Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college can be quite the challenge. College can consist of late nights, no sleep, and high amounts of stress. Maintaining a healthy diet in college can be even tougher. Too often are you presented with terrible food (and of course drink) options. These challenges together are what factor into the weight gain and decreases in general health that is typically seen when someone goes away to school. Since eating healthy in general is such a tough task, you may find that eating vegan in college is next to impossible but this doesn’t have to be the case. While you may not be able to reduce your stress, or increase the amount of sleep you get on a nightly basis, you can make changes to improve your dietary habits.
One of the easiest ways to improve your dietary habits is to simply prepare your own food. However, for most college students this is a difficult task considering you likely do not have access to a personal kitchen. This means that you may have to be a little more creative in your attempt to follow a vegan lifestyle as a college student. This article will cover various techniques, tips, and strategies that can allow you to stick to your vegan plan.
Choosing the Right Foods in the Cafeteria
If you do not have a kitchen, then it is likely that you will be using the dining hall during your time in college. The dining hall can be your best friend or your worst enemy, especially if you are vegan! You are going to be faced with temptations every time you enter the café. However, if you can manage these temptations then you can be successful! Most college dining halls have great salad bars that have a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and even nuts. Additionally, the cafeteria typically has a good selection of cooked veggies and if you’re lucky they may even have additional vegan friendly foods like tofu!
Make Good Friends With the Cafe Staff
Other food options on campus may not be as easy to work with as the main cafeteria. For this reason, you may want to try to stock up on food to bring back to your dorm or to class. The difficulty may come in the dining hall policy since different cafeterias have different policies on to-go boxes. Try to do your best to make friends with the staff at the café and you may find that they are a little more lenient with you!
Shop For the Right Foods
Being vegan in college may mean that you need to get good at snacking. A college student is on the run all the time and doesn’t always have time to get food, especially considering a vegan may have to hunt for vegan friendly foods on campus. This means grocery store trips are essential to stay prepare and stocked full of snacks. The grocery store can be expensive though and being a college student may mean you’re on a tight budget. A couple tricks you can try for saving is buying in bulk and weighing the cost difference of organic versus non-organic foods as well as frozen versus fresh foods. Additionally, you can also consider generic brands over name brands to save more money. Regardless, saving money on your snacks will require proper planning!
Check Out Your Local Farmer’s Market
Most towns, even college towns, tend to have a weekend farmers market where you can get a wide variety of the freshest produce. Often, these foods are not only cheaper but healthier in terms of preparation methods. Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to stock up on snack foods or even salad items that you can prepare in your dorm.
Consider Instant Foods
Instant foods may not be your favorite option but hey you’re a college kid, you can’t be so picky! Instant foods can be quick and readily accessible making them a perfect option for vegan students. Additionally, many of these meals can be prepared in a microwave. Even if you do not have a microwave, it is likely that your dorm has one or you have a friend that does!
One of the main issues with being vegan in college is the lack of variety. This can lead to a boring dietary lifestyle which may affect overall dietary adherence. To combat this, you will need to get creative! There are plenty of quick and easy vegan recipes available that do not require hours spent in the kitchen to prepare. Make sure to browse vegan recipe website or even Pinterest to find creative ways to switch things up on your vegan diet!
Snacks On the Go
Earlier I mentioned how crucial snacks are on a vegan diet. It is important to prepare your snacks so you can simply grab them while you are on the run to class or to a study session. Things like homemade granola, nuts, and vegan friendly crackers make for great snacks to keep you full throughout the day! If you look hard enough you can even find things like vegan jerky or for those with a sweet tooth, vegan desserts!
Find Vegan Supporters
It is important not to go at it alone. The fact of the matter is that vegan diets are not the most popular diets in the world and this is especially true on a college campus. You may find your friends judging you or not understanding your dietary approach. This is okay, but you should look for vegan supporters around campus. Who knows, there may even be a vegan club already established. If not, maybe you start one to recruit more friends!
Dining out on a vegan diet in college may be quite the task. While your friends may be interested in going out for hamburgers and beer, you may need to choose other options. Don’t stress too much though, almost all restaurants have some type of vegan friendly option like salad, fruit cups, tofu, or sautéed vegetables. Do your homework before attending a restaurant to make sure they have something on the menu that suits you!
Of course, following any dietary protocol in college is going to be a challenge but taking the necessary steps to prepare yourself will put you in the best position for success. Remember that you are in college and this is a time to enjoy yourself so if decide to fall of course for a bit or have a cheat meal, do not beat yourself up! Just do your best to get right back on track! Follow these tips and you will be a successful vegan college student in no time!