Special Diets

Cal Dining is committed to helping our customers with their dietary needs. Whether you have food allergies, religious restrictions, vegan/vegetarian diet or simply need assistance with your food selections, Cal Dining can provide the resources to help you make delicious choices, safely and easily.

Students with specific question can schedule an one-on- one meeting with our Registered Dietitian to discuss your dietary needs. Please email dietitian@berkeley.edu to make an appointment.

In the meantime, students in need of housing accommodation due to special dietary needs (i.e. severe food allergies, Celiac disease) are encouraged to reach out to Cal Housing Accommodations Coordinator as well as to UC Berkeley’s Disabled Students’ Program 

Allergies and Gluten intolerance
Although we do our best to meet the needs of food allergic students, we are not a gluten or allergen free facility.  All items prepared in our facilities are at risk of coming in contact with these ingredients, as well as all other highly allergenic foods.

Food Allergies
A food allergy is defined as a disorder of the body's immune response to specific food proteins. Food allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis — a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction that can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in your blood pressure and affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis can come on within minutes of exposure to the trigger food. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).

While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all allergic reactions: milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. Often, these items are hidden ingredients in food recipes and special care must be taken to avoid them. Please review the resources section in order to learn tips to manage allergies at Cal Dining.

Comprehensive information about food allergies can be found at www.foodallergy.org Cal Dining is a member of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis network. View College Guidelines here.

Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease is a disorder resulted from an autoimmune reaction to ingestion of gluten. Gluten intolerance is sometimes confused with Celiac disease, or thought of as a food allergy. While avoiding gluten is a treatment strategy, it is neither. Common symptoms of gluten intolerance include gassiness, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Gluten is found in many foods and is often a hidden ingredients in food recipes. Special care must be taken to avoid gluten. Please review the resources section in order to learn tips to manage gluten intolerance at Cal Dining.

Religious Dietary Restrictions
Certain religious practices restrict dietary intake and necessitate close attention to recipe ingredients. The most commonly restricted foods are certain types of meat, fish and dairy. As indicated below, a comprehensive food labeling system is under development in order to easily identify the use of such foods.
If your religious or cultural customs require close attention to diet, please review the resources section in order to learn how to identify food ingredients of Cal Dining recipes.

Vegan/Vegetarian Resources
Food choices are made for many different reasons: cultural, emotional, economical, religious, ethical, environmental and personal health. For those who choose a vegetarian diet or vegan diet, Cal Dining offers a variety of options to meet your needs.

At Cal Dining, there are daily selections for both vegetarian (no meat or fish) and vegan (no animal products of any kind, including meat, eggs and dairy) diets.

While there are undoubtedly some health benefits to a vegetarian diet, a nutritious diet can draw from an enormous range of foods. In fact, a vegetarian diet by no means ensures good nutritional health. With all types of vegetarian diets, it is important to also maintain appropriate caloric intake and to ensure that all essential nutrients found in meat or dairy products are otherwise obtained through other sources.

You can never go wrong by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, so whatever choices you make regarding meat and animal products- be sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, too!

Find more information about vegetarian and vegan diets at: www.goveg.com or www.vrg.org

Essential Nutrients on Vegan/Vegetarian Diet 
While a vegetarian diet is typically lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, it should also be carefully planned to ensure that all essential nutrients available in a diet containing meat are still consumed.

It is fairly easy to meet protein requirements in a vegan diet, as long as the sources are varied and intake is high enough. Soy protein has equal amounts of protein as most animal proteins, other good sources include dairy products, eggs, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.

Vegetarians may have a greater risk of iron deficiency than non vegetarians; the richest sources of iron are of animal origin. However, dried beans, spinach, enriched products and dried fruits are all good plant sources of iron.

Vitamin B-12
Because vitamin B-12 comes naturally only from animal sources vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B-12 added to their diets. It can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, and some other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.

Vitamin D
While vegetarians who eat dairy products should be able to get adequate amounts of vitamin D, vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin D. Sunlight can be an adequate source of vitamin D; however, vegans who don't get much sunlight may need a supplement.

Studies show that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than non vegetarians do. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products are good sources of calcium from plants.

Shellfish are an excellent source of zinc Good plant sources of zinc include grains, nuts and legumes. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 8 - 11 mg. High doses of zinc can cause a copper deficiency. Supplements containing 50 mg or more may lower HDL ("good") cholesterol in some people.

Find more information about nutrients at www.nutrition.gov

Cal Dining is working to develop a comprehensive system of labeling food items that identify the Big-8 common allergens and gluten. Before the new menu labeling system is in place, customers can request review of the Cal Dining recipe books to determine food ingredients. The recipe books are located in each of residential hall dining commons and can be provided by the cashiers.

For those of you with food allergy or gluten-intolerance, we would like to gently remind you to always read the allergen labels on menu items posted in dining halls and online. When in doubt, always ask. For better meal planning, we highly encourage you to schedule an appointment with Jaylene Tang, MS. RD, Cal Dining’s staff Dietitian. She will meet with you in person to learn your dietary needs, and connect you with the chef in charge of the preparation of your meals. You may also download, complete and return the Food Allergy and Special Diet Notification Form to our Dietitian. She can be reached at dietitan@berkeley.edu


Do you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions?

Cal Dining is committed to satisfying your dietary needs. We are here to help you make choices that are safe and delicious with one-on-one help from a registered dietitian. 
Please consider the following when dining with us:

BE AWARE: Always read the allergen labels placed on menu items, when in doubt always ask a staff member. 
BE PREPARED: Schedule an appointment with our dietitian, Jaylene Tang, MS. RD. She will meet with you individually to learn your dietary needs, and connect you with the chef in charge of the preparation of your meals. 
BE HEALTHY: Consult with our dietitian to make your food selections safely and easily. She can provide guidance on nutritional information as well as recipes for the dining commons. 

We wish you a successful year at Cal, and happy and safe dining!

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