Being vegan in college can be difficult. The lifestyle isn’t quite mainstream yet, even in progressive places like San Diego where I live and go to school. However, maintaining a plant-based lifestyle can be made SO MUCH easier by keeping a few things in mind.
Know what your options are-
Basically, if you have to eat on campus, know what you can eat and where.
There are three main parts of campus where my classes are. Basically, if I’m by one part of campus, I know I’m 5 minutes away from a smoothie, another part is 10 minutes away from a burrito bowl, and another part is 8 minutes away from either a sandwich or a veggie wrap. Picking go-tos has come down to a science in my college vegan-endeavors.
If you’re like me, you can be super-intense and literally map out the locations of restaurants (no pressure 😉 ). Use what resources might be provided to you- I found that my school had a map of locations of places to eat!
Prepare for it ALL-
I call this strategy, “Survival of preparedness.” (Yes, you can quote me in your term papers 😉 ). Literally ALWAYS have food on hand; Have snacks in your backpack (helloooo Peanut Butter Banana Snack Balls); Have meals ready in your freezer or fridge (meal prepping or buying store bought frozen meals are game changers); And, always have a can of beans in your pantry (my favorite is chickpeas).
5 words: Hanger is NOT an option. Have you ever tried to listen to a lecture on “How Resource Inequality is Actually Managed in the International Market” on an empty stomach? No? I don’t recommend it. You’ll most likely end up tearfully writing illegible notes as the person sitting next to you pretends not to look concerned (For those wondering, the subject of resource inequality is actually quite a sad one). Bring snacks.
Expect to (& be okay with) being left out of some things-
All your friends might be going to a wings restaurant where you can literally eat nothing. That’s okay, it doesn’t mean you can’t go! You may be left out of the actual wings-eating, but that doesn’t mean you have to be excluded from the social gathering. Be social, be active, just bring a lunchbox with what YOU choose to eat.
I’m not going to lie, friends. I’ve been the one to bring a GIANT bowl of beans and greens and hummus to a barbeque where my friend told me there would be nothing for me to eat there. Could I have brought a small, unassuming PB & J? Sure, I could have. But I wanted a giant salad for dinner so that was that… and that was okay!
My personal strategy is remembering that most things will turn out okay when you make peace them in your mind. If I felt more comfortable bringing a less-stereotypically-vegan thing to my friend’s house, then I would have, but every friend and every situation is different and my choice fit the situation.
OVERALL: I love being a part of an educated community making alternative choices for a variety of reasons in an attempt to better themselves, the planet, and lives of other beings! Let’s not make it harder for ourselves by constantly stressing over if our choices are “okay” or not! 🙂
To make life easier, here’s some resources I’ve used to keep a (healthy-ish) plant-based lifestyle easy-ish in college:
Cooking things in a microwave (Great for DORMS):