Note from the Coordinators

Why Are Some People Vegetarian
and Others Not?
Taking Responsibility

If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, it’s that prevention can save money and lives. All the little responsibilities and commitments we keep or shirk have immense consequences, positive or negative.

Becoming vegetarian or vegan is a preventive action of huge impact, but how do we enable individuals to take this step? In an article by VRG Dietetic Intern Melissa Wong, we look at Beliefs and Personality Traits: What Sets Vegetarians Apart from the Rest? Who are these people who become and stay vegetarian? What can VRG’s members, volunteers, and staff do to encourage more people to make this commitment to vegetarianism?

Many Americans think they can have influence only by being involved in a monumental act, but the reality is that most change happens because people are personally responsible for ‘small tasks’ for an ongoing period of time. Vegetarianism and veganism, with their huge implications, grow because of the ‘small’ decisions and commitments we make at each meal we eat. Vegetarian and other organizations grow because their supporters and staff members take on responsibilities over many years.

For example, we can have a profound influence on the information that health professionals disseminate by working with them while they are students. Recently, as part of a college internship program, we had eight non-vegetarian dietetic interns come to our office so they could learn about vegetarianism, which wouldn’t normally happen in their program.

Thank you to Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, who volunteered scores of hours in supervising VRG nutrition interns Melissa Wong, whose article appears in this issue of Vegetarian Journal, and Mark Rifkin, who authored the article One Week Low-Sodium Vegan Menu that was featured in Issue 4, 2005 (Volume XXIV, Number 4). Thank you to Suzanne Havala-Hobbs, DrPh, RD, who supervised Christina Niklas, RD, in her public health internship with VRG and in her writing of Tips for Serving Vegetarian Meals in Schools for Issue 3, 2005 (Volume XXIV, Number 3). These internships were part of Melissa’s, Mark’s, and Christina’s professional training. Melissa said, “I now feel competent in expressing my vegetarian nutrition knowledge in professional practice.” Finally, thank you to our volunteers, staff, and financial supporters who enable us to have an impact on the training of future health professionals.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler
Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group