By Brad Whitehouse
Associate News Editor
Ryerson could be the most vegan-friendly university in Canada, according PETA.
PETA holds an annual competition to find schools that have the best vegan food options. This is the first year that Ryerson has made it to the final group. It will be in competition with 16 other Canadian universities vying for the title of Canada’s most vegan-friendly campus.
But some students say Ryerson still has a long way to go before it can pat itself on the back, let alone win an award.
According to Ryan Huling of college campaigning at PETA, Ryerson was chosen from a group of about 60 universities that were nominated to take part in the competition. Students can vote for their school online, but the final decision, to be announced November 19, is up to PETA.
He said the competition is based on the availability and quality of vegan grub. Ryerson was selected because of dishes like sweet-and-sour tofu and vegetarian stuffed peppers, which appeal to meat-eaters as well.
Yet some vegan students disagree. They say they can barely eat on campus.
Nande Wright, a second-year chemistry student, has been vegan her entire life. She said she rarely eats at Ryerson because of a lack of vegan options. She said a lot of the so-called vegan choices have labels that say they may contain traces of dairy products or egg whites.
“If I go to the cafe I could pretty much just have pasta,” she said. “Either I don’t eat or I grab a snack from Metro.”
Wright said that if Ryerson really wanted to be accommodating, it could open an exclusively vegan eatery.
Michael Tafeit, director of food services at Ryerson, said that one out of three hot food choices served at Ryerson cafeterias is vegan or vegetarian.
“The focus is on the larger vegetarian group rather than the smaller vegan group,” he said.
The Ram in the Rye and Oakham Cafe also offer vegan alternatives. But Rick Knapp, food and beverage manager for the Student Campus Centre, says they are limited on the variety of dishes they can serve.
“We’re here to serve students and some students are vegans,” he said. “We’re not a vegan restaurant. We’ll do the best we can and hopefully people will be understanding.”
Heather Sadkowski, a social work student who lived in residence last year, said she found it challenging to be vegan on a residence meal plan. Vegan options were few and far between, and she often supplemented cafeteria food with her own cooking.
“You do have the meals out there, but like anyone else, you don’t always want to eat the same thing,” she said. “Luckily Pitman and ILLC have kitchens.”
Photo: Marta Iwanek