VRG-NEWS: The Vegetarian Resource Group Newsletter
Editor: John L. Cunningham
Volume 7, Issue 4
August 2003


  1. Notes from the Editor
  2. New! Vegan Microwave Cookbook by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD
  3. Utah & Penn. Teens Receive $5,000 Vegetarian Scholarships
  4. Help Make a Better Food Guide Pyramid
  5. AFS Seeks Host Families For Vegetarian Exchange Students
  6. Get Your Voice Heard: Survey on Vegetarian Products
  7. 2003 Vegetarian Journal Issue 2 Online
  8. RECIPE: Microwave Lasagna
  9. Upcoming Vegetarian Events and Conferences
  10. Job Opportunities and Internships Available
  11. About The Vegetarian Resource Group
  12. About VRG-NEWS

1) Notes From The Editor

It's been an eventful summer at VRG. We're happy to announce our new book, Vegan Microwave Cookbook, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD. Nancy's tips on reducing prep time for vegetarian meals will be quoted in 20 newspapers throughout the U.S. next month. We're proud to announce the two students who will be the first to receive our $5,000 college scholarships. We're also working hard on the updates to our Guide to Fast Food and our Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. If you're interested in helping with either of these projects, see "Job Opportunities and Internships Available" below.

2) New! Vegan Microwave Cookbook by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD

Just about everyone would like to come home to a pot of soup that's been slowly simmering on the stove all day. Or wake up to hot muffins in the morning. Unfortunately, unless you have an enchanted kitchen, these dream dishes are probably not going to materialize until you become acquainted with your microwave.

The Vegan Microwave Cookbook by Chef Nancy Berkoff is your key to terrific vegan meals. Many of the recipes will take under 10 minutes to cook. Others may be more appropriate for entertaining. Helpful advice includes:

Converting Traditional Recipes to the Microwave
If You Can Boil Water, You Can Cook with a Microwave
Microwave Baking and Desserts
Curries and Casseroles
Microwave Breakfasts
Suggestions and Recipes for Holidays, Parties, and Entertaining

Enjoy vegan meals by preparing dishes from Basic "Meat" Balls and Individual Pizzas to Microwave Lasagna or Cilantro-Marinated Tofu. Spice up your day with Curried Greens, Toasted Nachos, or German Potato Salad. Have a sweet tooth? Try Chocolate Fudge, Graham Cracker Molasses Bread, Chocolate Covered Bananas, and Apple Pie.

The 288-page Vegan Microwave Cookbook will make a great gift for friends, relatives, or clients who use the microwave. If you order five copies before September 5, 2003, we will send you the books at half price. We pay U.S. shipping PLUS we'll throw in an extra FREE copy. (One book is $16.95; Six books are $42.00)

To order the Vegan Microwave Cookbook, call (410) 366-8343, or visit http://www.vrg.org/catalog/veganmicro.htm.

3) Utah & Penn. Teens Receive $5,000 Vegetarian Scholarships

When Rebecca Pancoast was fourteen, she helped establish a local group, which fed vegetarian meals to the homeless. Ex-hunter Jeremy Beckham turned vegan, and never looked back. These two teenagers have been awarded $5,000 college scholarships by The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Each year The Vegetarian Resource Group gives two awards of $5,000 each to graduating high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools or communities. For more information on applying, visit http://www.vrg.org/student/scholar.htm. The application deadline for U.S. high school seniors graduating in 2004 is February 20, 2004.

Rebecca Pancoast became a vegetarian at age 9. While a teenager, she became one of the core members of the only vegetarian restaurant in her small Pennsylvania town. Though still in high school, she was trusted enough to open the business for the day, act as the head chef during some of her shifts, manage a shift, and close at night.

To read the rest of the article visit our website

4) Help Make a Better Food Guide Pyramid

How many times have you seen the Food Guide Pyramid? It shows up on food packages, on refrigerator magnets, on billboards, and in classrooms. Many vegetarians and vegans are aware that the Food Guide Pyramid does not meet our needs since it promotes the use of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Additionally, by promoting these foods, the Food Guide Pyramid does little to support eating a more plant-based diet, one that has been shown to reduce risk of a number of chronic diseases. There are also other limitations of the Food Guide Pyramid. It doesn't differentiate between saturated fats and unsaturated vegetable oils; it doesn't mention important fats like alpha-linolenic acid (found in canola oil, flaxseed, and soy products); and it implies that only dairy products can provide calcium.

The USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is currently conducting a broad-based reassessment of the Pyramid. It was published in 1992 and is in need of an update, especially in view of changes in information about the diet-health connection. At this point it is doubtful that the USDA will develop a vegetarian Food Guide Pyramid. However, with sufficient consumer input, a Food Guide Pyramid could be developed that is more useful to vegetarians and more supportive of plant-based diets.

This is a great opportunity for people to comment on the Food Guide Pyramid. We encourage readers to submit polite letters presenting their concerns to Carole Davis, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1034, Alexandria, VA 22302. We do know that every letter CNPP receives is read and considered by nutritionists at CNPP, so send your comments and ask your friends, families, and colleagues to do the same.

Some points to present:

-The Food Guide Pyramid needs to include more soyfoods, whole grains, non-dairy sources of calcium, nuts, and seeds.

-The Grain Group should be changed to the Whole Grain Group to promote increased use of whole grains. This could be combined with a recommendation to get at least half of grain products as whole grains.

-Currently all fats are included in the tip of the pyramid as "Fats, Oils, and Sweets". Health-promoting fats from vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds should be in a different category from saturated fats and trans fatty acids.

-The Food Guide Pyramid should contain adequate sources of vitamin E including nuts and nut butters and vegetable oils. Perhaps there needs to be a new food group called "Nuts and Seeds Group."

-Currently dry beans are included in the "Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group." Dry beans provide substantial amounts of fiber and phytochemicals and are low in total fat and saturated fat. Nuts are good sources of unsaturated fat. In contrast, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs do not contain fiber and do contain fat and saturated fat as well as cholesterol. A simple reordering of the title of this group to "Dry Beans, Nuts, Eggs, Meat, Poultry, and Fish" could show that dry beans are preferable to meat.

-Since many consumers use only limited amounts of dairy products and dairy products are not traditionally a part of the diet of many ethnic groups, the Food Guide Pyramid should focus on multiple sources of calcium including dark green vegetables and fortified foods rather than relying primarily on dairy products as a source of calcium. Non-dairy sources of calcium should be included in the graphic of the Food Guide Pyramid.

5) AFS Seeks Host Families For Vegetarian Exchange Students

Every year hundreds of vegetarian international high school students want to live with American families and attend American high schools for an academic year. To make this happen, AFS Intercultural Programs (formerly the American Field Service), a 55-year old, non-profit organization, looks for families interested in hosting them for a school year (from mid-August until late June).

Sometimes it can be difficult to find U.S. families interested in hosting vegetarian students from abroad. Some people think that they will not be able to provide adequate nourishment without including meat in the menu. Others think it will be too difficult to make individual meals for these young people.

The benefits to both hosted student and host family are enormous. Hosting is something most families can do to improve international understanding and tolerance without leaving home. Families can have kids at home or not, and can be one- or two-parent households; what is required is providing the student's own bed (can share a room with a child of the same gender), meals, and the same care and guidance the family would provide for a child of their own.

If you, or someone you know, might be interested in hosting such a young person, please contact AFS at 1-800-AFS-INFO or afsinfo@afs.org, or visit http://www.afs.org/usa. Thank you!

6) Get Your Voice Heard: Survey on Vegetarian Products

Recently, VRG was approached by Datassential Research, a company that conducts marketing surveys for the food industry. One of their clients is developing a line of vegetarian soups, and is searching for input from vegetarians. We felt that this was a great opportunity for VRG-NEWS subscribers to communicate their opinions directly to the food industry, so we're letting you know about it.


7) 2003 Vegetarian Journal Issue 2 Online

Issue 2 of the 2003 Vegetarian Journal articles online includes:

2002 VRG Essay Contest Winners
Take a look at our second installment.
International Maritime Stews
Chef Nancy Berkoff shows you how to prepare vegan versions of traditional fish-based stews.
Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes
Nancy Berkoff, RD, explains the basics and provides a week's worth of menu ideas.
Vegetarian Action
Maryland State Fair Soyfoods Cooking Contest, by Susan Petri.
Scientific Update
-Non-Meat Eaters Have Lower Blood Pressure
-Mercury, Fish Oil, and Risk of Heart Disease
-Calcium Absorption in the Elderly
-How Can You Avoid Having Too MUCH Iron?
-And More. . .

To read these articles go to:

Read excerpts from back issues online at:

The Journal features informational and recipe articles, product and book reviews, news for vegetarian activists, and up-to-date information about vegetarian health and nutrition. If you are not currently a subscriber to the Vegetarian Journal, why not subscribe today?

Subscriptions to Vegetarian Journal are $20/year in the U.S. (please inquire for subscription rates outside the U.S.). Accepted forms of payment, in U.S. funds, are Visa, MasterCard, checks drawn on U.S. banks, and postal money orders. When joining please send us your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. If paying by credit card, please include the card number and expiration date.

If you join online at http://www.vrg.org/journal/subscribe.htm for $30 or more, you will receive a FREE copy of the Vegan Handbook, a $20 value! (U.S. addresses only)

If you choose to join by mail, subscriptions should be directed to:
The Vegetarian Resource Group
PO Box 1463
Dept. IN
Baltimore, MD 21203
Phone: (410) 366-8343
Fax: (410) 366-8804
E-mail: vrg@vrg.org

8) RECIPE: Microwave Lasagna

(The following recipe appears in Vegan Microwave Cookbook by Chef Nancy Berkoff, R.D.)

Serves 6

1 pound firm tofu, crumbled (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped drained (saving 1/2 cup juice)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1-3/4 cups soft tofu
1/2 cup grated vegan soy cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 no-cook lasagna noodles (see note)
1-3/4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated vegan soy cheese

Combine firm tofu, onion, and garlic in a 2-quart casserole and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until the onion is just tender. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano, and basil. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Stir.

In a medium bowl, combine soft tofu, 1/2 cup soy cheese, reserved tomato juice, and black pepper, and mix until combined. In a microwave casserole, layer 1/3 of the noodles, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the tofu mixture. Repeat two more times. Top with 2 cups grated soy cheese. Microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Note: If no-cook lasagna noodles are not available, microwave regular lasagna noodles before beginning to prepare lasagna. Place 2 teaspoons oil and 5 cups hot tap water into a 12x8-inch or 9x9-inch microwave casserole. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes or until water boils. Uncover and add noodles. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes or until noodles are al dente (tender, but firm). Rinse well under cold water and allow noodles to drain on paper towels.

Total Calories Per Serving: 257
Total Fat as % of Daily Value: 7%
Protein: 12 gm
Fat: 5 gm
Carbohydrates: 43 gm
Calcium: 134 mg
Iron: 4 mg
Sodium: 452 mg
Dietary fiber: 4 gm

9) Upcoming Vegetarian Events and Conferences



On September 12-14, 2003, the Toronto Vegetarian Association will host the 19th Annual Vegetarian Food Fair at the York Quay Centre at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. The event will feature: cooking demonstrations, a vegetarian trade show, free vegetarian food samples, workshops and seminars, and children's musical entertainment. Speakers will include: workshop leader Nimisha Raha, Pat Venditti and Holly Penfound of Greenpeace, humane educator Rae Sikora, author Carol J. Adams, and many more. All venues are wheelchair accessible. Admission is free.

For more information visit http://www.veg.ca/foodfair, e-mail foodfair@veg.ca, or call (416) 544-8891.



On Saturday, September 27, 2003 Voices for Animals will hold the 7th Annual Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival in Lee Park. Attendees will encounter restaurant booths; free vegan food samples; healthy living exhibitors; and vegetarian, animal rights, environmental, and peace organizations. Activities will include: a "Fun-Raiser" for the Spay/Neuter Project of Voices of Animals, dog and cat adoption fair, activities for children, and live music. Admission is free.

For more information visit http://www.cvillevegfest.org, e-mail cvillevegfest@aol.org, or call (434) 823-2011.



On October 3-5, 2003, the Culture and Animals Foundation will host the 18th Annual International Compassionate Living Festival at the Clarion Hotel (Crabtree) in Raleigh, NC. Speakers will include, Michael Greger, M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., Kim Stallwood, Paul Shapiro, and Jim Harris. The Total Package, including admission to all lectures and meals, is $80 for CAF members and $90 for non-members. Admission to lectures for seniors and students is free. Conference reservations must be made by September 26.

For more information visit http://www.cultureandanimals.org, email njregan@nc.rr.com, or call (919) 782-6464.



On October 4-5, 2003, PETA will hold Helping Animals 101 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, AL. Helping Animals 101 is PETA's crash course in making the world a better place for animals. Attendees will learn from seminars on topics such as improving their local shelter, fighting for anti-chaining and spay/neuter legislation, cruelty-free shopping, starting their own group, and effective techniques for dealing with local media.

For more information, visit http://www.helpinganimals101.org, e-mail sarahw@peta.org, or call (757) 622-7382.



The 15th annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off is being held this year in Houston, TX on Sunday, October 5, 2003, from noon to 4 p.m. The cook-off began in 1989 when Shirley Wilkes-Johnson got together with the leaders of four vegetarian societies throughout the state, thus forming the Lone Star Vegetarian Network. Its mission is to show people that vegetarianism isn't strange and can involve something as familiar and traditional as homemade chili. In the process, we can meet lots of other vegetarians and vegans and have a great time tasting a delicious variety of vegan chili. If you are interested in attending as a cook or a taster, please see the website http://www.LSVN.org for more information, or call (713) 560-9073.



On Saturday, October 18, 2003, the Boston Vegetarian Society presents the Eighth Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Boston, MA. The event brings together exhibitors of vegetarian natural foods from across the country. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about new veg products, talk to food producers, enjoy speakers, cooking demos, restaurants, educational exhibits, children's activities, and exhibitors of products and services that support a vegetarian way of life. Admission and parking are free.

For more information visit http://www.bostonveg.org/foodfest/, email foodfest@bostonveg.org, or call (617) 424-8846



On Sunday, November 9, 2003, the San Francisco SPCA, the Marin Humane Society, and the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA are sponsoring the 2003 Veggie Cook-off from noon to 3 p.m. at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, CA. The Veggie Cook-Off is a food and beverage competition, in which professional chefs from area restaurants compete along side amateur cooks for prizes and recognition. Attendees will be able to sample food from the competition, as well as from commercial vegetarian vendors. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Animal Place Sanctuary in Vacaville, CA.

For more information e-mail Kim Gardner at kim@animalrelatedcommunications.com or call (916) 488-3991


10) Job Opportunities and Internships Available


Volunteer needed to help update our Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. We have about two full days of phone calls to restaurants around the country. The calls can be made over a two-week period, and can be split up among a few volunteers. If you can volunteer to help with this project, please e-mail Keryl at vrg@vrg.org.


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 toward journalism, English, and nutrition degrees. Business majors can obtain experience related to the business aspects of a non-profit 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 The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; vrg@vrg.org.


Our health professionals, activists, and educators work with businesses and individuals to bring about healthful 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 print magazine, is a benefit of membership in The VRG. (For more information, please see the Vegetarian Journal online.)

If you would like to make a donation, become a member, volunteer, or find out more about The VRG, contact us at:

The Vegetarian Resource Group
P.O. Box 1463
Baltimore, MD 21203
Phone: (410) 366-8343
Fax: (410) 366-8804
E-mail: vrg@vrg.org
Website: http://www.vrg.org
Donate: https://www.givedirect.org/donate/?Action=GC&CID=1561

The contents of this newsletter, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.


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!

If you are a new subscriber, you might enjoy reading past issues of VRG News online at http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/index.htm.

If you wish to cancel your subscription to VRG-NEWS, send an e-mail message to listserv@listserv.aol.com with the following message: SIGNOFF VRG-NEWS

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Contents of VRG-NEWS are copyright 2003 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.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.

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       Last Updated
       Sept 30, 2003

The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

Web site questions or comments? Please email vrg@vrg.org.