Going out to eat with friends and having meals at home, I always leaned toward the dishes without meat.
Occasionally someone would look at my pasta bowl in the sea of burgers and steak and kindly ask if I was vegetarian. I wasn’t.
After two weeks at Penn State though, I realized I’d only eaten meat once, so I decided to just leave out meat entirely and officially say I was vegetarian.
Being vegetarian means you exclude meat or other animal products, so it didn’t seem too hard.
But after a while on campus, it felt like my meatless options seemed to disappear or became extremely hard to find.
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At Redifer Dining Commons, I’d ask for a veggie burger and have to wait 15 minutes while they specially made it as other people flew by with their hamburgers.
When friends asked if I wanted to go out, my new response was immediately going to the restaurant’s online menu to see if they had anything I could eat.
However, vegetarians shouldn’t give up hope at Penn State.
As diverse as its students are, I have found that Penn State and State College offer a wide selection of food options—you just have to look a little harder for them.
Between grilled cheese and milkshakes at Baby’s Burgers & Shakes, pasta at Noodles & Company, breakfast at The Waffle Shop and make your own crepes at Underground Burgers and Crepes, there’s something for every student at Penn State.
Possibly the most vegetarian spot in State College, Café Verve is a completely vegan cafe.
With a wide range of coffee, smoothies, “morning fuel” and “afternoon fuel” served all day long, there are no shortage of options.
Menu items such as loaded nachos and create your own smoothie bowls give students the option to have something healthy or a little more of a guilty pleasure.
This cute café on Beaver Avenue is a wonderful place where you don’t have to pick through the menu to find the vegetarian options.
As an added benefit, every order at Café Verve makes the perfect photo for any student looking for their next Instagram post.
For students looking to avoid the stereotypical freshman 15, Tazzah Fresh offers healthy vegetarian options. Described as “pick-n-go” style salads, students can mix greens, vegetables, cheese and their choice of over 15 salad dressings.
With rice bowls, smoothies and a juice bar as well, this spot on Calder Way is a fast food alternative to Chipotle.
Cozy Thai Bistro
This restaurant on South Allen Street lives up to its name.
Booths line the walls as candles hang from the ceiling creating a modern, comfy space that serves lunch and dinner.
Ginger stir-fry, Panang Curry, Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles are just several of the items that make up the diverse menu.
After finishing the lunch or dinner entrees offered, Cozy Thai Bistro has a small dessert menu which includes items such as coconut ice cream and Thai custard with sweet sticky rice to perfectly end the meal.
The perfect place on College Avenue to bring vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike is Mamma Mia’s.
Mamma Mia’s has pizzas, calzones, salads, hot and cold subs and pastas that are well divided with vegetarian and meat options.
This relaxed space is a traditional Italian restaurant and has Fettucini Alfredo, Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti, Grilled Veggie Hot Subs and Veggie Calzones that make it great to go to with visiting family members, or just on a fun night with friends.
Running in between class, this bagel shop on College Avenue is a quick spot to stop in at for smoothies, breakfast, sandwiches and salads.
The cafe offers items like “really good coffee,” orange creamsicle shakes, the “very veggie” breakfast wrap, spicy thai noodle salad and of course, bagels.
A cute and fun space with a creative menu, Irving’s Bagels has a menu filled with options for any and all vegetarians at Penn State.