Vegetarian Resource Group Awards
Thank you to an anonymous donor who funded two VRG $5,000 college scholarships for high school students who have actively promoted vegetarianism. Once again, this year, we have received applications from across the spectrum. Finalists varied from a student raised on a cattle farm to an immigrant from a meat-eating culture who didn't really know English until sixth grade but spoke on vegetarianism in front of his whole school. Another student did a four-year research project on vegetarianism. Though some of the applicants were hard-core protestors or came from vegetarian families, many were from conservative religious backgrounds and were more traditional in their outlook. We wish we had funding to give scholarships to more individuals, but following a difficult decision process, we're proud to announce that this year's winners are Nora Allen from Connecticut and Jason Levy from Illinois.
Nora stated, "After speaking with my boss at the grocery store where I work in Connecticut, we began carrying Yves' Veggie Cuisine Products, including deli 'meats' and chili bowls (containing TVP), as well as soy macaroni and cheese. We also started carrying some Tofutti products, such as the fudgesicles and pintsized containers. While they had Amy's and Morningstar Farms products before I had requested them, they are now... adding new products. (I had to request those burger crumbles!) I have noticed a growing increase in how many meat substitutes people are buying, as well as products such as soymilk. The Boca and Amy's products seem to do the best, and Silk soymilk is very popular as well. Many of my friends' parents have also been keeping some of these items for me in their houses and now consume them themselves."
Nora told VRG about another one of her projects: "As for some exciting news, I am working with one of the dietitians at the nursing home where I work. She and the food services director are in the process of adding more vegetarian-friendly items. Some recent successes have been adding veggie burgers available as an alternate daily, as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They are now keeping soymilk on hand, and the dietitian is also developing a new cycle of menus. I am helping her to find one meat-free alternate daily (not including fish!). I also explained that vegetarians don't eat fish, and it is now no longer served to vegetarian patients. I lent her a few of my cookbooks, as well as provided her with some useful websites to share with the kitchen."
For two of her interest patches for Girl Scouts, Nora used veganism in the requirements, including preparing vegan meals for meat-eating teenagers and teaching them about the vegan diet. While at a field hockey camp on a college campus, she had a long talk with the food services manager. He was thrilled to hear all her suggestions, as he needed ideas for an incoming vegan student, which he never had before.
Nora chose a college that is not completely veganfriendly. "I did this because I am intent on leaving my mark on the school," she said. "I welcome a challenge and know that I am paving the way for future vegan students. I spoke to the dining services and am going to work with them on planning a more extensive vegan menu. A weekly vegan option will not suffice--I'm a person, I still need to eat every day!"
Nora hopes to be a registered dietitian and to incorporate veganism into her career. "With all I have gained from going vegan, I feel it is only right by sharing what I've learned. By becoming a dietitian, I hope to show how the vegan diet can be the solution for everyone."
Jason Levy was the president and founder of the first animal rights group at Elgin High School in Elgin, Illinois. As a result of collecting nearly 600 signatures from students and faculty, he convinced his school cafeteria to serve veggie burgers as well as a fried vegetable and rice dish. Even with all of the activists she works with, Marta Holmberg from PETA plainly stated, "Jason is AMAZING."
Jason's group sponsors monthly information tables at school, which is the maximum frequency allowed. Jason convinced his teachers to use humane mouse traps instead of glue traps. He has also written articles about vegetarianism for the school newspaper and has placed pro-vegetarian ads in the publication. In addition, he's organized a movie screening at school, where he showed a pro-vegetarian movie and provided vegan food literature.
Jason has been highly active in his community as well. He has influenced local restaurants that provide vegetarian meals to post stickers in the windows indicating so, and he hosts a vegetarian table one night a week at a local music venue called The Clearwater Theater. He also organizes animal rights demonstrations around town, where he's done everything from dressing up like a giant chicken to donning a zombie costume.
Jason works at a business that sells and mail orders popcorn. He has set up a vegetarian display at his workplace and has even developed vegan varieties of its products, using Earth Balance for the margarine and Road's End for a cheese popcorn. He believes people will buy these for both health and ethical reasons.
On a personal level, Jason said he convinced his mother, his grandmother, numerous friends, classmates, and teachers to go vegetarian. Jason's perfect life in five years would be to live in a world that lives by ahimsa (non-violence), where people are practicing non-violence in all aspects of their lives, including when they sit down to dinner. He stated, "Unfortunately, this does not look as if this will be likely to happen within the next five years, but until then, I will work tirelessly for that day to come. Hard work is not unheard of in my family. My mother works hard seven days a week just to make ends meet. I plan to major in political science so that I can some day have an active role in politics and work for a pro-vegetarian candidate or organization."
Thanks to intern Melanie Campbell for converting this article to HTML.
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