Bates College has been voted the “favorite vegan-friendly small school in the United States,” the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced Tuesday.

The 2014 winner in the large-college category was the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Vegan diets, which are growing in popularity, are different from vegetarian diets. Vegans not only refrain from eating animals, they have a plant-based diet, eating no animal products such as milk or cheese.

The winners of the vegan-friendly contests were decided by students and faculty members through online voting, said Ken Montville of peta2, a youth division of PETA based in Los Angeles.

Montville said that in October, peta2 sent surveys to more than 1,400 colleges across the country asking about vegan food available to students and faculty.

Colleges that responded were graded in a new annual vegan report card. Bates was among the colleges that achieved an A.

“They were doing more than just putting vegan food out there,” Montville said. Looking over the surveys Bates popped out, he added, “All of a sudden in the middle of Maine we have this school” doing amazing things with vegan food. To get an A, colleges must provide vegan options at every meal, include non-dairy milk, offer vegan desserts “and have a vegan location on campus, a vegan station.”

Online judging for the best was opened up for the A colleges. “We only picked the cream of the crop for this contest,” Montville said. That added up to 16 large colleges and 16 smaller colleges.

The one-vote per email address contest was held in February and March. Bates “beat out some fierce competition, including the University of North Carolina, Oklahoma City University and Framingham State University, according to peta2 Director Marta Holmberg.

“With delicious dishes such as tempeh cakes with roasted red-pepper sauce and gluten-free tofu with Maine blueberry sauce, Bates College earned every forkful of its bragging rights,” Holmberg said.

Across the country, more students are joining a growing lifestyle of not eating animals and animal products, Holmberg said. Those who are part of what peta2 called the vegan revolution “are protecting animals, the planet, and their own health by joining the vegan revolution,” Holmberg said.

Christine Schwartz, assistant vice president for dining, conferences and campus events at Bates, said the college takes pride in serving students and the community a variety of healthy and enjoyable meals. “Our vegan offerings are growing in popularity.”