Scouring the Media

DESPITE THE LOSS, USF VEGANS STILL WIN

Posted on: November 23, 2010

By Alissa Jones
Although USF lost momentum in the PETA2 competition to be named the most vegan-friendly college in the country, vegan students are confident that the university has what it takes.
TAMPA–In 2009, USF came in at fifth on the list of the most vegan and vegetarian friendly schools in the nation. This year, however, USF was knocked out of PETA 2’s online competition in the first round.
The competition, based online at PETA2.com, opened with 16 colleges. Students could go online to the competition’s web page, click on their college’s name and see pictures and descriptions of some vegan dishes offered by their university.

USF was in the running with pictures and descriptions of vegan foods from USF Dining, such as black-bean burgers with avocado-corn relish, Bombay garden spring rolls, vegan macaroni and cheese and vegan jambalaya. But those menu items are only a taste of what USF Dining has to offer, according to Jenna Burns, marketing manager of USF Dining Services.

“USF Dining currently offers numerous vegan and vegetarian options,” Burns said. “All three of our dining halls (Fresh Food Company, Bulls Den Café 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.”

The competition, which determined winners based off of votes for each college involved, was run by process of elimination.

Despite USF’s quick exit, Burns said the university’s nomination was honorable.

“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,” Burns said. “Although USF did not make it into the Sweet Sixteen, 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.”

After USF’s chances disappeared following the first round of eliminations, Kristie Almeida, a junior at USF and president of Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK) at the University, said USF could have done better if the competition had been more publicized.

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

SPEAK may have not advertised the college competition, but that doesn’t mean students don’t support the vegan cause.

“At Greenstock, we signed up for about 50 people to become members of SPEAK,” Allison said. “We already have over 100 members online.”

SPEAK said that USF’s loss does not mean that the University isn’t trying. SPEAK’s president said that the University has added more vegan options to the variety of foods in the Marshall Center.

“There’s a lot of grab and go stuff (in the Marshall Center),” Almeida said, “there are vegan sandwiches, wraps and dumplings.”

Kristi Allison, vice president of SPEAK, said although USF didn’t place in the competition, she’s happy with recent vegan additions to USF’s menu, especially those in Juniper Poplar’s Pod market.

“I’m really impressed with the vegan options they have on campus,” Allison said. “I was impressed with how many to-go containers they have there (in the Pod market). There are so many vegan options. I’m so impressed with the variety.”

SPEAK agrees USF has many vegan and vegetarian options, but the school will have even more once the university’s newest dining hall, the Southeast Student Dining Facility, is opened in July 2011.

“The fourth dining hall will serve vegetarian/vegan, healthy, low calorie and low fat items, as well as serve as a training table for athletes,” Burns said.

With the oncoming opening of the Southeast dining facility, Burns said USF Dining will continue to adapt to the needs of vegans and vegetarians despite losing the online competition.

“USF Dining is always expanding their offerings of vegan/vegetarian options,” Burns said, “and
are continually adding options based on suggestions from the USF community.”

Almeida believes that the university will have another chance of claiming title of the country’s most vegan-friendly school, but she said students will have to help the school get there.

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

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