Going meatless in Cattle Country: Student Vegetarian Recommendations


Driving down Vine St in Hays, anyone can see that Hays has a variety of places to eat.

But for those opting for a diet without hamburgers and steaks, picking meals at these places warrants a different approach. 

A few FHSU students provided their prime cuts for vegetarian options in Hays.

Daisi Brand, a senior psychology major and president of the FHSU Psychology Club, has been a vegetarian for over a year for moral and health-related reasons and hopes to become fully vegan in the future. 

“My favorite dine-in/carry-out restaurants in Hays are Cancun, Osaki, Tryyaki, and Thirsty’s,” Brand said.

Brand recommended some of her favorite dishes from these places for those interested in giving veggie options a try:

“From Cancun, I simply always ask for an order of rice and veggies, with the addition of black beans,” Brand said. “Cancun serves phenomenal vegetables, and it is a very tasty and filling meal.”

Cancun does have a vegetarian section on its menu, which includes a range of combos that can include bean burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, chalupas, and chile rellenos as a main course.

“From Osaki, I love ordering the house salad and spring rolls as an appetizer and vegetable rolls as my main meal,” Brand said. “For an extra crunch, ordering the rolls fried is a super tasty option as well. This meal is light, but still satisfying and filling.”

Most of the vegetarian options at Osaki are sides and appetizers, but they do have one sushi roll that substitutes egg for fish: tamago.

“From Tryyaki, I again simply order fried rice with vegetables. They serve you a significant amount, so it’s great for leftovers and the veggies are superb.”

Tryyaki also has a few tofu-based entrees.

“Lastly, from Thirsty’s, I enjoy ordering the Cajun salad – with no cheese, simply because I do not like cheese – or a pasta option, but substitute the meat with broccoli. The salad is a very colorful and tasty dish, which brings me joy just looking at it, and we all crave some pasta at times.”

While almost every meal on Thirsty’s menu has a meat focus, experienced vegetarians like Brand know that some foods like salads can be specially requested without meat.

And for those searching for plant-based options in less local places, Daisi suggested fast food options such as Jimmy Johns and Taco Bell

“I prefer Jimmy Johns due to their delicious bread and quality of vegetables,” Brand said. “The vegetables always taste so fresh and crispy. I order ‘The Veggie’ (#6) – personally with no cheese and add onion. This is a very fresh and filling meal.” 

As for Taco Bell, Brand said they also have good vegetarian options and usually orders the black bean crunchwrap with no dairy for another tasty fast-food option. 

Ellie Bultena, a math major and KAMS senior, is also a vegetarian, though she follows a vegan diet when eating at home.

“I haven’t explored Hays that much,” Bultena said. “Where I typically go is Cancun, El Dos, or Osaki.” 

While Bultena has been able to find options in Hays, she lamented how restaurants here are not as flexible as in her hometown.

“Where I’m from, there are several restaurants that would make any food on the menu vegetarian,” she said. “There’s not really anything in Hays like that. Most places I can get like three or four things at most.”

As an on-campus student, Bultena appreciated the selection at the McMindes Cafe, as it typically has vegetarian options available.

“The Dining Hall’s alright,” Bultena said. “They have their little vegetarian section every day, and I can usually find something most days. There are some days where all that they have is like a breadstick and broccoli with green beans, but most days they have a good entree.” 

As Brand and Bultena implied, at many restaurants, vegetarians can find their meals not among the entrees, but as sides, like french fries and salads, so it’s a treat when meat-centered restaurants do have main vegetarian meals.

If you’re wanting to cut some meat from your diet for whatever reason, these student-approved choices might be worth a try.

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