People choose a vegan diet for different reasons. In some cases, it’s about healthier eating. Other times it’s because people feel strongly about the mistreatment of animals. Growing concerns about the environment and the carbon footprint from raising livestock may also play a role in someone’s decision to go vegan.
Colleges are responding to student interest in animal advocacy and environmental protection by offering programs on the subject. “Animal protection is a growing social justice movement and it is wonderful to see progressive schools around the country meeting the students’ demand to be part of it,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells.
“Concerns about animals and the environment are becoming part of our everyday lives, and forward thinking schools will help set the stage for social change in the fight for justice for all.”
Eating a vegan diet has been linked to health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and your risk of diabetes. These universities have the best programs and resources for students who want to eat vegan and learn more about animal protection.
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
UCSD gets a 78 percent PETA rating for offering vegan meals, participating in Meatless Mondays, having a non-dairy milk option, and labeling their vegan foods. Roots is the university’s fully vegan lounge and eatery. The school also represents vegan values with courses, like Biomedical Research using Non Animal Models. Its focus is on teaching students scientific testing techniques that don’t involve using animals.
Yale’s Animal Law Society organizes events on campus that address legal and moral issues surrounding animal protection. There’s also a course offered in animal law. The university gets a 95 percent PETA rating, getting recognized for providing vegan food options, dairy-free milk, participating in Meatless Mondays, and having a vegan member on a student advisory board.
Stanford provides a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dining choices. The school says over 50 percent of its dining menu is vegan, and that vegan options are clearly labeled. PETA gives Stanford an 81 percent vegan-friendly rating. There’s also a course available on animal law.
It’s not hard to find vegan lifestyle advocates at Duke — many at the university are sharing why being vegan is important to them, and how it can help people and the environment. The school has an eatery that’s strictly vegetarian and vegan called Sprout. Their PETA rating is 74 percent and they also have a course in animal law.
University of Pennsylvania
Penn has a student group called Penn Vegan Society whose mission includes exploring human health, environmental stewardship, and bioethics. The society invites high-profile speakers to talk on the topics and works with Penn Dining to improve vegan options. In addition to vegan dining choices, the school offers a course on animal law and ethics. Penn also has a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) with an Animal Law Project chapter.
Arizona State University
ASU’s Sun Devil Dining provides vegan meals at markets and dining halls in all four campuses. This includes having vegan options available at every meal, having non-dairy milk, and labeling vegan foods. The school also has an animal law course and an active chapter of the SALDF.
University of California Davis
PETA gives UC Davis a 91 percent vegan rating. It’s no surprise when you look at their dining hall offerings. Vegan entrees are regular options and produce comes from the school’s student farm. They also have an active chapter of the SALDF.
Ohio University has been working on its vegan report card since 2010. Dining options include vegan entrees and non-dairy milk, and all vegan foods are labeled. PETA gives the school a 72 percent rating. The University doesn’t offer an animal law course, but they do have an active chapter of the SALDF.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida’s dining hall caters to a variety of diets, including vegan. They offer vegan entrees for resident meals and even provide vegan options at special events. The university is partnered with Stetson to offer an acceleration program for undergrads, which has an active SALDF and has the animal law courses: Animal Law Seminar, Comparative Animal Law, International Wildlife Law and Globalization, and International Animal Law Seminar.
In addition to providing vegan meal options, Pacific University’s dining hall has worked hard to reduce waste. Almost 25 percent of the food is bought from local venders. The school offers a course in animal ethics, and an Ethics major with an Animal Ethics specialization. It also has centers, like the Sustainability Center and Center for Civic Engagement, that work on animal issues. Professor Ramona Ilea, PhD, is an animal ethicist who teaches many courses on ethics, including animal ethics. Pacific University is also very supportive of animal issues and the students interested in them, with a robust Animal Ethics Club, community gardens, and they’ve hosted high-profile speakers like Peter Singer in the past.
Pepperdine believes strongly in sustainability and health. Dining hall options include many organic plant-based choices, and currently 38 percent of their cafeteria food comes from local sources. The school’s animal law course is taught by Professor Richard L. Cupp, JD, who regularly writes and speaks about the legal and moral status of animals.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
In addition to providing students with vegan dining options, UCLA is on the forefront of animal law. The university is launching new programs for 2017 in animal law and food law and is working to bring the two fields closer together. The new animal programs are being led by the Animal Law Society and Professor Taimie Bryant, PhD, JD, who’s also faculty advisor to the Animal Law Society. UCLA has also launched an Animal Law and Policy Small Grants Program.
University of California Irvine
Vegan meals can be found both in and around UC Irvine. The school gets an 84 percent rating from PETA for offering vegan entrees and promoting vegan eating. UC Irvine also has an SALDF chapter and several student groups dedicated to preserving the earth and life on it.
Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis & Clark provides a variety of vegan meal options for students and has hosted high-profile guests to talk about vegan eating, like Chef Ori Shavit. The campus is also close to several vegan eateries. Additionally, the school has a robust animal law chapter, which includes a Center for Animal Law Studies, student activities, a summer program, and more.
University of Montana
The University of Montana boasts the highest student vegan satisfaction rating in the Montana university system, with a PETA rating of 100 percent. The University offers at least one vegan entree at every meal and an all-vegan station in its Food Zoo dining hall. Their academics are also animal friendly. In addition to having an SALDF chapter, the school offers three animal law courses: Animals in Agriculture, Animal Law, and Human Rights and Animal Rights.
Cornell has its own Vegan Society, a student group dedicated to promoting veganism and raising public awareness about the lifestyle’s benefits. The dining hall also provides lots of vegan choices. There are also vegan-friendly courses. The Center for Nutrition Studies even offers an online certificate program dedicated to plant-based nutrition, and the law program offers an animal law course.
The campus has a vegan-friendly culture. They even have a Facebook community dedicated to vegetarian and vegan eating. There’s also one course offered on animal law, and Professor Colin Dayan, PhD, one of the school’s law professors, has published work on canine profiling and animal law.
University of North Carolina, Asheville
Ashville has its own Vegan Society, along with vegan eateries. The university has increased plant-based options over the years, participating in Meatless Mondays, including one vegan entrée option with each meal, labeling vegan foods, and promoting vegan eating. Two on-campus restaurants, Rosetta’s Kitchen and Mela Indian Restaurant, are also primarily vegan and vegetarian.