Note from the Coordinators

Supporting Young Vegetarians

Since VRG’s founding in 1982, we have been 'pro-family.' When the organization holds events, we always make sure that we have discounted children’s prices or that the activity is free for kids. In the 1980s at inner-city Baltimore fairs, as well as suburban festivals, we have had thousands of kids make necklaces with beans and grains to acquaint children with vegetarian food. At one fair, when we were having the kids prepare fruit salad, we remember the inner-city parents asking for the recipe. Just having a mixture of fresh fruit was new to them! Over the years, we've assisted with vegetarian education for 4-H groups, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, and others.

We remember when vegetarians with children would come by our booth and we’d ask the kids why their parents were vegetarian. Sometimes they’d have no idea. Or an older teen would tell us that their family was vegetarian, but he/she was no longer. This is one reason why we consider it important for vegetarian families to make sure their children have contact with—or at least knowledge of—other veggie kids. It’s great that, through our parents’ e-mail discussion list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vrgparents/), families who live near each other all around the country have arranged to get together. Also, we greatly appreciate our donors who support VRG’s scholarships and internships through current donations and bequests.

We know members may disagree with the policies of various youth organizations, but we were fascinated to see that a 'Middle America' group such as the Boy Scouts now officially recognizes vegetarianism in a positive way. In their merit badge cooking handbook, they say: "Consider the needs of vegetarians when creating menus. People who do not eat meat, fish, or poultry are considered vegetarians." They continue, "Vegans ("vee-guns") are vegetarians who do not eat any kind of animal products, including dairy products and meat-based broths." The guidebook also states: "Substitute non-meat items for meats from the same food group. For example, a bean burrito would make a good substitute for a chicken burrito. Tasty substitutes are available for burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, bacon, sausage, and all varieties of cold cuts. Some of these foods are made from tofu, which is a soybean product, or from seitan, a seasoned wheat gluten that is said to resemble meat in both taste and texture." In addition, the book includes the following: "Most Americans eat too much red meat and high-fat meats like bacon, which should be eaten sparingly."

For an example of vegan alternatives to a typical camp menu, see page 25.