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USF’s vegetarian services earn spot in contest

Cuisine choices are the driving force behind a new in-state rivalry.

USF and University of Florida are vying to be one of the “Most Vegetarian-Friendly Colleges” in the fourth annual contest sponsored by peta2, a national animal rights group.

It’s the first year USF has been nominated.

“The contest aims to draw attention and highlight the efforts of dining halls that go above and beyond to meet the needs of students looking for healthier and more humane options,” said Ryan Huling, senior college campaign coordinator for peta2.

Nominees were selected based on student feedback and “independent research into the quality as well as the quantity of the vegetarian and vegan options available on campus,” Huling said.

USF’s Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK) teamed up with peta2’s “Meat’s not Green” campaign in February in an effort to provide additional vegan options on campus.

Almost 3,000 students signed petitions in support of the campaign, said Colleen Mulcahey, the faculty adviser for SPEAK.

“You have to identify that there’s a need, and then you have to try to meet those needs,” she said.

Student support of the petition caught the attention of peta2’s directors, who chose to include USF in the contest.

USF Dining Services provides healthier and vegan-friendly food options like vegetarian sausage, vegan black bean soup and vegan soft-serve ice cream, Huling said.

The top 10 schools in the U.S. will get certificates to hang on the walls of every dining hall on campus.

“Students will know that their feedback is being listened to,” Huling said, “and that the school is being praised for their efforts to provide delicious and cruelty-free cuisine.”

The first round of voting ends Nov. 2, and the final results will be posted on the Web site Nov. 23.