Although I am certainly disappointed that the announced College Park restaurants did not include a vegetarian or vegan place (despite how students have repeatedly voiced their desire for such options), I do look forward to trying the vegan options at the businesses. I did some research about each restaurant to assess the vegan accessibility of each.

Pho Xpress

Pho Xpress does not have a website or menu online, but the reviews of their location in San Diego indicate that there are not many veggie options at all — one reviewer gave the place only one star because the “vegetarian” pho was made with meat and the herbs were not fresh. From my experience, most Vietnamese places offer banh mi chay, which is typically a French baguette with seasoned tofu filling, cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon — maybe Pho Xpress will have a similar option. I have tried these sandwiches, but I find them to be mediocre compared to the ones I grew up with. Well, I am biased about Vietnamese cuisine — I think my family makes the best vegan Vietnamese food, so I typically don’t think it’s worth eating Vietnamese food outside of my house or family gatherings (unless I am in Vietnam or at D’Vegan.)

Coolberry Frozen Yogurt

I got very excited after reading Coolberry collaborated with MaxMuscle, “create diet-friendly yogurt and smoothies” — in some cases,“diet-friendly” can mean vegan-friendly. Luckily, Coolberry does have a website and online menu. I couldn’t find the ingredients listed on the site, but I called their location in Ft. Collins, Colo., and confirmed that there were no animal products used in their nondairy sorbets. It looks like we have a victory for vegan desserts. Their site indicates that they have five flavors of nondairy sorbet: Mango, Pink Lemonade, Tropical, Orange and Watermelon! I think I will send an email asking them to make the ingredients available online though — businesses should make that information easily accessible to their customers.

GRIP Mediterranean Grill

I love Mediterranean food, and I am a regular at Beirut Cafe, so I wonder how this place will measure up. As a vegan, the customizeable ten-inch pita sandwiches sound appealing. I hope their salad options include tabouli and fattoush (tabouli is essential to a mediterranean menu, so I’m sure they’ll have that). It is not clear whether the GRIP will offer dishes like falafel or spinach pies (two of my Mediterranean favorites), and I eagerly await the release of their menu so I can find out! I think this might become a place I can walk to, instead of risking a stomachache from eating Subway on campus.

Pie Five Pizza

Some students think we have too many pizza places around UTA, but as a vegan-pizza enthusiast, I must disagree — there is no such thing as too much pizza! Pie Five interests me because of the customizeability of the individual pizzas. I appreciate that the specialty pies include a vegan option that doesn’t even need to be customized: The Treehugger, a thin crust pizza with Tuscan marinara and a variety of veggies. The cost doesn’t sound bad either, $6.59 for a nine-inch pizza in under five minutes? You have my attention!

MAVS Sports Grill

The MAVS Sports Grill concept is new and still in the works, so I couldn’t find a menu or site for them online. As it’s a sports bar, this place doesn’t look too promising for the conscious eater — I expect there will be burgers, fries and nachos. Hopefully they have some kind of veggie burger or wrap.

Overall, I am still bummed that a 100 percent vegan place has yet to be introduced to the campus area (I have fantasized that they would open a place like the Veggie Grill — that would be such a game-changer). However, it’s great to see that these non-vegan places have some vegan-friendly options and I am glad for that.{jathumbnail off}

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