Recently, three colleges contacted us and proudly promoted the changes they were making in their cafeterias. For example, the Executive Chef at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has added a station where only vegetarian food is served. Items are labeled vegan or vegetarian, and a list of ingredients is also included so that students can make their own decisions.
Being from the South, the chef was used to serving fresh vegetables. However, she made sure there are veggies with no added fats included on the vegetarian line. She was trained using Cajun foods, so some of the items she serves are spicy, such as a hummus. The students are drawn to these dishes, as they were far from bland or ordinary. The chef is even researching a vegan soft-serve ice cream that she feels would be popular among members of the university's community.
Thirty percent of the portions being served in the Hopkins dining hall (catered by Sodexho Food Service) are from the vegetarian section. This does not mean that so many of its patrons are vegetarians. We could observe students with meat on their plates selecting from the vegetarian choices. Though not yet vegetarians, they are embracing vegetarian options and learning good lifelong habits.
This particular chef had to work hard to meet the needs of her vegan students. However, her advice is not to approach the food service as the enemy or focus on atrocities. Calm down, find out what can be done, be positive, and be sure to bring specific suggestions.
In order to help people be vegetarian, The Vegetarian Resource Group supplies information to individuals with varied, or sometimes even opposing, beliefs. Through our website, Vegetarian Journal, educational materials, and activism, we try to help all sorts of people - from strict vegans to omnivores, from liberals to the very conservative. However, all of these people have the common goal of incorporating at least some vegetarian or vegan foods into their diet.
Reaching everyone is difficult. Some people do not appreciate other opinions and even become critical if you assist others with differing views. For example, when we first exhibited at dietitian and physician meetings, some people in the vegetarian or natural foods community told us not to attend them. At the same time, dietitians were surprised we also exhibited at the Natural Products Expo. Now, each of those worlds is incorporating ideas and products from the other.
Whatever their views, what is most important to almost all of our long-term supporters is an ethical belief in making the world better. They know that organizations are a necessary tool to achieve this end. Whether you are coordinating non-profit activities, a multinational business, a college cafeteria, or a family gathering, organizing is difficult. There are many hurdles and frustrations. Nevertheless, we will continue to work together for a better world for all. Thank you to our members who advocate for justice but remain kind and supportive of others.
Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.
Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.
The contents of this 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 own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.
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