Fall 2011 –
Representatives from PETA2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, came to Miami University’s campus Oct. 12 and 13 to collect signatures from students for petitions that support getting healthier and vegan options in the dining halls on campus.
According to PETA research released earlier this year, one in five college students are either vegan or vegetarian. Interns and other representatives from PETA2 have been visiting college campuses to convince dining halls that their menus should reflect these numbers.
The same research said that if an individual went vegan for once a week for one year 14 animals would be saved, and if every American went meatless once a week for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking six million cars off of the road in terms of carbon emissions.
Sara Wirth, of Salinas, California, was one of the five interns from PETA2’s Campus Outreach Tour asking people to sign the petitions.
“Having more vegan options on campus would not only make it easier for vegans to eat on campus, but would also make going green easier for campus dining halls,” said Wirth.
Wirth and her colleagues have traveled up and down the east coast from University of North Carolina to Rutgers University. They plan on stopping at University of Florida-Gainesville, Texas A&M, and California State University-Long Beach between now and the end of December.
“We’re going coast to coast,” said Wirth.
Freshman Kendall Dienno struggles with the few vegan options offered on campus and the repetitive eating habits she has developed as a result.
“There are options,” Dienno said, “but they are the same options every day. It gets boring eating a salad every day for lunch, but that’s what I generally have.”
The biggest challenge with eating vegan on campus is that a lot of the vegan options are fried, and these menu items are not fried separately from meat products as Miami promises.
Other challenges include the use of animal-based margarine instead of vegan margarine and incorrectly vegan-labeled ingredients such as gelatin.
“The first few weeks of school I would unknowingly consume non-vegan foods and I would get so frustrated,” said Dienno. “It was so frustrating that I even emailed the student services/food allergy/choices specialists and organized a meeting to talk to them. They were very kind, understanding, and apologetic. They don’t mean any harm, they just don’t know much about vegan diets.”
Dienno stressed that her eating habits are strict but all by choice.
“The dining halls have [vegan] options that I choose not to eat for health and nutrition reasons,” Dienno said. “I feel like I shouldn’t have to compromise my health just to eat.”