Thank you to the North American Vegetarian Society, which named us to the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. Past recipients include Gandhi, Helen and Scott Nearing, Paul Obis (Vegetarian Times founder), and Howard Lyman. A Jewish song says, “Don’t walk in front of me, since I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, since I may not lead. Walk besides me as my friend in the path of ....”
The Vegetarian Resource Group philosophy is that success is based on teamwork. The NAVS honor is due to the work of our hundreds of associates, including Jim Dunn, Brad Scott, Reed Mangels, Suzanne Hobbs, and Nancy Berkoff; VRG staff Jeannie McStay, John Cunningham, and Keryl Cryer; donors; and members.
Though there are individuals who have made great contributions, we do not believe in “gurus” who have all the answers or are more important than anybody else. People add according to their abilities and resources. One activist may be a doctor who gives great talks; another may be a quiet researcher; and a third may work silently in the kitchen, office, or childcare center. They are each important and deserve respect for what they do. To hold one above the other is contrary to why vegetarianism makes sense, whether it be for health, environmental, or ethical reasons. We may all have different beliefs (and non-beliefs) and callings, but we can all contribute towards a better world. Thank you to those who are working to do so.
In our annual student essay contest, more and more entrants range from those struggling with the idea of vegetarianism to some being anti-vegetarian. A typical comment is, “Before writing this essay, I used to not understand why people were vegetarian, but now I have a high respect for them.” It’s great that non-vegetarians spend time thinking about meatless diets while researching their essays. Perhaps this will pave the way in the future for change. Most of us need to hear an idea more than once before we’re willing to accept it.
The essays help us keep tabs on current thinking across the country. A recurring theme concerns the prevalence of both vegetarians who criticize others and non-judgmental vegetarians. And there’s still the conflicting health messages—people believe vegetarianism is healthier and at the same time believe it’s not healthy because you don’t get enough nutrients. Education is still necessary. While students often quote information from animal groups, the American Dietetic Association position paper is widely used for legitimacy. Therefore, we know it’s important for VRG to keep working with professional organizations.
Numerous essay entrants are proud vegetarians, though many feel like they are in the minority. We’re pleased that VRG’s contest gives them a chance to express their beliefs about vegetarianism. On our application form where we had a space for teacher’s name, one student wrote, “I’ve got a lot of teachers, but no one to tell me about vegetarianism and human morals.” We suspect many of these same issues and lack of support system apply to our adult readers. Thank you to our supporters who help us be here for youth and adults.
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.
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