Believe it or not, it is possible to live a plant-based lifestyle in college! It does, however, take a bit of research to figure out your options so you can be prepared. There are several types of plant-based diets, so it is useful to know the differences. A vegetarian chooses not to eat any meat, fish, or poultry but does include animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs, while a vegan eliminates all animal products from their diet.
Choosing a vegan lifestyle is about eating an abundance of fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based foods. With a little knowledge, you can succeed in eating vegan in the dining halls, in your kitchen, and while snacking in between classes. Follow these 5 tips for maintaining a vegan diet in college:
1. Know your options: Blindly walking into a dining hall for the first time may be overwhelming when trying to find vegan options. Once you learn what is offered, you will be able to find meals that fit your bill. It is important to remember that there will always be something to eat. If you are lucky enough to have access to a salad bar, there are endless options. However, vegan students do not only eat salad! Many dining halls offer options for making your own burrito, pasta, pizza and sandwiches, all of which you can customize to be vegan. Ask a foodservice employee if you are unsure whether a food contains animal products.
2. Stock your dorm room or apartment: Keep vegan snacks in your room for healthy snacking. Foods like fruit, veggies, hummus, vegan cereals with soy, almond or rice milk, pretzels, oatmeal, and nuts can come in handy. The market is expanding for vegan foods so stock up and be prepared!
3. Find other vegan students: It is so helpful to find other students on campus who are vegan so you can share experiences. A great way to do this is to join a club of vegan and vegetarian students if your college has one. Meeting other students who share your philosophy is a great way to network and to build new friendships.
4. Branch out and try new foods: With a limited number of options in a dining court, you may find it necessary to try new foods. This is a good thing! Try the ethnic dishes loaded with beans or the hummus and veggies offered by the salad bar. Try tofu on your pasta. Make it fun and get creative!
5. Remain confident in your choice to be vegan: Do not let other peoples’ comments and questions about your decision to lead a vegan lifestyle get to your head. Stick with your choice to refrain from eating animal products if it is important to you. People will be curious so take the opportunity to share why you support living a vegan lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Laura Asbury