15 of the Most Vegan-Friendly Colleges and Universities
During your time in college, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the dining halls, both to socialize with your friends and classmates and to stay nourished. The great thing about college dining halls is that you don’t have to worry about cooking your own meals, and oftentimes you have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet, meaning that in any one sitting you can have as much or as little of any and all dishes being served. However, there are times when eating in dining halls can be tricky, especially if you have dietary restrictions such as being Vegan. In recent years, colleges and universities around the world have made significant strides in providing options for students following a vegan diet. Discussed below are 15 vegan-friendly colleges and universities that stand out in their efforts.
Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH:
Oberlin has a reputation for being committed to environmental issues and green living, so it’s no surprise that this college is vegan-friendly. The vegan dining possibilities are endless. Highlights include fruit smoothies at Decafé, the vegan sandwich of the day at Science Cart, fresh vegan pizza and cookies at Descomb, and beans and tofu at Stevenson. Other meals that make an appearance on Oberlin’s dining menus include Moroccan-style vegetable tagine with organic tempeh, beer-battered organic tofu with Just Mayo rémoulade, tempeh and wild mushroom fricassee, seitan pepper steak, Ethiopian vegetable stew, vegan tofu lasagna, and vegan barbecue. The college also has two dining co-ops whose focus is vegan and vegetarian food. Through the co-ops, you can even take part in a workshop on tofu and seitan making. If you want to get off campus, hit up TreeHuggers Café, famous for its protein, hummus, and veggie wraps.
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT:
Wesleyan is lucky to have had Chef Stephanie Zinowski since 2002. Chef Zinowski is a well-known vegan chef whose biggest claim to fame is perhaps her to-die-for vegan apple crisp. She hosts vegan cooking classes for students which feature such recipes as cashew tofu bake, baked macaroni and cashew cheese, cashew fried rice, aloo gobi, vegan fettuccini Alfredo, vegan chicken red curry with steamed broccolini and jasmine rice, three-mushroom vegan ragu with penne pasta, and barbecue seitan. The orders for the baked macaroni have had to be multiplied 65-fold in order to meet the increasing student demand. Every other Tuesday, the campus hosts “Veg Out Tuesday,” where the dining hall goes 100% vegetarian and promotes plant-based eating. A 15-minute walk from campus is It’s Only Natural (or ION), a vegan mecca. One of ION’s claims to fame is the vegan shepherd’s pie.
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO:
CU Boulder’s passion for environmentalism is evident in its extensive vegan menu. During the spring break of 2016, campus chefs took part in a Harvard-based training program focused on vegan cooking. The university serves over 50 vegan meals a day every day. To name just a few of the many delectable options, you can enjoy a three-bean chili, hummus wraps, vegan chocolate chunk cookies, vegetable pakoras, pumpkin chia coconut pudding, harvest sushi rolls, aloo matar, tofu rancheros, seitan tacos, and vegan apple pie. For vegan food off campus, have a bite at Native Foods Café. If you’re looking to have some fun with other vegans on campus, consider joining the Vegan Justice League, a student-run activist group.
Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC:
Warren Wilson College is home to Cowpie Café, a student-initiated, completely vegetarian (though mostly vegan) dining hall. At Cowpie, you can enjoy such dishes as beet hummus pita, stir-fried vegetables, and salads. Sadly, Cowpie is only open during the week. However, on weekends, you can head over to Plant or Nectar, both 15 minutes away from campus. At both eateries, you can enjoy a variety of fresh and flavorful vegan tacos, salads, and cold-pressed juices. Nectar even offers vegan cooking classes.
University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA:
In 2012, UCSD opened Roots, an all-vegetarian/vegan eatery, due to student demand. Popular dishes at Roots include vegan jambalaya, gnocchi, and tortilla soup.
University of North Carolina Asheville, Ashville, NC:
You’ll find plenty of delicious vegan options at Café Jet, The Down Under, and the Austin Grill Express at UNC Asheville. However, your best bet for high-quality vegan food on campus is Brown Dining Hall. Enjoy vegan grits, vegan maple pancakes, spicy tofu scramble, chimichurri charred cauliflower, barbecue tofu, vegan chops, and more. Downtown Asheville is also home to a burgeoning vegan restaurant scene.
University of North Texas, Denton, TX:
In 2011, UNT opened Mean Greens, an all-vegan dining hall. Within weeks of its opening, meal plan sales increased by 35%. Mean Greens is the most used dining hall on campus, serving approximately 4500 students a day. Popular dishes include polenta with wild mushroom ragout, fettuccini with greens and caramelized onions, vegan sushi, vegan pancakes, and vegan soft-serve ice cream.
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL:
Vegan activism has a huge place on the USF campus. When more than 3000 students showed up for an animal rights campaign hosted by peta2 and Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK), the campus’s animal rights group, dining services began offering some exquisite vegan options. You can munch on vegan black bean soup, vegan sausages, vegan chicken patties, vegan burritos, “Three-Alarm” Boca burgers, and vegan soft-serve ice cream. There are also several small shops and courts on campus that offer vegan options, including Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jamba Juice, and Loving Hut.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL:
The University of Illinois is home to Field of Greens, an all-vegetarian campus restaurant that’s open every weekday. Furthermore, every dining hall on campus has a clearly labeled “vegan corner” where students can stock up on their favorite vegan yummies. Some favorite vegan recipes include vegan Caprese sandwiches, pumpkin lasagna, spring rolls, veggie/tofu stir-fry, vegan sausage patties, tofu scramble, baked vegan chicken strips, squash ravioli with sage and mushrooms, and vegan versions of your favorite meat-based Asian dishes.
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL:
According to Northwestern’s dining services website, between 35% and 55% of students choose a vegan or vegetarian entrée every day. Many Northwestern students also support the Meatless Monday movement, which aims to spread the message that everyone should give up meat at least one day a week for health and environmental reasons. Popular vegan dishes on campus include curried tofu with jasmine rice, vegan seitan tacos, and garlic orange chili tofu.
University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA:
UC Santa Cruz implements Meatless Mondays in the dining halls every Monday. Some favorite vegan dishes on campus include vegan chicken Milanese, kung pao tofu with sesame udon noodles, and almond seitan. UC Santa Cruz is also famous for its activist culture, and that includes vegan and vegetarian activism. Banana Slugs for Animals is an on-campus activist group dedicated to animal rights and sustainability.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL:
Like Northwestern and UC Santa Cruz, University of Florida also implements Meatless Mondays in its dining halls. Every October, the university also holds an annual Veg Fest, a huge vegan party that features student-run food preparation demonstrations, musical performances, and educational speakers. At Veg Fest, students can learn how to make their favorite dishes vegan.
Ohio University, Athens, OH:
The Nelson and Shivley dining halls at Ohio University have extensive vegan options, including salads, soups, vegan chili, almond and soy milk, vegan ravioli, black bean stuffed peppers, Tofurky sandwiches, vegan orange chicken and broccoli, and vegan cheesecake. Several restaurants in Uptown Athens, including Bagel Street Deli and Casa Nueva, serve vegan foods made from locally grown ingredients. Right by campus is also Kroger Marketplace, where you can find vegan cheeses, fake meats, nuts and grains, and vegan ice cream.
University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA:
You’ll find plenty of vegan and vegetarian options at UCLA’s Residential Restaurants. At Quick-Service Restaurants, you can get smoothies, salads, spicy eggplant stir-fry, and vegan pizza. If you’re looking for a vegan community on campus, you can join All About Veganism.
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY:
There are several vegetarian- and vegan-friendly spots on Cornell’s campus, including the Va-Va Vegan Bar in the Keeton House and One World Café, which has a completely vegetarian and vegan menu. The campus as a whole exudes a pro-vegetarian and healthy living vibe, in part due to the presence of Dr. T. Collin Campbell, an advocate for a low-fat, whole-foods, vegan-based diet. Cornell’s location in Ithaca also contributes to the clean and healthy living vibe on campus.
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Written by: Pavita Singh
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