Super Health Food

For many students, meal plans are inevitable; it seems as though there is pretty much nothing for vegans on campus. It is super overwhelming to see so many restaurants and just wonder if any of it is vegan. Although it is difficult to find, there are an immeasurable amount of options for plant-based lifestyles. Whether you’re hitting up the Student Union, Park Student Union, or University, there are so many things to get. Below is the ever-growing list of ways to survive and thrive in a meal plan world. 

 

***Updated as of October 2020. Some restaurants may be closed temporarily or takeout only due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Information about menus, locations, and times can be found at http://union.arizona.edu/dining/sumc/?q=sumc&p=

 

Cactus Grill $

Cactus Grill in three words: Sushi, Scramble, Noodles. I’m not kidding when I say you can find a tofu scramble here. The sushi bar always offers vegan sushi, which will only run $5 or $6. Cactus Grill also has a stir fry noodle bar! The sweet and sour sauce is the only vegan sauce option, but it is seriously so good. Cactus Grill also has a huge salad bar that puts Core to shame. This place is an awesome place to grab food and a booth and study for a few hours.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Sushi

  • Stir Fry noodles

 

Core $$

Although the PSU counterpart far surpasses the Student Union original, Core is a really healthy way to grab a delish salad or carb-filled rice bowl. The Chipotle-style restaurant offers a huge array of veggies and fruits to compliment any craving. The Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing is my fave, and it goes so well with fresh greens. If you have the time, I would recommend the hike to PSU’s Core Plus, but the Student Union location is centralized, quick, and healthy.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Rice Bowl with Veggies

  • Build Your Own Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

 

Einstein Bros Bagels $

Any bagel is fair game; the only three to stay away from are Asiago Cheese, Cinnamon Sugar, and French Toast. One of the best dorm/life hacks I’ve figured out is to buy some vegan cream cheese (I love the one from Trader Joe’s) and bring a little ziploc full of the good stuff with you if you know you’re taking a pit stop at Einstein’s. Einstein’s is also a great place to get fresh squeezed orange juice. Nothing is better than a bagel and OJ before a 9am.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Everything Bagel with Avocado Spread

  • Bagel with Avocado Spread & Veggies

  • Iced Black Tea

 

IQ Fresh $$

If you’re a smoothie-addict, like me, fear not, for you can get your fix at various places around campus, my favorite being IQ Fresh. Usually, I get a build-your-own smoothie and a Garden of Eden Salad Wrap. IQ has a multitude of salads, wraps, smoothies, smoothie bowls, and breakfast options. While the breakfast options are an homage to bacon and eggs, the rest of IQ’s menu is mostly vegan and modifiable. It is a little pricey, but this is the best place to treat yo’ self.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Garden of Eden Salad Wrap

 

Nrich $$-$$$

Probably the first thing I ever notice when I walk into Nrich is the smell of fresh juices, plants, and vegetables. Ranging from hummus (OMG so good!) to cold-pressed juices, Nrich has healthy food galore. Although many of the entrees come in the non-vegan variety, the place is awesome to grab second breakfast, elevenses, or a between class snack. I would have to say my favorite thing at Nrich is their hummus, but I’m always game to buy and eat a whole pack of kale chips before my Chem lecture.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Solar Power Juice

  • Quinoa Sushi

  • Kale Chips

 

On Deck Deli $$

On Deck Deli is basically a better, closer, cheaper Subway. Although meats and cheese are their forte, a vegan sub is easy to come by. I usually land my veggies on an avocado-clad ciabatta roll. On Deck will seriously amp up your sandwich game while simultaneously being a super quick spot to grab lunch. Many dressings are off-limits, but my secret lies within barbecue chips. Stack them high on your sandwich and you’re good to go!

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Vegan Sandwich

  • Barbecue Chips

 

Sabor $$

I love Chipotle, don’t get me wrong. Sabor is a closer option that will save you a few bucks. Their Spicy Lentil Chile (Burrito) Bowl is my favorite post-gym snack; it has the usual fixings: rice, black beans, salsa, lettuce, and the protein-packed lentil chile. At around $7, Sabor offers anything from tacos to taco salads to Burrito Bowls, with Lentil and Calabacita options. It is super filling and yummy, and yes, I know, guac is extra.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Spicy Lentil Chile Bowl


 

So here we are. This is the run down. Now, we have come at the end of the explicit vegan opportunities. We still face more Student Union restaurants: those who could be vegan and those who are definitely not.

 

Those former, consist of two buffets, a large coffee chain, and a mini mart. Pangea and the Arizona Room are buffets that change their menu daily. Some of my hope rests in Pangea, as some days are themed around historically vegetarian cultures. Check out Pangea on their Asian and Greek food days, you may be able to find some vegan goodies. It never hurts to ask how much vegan food is available at these places. As for Starbucks, Starbucks is Starbucks. I won’t say too much about this amazing coffee joint; you can check out PETA’s comprehensive guide (https://www.peta.org/living/food/guide-vegan-starbucks/). Pro tip: Use Tapingo when ordering from the Student Union or Library Starbucks, the lines are always a 20+ minute wait. The UMart is a minimart at the heart of UA where you can find junk food galore. It is only a matter of going and scoping out the place (the vegan cookies are my favorites).

 

And here we are at the latter: Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, Papa John’s Pizza, Steak and Shake, and the scoop. Unfortunately, vegan options are not available at any of these places. Coincidentally (or not) this refrains those plant-based to stay away from excessively unhealthy food. Fear not: Gardein will satisfy your Chicken needs, home cooking will satisfy salty cravings, ordering a whole pizza from Papa John’s (cheaper and more pizza) is better, again, vegan ice cream and nondairy milk will make more and cheaper shakes, and hello, vegan Ben and Jerry’s. To be honest, you aren’t missing out on much.

 

Now for some of our off-campus recommendations:

 

Jimmy’s Pita and Poke $$

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Hummus Pita Bowl

  • Falafel Pita Bowl

 

FuKu Sushi $$

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Avocado Roll

  • Vegetable Roll

  • Tofu Teriyaki Bowl

 

Tumerico $$

A Latin style restaurant offering vegan and vegetarian options such as tacos, enchiladas, tamales and fresh juices.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Tumerico Burrito

  • Red Chili Tamales

 

Lovin’ Spoonfuls $$

This restaurant offers a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to check out some of their desserts as well!

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Tofu Scramble

  • Hummus Sandwich

 

Govinda’s $$

Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet is a buffet-style restaurant offering a range of organic foods from breakfast to dinner. 

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Vegan Dinner Plate

  • Samosas

  • Vegan Chocolate Cake


Tanias 33 $

Tanias 33 is a casual Mexican-style restaurant offering a variety of vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a great price.

Our Favorite Picks:

  • Vegan Tortilla Soup

  • Taco Salad

  • Soy Chorizo Burrito

I hope you've enjoyed this low-down on what’s up in the vegan Student Union & Off-Campus world. If you'd like to contribute your own UA vegan food reviews, we'd love your input!

 

If you have any questions or found an amazing new food item in or around the UA, ask away and spill the tea to uaveggiecats@gmail.com.