For Immediate Release June 23, 2003
Contacts: John Cunningham (410) 366-VEGE
Jeannie McStay (410) 366-8343
When Rebecca Pancoast was fourteen, she helped establish a local group, which fed vegetarian meals to the homeless. Ex-hunter Jeremy Beckham turned vegan, and never looked back. These two teenagers have been awarded $5,000 college scholarships by The Vegetarian Resource Group.
Each year The Vegetarian Resource Group gives two awards of $5,000 each to graduating high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools or communities. For more information on applying, visit www.vrg.org. The application deadline for U.S. high school seniors graduating in 2004 is February 20, 2004.
Rebecca Pancoast became a vegetarian at age 9. While a teenager, she became one of the core members of the only vegetarian restaurant in her small Pennsylvania town. Though still in high school, she was trusted enough to open the business for the day, act as the head chef during some of her shifts, manage a shift, and close at night.
The Green Café was unable to find good quality local produced vegan breads. Rebecca saw that as an opportunity to prove her commitment to the philosophy behind the restaurant. She became their primary bread maker on her own volunteer time. In order to make sure the vegetarian restaurant thrives and has an impact on her town, she has decided to go to a nearby college and not go away to school. Rebecca's manager stated, "I've never witnessed such commitment at such a young age. Rebecca is truly a remarkable youth. Rebecca is compassion and conviction in action."
Rebecca stated, "Because no matter how much you teach a person about ethics and health, they still want something tangible. A delicious, filling vegetarian meal is something that will not only stick to your bones, but it will stick in your mind as well. And once the food prejudice has passed, a person will be more willing to listen to the intellectual aspects of the movement."
Jeremy Beckham said up to the age of 15, he fished for sharks off the coast of Texas, and hunted various birds and deer. After seeing a television program with a piece about hunting, he became an anti-hunting advocate. At a debate tournament a short time later, he was discussing with another debater why he disapproved of hunting. Jeremy states that the other debater, "correctly pointed out that I was showing an inconsistency in speaking out against killing and being cruel to some animals, while at the same time sticking a fork in others. After a few months of denial and guilt, I made the switch to a vegan diet."
Young Jeremy had influence on his family, teachers, school, community, and even animal rights organizations. His mother became vegan and together they give presentations on vegetarianism.
Jeremy's debate and German teacher stated, "I later began to deeply ponder his positions and realized they weren't just the rantings of an overly idealistic youth, but genuinely thought out arguments with deep moral implications… I argued with Jeremy for over a year about his indictment of my meat-eating style. Jeremy rebutted every position I put forth. … Two months ago I made the decision to go vegan…"
Jeremy set up tables at Moby and Goldfinger concerts giving out vegetarian information. He sold vegan sandwiches at a school debate tournament and lectured to health classes on vegetarianism. Jeremy even influenced an animal rights group, causing Showing Animals Respect and Kindness to also promote vegetarian issues.
Jeremy's favorite vegan foods are Gardenburger Riblets, Yves Veggie Dogs, nondairy Tofutti or Soy Dream, and bagels with nondairy cream cheese. In college, in addition to promoting compassion for humans suffering from the ills of starvation, Jeremy hopes to encourage kindness towards animals.
The Vegetarian Resource Group is a nonprofit group that educates the public about vegetarianism and veganism. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who do not use other animal products such as eggs and dairy. For more information about vegetarianism or the scholarship contest, visit www.vrg.org or write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.
Two helpful books for families with vegetarians are Meatless Meals for Working People (ISBN 0-931411-22-X) and Simply Vegan (ISBN 0-931411-20-3 ). Simply Vegan contains over 160 vegetarian recipes that can be prepared quickly, as well as an extensive easy-to-understand vegan nutrition section written by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. For more information about vegetarian recipes, visit www.vrg.org.
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