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Vegan in College: Tips and Tricks to Thrive as a Plant-Based Student
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Vegan in College: Tips and Tricks to Thrive as a Plant-Based Student

For many people, there is no better time to convert to a plant-based lifestyle than in college. Unfortunately, many people do not grow up in houses where doing so is supported or encouraged by their families. So leaving home is a big jump to independence when you are no longer bound by your family's restrictions on eating. In this case, eating plant-based in college will seem like a breeze to you.

There are tons of ways that you can thrive off of plants in college while using a dining plan. Conversely, for those who have been plant-based for a while, transitioning to college might actually be more difficult than anticipated. If you are used to having freshly cooked vegan meals daily at home, your freshman year of college can be a wake-up call. 

Most freshmen do not have access to their own kitchen and many (including me) don't have access to a kitchen at all. Weekly trips to the grocery store on top of a traditional meal plan add up quickly and steeply. If you live in an apartment with no meal plan, this doesn't really apply to you; you have a space to prepare food and the ability to purchase that food at your own agency. That being said, freshmen don't typically opt for this living style in their first year, and many aren't given the opportunity to do so. 

But fear not! Whether you are a new or a seasoned vegan, it is entirely possible and feasible to be vegan in college. These tips and tricks will show you just how I do it with ease in a way that doesn't impose stress on my budget, health, or time. 

  • Scope Out Your Space
    • Familiarize yourself with all the dining halls your meal plan gives you access to. It is not uncommon for certain halls to be known for having 'Specialty' sections which specifically cater to students with dietary limitations (gluten-free, vegan, etc). Know which halls are best for quick bites and which ones are worth a bit of a walk. Once you pick your favorites, you can look up a basic menu plan for the week on your school's dining services webpage.
    • Head over to Happy Cow to check out veggie-friendly restaurants near your campus. This is a great app to have on hand when you want to grab a bite to eat with your friends! 
  • Be Prepared
    • Many times you will find yourself working in the library until way later than you expected. Or maybe it's 3 A.M. and you and your group members are working until someone suggests they order wings (late night munchies, anyone?). There's pretty much nothing vegan-friendly on a wing place menu, but that doesn't mean you should have to sit there and watch the others eat! Have some snacks in your bag that are dense and nutritious so they provide you with sufficient fuel when your stomach is rumbling.
      • Here are some of my favorite on the go snacks: Lara Bars (buy in bulk from Costco), nuts and dried fruit, Clif Bars, any plant-based protein bar
  • Bring a Blender, Y'ALL.
    • You truly don't realize the glory of smoothies until you are deprived of a blender. They are a lifesaver for on-the-go breakfasts, snacks, or post workout fueling. You can definitely make a smoothie nutritionally dense and filling by adding healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Some people have reservations about bringing a smoothie to their dorm because they worry that the noise will make them notorious for being noisy. But you can always blend your smoothies the night in advance and refrigerate them or just plan on making them in the afternoon at a time when most people won't be sleeping. A few seconds of a blender buzzing ain't gonna hurt anybody. 
    • Check out some smoothie recipes that are veggie-filled and pack a nutritional punch
  • Find a Community!
    • I LOVE finding vegan friends. Like it seriously is the BEST. When you meet a fellow vegan, you are able to connect with them in so many ways that you might not be able to connect with anyone else. I mean, think about it! You both love the environment, your body, and animals.... those are some pretty solid talking points from which a friendship can grow. I guarantee you there is a vegetarian/vegan club at your school (if there isn't, START ONE!) which you could participate in and gain not only a great community of friends but also tips and tricks on living plant-based from peers on your campus.
  • Head to the (Salad) Bar
    • When all else fails, you can always rely on the good ol' salad bar that every single dining hall will have. It is a blessing to have pre-chopped and washed veggies for you every day, so take advantage of it! The salad bars at most dining halls and college campuses traditionally have a wide array of protein and vegetable options. If you don't see something you want, just ask! The dining services people are working to serve you! Don't hesitate to kindly ask a dining services employee if you cannot find something that you are looking for. 
    • You can also steal some greens from the salad bar to put in your smoothies! Who couldn't benefit from some extra greens? 

I swear, it's that easy. I have found that people in college are so much more receptive and enthusiastic to hear about veganism; so don't hesitate to share your passion for it! Remember to feed not only your body but also your soul with good and nourishing things that will help you thrive. You can do it! For more tips on how to be healthy in college, pin this on your 'College' Board on Pinterest:  Tips for Staying Healthy in College

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Leave a Comment

  1. Lindsey Fine
    Your blog is very informative. Many thanks to you. I have also started eating healthy food specifically plant based. I'm always searching for restaurants serving healthy vegetarian food in China, or in Shanghai city. And found this great new restaurant named "Happy Buddha" in Shanghai cooking up veggiefied American comfort food for the people of this city. It is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help them make the move to become 100% plant-based in 2018! With your help, we will continue to make Shanghai healthier and happier. Please help them spread the news! Thank you! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-us-spread-more-vegan-love-in-shanghai-restaurant-food#/
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