Students demand more veggie options

With over 2,000 signatures, vegan and vegetarian students are taking their vegan initiative to the administration.  Working with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), members of Students for True Animal Rights (STAR) gathered thousands of signatures in support of animal-friendly food on campus.  STAR, led by undergraduate student Wingyin Lo, teamed up with peta2, the youth sector of PETA.”STAR got an e-mail from peta2 saying that the organization was campaigning around the U.S. and that they would help us with whatever cause our group wants to focus on,” Lo said.   Senior Ryan Huling, the peta2 college coordinator, emphasizes the importance of helping college students’ voices be heard. Huling provided literature, stickers and recipes to help STAR spread awareness.  STAR and peta2 said that a large percentage of the college population is supportive of more vegan options.    Huling pointed to a 2004 survey done by Aramark, a worldwide dining service company, which showed that out of 100,000 students, one in four are seeking vegan options, with reasons ranging from animal cruelty to the environment to personal health.”I am not a vegetarian, but if I were one I would have a hard time finding a balanced diet right now on campus. I would not want to turn to salads every day for a healthy, vegetarian option,” freshman Kaitlin Lee said.  Melissa Zelazny, the general manager  of UVM University Dining Services, said she is receptive of STAR’s efforts. “We just need to hear about specific needs that we are not meeting, things like extended vegan station hours. It is difficult to implement things when the petitioning is broad,” Zelazny said.  PETA and STAR said they want items such as garden veggie chicken strips and soy cheese available across campus.  “A recent example was the University of Southern Florida, which gathered 3,500 signatures to present to their dining services department. The administration was shocked by the demand, and they now have new options in campus dining halls like vegetarian bacon, vegan chicken salad, and vegan soft serve,” Huling said.  Huling says that schools can often run into the issue of a perceived lack of demand. “But once we gather those thousands of petitioner’s signatures it is more clear. It would be a big mistake for UVM to ignore one fifth of their student population who feel strongly about the issue,” Huling said.