When Chris Molinaro, U.S. Beef Ambassador and Penn State Block and Bridle member, examined the poultry population in the commons, she had a cow -- literally.
"We always had chicken and when we did have beef, it was ground," she said. "That gets so old."
In response to World Vegetarian Day on Oct. 1, Molinaro and fellow Block and Bridle members Amy Shollenberger and Jenny Rassler rocked out with their meat out, steak-ing out in Findlay Commons for dinner.
The goal was to "give a face" to the farming industry by distributing hamburger erasers and stickers reading "Beef: It's what's for dinner."
"Traditionally the average Penn State student doesn't know where their beef comes from and they hear things and they believe them," Molinaro said.
Living in the Penn State poultry barn, Molinaro knows her livestock and resents those who criticize her.
"You name it and it's pretty much your baby and then you sell it at the county fair," Molinaro said. "It's sometimes hard to do. You raise a steer and it ends up going into the food chain."
Resenting vegetarian ideals that beef is "bad for you" or "inhumane," Molinaro said the steer stereotyping is generated by Web sites and stigmas surrounding things like mad cow disease and cruelty to animals.
Shollenberger, a Pennsylvania Beef Ambassador, who regularly dresses as "Patty Melt," an oversized cheese melt, to promote meat eating, said she hopes the club can raise some awareness on campus, starting with the freshmen.
"They're the fresh population," she said. "They're younger and new to college and making food decisions for the first time."
They also asked trivia questions like, "How much time does a cow spend chewing cud?"
The answer: eight hours.
Lisa Wandel, associate director of housing and food services, said the lack of beef in the commons is a reflection of customer demand and cost.
"The students really like our upscale nights," she said. "Every Thursday is steak night at Redifer. The beef options are out there. You are just going to pay the price for it."
However, she said dietary recommendations are always welcome.
"We're excited to have a student like Chris who says 'I'd love to help,' " she said. "It's better to have a student who is willing to help rather than point out a problem. We've seen more of this."
Wandel added that chicken is more popular than beef, though the grade of beef used in the commons is of top quality.
"It's better than anything you are going to get at any restaurant downtown," she said.
However, Chris said that when it comes to steer stereotypes, many see beef as unclean and mistreated on the path from the pasture to the plate.
"We went to the country's largest supplier of ground beef last week," she said. "You could literally eat off the floor."
Rassler added that many people avoid red meat for other reasons, as she warned students to be wary of diet trends.
"People think they can get everything they need from soy," she said. "That isn't the case. There are nutrients in beef that you need or you will have serious health complications."