The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Eating Vegan Abroad in Italy: Some Useful Vocabulary

Posted on September 12, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Anna Lam, VRG Intern

Maintaining a vegan diet abroad always seems like a daunting task at the outset, especially in foreign countries where one doesn’t speak the native language. I participated in a study abroad program this summer to Italy knowing very little in the way of Italian culture, but I found that it was still practically possible for me to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet for the entire five weeks I was abroad. Probably the most useful tool I could have used was picking up on a few helpful phrases and words to navigate my way through ordering meals at restaurants. Here are some examples of phrases I used a lot:

Do you have…?

Avete le latte di soia?
Do you have soy milk?

Posso avere…
Can I have…?

Posso avere una cappucino con latte di soia?
Can I have a cappuccino with soy milk?

No/senza…per favore

No/senza formaggio/latte/carne/uovo, per favore
No/without cheese/milk/meat/egg, please

Vorrei un/la/le…
I would like a/the

Lo sono vegana.
I’m vegan.

Ha delle…?
Do you have any…?









Thank you!

I put a lot of these phrases to good use over the trip. Be aware that some Italians, especially in the less tourist-friendly areas, may not be familiar with the term “vegana,” so it’s useful to be able to roughly explain that it means “without meat, eggs, milk, etc.” Unfortunately, I don’t think there is an Italian equivalent for the word “dairy,” so knowing the Italian word for cheese, milk, butter, and cream was also very useful.

Overall, I never had any terrible experiences ordering. Each time was an educational exercise and I got better at it each time around and learned more Italian because of it. The Italians were charming too, and could tell if you were really trying to communicate in their language. On top of that, every meal I had was delicious and vegan.


Posted on September 11, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Inchin’s restaurant chain indicates on its menus which items are vegan. For example, items they indicate as vegan are: sweet corn soup, hot and sour soup, lotus root chips, Thai curry puffs, and cauliflower Manchurian. To see a menu by location, go to:

For information on other chains, see

For info on vegan and vegetarian restaurants, 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.

Vegan Dishes to Prepare for Non-Vegans

Posted on September 08, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Laneece Hurd, VRG Intern

I feel that one of the best ways to spread the message of veganism is by sharing appetizing and satisfying plant-based meals with non-vegans to show just how easy and delicious a vegan lifestyle can be. A common misconception about veganism is that vegans only eat meals like salads and smoothies. When cooking for non-vegans, I always try to prepare dishes that are familiar to them and show how they can eat similar versions of everything that they currently dine on, just without the animal products. Another concern that I’ve heard many non-vegans express is that they are worried about not getting adequate protein if they remove meat from their diet. So, in addition to making sure that the dishes are familiar, I try to choose protein-packed ingredients so that the meals are also full of plant protein to prove that you can easily meet your protein needs without consuming animal products.

Black Bean Burritos
For the black beans (yields five 2/3 cup servings)

These black beans are flavorful, versatile, and very simple to prepare. They are great served in a burrito or burrito bowl, but can also be blended into a black bean soup or even puréed to form black bean burgers. When served with rice and/or in a tortilla, this creates a hearty meal that is full of plant-based protein. On multiple occasions, I have prepared this recipe for meat-eaters and it has been a hit every time. Many have expressed that they did not even miss the meat and are surprised that vegan food can be so satisfying and filling. A few of my non-vegan friends have enjoyed these black beans so much that they prepared this recipe on their own and have even commented how easy it is to make.

½ lb. of dry black beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

For the burritos/burrito bowls:
flour tortillas
white/brown rice or even quinoa
sautéed vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, or mushrooms
guacamole or avocado
shredded romaine lettuce

After soaking, rinse the beans under cool water and set aside.

In a large pot, sauté bell peppers and onion in about 1-2 tablespoons of water or oil for about 5-7 minutes or until translucent and slightly tender. Add garlic and spices and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Add the soaked beans, vegetable broth, and enough water so that they are about one inch covered.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 1½-2 hours or until beans are soft and tender, stirring occasionally and always keeping about an inch of liquid above the beans.

Serve with rice in burritos or burrito bowls with sautéed vegetables and desired toppings such as salsa and/or guacamole.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole
(Serves 6)

This baked spaghetti casserole has been a favorite amongst my non-vegan friends and family for quite some time now. I think everyone loves a great bowl of pasta and this is a fun twist on your classic spaghetti, in which the noodles are layered with chunky, tomato-basil sauce and melty vegan mozzarella cheese. It is then baked into a mouthwatering casserole that is almost reminiscent of a lasagna. The vegan sausages, beefless crumbles, or lentils combined with the whole wheat pasta make this dish very hearty and high in plant protein that would satisfy any meat eater. When preparing this dish for non-vegans for the first time, I typically just prepare the recipe as is, but if preparing it for veggie lovers like myself, I love to layer in broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, and/or mushrooms, in addition to the spinach.

1 (16 oz.) box whole wheat spaghetti pasta
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 vegan Italian sausage links, chopped (I recommend Field Roast Italian Grain Meat Sausages), or vegan beefless crumbles (such as Gardein Beefless Ground), or 1 cup cooked lentils, if meat substitutes are not preferred
1 (15 oz.) can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 (24 oz.) jar of pasta sauce
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
4 cups fresh spinach
¾ cup of shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (recommended Follow Your Heart)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large sauté pan, cook bell pepper and onion in about 1-2 tablespoons of water or oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add vegan sausage, vegan beefless crumbles, or cooked lentils and continue to cook for about five minutes.

Pour in diced tomatoes and pasta sauce and season with nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, and any other desired spices/seasonings. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

In a large casserole dish, place about a ½ cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the dish.

Next, add about one-third of the pasta followed by a layer of the sauce mixture, a layer of spinach, and a layer of vegan cheese.

Similar to a lasagna, repeat these steps and continue the layers until all the components are used up, finishing with vegan cheese on top.

Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown.

Serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables.

The last dish that is great to prepare for non-vegans are these Almondy Oatmeal Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate Chips. I use this recipe from the Jazzy Vegetarian and they taste just like traditional chocolate chip cookies that everyone knows and loves. I often bake these cookies during the holiday season and take them to family gatherings and cookie exchanges. Initially, I don’t tell anyone that they are vegan. After tasting them and expressing positive feedback, such as how soft, chewy, and absolutely delicious they are, I proudly reveal to them that they do not contain any animal products. The response is usually always surprise and some have even asked for the recipe. I love this recipe because not only does the taste of these cookies appeal to non-vegans, but it’s also really easy for a vegan or non-vegan to prepare because all of the ingredients are familiar and easy to find.

The recipe can be found here:

This recipe is great as is, but I have found that grounding the oats into a flour, using a food processor or blender, makes the final product more closely mimic regular chocolate chip cookies rather than oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, I substitute organic cane sugar for the brown sugar and if I don’t have vegan margarine, I just double the amount of nut butter and the results are practically the same. I also really like to get creative and make different variations of these cookies by using peanut butter instead of almond butter and a variety of nuts and dried fruits according to the preferences of whomever I am preparing them for. Because these are such a hit amongst my non-vegan friends and family, I usually prepare a large batch and freeze the dough so I can bake them for various occasions on request.

Whether you are vegan or not, I hope you give these recipes a try and see just how easy and delicious vegan cooking can be. Enjoy!


Posted on September 08, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Amazon Smile

Please book mark and use this link. Eligible shopping will support Vegetarian Resource Group vegan education and activism.

About Amazon Smile:


Posted on September 07, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a vegan dinner at LYFE Kitchen in Chicago (at Fairbanks and Ontario) on Sunday, October 22, 2017 during the annual meeting of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meet VRG advisors Reed Mangels PhD, RD, Catherine Conway MS RD, Charles Stahler, Debra Wasserman, and vegetarian dietitians from around the country. The public is welcome.

Edamame Hummus
Kale and Cranberry Salad
Ancient Grain Stir-Fry Bowl with stir-fried vegetables, beefless tips, quinoa, black rice,
cilantro, and sweet chili-ginger sauce
Vegan Thai Red Curry Bowl with garlic-lime tofu, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas,
whole grain wheatberries, Thai basil, and coconut curry sauce
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie
Tea or Coffee

The meal will be served family style. Note: Seating is limited!

Send $35 per person (includes tax and tip) with names to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; Call (410) 366-8343 9am-5pm Mon.-Fri. EST to charge over the phone. Or pay at and write Chicago Dinner in the Comments.

# Attending X $35/person = $_____
Donation towards professional outreach: $_____
Total enclosed: $_____

Names of attendees:

Purple Glaze in Asbury Park, NJ Sells Vegan Donuts!

Posted on September 06, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Purple Glaze located at 516 Summerfield Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712 is a donut shop that offers vegan vanilla and chocolate cake donuts with numerous vegan toppings. We ordered a dozen and asked them to surprise us with a wide selection of toppings. The donuts are beautiful and delicious. The shop is open Wed. through Monday 7:30 am to 2 pm. They are closed Tuesdays. For more information call 732-361-5308 or visit

Get Vegan at HipCityVeg in Washington, DC

Posted on September 05, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Shannon Borgoyn, VRG intern

Fast food is a staple of American culture: you can’t go anywhere without seeing a McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or KFC. When I first heard of HipCityVeg, I thought it was a dream. HipCityVeg is a currently small (but growing) vegan fast food chain founded in 2012. Yes, you heard that right: vegan fast food.

Recently, I traveled to Washington D.C. and planned on getting lunch at HipCityVeg. The establishment is located in D.C.’s Chinatown, not too far from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Walking into the restaurant, I was greeted by a well-lit, well-decorated, and clean interior. As I approached the counter, the staff greeted me and asked if they could help me. I expressed my excitement to be there for the first time, but I told them I needed time to decide on my order. It was difficult to choose a dish because everything looked delicious! Initially, I thought there would only be vegan burgers and fries, but I was surprised by the menu’s diversity.

They have different types of vegan burgers and sandwiches (like their curry tofu wrap and Philly steak); vegan chicken (“chick’n”) dishes (such as their chipotle fajita wrap and lil’ golden nugs); salads including udon noodle and arugula taco; sides including sweet potato fries and Caesar salad; drinks such as smoothies and lemonade; and frozen treats (soy ice cream milkshakes anyone?). Scanning through this sea of food was daunting, but I finally decided on the traditional fast food fare: nuggets, fries, and a milkshake. Their milkshakes come in three different flavors (chocolate, orangesicle, and vanilla) as well as seasonal flavors: Cold Brew Mocha Shake for July-August, Pumpkin Pie Shake for October-November, Chocolate-Covered Cherry Shake for February, and more. Their seasonal flavors can be referenced here:

I placed my order for their lil’ golden nugs, which came with a side of sweet potato fries and choice of dip, and a chocolate milkshake. First, I sampled the nuggets; they were hot and crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and extremely delicious. Their crispy outer layer consisted of whole grains, including what appeared to be oatmeal. Second, I sampled the sweet potato fries; they were hot, tender, thin, and delicious. Third, I dipped both nuggets and fries into the dip (a black bean dip). The dip itself was creamy and cool and didn’t overpower the taste of the nuggets or fries; instead, it enhanced their taste. Between bites of nuggets and fries, I sipped at my soy chocolate milkshake. The milkshake was thick, creamy, and perfectly sweet. Having the milkshake as a beverage was the perfect accompaniment to my meal because it balanced the savory portion that was the nuggets and fries.

Overall, my meal at HipCityVeg was delicious and extremely filling. The portions were generous; as a result, I took some food home. HipCityVeg’s food appears made with the utmost care; it was hot and scrumptious (for the milkshake, wonderfully cold and creamy). The taste was extraordinary and the experience was awesome. HipCityVeg has a green philosophy, which they back up with composting bins, eco-packaging, and organic, plant-based ingredients. So, they make their food with care and in a caring, environmentally-friendly manner. I will definitely be returning to HipCityVeg!

You can check out HipCityVeg here: HipCityVeg

Additionally, you can reference HipCityVeg in VRG’s online restaurant guide. Listings are available for Philadelphia, PA and Washington D.C. locations:

The Vegetarian Resource Group Exhibited at the Western New York VegFest

Posted on September 04, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Thank you to Karen Peissinger, Dorian Dalls, and Matthew Venhaus, who helped table for The Vegetarian Resource Group at the Western New York VegFest. And thank you to Karen for organizing the booth.

Karen reported: There was a constant flow of people at the VRG table from opening to about 4 PM (so much so that my voice became hoarse from talking to everyone!). Several people expressed special interest in vegan pregnancy, either for themselves, for a friend, or for a family member. See:

One person stated that they have found the VRG to be a valuable source of information. This individual said VRG is “reputable not excitable.” This person feels confident and comfortable sending people to the site because the person knows that those people will be able to find the information they need. Many who stopped at the VRG table were pleased to hear that VRG has the involvement of registered dietitians and nutritionists to ensure science-based nutrition information is provided in its publications and on its webpage

Thank you to all our volunteers and dietitians, who help with education and outreach.

To support VRG’s outreach, you can donate here:
Donate to VRG

Are you looking for some new vegan dishes to serve this Labor Day weekend?

Posted on September 01, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

Labor Day

Whether you’ll be with family and/or friends or simply alone Labor Day weekend, we thought you might be looking for some new vegan dish ideas. Here’s some creative ideas from previous issues of Vegetarian Journal:

Modern Vegan Comfort Food
Debra Daniels-Zeller provides recipes for:
Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Dumplings
Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Grits and Greens
Country Biscuits topped with Warm Mushroom Gravy
Lentil Loaf with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes
Shepherd’s Pie
Baked Beans

Gourmet Grilling
Chef Nancy Berkoff serves up:
Grilled Eggplant
Mediterranean Grilled Portobellos with Pine Nuts
Curried Barbecue Tempeh
Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Dip
Pineapple-Peach Salsa
Grilled Asparagus – Japanese Style
Grilled Sweet Peaches
Roasted Corn

To subscribe to Vegetarian Journal, visit:
Subscribe to Vegetarian Journal

Visit The Vegetarian Resource Group Booth at Upcoming Events!

Posted on August 31, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

DC VegFest

If you’re attending any of the events below, be sure to stop by The Vegetarian Resource Group’s booth at the following events and say hello:

DC VegFest
Lot H/I at Yards Park
355 Water Street SE
Washington DC 20003
September 2nd from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Asheville VegFest
Pack Square Park
121 College Street
Asheville NC 28801
Sunday, September 3rd from 10 AM — 6 PM

Charlottesville Vegan Roots Festival
Booker T. Washington Park
1001 Preston Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Saturday, September 30th
from 12:00 PM — 8:00 PM

World Veg Festival
San Francisco County Fair Building
in Golden Gate Park
1199 9th Avenue
San Francisco CA, 94122
Sunday, October 1st, 10 AM-6:30 PM

New Jersey VegFest
Meadowlands Expo Center
355 Plaza Dr
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Saturday, October 7th
and Sunday, October 8th
(The festival schedule is TBA
so be sure to check the website for

Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
McCormick West Building
2301 S King Dr
Chicago, IL 60616
October 21-24, 2017

The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Dinner
LYFE Kitchen
270 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60610
(Corner of N Fairbanks Ct. and Ontario)
Sunday, October 22nd at 6 PM

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