Karina Carrillo Juarez said; “My parents are immigrants and worked harder than anyone I know to maintain a roof over my head. Despite all their attempts, we lived in some of the worst parts of Las Vegas. Police sirens and helicopters were my lullabies.”

“I began to learn about veganism through You Tube. I chose to pursue a vegan diet at the end of middle school. When I first became vegan, my doctor was understandably concerned … After a year I took a blood test because I wanted to prove everyone wrong, when she and my mom were impressed by how well I maintained or improved.”

“I have a little sister with severe allergies to milk … Because I was vegan before her dairy allergy became so strong, I’ve been able to make her foods that she can eat and enjoy … My mom has started to use alternatives while cooking to make foods such as pozole, Mexican desserts, enchiladas, and my favorite which is soy ceviche.”

“As I entered high school, I became very overwhelmed. I had been accepted into East Tech, for its notorious culinary program. While I was passionate about Culinary Arts, I also was very scared because I didn’t want to break my values when learning about Culinary … When people started to find out I was vegan, I was constantly made fun of … Rather than lashing out, or letting everything get to me, I used it as motivation to become more confident in who I was … By the middle of freshman year the entirety of my school knew me for being vegan.”

“The hardest part of high school was within the culinary kitchen. At first, my freshman chef was very overwhelmed when finding out I was vegan. He’s had the same curriculum for years and years, but I came in and changed that. I didn’t expect to be treated special, but he didn’t want to make me feel left out. We did collide a couple times, and had some arguments, but with time we learned how to work together. I learned a lot from him, because he was extremely experienced in the Culinary World … Often times he would teach me how to tweak certain recipes so that I could enjoy them alongside the rest of my class. When we began to gain confidence, we would even experiment with different things as we tried to veganize tricky recipes. With time, Chef asked me to teach the class a couple things about being vegan, eating healthy, and avoiding allergens, because he thought it would be useful knowledge for anyone planning to work in the Culinary industry … He even started to create lessons on vegan food for the entire class, not just me … One of my most thrilling moments was when I walked into the culinary refrigerator to search for regular ingredients. What I found was so exciting to me. My heart fluttered a bit, and I rushed out to talk to our chef. Inside a pretty purple box, were twelve containers of soymilk. Within the box there was so much more than soymilk. The school buying this meant I was finally accepted, and that the minds of my teachers were more open to my lifestyle.”

“My senior project was one of my proudest moments in high school … I had been cooking for two days straight. Without any sleep, I arrived to school with nearly 400 servings of baked vegan goods. We were only required to have 200, but I was afraid of running out.“

“I was really nervous to present … Senior celebration day is huge. All the hallways, fishbowls, and banquet halls become filled with senior presentations … Even school district administration, such as the superintendent show up to school.”

“As I began presenting to everyone, I became fearful I was acting “too vegan.” I wanted people to listen to me and not become close minded …  Rather than spending a minute or two talking to me, they’d spend up to twenty minutes …” One culinary teacher “brought professional chefs he had been friends with for decades. He was a little nervous, and wanted to make sure I made a good impression on them. I was nervous too. To my surprise, they became amazed with the alternatives I tried and intrigued by the science I explained … “My food was gone about 45 minutes before presentations ended, and yet people still came to my station … I loved the conversation I had with everyone. They weren’t afraid to contradict me, and so that allowed me to be able to respond and inform them on misconceptions in a kind way…”

The deadline for the next Vegetarian Resource Group scholarship is February 20, 2020. Applicants should be graduating high school in spring of 2020. For details, see

To support additional scholarships and internships, donate at Call (410) 366-8343, or mail a check to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

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