With dozens of food trucks, restaurants and dining halls lining Main Campus, students face the challenge of narrowing down where to eat lunch every day. The task gets even more difficult for students with dietary restrictions stemming from allergies, ethical preferences or religious beliefs.
Fortunately, several options still exist for those who need to be a little more selective with their lunches.
Students following a vegan diet refrain from consuming all foods containing animal products like eggs, meat and milk. Depending on preference, vegan students may also avoid oysters, crustaceans and foods containing honey or gelatin, a protein often used as a thickening agent in foods like cakes, puddings and ice cream.
“It’s hard eating vegan on Temple’s campus,” said Dionne Smith, a senior public health major who follows a vegan diet. “This isn’t [Los Angeles]. In [California], they literally have vegan dining halls and vegan food trucks.”
To follow her diet, Smith usually meal preps her own lunches. When she eats at food trucks on campus, she visits Cha Cha, a truck that serves Korean and Japanese foods on Montgomery Avenue near 13th Street.
Smith’s favorite item is the curry tofu. The truck also offers several vegan-friendly dishes like a kimchi seaweed, tofu teriyaki, a spicy noodle soup called Ra Myun, and cha cha, which is vermicelli noodles with tofu.
Some other food trucks that are popular among students who are vegan are Vegan Tree, a truck on Norris Street near Liacouras Walk, which serves vegan Philly cheesesteaks, stir-fry rice, vegan burgers, patty chow mein and vegan chicken sandwiches. Soul D’lysh, a soul food truck on 12th Street near Polett Walk, offers vegan black bean burgers, vegan cheesesteaks, seared salmon and fried cauliflower.
The Taste of India, a new truck on Montgomery Avenue near 13th Street, serves vegan channa masala, a chickpea-based meal, and vegan rajma, a dish made with red kidney beans.
When Rabia Ugucu came to Temple University, she stopped eating halal foods.
“I had a meal plan and started eating everything I saw in the dining halls,” said Ugucu, a senior management information systems major. “I didn’t eat pork or drink alcohol, but I ate beef and chicken that weren’t halal.”
In Arabic, “halal” means “permissible,” and when used to describe food the term refers to how food is prepared, starting with how an animal is raised on the farm to how it is slaughtered and prepared, according to the Muslim faith.
After her freshman year, Ugucu decided to return to eating halal foods. Now, she asks if any alcohol or meat products were used to cook a meal when she goes out to eat.
Ali’s Middle Eastern, an eatery at The Wall on 12th Street near Polett Walk, is owned by someone who practices Islam. It offers students halal food options. Ugucu’s go-to order there is the chicken fingers.
When she orders from other places along The Wall, like Orient Express or Tai’s Vietnamese Food, she sticks to the veggie dishes or gets shrimp as a protein.[wp_quiz id=”87611″]
The Caribbean Feast Mr. Jerk King food truck, on 13th Street near Montgomery Avenue, sells halal jerk chicken and occasionally has goat as a specialty item.
The food truck’s chefs don’t use animal fats or meat products in the rice and peas, cabbage or collard greens, which are popular sides for the lunch platters. Similarly, vegetarian options, like the veggie peppersteak, veggie chicken and veggie beef are made with soy tofu and are popular among customers, said Miguel Santiago, a server at the truck.
Zaydee’s Kosher Delicatessen at Hillel at Temple University in the Edward H. Rosen Center for Jewish Life at 15th and Norris streets is Temple Dining’s only kosher-exclusive dining hall.
A kosher diet stems from guidelines in the Jewish religion that outline foods that can be consumed based on how they’re prepared or slaughtered. Students following a kosher diet eat meat from animals with split hooves, like cows, sheep and goats, that are slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law, among other restrictions.
“Hillel has a view that people should be Jewish in the way that works for them,” said Susan Becker, the Jewish life director at Temple Hillel. “We don’t judge people or demand that people live a certain way. If you don’t want to keep kosher, that’s cool with us. But we’re happy to be an option for anyone who needs it.”
In addition to a variety of sandwich options, like turkey, pastrami, white fish, and Fluffernutter, Zaydee’s offers falafel, matza ball soup, chicken fingers and fries, and beef and veggie burgers.
A pescatarian diet includes fish and seafood, but not other animal meats like beef and poultry.
Kristi Bezhani, a 2018 global studies alumna, identifies as a blue-zonian pescatarian. Blue zones are the five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the United States with the highest concentrations of people who live to 100 years and older.
“I’m a pescatarian, and health is one of the most precious things in life to me,” said Bezhani, who is from Albania. “I’d like to live a long life.”
Bezhani regularly eats beet burgers, hummus, grilled cheese sandwiches and soup options at The Rad Dish Cafe in Ritter Annex. Burger Tank on Norris Street near 13th offers a crab cake burger.
The tilapia sandwich or fish platter at Puerto Rican cuisine truck 4 Brothers Loco Flavor, and the fried-fish hoagie or shrimp burger from the Honey truck are both strong seafood options, she said. Both trucks are on 12th Street near the Science Education and Research Center. A tuna salad, tuna melt and flounder platter are available at the Adriatic Grill on The Wall.
Many of the food trucks on campus and food stands at The Wall offer vegetarian options or meatless dishes. Burger Tank’s vegetarian options include a portobello mushroom burger, caprese and craisin salads, eggplant melt sandwiches and four-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches.
Students can order seafood and veggie savory crepes at The Creperie at Temple on Norris Street near 13th, and tofu rice or noodle bowls and vegetable kim-bab at Temple Teppanyaki Japanese and Korean Food on 12th Street near Norris.
Chop Chop, a Vietnamese food truck on Montgomery Avenue near Liacouras Walk, can make all their menu items with tofu, including the chicken and pork tacos and pork banh mi. Top Bap on Norris Street near 13th serves traditional Korean dishes, like bibimbap and seaweed salad.
All of Tai’s Vietnamese Food’s soups, fried rice, noodles, pad thai and rice noodles have a vegetarian option. They also have tofu dishes with eggplant, General Tso’s sauce and bean sprout.
Vegetarian students can also enjoy the Cali veggie burger at Honey and the vegetable biryani and vegetable samosas at The Taste of India.