Rice University is a research university located in Houston, Texas, near the Texas Medical Center and the Museum District. With only about 4,000 undergraduates and 3,000 post-graduates, Rice is a relatively small school focused on undergraduate teaching. Before matriculation, each undergraduate is randomly assigned to one of eleven residential colleges, a system similar to college programs at Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, or even Harry Potter’s houses. Each college has its own culture and dorms. Among the colleges, six serveries or dining halls (South, Sid Richardson, Seibel, Baker, West and North) provide food for students. The servery food, which is planned, cooked, and served by culinary professionals, has received high rankings by USA Today and the Princeton Review. Not surprising, considering that 90% of the food is cooked from scratch. Additionally, the chefs are committed to using local produce, with 25% of ingredients coming from vendors within a 200-mile radius, which includes Rice’s own weekly Farmers’ Market.
Given Rice’s increasing focus on a plant-based diet (termed My Plant-Based Journey), eating as a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore who wants to eat more plants is feasible and exciting. With creative plant-based dishes like cardamom-creamed spinach, muffins, pizza, and chocolate beet-cupcakes, students are well-fed and rarely disappointed. Daily options always include a salad bar with quinoa, boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, and all types of vegetables. Fruit and yogurt are also almost always available. Hot items rotate daily.