It seems like everyone who went to college says it was the best time of their life. I can’t say I disagree. After all, you’re finally living on your own, going to parties, meeting new friends, and being trusted to make important choices that will have an impact on the rest of your life. Oh, and going to class of course.
Aside from deciding on a major and figuring out where to study abroad, the experience of going to college also gives you the opportunity to take control of your diet. For many young adults, this is the very first time they’re solely responsible for preparing and cooking their own meals. Or, at the very least, deciding what to eat in the dining hall.
This newfound freedom to eat whatever the heck you want without mom and dad looking over your shoulder leads many new college students to binge on fast food, pizza, tacos, or whatever else is easy to score at 2am. While delicious, these highly processed foods won’t give you the proper fuel your brain needs to make it through those late-night cram sessions and term papers.
Luckily, a vegan meal plan can do all of this and more. If you’ve been enlightened to the benefits of a plant-based diet and are motivated to stay healthy this fall, listen up. Our tips for eating vegan at college will help you keep your mental focus and avoid the dreaded “freshman fifteen” this semester and beyond.
- Get to know the dining hall staff
It’s the dining hall director’s job to make sure there are options available for all students. Most would be happy to help you identify vegan food items for sale beyond the salad bar. If you’re lucky, the kitchen staff may be able to whip up a special plant-based meal that caters to your dietary needs.
- Find a friend
Having the support of a friend who is also switching to a plant-based diet makes eating vegan at college infinitely easier – and more fun. You can explore the on-campus dining options together, swap tips, and try new recipes from PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook.
- Stock your dorm room
When there’s no time to stop for a meal at the dining hall, keeping an assortment of non-perishables in your dorm room will save you from hunger. Granola, oatmeal, vegan protein bars, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are all good staples. If you have a mini-fridge you can load up on fresh fruits and veggies along with dips like hummus and salsa.
- Connect with other vegans
In addition to finding a friend, getting involved in your school’s animal rights or vegetarian club is a great way to meet like-minded individuals. Not to mention, hanging out with a bunch of veggie lovers will help you stay accountable for your vegan meal plan. If your college doesn’t have a club like this, start one!
- Get creative with ramen noodles
This classic dorm room meal can be prepared vegan by skipping the yucky flavor packet and swapping in fresh cut veggies and tofu. Get creative with your mix-ins to keep things interesting. We like mushrooms, shredded carrots, green onions, and broccoli. Tip: Make a quick and easy peanut sauce by stirring peanut butter and soy sauce into a paste. Add water until you’ve reached your desired consistency.