The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on April 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Rabbi Elliot Dorff, who is chair of the movement’s law and standards committee and also a professor of theology at American Jewish University, agrees that shifting demography necessitated the change. And he said there’s another reason behind the decision: the rise of vegans and gluten allergies. “I think that’s why it came up now as opposed to a generation ago,” he said.

Read more:


Posted on April 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Do you carry hot sauce in your bag? Is your Chili Bowl out of this world? Does your Apple Pie make grown men cry? If so, Masterchef USA is looking for you. Don’t be intimidated by the skill level you see on TV, no one walks in a MasterChef. We are looking for fun personalities, a passion for cooking, and a solid foundation to build upon.

What: Come to our casting call and bring an amazing dish!
How: Register here-
When: April 30th 10am-6pm
Where: Melrose Georgetown Hotel
2340 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20037


Posted on April 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Great Sage is a fantastic vegan restaurant located in Clarksville, Maryland that is part of Conscious Corner–a family of businesses dedicated to promoting healthy and mindful living by focusing on animal welfare, the environment, and community. Great Sage supports non-profit organizations by hosting monthly Benefit Days, where 10% of the proceeds are donated to a non-profit. We are thrilled to announce that on April 17th, 2016, Great Sage is hosting a Benefit Day for The Vegetarian Resource Group!

Enjoy their creative cuisine including brunch items such Blueberry Cinnamon-Vanilla Glaze Pancakes or a Breakfast Sandwich. For lunch you can try Hearts of Palm “Crabcake,” Jerk Tofu Wrap, Cajun Chicken Sandwich, a Falafel Wrap, and more. For dinner you can order Buffalo Bites, Artichoke Spinach Dip, Thai Peanut Curry, Adult Mac’ & Cheese, ‘Chorizo’ and Potato Tacos, plus many other menu items. Of course, you don’t want to forget dessert. Choose from Carrot Cake, Raw Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Lava Cake, Tart Cherry Crisp, and more.

VRG volunteers will be near the front door. Be sure to say hello if you attend this event.
For more details see:


Posted on April 15, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Trifecta Lime Wild Rice Vegetable Pilaf

By Maria Pittarelli, DTR

I was able to sample one of the refrigerated meals from Trifecta organic meal delivery service. This meal is called Lime Wild Rice Vegetable Pilaf. It was labeled as vegetarian, and the ingredient list shows that it is actually vegan. It was very easy to microwave and then the great smell won me over. This pilaf contains wild rice with a variety of vegetables including onions, carrots, peppers, kale, and squash in a sauce with lime, tomato, paprika, and other spices. I found the recommended heating time to be accurate. After three minutes, the meal was consistently hot throughout and the rice was the perfect texture, not mushy at all like some frozen meals. The large slices of carrot and squash were tender and very flavorful. It tasted mostly like lime and cumin, which are flavors I personally enjoy a lot. I did notice one large kale stem, but every other bite was cut well and easy to eat with just a fork. This meal was very mildly spicy, so I think both kids and adults would be able to enjoy it. I appreciated the presence of an ingredients list and a nutrition facts label, which showed that this meal contains:

390 calories
5 grams fat
366 mg sodium
72 grams carbohydrates
9 grams fiber
11 g sugar
14 g protein

I like that this meal is low in fat, relatively low in sodium for a packaged meal, and with no added sugars. I enjoy that it is based around wild rice, which is a whole grain. The fiber and protein are both adequate, although I would’ve loved to have some beans or lentils mixed in also. At 390 calories, it’s a bit small for a complete meal for an adult. Three meals of this size would provide 1190 calories per day, falling short of the average adult requirement of 2000 calories per day but the company said they’re assuming customers are consuming snacks on the side (and that those aiming for weight loss can adjust their snacks).

Overall, I enjoyed it. I would eat this meal again in the future and be glad to try other Trifecta meals as well.

For more information on Trifecta meals, see:

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.

Guinness® to Remove Isinglass from Its Beer Brewing in 2016; ReGrained nutritional bars from beer production By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Posted on April 14, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Established in 1759 in Ireland Guinness has used fish-derived isinglass as a processing aid to clarify or fine (i.e., make clear) its brews. The company announced in 2015 that it will remove isinglass from its process in 2016.

Isinglass: An Unlabeled Processing Aid
As a processing aid isinglass is exempt from governmental labeling requirements. See 21CFR101.100.3.ii

More specifically on page 2 of a brochure published by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau there is no mention of a requirement to list fining agents on beer labels.

On its website Guinness lists only “key ingredients”: barley, hops, yeast, and water. A search for isinglass on its website showed zero results.

Here’s an overview of Guinness’ beer-making methods through a series of videos with no mention of isinglass:

The closest mention of the clarification process occurs in this video: when brewer Feodora Heavey states “…when it’s actually finished fermentation…the yeast is all removed….” but doesn’t elaborate further on how the yeast is removed.

The Vegetarian Resource Group wondered what made isinglass such a great beer clarifying agent such that one of the oldest and most famous beer brewing companies in the world would use it. Lacking information on the Guinness website we turned to other resources.

What’s So Special about Isinglass Fining?

Isinglass fining refers to the removal of suspended particles especially yeast cells, proteins and polyphenols in beer. Isinglass is classified as a processing aid which by definition is a substance used in very small amounts leaving no residue with any technical function in the finished product.

The article Clear Beer through Finings Technology and the Wort and Beer Clarification Manual both by Ian Ward describe the function of isinglass as a clarifier in beer. Information presented in this section is adapted from these two documents:

Here are some interesting points about isinglass from Ward’s publications:

Isinglass is commonly used in the UK because “the climate does not permit natural lagering in the Bavarian style.” Clear Beer Through Finings Technology (p. 1).

Approximately 10% of the world’s production of isinglass from several fish species is used in the beer industry. Most is consumed in China as a delicacy. Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p. 16).

The various types of isinglass produce different appearances (clear, hazy, etc.) in beers. They are all forms of collagen, a protein that is the active ingredient in isinglass. Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p. 16, 22).

Most commercial isinglass products are blends of isinglass types. Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p.22).

Because isinglass fining accelerates the clarification process using it may quadruple production capacity with minimal outlay compared to unfined (i.e., natural) sedimentation that occurs very slowly. Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p. 29).

Isinglass enhances the foam stability of certain beers. Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p. 32).

Typical isinglass dosage rates for filtered beers are between 0.25 and 0.5% of beer volume. Clear Beer Through Finings Technology (p. 4).

The exact mechanism of isinglass fining is not well understood. Here are synopses of two proposed mechanisms as described in the Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p. 19):

One hypothesis states that positively charged isinglass reacts with negatively charged yeast to form a neutral floc (precipitate) which then falls out of solution. The role of auxiliary finings along with
isinglass in beer production is to interact with the positively charged protein particles which would otherwise not react with the isinglass and pull them out of solution, too.

An alternative mechanism proposes that soluble collagen (isinglass) reacts with a soluble beer component to form a precipitate (floc). Upon formation, the floc surrounds and enmeshes and then binds to the yeast and protein particles and settles out of the beer sweeping up further particulate material on its way to the bottom of the vessel. The role of auxiliary finings is to either react with positively charged soluble beer components which would compete with isinglass, or to react directly with the isinglass itself to produce the flocs required for fining.

Ward later defined “auxiliary finings” as acidified silicates and acidic polysaccharides on p. 20 of Wort and Beer Clarification Manual. These compound classes are both vegan.

According to Ward “Indeed, still today there are no effective alternatives to the use of isinglass in producing bright unfiltered beer.” Wort and Beer Clarification Manual (p.28).

Guinness Responds

In December 2015 we asked Guinness about the change from isinglass to a filtration system. Consumer relations representative Aaron of Diageo® a multinational alcoholic beverages company that owns the Guinness brand responded:

“Isinglass has been used widely within the brewing industry as a means of filtration for decades. However, because of its use we could not label Guinness as suitable for vegetarians and have been looking for an alternative solution for some time.

We are now pleased to have identified a new process through investment in a state-of-the-art filtration system at St. James’s Gate which, once in place, will remove the use of isinglass in the
brewing process.

We hope to have the new system up and running by late 2016 and [isinglass-free beer] available for purchase in stores soon after.”

The VRG still had questions for Guinness, namely:

Will you be using any other clarification agent such as Irish moss,
albumen or gelatin to replace the isinglass?

Or will the filtration system totally replace the need for a
clarifying agent that you add to the beer?

Aaron responded:
“Our Brewing Team has confirmed that the filtration system will
replace the need for a clarifying agent.”

To be absolutely sure the new filtration system was vegan The VRG asked
Can you confirm that the filtration system is not made of an animal
product such as cow bone char used to filter sugar?

Again Aaron replied:
“Our Brewing Team has advised that the filtration system is not made
of animal products and no animal products are used in operation of
this system.”

Other Beer Companies Respond

The VRG wanted to see if other beer companies with a major presence in the U.S. market used any animal-derived clarifying agent such as isinglass. MillerCoors® responded in November 2015:
“MillerCoors does not use any animal by-products in our brewing process, nor are there any animal sources used in our packaging.Isinglass is not used in our brewing. There are five basic ingredients in all MillerCoors products. These include pure water, malted barley, corn syrup, hops, and yeast. Corn syrup is one of the basic ingredients used in most MillerCoors products as US consumers prefer its taste. Again, we do not use animal derived ingredients in our beer.

We also asked Anheiser-Busch® the same question. Here is their email reply: “We provide ingredient information about many of our beers on our global consumer information website:

The VRG looked up a few of their American beers and saw these ingredients:
Budweiser®: water, barley malt, rice, yeast, hops
Busch®: water; corn, rice and/or dextrose syrup; barley malt; hops; hop
extract; malt extract; yeast
Michelob® Ultra: water, rice, barley malt, hops, yeast

As isinglass or any other clarifying agent is not listed we scoured the website to see if anything about the filtering process could be located.

We found only this: “The beer is normally filtered to make it visually bright by removing yeast and protein material, and then it’s transferred to a finishing tank. Not all beer is filtered.”

We called Anheiser-Busch in January 2016 and asked about their filtering method and if an animal-derived clarifier was used. A customer service representative repeated that “all ingredient information is listed on the website and I have no further information.”

When we explained that a clarifying agent is a processing aid not an ingredient and so does not have to be labeled, she told us that “if it’s used but not on the label then it’s proprietary” and so she would be unable to divulge any further details.

Attempting to get further clarification The VRG emailed Anheiser-Busch the response we had received from MillerCoors reprinted above and asked if they could confirm that their beer is also brewed without any animal-derived clarifying agent.

After one week and no response we called Anheiser-Busch again in February 2016. This time consumer representative Alicia typed in “isinglass” into her database and told us it was listed with this
statement: “We do not use isinglass all at in any of our products.”

She noted that only Budweiser Chelada® products contain an animal-derived ingredient: clam juice. An ingredient list containing clam juice was not evident for the Chelada beverages on the Anhueser-Busch website noted above as it was for the sample beers we chose to include here even though Alicia said it would appear on bottle labels. (“Clamato” appears on the label but is not defined.)

Isinglass Alternatives

Alternatives to animal-, egg-, or dairy-derived clarifying agents suchas isinglass, gelatin, albumen or casein include several vegan beer clarifying agents that are used by many brewers. These include the following:
Biofine® Clear
(Note: There is also a Biofine isinglass product.)
diatomaceous earth (kieselguhr)
Irish moss

ReGrained: Eat Beer

An aspect of the beer industry that is receiving more attention especially in urban areas with the rise of craft beers, microbreweries, and home brewers is the repurposing of brewer spent grains (BSG).’SpentGrainIPRO340FinalReportSp11.pdf?sequence=3

This is significant because approximately 90% of the nutritional value
of grains used in beer production remains in the spent grains.
Considering the billions of pounds of grains used every year in the beer
industry as well as the energy, water and land requirements to produce
those grains this huge loss represents an enormously inefficient use of

It is still common for brewers to sell spent grains for animal feed although this practice has its problems as explained on page 3 of this article:

Alternatively BSG deposited in landfills contributes to the growing and costly problem of urban waste as tipping fees (A fee charged for the amount of waste) mount. Increasingly however value-added products such as xylitol derived from BSG are entering the marketplace.

In 2015, two San Francisco home brewers decided to address the problems created by urban BSG by repurposing it into nutritional bars intended for human consumption.

Their company ReGrained® was launched.

We corresponded with ReGrained co-founders Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz about their company and products in January-February 2016. They assured us that their BSG suppliers are local craft brewers who do not use isinglass. Dan told us that their current brewery partners are 21st Amendment® Brewery, Triple Voodoo® Brewery and Magnolia® Brewing Company Dan wrote in an email to us: “Any clarifying agent that a brewery might use would be added to the sugary liquids (called wort) extracted from the grains…Any fining agent would be added to the liquid portion, not the grain…To my knowledge, most craft breweries (especially the small/local ones) do not filter their beers or add animal-based clarifying agents. This is in part a resources issue, and in part because in most [cases] unfiltered beer tastes better (my objective opinion ;-) )”

Chief Grainmaster Jordan added:
“As for fining agents, my understanding is that fining agents are sometimes used in the boil portion of beer making and…as part of the fermentation step. (Although I am not sure that any of our brewery partners use fining agents anyway.) Our grains come from the very first step of the process in which the only ingredients used are the grain bill itself and hot water. This hot sugary water (called wort), is drained from this tank, into another tank called a boil kettle, leaving behind the solid grain in the ‘mash tun.’…We only take the solid grains. Yeast is not introduced until much later in the brewing process. There is no clarification process, it is just water and malted barley. In my understanding, no animal products are used to make beers from our brewers…The only thing that we do to the grain is dehydrate it to dry.

One of ReGrained’s BSG suppliers further explained the process:
“Brewers use a few different methods for filtering. Some still use isinglass, but that is mostly traditional British-style brewing and some cask ales after hop or spice additions directly to the cask.The overwhelming majority use either plate and frame filtering, centrifuge…and/or Biofine. These methods are all vegan, although I think there is one version of Biofine that is not vegan… The various fining agents that you add either in the last 15 minutes of the boil (whirfloc) or on the cold side before carbonation & packaging (Biofine and the like) work by pulling/attracting matter that is chemically charged – hops, yeast, etc. The issue is all this matter is not all positively or negatively charged and the brewer sometimes needs to use a combination of agents to get the clarity they want. Plate and frame…and centrifuge do not have this issue. They work by either using a barrier to trap the matter as it passes through (plate & frame…) or by spinning it at such a velocity that the matter separates from the liquid (centrifuge).

Regrained Bars
Dan told us:
“Our Stout 2.0® bars will be released around March 2016 and will be vegan. The Honey Almond IPA® will no longer have egg but still will have honey…We’ll have future other products though that will be vegan friendly.”

The Honey Almond IPA bar ingredients:
almonds, tapioca syrup*, brown rice syrup*, honey*, brewer’s spent grain, puffed quinoa*, oats*, non-GMO canola-olive oil blend, puffed brown rice*, ground flax*, cinnamon, sea salt, xantham gum. * = organic

According to an email from Dan: The [Chocolate Coffee] Stout® bar has “fair trade/organic semi-sweet chocolate, plus the aforementioned minus honey.”

Here’s the complete ingredient list for the Chocolate Coffee Stout bar: almonds, brown rice syrup*, tapioca syrup*, brewer’s spent grain,
semi sweet chocolate [sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter], oats*, puffed quinoa*, non-GMO canola-olive oil blend, puffed brown
rice*, round flax*, coffee, sea salt, xantham gum, soy lecithin, real vanilla.* = organic

We spoke to Dan in February 2016 about the sugar in the Stout bar which he had previously described as “organic/fair trade.” He told us that although ReGrained doesn’t add either beet or cane sugar to the bars as a separate ingredient, he didn’t know if his chocolate supplier used cane sugar that had been whitened through cow bone char. We also pointed out that although he had previously described to us in an email that the chocolate was organic, the ingredient label does not use the organic qualifier for the chocolate. Since only organic sugar is never whitened by cow bone char or anything else, The VRG still questioned whether the sugar in the chocolate had been filtered through cow bone char. Dan suggested that we call his chocolate supplier to find out more information.

The VRG called ReGrained’s supplier Guittard® Chocolate Company in March 2016. Without any hesitation after hearing our question about the whitening methods of the sugar used in their chocolate Nikki a Guittard employee told us “the sugar is processed through cow bone char in all chocolate including semi sweet (excluding unsweetened) for cooking and eating except the organic chocolate.”

We also asked Dan if the ReGrained bar contained any alcoholic content. He said that since the spent grains used to make the bars are removed from the beer-making process “well before” fermentation begins there is no alcoholic content. “Fermentation occurs when yeast interacts with the hopped sugary wort extracted from the grain.”

Lastly Dan informed The VRG that their new bars will be packaged in “NatureFlex® film, which will biodegrade in soil in your own backyard. This is in contrast to most ‘compostable’ wrappers that will only actually break down in industrial compost settings.”

More Information on Beer:

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.

To support The Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at

Or join at

Visit The Vegetarian Resource Group’s booth at Berkeley Vegan Earth Day event in California this weekend!

Posted on April 14, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


The 6th Annual Berkeley Vegan Earth Day event is being held Sunday April 17th, 2016 in the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA. They will have speakers, exhibits, vegan food, and more. Stop by the VRG booth and say hello.

For tickets and complete details on this event see:

Check Out the Corner Juice Bar in Baltimore Maryland

Posted on April 13, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


If you live in Baltimore or visit this city for work or pleasure, you may want to stop by the Corner Juice Bar. They are located a few blocks south of Patterson Park. This is a cozy vegan establishment serving up fresh juices such as Eyemax (butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, apple, and ginger) or Back on Track (carrot, orange, apple, pear, and ginger). They also have smoothies such as Banana Nut (banana, walnut, wheat germ, and cinnamon with apple juice or almond milk base). Seasonal smoothie choices, a steel cut oat parfait, acai bowls, and more are also offered.

Their menu can be found here:

Visit their Facebook page:


Posted on April 13, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Join us at the DC Green Festival May 6-8th and indulge in some delicious vegan/vegetarian food! Use code VRG16 for 20% OFF your ticket and don’t forget to stop by our booth #435 and say hi!

For more information, visit!Scott___Exhibitor

More Restaurants Have Been Added to The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada

Posted on April 12, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


The Vegetarian Resource Group maintains an online Guide to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in the USA and Canada. Below are some recent additions. The entire guide can be found here:

Dotties Donuts
4529 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Dotties Donuts serves delicious vegan donuts, coffee, teas, espresso, and bagels. The donut flavors are creative, such as elderberry, mango lemon, and cherry vanilla pistachio. Dotties is a local shop with a friendly atmosphere. In addition, Dotties has a grocery section.

Mother of Pearl
95 Ave. A
New York, NY 10009
Mother of Pearl provides a high-end vegan dining experience. Signature Polynesian dishes include Lychee Pot Stickers and Fried Coconut Tofu. All menu items are fruit and vegetable based. Mother of Pearl combines flavors creatively to ensure a unique and delicious meal.

Plant Food + Wine
105 NE 24th
Miami, FL 33137
Plant Food + Wine is located in the Wynwood Arts District and is the destination for vegan fine dining. Enjoy your meal on the poolside patio under the shade of palm trees or in the modern indoor dining room and bar. Serving lunch, dinner, and dessert, everyone can find something they enjoy including Coconut Ceviche Tacos, Zucchini Lasagna, Banana Leaf Tamale, and Mango Parfait. Reservations suggested.

Plant Power Fast Food
2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107
Plant Power Fast Food is a vegan fast food joint. Try out the ‘Chicken’ ‘Bacon’ Caesar Wrap with chopped romaine and kale, Parmesan ‘cheese’, and tomato. Or go for the Jumbo Veggie Wrap with cashew hummus. No matter your fast food craving, Plant Power Fast Food has a delicious veganized version of traditional fast food menu items.

Sanctuary Brewing Company
147 First Ave. East
Hendersonville, NC 28792
Sanctuary Brewing Company serves brews, appetizers, pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. Notable menu items include a local apple and roasted beet salad, vegan pizza, a BBQ tempeh sandwich, and tacos on Tuesdays. Sanctuary Brewing Company is so much more than your average brewery or vegan restaurant because it goes beyond great food and brews to encompass animal rights philosophy and advocacy. They are an active part of the community that promotes animal welfare by partnering with organizations and provides cruelty free foods from local producers. The owners encourage their customers to adopt pets rather than breed them, become vegetarian or vegan, and to donate to and volunteer at local animal shelters.

Quinoa for Passover

Posted on April 12, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


According to Kashrus Magazine, “The position of the OU [Orthodox Union Kosher Certification] is that quinoa is kosher for Passover and is not related to the five types of chometz grains, millet, or rice. However, since there is a possibility that quinoa grows in proximity to chometz grains and may be processed in facilities that compromise its kosher for Passover status, quinoa should be accepted only with a reliable kosher for Passover supervision. Pereg, Setton Farms, Earthly Choice, Natural Earth, La Bonne, and Goldbaum quinoa will have an OU-P. Pereg will also have quinoa flour.”

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