Eating Vegetarian or Vegan in the Dining Halls

Plant-based diets are growing in popularity, and University Housing’s dining halls and retail locations make it easy to enjoy a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet – or an occasional meat-free meal!

For every meal in each dining hall, we serve at least one vegan or vegetarian entrée and side dish. University Housing staff labels menu items as vegan when they contain no ingredients derived from any animal source. Items labeled as vegetarian follow lacto-ovo vegetarian guidelines and do not contain any meat or meat-derived products.
We also serve prepackaged vegan and vegetarian meals daily in each of our retail locations, as well as made-to-order vegetarian meals to go as part of the hot menu. For maximum convenience, you can use your Dining Dollars in our retail locations in between meals or whenever you need to grab a quick bite to eat.

The brightly-colored image shows a variety of fruits and vegetables in baskets, plus bread and table decorations.

Speaking of locations, we want to highlight two of interest: Field of Greens and Soytainly.

Field of Greens is an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall located within the Lincoln Avenue Residence Halls (LAR). Field of Greens offers an entirely vegetarian/vegan menu and is open for lunch on weekdays. This is University Housing’s premier vegetarian and vegan dining destination, with a rotating menu featuring at least two daily entrées in addition to our standard offerings, plus an extensive salad bar and our ever-popular fruit trays!

Soytainly is a micro restaurant located within the Ikenberry Dining Center (Ike) that serves an exclusively vegan menu for lunch and dinner, seven days a week! Diners looking for 100% plant-based options will be able to build a full meal from Soytainly’s menu, with a rotating selection of entrées and side dishes, and even the occasional dessert!

Every all-you-care-to-eat dining hall has a vegan self-service fridge, where you can typically find options like meatless ham and turkey deli slices, vegan cheese slices, liquid amino acids, nutritional yeast, one or more milk alternatives and vegan, soy-free buttery spread, plus other choices, depending on the day and dining hall.

Each dining hall also has a variety of vegan items available on our rotating daily menus, including one or more vegan protein entrées, one or more plant-based protein sides and at least one vegan or vegetarian soup at any given time. 

Do you enjoy dessert? The Inclusive Solutions stations in the Ike and ISR dining halls always have a vegan dessert on the menu. And – if the non-dessert items at those Inclusive Solutions stations don’t contain meat – they’re nearly always vegan as well, since milk and eggs are never part of Inclusive Solutions’ menus.

A student is shown filling their plate from a selection of fruit offered in a University Housing dining hall.

Three tools you’ll find super helpful when navigating your vegan and vegetarian options with us are the EatSmart website, the Illinois App and the item cards above most dishes served in dining halls, which contain symbols indicating if the items are vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarian items feature a “V” with a leaf on the item cards, and vegan items contain the vegetarian symbol and a second “V” with a heart around it.
The EatSmart website and the Illinois App both feature vegan and vegetarian filters. These filters will empower you with the information you need to self-manage the dining process and navigate exclusively vegan and vegetarian options.
Both tools also allow you to see what items are being served in all of our dining locations – the four all-you-care-to-eat dining halls and our five retail locations. You’ll be able to view nutritional information and filter for all of your dietary needs, including the top allergens for each menu option. The EatSmart website also allows you to see the full ingredient list for any item!

People choose plant-based diets for many reasons, including potential health benefits, religious beliefs, concern for the environment, compassion for animals and taste preferences. Whether you’ve adopted a fully vegan or vegetarian diet or you’re simply reducing consumption of meat and dairy, University Housing is proud to offer you a variety of delicious, nutritious plant-based options every day all throughout our nine dining locations.

Food allergies? Need to eat gluten free? We’ve got you covered. Learn more.