"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

Ann Landers, advice columnist

Participating in change

Thank you to our members who understand the meaning of the quote above, and practice this in their daily food choices and other decisions. Not long ago, we had outreach booths at Natural Products Expo East (a trade show for the natural products industry) and at the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association. When we first started educational efforts in these two venues 20 years ago, the attendees and the messages were in totally different worlds than those today.

It's interesting to see the evolution of these shows. The ADA exhibits now include foods such as Silk soymilk, a vegan fruit ice cream, and Edensoy, while Natural Products Expo is attracting a 'mainstream' audience from supermarkets and multinational corporations. The result is that more and more companies and groups exhibiting at this show push 'humane' and organic meat in various forms. Though the number of good-tasting meat alternatives has surged and there is absolutely no excuse not to be vegetarian today, only approximately 2-3 percent of the population chooses to be vegetarian. This percentage has doubled from what it was in the late 1990s, so there is progress. However, a considerable amount of work lies ahead.

At one of these shows, we were talking to a representative of a fig trade group, which was giving away dried figs. Having a fig tree in our backyard, we know how luscious fresh figs are, if you can get to them before the ants do. The fig representative agreed but mentioned that North American farmers and distributors didn't realize the potential for the growth of the fresh fig market. Perhaps here's an opportunity for a venture capitalist or businessperson looking for an ethical entrepreneur opportunity.


One day, a producer from Good Morning America called our office at 6 p.m., looking for a 15-year-old vegetarian girl (not a boy) and her non-vegetarian mother to be on the show the next day. VRG staff member Sonja Helman did some quick thinking and connected the show with Katie, who was a VRG intern during the summer. Though the media sometimes wants to portray vegetarianism as difficult and a concern for parents, Katie and her mother did a good job of showing that 'normal' people are vegetarians, and this step is one anybody can take. Thank you to Katie and all of our other supporters for volunteering!

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group