Vegetarian and vegan guide to great meals on campus – blog
Posted by Isabella Cavallo / Photos by Seth Johnston on Dec 15, 2021
When I first arrived on campus I was pleasantly surprised by the endless meal choices and tasty food at Binghamton University. From dining rooms, MarketPlace and Dunkin Donuts on campus, I enjoyed every meal and never got tired of the options.
Fast forward two years when I removed meat from my diet and suddenly felt like my campus dinner options were limited to the same salads every day. I avoided eating in mess halls and cooked at home more often, but I’m a terrible chef and missed a big sandwich on campus. So I decided to do some sort of scavenger hunt and try all the vegetarian and vegan meal options on campus, and it turns out there are plenty! To make it easier for all of you, I’ve ranked my seven favorite options. I think everyone should give it a try.
1. Chili Paneer at the Royal Indian
If you haven’t tried Indian cuisine yet, now is the time to put an end to it. I’ve heard rave reviews of Royal Indian on the MarketPlace, but I haven’t tried it myself (or any Indian restaurant, for that matter) yet. I had the chance to try out each of their vegetarian options and their yogurt based mango smoothie a bit.
First, the paneer tikka masala in the middle of the dish has paneer cheese in a creamy and spicy sauce. Saag is a neutral tasting curry made from the leaves that can be mixed throughout the dish. Chana masala included chickpeas, which are a great source of protein for vegetarians. It was spicy and tangy, but the hot sauce drizzled on top maybe added a little more spice to the meal! I loved the samosa, which was a fried pastry with a vegetable garnish. I don’t know what this is about basmati rice, but it’s by far my favorite type of rice, and it put the whole meal together.
Finally, my favorite Royal Indian option was the paneer pepper. It includes beans, homemade paneer cheese and a sauce. It is sweet, tangy, and tastes delicious mixed with rice and saag.
2. Vegetarian Sub at Wrap-n-Roll Deli
It might sound a bit basic, but I loved the veggie sub I ate from the Wrap-n-Roll Deli in Hinman. Build-your-own vegan and vegetarian subs or wraps are available daily and offer vegans more options than the Boar’s Head delicatessens available in the dining rooms.
I decided to try a sub with lettuce, red and yellow peppers, pickles, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. The veg were all on bread with a bagel-like seasoning and tasted salty, salty, and a little spicy. One of the things I miss the most about eating meat is the big, filling sandwiches, so having a big veggie sub was an A + experience. I also love sweet potatoes so the sweet potato fries were delicious and salty.
3. Grilled black bean burger
I’m a huge fan of black bean burgers as they are almost always on a restaurant menu. It stinks to go out to a restaurant with friends and realize that the only thing I can eat is mozzarella sticks, so black bean burgers always save the day. The Grill, located in every dining room, offers Beyond burgers and black bean burgers every day, and I loved the latter.
The burger was a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly. There was also corn in the patty, and it was served with lettuce and tomato for added crunch and flavor. The bun was hot and overall a great burger alternative.
4. Kogi Tofu Tacos at Breakfast & Beyond’s
Breakfast & Beyond isn’t just about pancakes and eggs. They offer tacos for dinner and vegetarians can enjoy kogi tofu tacos. The meal is served with soft tortillas, citrus chipotle marinated tofu, red cabbage salad, pineapple, cilantro, diced pepper and a white sauce. These tacos taste sweet with a dash of acidity. The firm tofu was marinated in kogi, a Korean marinade with a sweet and spicy taste.
The only thing that would have made this taco better is if the tofu was a bit crispier, but the peppers and cabbage helped add crunch to the bites. Overall, the meal is a great source of protein for vegans and a fun way to enjoy taco nights at the market with your meat-eating friends.
5. Falafel bowls at Garbanzo
One of the meals I miss the most in Binghamton is the gyros falafels from the Greek restaurant near me. When I first cut up the meat, I ate bland Greek salads and watched my parents’ meals with envy. Everything changed when I heard about falafel, a fried pancake or scoop made from mashed chickpeas. When I heard Garbanzo was opening in Hinman and falafel was on the menu, I couldn’t wait to try it.
Garbanzo’s falafel balls were crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside. The pita bread was soft and hollowed out to put your food in. I put the rice, mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes, olives and falafel balls in the pita bread for an explosion of flavor with every bite. I added a little hummus on top and it added a creamy and tangy taste. When I finished eating, I felt full without feeling tired after a heavy meal. Instead, the Mediterranean plant-based meal left me energized and ready to go to class.
6. SPK smoothie at Red Mango
For vegetarians or anyone who finds it hard to eat their green vegetables, the Pineapple and Kale Spinach Smoothie – aka SPK – is for you. Smoothies may lean more into the breakfast or snack categories than the dinner ones, but I love it so much that it deserves an honorable mention.
Red Mango’s SPK has a crisp taste and citrus flavor that gives you a feeling of energy. It tastes sweet, but the strawberry banana smoothie would be more your speed if you enjoyed a sweeter, decadent flavor. Both smoothies are nutritious and delicious, but you can increase your nutritional intake by adding protein powder or peanut butter. Stop by Red Mango in the market square to try it out for yourself!
7. Vegan Beef Quesadillas at the Garden Grill
I only rate this as my favorite of my favorites because I’m not the biggest fan of plant-based meat. Most vegetarians and vegans love Beyond or Impossible meat because it’s a tasty and salty alternative, so I wanted to include at least one of those options. Of the vegetarian meat dishes on campus, Hinman’s Garden Grill’s vegan beef quesadillas were my favorite.
The quesadilla tasted like a little tomato, a spicy taco seasoning, peppers, onion, and a soft but crispy tortilla. I dipped my quesadilla in the guacamole to cool the spiciness and it was almost like I was eating a real Chipotle quesadilla. If you’re not a big fan of beef, Garden Grill meals vary daily and also feature bison cauliflower wings, tofu spice and more, all delicious.
Binghamton University Dining Hall has it all
This list was just a compilation of my favorite options that I tried, but there are many more vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Binghamton University. Each dining room offers a Boar’s Head delicatessen, salad bar, soups, pasta, pizza and fruit. CIW Garden Gifts and C4 Single Servings also serve vegetables and grains.
Overall I enjoyed all of the Royal Indian options and this was my favorite vegetarian meal I tried on campus. If you’re looking for a vegan option in a dining room, I think Hinman has the best meatless meals on campus.
Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or meat lover, we can all benefit from a little variety in our diets. Take a break from your studies for the finals and gather your friends to try out the options on campus and select your own favorites!
Isabella Cavallo graduated in Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University. She spends her free time writing articles for Pipe Dream and Her Campus. When not writing, Bella is usually frugal, playing the piano, painting, or forcing her friends to play chess.
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