Activist group nominates SU as vegan-friendly campus
This week’s campus dining fare includes pancakes, cinnamon rolls, enchiladas, ravioli and chocolate cake. PETA2 – the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ younger, hipper division – has taken notice, because not one bite contains any tracings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy or honey. It’s all vegan.
Syracuse University has once again been nominated by PETA2 as one of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly colleges in the United States. SU was ranked third in the 2003 ratings, behind only Maine’s College of the Atlantic and New York University.
‘We try to have a couple of vegan entrees for every meal,’ said Mark Tewksbury, assistant director of SU’s food services. ‘This isn’t a scientific study, but looking at what other schools do (by looking) on the Web, we do as much or more than any other school out there, which attests to our PETA ranking.’
Perusing university Web sites was one way in which PETA2 selected this year’s nominees, said Pulin Modi, the PETA2 college campaign coordinator. The organization also took note of e-mails it received about campus offerings and paid attention to postings on its Facebook group and MySpace.com Web page.
‘They definitely say the options are pretty good relative to other schools,’ Modi said. ‘Just looking at what some of the options are, like vegan pancakes and waffles and vegan orange cheesecake, these are pretty incredible options to have.’
SU creates and modifies its dining room menus based on student feedback, Tewksbury said. In the early 1990s, a number of voices raised concerns about the lack of vegetarian and vegan options and the staff took notice.
‘The vegan students were very vocal,’ he said. ‘Students started becoming more vocal about wanting more than just a vegetarian option but a vegan one as well.’
These days, Brockway, Graham, Haven, Sadler and Shaw dining halls all offer at least one vegan entre at each sitting, with an array of vegan breakfast foods, soups, side dishes and desserts also available.
Despite food services’ initiatives, SU students aren’t overwhelmed with excitement.
‘I can’t eat salads every day, because I can’t,’ said vegetarian Srilatha Pulipaka, an electrical engineering graduate student. ‘It’s boring.’
Pulipaka said she survives on egg and cheese croissants from the Schine Student Center and bean burritos from the Kimmel Food Court.
‘I don’t prefer eating in the (Schine) deli because they use the same knife for the meat,’ she said, although she is a self-proclaimed ‘eggterian’ who wouldn’t mind the occasional egg-salad sandwich.
Pulipaka’s roommate, Shivani Raghav, is also an electrical engineering graduate student and said while she eats chicken, her choice to not eat red meats limits her on-campus selections.
‘I won’t say (there are) a lot of options,’ Raghav said.
At Brockway Dining Center, variety isn’t the problem, but repetitiveness is, according to vegetarian students.
‘I think they have a good selection,’ said freshman vegetarian Haley Feinstein, who lives at Brockway Hall. ‘It’s usually the same thing though.’
Former Brockway and Brewster halls residents remember Brockway more fondly.
‘Brockway was great,’ said Gordon Maniskas, who ate there his freshman and sophomore years.
Although both he and his fellow musical theater major, John Galas, eat meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, he said they enjoyed the vegetarian and vegan options at the dining hall.
‘I had a soy burger and vegan cake once,’ Galas said. ‘I was surprised by the soy burger especially, because I remember looking at it and thinking, ‘It looks like a rice cake or a hockey puck or something.’ I bit into it, and it actually tasted pretty much like a hamburger, so I was surprised and I was actually like, ‘This is pretty good!’ The vegan cake was pretty good too.’
This year’s most vegetarian and vegan-friendly college contest will be decided by votes at www.peta2.com/college. Those who vote will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card.
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