I am both a vegetarian and a profoundly lazy person. This means my dining habits usually entail stuffing a takeout box with an entire cheese pizza on a Sunday night and eating it in my room over the course of the week.
But this week I cast out my “to-go” boxes and plunged into the realm of on-campus dining. I also brought along my Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate. Our mission was to document the best of NYU’s vegan and vegetarian dining options. It went well. For a little while.
Monday Dinner, Hayden:
Hayden is renowned for having NYU’s most vegan-friendly cafeteria. On top of that, it hosts Meatless Mondays every week, so when Roommate and I enter, we’re in our element. Meatless Monday is almost completely true to its name, offering a great variety of vegetarian foods, with one chicken dish isolated in a corner.
Cue gluttony. We heap our plates with couscous and salad and other unidentifiable-but-delicious vegetables. If this is what NYU dining is like, then I love it. I want it to be Meatless Monday everyday. I help myself to several cookies and predict how easy this week will be.
Review from Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: “I mean, it was good. They had vegan pasta sauce which was considerate. I just wish they’d specify which desserts are vegan. Can I have a Hayden cookie? I guess I’ll never know.”
Tuesday Lunch, Third North:
The staff in Third North’s cafeteria know me as “that girl who comes and puts all our pizza in takeout boxes”. Today, however, I opt for their vegetarian grill. The Third North vegetarian grill station usually devotes itself to one dish per day; today it’s some kind of noodley tofu affair. It doesn’t taste like much, but Third North redeems itself through its salad bar and its inexplicably large supply of oranges.
Review from Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: “I asked the guy at the grill if this was vegan. He said yes and then put cheese on it. I’m so upset.”
Tuesday Dinner, Downstein:
Returning students take note: Downstein looks like a clean JetBlue terminal now. I head for the Mongolian BBQ station which, after a long line, turns out some surprisingly delicious vegetarian noodles. The salad bar is impressive, too, but the waffle machine becomes the sole object of my attention. Waffles and unlimited chocolate syrup aside, Downstein is a great place to get healthy vegetarian food; just expect a wait for the BBQ and wrap stations.
Review from Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: “It took forever but this wrap is worth it. Well done, Downstein.”
Wednesday Lunch, Kimmel
Kimmel overwhelms me in a wonderful way. It feels like a food court, I have no idea which line I’m standing in, and I still don’t understand what combination of foods constitutes meal swipe, but I want to eat absolutely everything here. We get in a random line—nearly every counter offers a vegetarian or vegan option—which turns out to be for Chinese food. Fine by us. We gorge on fried rice, tofu, and fortune cookies.
Review from Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: “My stomach knows what love feels like.”
Wednesday Dinner, Upstein:
It’s nearly midnight, I still haven’t eaten and—DOES THAT MEAN ALL-DAY BREAKFAST? It does; I order a full freshman-fifteen’s worth of french toast and eat it proudly. I’m not sure what else is available because I’m mostly asleep and cradling my french toast like a hard-won trophy.
Review from the Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: “Eggs, eggs, everything is eggs here. Eggs or Chik-fil-a. I can eat none of this.”
Thursday Lunch, Rubin:
I’ve never been to Rubin’s cafeteria before. I’ve been told to avoid it. But as it’s my first time visiting, I decide to go in style. I stroll in with my camera, ready to document whatever horrors await. To my surprise, it doesn’t look so bad. Small, maybe, and a little dingy, and there are Goldfish crackers on the salad bar but nothing awful. Then I turn on my camera.
I never knew NYU’s cafeterias had information-security guards. But they do, apparently, as I learn when a woman comes careening from the shadows to stand in front of my camera. “What do you think you’re doing?” she demands. “You can’t take pictures in here!”
“I’m sorry,” I offer with my best freshman face. “I had no idea! I’ll just take my food and go.” She watches suspiciously as I spoon some kind of vegetable onto my plate. She watches as I fill a cup with soda. She is still watching when I take out my phone to answer a text message. I know this because she sprints across the cafeteria demanding, “are you taking video on your phone? Are you filming right now?”
She helps me find the exit.
In my newfound spite, I take a picture on my phone. YEAH, STICKIN’ IT TO THE MAN.
Review from the Hyper-Critical Vegan Roommate: N/A; she’s off getting a vegan tattoo.
Thursday Dinner, Palladium:
I still feel bitter. I feel as though there’s a lesson to be learned here, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I imagine dramatic music following my newly-jaded character as I peruse the the sushi display. In a rash moment, I decide I wasn’t ready for this, and I relinquish the rest of this weeks’ meal swipes; specifically I spend them all on sushi.
Hey look, I have takeout for the rest of the week now. I hope all of this will last in my mini-fridge.