Note From the Coordinators

VRG Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary

The nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group began in September 1982, when five people thought the community needed to be educated about vegetarianism. The first meeting was attended by Ernie Kopstein, MD (a vegan doctor), Audrey Fluke (a nurse who had been active in the Kent Vegetarian Society in England), Norris Fluke (an award-winning vegan Masters swimmer who met Audrey at an International Vegetarian Congress and married her), Charles, and Debra (an activist since childhood). When Charles became vegetarian in 1975, he didn't know any other vegetarians. In 1977, upon going vegan, he thought he'd never taste ice cream again. Since then, the world has certainly changed. And the proliferation of non-dairy desserts like Tofutti, Soy Delicious, and Rice Dream Bars is just the tip of the iceberg.

In 1985, VRG produced the first edition of its Guide to Fast Food Chains. In 2002, Burger King began offering a veggie burger nationwide. If requested by a customer, they told us they will heat the burger in a microwave oven separate from the meat burgers. (See the back cover of this issue for more information on the BK Veggie and fries.)

The VRG's role has always been to provide practical, scientifically accurate information, and to impact mainstream organizations. We've had many successes and we review some of these in the special Anniversary section of this issue (pages 16-20). The VRG has experienced challenges and hurdles, too. We've seen many groups come and go as the leaders learned that running a nonprofit is not easy.

One-third to one-half of the country is interested in our information. There are many, many demands. However, according to VRG polls, about 2.5% of the population is vegetarian, and maybe a third to half of those are vegan. So our audience is large, but in reality the number of supporters is small. Then to many, vegetarianism is only an individual decision; they don't understand the need for supporting vegetarian groups. The reason the animal industries are so successful is that although some of their members may be their own bosses, they also know the necessity of forming groups for education, influencing policy, scientific research, and ongoing action. If you are one of those individuals who appreciates the importance of groups making change and would like to be a major supporter of The VRG either by giving weekly of your professional skills or funding a program, please contact Charles via, write to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, or call (410) 366-8343.

The work of The Vegetarian Resource Group has just begun, and with your help there are mountains to be moved. We realize we are just beginning the struggle for our children and grandchildren (and animals) who follow us.