Posted by Isabella Cavallo/Photos by Seth Johnston on December 15, 2021
When I arrived on campus freshman year, I was happily suprised with the endless meal choices and tasty food at Binghamton University. From the dining halls, MarketPlace and a Dunkin Donuts on campus, I enjoyed every meal and never grew tired of the options.
Fast-forward two years when I cut meat out of my diet and I suddenly felt like my dinner options on campus were limited to the same salads every day. I avoided eating in the dining halls and cooked at home more often, but I am a horrible chef and I missed picking up a big sandwich on campus. So I decided to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts and try all the vegetarian and vegan meal options on campus, and it turns out there’s a lot! To make things easier for all of you, I ranked my seven favorite options I think everyone should give a try.
1. Chili Paneer at Royal Indian
If you have not tried any Indian cuisine yet, it’s time to end that right now. I have heard raving reviews of Royal Indian in the MarketPlace, but I’ve yet to try it out myself (or any Indian restaurants, for that matter). I had the chance to try a little bit of each of their vegetarian options and their yogurt-based mango smoothie.
First off, the paneer tikka masala in the middle of the dish has paneer cheese in a creamy and spiced sauce. The saag is a leaf-based neutral-tasting curry that can be mixed throughout the dish. Chana masala included chickpeas, which is a great source of protein for vegetarians. It was spicy and tangy, but the hot sauce drizzled on top may have added a bit more spiciness to the meal! I loved the samosa, which was a fried pastry with a vegetable filling. I’m not sure what it is about basmati rice, but it is by far my favorite kind of rice, and it pulled the whole meal together.
Lastly, my absolute favorite option from Royal Indian was the chilli paneer. It includes beans, homemade paneer cheese and a sauce. It is sweet, tangy and tastes delicious mixed with the rice and saag.
2. Vegetarian Sub at Wrap-n-Roll Deli
This may seem a bit basic, but I loved the vegetarian sub I ate from the Wrap-n-Roll Deli at Hinman. The vegan and vegetarian build-your-own subs or wraps are available daily and give vegans more options than the regular Boar’s Head Delis available at the dining halls.
I decided to try a sub with lettuce, red and yellow peppers, pickles, tomato, onion and jalapeno. The vegetables were all on bread with seasoning similar to an everything bagel and tasted savory, salty and a little bit spicy. One of the things I miss most about eating meat is big, hearty sandwiches, so having a large veggie sub was an A+ experience. I also love sweet potatoes, so the sweet potato fries tasted delicious and salty.
3. Black Bean Burger at the Grill
I am a big fan of black bean burgers because it’s almost always on the menu at a restaurant. It stinks to get to a restaurant with friends and realize the only thing I can eat is mozzarella sticks, so black bean burgers always save the day. The Grill, which is located at every dining hall, offers Beyond burgers and black bean burgers every day, and I loved the latter.
The burger was a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly. There was corn in the patty as well, and it was served with lettuce and tomato to add some crunch and flavor. The soft bun was warm and overall it was a great burger alternative.
4. Kogi Tofu Tacos at Breakfast & Beyond’s
Breakfast & Beyond is not just limited to pancakes and eggs. They offer tacos for dinner and vegetarians can enjoy the kogi tofu tacos. The meal is served with soft tortilla wraps, citrus chipotle marinated tofu, red cabbage slaw, pineapple, cilantro, diced pepper and a white sauce. These tacos taste sweet with a pinch of tartness. The firm tofu was marinated in kogi, which is a Korean marinade with a sweet and spicy taste.
The only thing that would have made this taco better is if the tofu was a bit crispier, but the peppers and cabbage helped add a crunch to the bites. Overall, the meal is a great source of protein for vegans and a fun way to enjoy Taco Nights at the MarketPlace with your meat-eating friends.
5. Falafel Bowls at Garbanzo
One of the meals I miss most while at Binghamton is falafel gyros from the Greek restaurant by my house. When I first cut out meat, I ate bland Greek salads and looked at my parents’ meals in jealousy. This all changed when I learned about falafel, a fried patty or ball made of mashed chickpeas. When I heard Garbanzo was opening in Hinman and falafel was on the menu, I could not wait to try it.
Garbanzo’s falafel balls were crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. The pita bread was soft and was hollowed out to put your food in. I put the rice, mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes, olives and the falafel balls all in the pita bread for a burst of flavors in every bite. I added a bit of hummus on top and it added a creamy and tangy taste. When I was done eating, I felt full without feeling tired after a heavy meal. Instead, the plant-based mediterranean meal left me feeling full of energy and ready to take on class.
6. SPK Smoothie at Red Mango
For vegetarians or anyone who has a little trouble eating their greens, the spinach pineapple and kale – a.k.a. SPK – smoothie is for you. Smoothies may lean towards the breakfast or snack categories more than dinner, but I love it so much it deserves an honorary mention.
Red Mango’s SPK has a bright taste and citrus flavor that leaves you feeling energized. It tastes sweet, but the strawberry banana smoothie would be more your speed if you enjoy a more sugary and decadent flavor. Both smoothies are nutritious and delicious, but you can up your nutritional intake by adding in protein powder or peanut butter. Stop by Red Mango in the MarketPlace to try it for yourself!
7. Vegan Beef Quesadillas at Garden Grill
I am only ranking this as my least favorite of my favorites because I am not the biggest fan of plant-based meat. Most vegetarians and vegans do like Beyond or Impossible meat because it’s a tasty and salty alternative, so I wanted to include at least one of those options. Out of the vegetarian meat dishes on campus, the vegan beef quesadillas from Hinman’s Garden Grill was my favorite.
The quesadilla had a bit of a tomato taste, a spicy taco seasoning, peppers, onion and a soft – yet crisp – tortilla. I dipped my quesadilla in the guacamole to cool down the spiciness and it was almost as if I was eating a real quesadilla from Chipotle. If you’re not a big beef fan, the Garden Grill’s meals vary daily and they also offer buffalo cauliflower wings, tofu spiedies and more that are all delicious.
Binghamton University Dining Has It All
This list was only a compilation of my favorite options I tried, but there are plenty more vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Binghamton University. Every dining hall offers a Boar’s Head Deli, salad bar, soup options, pasta, pizza and fruit. Gifts from the Garden in CIW and Simple Servings in C4 serve vegetables and grains as well.
All in all, I enjoyed every option at Royal Indian and it was my favorite vegetarian meal I tried on campus. If you are looking for a vegan option from a dining hall, I believe Hinman has the best non-meat meals on campus.
Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or meat-lover, we all can benefit from a bit of variety in our diets. Take a break from studying for finals and gather your friends to try the options around campus and select your own favorites!
Isabella Cavallo is a senior majoring in literature & rhetoric at Binghamton University. She spends her free time writing articles for Pipe Dream and Her Campus. When she’s not writing, Bella is typically thrifting, playing piano, painting or forcing her friends to a game of chess.
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