The first year of college can be stressful. Between living in a new place, attending rigorous classes, starting a new routine, and meeting new people, the last thing you'll want to worry about is how you’ll be able to eat well and maintain a plant-based or plant-forward diet. However, with the abundance of plant-based resources available, it's now much easier to enjoy a plant-based diet on campus. If you're just starting college, you probably live in a dorm or on-campus apartment. You also probably have meal plans allowing access to a variety of dining halls or restaurants on campus as well as small grocery stores or food markets. Below are a five tips to help you easily navigate plant-based eating while living on campus.
1. Plan Ahead
Check the dining menu before-hand so you know your options. Most campus dining services have online menus for each dining hall that includes nutrition information as well as designated labels to differentiate between vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and more. Checking the menus ahead of time will let you see what your options are for the day and which locations will be best to visit.
2. Utilize the food in the dining hall
Stock up on available fruits like oranges, apples and bananas and keep them in your bookbag for a snack in between classes. Those fresh fruits also make for a perfect afternoon smoothie or on the go breakfast in the morning.
3. Keep your dorm room full
If you have access to a fridge or mini-fridge, keep healthy snacks in there, such as hummus, non-dairy milk, coconut or soy yogurt, nuts, seeds and applesauce. Keep a box of non–perishable snacks in your dorm room like whole-grain nutrition bars, roasted chickpeas, nuts and seeds, DIY trail mix, and natural peanut or almond butter, for quick and easy options when you are short on time. Having snacks on hand will help to keep you nourished and energized for your busy college schedule.
4. Get Creative
Sometimes it may feel a little monotonous eating the same thing daily, especially when the dining hall serves the same rotation of plant-based foods. For more variety, get creative with that you have on hand. Using the salad bar as an example, select different topping combinations or bring your own homemade plant-based dressings to change it up daily. You can even try incorporating the salad bar into another meal like making a salad (whole-grain) pita pocket. Or maybe you can bring your own toppings like walnuts, cranberries, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, or dried fruits. The key to keeping yourself well-nourished (so you ace those exams!) is to enjoy a variety of meals and snacks that keep you healthy both physically and mentally.
5. Find Support
Finding a support group while you’re on campus will help you feel like you’re not the only plant-based person on campus. See if there are any clubs on campus that focus on vegetarianism/veganism and, if there aren’t any already, then start your own!
Being prepared will help with the transition to college life. By following these tips, you’ll be living a healthy and attainable plant-based lifestyle while still enjoying all the fun of living on campus!
Hello everyone! My name is Summer Savior and I am a student at Georgia State University in the Coordinated Nutrition Program. I am studying to become a registered dietitian and I'm interested in pediatrics, diabetes, and weight management. I am excited to try my hand at blogging and learning more about plant-based eating.