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I hope this isn't too late for the person headed to Columbia, MO.  I 
would have responded earlier, but I've just got back from spending a week 
there.  Believe it or not, Columbia is a veggie heaven!  The university 
culture is very diverse and it is extremely easy to get veg*n food 
there.  As another poster noted, downtown is definitely the easiest place 
to get good veg*n food.  There are a lot of ethnic restaurants that offer 
veg*n selections.  Bangcock Gardens is a great Thai restaurant and most 
of their dishes can be made vegetarian.  There are two Indian 
restaurants, but one of them is much better than the other.  Avoid the 
one that is in the Ramada Inn, but do try the one just a couple of doors 
down (the name escapes me).  Most of the Chinese restaurants have a good 
number of selections as well.  St. Louis Bread Company has two locations 
there (one in the mall, one downtown) and they always have a couple of 
veg*n soups on the menu.  Boone Tavern has a few veg*n dishes.  For more 
"mainstream" dining, Ruby Tuesdays has an extensive salad bar and a baked 
potato stuffed with steamed veggies and marinara sauce (they will leave 
off the Parmesan, I know because they've done it for me before. Olive 
Garden also has at least two pasta dishes that are vegan and several more 
that are vegetarian.

The best thing, for me, about eating in 
Columbia is that the waitstaff does not stare blankly at you if you ask 
if a dish is veg*n.  I absolutely love visiting there, it is a wonderful 
place.  I hope you enjoy your trip!