Veg Out: The Best Vegetarian & Vegan Food In State College
This one goes out to all of the plant-based or vegetarian Penn Staters who often find themselves faced with the struggle of finding food on campus or downtown.
Picture this. You plan to go have lunch with your friends. They choose a restaurant that you know doesn’t offer anything you would eat besides a salad. Panic sets in, but you decide to agree in fear of feeling like a bother.
It’s frustrating needing to order the same-old salad as your meal when you’re eating out. Unfortunately, many restaurants in downtown State College or on campus have little-to-no vegetarian or vegan options.
In a youth-filled area such as State College, eating sustainably is becoming more and more popular with the growing knowledge of our imminent climate crisis. Choosing to eat vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian, for even just a couple of days a week, is an easy way to lessen your ecological footprint and show a little love to our planet.
Here’s your guide to some of the restaurants downtown and on campus that offer the best plant-based food:
Is anyone really surprised that Irving’s is up first? For the vegetarians, the Very Veggie wrap, Peanut Butter Banana Crunch wrap, grilled cheese, and the grilled portobello sandwich are a few amazing options.
I’ll admit, Irving’s might be better for those sticking to a vegetarian diet — options for vegan folks include only some bagels (a shocking discovery for myself, actually), oatmeal with plant-based milk, the spicy Thai noodle salad, and most smoothies. My personal favorite smoothie is “Going Green.” I even managed to perfect the recipe from home one time.
If you’re an oat milk stan like myself, you know how hard it is to come by. Luckily, Irving’s offers it, along with several other non-dairy milk options.
Green Bowl is honestly the holy grail of vegetarian restaurants in downtown State College. Guests can build their own Asian-style bowl, choosing from type of noodle, protein (tofu included!), veggies, and sauce.
It’s also all-you-can-eat, so you can fill your bowl as many times as you want on a budget. You can truly personalize everything, so this is ideal for those choosing a plant-based diet.
Playa Bowls State College
Playa Bowls certainly has no shortage of plant-based options, offering everything from health shots and juices to açaí bowls and smoothies. This is a great place to get a nutrient-packed breakfast or a mid-day snack.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to personalizing your bowl. You can truly make it your own and adjust toppings to fit your needs. Several delivery services are offered as well, so you don’t need to brace a snowstorm to get it.
As far as I know, Pho 11 is the only true pho joint in the area. You can choose tofu for practically every dish, so it never feels like you’re “substituting” the protein. The menu is very extensive, so you can go every week and try a new flavor. Plus, there are still a lot of folks in the area who haven’t ordered food from here, so it’s also a fun new dish to introduce your friends to.
Cozy Thai Bistro
Cozy Thai is one of the most accommodating restaurants for vegans and vegetarians in State College. There are so many plant-based options, and almost every menu item can be modified to be vegan or vegetarian.
Cozy Thai holds a special place in my heart as a Thai food fanatic. The employees are so considerate of dietary needs, and although indoor dining is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can still order for pickup.
Snap Custom Pizza
Snap Pizza is an age-old classic. Everyone knows it, and most people love it. Something great about Snap is that it offers vegetarian and vegan pizzas, salads, and grain bowls.
Pizzas are customizable by crust, sauce, and toppings. Cauliflower and gluten-free crusts are offered for those with allergies or a preference for a plant-based dough. Vegan cheese is offered for an up-charge, and it also offers an impressive array of veggies.
The salads and bowls aren’t as convenient for vegetarians and vegans as most of them contain chicken and cheese, but it’s an easy fix if you ask for it without.
You just finished class, and you’re starving. You don’t have enough time to go back to your dorm or apartment, so you decide to kill time at the HUB.
HUB Dining isn’t overly impressive in terms of vegetarian and vegan options, but they’re there. Jamba Juice offers açaí bowls, smoothies, and health shots, Soup & Garden offers create-your-own salads, and Starbucks offers bakery items and egg bites for the vegetarians.
Sowers Harvest Cafe
Sowers is the place to go for quality, local, and ethically sourced foods. It’s extremely accommodating for any dietary needs or restrictions and up-front about which options are vegetarian and gluten-free and others that can easily be prepared dairy-free. The veggie pesto omelet is super filling, and the grillatillas are delicious.
Smoothies and salads can get boring quickly. Pita Cabana is a great vegetarian place to order from when you want a Middle Eastern, Mediterranean flavor. It’s a local Lebanese restaurant and it gives off Chipotle-esque vibes. There are so many options to choose from, but it never hurts to stick with classics like falafel.
How could I leave this one out? Along with Snap, Roots must be one of the most popular downtown spots. An added bonus is that it has an incredibly healthy, delicious, and mostly plant-based menu.
Roots carries a huge selection of various plant-based proteins such as beans, tofu, nuts, and other veggies. The bowl combinations are endless. This is the place for those who love to eat plant-based in State College.
Eating plant-based is easy when you have delicious, accessible, and nutritious options. Veg out for more of a sustainable lifestyle, and give these ideas a try!
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