Concerned when one of our young members started working on his cooking merit badge, we armed him with the United States Department of Agriculture vegan adaptation of USDA food patterns, The Vegetarian Resource Group My Vegan Plate, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics "Of Professional Interest" vegetarian food pyramid. When our scout approached the healthy, but solid and largely-built cooking instructor, we were surprised to hear that the counselor said he was vegan and looking for vegan cream cheese. We've come a long way since one of our members flunked a nutrition lesson in elementary school because he did not eat from all the four food groups.

We noted this quote in an article about Pete Seeger's death, "He was kept off commercial television for more than a decade after tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. Repeatedly pressed by the committee to reveal whether he had sung for Communists, Seeger responded sharply: 'I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American.'" Pete Seeger wrote or co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." These songs were in large part responsible for Charles' path to vegetarianism and his work for The Vegetarian Resource Group. We recommend that you listen to "Dona Dona" ( Because we come from this broader rights perspective, though there is overlap, we have somewhat different opinions than activists primarily evolving from an animal welfare versus animal rights background.

We recently picked up a container of a Trader Joe's snack that listed beet sugar on the label, as well as a statement that the product was vegan and low sodium. Do you remember seeing beet sugar listed on products before? Possibly the beet source was mentioned because of consumer knowledge that beet sugar isn't processed through bone char. Most of the vegan and vegetarian groups agree that they don't want to discourage companies from producing vegan products and don't want to discourage consumers from going vegan by making the change seem too hard, such as having to avoid products with sugar, or being too critical and harsh with one another. On the other hand, change does happen because people push ahead in a positive way. So thank you to all our members and donors who continue to work for change using uplifting, non-judgmental, supportive, and practical methods. Change takes the actions of many, each having different roles, which sometimes overlap and sometimes need to be separate. But the pieces fit together to evolve towards a better world.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group