Help Create a Veggie World

An Intern's Reflection

By Maria Pittarelli

I had the pleasure of working with The Vegetarian Resource Group for two weeks. I am in the final year of school to become a Registered Dietitian and was able to complete an elective here with the great people at VRG. In such a short time, I've done a lot!

One project VRG has been working on is promoting vegetarian donations at Our Daily Bread, a local hot meal program that serves anyone in need of food in Baltimore City. I got to talk to many people involved with the program to learn about its history and efforts to include vegetarian offerings. Brigette (the Volunteer Coordinator at VRG) and I went to Our Daily Bread to see it in action and were told that many people request vegetarian meals, but they usually get the same items as everyone else. One foodservice director enthusiastically told us that they would love more vegetarian donations, so I went home and cooked all three types of vegetarian casseroles on their list (vegan recipes created by VRG's Foodservice Director Nancy Berkoff) to donate the next day. This was a great hands-on experience to test out these new recipes and suggest changes. When I delivered them the next day, I was told they would be used very soon! It was great to feel like I had a direct impact on providing a variety of nutritious meals to less-fortunate people who are requesting vegetarian meals.

If you want to donate vegan casseroles to Our Daily Bread or the feeding program in your area, information and recipes are at:

I also helped a dietitian at VRG to do research for a webinar she is putting together. I was tasked with sorting through the various laws and government organizations to find any requirements or guidelines for meals served to senior citizens, so we could propose vegetarian menus that would meet those guidelines.

I learned a lot during this process and hope it will also be able to make it easier for large federal facilities and nursing homes to provide great meals to vegetarians. One particular law does not allow tofu as a meat substitute in adult daycare facilities, but the bill to change it is up in the air now and I'll be rooting for it to pass!

In the office, I helped with daily tasks, including sorting through scholarship applications and composing replies to the applicants. I researched vegetarian and vegan restaurants to add to our online restaurant guide, which was difficult: it's hard to look at delicious menus without being able to eat the food! But I didn't go too hungry, as there were vegan food samples to taste and review.

Overall, I enjoyed being in this supportive environment, surrounded by people who have similar beliefs and similar goals. I learned a lot about the best ways (and the not-so-great ways) to advocate for veganism. The astounding number of books and resources in the office have given me a big “to read” list that I am excited to get started with. I am sad to be leaving so soon, but it won't be the last time I see them! I've signed up to help with The VRG benefit at a local vegetarian restaurant next month. I'm looking forward to many more visits in the future!