What are Students Favorite On-Campus Vegan Dining Options?

In an online poll, The Vegetarian Resource Group asked college students, "What are your five favorite vegan foods served on campus?" VRG wanted to find out what is currently being served at colleges, and which foods appeal to students. We had 230 respondents from approximately 162 schools.

The top six favorite vegan foods offered are salad/salad bar, veggie burgers, hummus, stir-fry, burritos, and pasta. These are all relatively easy items for food services to offer, and most do at this point.

The next few popular items are vegetable sushi, vegetable wraps, vegan pizza, and falafel. If vegan items are already selling, college food services may want to think about adding these vegan options.

Other vegan foods that appealed to students were soymilk, vegan tacos, minestrone soup, oatmeal, smoothies, chili, mashed potatoes, spring rolls, tofu scrambles, tomato soup, vegan “chicken” nuggets, veggie subs, bagels, fruit cups/bowls, vegan brownies, butternut squash soup, cereal, peanut butter, polenta, quinoa, seitan, tofu salad, vegan cupcakes, vegan mac-n-cheese, vegan meatballs, vegan sloppy joes, vegetable soup, vegetable salad, black beans and veggies, chickpea salad, edamame, and enchiladas.

Colleges may also want to try offering fried plantains, fried tofu with chili sauce, guacamole, lentil burgers, miso soup, mushroom and barley soup, orzo, portobello sandwiches, Primal vegan jerky strips, pumpkin lasagna, seitan burritos, tempeh, tofu pad Thai, Tofutti products, vegan hot dogs, vegan sausage patties, vegan shepherd’s pie, veggie Indian curry, African pilaf, and Asian noodle salad.

Additional vegan foods college students liked included baked potatos, barbecued seitan, barley soup, beans and rice, bean soup, black bean soup, brown lentil stew, carrot cashew soup, “chicken” fingers, “chicken” pot pie, Chinese food, coconut lentils, Creole pumpkin and lentils, curry seitan, curry tofu and peas, and grilled seitan.

Here are some more options to think of offering: Lentil soup, Moroccan stew, mushroom stroganoff, vegan nachos, pumpkin ravioli, quinoa stuffed peppers, Rice Dream, seitan chicken sandwiches, vegan soyrizo nachos, spinach pie, split pea soup, sweet and sour tofu, tabbouleh, Thai noodles with peanut sauce, Tofurky sandwiches, vegan beef and broccoli, vegan tuna sandwiches, vegan lasagna, veggie stew, veggie kabobs, yuba, and zucchini cakes.

Since these foods are already being offered, foodservice staff at other colleges may want to sell these foods when vegan foods are requested. For vegan students, when approaching your foodservice staff, you may want to suggest these options since they seem to be working at other colleges.



  1. salad
  2. veggie burger
  3. There aren't many options
  4. salad bar/stir-fry (tie)
  5. burritos/pasta (tie)


  1. veggie burger
  2. salad bar/stir-fry (tie)
  3. French fries/veggie wrap
  4. Chili/no vegan options/oatmeal


  1. salad
  2. veggie burger
  3. There aren't many options
  4. salad bar
  5. stir-fry


  1. salad
  2. There aren't many options
  3. salad bar
  4. hummus/stir-fry/veggie burger
  5. burritos


  1. salad
  2. veggie burger
  3. There aren't many options
  4. stir-fry
  5. tofu/vegetable sushi


  1. salad
  2. No vegan options/pasta
  3. French fries/salad bar/stir-fry
  4. Veggie burger/veggie wraps/I don’t know any
  5. on-campus restaurant chains

On-Campus Meal Plan:

  1. salad
  2. veggie burger
  3. pasta/stir-fry
  4. salad bar
  5. burritos/tofu/veggie wraps

Not on Meal Plan:

  1. salad
  2. There aren't many options
  3. veggie burger
  4. no vegan options
  5. I don't eat on campus

23 Years and Older:

  1. salad/no vegan options
  2. French fries/salad bar/stir-fry/veggie burger
  3. I don't eat on campus
  4. burritos/cookies/hummus

Leader of a Vegetarian/Vegan Animal Rights or Environmental Group:

  1. salad
  2. burritos/pasta
  3. salad bar/there aren't many options
  4. I don't eat on campus/stir-fry
  5. hummus/veggie burger

Not a Leader:

  1. salad
  2. veggie burger
  3. There aren't many options
  4. salad bar/stir-fry
  5. French fries/veggie wraps/no vegan options

Thank you to Anna Austin, John Cunningham, Jessica Friend, Sonja Helman, Reed Mangels, Lindsey Siferd, and Charles Stahler for assistance with this project during 2011 and 2012.