The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

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!

Laura’s Soap

Posted on January 20, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Vegan F.R.O.G. Soap®
Using used cooking oil, glycerin and cardboard from landfills
By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Diverting tons of used cooking oil, glycerin, and cardboard from landfills since she began four years ago, Laura Heibert, founder and owner of F.R.O.G. Soap creates her products “From Reclaimed Oil and Glycerin.” See: Laura told The VRG in January 2017 that she uses “a little over a ton of reclaimed material each year. That number keeps growing!” Every bar of F.R.O.G. Soap contains at minimum 4 oz. of waste vegetable oil.

Since some vegetable oil may contain animal-based residues if meat products had been fried in the oil, we asked Laura about her oil. She replied by email “We know the source of oil and exactly what has been cooked in the oil we reclaim: potatoes. No animal fats involved, save the butter fat in our goat’s milk bars.”

As stated on her website: “We make all of our beautiful soap by hand in small batches, for purity and freshness. Our earth-friendly ingredients are sourced locally when available.

Laura’s soaps contain the glycerin (also called “glycerol”) produced in her soap-making process (i.e., saponification). Glycerin is also a “waste” by-product of biofuel production. Laura told us in January 2017 “At times I make a special run of soap using glycerin that is created in the making of biodiesel fuel. The process separates the glycerin from the fuel. I do not have a source for it right now so will not be making any in the near future.” [VRG Note: Approximately one gallon of glycerin is produced for every three gallons of biofuel.]

We also asked Laura if she used carmine, a common red colorant derived from beetles. She replied: We do not use any animal-derived ingredients at all. All of our scents are essential oils and plant-based. Our colorants are oxides and plant- based. We use sea lettuce, dandelion greens, clay, activated charcoal and some of the oldest used colorants on the planet: indigo, alkanet, and madder root. I also use spices for color including paprika, turmeric, and cumin…The only red I use is madder root, which is plant-based.

Since activated charcoal could be derived from animal bones (usually known as “biochar”) we asked about F.R.O.G.’s charcoal and learned that “The activated charcoal is made from various hardwoods and coconut shells.”

The vanilla in some F.R.O.G. products “…is not an extract, and comes from the beans. It does not come from animals. I use it in several bars. I also use it in some of the cupcakes I make. “

The VRG inquired if the palm oil in F.R.O.G. products had been reclaimed. Laura informed us that “I source my palm oil from Bramble Berry® Soap Making Supplies. See: Their Palm oil supplier is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization that supports sustainable palm oil production.”

On the Bramble Berry website it states that “Currently, Malaysia is the largest exporter of palm oil in the world…Palm oil…is typically replaced for tallow in all-vegetable oil recipes.”

We wrote to Bramble Berry to find out the country of origin for the palm oil which it sells. We received an email reply from Matt in Bramble Berry Customer Support: “Our palm oil is farmed in Indonesia. :)” [Note: All FROG Soap contains palm oil but some other products do not. Beeswax is present in some products.]

Laura reuses cardboard to package her products. Interested readers may view this process here:

The VRG asked Laura if the shredded paper which she repurposes as packaging can be recycled. She replied: Shredded newspaper is not usually accepted for recycling. You can, however, use it in the garden as mulch. You can also use it as fire starter or reuse it for packing.

Related Links:
An infographic illustrating how much waste vegetable oil is produced by fast food restaurants in the US:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FAQ:

A listing of U.S. Companies which accept waste cooking oil for biofuel production:

To learn more about ways in which waste vegetable oil is repurposed:

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 Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at

Join at

Vegan Raven Cake

Posted on January 19, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Ravens Cake

By Alicia Hückmann, former VRG intern from Germany

This vegan cake was a birthday present for a good friend who is a huge fan of E.A. Poe. My best friend and I spent an entire day in the kitchen to make it and the result was definitely worth the hard work. Even though our mutual friend is not vegan, she was overwhelmed and didn’t seem to miss any non-plant ingredients!

Since Baltimore is not only the city in which I spent this past summer as an intern at the VRG but also the place where Poe is buried, I am even happier to share the recipe with you.

Please note: You will be placing ingredients in 2 different bowls, thus why amounts listed twice in some cases.

3¾ + 3¾ cups all purpose flour
2+2 tbsp baking soda
2+2 tbsp baking powder
1½ + 1½ cups sugar
2 + 2 tsp vanilla extract
Grated rind of 2 + 2 (organic) oranges
6 + 6 ounces oil
14 + 14 ounces sparkling water
1 jar red jam (strawberry, cherry, etc.)
2 round baking pans (10-inch size)

2 packages Soyatoo Whipping Cream
13 + 13 ounces heavy coconut cream
Coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
10 Newman-O’s cookies (flavor: original)
1 bar vegan chocolate

24 ounces black fondant
5 ounces white fondant
5 ounces black, silver, grey, and/or white fondant
2 differently sized blossom cutters
Edible golden glitter
3 tsp sugar paste (Mix 2 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp water in a cup)
Cake Pen

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in two separate bowls and add the sugar, vanilla extract, and the grated rind, then stir well. Roughly mix the dry and the liquid ingredients using a dough scraper (baking the dough will dissolve all remaining lumps). Pour the batter of the first bowl into one baking pan and the batter of the second bowl in another baking pan. Put both into the oven for 35-40 minutes. Test the cakes for doneness using a toothpick before taking it out. If a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the cake is done. Let it cool for a while before you remove the cake from the pan.

While the cakes are still in the oven, start preparing the cream. In Germany, Soyatoo’s coconut whipping cream is a convenient vegan alternative for dairy whipping cream. As this product is currently not available in the USA, I recommend using heavy coconut cream (by Edward and Sons, for example) instead. Mix it with a few teaspoons of coconut milk if you prefer a creamier texture for your cake. If you decide to use coconut cream, make sure to let it cool for at least 24 hours before adding any ingredients!
Once your cream base is ready, pour it into two seperate bowls (13 ounces each). For the Newman-O’s cream, mix with vanilla and 10 crumbled cookies; for the chocolate mousse, stir the cream with 1 bar of melted vegan chocolate. Let both bowls cool in the fridge for about an hour.

In the meantime, take one of the two cakes and cut out a smaller circular cake with a diameter of 6 inches (e.g. by using a template made from paper). Cut both cakes horizontally, then spread the chocolate mousse on the lower half of the smaller cake. If there is any left, mix it with the cookie cream before spreading it on half of the bigger cake. Put both upper halfs back on top and coat all surfaces with the jam.

Evenly roll about 16 ounces of the black fondant until it is very thin and put it on top of the bigger cake (a second pair of hands might be helpful for this step). Repeat with the remaining 8 ounces of fondant and the smaller cake. Both cakes should be mostly covered. Now apply some jam to the center of the bigger cake and put the smaller cake on top. Roll out the white fondant in a linear shape and cut out two ribbons (about 30×2 inches and 20×2 inches). Spread some jam on both before wrapping them around the lower parts of the two cakes.

Now roll the remaining pieces of fondant and cut out 1-2 dozen pairs of flowers using the cutters. For one flower, you need a pair of differently sized blossoms and a <1/2 inch teardrop-shaped piece of fondant. Brush the middle of the smaller blossom with the sugar paste before attaching the center. Gently wrap the petal around the center. Repeat with the larger blossom. Decorate each flower with a little bit of golden dust. Let all flowers dry for an hour before applying them to the cake using the sugar paste. If you stick flowers to the sides of the cake, make sure they are supported by at least one flower underneath. With the remaining black fondant, make a raven figure by sticking a 1 inch ball to a 2 inch torso and decorating it with eyes and a beak in a different color. Use two toothpicks as legs and let dry for an hour before pinning it on top of the cake. Depending on how much space there is left on the upper surface of the cake, you can also add a quote by Poe, birthday wishes, etc. with a cake pen.

The Vegetarian Resource Group Offers Two $5,000 Scholarships plus One $10,000 Scholarship

Posted on January 18, 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:

Ruby Tuesday’s Launches an Upgraded Endless Garden Bar

Posted on January 18, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Ruby Tuesday’s announced:  Starting Tuesday, Jan. 17, Ruby Tuesday is rolling out its biggest launch to-date at restaurants across the country – an all-new, significantly upgraded and deliciously expanded Endless Garden Bar. The normal disclaimer includes; Please be advised that food prepared in our kitchens may contain these ingredients: milk, eggs, wheat, soybean, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. While every effort is made to minimize the risk of cross contamination, we cannot guarantee that our food products are free of any of these allergens or are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan.

On their website, they list as vegan:
Garden Vegetable Soup
Baked Potato
Grilled Zucchini
Green Beans
Grilled Cauliflower
Steamed Broccoli

In their press release about the expanded salad bar, they include items (they don’t say are or arent’ vegetarian, so ask to be sure) such as:
kale, black beans, roasted corn, green peas, edamame, artichoke hearts, wasabi peas, and hummus.

For more restaurant information, see:

The contents of this posting, 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.


Posted on January 17, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

I am an American vegan who is writing to you concerning my friend and fellow vegan who is a travel guide in Nepal. We met him upon recommendation of a vegan travel group on Facebook. He led us through the beautiful country of Nepal for 2.5 weeks in October 2015. He is knowledgeable about the culture, and owns the only vegan restaurant in Kathmandu. He was able to help us navigate all of our food needs while in Nepal, where vegetarianism is common but they usually don’t understand what a vegan is. We remain in contact with him, and consider him our “little brother.” If you do not have a vegan guide that you are working with in Nepal,you should contact Shatki. The website for the travel company that employs him is: Vegan guests should ask for Shakti Yonzon by name. -Beth

Here is Shatki’s restaurant.

For more info on Nepal, see
Here is a photo of one vegan buffet that the restaurant put out just for us!


“The Best Vegan Mac N Cheese According to the Kids”

Posted on January 16, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Marc Bernstein 
(Marc is a 12 year old leader of, loves attending during vacations, and is a professional writer who can be followed at  

Before you were vegan, did you love mac n cheese? Did you love those instant boxes as a quick and yummy meal? When you went vegan did you think you had to give that up? Maybe you did then, but sure don’t have to now. How amazing it is that there are so many companies making so many varieties of instant vegan mac n cheese now. Mac n cheese has always been a kid favorite, and now us vegan kids have so many options to try. But some are definitely better than others! 

During winter camp with, we spent a rainy afternoon in the cabin having a vegan instant kind of mac n cheese blind taste off. We compared the different types from Amys, Annies, Beyond Better, Daiya, Earth Balance, Leahey, Pastariso, Roads End, and So Delicious. We tried all the different flavors of all of these and sure got to enjoy loads of mac n cheese. Definitely a yummy afternoon! We even watched the cheesy movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” while we feasted and voted.  

All of these mac n cheese mixes were made in our camp cabin kitchen and put in big bowls labeled by letters. Behind each bowl was a mug. We each got to try a couple or more bites of each, and we could go back as much as we wanted to try and try until we each felt we had our own first, second, and third choice winners. We had some plain crackers, apple slices, cucumber slices, and water just to kind of clear our taste buds if we wanted between bites. 

We were allowed to vote for first, second and third choices, and we were set up for ties if needed too. We each had a total of twelve points to give. The main plan was for first choices to win six points from each of us, second choices to win four points from each of us, and third choices to win two points from each of us. If we felt there was a tie, we each had the right to take our twelve points and shift them to give say five points to two tied first places if we wanted and then two to our third choice. We could also have done other similar weighing combinations. If we even thought there was a twelve way tie (which nobody did), we could even have given one point to each of twelve types. We were also allowed to split points into half points if we wanted. But no matter what, each of us only had exactly twelve points to split out to our top choices. With this system, we each were given twelve little red prize type tickets to put in the mugs behind our choices.

We also were allowed to write comments on our tickets before we put them in the mugs. If we also wanted to make comments on some of the mac n cheeses that didn’t get our votes, then we used little white paper slips. Some of the non-winners got comments like “bitter,” “grainy,” “gross,” “needs more cheese flavor,” “too salty,” “yuck,” and “would turn off someone who wasn’t vegan.” There were some brands that got no votes at all and only got negative white slips.        

We did have a definite strong winner. Are you ready for it (if the picture didn’t give it away)?  60% of the votes showed that we liked Daiya Foods the best even if we didn’t all agree on which Daiya flavor. We loved the Daiya Cheddar and the Daiya White Cheddar much better than the Daiya Alfredo. First choice of all of the couple dozen choices was the Daiya Cheddar winning over a third of the votes with 34%. Second choice was the Daiya White Cheddar with almost a quarter at 22%. The Daiya Alfredo got only 4%. But totaled together, Daiya won 60% of the votes.  

Some of the comments for Daiya were “creamy,” “delicious,” “smooth,” “like real mac n cheese,” and in one kids really small writing “kids who aren’t vegan wouldn’t know the difference.” The only complaint about Daiya was that a couple of kids said they liked Daiya best but like shell shapes and want Daiya to make a shell shaped version. We sure had a really nice Daiya 😉   

While Daiya won first place with their Cheddar and second place with their White Cheddar, the third place winner was definitely Road’s End Cheddar Shells winning 16% of the votes. While we only said we were awarding the top three places, it is interesting that Road’s End Cheddar Elbows won fourth place with 10%, and their Cheddar Penne tied Daiya Alfredo, Earth Balance, and So Delicious for fifth place with 4%.  

As you can figure out, there were a number of brands that received no votes at all. But there were two companies that were strong winners. Road’s End Cheddar Shells was the third place of the mac n cheeses with 16%, but the Road’s End company came in as second best company with a total of 30%. Daiya Cheddar was the first place of the mac n cheeses with 34% and Daiya Cheddar was the second place with 22%, but the Daiya company came in a really strong first place with 60%.        

It was a fun cheesy way to end 2016, and now you know how you might want to start your 2017. Vegan mac n cheese for the New Year!  SEIZE THE DAIYA 🙂 


Posted on January 13, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Chipotle says when constructing a vegan meal, that these items are vegan:

flour tortilla
crispy corn tortilla
soft corn tortilla
pinto beans
tomatillo green-chili salsa
tortilla chips
white rice
fajita vegetables
tomatillo red-chili salsa
brown rice
tomato salsa
black beans
roasted chili-corn salsa
romaine lettuce

So try tacos, burritos, or a bowl.

The Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette contains:
Rice Bran Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Honey, Kosher Salt, Water, Chipotle Chile, Cumin, Garlic, Oregano, Black Pepper
Since it has honey, it is not vegan.


The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including The 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.

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

Posted on January 11, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Wild Living Foods in Los, Angeles Wild Living Foods in Los Angeles

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:

To support the updating of this online restaurant guide, please donate at:

2277 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON M6S 1P1 Canada
Awai is a vegan fine dining experience! They serve innovative dishes such as Confit Artichoke Ravioli and Truffle Paella. Gratuity is included in the menu prices.

Café Verve
115 E Beaver Ave.
State College, PA 16801
This completely vegan cafe serves a number of fun options to dine in or take on the go. The coffee and tea menu features drinks that can be made with soy, almond, or coconut milk. Savory options include the Walking Waffles or the All American Burger. Be sure to check out the selection of sweet baked goods while you’re there!

Good Rebel
1591 Dundas St. West
Toronto, ON MK6 1T9 Canada
Good Rebel is a vegan grocery store that offers plant based “meats”, “cheeses”, “fish”, and “dairy products”. You can order a sandwich at the deli counter – menu changes daily.

Sanctuary Vegan Café
151 N. Seven Oaks Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37922
Sanctuary Vegan Cafe serves appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrees, plus they have a kids menu. They strive to use organic products whenever possible. They have gluten free options. The owners hope to use the profits from the restaurant to open a sanctuary for rescued farm animals.

Shangri-La Vegetarian
7400 3rd Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11209
This restaurant is located in the Bay Ridge Area of Brooklyn. Shangri-La offers Asian cuisine with a modern healthy twist. Enjoy dishes including the General Tso’s Soy Protein (Breaded medallions of sautéed soy protein with steamed broccoli in a spicy brown sauce) or Pineapple Fried Rice (Brown rice sautéed with sunflower seeds, broccoli and browned tofu topped with diced avocado) with one of their many fresh iced or hot teas. Order online for a speedy delivery.

Splurge Juice Bar & Café
18505 NW 75th Pl., #119
Hialeah, FL 33015
Splurge is owned and operated by a mother and her daughter who are devoted to helping folks achieve a healthy life by eating plant based foods. They serve juices, bowls, wraps, and breakfast. There is a “Becoming Vegan” section on their website containing multiple resources for people who are thinking about making the switch to veganism.

Wild Living Foods
760 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Wild Living Foods is located in Downtown LA. It is a “grab-n-go” style eatery that offers organic and raw plant based foods. The kelp pastas, Pablo burgers, and pizzas are highly recommended.


Posted on January 10, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

According to The New York Times, “Scientists who cross agrochemical companies can find themselves at odds with the industry for years.”
The Times states, “The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.”

See this article for more information:

  • Donate

  • Subscribe to the blog by RSS


    Sign up for our newsletter to receive recipes, ingredient information, reviews of new products, announcements of new books, free samples of products, and other VRG materials.

    Your E-mail address:
    Your Name (optional):

↑ Top