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Even with the abundance of restaurants and food options in and around Philadelphia, some students at Penn still find it challenging to find options each day.

Navigating Penn and Philadelphia dining can be harder for students who follow certain diets, like College freshman Kaylee Slusser who has been lactose intolerant her whole life and started eating gluten-free two weeks before coming to Penn.

“It was definitely a lot easier [to be gluten- and dairy-free] at home," Slusser said."My family eats very well normally, and usually there’s not a lot of gluten products in my house, and I could go grocery shopping myself more easily.”

Regarding Penn's on-campus dining options, Slusser said that there are often gluten-free options, but since she is dairy-free too, it makes things considerably harder.

“The dining halls are generally okay, but I definitely have to check to make sure there’s chicken. Otherwise it’s an all-fruit kind-of thing. There’s a decent amount of gluten-free options at meals, but there’s definitely some days where I’ll go into the dining hall and get an apple,” Slusser said.

Off-campus, Slusser finds that there are often options in most Philadelphia restaurants that cater to her diet.

“I definitely feel like there’s options for me anywhere," Slusser said. "I think people are a lot more accustomed to it now because it’s not only an allergy that people accommodate too, but it’s also a diet-trend, which makes it a lot easier.”

College freshman Lena Greenberg, who also eats gluten-free, agrees that a greater awareness of gluten-free diets has led to more options and a more noticeable effort to create options at Penn too.

“I think there’s a greater awareness of gluten intolerance, and in the dining halls, you can request things to be made gluten-free and people are always sensitive when I say I’m gluten-free — everyone seems to immediately get that and respect that,” Greenberg said.

Other students on different diets at Penn have had an easier time finding options, such as College freshman Natasha Iotov, who has been vegan for four months now due to ethical reasons. Iotov said that the dining halls make it easy on her with clear signs as to what she can and cannot eat.

“They made it really easy — there are dark green stickers that say ‘vegan,'" Iotov said. "They make it really clear with the sticker."

College junior Brianna Krejci, a vegan for two-and-a-half years, agreed with Iotov that it is not too hard to be a vegan both at Penn and in the city of Philadelphia.

“In the East Coast in general and a city in general, there are a lot more options that seemed readily accessible,” said Krejci, who is originally from Wisconsin. “I could always just Yelp the word ‘vegan’ and a ton of different restaurants came up, and so [the transition] was actually really easy compared to being at home.”

Both Krejci and Iotov are pleased with how easy it's been to maintain their vegan diets.

“I would definitely recommend Penn as a vegan-friendly campus," Iotov said. "I was definitely very pleasantly surprised by the vegan options at Penn.”

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