Today, students will rally behind animal rights group, peta2, on Campanile Walkway from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to voice concerns regarding the lack of vegan and vegetarian options among San Diego State’s Dining Services. SDSU students collaborating with the organization will attempt to gather 2,000 signatures on a petition to be handed to the director of SDSU Dining Services, Paul Melchior.
According to Ryan Huling, college campaigns coordinator at peta2, this marks the first serious effort to reform SDSU’s dining options to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. However this marks one of many similar university campaigns for peta2.
“Last month, we worked with University of California San Diego students to gather 3,000 signatures supporting alternative dining options. In response to the overwhelming student support, UCSD has opened Roots, an all-vegan dining hall,” Huling said.
A press release from peta2 states SDSU Dining Services “has not been able to keep up with the increasing demand for vegan options on campus.” Melchior contests this, saying his department has been proactive in meeting the needs of students with alternative diets.
“Every food outlet we have has at least vegetarian options and many offer vegan options,” Melchior said. “We have increased our vegan offerings through positive collaboration with vegan students over the last year. They approached us with their concerns and we listened, expressed what offerings we have, then together, we came up with further offerings.”
Psychology sophomore Rochelle Terman is cofounder and copresident of Student Action for Animals, a new campus organization educating students about animal rights. Terman said peta2 is conducting a tour of California in an attempt to work with colleges one-by-one, to help expand dining options to include vegan and vegetarian selections.
“We would like to see a whole restaurant dedicated to veganism,” Terman said. “If that’s not possible, at least have vegan options at each restaurant.”
Peta2 traveled to 35 campuses last semester, campaigning side-by-side with students one university at a time. Huling said peta2 chose SDSU as the start of its California campaign because of the students’ enthusiasm for the cause and the school’s potential improvement regarding vegan dining options.
According to Café Bon Appétit, a food services management company, the number of college students identifying themselves as vegetarians has increased by 50 percent since 2005. The number identifying themselves as vegans has more than doubled during the same time period.