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VRG-NEWS: The Vegetarian Resource Group Newsletter
Editor: John L. Cunningham
Volume 6, Issue 7
July 2002


  1. Notes from the Editor
  2. New and Online: The Market for Vegetarian Foods
  3. Product Review: Pepitas from the Fertile Hand
  4. Recipe of the Month: Avocado Boats
  5. Question of the Month: Do Vegetarians Lack Amino Acids?
  6. Upcoming Vegetarian Events and Conferences
  7. Job Opportunities and Internships Available at VRG in Baltimore
    About the Vegetarian Resource Group
    About VRG-News


July seems to be the peak of backyard barbecue season. Being vegetarian doesn't mean that we can't join in the fun. Our website is here to help! In the July/August 2000 issue of the Vegetarian Journal, Rachel Haley Himmelheber gave us some recipes for "jazzed-up vegan versions of time-honored deli salads" . In the most recent issue, Nava Atlas offers recipes for a variety of "Picnic Pleasures" that are sure to please. Before you fire up that grill, you'll want to get the low-down from the "Guide to (Veggie) Burgers and Dogs" by Reed Mangels PhD, RD.

We'd like to thank TheVegetarianSite.com and Pangea Vegan Products for sponsoring us last month. The sponsorship was so successful that Pangea has decided to keep us as a featured non-profit for the month of July! So, if you're going to purchase NoBull jackets or shoes, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, or even vegan doughnuts from Pangea, you can choose to have them donate 5% of your purchase price to the VRG for one more month!

We're looking forward to Vegetarian Summerfest 2002 in Johnstown, PA, that starts on July 31. If you're going to the event, be sure to catch the talk by our Nutrition Advisor, Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD, and stop by our booth to say hello to Jeannie.

Have a safe, happy, and healthy July!


Are you considering opening a vegetarian restaurant? Do you have a vegetarian product or product idea that you are trying to sell? If so, you want to know the answers to such questions as "Who consumes vegetarian products?", "Why do people choose plant-based foods?", and "How big is the market for vegetarian products?" We receive many such inquiries from members and others that wish to enter the vegetarian marketplace. Now, because of the efforts of Caryn Ginsberg of Priority Ventures Group and Allissa Ostrowski of Mintel Consumer Intelligence, we are able to provide valuable information on the vegetarian market sector on our website. We think this information will be very helpful to both the vegetarian entrepreneur and to investors considering support of a vegetarian product or service. To read the report, visit: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/market.htm.


One of my all-time favorite snacks is roasted pumpkin seeds. For me, they are closely associated with fond childhood memories of carving Jack-O-Lanterns at Halloween. A company called The Fertile Hand in Fair Lawn, NJ, has taken this good thing and ran with it. Their product, Pepitas, is made from organic pumpkin seeds, uses organic flavorings when available, and contain no animal products. The folks at The Fertile Hand were kind enough to send us some samples that were generally well received.

Spicy Pepitas
I found the Spicy Pepitas to be a very satisfying snack--almost macho in a "turn on the T.V. and watch an organized sporting event" kind of way. Available in Regular and Extra Hot varieties, both have a very pleasant roasted garlic flavor with a nice peppery bite at the end.

Sweet Pepitas
The first words out of my mouth after sampling the Sweet Pepitas were "pumpkin pie." This stands to reason as they have used maple syrup and something they call pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) as flavorings. Although initially surprising, the unique combination quickly becomes addictive.

Chocolate Pepitas
The Chocolate Pepitas have an interesting salty-sweet flavor that is reminiscent of chocolate-covered-pretzels, but richer. We double-checked with The Fertile Hand about these, and they assured us that the Chocolate Pepitas contain no animal products.

Unfortunately, Pepitas are only available by the case from The Fertile Hand website. However, they do have a list of retailers on their website, so you can find out if they are sold in your area. To find out more about their Pepitas or for ordering information, you may call (201) 797-4794, visit http://www.thefertilehand.com, or write to:

The Fertile Hand, Inc.
7 Ballard Place
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410


(The following recipe appears in Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman and Reed Mangels, PhD, RD.)

Serves 4

2 ripe avocados
1/2 ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/3 cucumber, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper and salt

Carefully cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove seed. Remove avocado pulp from shell and mash in a bowl. Add other ingredients and mix. Put mixture back into avocado shells. Serve with raw carrot and celery sticks.

Total Calories Per Serving: 167
Total Fat as % of Daily Value: 25%
Protein: 2gm
Fat: 16gm
Calcium: 15mg
Iron: 1mg
Sodium: 12mg
Dietary Fiber: unknown

5) QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Do Vegetarians Lack Amino Acids?

An e-mailer asked:

"My husband recently talked to 2 people (at a business lunch) who were veggie but now eat fish and chicken because of someone who dropped dead because he 'ran out' of some amino acid. This greatly worried my husband. I blew it off, but [later] asked my son's pediatrician about vegetarians lacking some amino acids. She said we don't get two but couldn't remember what they were. Do you have any info on this?"

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD replied:

I'll start with the pediatrician. Vegetarians get all of the essential amino acids from their diets and their bodies can make all of the other amino acids. I think the pediatrician may have meant that there are 2 fatty acids (fatty acids make up fats just like amino acids make up protein) that vegetarians may not get from their diets. These have been in the news lately so that is probably what the pediatrician was referring to. These fatty acids are DHA, which stands for docosahexaenoic acid, and EPA (eicosapentaneoic acid). Our bodies can make EPA from DHA if we have enough DHA so I'll mainly talk about DHA. The following is from a column in the January/February 2000 Vegetarian Journal:

High levels of DHA are found in our brains and in our retinas (part of the eye) and it appears to be important for both brain function and for vision. DHA is especially important in infants to insure appropriate brain and retinal development.

Vegetarian diets are generally low in DHA since major food sources are fish, animal brains, cow's liver, and eggs (especially eggs from hens fed flaxseed).

Vegans generally consume no DHA. The good news is that we do not have to get DHA from food. Our bodies are able to produce DHA from another fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. However, we are not very good at doing this and when we eat large amounts of another fatty acid called linoleic acid or trans fatty acids, our bodies make even less DHA. Studies have shown that vegans and other vegetarians have lower levels of DHA in their blood than do non-vegetarians. We do not know, however, whether or not people who eat little or no DHA are more efficient at using it for mental and visual function. There is no evidence that vegetarians exhibit any symptoms of DHA deficiency.

DHA is important in the developing fetus and in early infancy. During pregnancy, DHA appears to be transferred to the fetus through the placenta, even in vegetarians whose DHA intakes are low. Although the level of DHA in human milk from vegans was lower than that of non-vegetarians in one study, it was still higher than that found in cow's milk formula which does not contain DHA. Additional research is needed on DHA needs of vegetarian and vegan infants, especially premature infants. Premature infants are born with lower levels of DHA. Until more research can be conducted on DHA status of vegetarians, vegetarians can do several things to improve their DHA status. One positive step is to include some foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid which will provide material for your body to make DHA. These foods include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soy products (not fat-reduced), and canola oil. Another step is to limit foods rich in linoleic acid like corn, sesame, and safflower oils. Also you can try to avoid trans fatty acids which come from partially hydrogenated fats and are found in many commercial crackers, cookies, and margarines. Pregnant and breast feeding women may need to be especially conscious of these recommendations in order to positively influence DHA status of their infants. Increased maternal DHA has been shown to increase blood DHA levels in infants. There are DHA supplements on the market, some of which are derived from algae. These have been shown to raise blood levels of DHA in vegetarians but have not been shown to have other beneficial effects. These may be an option for some vegetarians. Some supplements are in the form of gelatin-based capsules with the gelatin possibly derived from animal bones; so if you decide to use DHA supplements, check on what the capsules are made from.

Now, as far as someone dropping dead because they ran out of some amino acid. This one is a real puzzler. Our bodies are very good at conserving protein so it is unlikely that someone would suddenly die from a lack of an amino acid unless they had some sort of metabolic disease. The only thing that I can think of that has been in the news lately is that vegetarians may have higher blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine and that higher levels of homocysteine have been associated with increased risk of heart disease. Why would vegetarians have higher levels of homocysteine? Well, adequate dietary or supplemental folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 can reduce serum homocysteine levels. Vegetarians consume 25-50% more folate than omnivores, have vitamin B6 intakes which are similar to non-vegetarians, but typically have lower vitamin B12 intakes. These lower intakes of vitamin B12 may lead to increased homocysteine levels and increased risk of heart disease. Vegetarians need to ensure adequate intake of these B vitamins, with particular attention to vitamin B12, to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. Adults age 51 years and older should meet most of their vitamin B12 requirements with B12-fortified foods or supplements containing vitamin B12.

(The contents of this newsletter, as with all publications of The Vegetarian Resource Group, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional.)




On July 31-August 4, The North American Vegetarian Society will hold its 28th annual Vegetarian Summerfest at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The Summerfest offers educational sessions covering such topics as health and nutrition, lifestyle issues, animal rights and compassionate living, and Earth stewardship; opportunities to meet others of like mind, and natural food vegan meals. This year's speakers will include: Carol J. Adams; Thomas J. Barnard, MD; VRG Nutrition Advisor Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD; Howard Lyman; John McDougall, MD; Joanne Stepaniak, MSEd; and many more.

For more information, visit http://www.navs-online.org/fest02/ or call (518) 568-7970.



On Saturday, September 21, Farm Sanctuary will hold their Gala for Farm Animals at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

Gala Host and Honorary Chair James Cromwell, Linda Blair, Sue Coe, Bill Maher, Peter Max, Kevin Nealon, Stefanie Powers, Victoria Principle, Charlotte Ross, Loretta Swit, Gretchen Wyler, and other celebrities dedicated to animal protection will be attending the event. The 2002 Gala will celebrate Farm Sanctuary's farm animal activists and supporters with a gourmet vegan dinner, award ceremony, silent auction, and other entertainment. Mary Tyler Moore will receive the 1st Annual Sentient Being Award.

For more information, call Jessica Glau at (607) 583-2011 ext. 229 or e-mail gala@farmsanctuary.org.



On September 21-25 the American Oil Chemists Society will host the Fifth International Smposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease at Disney's contemporary Resort in Orlando, FL, USA.

The event will have three-and-a-half days of oral presentations and dedicated poster viewing focusing on areas of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, osteoporosis, cancer, cognitive function, hypertension, women's health, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory disorders, and skin health. A sponsor display area will also feature companies and organizations presenting the latest technologies and products available to the soy market.

For more information call (217) 359-2011, visit http://www.aocs.org/meetings/soy03, or write to ASOCS, P.O. Box 3489, Champaign, IL 61826-3489.



On October 4-6 the Culture and Animals Foundation will hold the Seventeenth Annual International Compassionate Living Festival at the Clarion Hotel (Crabtree) on 4501 Creedmore Road in Raleigh, NC.

Speakers will include: Ed Sayers, President of the San Francisco SPCA; Susan Ledererm, Yale University; Brenda Davis, a Registered Dietitian and author; Jill Robinson, founder of the Animals Asia Foundation; Jenny Stein and James Laveck, filmmakers (the Witness); Kevin Johnas, US coordinator of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty; Jim Harris, songwriter; Regina Hyland, an ordained Evangelical minister and author; Mark Rinehardt, author; and Jim Motavalli, editor of E Magazine.

Total Package Admission, including admission to all lectures, Saturday lunch and dinner, and two raffle tickets, is $80 for CAF members and $90 for non-members. For more information e-mail njregan@nc.rr.com or visit http://www.cultureandanimals.org



On Sunday, October 6, The Vegetarian Society of Houston will host the 14th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. The event will be held from noon to 5pm at the Splash Town Pavilion in Spring, TX. Contestants from all over Texas will compete for the best chili and best booth awards while attendees will enjoy live entertainment, speakers, educational booths &exhibits, and of course, vegetarian chili.

$5 admission per person to taste all chilies and to be eligible for door prizes. Children under 12 are free. For more information, call (713) 880-2011 or visit http://www.vshouston.org.



On October 19-22 the American Dietetic Association will host the annual Food & Nutrition Conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

For registration or more information visit http://www.eatright.org/fnce/index.html

During the conference, The Vegetarian Resource Group will host a Chinese Vegan Banquet at the Cherry Street Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant on Monday, October 21. Dietitians, local members, and the public are welcome. Reservations must be made in advance. Seating is limited. Cost is $20 before September 5, 2002; $25 after September 5th until October 15. Children under 10 years are $8. Price includes tax and tip. Call (410) 366-8343 between 9 am and 5 pm EST Monday to Friday, fax (410) 366-8804, email vrg@vrg.org, or send to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203



(Full-time position in Baltimore, Maryland)

Vegetarian nonprofit seeks Jack/Jill of all trades knowledgeable in vegetarianism to process subscriptions, answer phone, talk to the media, manage mail campaigns, compile data, supervise interns and volunteers, work with co-director and webmaster to market memberships and increase member support, coordinate work with computer and mailing houses, and more. Must be comfortable with detail work, computers, flexibility, planning, and improving systems. Starting salary is in the low 20's. Health and dental insurance. Send cover letter and resume to Membership Job, VRG, Box 1463, Balt, MD 21203

(Part-time position in Baltimore, Maryland)

Jack or Jill of all trades should be a good editor, experienced in Quark (PC), knowledgeable about vegetarianism, well organized, and eager to learn. Individual will help with Vegetarian Journal and other projects. Job will also involve layout, research, coordination of volunteers, assisting with media and marketing, calling companies, sending out letters, shipping materials to conferences, and other tasks necessary in a vegetarian non-profit. Science background helpful. Starting salary is $10/hour. Future increases in pay dependent on performance, dependability, and taking on increased responsibility.

Please send cover letter, resume, and writing/layout samples to Vegetarian Journal, The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.


Responsibilities depend on background, major if in college, and interest of applicant. Tasks may include research, writing, and/or community outreach. Internships are helpful for students working towards journalism, English, and nutrition degrees. Business majors can obtain experience related to the business aspects of a nonprofit organization. Activists can learn new skills and gain a broader knowledge, as well as share their expertise. Positions open throughout the year for all ages (including high school students living in Baltimore). Internships are unpaid. Send resume and cover letter to VRG, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; vrg@vrg.org.


Our health professionals, activists, and educators work with businesses and individuals to bring about healthy changes in your school, workplace, and community. Registered dietitians and physicians aid in the development of nutrition-related publications and answer member and media questions about vegetarian diets. The Vegetarian Resource Group is a non-profit organization. Financial support comes primarily from memberships, donations, and book sales. The Vegetarian Journal, a bi-monthly print magazine, is a benefit of membership in The VRG. (For more information, please see back issues online at http://vrg.org/journal/.)

If you would like to make a donation, become a member, or find out more about The VRG, contact us at: The Vegetarian Resource Group PO Box 1463 Baltimore, MD 21203 Phone: (410) 366-8343 Fax: (410) 366-8804 E-mail: mailto:vrg@vrg.orgWebsite: http://vrg.org/index.htm


VRG-News is the monthly e-mail newsletter of The Vegetarian Resource Group. This is an announcement list, so subscriber messages are not accepted by the list. If you have a technical question about the list, please contact the list manager, Bobbi Pasternak, at bobbi@vrg.org. If you have any suggestions, ideas, or corrections to VRG-News, direct them to vrg@vrg.org. Thanks!

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Contents of VRG-News are copyright 2002 by The Vegetarian Resource Group. The newsletter may be freely distributed in electronic or print form provided its contents are not altered and credit is given to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

This newsletter was converted to HTML by Stephanie Schueler.

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Last Updated
July 15, 2002

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