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Vegetarians on the BGSU Campus

The vegetarian population in the United States is growing.

A record-number 7.3 million people are now following a vegetarian-based diet, according to a study conducted by the Vegetarian Times magazine, and Bowling Green State University students, faculty and dining services are making room for the steadily growing vegetarian and vegan demographic.

BGSU Dining Services insight. Blachowski-Dreyer by aleshag

“I think that [the rise of vegetarianism] goes hand-in-hand with the rise of the obesity epidemic,” said Daria Blachowski-Dreyer, assistant director of operations and wellness for University Dining Services. “People are looking for alternatives, whatever that alternative might be.”

Split Pea Soup

An image from the Daily Green website, from "The Vegan Table."

Blachowski-Dreyer also works with the University’s vegetarian/vegan club to advocate options and variety in on-campus dining.

“We try to work in all of our units where if you walk up to a station, there is always a vegetarian option,” she said. “We have garden burgers on request. If we have two soups, one of them is always vegan or vegetarian. We offer plant proteins on our salad bars so that people have options.”

The desire to accommodate vegetarians extends off campus. Squeaker’s vegan cafe and health food store is located downtown.

Local Vegan Cafe Heather Andre by aleshag


Walk into the back door of Squeaker's, for delicious food.

“We offer a wide selection of vegan lunches and dinners,” said Heather Andre, the owner of Squeaker’s. “I try to offer a wide variety of foods for vegans, vegetarians and people who just want to eat healthier. People are starting to realize that it’s a much healthier lifestyle.”

Andre offers vegan specialties, from bagels to lemon cupcakes.

“I try to keep my prices down so people can afford it,” Andre said. “Everybody can afford to come here, even if you’re on a limited budget … my whole goal behind this is to save animals. This is more than just a business; it’s a cause.”

Along with the health trend, 54 percent of vegetarians follow a vegetarian diet based on animal welfare, according to the Vegetarian Times.

It’s all about animal rights. Sam Kirsch by aleshag

“[Being vegetarian] is helping me ethically and morally,” said sophomore Sam Kirsch, the president and founder of Saving Animals from Violence and Exploitation. “I’m doing what I believe is right, and I’m not eating animals because I care about animals, and I’m fighting for animals. Everything has always been about animals for me.”


Smokey is one of Sam's best animal friends.

SAVE raised more than $200 for “Adopt a Horse” and sponsored “Adopt a Turkey” in the student Union before Thanksgiving with free samples of Tofurky, a tofu-based “lunchmeat” product.  They have currently raised money for bunnies during Easter.

“I think there is more of a trend toward limiting our meat intake,” she said. “Even if people don’t give it up entirely, it’s definitely a good thing because every little bit counts. Every little bit of animal we don’t eat, that’s an animal that gets to live. And that’s a good push, a good thing to fight for.”


Considering meat-eaters and those who are open to trying new food, or “flexitarians,” Blachowski-Dreyer stresses the importance of quality, proportion control, improved preparation and hiding the “healthiness factor” beneath exceptional taste.

“Sometimes people are afraid when you just hand something to them and say, ‘this is vegetarian; it’s good for you,'” she said. “Sadly vegetables have a bad connotation. Just tell them, ‘here’s a chili.’ Did I tell you if it’s a beef chili, a turkey chili, a vegetarian chili? It’s more of a textual thing, and if you’re using the proper seasoning and they can’t tell, I’m all for it.”

Do we really need more variety?

While some think vegetarian interests are represented in the dining halls, others wish for more variety.

“If we’re fighting for awareness on this issue, this vegetarian cause, how can we fight for something when we don’t even have anything to back ourselves up with?” Kirsch said. “People say, ‘well I have meal plan money, so I’m going to buy meat.’ If there were more vegetarian options on campus, more people would be persuaded not to eat meat as much.”

For dining services, it is not always easy to incorporate a mainly vegetarian-based menu.

A difficult choice.

“Sadly, cheese is a universal binder, so we struggle with our vegetarian options for people who don’t want that much cheese,” Blachowski-Dreyer said. “From a production standpoint, it’s a difficult thing.”

“We try to bring awareness,” Blachowski-Dreyer said. “Some people have not been exposed to it. We get students to see this isn’t what they think it.”

Thinking about animals

Filed under: Vegan Videos — aleshag at 2:52 pm on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some people are vegetarian because they want to get the health benefits. Some people don’t like to eat animals. For Bowling Green State University sophomore, vegetarian and animal rights activist both aspects are important.

“[Being vegetarian] is helping me ethically and morally,” according to Kirsch, the president and founder of Saving Animals from Violence and Exploitation. “I’m doing what I believe is right, and I’m not eating animals because I care about animals, and I’m fighting for animals. Everything has always been about animals for me.”

In the following video, Sam Kirsch gives insight into how she became vegetarian. She talks about her group, SAVE, Saving Animals from Violence and Exploitation, and her views about ethics and VegNews.

Which is your favorite BG restaurant?

Filed under: Poll — aleshag at 1:34 pm on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A new poll is up!  Vote on which restaurant is your favorite.  My personal favorite is Squeaker’s and Happy Badger.  Wouldn’t an avocado bagel be tasty right about now?

Unsure where to find vegan restaurants?  Check out a map here.

Final Apology

Filed under: Lies — aleshag at 12:16 pm on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Apology

Indeed, four days later, VegNews released another apology , much shorter than the original, stating that they have completely changed their policy and will never feature photographs of meat as vegan meat ever again.  Better late than never, but a second apology doesn’t erase what they so adamantly stated in the first.

According to Brad Philips, on the blog “Mr. Media Training,” media contact for VegNews, Colleen Holland, has a lot to learn about crisis communications.

“Colleen returned my call this afternoon, and we spoke for 15 minutes,” he said.  “She said they were in such emotional shock when this story hit, that it took a couple of days to lose any hint of defensiveness and align their response with their readers. She said that they had never had crisis communications training and didn’t reach out to an external crisis pro, which likely prolonged the crisis.”

Maybe it’s time to not only invest in a chef (or someone!) to make vegan food for photos, but also a public relations professional who knows what the heck they are doing.

In the meantime, in the wake of the Photogate Scandal , VegNews can still save money, by using a new vegan stock website that will feature photos of vegan food.  No more photo-shopping meat for them!

A Lesson in Crisis Communications

Online pictures of vegan ribs.

One vegan blogger writes, “First, some Barbequed Seitan Rib z from Fatfree Vegan. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew we had to try it- and am I glad that we did! Words can not express how fabulous these are- please make some right now!”

These vegan ribs to the right are just one example of vegan pictures available online. Photo by: Bazu.  Mouth watering pictures of vegan ribs, and other imitation meat can be found by simply searching under googleimages. It’s as easy as ensuring that the images are properly cited, and checking Creative Commons to find out if the photo is legally usable.

Did the letter work?

As a public relations major, I have seen the anxiety an organization experiences when they undergo a crisis.  When the public perceives something the company has done as negative, a full out crisis communications plan goes into effect.

Some plans are tasteful.  VegNews’ plan was not.  Their reaction letter leaves something to be desired.

Vegan Nutritionista offers a second draft of the letter VegNews initially released.  In their recommendation letter, instead of focusing on VegNews, they spend more time addressing the audience and changing their policy.

“Over the years, our vegan world has been graced with countless vegan bloggers, website owners, and cookbook writers who produce beautiful pictures of vegan recipes, and on occasion we have commissioned a few of them to produce recipes and photos for the magazine. However, over those years, we never stopped to reconsider our old stock photo policy,” Vegan Nutritionista recommended.

They continue, “Your overwhelming concern has helped us to realize this was wrong, and has given us reason to reconsider our policies. Going forward, we will be seriously considering your suggestions as to alternatives to non-vegan stock photography.”

Sometimes apologizing profusely is not the right way to go.  In this case, a dose of humility would truly have helped readers forgive VegNews.

See their final apology in the next segment.

VegNews Misleads Readers by using Meat Photos

Filed under: Lies — aleshag at 4:14 pm on Sunday, April 24, 2011  Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Vegan. Eat. Think. Thrive.” -VegNews motto

To many vegan bloggers, VegNews stepped away from their motto when they used countless pictures of meat that were photo-shopped to look like vegan food, like seitan, in print and online photographs.


Who began to question the ribs photo in the edition of VegNews this month? A blogger, who else?

“It’s sad, then, that the pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT! Veg News has written tens (possibly hundreds) of articles extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle, while purchasing rock-bottom priced stock photos of MEAT, EGGS, DAIRY and other completely non-vegan things,” according to”

Quarrygirl said most of the pictures of “vegan hot dogs,” “meatball hamburgers,” and “chicken stew” looked exactly like photos of the same dish, but with meat, on

Through the eyes of VegNews

On April 14, 2011, VegNews released a letter to faithful VegNews readers asking forgiveness, but bringing up some touchy issues.  Instead of apologizing and reaching out to those readers who are offended by VegNews’ ethics, they basically informed readers that they are they saddened by the dialogue instigated by the scandal and tried to improve their image by listing their accomplishments.  Finally, they said, sorry we’re broke, we can’t afford to take vegan pictures.

Really.  So, they can’t afford ethics either?

“In those rare times that we use an image that isn’t vegan, our entire (vegan) staff weighs in on whether or not it’s appropriate. It is industry standard to use stock photography in magazines—and, sadly, there are very few specifically vegan images offered by stock companies,” stated VegNews in their letter.

Not only do they specify that they are just like every other industry, but they overlooked the fact that pictures of vegan ribs are everywhere online.

See vegan ribs pictures in the next post.

An interview with a vegan business owner

Filed under: Interviews — aleshag at 11:59 am on Friday, April 22, 2011

Heather Andre, owner of Squeaker’s a vegan restaurant and health food store in Bowling Green, Ohio, has a lot to say about the economics of running a vegan business. In the linked interview, she talks about college students and running a business in a small town. Happy listening!

Veganomics, an interview with Heather Andre by aleshag

Veg-Friendly Places to Eat

Filed under: Vegan Map — aleshag at 12:06 am on Monday, April 11, 2011  Tagged , , , ,

There are surprisingly a great deal of vegan-friendly restaurants in Bowling Green, Ohio.  Who would have thought?

And they don’t only offer salads.  Many of these restaurants serve new, unique dishes that tempt the palate and start conversations.  The following map outlines a few of the more popular vegan stops in BG.  Please let me know if there are any others worthy of mention!

The different colors signify how “vegan” the restaurant is, how many adjustments you have to make to the food, etc.

Red: Very vegan
Pink: More vegan (lots of veggies)
Purple: Slightly vegan (need for some adjustments)
Light blue: Eh, could be better (but it’s a start!)
Dark blue: Just do your best with what you have.

If you have tried any of these restaurants, I would love to hear what you think.

View Veg-Friendly in a larger map

Nifty, neat, weekly poll!

Filed under: Poll — aleshag at 2:20 pm on Friday, April 1, 2011  Tagged ,

Each week, I will have a poll about some aspect of being vegan.

This week’s poll is about what type of food you would find the most difficult to give up if you became vegan.  If you are already vegan, vote about which food was the hardest for you to give up!


How to be vegan (and eat chocolate too)

Filed under: Substitutes — aleshag at 2:17 pm on Friday, April 1, 2011  Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is it vegan?

The question comes up constantly, for those who are beginning to make the change towards the vegan lifestyle.  According to the blog, “Is it Vegan?” by Brian and Melissa, a vegan and a vegetarian, any step in the direction of a vegan diet is a good one.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Rather than a huge debate about the tiny amounts of casein in some soy cheeses, why not expand the common understanding of what it truly is to be vegan by sharing delicious recipes?

But, before some people get to the point where they can truly embrace vegan meals, the big question is:

Can I still eat delicious food??  Can I still have dairy-like products in my life?

There are countless substitutes for dairy products, chocolate and sweets…the following treats make it easier to transition to being vegan.

  • Tofutti Cutie Ice Cream: These are basically ice cream bars, with chocolate chips, that are just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Rice Dream Chocolate Bars: These bars are very similar to chocolate, but without the dairy.
  • Vegan Gourmet Cheese: The cheese actually melts, which makes it crucial for lasagna or grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Veganaise : This is a life-saving substitute, if mayonnaise is an important part of existence.  If not, Veganaise makes an excellent potato salad.

These products may be a little pricey, but sometimes there’s no way to make a good grilled cheese sandwich with hummus.

Which vegan products could you never live without?  I want to know which products save your life…(or at least your urgent need for chocolate)


There are 47 specialized vegan/ vegetarian restaurants in the New York City Metro Area alone, according to SuperVegan, a vegan blog, directory and restaurant guide.  In the small college town of Bowling Green, Ohio, there is only one.

“It’s definitely more difficult [to function in the business economy],  but the economy hasn’t affected everybody,” said Heather Andre, owner of Squeaker’s vegan cafe and health food store.  “We’re still doing okay, but we have seen lower sales.  This year, in the past few months, sales are down.”


Squeaker's is located beside Pisanello's Pizza and the Wood County Library

Vegan businesses have their fair share of hardships, but when you add a small town location to the mix, it is difficult to stay afloat and make a profit.

College kids, wealthy..two things you never find in the same sentence

Andre further explained the importance of price competition to keep college students interested in buying vegan products, like vitamins, which are currently all 25 percent lower than the original price.

“Generally in a college town you have to be very price-competitive, so I can’t have prices like they would have in New York City.  College students in general don’t have a lot of money, so if I want to attract them, we definitely have to keep our prices down.”

With lower prices, the options for improvement become limited.

“It [price cuts] definitely affects how I run the business, because with less money there are fewer improvements that would be made that are needed right now that I can’t make because I don’t have the income coming in.”

Squeaker’s impact

Despite Andre’s desire to make improvements, Lia Ricci-Sons, owner of Asherah’s Garden, a holistic health and education center located in the space joined to Squeaker’s, sees the importance of being vegan in a healthy lifestyle and the necessity of Squeaker’s business.

Ricci-Sons said, “[Being vegan] is a part of holistic health, and we have a wonderful, symbiotic relationship with Squeaker’s.”

Samantha Fletcher, three year Squeaker’s employee, plans to raise her child to be vegan.  She is due in three weeks, and before she runs out the door to stock up on carrots and avocados, she said her favorite items to make are smoothies, but she loves to bake too.

Two questions about market trends and new vegan businesses

  • Do you think there is more of a market for vegan products, because more people are becoming interested in a diet that lines up with vegetarian vegan?

“It seems with the change in the economy there is less interest, actually, because people see this food as being more expensive, but it’s really not,” Andre said.  “You know how everyone is focusing on going green and recycling.  Going vegan is the biggest thing, most important thing you could do for the environment, but changing your diet is a difficult thing for most people.”

  • Do you have any recommendations for up and coming vegan businesses?

“I wouldn’t recommend [starting] it at this time, in this economy,” Andre said.  “It would be a struggle.  In this part of the country it still hasn’t caught on as well as the West Coast, like California or in certain areas of the country where there are vegetarian restaurants everywhere

Michelle at Squeaker's

Employee, Michelle, carries a tray laden with vegan soup, salad and sandwiches.e

Fresh ideas and improvement

Squeaker’s will have a new owner in the near future.  Right now there is nothing final, but Andre has a buyer that she hopes will keep to the vegan standards of Squeakers.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said.  “The store has a lot of potential.  That’s what I”m hoping, for a new person to come in and take over with fresh ideas.”

Job opportunity!

Hiring new employees is fundamental for any business, and Squeakers is no different.

Until the new owner takes over, Andre is looking for a dedicated vegan employee to work 20 to 30 hours per week preparing vegan food and selling vegan products.  Contact Heather Andre at (419) 354-7000 for more information.

Got Milk?

Filed under: Non-Dairy Milk — aleshag at 11:43 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2011  Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Cows grazing

Why get milk from cows when almonds, rice andcoconut milk taste so much better?

(Warning: the following contains possibly disturbing, yet important information from

According to Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), “cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. ”

PETA further explains, “After their calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, factory farmers force cows to produce about 10 times as much milk as they would naturally.”

Do you really want those hormones in your system?

“Give us a freaking break!  Remember what milk is for.  It’s designed to fatten up baby cows,” said authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin in their New York Times Bestseller, “Skinny Bitch.”

So, instead of debating the benefits of fat free, skim, one percent, two percent or whole milk, let’s explore the world of non-dairy milk, including rice, soy, almond, hemp and coconut milk.


Rice Milk

On the shelves.

  1. Rice milk is very lightlysweetened
  2. Contains more carbohydrates
  3. Lacks protein and vitamins or minerals, unless fortified
  4. Very little natural fat
  5. The most watery of the non-dairy milk
  6. Very light flavor


Soy milk

photo by:

  1. Most popular and controversial
  2. Creamier than rice milk
  3. Contains as much protein as regular milk, and is often fortified with vitamins
  4. Most soy beans produced in the United States are genetically modified.
  5. Best to go with organic soymilk


Look for more info about non-dairy milk  on the next installment of “Got Milk?”  I want to know what you think.  Do you prefer soy or rice milk?  And what about the health ramifications of soy?  Is it just chatter, or is there some truth to the debate?

Until then, pour whichever non-dairy milk you prefer on your Koala Crisps and enjoy.

Health is more than what you eat.

Filed under: Overall Health — aleshag at 1:34 am on Tuesday, March 8, 2011  Tagged , ,

Dancing can be considered part of healthy living!

There are countless ways to define health.  Some people include diet and exercise.  Some only include how they feel at the present moment.  Some add emotional health to the mix.

Some combine all of these elements.  Myo-fit, a pain management workshop in downtown Bowling Green, Ohio believes in the importance of diet, exercise, emotional health and more to the overall health of each person.  Their motto, “We champion the whole person,” defines exactly how they believe health should be viewed, as something holistic without as much focus on the use of medicine.

Instead, after the initial assessment, each muscle gets the opportunity to relax during an instructional massage, while the licensed masseuse examines each aspect of life as an  important indicator of health.  Often, you don’t even realize that you are inflicting pain on your body through mindless acts you carry out every day!

Life can get stressful.  As a server and a student, I am constantly lifting my shoulders when I walk.  I also have headaches.  Well in this case, cause and effect seems to be the logical fit.  Now that I am more aware of the effects of my posture, I can adjust and be on my way to fewer headaches.

Here are a few tips to maintain overall health:

  • Get rest and relaxation
  • Make sure you are taking vitamins in the morning and not at night, as they exponentially increase energy
  • Sip water throughout the day to hydrate your body
  • Make sure your head is level on the pillow when you sleep
  • Try not to chew gum as much, use mints to freshen your mouth (Your mouth gets enough exercise chewing and talking!)
  • When you are working, make sure to take 20 second breaks every 20 minutes.

So, how do you define health?


Vegan cake, pizza and pumpkin-loving squirrels.

Filed under: Slideshow — aleshag at 11:16 pm on Monday, March 7, 2011  Tagged , , , , ,

Bon appetiti.  These pictures are all centered around hearty food, everything from fall to winter fare.  There is so much delicious food and happy times to be had in the vegan world…Also, if anyone has had experience with squirrels who attack pumpkins (or anything else for that matter) let me know!


A Tasty Snack

Filed under: Recipes — aleshag at 12:53 am on Monday, February 28, 2011  Tagged , ,

These slightly sweet cakes are reminicent of cornmeal cakes.

Yesterday I was in the mood for pancakes, big fluffy pancakes.  Instead of splurging on heavy flour-based pancakes, I took a different route.  You may have tried potato latkes before.  Well these are similar, except lighter and healthier.  Sweet potato and carrot pancakes.  Who would have thought something so obviously good-for-you could taste good as well?  I am including the recipe below, which takes about 30 minutes overall to prepare and make.  It’s a perfect transitional food between winter and spring, because it’s light yet contains grounding winter vegetables, the sweet potatoes.

These pancakes are perfect with applesauce, maple syrup or even a touch of sea salt!


2 tablespoons ground golden flax seeds, 1 large onion, 3 carrots (or parsnips) peeled, 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1/2 cup cornmeal, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and grapeseed oil for frying

Soak ground flax seeds for 10 minutes in a bowl with 1/2 cup water.

Grate the onion, carrots and sweet potatoes.  Place grated vegetables in large bowl.  Add mirin and soaked flax. Sprinkle with cornmeal, salt and pepper to taste and combine. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands!)

Heat skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and add enough grapeseed  oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Again using your hands scoop out potato mixture, form into small balls, place in skillet and press flat with spatula to form pancakes.  Fry pancakes two to three minutes (I found it took about 5 minutes on each side) on each side until golden brown and crisp. Remove from skillet and keep in warm oven while frying remaining batches, adding oil to skillet as needed. Serve hot and enjoy!

(This recipe was taken from the amazing cookbook “Clean Food,” by Terry Walters,  I highly recommend it if you are interested in wholesome seasonal eating.)

This is where I want to be…

Filed under: Vegan Videos — aleshag at 8:13 pm on Sunday, February 20, 2011

This is such a great example of how exotic vegan food can be.  Vegan eating can be simple and wholesome, but there is also great variety to make your mouth water!  So maybe the video is a little grainy, but it shows how much fun it can be to make a vegan masterpiece that is just as delicious as non vegan food.  I also love the atmosphere and setting of the video.  Hawaii.  Where else would you rather be?

It’s springtime! Almost..

Filed under: Introduction — aleshag at 5:53 pm on Sunday, February 20, 2011
Alesha eating a flower

Enjoying my new "plant-based diet"

The snow is melting, the light breeze is warm, and there are robins everywhere.  It’s spring!  Ok, so I spoke too soon, but as the weather gets warmer, my body begins to crave the return to good, simple, fresh food.

As a vegan, there are soo many options for healthy, delicious food.  There are recipes on websites, in books, restaurants to try…and the list goes on and on.  As we venture into March, my goal is to explore the return from strengthening winter sustenance to refreshing and satisfying spring vegan living.  You can look forward to:

  • recipes,
  • exercise tips
  • ideas for making money and increasing your ability to think big
  • reviews of local restaurants
  • pictures of my own vegan cooking
  • history of veganism
  • current trends
  • ideas for places to shop and eat in Toledo that are vegan-friendly
  • cool products and web sites centered around being vegan

Socially, it’s easy being vegan, despite mainstream perception, because there are so many people who are changing their diet to include more fruits, veggies, legumes, etc and leaving animal byproducts out.  As for present vegans, many people are discussing the benefits of following a plant based diet, wondering if it’s possible to get all the nutrients important for a healthy life.

Basically, I want to share my experiences with vegan living to help people who are thinking about changing their lifestyle to include more variety and health in their diet, as well as give people opportunities to discuss ideas related to veganism and healthy living.   Hopefully, this blog will provide a forum to discuss and better understand what it is to be vegan.  Until then, live it up!

Header by: Diana Castro at Evergreen Elementary: