Want to Make Sure Your College Choice Is as Vegan as You Are? Here’s How

Animal-rights groups, cruelty-free laboratories, and community kitchens are a few issues I’m considering to help me choose the right university for me.

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When I was an eighth-grade student, I was so hyped about going into high school. And, now that I am a high school senior, I feel that same excitement as I am about to enter one of the most important stages of my life. Of course, I am talking about college. I started thinking about applying to universities when I was a sophomore in high school, and now that the time to apply has approached, I really want to make sure that I find campuses that can support my interests. In doing so, my future school will enable me to learn and attain a well-rounded education that I can use to succeed in this diverse, changing world. During my research process, I have come across many issues that could persuade—or dissuade—me from applying. Here are a few that I simply can’t overlook during the application process.

Animal-rights campus groups
During my research on university campuses, I have learned that they have a lot of clubs (dance clubs, sports clubs, fashion clubs, and recycling clubs, to name a few). However, two clubs in particular that I look for are animal-rights clubs and environmental clubs. To my surprise, a lot of universities have these. For example, University of California, Berkeley has an Animal Law Society organization and an Animal Rights club, too. That said, I won’t make my decision regarding which college I attend solely off of this issue. But, if my preferred school doesn’t have an animal-rights or vegan club, I’ll take this as an opportunity to bring awareness to campus by starting my own group.

Dining halls
Yes, I do want to know what menus are available on campus because, before applying, I want to see the variety of foods a college campus can offer me as a vegan. So far, my research has shown me some pretty amazing results. For example, University of California, Berkeley offers vegan options for every meal. Furthermore, Pitzer College is an institution well-known for being a progressive college, and its dining halls have vegan food! Seriously, I could look at campus dining-hall menus for days.

Community kitchen
Throughout my entire elementary school, middle school and high school experiences, I always took lunch to school. Because of this, I got used to preparing my own meals and have an array of easy-to-make recipes in my arsenal. Because I like to prepare my own meals, I’m checking to see if my preferred schools have community kitchens. With a community kitchen, I can experiment with new vegan recipes I see on YouTube, vegan blogs, or on social media. Also, community kitchens are a great option for those with food allergies. One more thing: I’m not saying a Vitamix is necessary, but it sure would be nice.

Ethical science labs
If you think that cruel animal-testing is conducted in high-security laboratories deep within a forest, then think again. Some college-campus labs also conduct cruel research on animals. According to the website One Green Planet, “Animals are commonly used in university settings for academic studies, as well as training and supposedly ‘educating’ students.” More shockingly, the studies conducted at said colleges are subsidized by the federal governments through the taxes students (and/or students’ parents) might be paying. I know, I am shook, too. So, I am narrowing my college search to campuses with ethical or cruelty-free labs. Or, better yet, no labs at all. However, if my No. 1 option happens to exploit animals, I can contact the administration and propose some alternatives to animal testing.

Courses or programs
Just because I might major in business administration, journalism, or fashion doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look for classes on campus that help me learn about vegan causes. As a vegan, I want to learn more about animal-rights as well as nutrition. Perhaps I will apply to New York University, which offers a minor in Animal Studies for undergraduates that looks super interesting. Another interesting subject I have researched is the fact that some universities (such as such as University of Virginia, New York University, University of Michigan, and Northwestern University) offer Animal Law studies.

Ana Sofia Rodriguez is a vegan teen journalist who likes to write about fashion, culture, and anything else her mind can come up with.

Photo courtesy of Hacker Noon