My VRG Internship

By Valerie Shore, VRG 2012 Intern

When I first learned about the Vegetarian Resource Group at the Baltimore Vegfest, my first thought was "Where was this group when I first became vegetarian?!" I had started out my quest to go meatless only a year before, but I hadn't thought to look up any resources on the subject — the fact that the VRG even existed was amazing to me. I remember seeing the fliers on their table saying that they did internships, and I made a note in the back of my mind, since I was only a sophomore at the time. When it came to be senior year and I found myself applying for internships, I suddenly remembered the VRG and thought that I would try applying.

As they say, the rest is history. I don't think I could have found a better fit for my internship experience than here at the VRG. I have been able to do so many different things, from trying out vegan candy bars and volunteering for conventions to interviewing vegan racecar drivers! One of the best things about this internship is the fact that the VRG allows you to do whatever you're interested in — it's not restricted in the least. I got to write, edit, and plan so many different things, and I know that these experiences are ones that I will take with me into my future careers. It was also a wonderful opportunity to try out styles of writing that I wasn't familiar with, and has helped me grow a lot. I have learned so much about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle as well, and I think I have become a much better voice for the cruelty-free movement.

Out of all of my experiences at the VRG, I definitely think getting to do outreach and advocacy at various different events and conventions was my favorite part of this internship. On my first day, I got to volunteer for Hampdenfest, working the VRG booth with my fellow interns and talking to interested people about vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. I also helped at the Natural Products Expo and Vegtoberfest, both of which were a blast, and I'll be ending my internship with VRG's Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck. All of these events were catered to different crowds, and it was interesting to see why people talked to us at each convention — Natural Products was many companies or organizations wanting to display our information for clients or customers, Vegtoberfest was people browsing cookbooks, and Hampdenfest was a mix of all sorts of people. The best part about these outreach events are really just meeting other vegetarians or vegans, and really seeing how this movement brings people together. It's also a wonderful feeling to hand out our Baltimore Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant Guide and see peoples' faces just light up. When I first stopped at the VRG booth at Baltimore Vegfest, I had the same exact reaction to the Restaurant Guide (which I still have at home, steadily working my way through the restaurants.) Vegtoberfest, an all-vegan event, was also incredible for the sheer amount of camaraderie you could feel in the air.

I have learned so much from working with the VRG, and working with all of the different members as well. I feel much more connected to the vegetarian community, and a renewed sense of purpose in my dietary choices. I've also come away from this experience with much more knowledge about how to eat a vegetarian diet with respect to essential nutrients and vitamins. I really am proud of the fact that I had the opportunity to help the VRG in its mission to educate and inform everyone about vegetarianism and veganism. I hope to continue helping the VRG through volunteering in hopes of informing and inspiring even more people and spreading VRG's message of health, environment, and ethics.