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UConn in running to be most vegan-friendly college

Campus Correspondent

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Vegan

JESS CONDON/The Daily Campus

In this file photo from Dec. 8, 2010, students eat at the Whitney Winter Feast at Whitney Dining Hall. Whitney features an array of vegan choices.

UConn is in the running to be named the most vegan-friendly college in the US by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a non-profit animal rights organization.

For the past seven years, Peta2, PETA’s youth division, has ranked the most vegan-friendly campuses for large and small school divisions. The winners are chosen based on the number of votes received, the quality and variety of vegan foods offered at the school, student feedback and the school’s “enthusiasm in promoting vegan options.” UConn is currently competing among 32 other schools in the “large school” division.

Ryan Huling, the manager of college campaigns and outreach at Peta2, said UConn stuck out among the hundreds of schools surveyed because of its variety of vegan options that appeal to the entire UConn community.

“We got a lot of feedback about the vegan french apple squares,” Huling said. “Even students who don’t identify as vegetarian or vegan pick up on options like this because they’re delicious and healthier.”

Vegan ravioli caprese, vegan chicken pot pie, sweet-and-sour tempeh and vegan tortellini della pangrattato are among the other dishes Peta2 contest officials said put UConn on the vegan-friendly map.

Caitlin Swallow, a 7th-semester human development and family studies major, was a vegetarian for four years. Though she eats meat now, she looks to places like Whitney dining hall, UConn’s vegetarian-focused dining hall, not only for meat-free options, but also for locally grown and organic options.

“There’s always a vegetarian option like tofu,” Swallow said. “And I like knowing things are locally grown. I think UConn is pretty accommodating toward the vegan community.”

Dennis Pierce, the director of dining services, said win or lose he is excited just to have an opportunity for student feedback.

“We may do well or we may not. But what’s important coming out of this is to know if we’re dong well or if we can do better,” Pierce said. “We serve over 180,000 meals a week. We feel responsible for this community and want to make sure there are options out there. We aren’t striving to win a contest, we’re striving to meet the needs of a diverse community.”

Based on a survey by Bon Appétit Management, an onsite restaurant company that focuses on sustainable food service, the number of vegans on college campuses has more than doubled in the past seven years. This is a trend Peta2 representatives are passionate about encouraging.

“The vegan revolution is in full swing,” Marta Holmberg, the associate director of Peta2 said in a press release. “And nowhere is that more evident than at UConn and other schools across the country.”

After five rounds of voting, the winner will be announced on November 15. Students can vote for UConn by going to http://features.peta2.com/vegan-colleges-2012. 

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