After defeating 38 other nominees and hundreds of other universities that didn't make the cut, Wesleyan University and McMaster University have emerged victorious as the most vegetarian-friendly colleges in the United States and Canada, respectively.
#1) Wesleyan University
The acclaimed liberal arts college, which has a history of social justice activism, lives up to the hype when it comes to vegan options. Some of the creative choices offered include veggie chicken red curry with steamed broccolini and organic jasmine rice, three-mushroom vegan ragu with penne pasta, and barbecue seitan. Following last year's second-place finish, Dining Services officials pulled out all of the stops in 2009, even setting up voting stations around campus to rally support from their well-fed student population. These efforts, combined with the impressive range of vegan options available on campus, have helped secure the title of the Most Vegetarian-Friendly College in America.
#2) Oberlin College
After a couple of years off our list, Oberlin has come charging back in a big way in 2009, reclaiming its title as one of the epicenters of vegan dining in the Midwest. The rural Ohio college boasts a staggeringly large number of meatless options, from tempeh and wild mushroom fricassee and Ethiopian vegetable stew to seitan pepper steak. Elsewhere on campus, students can chow down on vegan tofu lasagna, vegan barbecue tofu pizza, and much more. Considering that the progressive campus has a reputation for being at least a few years ahead of the curve on social justice issues, the future looks very bright for vegan college students.
#3) American University
Holding strong in the Top 10 for the second year in a row, AU came to the table this year with more vegan options than we could ever hope to print here. Tempeh cacciatore, fried buffalo tofu, vegan scallion mashed potatoes, and barbecue seitan are just a few of the delicious dishes that will help keep these politically active Eagles soaring year after year!
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#4) UC Santa Cruz
Moving up a spot on our list from last year, UC Santa Cruz is riding high in 2009. With the school's legendary dedication to sustainability and progressive politics, not to mention an active student group called Banana Slugs for Animals, it should come as no surprise that UC Santa Cruz is a consistent top pick for students seeking delicious meatless meals. Vegan chicken Milanese, kung pao tofu with sesame udon noodles, and almond seitan are just a few of the dozens of vegan entrées that help give students the "green" energy to fuel our country into the future.
#5) University of South Florida
Earlier in the year, members of Students Protecting the Environment and Animals With Knowledge (SPEAK)—the campus animal rights organization—petitioned alongside peta2 for additional vegan options on campus. After more than 3,000 students showed their support for the campaign, the group began working with the school's dining services department to introduce some truly remarkable meatless choices. Today, the menu boasts a number of delicious dishes and snacks, ranging from vegan black bean soup and vegetarian sausages to "Three-Alarm" Boca burgers and vegan soft-serve ice cream. Now that's change we can believe in!
#6) Purchase College (SUNY)
As the school is known for its emphasis on the visual and performing arts, it should come as no surprise that Purchase offers stunning and visually appealing vegan options that are enjoyed by all students. Some of the many meatless options that grace the menu are veggie bacon, tofu Marsala, and tempeh cacciatore. Bravo!
#7) University of Puget Sound
Much like its legendary school hatchet the University of Puget Sound disappeared briefly during last year's contest, but it's back again in 2009—and it's stronger than ever. Students rave about the "Vegetarian & Co." section of The Diner, but all over campus, students can enjoy delicious entrées, including veggie barbecue riblets on a French roll, sunflower patties with marinara sauce, and Field Roast sloppy Joes. Ahh, it's good to be back, eh?
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#8) University of Illinois
A newcomer to the list this year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the quality and quantity of vegan options available on campus. Vegan sausage patties, tofu scramble, baked vegetarian chicken strips, and squash ravioli with sage and mushrooms are just a few of the highlights. And don't forget about Field of Greens, the all-vegetarian restaurant that's open on campus every weekday!
#9) Northwestern University
Wildcats can warm up on a brisk Illinois winter evening by choosing some of the many piping-hot vegan options available on campus. Choices range from curried tofu with jasmine rice to vegan seitan tacos to garlic orange chili tofu. In fact, the meatless options are so popular that the dining services department reports that between 35 percent and 55 percent of students choose a vegetarian or vegan entrée every night!
#10) University of Pennsylvania
Representing the Ivy League on this year's list, Penn packs all the brain food necessary to keep America's best and brightest going. Powered by the active Penn Vegetarian Society, the school offers meatless options that would make fellow vegetarian Ben Franklin proud. Among the many choices are tofu mushroom burritos, sesame quinoa pilaf, and curry tofu with green beans, roasted edamame, and steamed broccoli.
#1) McMaster University
With its fully vegetarian Bridges Café and some of the most impressive vegan options in the nation, Mac was unstoppable in 2009. Students rave about the soy chicken bruschetta wraps, Shanghai noodles, and vegetarian chili, just to name a few of the many menu highlights. Add it all up and it's easy to see why McMaster is the Most Vegetarian-Friendly University in Canada.
#2) Mount Allison University
Holding strong on our list for the second year in a row, Mount Allison has once again far exceeded expectations, stocking its menu with some of the most delectable vegan options in the nation. We're talking about mock chicken and broccoli crepes, red Thai vegetable noodle bowls, and mock teriyaki beef and broccoli, just to name a few.
#3) Queen's University
A newcomer to the list this year, Queen's University is making a very impressive debut and is giving even the returning champion a run for its money. Its menu's highlights include vegan sloppy Joes with bulgar wheat salad, seven-vegetable stew, and General Tso's tofu. And don't forget to stop by the fully vegan dining station at Leonard Dining Hall, which cooks up more than 100 different meatless dishes each year. Now that's how you make an entrance!
#4) University of Victoria
A consistent fixture on our list, the University of Victoria serves up remarkable vegan options in a setting that few other schools in the world could top. Surrounded by forested ravines and hopping rabbits, students can rest assured that with each bite, their positive food choices are helping to reduce the impact of climate change on our environment. Some of the dozens of eco-friendly vegan options on the menu are the spicy tofu bowl, falafel in pita bread with tahini sauce, and ratatouille veggie Bolognese with whole-wheat pasta.
#5) Concordia University
Known for its politically active student population and its proximity to all of Montréal's hot spots, Concordia benefits from the best of both worlds. The school fosters a sense of community in a chaotic downtown setting, and it's all capped off by some of the most remarkable vegan options found anywhere in Canada. We're talking about vegan cinnamon buns from Le Frigo Vert, spicy spinach soup, and vegetable curries, just to name a few. And don't forget The People's Potato—a campus service that serves up free vegan food to hungry students and local residents every weekday!
While there were many rising stars in this year's competition, two schools deserve special praise for their efforts to meet the growing demand for meatless meals.
Smith College didn't choose the Pioneer as Smith's mascot for no reason. The school has been blazing the way for contemporary vegan campus dining for years—but this time around, it has really outdone itself. Students rave about the vegan French toast, blackened tofu, vegan tortellini, veggie Italian sausage grinders, and vegan pound cake with strawberries.
Further west, Bradley University emerged as one of the most surprising newcomers to this year's list. A medium-sized private college in Peoria, Illinois, the school boasts "Big Ten" flavor and vegan options that give schools on both coasts a run for their money. Some of the dozens of remarkable meatless choices are vegetarian meatball sandwiches, grilled soy cheese, vegetarian Jamaican stew, and vegetarian Italian sausages.