Living Lactose-free in a Cheese-filled World

Illustration by Jennifer Yelk

Illustration by Jennifer Yelk

There are many places around campus to find dairy free foods

“As part of our menu, we always have at least one vegan option available, so these would be available at all of our locations,” Brott said.”

Several college students have the typical cereal and milk combo for breakfast. Lunch or dinner often consists of pizza, and maybe some form of ice cream for dessert. For students with lactose intolerance, however, there is a lot less freedom involved.

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder where the body cannot easily digest lactose. The amount of lactose that a person can tolerate varies between those with different degrees of lactose intolerance. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States are lactose intolerant, according to

“One of these health benefits of living dairy-free is, contrary to popular belief, stronger bones.”

Aside from those who cannot physically consume dairy products, a variety of students choose to avoid dairy products for health reasons. Many students are vegan, and others simply choose not to include lactose products in their diet, and this has a variety of health benefits.

One of these health benefits of living dairy free is, contrary to popular belief, stronger bones. In a Harvard study of over 77,000 nurses, it was found that women consuming greater amounts of calcium from dairy foods had significantly increased risks of hip fractures, while no increase in fracture risk was recorded for the same levels of calcium from nondairy sources. Living dairy-free can also help with a variety of common health symptoms such as headaches, migraines, and arthritis pain.

“As part of our menu, we always have at least one vegan option available, so these would be available at all of our locations,” Brott said.”

Clearly living dairy free has a variety of benefits, but it can be a struggle to find dairy-free foods on a campus that seems filled with them. Some of the best places to find foods that fit your dietary needs are in the various dining halls around campus. Jenna Brott, the Health and Wellness Coordinator for University Dining Services, works with students who have dietary needs, and finds alternative food options for them.

Students can meet with her at any time to discuss their dietary needs.

“Usually when they request a meeting, I’ll meet with them at the residence hall where they eat most of their meals, and I’ll also introduce them to the food manager there so they can become familiar with them,” Brott said.

Students with dietary needs can also discuss alternative options to the food offered at the dining halls. Every hall offers stations with soymilk, but some students may also have a problem with soy and need an alternative option.

“If they do have multiple allergies or intolerances, we can work with them to provide more options, such as the lactose-free milk brought in for certain students,” Brott said.

If a student doesn’t want to set up a meeting with Brott, they can find things out for themselves in the dining halls. Any food option marked “vegan” has no lactose or dairy of any kind, and is safe to eat for anybody with a dairy allergy.

“As part of our menu, we always have at least one vegan option available, so these would be available at all of our locations,” Brott said.

If a student has any questions about whether a food fits their dietary needs, they can just ask one of the people on staff. At many dining halls, a student can request certain items, such as a grilled chicken breast, or a pizza without cheese.

If you don’t have a dining plan, or are in the mood to go somewhere else for food, a student can find plenty of options in terms of restaurants around campus.

Dinkytown doesn’t offer too many options (no Mesa Pizza, unfortunately), but there are a few options. McDonald’s is one option, as you can have a hamburger as well as the french fries. Many restaurants around the area offer dairy-free options or menus, so just ask the staff for these options.

There are many more options on Washington Avenue, and plenty of restaurants that serve specific dietary needs.

Since ice cream isn’t an option, and almost all desserts contain some form of dairy, if you’re ever in the mood for something sweet, Yogurt Lab has plenty of sherbet options, and these flavors change on a regular basis.

Chipotle is also a great place for those with dietary problems to go, as their burrito bowls and burritos, minus cheese and sour cream of course, are free of any forms of dairy. Noodles offers a variety of pastas that can have cheese removed from them, and you can always stop in at Burger King for a hamburger and fries. You might have to get a little creative when going out, but there certainly are plenty of options.