For Immediate Release May 18, 2011
Contacts: John Cunningham (410)-366-VEGE
Sonja Helman (410)-366-8343
Lindsey Siferd

$5000 Vegetarian Scholarships Awarded to Massachusetts and Illinois Teens

The Vegetarian Resource Group is proud to present Rachel Sandalow-Ash, from Brookline, Massachusetts with a $5,000 college scholarship for her work in promoting a vegetarian lifestyle in her high school. Through her commitment to social justice and vegetarianism, Rachel has done an outstanding job of educating her community about the environmental benefits and sustainability of vegetarianism.

Rachel was president of her school's Environmental Action Club (EAC), a position she had held since her sophomore year of high school. Through the EAC, Rachel helped implement a 'Meatless Mondays' program at her school's cafeteria. The menu for Mondays includes such delicious options as vegetarian chili and burgers, baked ziti, hummus, and baba ganoush. 'Meatless Mondays' also helped increase the number of vegetarian options on other days of the week. In addition, education and publicity components are included, something which illustrates Rachel's commitment to increasing awareness.

Rachel also helped promote vegetarianism through her work with her school's Student Action for Justice and Education club (SAJE). With SAJE, Rachel helped coordinate the yearly Hunger Banquet, which highlights economic disparity and access to healthy food. Rachel describes this event as very 'pro-vegetarian,' as it emphasized vegetarianism as one of the most healthy lifestyles for people. Her work with this event shows Rachel's commitment to social and food justice-- something she hopes to continue with in college, saying, "I am passionate about environmental and food justice issues, and if I worked in those fields in the future, I would be able to promote vegetarianism nearly every day."

Rachel's commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle is also apparent in her work to restore a dilapidated greenhouse at her high school. She also had an all-vegetarian menu and gave a speech about the importance of caring for the earth at her bat mitzvah. A vegetarian since the age of eight, Rachel says, "I knew that my own individual actions would not be enough to stop the entire industry...[but] if each person takes positive individual actions, then the world will slowly but surely become a better place. For me, vegetarianism was and is a personal choice with positive societal consequences."

The Vegetarian Resource Group is also proud to present Nicole (Niki) Gianni of Chicago, Illinois with a $5,000 college scholarship for her outstanding work in combating animal cruelty and her lifestyle as a dedicated vegan. Niki was the co-president of the Lane Tech Vegetarian-Animals Rights Club at her high school.

Niki became a vegetarian when she was twelve years old, and switched to a vegan lifestyle a few months later. She became committed to activism soon after, beginning to volunteer with Mercy for Animals, an animal rights non-profit that promotes vegetarianism. Niki helped organize events such as hosting 'feed-ins,' allowing people to sample vegan foods for free. She has also participated in over a hundred demonstrations and protests against inhumane treatment of animals. Kenny Torella, the Chicago campaign coordinator for Mercy for Animals says, "In my years of activism I've yet to meet someone so mature, dedicated and passionate for their age as Niki is. As long as there are activists like Niki, there is hope for animals."

Niki's work as co-president of the Lane Tech Vegetarian-Animal Rights Club also shows her dedication and commitment to activism and veganism. The club hosts speakers and screens documentaries, working hard to educate the school and community about animal rights. Niki also fosters several animals such as chickens and rabbits.

Niki tries to reach out and educate as many people as possible about the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, efforts which have included speaking at a local high school to about a hundred students about a vegetarian diet. As she says, "I try to promote vegetarianism in my day-to-day life with a personal goal of speaking to one person a day, minimum, about why they should consider going veg."

Niki plans to continue her activism into college, where she would like to study to be a veterinary technician in order to further help animals.

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a non-profit organization which educates the public about vegetarian and vegan diets. A vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, or fowl. A vegan is a vegetarian who also does not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs.

To learn more information about vegetarian and/or vegan diets, go to or write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

The VRG also offers a book called Vegans Know How to Party by chef Nancy Berkoff. Vegans Know How to Party contains recipes for a variety of different types of vegan party foods, from cakes and desserts to vegan pizza and hot dogs. It also includes tips on planning parties for vegan teenagers. To order, send $25 to the Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203 or go to

The VRG sponsors two annual $5,000 scholarships for graduating high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their communities. Applicants are judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle. Entries should be sent in a student's senior year before February 20th. Early submission is encouraged. For more information visit