For the second year in a row, Georgetown’s wide array of vegetarian options in O’Donovan Hall has placed it among the finalists for the most vegetarian-friendly colleges in the nation.Last year, Georgetown ranked ninth out of 30 schools nominated.

Peta2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has held the “Most Vegetarian-Friendly Colleges” competition for three years, ranking finalists based on the consistence and quality of the meatless options available.

According to Ryan Hurling, Peta2 college campaign coordinator, vegan and vegetarian issues are becoming increasingly relevant to college students.

“Studies show that nearly one in four college students are seeking vegan options when they sit down to eat, for reasons ranging from their own health to environmental concerns and, of course, cruelty to animals,” he said.

The organization utilizes Facebook.com, Myspace.com and its Peta2 blog to gather student feedback, an important factor in the finalist selection process, according to Hurling.

“It is based on this feedback, combined with our own research, that we are able to determine which schools really stand out in terms of offering delicious and cruelty-free cuisine,” he said.

O’Donovan Hall’s barbecued veggie riblet sandwiches, Asian sesame lo mein and vegan tacos particularly caught the eye of Peta2 this year, Hurling said.

Even some non-vegetarian students at Georgetown recognized the dining hall’s new vegetarian options.

“Although I wasn’t a vegetarian before I came to Georgetown, the vegetarian section offers the only palatable option in dining,” Dasha Pryamitsyna (SFS ’12) said.

However, not all Georgetown students are as satisfied as the lastest rankings might suggest.

“Coming to Georgetown as a vegetarian, I was very excited. I heard about the Peta2 awards for being vegetarian-friendly,” Elizabeth Seaman (COL ’12) said. “But I have to say I’m slightly disappointed with the vegetarian options offered. It is great that they have a vegetarian section, but it usually has the same food every day, and there are not a lot of options for protein.”

ARAMARK Higher Education, which began catering the dining hall last year, launched a vegan and vegetarian station with the help of VegAdvantage, a non-profit organization that provides product sourcing, menu development and cooking demonstrations to dining halls and other food providers.

“The purpose of creating a distinct destination for the vegan and vegetarians was to make it easy for guests who choose these cuisines by making a `one-stop shop’ within Leo’s,” Kendra Boyer, marketing coordinator for ARAMARK dining and catering services, said.

Other vegan and vegetarian options also remain available throughout the dining hall: Pasta Palate, a pasta bar with fresh vegetables and other meatless options; meatless options at Stir Up the World, the stir-fry station and The Bistro, which offers meatless pizza options and vegetarian wraps twice weekly.

According to the dining services’ Web site, there is a database with menus and nutritional information about the dining options available to students.

“This is an excellent tool to determine what menu items are vegan or vegetarian and to ensure adequate consumption of protein, calcium and iron,” Boyer said.

This year, Georgetown is one of 32 finalists in the Peta2 competition. Other schools in the area nominated for the award include American University, George Washington University and University of Maryland.

Students can vote on Peta2.com for the most vegetarian-friendly school and look at the vegan and vegetarian options provided at other universities nationwide. The final results of the competition will be announced on Nov. 17.

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