Brandeis vegan food is among best of small schools

It is ranked among 'Elite 8' in continuing on-line voting sponsored by PETA

Brandeis has made it to the “Elite 8”. Now the mighty Justice is heading for the most bloodless of all clashes -- a head-to-head matchup with Smith College for a chance to make the finals of a competition sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to determine which campus has the highest quality and most options in vegan cuisine.

Expect to be blitzed with tofu blintzes as Brandeis attempts to cream -- okay, soy -- the competition. However, eviscerating the opposition is strictly forbidden.

Enough already.

It’s not exactly Iron Chef, but the original 32 schools contending for the title of “Most Vegan-Friendly College” among small schools has been narrowed to eight and, according to the playoff chart, Brandeis is still alive, having beaten out Bennington and Babson Colleges.

PETA says colleges are judged “based on both the quality and quantity of vegan options and feedback from students on the receptiveness and creativity of the dining staff.”

An on-line vote will determine the winner, and will at the same time allow PETA to collect contact information from those who cast a ballot.

To be a true vegan means shunning food that comes from animals -- including eggs, milk and honey -- as well as avoiding all animal products, including fur, leather, wool, down and silk.

“Vegans are the vegetarians who take it one step further,” says Sabine von Mering, director of the Center for German and European Studies. “If you are a vegetarian like myself, you are still supporting the companies that are part of the meat industry. If you drink milk and use dairy products, you are still part of that industry. I wish I could be a vegan and give up yogurt and cheese, but I like it too much.”

The Brandeis food service’s daily vegan offerings are delicious, according to von Mering. “Many meat eaters consider veganism a punishment, but that’s because they don’t really ask where their steak is coming from. The conditions not just for the animals but for the workers is appalling and the recent scandal with salmonella and eggs is just a reminder that the industries involved in animal food production have scandalously low health standards and even those are hardly ever enforced.”

Von Mering is very involved in the campus’ green movement, and plans to highlight Brandeis’ showing in the PETA rankings at the Green Unity Gala on December 1, which is sponsored by her center. This gala will mark the conclusion of the two-week schedule of programs on climate change, sponsored by the German government.

Says von Mering of the vegan playoffs: “This killer competition will see -- instead of blood -- gazpacho flowing and tofu trophies. I hope the tofu trophies come to us.”

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