USF no longer in the run for most vegan friendly college

Despite getting named the fifth most vegan and vegetarian friendly school in the nation for 2009, this year USF was knocked out of PETA2’s online competition in the first round.

The competition, which started with 32 colleges, will be determined by five rounds of online voting on PETA2’s website. Voting for round one was announced Oct. 18.

Despite USF’s quick exit from the competition, Jenna Burns, marketing manager of USF Dining Services, said the University’s nomination alone is an honor.

“The nomination was made based on both the quality and quantity of vegan options available to students on campus, as well as feedback from students on the receptiveness and creativity of our dining staff,” she said. “Although USF did not make it into the sweet 16 (the second round), we have already beaten out hundreds of other schools that didn’t even make the first round, which is something to be very proud of. Simply being nominated is an honor for USF Dining.”

Kristie Almeida, a junior majoring in political science and president of USF’s Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK), said the University could have done better in the competition if it had been more publicized.

“I think last year there was a lot more advertising,” she said. “In (2009), SPEAK really started talking to the school about more food options on campus. I think we strongly advertised (the competition) before.”

Even though USF will not progress in the competition, Kristi Allison, vice president of SPEAK, said she’s happy with the vegan options available on USF’s menu, especially those in Juniper -Poplar’s dining hall.

“I’m really impressed with the vegan options they have on campus,” said Allison, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy. “There are so many vegan options.”

The PETA2 website includes a brief description of USF Dining’s vegan options, which include black bean burgers with avocado-corn relish, Bombay Garden spring rolls and vegan jambalaya.

But Burns said those menu items are only a taste of what USF Dining has to offer.

“USF Dining currently offers numerous vegan and vegetarian options,” she said. “All three of our dining halls (Fresh Food Company, Bulls Den Caf and Juniper Dining) offer vegan/vegetarian-friendly salad bars, fresh fruit, desserts, vegan mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, at least one vegetarian soup daily, lactose-free (vegan) ice cream and make-your-own waffle stations.”

Even more options will be available to students once the University’s newest dining hall, the Southeast Student Dining Facility, opens in July 2011 near the Sun Dome.

“The fourth dining hall will serve vegetarian/vegan, healthy, low calorie and low fat items, as well as serve as a training table (of healthy food) for athletes,” Burns said. “USF Dining is always expanding their offerings of vegan/vegetarian options and are continually adding options based on suggestions from the USF community.”

Voting for round two of the competition ends today. The winner of this year’s competition will be announced Nov. 19 and will receive the title of PETA2’s “Most Vegetarian-Friendly College” – an honor Almedia believes USF has the potential to win with student involvement.

“USF usually makes it into the first round of voting,” she said. “Then, it’s just a matter of getting students out to vote.”