Subway’s Nutrition webpage where an interactive Nutrition Facts data table is displayed.

As Lanette explained:
It is not on the webpage because it is a local product – we reserve the webpage for national items or optional items that are in most restaurants…The veggie patty nutrition information is located on the printer-friendly nutrition guide that is listed in the right margin of our nutrition page. It is a local/optional product and listed in that section of the PDF document. [VRG Note: There are other items especially condiments which may appear in one listing on Subway’s nutrition webpage but not in one of their PDF files or vice versa. Contact Subway if you have further questions about a particular menu item.]

The VRG noticed that The VegiMax Patty does not appear on the US Allergy and Sensitivity PDF (link also located in the right menu on Subway’s nutrition page) even though it contains two allergens: eggs and dairy. On that document a disclaimer at the top states that “This chart does not include regional or special promotional items as ingredients vary.” Interestingly, this same disclaimer appears on the US Product Ingredients PDF where the regional VegiMax Patty is listed.

Subway’s guacamole is vegan.
Black Bean Soup is offered at select Subway locations. We asked Lanette if the brown sugar in this soup as well as the sugar in its vegetarian flavor had been processed through cow bone char. She contacted her supplier on our behalf then replied to us: “I’ve just heard back from our soup supplier and the sugar in the black bean soup is not processed through cow bone char.”

The Buffalo Sauce contains “natural butter type flavor” which according to Lanette is “not animal-derived” making the Buffalo Sauce vegan. The Sweet Onion Sauce contains sugar. Lanette told us that “The sugar in the sweet onion sauce is not processed through cow bone char.” The Honey Mustard Sauce contains eggs as well as honey.

The Subway Vinaigrette contains sugar which “…is not processed through bone char.” All of the other dressings at Subway contain eggs, dairy and/or anchovies.

Subway offers a Veggie Delight® sandwich:
and Veggie Delight salad:

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.

A Guide to Finding Vegan Food Options at School: Cafeteria, Food Truck, and Snack Carts

Posted on January 20, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Natalie Allen VRG Intern

As a vegan teenager, it can often be hard to find food options at school. Aramark, a company that provides school districts across the country with meal plans, runs my school district’s food service and therefore dictates what foods are offered at my high school. Since I am vegan, I have never eaten at my high school’s cafeteria but little did I know that it is easy to find food options for a vegan at one’s school cafeteria.

Recently, my school district has introduced a food truck, which visits a different high school every day each week. The food truck has provided students with a fun new eating experience which should end up generating more money for the school district, considering the escalating popularity of the food truck trend in the past few years. My school also has snack carts stationed around campus for kids who do not want to go to the cafeteria to buy their food or for those just looking to buy snacks. Along with this, my school has a designated area in which students can buy snacks and all of the profits made directly go back into our school. This student store has no affiliation with Aramark. It is called the Cougar Den (our mascot is a cougar!) At the Cougar Den, students are able to buy various snacks including snack bars, juices, chips, and gum. Many of the items there are vegan.

I had the chance to interview the assistant manager in the cafeteria and on the food truck, Niki Allen, and she answered some of the questions I had regarding eating as a vegan at school.

VRG: What kind of vegan options are available to students in the cafeteria?

Niki: In the kitchen, there are no vegan entrees, but a vegan student can still order a side salad with another hot or cold veggie side dish, up to two fruits, and two whole wheat dinner rolls, along with a juice or water.

VRG: On the carts around campus?

Niki: Many snacks on the carts are vegan including, some of the chip flavors, kid Clif bars, and Naked Juices.

VRG: On the food truck?

Niki: Every week the meals on the food truck change and every week we offer a vegetarian entree. Although not every week is the vegetarian entree vegan, some of the entrees including the veggie burger and fried rice are vegan. As for the snacks, the Kid Clif bars, some chip flavors, and Naked Juices are all vegan.

In my interview with Mrs. Allen, she explained to me the ins and outs of ordering as a vegan in the cafeteria, on the food truck, and around campus. Mrs. Allen was very kind and was happy to answer my questions. Now that I have the knowledge of what options are available to me, I will be choosing to eat at school more often and advertising this information to all of my vegan and vegetarian friends! With a little research, I have discovered that vegan options can be found everywhere. It is reassuring to know that every day as a vegan I am able to eat at my school. By eating at school I will be able to buy extra snacks if I am hungry or buy a full meal if I forgot to pack a lunch or didn’t want to. I hope that sharing these tips will help you to realize that choosing to be a vegan should not limit your ability to find healthy and delicious meals and snacks everywhere you go. Now lettuce eat!

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