How to be Vegan at College
Kind Lifer Moriel has been a vegan for over ten years. A senior at Sarah Lawrence College in upstate New York, she’s sharing all her tips and tricks for maintaining a nutritious and yummy veg diet in an unfamiliar environment. She also shares a couple of common pitfalls to avoid at the dining hall. Enjoy!
How To Stick To Your Vegan Diet In College
By Moriel Berger
When I first left my hometown of Los Angeles to begin college, meat hadn’t passed my lips in almost a decade, and I was determined to keep it that way! I’m now a senior at Sarah Lawrence College in New York’s Westchester County, and I’ve been able to maintain my vegan diet throughout my college experience. Here’s how:
I spent my first two years of school on the dorm meal plan. At my dorm’s dining hall, the vegan pickings were nutritionally complete, but somewhat slim and repetitive. The best thing I can say about any dining hall I’ve seen is they all offer a pretty big salad bar. Over time, I developed a few tricks to jazz up the salad bar and other vegan offerings at my dining hall.
• Carry around an avocado in your backpack at all times to outfit your salad bar creations.
• Add marinara sauce and some arugula to a veggie burger on a bun and you’ve got a vegan meatball sub approximate. Bonus points if you bring your own vegan mozzarella.
• PB&J is about as ubiquitous of an option as they come, but jelly often has non-vegan ingredients like gelatin, so try substituting fresh fruit. Apples, bananas, and berries are always delicious options.
• Try giving your salad a southwestern feel by filling it with black beans, rice corn, and salsa along with whatever else you would normally add. My school’s dining hall even has a southwester spice blend available that really completes the deal.
• In my more sugary days, I was known to fill an ice cream cone with mashed banana, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup – most brands are vegan. The result is a dessert that inspires mimicry even from omnivorous dining partners.
Living in a Co-Op
During my junior year, I was lucky enough to win a spot in my school’s campus housing environmental co-op, Warren Green. Warren Green is a single-family home with space for thirteen (in our case, two omnivores, nine vegetarians, and two vegans, including myself). At Warren Green, we shared groceries in our giant industrial fridge (which I will forever miss), shopped together, cooked and ate vegan weekday dinners together, gardened, recycled grey water and compost, and held meetings on a weekly basis to discuss various matters of concern. Warren Green at its best was like an incredible salad bar—the pooling of resources allowed us to get a much wider variety of perishables than would have been possible otherwise.
As I return to school this fall, I’ll be doing my own grocery shopping for the first time…no meal plan or giant, shared refrigerator included! My new plan is to shop with a friend, and offer to him or her, “Hey, if you buy the kale, I’ll buy the broccoli, and then we can split them both.” Even if it’s finals time and we don’t have the luxury to cook a meal together, we’ll be getting more varied and nutritious groceries by shopping together and sharing than if we just shopped on our own.
Moriel Berger is a senior at Sarah Lawrence College studying art and Russian. She enjoys knitting, cooking, and cats (but definitely not cooking cats).
Thank you, Moriel! That house of green goovy people sounds awesome. I wish I had lived there! You guys are so cool!
What other advice do you college-bound or college-grad kind lifers have to share with the community?
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