CORRECTION: The print version of this story had the incorrect link for the voting website. The online version has been updated with the correct website link.
USF must once again overcome the shadow of the slimey reptile that are the University of Florida Gators.
Not in sports, nor in academics, but in becoming PETA2s most vegan-friendly college in the U.S.
Last year, Gainesville came in second place. This year, USF has been chosen by PETA2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as one of the Top 16 most vegan-friendly college campuses.
The contest pits colleges against each other in a playoff for online votes at, and USF faces UF in the first of four rounds. The winning school will be announced Nov. 15.
Last spring, USF Dining Services began distributing a new vegan dining guide complete with coupons for meat-free eats. Some vegan options introduced at USF were black-bean burgers with cilantro-ginger pineapple, pho tofu soup, farfalle with broccoli and vegan cheese and vegan meatball subs.
We look at both the quantity and quality of the options available on campus and we do this by reviewing dining hall menus and contacting schools for updates, PETAs online marketing manager, Ashley Palmer, said.
PETA relies on feedback from students on each campus through PETA2.com, Facebook and the PETA2 blog. Schools are also monitored on how receptive they are to student suggestions of more animal-friendly options and are visited sporadically throughout the year by members of the PETA2 organization. The combination of elements is the determining factor for deciding which school will come out on top.
The number of students leading the vegan and vegetarian revolution on college campuses across the United States has increased by 50 percent in the last seven years.
Students dont want to support an industry that slaughters millions of animals every year, said Palmer.
Not to mention the negative effect animal slaughterhouses have on the environment, such as hormones going into food, water and being consumed by other animals.
Caroline Ross, a senior majoring in nursing, said not eating meat is a lifestyle choice for her.
I just figured I try to live as compassionately as possible, and my eating shouldnt be an exception to that rule, she said.
Ross became a vegetarian on her own accord, and a few months later began transitioning into a completely vegan lifestyle.
Though she no longer lives on campus and is rarely there due to a hectic nursing school schedule, Ross said the metaphorical hunt for vegan fare was never too difficult.
A couple of years ago, I found it to be pretty easy (when) I lived on campus, she said. The dining hall always had a vegan option, as did the Marshall Center. The Marshall Center even sold vegan cookies for a while.
Students Protecting the Environment and Animals through Knowleadge (SPEAK), an organization on campus has helped bring animal rights awareness and more vegan options to campus through petitions and advocacy.
Last year USF beat Kent state in the first round of the competition but lost in the next round to Ohio University, which took forth place overall.
The winning school will be announced Nov, 15 on the PETA2 website. Students can vote at http://features.peta2.com/vegan-colleges-2012/.