Doing dinner right: How to be a successful vegetarian on campus

Being a vegetarian on this campus and being healthy sometimes can be difficult. I can only eat so much salad, pasta and vegetables each day before I get tired of eating the same thing at the dining halls. Fortunately, I have access to a car, which I use to get off campus to go out to eat or buy ingredients to cook for myself. Here’s my breakdown of the best dining halls, restaurants and brands that provide meat-free dinners one can enjoy around here.
 
Starting with dining halls on campus, when I’m not in the mood for the pasta bar, salad bar, greasy veggie burger or grilled cheeses, there are some days where I can find dining halls serving meat substitutes.  Highlights include: vegan chicken parmesan and tofu stir fry at Northwest, vegan chicken quesadillas at North, buffalo tofu at South and vegan steak strips (with fried vegetables) at Whitney.

Also shout out to Chuck & Auggies for having vegan and vegetarian substitutes such as breaded soy filet, tofu and “chicken” strips. You’ll be able to find me there at the end of the semester using the remainder of my points chowing down on veggie goodness.

For those of you that have the luxury of living in an on-campus or off-campus apartment, you have a whole kitchen that you can use to your advantage. For me, I’m the only vegetarian in my family so I cook the majority of my own meals. Thankfully, there are brands out there that make the cooking process a little easier. My go-to food item choices are Buffalo wings, hot dogs and sausage patties from MorningStar Farms.

I’m half Italian, so spaghetti and meatballs a prominent dish in my household. Gimme Lean makes meatless ground beef, which can be used to form your own meatballs like with actual ground beef. What I personally like to do is coat them in breadcrumbs before I fry them, which makes them that more delicious. Another dish keeping up with the Italian theme is Gardein’s chick’n scallopini, again with some sort of pasta to go with it.

For days when eating on campus is boring and making your own food is too much work, there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants that cater to your meatless cravings.  

In West Hartford there is Black Bamboo, a Chinese takeout or eat-in restaurant. It offers a full vegetarian menu aside from the conventional meals you’d find in a Chinese restaurant. It’s the perfect place to get food from, with your non-vegetarian friends because it offers a balance of actual general tso’s chicken and the vegan/vegetarian option. My absolute favorite dish to order is their vegan BBQ boneless ribs. Honestly, just thinking about it right now makes my mouth water.

‘Its Only Natural’ in Middletown is constantly getting voted as Connecticut’s best vegan restaurant and for a very good reason. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, there is something for you there. I always try to order something different off their menu when I go, but their southern plate, which consists of southern fried tofu, greens, lemon aioli, black beans and warm cornbread, is to die for.

I cannot list off the best vegetarian eateries without mentioning Claire’s Corner Copia in New Haven. The great thing about Claire’s is that they offer an array of ethnic choices that are also vegan/vegetarian friendly – including, but not limited to, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Kosher. Go there, order anything and I promise you will not be disappointed.


Angie DeRosa is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at angelina.derosa@uconn.edu. She tweets @theangiederosa.