Special Diets

Cal Dining is committed to helping our customers meet their dietary needs. Whether you have food allergies, gluten intolerance or dietary restrictions from religious practices, are following a vegan/vegetarian diet, or simply need assistance with your food selections, Cal Dining is here help you make safe and delicious choices.

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 the campus Disabled Students’ Program.

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 breathing, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, and affect heart rate. Anaphylaxis can manifest 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 potentially cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food, known as the Big-8, account for about 90 percent of all allergic reactions in the U.S.: 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. To help our customers with food allergies to browse and choose safely, the Big-8 allergens are listed on the menu signage in Cal Dining Locations and on the online menu. In addition, we also list sesame (a seed commonly found in Tahini, breads, and condiments) and gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale, and barley).

Comprehensive information about food allergies can be found at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website. Cal Dining participates in the FARE College Food Allergy Program.   

Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. Celiac disease is a disorder caused by an autoimmune reaction to gluten ingestion. Gluten intolerance is sometimes confused with Celiac disease or a food allergy, but is a different condition. Common symptoms of gluten intolerance include gassiness, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Both Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be treated by avoiding gluten.

Gluten is found in many foods and is often a hidden ingredients in food recipes, so special care must be taken to avoid gluten. To help our customers with gluten intolerance/Celiac disease to browse and choose safely, gluten is listed on the menu signage in Cal Dining locations and on the online menu.

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.

To help our customers with religious dietary restrictions to browse and choose with ease, the following foods/ingredients are listed on our menu signage at all Cal Dining and residential and retail locations: alcohol, pork and dairy (milk), among which milk is listed as an allergen. If your religious or cultural customs require close attention to diet, please review the menu signage carefully and ask for help from staff if you have additional questions or requests.

Vegan/Vegetarian Resources

Food choices are made for many different reasons, including cultural, emotional, economical, religious, ethical, environmental and personal health. For those who choose to follow a vegetarian diet (no meat or fish) or vegan diet (no animal products of any kind, including meat, eggs and dairy), Cal Dining offers a variety of daily selections to meet your vegetarian and vegan diet needs at all of our locations.

Whatever choices you make regarding meat and animal product consumption, you can never go wrong with eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Include all colors of fruits and vegetables when you can.


Special Diet Resources 

Cal Dining has made it a priority to label food items that contain the Big-8 food allergens, sesame, gluten, pork, and alcohol. For those with food allergies or gluten-intolerance, we would like to gently remind you to always read the allergen labels on menu items posted in dining commons and online. When in doubt, always ask. 

For customers with common food allergies, celiac disease or gluten intolerance, we encourage you to visit the Bear Fit station inside Crossroads. The Bear Fit station is designed to serve nutritious and delicious food that everyone can enjoy without worrying about common allergic or triggering ingredients with a menu free of the Big-8 food allergens, sesame, gluten, pork and alcohol and is open for lunch/brunch and dinner daily during the Fall and Spring semesters. In other dining commons, items such as gluten free bread, pizza and pasta are available upon request.

For customers following Kosher or Halal diet, we encourage you to visit Cafe 3 where you’ll find Halal certified hot entrees and a certified Kosher section during the Fall and Spring semesters. Please check our hours of operation and online menu to determine the availability of these meal options prior to your visit. Halal certified beef and chicken are available upon request in the rest of the dining commons. 

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 culinary team in charge of the preparation of your meals.  She can be reached at dietitian@berkeley.edu. You may also complete this form to notify us and our dietitian will reach out to you.