If you are considering the switch to a vegan lifestyle, or you already eat a plant-based diet, there are a few situations to make sure you avoid. It is certainly not always easy to eliminate all animal products from your diet, and success may not come right away. There will be challenges along the way and it is important that you do not fall into one of these three traps, especially as a college student.
1. “Junk Food Vegan”
Did you know that Oreos are actually vegan? Many types of chips, crackers, breads, sugary drinks, candies, and snack bars are vegan by default. This means that even though one may not eat meat, dairy or eggs, it is possible to live off of junk food on a vegan diet. Eating only junk food is not a healthy choice for anyone since fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other real foods need a place in one’s diet. Fresh, whole foods offer essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other health-promoting compounds, while refined foods like cookies and chips provide very little. Although it may be cheaper as a college student to live off of vending machine snacks, your body will eventually pay for it in terms of health. If you are going to make the decision to eliminate animal products from your diet, be sure to include whole foods instead of loads of processed junk food.
It is possible to become very obsessed with eating healthy to the point that it affects one’s day-to-day life; this is recently being referred to as Orthorexia Nervosa. Eating a vegan diet can begin when someone wants to eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and grains. For some, those good intentions may become obsessions with every piece of food they put in their body. If you decide to eat a vegan diet, be cautious that it should not turn into something that consumes your life to the point where you cannot function well in social situations with food. While orthorexia encourages a mindset of restriction by labeling foods as pure or not, a plant-based diet is all about abundance in what one can eat. The focus should be on eating healthy without going overboard, and enjoying the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
3. No Social Life
Making the change to a vegan lifestyle can be overwhelming at first, especially when eating out in public. One coping mechanism some may use to avoid situations involving food choices may be to forgo public events and ignore their social lives. However, more and more restaurants are becoming vegan-friendly. If a friend or family member invites you to eat a home prepared meal, do not decline simply because you worry they will not serve vegan options. Losing your social life to a plant-based lifestyle is not worth it and you should know how to be prepared in social situations involving food. One idea may be to eat a small meal before attending an event in the case that there are few options. Bring along small snacks if the event allows it. Offer to bring a vegan dish to a party as an option for you. Finally, surround yourself with friends and family who support you in your decision to live a plant-based lifestyle and it will be simple to eat in social settings.
Eating a way that is different from many Americans can pose its own challenges, so do not let any of these fates become a reality if you choose to eat a vegan diet. Focus on the abundance of foods that are available to eat on a vegan diet instead of the foods that are not part of this lifestyle. Keep plant foods the focus rather than junk food, avoid going overboard with being healthy, and fill your life full of supportive people to make social gatherings with food a great time.
Photo Credit: Paige Swint