Thursday, November 20, 2008

UVic Martlet: Campus food outlets recognized for veggie-friendly practices

I had a quick Facebook interview with Kailey Willetts from the University of Victoria weekly newspaper the Martlet, as PETA had awarded UVic 2nd Place in their 'awards' for vegetarian-friendly campuses. Luckily, this turned into an informative article, rather than some skimpy fluff piece that typically results.

I'm guessing for 2009, UVic won't be included, after PETA's effort to highlight and promote themselves backfires in this instance. ;)

- Dave

Campus food outlets recognized for veggie-friendly practices
Nov 19, 2008 02:23 PM Kailey Willetts

If you head to Village Greens for lunch today, you'll find vegetarian fajitas on the menu. Or, if noodles are more your thing, you can opt for a stir-fry with tofu.

It's because of options like these that UVic scored second in Canada in the "Most Vegetarian-Friendly Universities List" from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals youth division (PETA2).

The competition focused particularly on vegan options, and praised UVic for its vegan lasagna, curried faux chicken and potatoes stuffed with chili and soy cheese. Winners were chosen based on their dining options, student nominations and votes.

Last year, UVic achieved fourth place overall.

With this year's second-place finish, UVic beat out nominees Simon Fraser University and the University of B.C., coming second to Mount Allison Univesity in New Brunswick.

According to PETA2, more students are becoming vegetarians or vegans because, on average, they are fitter than meat eaters. Eating animal products has also been linked to heart attacks, diabetes and other diseases, according to the group, which believes becoming a vegan is the best way to end animal suffering and protect the environment.

Dave Shishkoff, director of the UVic Vegan Association, says UVic is a good school to be a vegan at, and he's impressed with the venues offered on campus, like ones in the Student Union Building.

"The SUB apparently labels foods very well, and places like [Finnerty's] have vegan brownies, cookies and muffins, sushi and frozen burritos," Shishkoff wrote in an email interview. "Plus, our annual Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck is by far the most delicious Thanksgiving event in the city."

However, Shishkoff said the vegan message shouldn't be confused with the vegetarian one.

"Sadly, groups like PETA, Vegan Outreach and many others have completely ignored this, and are effectively 'dumbing down' veganism to what vegetarianism now stands for - which is nothing," Shishkoff said. "How many fish and chicken eating 'vegetarians' do you know?"

Shishkoff says that while UVic may be vegan-friendly, the message is meaningless coming from PETA.

However, he sees that the upside of the PETA competition is that it may encourage more vegan students to consider coming to UVic. Shishkoff believes it's important to have more active vegans on campus.

"I think a more useful campaign would be to assist vegans at colleges and universities in [promoting] veganism," he said.

For Shishkoff, being a vegan isn't a dietary or lifestyle choice, but a philosophy of "peace and respect, that argues that we shouldn't be exploiting other animals." He made the choice to become vegan 18 years ago, because it made sense.

"There was no reason for me to consume animal products. There's no physiological need, or requirement for anything that comes from an animal," said Shishkoff. "Other animals deserve respect and consideration as well ...should it really be a misfortune to simply not have been born in a human body?"

Shishkoff says being a vegan is very doable - it just takes a little education about alternatives. He also says it's more difficult dealing with social situations, but that people who take themselves seriously will encourage other people to as well - that they'll respect the "anti-speciesist" as they would an anti-racist or anti-sexist.

For more information about PETA2, visit their website at

For information about the UVic Vegan Association, visit their Facebook group: "UVic Vegan Association."

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