Vegans can eat in the dining hall, and they sure can enjoy it, too! Here's how-to hack a college dining hall as a vegan.

Vegan Freshman Fear

On my first day of college at Wake Forest University, my roommate and I ventured to the dining hall for breakfast. It was daunting, to say the least. Not just the typical freshman fear… the vegan freshman fear. I didn’t know what I could eat, everything in the tin trays and on the griddles seemed to be meat, eggs, dairy, or things with eggs and dairy. At that moment, I truly thought I would never be able to utilize my dining hall meal swipes. Sorry mom and dad!

Now, being a sophomore, I can confidently proclaim that I love the dining hall: the Pit (look here for our WFU specific dining lingo!). I want to share how I hack my college dining hall as a vegan.

A little background: I have been vegan for over 5 years! I started eating vegetarian in middle school, and then slowly transitioned into veganism as I moved up into high school. Essentially, I’m no stranger to hacking all sorts of food-scenes to meet my vegan desires.

Let’s get into it!

General hacks:

Look at the menu online! Whenever I’m bored in class and need something to look forward to, I pull up the dining hall’s menu and see what’s cooking. Our menu even has a “Vegan” filter that highlights all the vegan options.

Search through the allergy-friendly station. At my dining hall it’s called “True Balance” but essentially all the food there is free from major allergens, like dairy. So, I never have to worry that the rice or veggies there will have butter.


1. Avocado Toast. Grab some bread, toast it up, build up the courage to go to the sandwich station and ask for a side of avocado (I promise, it’s not awkward, and they’re not judging you!), top it off with some hot sauce (hot sauce fanatics - look here!) and honey for that sweet and spicy balance.

Sydney Raslowsky

2. Bagel or toast with sunflower butter and banana. Spice it up with honey, cinnamon, and chia seeds.

3. Oatmeal. Typically, buffet style batches of oatmeal are made with water instead of milk, making it a great dairy-free breakfast option. Reach into the fridge to top it off with some plant based milk for the true creamy element. Stir in some fruit for some natural sweetness.

4. Fruit. Although the rotation of types of fruit in the dining hall is minimal, the quality is always prime. My favorites of the options are grapes and pineapple, which I usually grab a bowl of no matter what meal I’m eating. Breakfast has an even broader array of fruits, typically raspberries and blueberries and anything in season.


1. Vegan Station. The vegan station is a blessing: it's stress-free and never boring. I’ve had vegan quesadillas, mac ‘n cheese, chickpea masala, curries, teriyaki tofu… the list could go on and on. Here’s a wrap with rice and veggies, a spaghetti squash salad, and grilled asparagus. Oh, and of course, a vegan cookie! (Whenever they have vegan desserts, I have to try them!)

Sydney Raslowsky

2. Salads. They don’t have to be boring and unfulfilling. Toss in some tofu (the tofu here is SO good!), some beans (I love chickpeas!), rice or quinoa, nuts or seeds (my favorite are pumpkin seeds) and any roasted veggies you find at other stations. All this with some crunchy lettuce, raw veggies, and dressing makes for a tasty and satisfying meal.

Here are some of my favorite recent salad bar creations:

Sydney Raslowsky

This one has arugula, a sweet potato kale sauté, cucumber, chickpeas, tofu, red onion, cauliflower, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Sydney Raslowsky

Here I had romaine and arugula, asparagus, quinoa, pickled red onion, carrots, chickpeas, tofu and ginger dressing.

3. Stir-fry. The stir-fry station is not a consistent station at the Pit, but when it’s there, I am too! I love getting rice noodles with tofu, bamboo shoots, onion, garlic, broccoli, carrots, and spinach with a spicy sauce.

Sydney Raslowsky

When all else fails, I reach for a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Our main dining hall doesn’t serve peanuts, so I often venture to our north campus dining hall to fulfill that craving… a whole 10-minute walk!) It seems to especially hit the spot on a rainy day or after a challenging exam. There are so many ways to spice it up! Add some fruit like banana slices. Drizzle on some honey or shake on cinnamon. My school even has flavored nut-butters like “carrot cake almond & walnut butter.” Try your sandwich open-faced or pressed together.

Special Days:

Wake Forest participates in “Pitsgiving” and they never shy away from the amazing vegan options. Don’t worry, being vegan doesn’t prohibit you from participating in the festivities! Here’s my Pitsgiving 2021 spread. BRB, drooling. Pitsgiving 2021 can’t come soon enough.

Sydney Raslowsky

In whole, being a vegan college student who utilizes their meal plan is simple, as long as you know the how-to and the hacks. Don't be afraid to combine stations or ask for help to hack a college dining hall as a vegan. Happy dining!