University dining offers varied choices for vegetarians


Cameron Krasucki

A students picks out what he wants to eat at Illinois Street Residence’s Grains & Greens station. Vegetarians living in the dorms found that seeing what each dining hall has been serving helps them find a healthy meal to fit their needs.

By Alex Chang, Staff Writer

For students living in University Housing, including most freshmen, a main complaint from vegetarians and meat-eaters alike is the monotony of food that sets in after a few weeks.

Finding a meal that satisfies dietary rules for vegetarians and vegans, however, can be tricky. Add the difficulty of finding something that also is tasty, and the act of picking what to eat at a dining hall can be surprisingly hard.

Dining hall operators have to take into consideration health, taste, cost and ease of cooking among a myriad of other factors in designing a menu, says Melissa Schumacher, assistant director and Dietitian of Dining Services.

“Our job as the Dining Services team is to ensure that all of our customers get meals that they want to eat, while also making sure what they eat is conducive to a healthy time at the University,” Schumacher said. “It’s this really fine balancing act, but it’s a lot of fun to think of new ways to fulfill their needs.”

Part of that variety includes main entrees, which are the hardest part to design, said Schumacher.

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“Main courses are the star of the show for a meal, and our goal is to always include at least one main dish that is vegetarian so everyone has something to eat.”

Part of that variety includes main entrees, which are the hardest part to design and “the star of the show for a meal,” according to Schumacher, who works with the team to ensure that at least one main dish offered at the dining hall is vegetarian.

Students who live in University Housing, such as sophomore and vegetarian Nihar Bodicherla,  have discovered that the key is bouncing around different dining halls attempting to explore their options. 

“At first I thought that all the dining halls were the same, so I never left to try any of the other halls, and man was that a mistake,” Bodicherla said.  “Now I realize that each hall has its own quirks for its food.” 

Around campus, students commonly rave about ISR’s Grains & Greens and LAR’s Field of Greens. Both are micro-restaurants dedicated to serving the vegetarian and vegan community.

“Since Grains & Greens offered us a chance to newly design from the start something to show off the vegetarian dining experience, we chose to reflect that in its green and earthy colored theme which perfectly complements the vegetable-focused dishes that it serves,” said Carrie Anderson, administrative executive chef.

Students seem to agree as well. When asked about the dining hall with the best vegetarian and vegan options, one choice that consistently emerges is ISR. ISR’s food quality and made-from-scratch focus is extremely appealing to students, who often travel across campus just to eat there.

“I really appreciate that the food is cooked in front of you and you can see all the grills and stoves that are being used to make the next batch of food,” said Arnav Sethi, a sophomore living in Hopkins Hall.

Despite the distance from other University halls, ISR acts as a magnet for hungry diners all across campus.

“The building looks like a high end shopping mall and I love it!” Bodicherla said. “Even if I have to bus all the way across campus to ISR, the food and experience is so good that it all becomes worth it for me.”

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