Veggie Victories at UTA

photo 1 (2)Vegan brownies at UT Arlington! This is a big deal for UTA vegans. Yes, they are real.

Last week, my friend tipped me off about these vegan brownies on campus, so I decided to have lunch at UTA’s Connection Cafe.

I was excited to find Thai coconut curry noodles in the international line, with a clear “vegan” label. Also, I have since learned that any desserts placed at the vegetarian line will be vegan from now on. Yay!

While there is always room for improvement, I have been previously impressed with the increased availability of vegan options at UTA, thanks to the Vegan Club‘s work with Student Congress and the cooking staff’s cooperation and hospitality. A vegan line has been in place for about a year, but this semester it changed to a vegetarian line. Some vegetarian dishes are veganizeable if students ask for no cheese. Vegan desserts, plus a completely vegan entree in a non-vegan line, were not going to on my list of expectations for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised during this visit.

It’s exciting to have an increase in vegan options all around, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot, it means a great deal to students who rely on the meal plans.

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While UTA is surely improving, UNT’s vegan dining hall is a truly dream come true–UTA’s Vegan Club and I paid them a visit recently, to meet up with UNT’s vegan group. It was a worthwhile trek for good company and good food. We were met with more than enough vegan options to choose from, including fresh focaccia bread sandwiches, tostadas, soft serve ice cream and adorable tapioca pudding shots.

It was heavenly, and my first time having tapioca pudding! Special thanks to Ken Botts, the special projects manager for UNT’s Dining Services, for welcoming us so warmly, and for giving us advice on how to improve vegan options at UTA!

For those who may not know, the vegan cafeteria at UNT inspired UTA students to push for more vegan options on our own campus. We probably won’t have an all vegan cafeteria at UTA, but we appreciate the progress and we are grateful for the cooking staff’s efforts here.

What vegan things have you tried at UTA’s Connection Cafe? Have you been to UNT’s vegan cafeteria? If so, what elements would you like UTA to incorporate from UNT’s practices? Please share your experiences with me below, and feel free to contact UTA’s Dining Services to let them know what you think.

Vegan options at PhoXpress are available and expanding

6/10/13: Dear readers, the vegan options at PhoXpress are somewhat limited now, as of late Spring 2013–please scroll all the way down for the detailed update!

I must say that I am extremely picky about my phở, and most Vietnamese dishes in general. I blame the fact that I grew up in a Aulacese (Vietnamese) household full of food enthusiasts. 

I have heard horror stories about vegan phở at non-vegan establishments. The worst case scenarios recounted to me often resembled the following description, more or less: a bowl of rice noodles in salty broth, laden with MSG and some lettuce. To call that sad scene “phở” is a culinary crime and an insult to the taste-buds. I can’t even process the lack of effort–a complex, aromatic broth is the key to any phở, vegan or not.

PhoXpress set up

Phở condiments!

Based on such descriptions alone, let alone my Viet foodie background, I decided long ago that I would avoid eating phở outside my own home altogether. However, in the past month, I have tiptoed, quite warily, might I add, into giving a couple of places a chance.

Continue reading

Pie Five Pizza Crust Controversy Resolved!

When Pie Five Pizza opened at College Park last semester, all the crust varieties were vegan–meaning vegan students (and lactose-intolerant students) could order the specialty Treehugger pie, or any custom veggie pizza sans cheese. However, this semester, there has been some discussion that the company has changed their crust recipes to include dairy.

Saddened by the sudden cutoff from my only source of vegan pizza on campus, I immediately contacted the company in hopes of hearing otherwise. They were quite helpful in their response and I was reassured to learn that vegan students can still go to Pie Five for all their pizza needs on campus. Continue reading

UT Arlington’s Connection Cafe makes strides with vegan line

The Connection Cafe at UT Arlington now has a 100% vegan line that serves lunch and dinner.

Before the new vegan line came into effect, I never gave the Connection Cafe a second glance. From my lackluster experience at my freshman orientation, I knew the options would be too limited to be worth my time or money. Luckily, things have changed immensely since I first came to UT Arlington. Continue reading

Vegan Froyo at College Park (With Special Discount Offer)

The cold front is on its way out–just in time for the debut of Cool Berry at College Park, which includes vegan flavors!

I found the staff to be both enthusiastic and accommodating.  “There are many lactose-intolerant customers, so we always feature at least one or two dairy-free flavors.” said Vanessa Solis, one of the owners. The establishment offers over 90 flavors of frozen yogurt (41 cents per ounce) that will rotate weekly.

The fruit toppings included fresh blueberries, raspberries, maraschino cherries, grapes, kiwi, blackberries, pineapple chunks and strawberries.

This week, the vegan options were mango and pomegranate raspberry.

I tried both flavors and found the pomegranate raspberry to be a bit on the sour side, while the mango was a bit on the sweet side. The two flavors complimented each other well.

The frozen yogurt also came with a wide array of customize-able toppings, including many fruits and nuts.

I loaded up on all the berries, because berries are my favorite! I also got sliced almonds, kiwi and pineapple chunks. I’m a bit of a fruit fanatic.

Mango and pomegranate raspberry frozen yogurt, topped with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, almond slices and pineapple chunks.

In addition to froyo, Cool Berry also plans to sell bagels, coffee, smoothies and boba tea. Solis informed me that a veggie bagel sandwich will be on the future menu. I look forward to checking out these options once they are available, and I’ll keep you all posted.

If you’re interested in trying this place out, here’s a 20% off coupon for your froyo fix. The cash register was broken when I went, so it was cash-only, but the staff says they are trying to fix it as soon as possible. Bring cash, just in case.

In a previous post, I assessed the vegan potential of a few of the upcoming College Park businesses. Please check back for my vegan reviews of the businesses as they open!

Not so vegan line at UTA’s Connection Cafe?

The Vegan Line is here! Or is it…?

The new vegan line at Connections Cafe has been vastly appreciated by students on campus.

Education junior Andrea Fleeman has been eating at the vegan line every day, and she has been very satisfied with the changes. She has even been taking pictures of her vegan meals at the cafe to show how great the options have been lately. However, today there were some complications with the food offered.

Read Fleeman’s guest post below to find out the recent problems with the line: Continue reading

Vegan dining resolution at UTA: hurdles and results

Last semester, Student Congress passed Resolution 11-19, a resolution aimed at making healthy, plant-based meals more accessible in the Connection Cafe. The resolution, inspired by the all-vegan dining hall at the University of North Texas, called for increased vegan options and ingredient labels on all foods served in the cafe.

Photo courtesy of Richard Hoang (The Shorthorn).

After the resolution was passed, it was sent to President Spaniolo’s office for review. Nursing senior Zak Murphy, a student senator on the resolution’s research committee, has kept me updated with the progress of the resolution. While it is well-known that resolutions can take time to implement, Spaniolo’s course of action came as a disappointment to both of us–as we had both worked very hard to get the resolution on the table.  Continue reading