As a vegetarian, I know it can seem difficult to find a well-balanced meal on campus. Some days it feels like all I eat are carbs: meals primarily made up of pasta or rice. However, maintaining a proper diet on campus doesn’t have to be hard, and fortunately, I have discovered easy ways to include more plant-based meals in my diet.
The Dining Halls
If you’re on campus and have a meal plan, the dining halls are a great place to start. Franklin, Worcester, Hampshire, and Berkshire dining commons focus on different foods from all around the globe. From sushi to stir fry, pasta, pizzas, and tacos, you can customize your plate to your diet. All the dining halls have a wide selection of foods at the salad bar, so when you’re stuck or need to add some more veggies to your plate, check out the salad bar. When I get a plate of pasta or rice, I like to add some other things to it to make it more nutritious, whether it be a tofu dish, some roasted vegetables, or another protein like chickpeas or beans. Franklin and Hampshire dining commons also have stations that are specifically vegetarian and vegan, making it easier to find meals that fit your needs.
In the center of campus, you can find a variety of healthy and delicious foods at Harvest Market and Blue Wall. Harvest Market is a great stop for all of your basic grocery needs. They carry fruits, snacks, drinks, and even meals, so you can grab everything you might need for the day.
Blue Wall has several different restaurants to choose from, including Tavola for a Mediterranean-focused cuisine, Yum! Bakery & Paciugo for your dessert needs, Green Fields for a variety of salad options, Tamales for Mexican food, Wasabi for sushi, Star Ginger for all Asian cuisines, and The Grill for burgers and milkshakes. UMass’s campus center is a great stop to find a variety of different cuisines. The only con: they don’t take meal swipes.
Outside of Campus
Finally, beyond campus, there are a number of healthy food places to try. There are many restaurants and cafés around the Amherst area that have great vegetarian options and also focus on including locally sourced foods. On Saturdays, Amherst also holds a Farmer’s Market, so that you can find all kinds of local products. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods aren’t too far either, and you can definitely find many options there!
Having dietary restrictions in a new place can be daunting, but after some exploration and figuring out what works best for you, it’s not too bad. Luckily, we live in an area that values local farm-to-table produce, and finding places with healthy vegetarian and vegan options isn’t as challenging as it may seem.