Fifteen North American universities are being recognized for their efforts to provide students with an excellent on-campus vegetarian dining experience.
Peta2, the youth division of Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has recently announced the 2007 results for its most vegetarian-friendly colleges contest.
The University of Toronto and Northwestern University came first in the competition.
Other winning Canadian schools include McMaster University and the University of British Columbia.
Yale University placed second in the U.S. race, followed by the University of California-Berkeley and Humboldt State University.
Students sent in comments about vegetarian dining at their schools throughout the year and, from there, 10 Canadian and 30 American universities were nominated for the contest in October, said Ryan Huling, peta2’s college campaign co-ordinator.
Huling said his organization then notified the nominees, giving students and staff members from these institutions a month to vote on the peta2’s website to determine the top five Canadian and top 10 American most vegetarian-friendly universities.
The winning schools either showed the most improvement in their offerings of vegetarian dishes or were deemed by their students as already performing well on that regard. According to Huling, peta2 received both positive and negative feedback from students regarding how responsive their schools were in accommodating on-campus vegetarian dining.
He said students choose a vegetarian or vegan diet for different reasons, from health and environmental concerns to objection to cruelty against animals.
“We figured that a logical extension of that would be to highlight the schools that have really gone above and beyond to meet the needs of those students,” added Huling.
The contest first began in 2006.
Students have responded very positively to it, said Huling, as the 2007 contest saw more than 10,000 visits to the peta2’s website.
Meanwhile, Heather Seymour, food service co-ordinator at the University of Victoria, said she is both excited and disappointed about her school coming fourth this time, compared to second in 2006.
She said it was aiming for first place, given that it has expanded its vegetarian food choices.
For example, the Go Green Grill was added, which offers soya beef and chicken.
Seymour said the university spent more time promoting its nomination and encouraging students to vote last year, which could explain why the school’s 2006 ranking was higher than the 2007 one. Nevertheless, Seymour said she is pleased its efforts are being acknowledged.
“People always treat university food like institutional flop,” she said, emphasizing that all winning Canadian universities have done a good job in catering to their vegetarian students.