U-M With Dietary Restrictions

My experience as a vegetarian on campus.

By Alexis Howard February 22, 2023
Food spread including chicken wings, French fries, and bagel.

This post is a love letter to my fellow students with dietary restrictions.

The summer before college, I decided to try and stop eating red meat for environmental reasons. It felt good for my body, so I chose to stick with it. But I had a lot of questions about how the dining halls at U-M would support my new diet. Would it be challenging to find food that would nourish me?

In this blog, I want to share my journey navigating a plant-based diet at U-M. I’ll also include insights about how the dining halls on campus accommodate allergies and other dietary restrictions.

From day one as a first-year, I was pleasantly surprised by the dining halls. Each of the dining halls on campus has a dedicated section called “24 Carrots,” which offers nutritious vegetarian and vegan options every day. I loved the variety and found it easy to find something that I liked to eat every day.

In fact, I found it so easy that I accidentally stopped eating meat altogether. I’m not kidding. Around January my first year, I realized that I hadn’t eaten meat in two weeks, so I decided to try out being vegetarian. Again, to my relief, the dining halls made my decision easy. Honestly, it was really helpful for me to start out with my plant-based journey while I was still eating in the dining halls. As anyone who has changed their diet knows, it can be hard to figure out what to cook and discover your new favorite meals. Thankfully, the dining halls gave me lots of ideas which were helpful once I started cooking for myself later in college.

As someone who has now moved off campus without a meal plan, let me tell you that A2 is an exciting place for people with a plant-based diet. In terms of restaurants, I adore the Detroit Street Filling Station, First Bite, and Sava’s, among others. Although, nothing beats the Campus Farm Stand. Every Thursday from July-November, the farm stand is set up on campus with fresh vegetables from the campus farm. The Campus Farm Stand is not only student-run, but it also offers great student discounts. I couldn’t be more thankful to have access to fresh, local, affordable veggies on a regular basis.

Me smiling with kale, courtesy of the Campus Farm Stand
Me smiling with kale, courtesy of the Campus Farm Stand.

For the students out there with other dietary restrictions or allergies, be assured that the dining halls will take care of you too! Michigan Dining is careful to provide options that are safe and nutritious for students with allergies and gluten-free students. The dining halls also provide regular and holiday-specific meals for religious observance. And, for students like me who like to plan ahead, you can see the meal options at every dining hall for the day on the Michigan App, conveniently labeled with allergens and for dietary restrictions.

Finally, I would be remiss in a blog post about food at U-M to not mention the Maize and Blue Cupboard. This is an incredible resource on campus where students can get free groceries.

I’ve been vegetarian for three years now (almost my entire time at college!), and I’m so thankful to live in a city and attend a university that has supported my journey moving to a plant-based diet. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, I promise there is a place for you here.

Kale to the Victors!!

Alexis Howard
Alexis Howard

Alexis Howard is a senior from Pinckney, Michigan studying public policy through the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with a minor in Spanish through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Alexis works as a tour guide on campus and loves meeting prospective students. Outside of class, she plays trumpet and is a rank leader in the Michigan Marching Band. In her free time, she enjoys trying new vegetarian recipes and admiring the squirrels on campus.