Vegan and vegetarian local cuisine

Judy Tompkins

Taco Tontos serves up some menu items with the vegan in mind.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Finding vegetarian or vegan meals on campus might be a dismal venture, leaving a hungry student with two choices: a hamburger bun or the salad. However, the following tips might be helpful with finding a decent meal on and off campus.

Cafeterias on campus

First, the bad news. Last year, Prentice Hall had a vegetarian and vegan station, but this service was cut because the demand was too low, said Andrea Spandonis, director of Dining Services.

The good news is the food service manager in each residence hall cafeteria will prepare vegan or vegetarian meals if asked, even Kosher vegan.

The Student Center

The Market located, across from the fountain, offers steamed vegetables and baked potatoes, but the vegetables are often frozen and bland; yet, some students prefer to eat at the market instead of the cafeterias, such as sophomore exploratory major Mary Loesch. Loesch usually orders the sandwiches.

She said she likes the Garden Delight, which consists of a grilled portabella mushroom, eggplant with red peppers and mixed greens on focaccia bread served daily; or, the pasta with black beans that the market occasionally serves.

The Hub resembles a shopping mall’s food court with all its fast-food stations, but Einstein Bros. Bagels might be a healthier place to eat. Most of the bagels are made with egg, but the nine-grain bagel is vegan and can be topped off with an assortment of fresh vegetables. For more information about the menu speak to Mike Musical, student manager for the Hub.

Mein Bowl has a limited selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. A popular choice is the vegetable stir fry with cashews served over rice.

“Mein Bowl is OK if you’re demanding about how you want your food prepared,” said Greg Griffith, junior in international relations. “I even ask them to clean the wok before they cook, and they are pretty nice about doing that.”

He also asks that the cook prepares his order with just sesame oil and soy sauce with a bit of Szechwan pepper for extra spice.

Off Campus

Believe it or not, there are choices beyond campus. The following list is a basic dine and shop guide.

Kent Natural Foods Co-op

Kent Natural Foods Co-op, located in downtown Kent at 151 E. Main St., has been nurturing the community since 1971 and is a good place to swap recipes. It’s small, but packed with a variety specialized organic vegetarian and vegan produce and dry goods, grown or produced locally. The store also carries bulk items such as: spices, dry goods, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, bulk tahini, teas and coffee.

“We have the best fair-trade coffees that will knock your socks off and help you study your brains out,” co-op member Jeff Ingram said.

The store is considering accepting Flashcash in the fall. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except for Wednesday, when it’s hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Acme Food and Pharmacy

Acme Food and Pharmacy is located on 1709 state Route 59. The store has a good selection of organic soy-based products, such as vegan cheeses and veggie burgers. If you are looking for something spicy, try Prieda’s Soyrizo. Acme also has shelves of organic dry goods but a limited selection of organic produce. It also accepts Flashcash, and is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday though Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Restaurants and carry outs

Unfortunately, there are no vegetarian restaurants in Kent, but a few have vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. But they don’t accept Flashcash.

Peacable Kingdom Natural Foods Bakery

Peacable Kingdom Natural Foods Bakery is located on 713 N. Mantua St., two doors down from the Crain Avenue Bridge. The bakery serves organic whole grain breads and sweets. The bakery is also known for its Uncle Mo’s Pea Pies, made from whole wheat flour, collard greens black eyed peas and secret spices, which includes a choice of a hommemade hot or barbecue sauce.

“It’s sort of Middle Eastern in a sort of a soul food way,” art professor Al Moss said. “You can’t get more local, it’s anti-Big Mac, and they’re really good for you.”

The bakery’s hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. It’s closed Sundays and Mondays.

Taco Tantos

Taco Tantos is located at 123 Franklin Ave. in downtown Kent. This is a brightly colored local hangout. The food is homemade with a selection of Southwestern inspired burritos, tacos, tostadas and side dishes.

The black beans and rice are made without any animal products. The tostadas are served on a whole wheat shell with several choices of fresh vegetables such as alfalfa sprouts or, a vegan favorite, sweet potato topped with mild or hot sauces. For extra punch, try the habanero sauce.

The restaurant also has monthly specials such as Hoppin John, a dish made with black eyed peas, potatoes and broccoli served over rice, said Maureen Gartland, Taco Tantos owner for 19 years. Their hours are Monday and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 11 a.m. to 12 a.m, Thursday through Saturday and Closed Sundays.

Wild Goats Café

Wild Goats Café, located on 319 W. Main St. across from the currently in-construction Kent Free Library, is a renovated Friendly’s restaurant with a breakfast and lunch menu. It offers veggie wraps and burgers with a choice of homemade vegetarian soup that’s served daily.

“They have a really great sandwich called The Goat,” said Kathy Wirthlin, senior art education major. “It’s loaded with tons of vegetables and hommemade hummus on pita bread for about four to five bucks.”

Occasionally, Wild Goats serves seasonal organic produce, such as strawberries that are served on pancakes or swirled in popular smoothies. The smoothies might be pricey at $3.50, but they contain no artificial syrups, only fresh or frozen ingredients. A popular choice is the Mean Green made with fresh banana, pineapple, mango, freshly squeezed orange juice and spirulina. They are open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.


Chipotle, located at 429 E. Main St., is a fast-food chain but serves less grease. The pintos are cooked with bacon, but the black beans contain no animal products. Many like the guacamole that is made without sour cream or other animal products.

It has a variety of salsas that are vegan as well. All the tacos and chips are cooked in soy oil.

You might have to wait in long lines during the lunch rush. Chipotle offers promotional discount coupons during fall and spring semesters. They are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.


Kent also has a few Chinese carry-outs and restaurants. All of them have vegetarian dishes, but it’s difficult to determine if dishes are strictly vegan. Some students say that vegetables are cooked in the same wok as animal products and are often greasy. So, it’s best to ask before ordering.

Ming Cheng Restaurant

Ming Cheng Restaurant is more of a take out than a restaurant, although there is seating.

The vegetarian and vegan dishes are limited with little choices of dishes made with bean curd. It serves vegetable Lo Mein, but the noodles are made with egg. If vegan, a diner’s best bet is the vegetable Chow Mein over steamed rice.

Meng Cheng is located on 1687 State Route 59 (in the Acme Plaza).

It’s hours are 10 a.m. to 11: 30 Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 11p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 11p.m. Sunday.

Evergreen Chinese Buffet

Some don’t bother with the buffet because the food doesn’t look fresh. However, It offers a wider selection of vegetarian dishes than Ming Cheng. Evergreen also has a few dishes made with bean curd on the menu, such as the house special bean curd. The house special is made with deep fried bean curd with mixed vegetables in brown sauce.

Evergreen is located on 1665 state Route 59.

They are open from 11: 30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 11:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

China City

China City is a casual restaurant that serves 12 vegetarian dishes. Other dishes that are made with meat can be ordered without.

“It’s not a great place to eat, but I like the spongy consistency of the tofu,” said Alexa Stroth, freshman graphic design major. “I usually order the Vegetarian Hot Pot in Curry Sauce.”

When ordering she requests the cook to use less sauce to avoid the grease. Ask them to prepare it with fresh garlic and more fresh broccoli in place of baby corn, which is usually from a can.

So, don’t be afraid to customize requests.

China City is located at 156 Cherry St. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Contact general assignment reporter Judy Tompkins at [email protected].