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Winter 1996

Editor: Brad Scott



Debra Wasserman

Staff/Author Profile: Debra Wasserman

Debra Wasserman is Co-Coordinator of The Vegetarian Resource Group, playing a variety of roles. She and Charles Stahler founded Baltimore Vegetarians in 1982 to provide the Baltimore community information on the many benefits of vegetarianism. Baltimore Vegetarians became The Vegetarian Resource Group in 1990 in response to the growing popularity of the Baltimore Vegetarians' materials and to better answer the increasing demand for vegetarian information nationwide.

Running the non-profit Vegetarian Resource Group is a lot like running many small businesses - everyone has to do a bit of everything. While Debra's most visible roles are being the Managing Editor of the Vegetarian Journal, authoring books, and appearing on TV, she also works with Charles managing the office, preparing the accounting, staffing booths at conferences, and when the mail gets heavy, sometimes processing the inquiries and book orders. She and Charles are so dedicated to the group that during the Blizzard of '96, they kept the office open regular hours every day of the week, walking two miles from their home through the heavy snow so they could handle the never-ending volume of mail and phone inquiries.

The first book Debra wrote was Vegetarianism for the Working Person, co-authored with Charles Stahler, which later became Meatless Meals for Working People. Next was No Cholesterol Passover Recipes, helping the Jewish Community prepare vegan dishes using the more-restrictive guidelines for Passover meals. Her most successful book to date is Simply Vegan, co-authored with Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., which has sold over 40,000 copies. Debra created all the recipes, and Reed provided the nutritional information. Proceeds from the sale of these books have funded much of The Vegetarian Resource Group's outreach, including handouts and conferences.

Her most recent book, The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook, has already sold over 20,000 copies. Debra did research for this book over the course of two years, creating healthful, original recipes with ideas inspired by traditions from around the world. Her research included interviewing people, visiting communities of immigrants, and reading history books for food patterns and spices. Debra says she's "always thinking of ideas for new and original recipes - it's very difficult."

For many years, Debra was editor of the Vegetarian Journal. Having grown the circulation to approximately 25,000 copies, Debra wanted to devote more time to research, outreach, and developing educational materials. Mike Vogel was hired in April 1995 as editor of the Journal (see VRG Update, December 1995), and after an extensive training period, Debra now has more time to write and create recipes.

So what comes next? VRG will publish The Vegan Handbook in the spring of 1996. This book, edited by Debra, is based on past Vegetarian Journal articles, with recipes and additional information.

Where does Debra get the ideas for her books? "I listen for what people are asking for at conferences, read what members are requesting in their letters , and pay attention to my personal interests," she says. "I only write books where a market need exists for something original." Creating a book takes quite a bit of effort, often requiring two years or more to generate and test the recipes. Reed Mangels provides the nutritional analysis and proofs the books for clarity and readability. Debra does all her own layout, design, and word processing so she can give camera-ready copy to the printer, and even designs the covers herself, including shooting her own photographs.

So why does Debra put so much effort into VRG and her books? "The books are a significant source of income for the group, and it allows me to use talents I enjoy. I love being creative, developing recipes, and experimenting," she says. And of course she wants to make it as easy as possible for people to be vegetarian or vegan. "I have so many great ideas for new books if we can find the seed money to produce them." Once the initial printing of a book is funded, sales provide income for further VRG outreach.

Debra considers her greatest successes are her contributions to creating a strong, viable organization promoting vegetarianism that will continue beyond her lifetime. We all owe Debra an incredible debt of gratitude for everything she has done and continues to do to encourage vegetarian and vegan diets. And please keep producing those wonderful books!




VRG Home | About VRG | Vegetarian Journal | Books | Vegetarian Nutrition
Subscribe to Journal | Vegetarian Game | Vegetarian Family | Nutshell | VRG-News
Vegetarian Recipes | Travel | What's New | Bulletin Board | Search www.vrg.org | Links


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Last Updated
September 20, 1997

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