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A newcomers guide to eating vegan in Orlando

Tofu town

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College students and newbies to town, take note: Orlando's fast-growing identity as a great food city means that staying within the confines of your school's dining hall or living on Amy's frozen burritos is practically a crime. This holds especially true for vegan students, because let's be frank – no meal plan has ever provided vegan options to the extent promised on the campus tour. So when you've exhausted that same-old salad bar and inhaled all of the PB&Js your stomach can take, use this as a starter guide for what this city's plant-based community has to offer. And say it with me: A Complete Cookie is not a meal.

For when you realize you did not get as much work done yesterday as you needed to:

Sure, Starbucks offers workspaces and "alternative" milks, but are you really going to keep pretending that that avocado spread tastes like anything? For caffeine, laptop charging, and loads of vegan snacks, spend your Sunday afternoons holed up at Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar (444 N. Bumby Ave., drunkenmonkeycoffee.com). Ask them to keep those vegan Moko Jonos (the dairy-free version of their famous Mojo Jojo) coming, and your paper might just finish itself.

For when your family is in town and they, by some act of God, let you pick the restaurant:

Make mom and dad happy with a visit to Toasted (multiple locations including UCF and Winter Park areas, igettoasted.com), which serves grilled cheeses for dairy-heads and vegans alike. If you'd like your parents to try something vegan, though – hopefully convincing them that plant-based food is more than just rabbit fodder – take them to the Leguminati food truck (check @leguminati on Instagram for locations). One bite of a Crunchwrap, and cue Dad: "I can't believe this is vegan!"

For when it's the middle of the night and your friends really want Taco Bell but you know you can't take another Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito (hold the cheese) this week:

It'll be easy to get their minds off visions of Chalupa Supremes with the promise of bigger-than-your-head pizza slices from Lazy Moon (11551 University Blvd. and 1011 E. Colonial Drive, lazymoonpizza.com), which offers Daiya cheese and tempeh alongside non-vegan options. If you're downtown, though, pick up a loaded dog from Dixie Dharma's Vegan Hot Dog Cart, usually located at 63 N. Orange Ave. across the street from Independent Bar from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. (dixiedharma.com).

For when you're pretty sure you're going to die if you don't have something sweet:

Lucky UCF students are closest to Valkyrie Doughnuts (12226 Corporate Blvd., facebook.com/valkyriedoughnuts), but no matter where you live, it's worth the trek for raised-yeast doughnuts and/or soft-serve. Beware, it's not for the faint of heart: Keep your eyes peeled at Valkyrie's social media (@valkyriedoughnuts on Instagram) for daily flavors, "$9 Bullshit Drinks" piled high with whipped cream and pastry, and specials – why not try a donut taco? Your metabolism is the most efficient it will ever be!

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