Callie Showalter’s Internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group

By
Callie Showalter, VRG Intern

Throughout
the four years I’ve been vegan, I’ve looked for ways to advocate for the cause
and help spread information on vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. When I
discovered the chance to intern virtually for The Vegetarian Resource Group, I
was very interested. I saw it as an opportunity to improve my writing skills,
learn more about vegan nutrition, and get more involved with the vegan
community online.

     Doing this internship helped me with more
general life-skills, such as time-management, scheduling, and communication. I
had to schedule out my summer of internship projects, such as writing articles,
preparing recipes, helping with vegan food reviews, and writing up blurbs for
vegan restaurants. I planned my projects around holidays, weekends, and learned
to allow for turnaround time. Doing everything virtually also allowed me to
brush up on some computer skills and email etiquette.

     One of my first assignments was to write a
review of a local restaurant. I picked a restaurant that is a staple in my
community, and ordered one of their many vegan options. The food was delicious
and it felt very rewarding to write a positive review of one of my favorite
restaurants. After making a few edits, the review was approved to be added to
the blog. However small, it felt important that I was able to add my voice to
one of many in the online vegetarian community. I loved being able to encourage
others to try vegan food.

     Following the review, I began an article
on the vegan foods enjoyed by the non-vegetarian friends of other VRG interns.
I liked reaching out to the other interns, because I don’t know very many vegan
people, and it was interesting to have conversations with them. It was also
slightly surprising hearing that so many of them had trouble with access to
vegan foods in their lives. I’ve been very lucky to have access to affordable
staples like produce, nuts, and grains; as well as vegan replacements like
dairy-free cheeses. And, even for the interns who did have access to vegan
alternatives, most of them stated that their friends rarely tried vegan
alternatives. Writing the article drove me to learn more about improving
accessibility to vegan-friendly foods. Because I work for a grocery store owned
by a large national chain, I decided to inquire about the vegan products that
are sold in other locations across the country. I hope to see if I can possibly
improve others accessibility to veg-friendly products across the United States.
Moments like that one—moments where my projects would spark my curiosity and make
me want to change things—those were some of the best parts of my internship.

     Since going vegan, I’ve greatly improved
on my cooking and baking skills. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have cooked
quite often and have come to love doing it. I got several opportunities to cook
as part of my intern projects. One of them was writing for Veggie Bits, the
vegan product review portion of the Vegetarian
Journal
. The VRG sent me a couple different vegan products to test and
review. They were unique items I normally would not have picked up myself at
the grocery store, and I enjoyed trying both of them. Though it was a slight challenge
to try and write the perfect review, I felt that it helped me enhance my
writing skills. I also tapped into my creative side to develop two different
vegan recipes for the VRG blog. I have plans to write my own vegan cookbook someday,
and I loved getting the chance to write my own recipes and have them be published
online. I experimented with unique flavor combinations and stepped outside of
my usual cooking comfort zone.

     Ultimately, my VRG internship was
beneficial to me in so many ways. I ending up learning so much about advocating
for veganism, and I’m excited to apply my knowledge when working on future
projects in my community. I also am grateful to have improved writing and
communication skills for college, and to have behind-the-scenes information
about how a nonprofit works. I’m excited to see where my new knowledge and
skill set take me.

For
more information about Vegetarian Resource Group internships, see https://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

To
support The Vegetarian Resource Group internships, donate at www.vrg.org/donate

Or
join The Vegetarian Resource Group at  https://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php