Special Dietary Needs

Whether your dietary needs are medically necessary or a cultural or lifestyle choice, we’re here to help. Students on a University Housing and Dining meal plan can receive assistance from one of the UHD registered dietitians. Contact us at dietitian@austin.utexas.edu if you have questions or need support managing a special diet.

Cultural and Lifestyle Dietary Restrictions

Vegetarian and Vegan Dining

Vegetarian and vegan options are readily available at every meal in the residential dining halls, with options easily identifiable by either a vegetarian or vegan icon on digital menu boards above serving lines and on our online dining hall menus. Please review the menu signage carefully and ask for help from staff if you have additional questions or requests.

UHD Vegetarian and Vegan Labeling Standards

University Housing and Dining aims to provide transparency in our labeling so that guests can identify vegan and vegetarian products quickly and with confidence. Please utilize the criteria detailed below to help you make informed dining decisions.
Items are not labeled as Vegetarian if they contain any:

  • Meat, Fish or Shellfish
  • By-products of animal slaughter, including:
    • E120 – Cochineal/Carmine, E542 – Edible Bone Phosphate, from animal bones, Gelatin or Rennet/Rennin

Items are not labeled as Vegan if they contain any:

  • Meat, Fish or Shellfish
  • Dairy or Dairy By-Products (such as lactose, whey and casein)
  • Eggs or Egg Products (such as albumin or egg lecithin)
  • Animal-derived ingredients, including:
    • Gelatin, Honey, Keratin, Rennet/Rennin, Trypsin, E120 – Cochineal/Carmine, E542 – Edible Bone Phosphate, E631 – Sodium Inositate (salt of inosinic acid, a natural acid mainly present in animals), E901 – Bees Wax, made by bees but does not contain insects, E904 – Shellac, natural polymer derived from lac beetles, E913 – Lanolin, a wax from sheep excreted by the skin and extracted from the wool, E966 – Lactitol, made from milk sugar or E1105 – Lysozyme, from chicken eggs

Items labeled as Vegetarian or Vegan may contain:

  • Refined sugar or dextrose
  • Ingredients or products that have been manufactured on shared machinery
  • Ingredients that list “natural flavor”
  • Additives and enzymes that can be either plant or animal based or made synthetically, including but not limited to:
    • L-cysteine, Lipase, Protease, Stearic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Glycerin, Tallow, Mono- and Diglycerides, Amylase, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Vitamin B12, Beta-Carotene and Vitamin D3

Cultural Dietary Practices

Certain religious practices can restrict dietary choices. Whether you are looking to avoid certain types of pork, beef, fish or dairy or methods of food preparation, menu transparency is an important part of the dining experience.

To help customers make informed dining decisions, the following ingredients are identified with our icon labeling system: beef, pork and dairy (milk). Students with any religious dietary practices are encouraged to contact the UHD registered dietitian at dietitian@austin.utexas.edu or 512-232-5636 to learn about available options.

Medically Necessary Dietary Restrictions

Services for Students with Disabilities and University Housing and Dining work together to ensure students with disabilities have an accessible living and dining experience while at the University of Texas at Austin. Students with food allergies, celiac disease and other medically diagnosed conditions may be eligible for dining accommodations.

Before applying for dining accommodations, students should review the available resources provided by University Housing and Dining to see if  dietary self-management is possible. Students are also encouraged to speak directly with the UHD registered dietitian prior to beginning the dining accommodations request process. Students can contact the Registered Dietitian directly at dietitian@austin.utexas.edu or 512-232-5636.

Process for Requesting Dining Accommodations:

  1. Requests are initiated by indicating the need for dining accommodations on the Housing Application.
  2. Students must then complete the Request for Dining Accommodations Form and have a medical health professional who is familiar with their disability complete supporting documentation (Housing & Dining Verification Form). Requests will not be reviewed until all required forms are submitted to the SSD office.
  3. The SSD office will notify the student if they are eligible for disability-related dining accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  4. If SSD verifies the eligibility for disability-related dining accommodations, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the UHD Registered Dietitian prior to signing a Housing Contract to allow ample time for implementation of the accommodation. 
  5. The UHD Registered Dietitian will work one-on-one with the student to determine the specific dining accommodation. Accommodations can include, but are not limited to:
    1. Information about ingredients and food preparation available through consultation with the UHD Registered Dietitian.
    2. Access to online menu and recipe information.
    3. Identification of food allergens in a food served.
    4. Food free of allergen(s) available at each meal.
    5. A modified meal plan, which includes made-to-order meals at select UHD dining venues.

For more information and to access required forms, please visit: Services for Students with Disabilities

Guidelines for Dining Accommodation Requests

  • SSD and UHD review requests on a case-by-case basis and decisions are based upon documented need.
  • Documentation of a disability does not guarantee that your request will be approved.
  • Students should not request dining accommodations until they have been admitted to the university.
  • Dining accommodations can only be provided to students with an active housing contract or who have active UHD meal plan.
  • Requests will not be reviewed until the student and appropriate professional have both submitted all requested information to the SSD office.
  • For students requesting dining accommodations for the fall semester, the accommodation request form and supporting documentation must be received by June 1st to ensure accommodations are ready prior to move-in.
    • Requests made after this deadline will be subject to the availability of the requested accommodation and may result in accommodations not being available until after move-in.
  • Students need to re-apply each year for on-campus housing and should submit a new Request for Dining Accommodations Form with each new housing contract so that staff are aware of the continued need for accommodations. 
  • Students may be asked to provide updated information (via the Housing & Dining Verification Form) if their condition is potentially changeable and/or previous documentation does not address the student's current condition and/or requested accommodation.

Food Allergies

University Housing and Dining (UHD) at The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to providing support to students with food allergies and other medically necessary diets through education, staff training and reasonable accommodations in an effort to create a safe and inclusive collegiate dining experience. We take care in providing the necessary information to students to allow them to dine safely while on the 40 Acres.

It is important to note that students have responsibilities when it comes to managing their medical dietary needs. Therefore, it is recommended that all students with a food allergy, celiac disease or other medically restrictive diet notify the UHD registered dietitian directly at dietitian@austin.utexas.edu or 512-232-5636.

View our Guide to Dining with Dietary Restrictions for more details on student responsibilities, resources and available dining accommodations.

Food Allergy Support Team

Food Allergy Support Team (FAST)

When college life speeds up, it can be tough to dine safely with a food allergy, but luckily, students don’t have to do it alone. The Food Allergy Support Team (FAST) with University Housing and Dining is here to help, offering educational materials, staff training and, in some cases, dining and living accommodations to make managing a food allergy a little easier.

FAST members receive in-depth training on food allergies and are ServSafe Allergen certified through the National Restaurant Association. Students needing help or advice can find a team member in any UHD dining location by looking for the FAST logo on employee uniforms (branded hats or buttons) or by asking to speak to a FAST member.

Fresh and Simple Tastes

Fresh and Simple Tastes (FAST)

Jester 2nd Floor Dining’s (J2) FAST Line is anything but fast food! Fresh and Simple Tastes (FAST) is a top eight allergen and gluten-free serving line that provides a communal dining experience without the concern for cross-contact that usually comes with a buffet-style dining environment.

Each dish is freshly prepared right on the line using lean proteins, gluten-free whole grains and heart-healthy fats. The FAST Line has a three-week rotating menu with different options at lunch and dinner to offer students a safe and quality dining experience. With dishes like a Grilled Chicken Dragon Bowl, Italian Brisket, Italian Sausage with Polenta and a Lentil Mushroom Ragu, Fajita Steak Salad, Rosemary Lemon Chicken and Chimichurri Pork Chops, students should be able to find something that fits their individual tastes!

Anyone is welcome to dine at the FAST line; accommodations are not necessary. It’s a good idea to review the online menu in advance to see which meal options meet your dietary needs, as this serving line cannot accommodate special requests.

Food Identification Icons

University Housing and Dining identifies the eight major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy and wheat) in menu offerings at all of our dining venues. In addition, foods commonly avoided for religious or lifestyle preferences are also labeled. Be on the lookout for these icons in the dining halls on the digital menu boards above each serving line, as well as on the online menu and on prepackaged grab-and-go foods in the retail venues.

Icon Legend
Icon Allergen/Food Item
beef logo Beef
eggs logo Eggs
fish logo Fish
Gluten-Free logo Gluten-Free Friendly
Milk logo Milk
Peanut logo Peanuts
Pork logo Pork
Shellfish logo Shellfish
Soy logo Soy
Tree Nuts logo Tree Nuts
Vegan logo Vegan
Vegetarian logo Vegetarian