Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans

by Aravind Vicinthangal Prathivaathi, Computer Science MS

Welcome to a simple and user-friendly survival guide to all those vegans and vegetarians in the land of limited options. To all my meat-loving homo-sapiens who have mistakenly meandered to this post – no hard feelings guys, love you loads, but not your food choice.

Now to all my Vegetarian friends out there, you are not vegan, especially to those people who come from a country where there is no such classification as vegan established in your roots. Again vegetarian != vegan (have to show my programming skills somewhere). So what is the difference between vegan and vegetarian? Simple, vegans consume no animal products which includes dairy products! So, to all my vegetarian friends out there consuming your body-weight in cheese while telling people you are vegan, time to reconsider your position in the food chain. Also, vegans are people who have made a conscious decision to become.

With that out of the way, shall we get into the details? That’s just a rhetorical question.

Tip #1: 3 out of every 100 people in the US are vegetarians and 5 out of every 1000 people in the US are vegans, meaning our options are limited when it comes to restaurants and food. Solution? As the friendly neighborhood, New Yorker would say “Don’t worry RIT’s gotcha covered”. You have a decent array of options under RIT Dining Services. Here is my list of favorite places and food from those places:

  • Crossroads: You have a set of vegetarian/vegan options in the grill section of the cafe. Also, you can make a subway-style sub/sandwich/wrap. Here is a hack: you want to make a vegan burger vegetarian? Add cheese and your set. Bonus Points: Just come to the cash register and if you are lucky you may see me working over there.
  • Global Village Cantina and Grille: Mexican style food at Salsarita, get a custom-made veggie burrito or it’s sister versions and you’re all set.
  • Ritz Sports Zone: Go to the pasta section, again a subway-style custom made pasta. Add the veggies and get kind of a weird look from people when you say no to meat. Wait for it to bake and done! Side-note: Do not get swayed by the amount of veggie options, choose properly or the pasta contents will overflow and will get stuck in the oven. Happened to me once and they weren’t happy about it.
  • The Commons: I just go over there for the veggie pizza and it’s worth it.
  • Java Wally’s: I go there for the chocolate chip brownie, it’s vegan and it’s the best brownie in the world. Full Stop.
  • Gracies: Unlimited buffet, there is Mongolian grill, salad bars, etc. For more info go to the link at the bottom of the post.

Tip #2: For restaurants outside of RIT, use the GrubHub or DoorDash app to filter them out. My favorite I-need-cheap-and-good-food restaurants are Taco Bells, Subway, Chipotle, Fastrac Cafe (they have cheap pizzas with unlimited toppings) and my kitchen.

Tip #3: The last option you see in #2 is very very important. For heaven’s sake and also yours, learn how to cook or even better find a vegetarian/vegan roommate who knows how to cook.

Tip 4: Join RIT’s Vegan Club, you can find them on campus groups. If you are a vegetarian pondering on how to join the club, just tell them that you are Vegan who eats cheese (kidding, just talk to the club manager). When you are there and if you see my roommate sitting a corner of a room, go say hi. He is a lonely guy.

Tip #5:  To all those people who are used to eating in restaurants with veg demarcated kitchens, you will rarely find them in the US. So for those souls who are conscious about shared utensils used for both serving meat and veggies, here are some tips.

  • Kindly request them to change gloves if they are serving food by hand. You will see this in Subway or any restaurants/cafe that make subs or sandwiches. Remember to be humble when requesting and don’t forget to thank them after you see them changing gloves.
  • Don’t go too much into the details, requesting them to change gloves is fine but asking them to wipe down the entire counter before they serve you is harsh.
  • It’s kind of re-iterating the last tip but no matter how hard you try, it is inevitable that there is going to be some tiny mix-up, if you see it happening in-front your eyes and it heavily bothers you, you request them to alter it or just donate your food to one of your friends. No matter what happens, don’t throw the food away.
  • Most dining places in RIT and restaurants in the US for that matter have separate utensils, so don’t worry too much but remember a good population of the workers at RIT’s dining services are students, so don’t get angry if they mix up the utensils, you can request them to serve you a new piece of food but never shout or act rudely towards them. There is something called Karma and you know what they say about it.

Tip #6: For groceries, Wegmans and Walmart have a lot of options, there are also Indian stores around where you can get veggie-friendly food.

Tip #7: RIT has a program called RIT FoodShare, go check them out if you have time. They have a wonderful bunch of people working there, they will assist you if you are broke and you need some veggies.

Now to conclude and for those people who just skipped to last, simply remember these few things, most food in the US can be customized. RIT has a decent array of vegan/vegetarian options and join the vegan club to at least give my roommate some company.

For more information on the RIT’s dining services, visit: https://www.rit.edu/fa/diningservices/

For the vegan club: https://campusgroups.rit.edu/rvc/about/

To know more about FoodShare: https://www.rit.edu/staffcouncil/rit-foodshare

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