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Vegetarian Journal Sept/Oct 2001

Note from the Coordinators

Small-Town America Goes Veggie

Debra Wasserman
Charles Stahler
This year Debra and Suzanne Havala, RD, did a presentation for dietitians and others in Cumberland, a relatively small town in western Maryland. The closest health foods store in this conservative area is about an hour away.

The organizers were surprised that over 100 people showed up. Even though Debra’s cooking class lasted over two hours, attendees sat and intensely listened, questioned, and took notes. No one even got up to go to the bathroom. The demand for vegetarian information is infiltrating every region of the country.

One of the organizers, Amy Shuman, RD, said people out there are finally recognizing what she has been preaching for over 20 years. Amy could have presented the same information at this seminar, but as we know, an expert (prophet) is never recognized in his/her own backyard. That’s one of the many reasons both grassroots and national groups are necessary for change.

The questions ranged from “Where can I buy bulgur?” to “Can I freeze tofu?” to “Are soy products a good source of protein?” This session reminded us of our experience in Baltimore in 1984. We sponsored a tofu cooking demonstration before soy products were popular. A few folks came into the kitchen where the demo was, and then, to our surprise, attendees kept coming and coming and squeezed into the overpacked room. One person even sat on the refrigerator. It appears that what was a hot issue in certain places such as parts of California, New York, or Washington, DC, twenty to thirty years ago has spread into medium-sized cities, and now is starting to have a stronger influence in rural areas and smaller towns. For example, in a small city in northeastern Pennsylvania populated with a large conservative senior population, we found two supermarkets with not only veggie burgers, but also seitan. Let’s work together to continue this trend.

In this issue’s review of Fast Food Nation (see page 32), Michele Simon mentions that McDonald’s operates more playgrounds than any other private entity. If you have kids, you realize how aggressively fast food companies target children with their advertising campaigns. One of our relatives used to market trading cards, such as those given out by Burger King. We suggested that he produce cards featuring famous vegetarians and animal rights stars, but his company wasn’t prepared to take up the proposal.

Many child-centered restaurants give crayons and activity placemats to children. However, some of these promote the eating of meat. Though we couldn’t place a vegetarian playground in all natural foods restaurants, we have decided to produce a vegetarian activity placemat for kids. If you would like copies for your local eatery, please let us know. Donations are appreciated to cover postage.

It is nice when restaurants serving natural foods make dining out with kids a little easier. For example, Funk’s Democratic Coffee Spot in Baltimore leaves toys on the counter (though maybe they are for the adults), and the Vegetarian Diner in Chicago had fun rubber bugs which were a nice diversion for the youngsters. Thank you to everybody who works to promote vegetarianism for future generations.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler

Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group 


Excerpts from the Sept/Oct 2001 Issue

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

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