By Brittany Anderson
Web Content Contributor
I get it: we’re all broke and busy college students. Between classes, work, bills and everything else life throws at us, trying to stick to a strict vegetarian diet seems impossible right now. It’s why giving into the temptations of the value menu at McDonalds or Taco Bell is so easy.
On top of that, there seems to be these unspoken expectations about vegetarianism from foodie influencers and health nuts alike: if you’re not cutting out meat entirely, and immediately, you’re doing it wrong. This couldn’t be more of an unrealistic, inauthentic approach. The reality is that most twenty-somethings struggle with finding the time, money or energy to buy or cook meatless meals that are still complete with the right amount of protein, vitamins and minerals.
There’s no shame in looking for a quick hunger fix. But instead of hitting up your regular Big Mac or Crunchwrap Supreme, try looking for a vegetarian option. You might find yourself eventually falling into a routine of eating less meat. Here are my top five veggie-friendly places (many of which are also vegan-friendly) to eat at around town that will make your transition into a meat-free lifestyle easier.
1. Earth Burger
Starting us off is Earth Burger— a true gem that San Marcos is lucky to have, considering there are only three other locations. They feature a plant-based menu filled with all your favorites like burgers, chicken, wraps and and even desserts. Plus, there’s the added convenience of a drive-thru. It’s fast food without the dead animals— what could be better?
My menu recommendation: the BBQ pulled jackfruit burger. You might not want real pulled pork again after you try this plant-based alternative that tastes just as delicious.
Industry is one of San Marcos’ newer fast casual restaurants with all the modern warehouse feels you could ever want. They offer tons of unique veggie-friendly appetizers and mains; just look for the handy (vg) on the menu. They also serve brunch, have a weekday happy hour, offer beer and wine on tap, are dog-friendly and host live music events— so if you’re looking for a new place to hang out, this is it. Plus, if you’re in the service industry, tell your cashier and they’ll give you 15% off your bill. It’s a win-win.
My menu recommendation: the cauli tacos. You can’t go wrong with beer battered cauliflower, guajillo salsa and avocado crema. Pay the extra $4 to add a side of crispy parmesan and herb fries.
3. Dos Gatos
Craving something quick and veggie-friendly for breakfast? Luckily, we have Dos Gatos for that. They have a small shop on LBJ that opens at 6:30 a.m.— yes, it’s literally within walking distance to campus, so no need to go to your early morning classes hungry. Try their veggie sausage kolache (add cheese and jalapenos if you want) and for an added touch of sweetness, choose from one of their many classic Czech kolaches like apple, strawberry or cream cheese.
My menu recommendation: the veggie sausage kolache with cheese (obviously) and the raspberry kolache. FYI: their second location on Wonder World Drive offers a full coffee bar if you’re needing some caffeine.
4. Root Cellar
Root Cellar is a humble, underground restaurant located just around the Square, serving American food with an artisanal twist. It’s the perfect spot for a nice dinner out, complete with cocktails and a cozy atmosphere. Many items on the menu can be made vegetarian or vegan; just ask your server. They also serve breakfast until 5 p.m., and their waffles are to die for.
My menu recommendation: the pasta primavera. Filled with seasonal roasted veggies, topped with parmesan cheese and tossed in a white wine garlic sauce, it’s a super light and a fresh way to get your greens in while still carbing up.
Formerly operating as a food truck, Binge Kitchen is now a fully-functioning restaurant, serving up made-to-order plant-based dishes that keep sustainability in mind. In fact, everything— including the plates, silverware and cups— is 100% compostable. Their goal is to offer colorful takes on your favorite foods to show that being vegan is anything but boring.
My menu recommendation: I actually haven’t eaten here yet, but I’m totally eyeing their eggplant fries, chipotle burger and Chinese orange chick’n (sorry Panda Express). It’s important to support local businesses, so let’s all go try it out soon!
If you’re an aspiring vegetarian, just know that it is possible to stick with it in this drive-thru soaked college town. Pace yourself: try eating vegetarian for only a few times a week. You’ll start to get the hang of it and see that it’s not too hard. Not only can you relax knowing that you’re helping your body and the environment a little bit more by cutting down your meat intake, you can revel in the fact that you now have new places to check out.
Feature Image by Vegan Liftz via Creative Commons