By Shantika Bhat, VRG Intern

In the midst of the pandemic and isolation, I was looking
for something new to dive into. I was applying for scholarships, stumbled upon The
Vegetarian Resource Group, and was offered the opportunity to be an intern. I
was excited to try something new and develop new networking connections. I also
had many goals in my mind including learning to write better, which I knew I
could accomplish by interning. I am extremely thankful for my time at The
Vegetarian Resource Group. I learned much valuable writing, interviewing, and
recipe developing skills. I appreciated how this internship was able to use my
passions for science, ethics, and diet and apply them to the articles I wrote
over my time.

My first topics for articles were about food and
restaurants. I did a restaurant review on Gangster Vegan Organics and got to
discover a great vegan place in my city of Baltimore, Maryland. I wrote two
vegan recipes about dishes that I make frequently: Dal Fry and Open Tofu
Sandwich. These were really fun to develop and write-up because I love to cook
and seeing people try to prepare my dishes gives me a sense of fulfillment. My
new goal is to try to continue writing up recipes I prepare so that I can
always look back at the dishes I recreated and replicate them. Also, I helped
to write entries for the VRG online USA/Canada restaurant guide. I was able to
continue practicing my writing skills but also learn how to produce concise
information. It was amazing to get to learn about a variety of vegan
restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada.

I helped to review two condiments for the Veggie Bits
column in Vegetarian Journal: True
Made Foods’ Veggie Ketchup and Mighty Sesame Harissa’s Tahini. It was really
fun learning how to describe condiments to the fitted audience. I loved
learning about these two condiments and making food with them. I challenged
myself to incorporate them into my own cooking as well.

I wrote a scientific article review about the correlation
between different diets and strokes. I had a good time connecting with Dr. Reed
Mangels, as well as learning the ways to read an article and pick out important
information. I plan to use these skills when I go off to Johns Hopkins
University in the upcoming fall.

Later I started to interview professionals about their
careers and opinions about topics such as the medical field, patient care,
advising, and diets. I learned a lot of skills doing these projects because I
had to brainstorm questions and write-up what I learned from the answers. One
lesson I learned from interviews is that the answer and topics you expect to
write about may not always be what you get and so you have to be flexible with
what direction the interview goes. I interviewed Dr. Lavine (a retired
ophthalmologist) about the promotion of healthy diets and the medical system. I
also interviewed Cathy Conway (a registered dietitian who works with
developmentally disabled adults) about patient-centered care. It was really
amazing connecting to these professionals and learning something new.

I worked with another intern on writing an Intern Catch-Up
for the VRG’s upcoming 40th anniversary in 2022. It was challenging trying to
find people and their contact information but, I had a lot of fun collaborating
with my peers. I received a lot of advice from the past interns, which was nice
as well.

One of the last pieces I wrote was a blog post about the
high school ethics bowl in which I participated. The topic was factory farming
or also known as a concentrated animal feeding operation. I discovered how
different terms can be biased. I hope people can learn about bias and check the
terms they use and what they mean to people with different points of view.

Overall, I learned a lot about writing and making
connections as an interviewer. I plan to continue to stay connected to The
Vegetarian Resource Group and hopefully attend in-person events in the future.

Shantika is an entering student at Johns Hopkins

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