June 08, 2016 by
The VRG Blog Editor
By Heather Francis
I was given a great opportunity to sit with dietetic interns for their in-service at The Vegetarian Resource Group, and also speak with the proctor for the Dietetic Intern group from the University of Maryland. It was a great experience being able to meet other dietetic interns in a field I am hoping to go into. I assumed before attending the day I would be surrounded by other like-minded individuals who are more educated in the dietetic field, and be able to teach me more about healthy eating as a vegan.
I was surprised to learn that most of the dietetic interns were not vegan or vegetarian and also were not experts on vegetarianism. They knew as much as I did and were there to learn. I myself am a vegan and am about to be a sophomore in college whereas the dietetic interns already finished their undergraduate nutrition degree, with some on their second career path.
We began by talking about vegetarianism and I was able to share along with other volunteers and workers at The Vegetarian Resource Group on what it means to us to be vegan. I had trouble in the beginning of my transition, and it was beneficial for me to be able to share my story with these interns. I was able to tell them what I had hoped a dietitian told me before I became a vegetarian/vegan. One issue from my becoming vegan was lack of knowledge about Vitamin B-12 and that was because I was not in a veg community and I was the only one in my group of friends and family who was veggie. It was cool being able to share my experiences with dietetic interns who have been in school longer than I have, because I realize I’ll be able to help others understand what I went through.
I would have to say my favorite part of the day was the food. Each intern brought in a vegan dish. There was vegan cake, cheesecake, pizza, taco dip, hummus, chips, and salsa. It was delicious. One intern shared how he had never made anything vegan before so it was an experience for him (he brought in a box cake, but it was still delicious). Another intern who is actually a vegan made homemade pizza with “bib” chicken made out of jackfruit and mini cheesecakes. It was so good, she shared the recipe with me.
Although the food was delicious, I found it absolutely inspiring to see the differences in the interns as to where they were at with their knowledge of vegan food. I’m not saying I wish they knew more, but it shows how people learn every day. A few of them learned how to make a vegan dish, and I learned from one intern how to make vegan cheese.
As a nutrition student, the day overall made me realize how much I’ll be continuing to learn and have the opportunity to share my knowledge about vegetarianism and veganism. I know the Vegetarian Resource Group presentation will make the world of difference in that these future dietitians now have the tools and resources to share so others know how to transition smoothly.
Along with the health side of it, there was a question that got asked: “If a company (primarily known for their soda) hired you to work there as consultant, would you?”
I was genuinely surprised by the amount of interns who said yes. It was about half and half. A lot of them didn’t see a problem with working for a company or consulting for a soda company. One intern brought up the point about making smaller cans of drinks for children which means less calories, and also creating new sweeteners for the drinks. Yet, I felt it was quite strange how the issue of morality was not brought up.
I guess I assumed the interns would have felt differently by the idea of working for a company which is highly involved in the increase of sugar consumption leading to increase of weight for many Americans. There may have been other factors involved, and maybe I’m biased, but I was surprised many dietetic interns said they would work for the company. I believe as a nutrition student, health, the environment, and animal rights are interconnected.
The Dietetic Intern Day was overall a great experience. I got a free lunch, met some highly intelligent dietetic interns, and learned there are more changes that need to happen in the world of healthy eating.
For more information about Registered Dietitian Programs, see http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/about-us/what-is-an-rdn-and-dtr/what-is-a-registered-dietitian-nutritionist
For information about The Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see http://www.vrg.org/student/index.php
To support The Vegetarian Resource Group outreach, donate at www.vrg.org/donate
To join The Vegetarian Resource Group, go to http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php
Heather will be interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group this summer.