Creating A Vegan World – Laura McGuiness

By Amy Burger, VRG Intern

Laura McGuiness calls her involvement with The Vegetarian
Resource Group “a seminal moment” in her life. She began volunteering with the
organization at age 19, and has written several articles for its blog, website,
and Vegetarian Journal magazine about
topics like baking
with aquafaba
, cooking
seitan-based dishes
, and starting
a school or community garden
.

  
  Laura worked as an intern for
the VRG, which gave her the opportunity to travel to the Animal Rights National
Conference in 2013. In her blog
post
about the experience, Laura wrote, “there was nothing more
exciting than spending my weekend with hundreds of fellow animal rights
advocators who share my same vision…I found it intriguing that so many
different people flew, drove, or rode to this one spot just to meet others and
learn about animal rights.” While at the conference, Laura staffed the VRG
booth that showcased the group’s work, including its many books, and allowed
her to talk to other conference goers.

     Laura’s
internship experience also allowed her to improve her writing abilities, a
hands-on learning experience for her. She says, “I learned how to write press
releases, how to fact check, [and] how to write for a particular audience.” She
also did HTML coding for VRG, which she continues to help with today. The
coding, specifically creating tables, was a challenge. She says, “I learned on
the job for the most part…. I would sit at my desk trying to figure it out for
hours, but now I’m actually quite good at it.”

     Laura knew that
she wanted to become a librarian eventually, so for one project, she worked to digitize
issues of a historic publication, the American Vegetarian and Health Journal, which dates to the mid-1800s. This
proved to be an instructive challenge, as it required her to select a scanner,
find the appropriate software, and ensure that the documents would be
searchable for use, and today, viewers can read fully-digitized copies of the
publication for free online at HathiTrust.

     Laura later went
on to earn her bachelor’s degree in English, and eventually got her master’s
degree in library and information science. She says she “really loved VRG as an
organization because they were (and still are) very concerned with providing
truly factual information,” something that’s important to her, “from an
information professional standpoint.” Today, Laura works in an archive at Los
Alamos National Laboratory and dreams about “one day doing a large
digitization/metadata project for VRG.”

     Laura says of her
experience, “Not only did I have the opportunity to learn a lot about writing
and HTML, I learned a lot of practical skills,” adding that she found the
organization supportive of her goals, and saying her experience inspired her to
“continue to pay it forward.” You can check out Laura’s work online at vrg.org.