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Surviving Miami: dietary restrictions

I don’t eat red meat or pork. Actually, up until I started at Miami, I was completely vegetarian. Personally, I do it for health and environmental reasons.

Now, this isn’t a lofty worded essay where I pour my heart out on why you should stop eating animals and explain the health benefits of a plant-based diet. You should definitely stop eating as many animals and eat more broccoli, but that isn’t the point of this particular piece. 

Actually, I want to focus my attention on those who are already facing some kind of food dilemma. Students who are thinking, “How do I continue living my food lifestyle at Miami University?” or “How do I live on-campus with my dietary restriction?”

So after two years of living at Miami both on and off campus, this is what I’ve found to work the best. 

As you might have guessed by now, Miami’s dining hall options for people like myself are somewhat limited. Every dining hall will offer vegan and vegetarian options. That doesn’t mean it's good. 

It’s not really Miami’s fault though. They sign a contract with outside dining services which can limit the food Miami brings in from other businesses or competitors. 

That said, Maple and Western dining halls are by far the best. There’s no competition. 

Maple has the largest selection of entrees while Western has the most diverse options. I loved going to the international section of Western because it usually offered more variety than just tilapia and asparagus. 

This might mean a bit of a hike for those on the North side of campus. I found Garden is a good option too, but there’s only so many times you can eat stir fry and salad. 

But dining halls should really be your last resort, or if you’re in a rush. 

If you happened to sign up for the Diplomat Plus meal plan or another plan that offers a lot of declining dollars, you are in luck. You get more options. 

Inside of Armstrong there are a handful of specialty restaurants, which can be a nice change of pace from the monotony of the dining halls. They also allow you to customize your order a little more. 

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The shops have your basic pizza, diner, sandwich and coffee options, sure. But (in a non-COVID year) you can also choose from Mediterranean bowls, sushi and international inspired foods. 

But the best option for on-campus eating are the markets. Because friends, Miami’s markets are exceptional. 

There are 11 markets on campus to choose from, and there’s always one nearby or connected to a dining hall. These markets allow you to have more freedom in what you eat, for a price

I spent half a semester eating ramen with egg and would happily do it again. I know a lot of people without dietary restrictions that will only use the markets to eat just because the dining halls can get boring after a while – even for meat eaters. 

Besides some of the crazy prices, the only drawback would be you may actually have to do some cooking. Most of the food and pre-made meals they have is microwavable, but if you’re late to class that’s difficult to justify. But most markets also have to-go options like prepackaged sushi and salads that make up for it.

Finally, if you’re on campus and love to cook (and are willing to meet some hungry hallmates), or off-campus and celebrating your freedom from the two-year dining requirement, you have the best chance of being able to maintain your food lifestyle. 

For on-campus students, every residence hall has a closet filled with cooking supplies. All you have to do is ask your RA where it is. It’s as basic as cooking supplies get, and everything will definitely have a thin layer of gross, but after a good scrub, it’ll do the trick. 

Once you figure out the bus system, there are some good options for stores outside of campus. Obviously you have Kroger which is probably your cheapest and blandest option, but if you have a little extra cash and are up for a bit of an adventure, the Moon Co-op is the best place to find food in Oxford. 

If you’re a fan of sustainable, locally sourced and delicious food, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Moon Co-op. I spent the latter half of a semester going every weekend and always made a point to try something new. 

But the best part for me was the store's employees. They were always friendly and even gave me a tour of the store once. Each item has a story, so if you have time, ask to hear it. 

There are also pop-up farmer’s markets all around town and I’m sure a bunch of other options I haven’t discovered yet! If you have a dietary restriction, you probably understand how difficult it can be to find food that not only meets your restriction but also tastes good. 

But coming to Miami doesn’t mean giving it up or making compromises on your health. You’ll find your own way of navigating the food in Oxford.

Food is one of the best ways to meet people, so don’t forget to look up from your meal and talk to the people around you. Invite someone over and cook something for them, bring them to your favorite Armstrong restaurant or share a bag of chips from the market. Use your restriction to your advantage and find a community.