By Best Colleges Online
Eating well when you’re a vegan or a vegetarian can be challenging even when living at home, but it gets more difficult for students when they’re away at college and have to rely on cafeteria food for their meals. Often, campus dining halls have few vegetarian and vegan options for students, which can make it pretty hard to stay healthy without supplementing cafeteria food with outside groceries, an additional expense many simply can’t afford.
While it’s still hard to find a variety of veggie-friendly options in many college cafeterias, more and more schools are getting hip to the fact that students, even those who aren’t vegans or vegetarians, want healthier, less meat-centric meals, and are planning their menus and designing their meal programs accordingly. Here you’ll find just a few great schools that are catering to the needs of students who follow vegan or vegetarian diets, though, thankfully, the list is growing all the time.
Healthy Eating on Campus Has Become Increasingly Easier
1. American University
This DC college offers several options for vegan and vegetarian students when it comes to on-campus dining. The majority of the school’s dining halls offer vegan and vegetarian dishes at every meal, but if students don’t see what they like on the menu they can send their comments to dining services, which has a record of being quite responsive to student demands when it comes to veggie options. The main dining hall at AU is called the “Terrace Dining Room.” There, students will find a special vegan and vegetarian station stocked with a wide range of foods that may include items like hummus, seitan, tempeh, tofu, veggies, and a variety of other vegan takes on cafeteria favorites. Much of the food at this station and the dining hall as a whole comes from the school’s Eco-Sense club, which grows fresh foods in a campus garden. And if students don’t like what they find in the cafeteria, they can use their dining plan to go elsewhere, including several vegetarian-friendly choices nearby.
2. George Washington University
George Washington University isn’t just home to the “VegFest,” a huge vegetarian celebration where veggies and vegans can come together to share ideas, try foods, and learn more. The school is also providing vegetarian students with some great dining options year-round. GWU has recently implemented a plan for its dining halls that will bring in more fresh fruits and veggies, and most will have clearly labeled vegan and vegetarian options at each meal. There’s a smoothie stand, a large salad bar, fresh veggies, and even vegetarian sushi.
3. Indiana University, Bloomington
Vegan and vegetarian students at IU-Bloomington won’t miss out when it comes to taste. The school has received a lot of buzz for its vegan and vegetarian entrees, which have included items like sesame noodle and pea pod casserole and vegan hot cakes. There are vegan and vegetarian options at most on-campus dining establishments, with the main dining hall featuring one or several every day (which are clearly labeled). Students on the go can also find a variety of snacks and other small food items free from animal products at kiosks and bistros around campus.
4. Yale University
Vegan and vegetarian options at Yale are nothing new. The school has been offering them in some form or another to accommodate students’ dietary needs since the 1970s. In recent years, the number of vegans and vegetarians at Yale has increased and so have its offerings, though many students still want more. Nonetheless, the school is ranked fourth in the nation by PETA2 for vegetarian-friendly dining, with special accolades for its BBQ vegan ribs and vegan enchiladas. Students can find numerous vegan and vegetarian offerings at every dining hall on Yale’s campus.
5. Humboldt State University
If you have special food needs, from being vegan to having to go gluten-free, then this Northern California university might be a good choice for you. Humboldt offers loads of vegan and veggie entrees, and there’s no shortage of tofu, tempeh, or veggies on the menu. Additionally, students can take advantage of the school’s organic salad bar stocked with locally grown produce. Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed: The school was just named the 2nd most vegetarian-friendly college in the U.S. by PETA2.
6. Northwestern University
Northwestern University is another world-class college making the list of vegan-friendly schools, letting students feed their minds and bodies while on campus. The school has topped PETA’s list of vegan-friendly schools for the second year in a row. Students can find a wide range of vegan and vegetarian entrees in campus dining halls, including such delicious-sounding entrees as country-fried seitan with vegan mashed potatoes and tofu French toast. The school also participates in “Meatless Mondays,” encouraging students to choose a meatless entree at least one day a week. Whatever they’re doing seems to be working, as 35-55% of students, vegan or not, are choosing vegetarian or vegan entrees each day.
7. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins has worked hard to make sure that vegan and vegetarian students are accommodated on campus. There is an all-you-can eat vegetarian and vegan station in the school’s Fresh Food Cafe, that features great options like vegan chili and tofu stir fry. Additionally, other dining halls on campus serve vegetarian entrees daily, have salad and pasta bars, and made-to-order sandwiches. The school is also embracing “Meatless Mondays.” Students can head to the cafeteria on this day and choose from a number of meat-free entrees that vary from week to week.
8. Bastyr University
If having vegetarian and vegan cuisine at the dining hall is important to you, you may want to look into attending this Washington college. The majority of cuisine served in Bastyr’s dining halls is vegetarian, and all dishes are accompanied by an ingredient list, so students know exactly what they’re eating at every meal. And they haven’t forgotten about the vegans. There are loads of vegan-friendly options as well, ranging from soups to sloppy joes to marinated tofu. Even better, a large amount of the food used on campus comes from an on-site garden that is organic and features lots of heritage and unmodified produce. Of course, you’d expect nothing less from one of the top alternative medicine colleges in the country.
9. Georgetown University
Georgetown is a great school with a great program for vegan and vegetarian students. The school has been ranked among the top 10 colleges in the U.S. for vegan and vegetarian friendliness for several years and offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian meals to students in the dining halls every day. Additionally, many of those vegetables come from local courses, currently accounting for about 7% of the total used each year. The school estimates that last year they served over 2,100 vegan meals each week to students, and the number is growing.
10. St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Vegans don’t have to look far to find something good to eat at this Maryland college. Each dining establishment on campus serves a vegan entree daily, and every weekday students can visit the main dining hall and take advantage of the “Greens & Grains” station, serving a wide range of vegan and vegetarian options. Additionally, every day vegan students can find soymilk and other products, vegan cereals, vegan chicken nuggets, and vegan burgers in the cafeteria. All menu items served are clearly labeled as vegan or vegetarian. It’s easy for students to see what’s OK to eat. And for those who are no longer living in the dorms or don’t want to be on the meal plan, the school is home to a student-run vegetarian and vegan co-op.
11. Brandeis University
Among small schools, Brandeis has some of the best vegan food out there, according to its students and PETA. Students can’t get enough of the school’s BBQ veggie riblets, vegan beef tacos, and vegan brownies; and with the school counting a huge rise in the number of vegan and vegetarian students, it’s trying to accommodate them. Each cafeteria station includes at least one veggie option, ranging from comfort food to grilled foods. If students don’t like the vegan options that night, the school also offers an organic salad bar and several meat-free to-go options around campus.
12. University of Puget Sound
Students at this university can head to the “Vegetarian & Co” section of the main dining hall to find some amazing selections like veggie riblets, stuffed Portobello mushrooms, and veggie burgers. There are other options on campus as well, as each dining hall is host to a number of meat-free entrees all day long. For multiple years running, the school has ranked in PETA’s top 10 for vegetarian-friendliness, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Even better, the schools veggie options are also ecologically friendly, using compostable items and sourcing many foods locally.
13. Bennington College
Bennington College is a small school, with only about 670 people on campus. Of those students, an estimated 200 are vegan or vegetarian. So the school has done what they can to accommodate their dietary needs by offering more entrees free of animal products. The food appears to be the better for it, with PETA recognizing the school for its amazing Cajun tofu with Creole sauce and Indonesian tofu and peanut salad wraps. This Vermont school has more than 66 vegan and vegetarian entrees on its menu, and students can find at least one being served each night in the school’s dining halls.
14. Brown University
Brown takes providing for its vegetarian students seriously, and there are a variety of vegetarian options at dining halls and cafes around campus. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that more than a few dining managers and chefs at the schools are vegetarians as well. Students can find items like veggie soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and pasta around campus or head to the Ivy Room. In this dining hall it’s all vegetarian all night. The school’s main dining hall also offers a “Roots and Shoots” station where students can choose a wide range of hyper-healthy veggies, tofu, and vegan options.
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