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OU ranked among top vegan-friendly schools
Nelson Grab ‘N Go’s black bean and romaine wraps don’t just feed hungry students or contribute to campuswide gassiness — they could be contributing to Ohio University’s national ranking as a vegan-friendly school.
For the past three years, OU has participated in peta2’s Most Vegan-Friendly College Contest. Once again, OU has made it to the final four after beating out 28 other universities nationwide.
Last year, OU finished the race as the third most vegan-friendly university under peta2’s “Large U.S. Schools” category.
The other universities in the final four this year are the University of Florida, University of California-Santa Cruz and University of California-Irvine.
Claire Bens, an OU sophomore and nine-year vegetarian, said she tried eating vegan for the month of September. She said she believed OU’s dining halls could offer a greater variety for people with special diets.
“OU has a vegan option at the dining hall every day,” she said. “But sometimes, you have the same choice breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is part of the price you pay for being a picky eater.”
Carlos Samano, assistant director of auxiliary sales for Culinary Services, said OU students are very vocal about what they want.
“When they voice their opinions about food choices they might want, we try our best to listen,” Samano said.
Culinary Services surveyed more than 2,000 students last year: One change brought about by students’ answers was the availability of vegan wraps, salads and subs.
Samano said Culinary Services has also begun a new campaign to further students’ awareness of nutritional options. The changes include labels indicating vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items in the dining halls.
When choosing nominees for the vegan-friendly contest, peta2 evaluates both the quantity and quality of vegan options available on campus by reviewing dining-hall menus and contacting schools for the latest updates.
As the youth arm of PETA, peta2 works primarily with high-school and college students to help raise awareness about animal rights.
“We help push for things like additional vegan options in their cafeterias,” said Ryan Huling, manager of college campaigns and outreach for peta2, in an email.
Since 2005, the total number of college students who consider themselves vegetarians has increased by 50 percent, and the students who identify as vegan has more than doubled, according to a study by food-service provider Bon Appétit.
Kaitlin Flynn, an OU freshman, has been a vegetarian for two years.
“I think it’s awesome OU is trying to become a vegan-friendly environment,” Flynn said. “Increasing awareness is something I think every campus should work towards.”