30 Memorable Activities
From The VRG’s 30 Years of Activism
- A vegan medical doctor, a vegetarian nurse, a vegan competitive swimmer, and two vegan activists formed The Vegetarian Resource Group (originally known as Baltimore Vegetarians) in October 1982. Our first events result in feature articles in various media.
- Our then-tiny group exhibits at the American Dietetic Association (ADA) annual meeting alongside large food manufacturers and animal industry trade associations. The ADA is known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics today.
- VRG dietitians help to spearhead the formation of a vegetarian ‘practice group’ within the American Dietetic Association. That way, vegetarianism could be presented in a scientific way, and vegetarian interests would be represented. Generally in the past, vegetarian groups saw themselves as separate from the medical community, but after the practice group was founded, some vegetarian groups around the country started working with mainstream dietitians and doctors.
- The VRG stops a rodeo from performing in Baltimore City.
- The VRG posts signs on buses promoting World Vegetarian Day.
- Baltimore’s mayor declares World Vegetarian Day. Numerous groups around the country then do the same.
- During one year in the early 1990s, The VRG holds a conference for 350 people in Baltimore, holds another for 700 people in New York City, and assists Jewish Vegetarians in holding a conference for 400 people in New York.
- Over the years, VRG dietitians co-author the position papers on vegetarianism that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) publishes.
- VRG’s Nutrition Advisor Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, writes the text for a Wegman’s supermarket brochure on vegetarianism.
- In 1996, VRG Nutrition Advisor Suzanne Havala works with the national Meals on Wheels program to create menu alternatives for its clients. Cathy Conway, MS, RD, tests quantity recipes for VRG in various settings in New York City, and menus are released the following year. In 2011, VRG’s Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE, works with a local Meals on Wheels program in Long Beach, CA, to add vegetarian options to their menus.
- VRG’s Co-Director Debra Wasserman appears on Good Morning America doing a vegan cooking demonstration.
- CNN features VRG’s Co-Director Debra Wasserman in a vegan cooking segment that runs numerous times over several days.
- The VRG exhibits at the American Heart Association’s annual convention. Most other exhibitors are pharmaceutical or medical equipment manufacturers.
- VRG’s Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff does a vegan cooking demo during the ADA’s annual meeting and another at a National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) convention.
- Meatless Meals for Working People sells more than 100,000 copies, and Simply Vegan has 100,000 copies in print.
- The Vegetarian Resource Group’s website goes live in January 1997. The Tufts University Nutrition Navigator awards the VRG website one of their highest rankings for a nutrition website. Today, more than 180,000 people a month visit VRG’s website: www.vrg.org.
- A 1993 feature in Parade magazine generates thousands of requests for vegetarian information from The VRG.
- VRG begins awarding two $5,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Also, VRG awards a $3,500 needs-based annual internship.
- VRG starts publishing Vegetarian Journal’s Foodservice Update in 1993. These articles promote veganism to institutions, such as university cafeterias, hospitals, and restaurants, by offering quantity recipes and details about where to find vegan food in bulk.
- VRG exhibits at the American Academy of Family Practitioners’ annual meeting.
- VRG starts a Yahoo! discussion group so vegetarian parents can exchange ideas and support one another.
- In 2001, VRG begins offering an online course on vegetarianism, taught by VRG’s Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE.
- In 2004, the Associated Press interviews VRG Co-Director Charles Stahler concerning the impact mad cow disease has had on the vegetarian movement. The resulting article sends readers nationwide to VRG’s website.
- The American Culinary Federation asks VRG Food Service Advisor Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE, to do an eight-hour seminar for culinary educators in 2009.
- VRG greatly expands its Spanish language offerings of vegan materials, both online at
www.vrg.org/nutshell/index.htm#spanish and in print. A recent addition is a Spanish-language children’s coloring book.
- The National Academy of Sciences develops a discussion about the new Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D, published by the National Academies Press in 2011 (page 420), and identifies the VRG website as the source of information for how many people in the U.S. are vegetarian.
- Major media, such as ABC, CBS, NPR, and USA Today, cite VRG poll information in reports and articles. Major food companies and quick-service chains begin to contact VRG to discuss meatless options they are developing.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website links to the VRG’s food service information.
- In 2011, VRG’s Food Ingredient Guide becomes available as a mobile app for iPhone and Windows Phone 7.
- VRG produces a short vegan video and offers a veggie video scholarship: