Representatives for the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as peta2, petitioned students for more vegan and vegetarian options in campus dining and gathered more than 1,000 signatures from students on campus, a peta2 official said.
Ryan Huling, a peta2 college campaign coordinator, said he has seen a nationwide trend in which students are pressing for more meatless options.
“Students are becoming more educated through documentaries and (reports) seen on television and are less interested in supporting an industry that condones such unethical treatment of animals,” Huling said.
According to a recent survey conducted by food provider ARAMARK, 100,000 college students were interviewed and nearly a quarter of them said finding vegan meals on campus was important to them.
Kate Jones, a senior Spanish major who serves as president of People for Animal Well-Being, a student organization, said as soon as peta2 relays the gathered information she will set up a meeting with Dining Services.
“We know that there are existing vegetarian options in Market Square, but we are looking for a wider variety,” Jones said. “We’d like to have the basics that students eat everyday such as soy milk in the milk machine and soy cheese for sandwiches.”
Legia Abato, Dining Services marketing manager, said that Market Square usually provides one vegetarian option a day.
“We welcome any student responses and look forward to meeting with students from People for Animal Well-Being in order to improve dining services for all students,” Abato said.
Huling said peta2’s petition is bringing attention to an important concern among college students.
“Many times student animal rights groups will do what they can to persuade dining services at their university, but many times officials have to be convinced that there is a substantial need for vegetarian options,” Huling said. “We prove that the need is there and it is real.”
The organization gathered more than 3,000 signatures at the University of South Florida and within weeks significant changes were made to its menu, including veggie burgers and veggie barbecue, he said.
Michael Kenny, sophomore business major, said he signed the petition because as a Catholic he has to abstain from meat during Lent on Fridays and having an array of meatless options in Market Square would make the temporary change easier.
Jones said she hopes that having more vegan options in Market Square will open the door to conversation about vegetarian and vegan lifestyle.
“Seeing these options should give other non-vegetarian students a different perspective on the lifestyle making it seem less taboo,” Jones said.