Are you a college student who’s been curious about the wonderful life of plant-based cuisine — or actually living it? Are you wondering how to fit healthy veggie meals into your academic hustle and bustle? Or are you a parent of a vegan college student who is concerned about the child’s nutrient and protein intake without healthy home-cooked meals?
You’re not alone with these concerns and thoughts. Believe it or not, rigorous courses, project deadlines, social events, campus activities, and a vegan plant-based life can work in harmony for busy college students. How, you ask? By preparation and functioning outside the box.
Meal planning and streamlining practices are key to make a plant-based, vegan lifestyle manageable. Here in this article, I'm sharing my favorite tips and recipes that can help college students navigate on their plant-based journey.
Step 1: establish your diet
Here are some tips to establish and maintain a plant-based diet as a college student.
Do your research
Find nice local grocery stores, vegan restaurants, vegan clubs, and farmers markets on and around campus. These are sources that can provide valuable knowledge and foods that meet your vegan needs. Ask around and see if there are any Facebook groups, too — and if not, start your own.
Have a strong "why"
Remind yourself why you choose to eat a vegan diet. Whether you’re food-trendy, health-conscious, animal-loving, or just curious, try your best to keep your intentions of eating this way.
Build rapport with fellow vegan college students; share your experience and food prep hacks. Connecting with the kitchen staff at your campus dining hall helps too. Maybe they can hook you up with special veggie dishes not on the menu or give extra fresh fruit when in need!
Plan it out
Meal plan with your class schedule in mind. Setting out snacks and prepping food and beverages the night before a busy day of lectures can save you time as well as headaches. Taking tests and writing papers can be stressful enough — no need to make your food life crazy too.
Grow your own
Create a mini indoor dorm veggie-herb garden that can contribute to your meals and drinks. Regrowing some of your store bought produce and kitchen scraps, such as lettuce, bok choy, onions, and celery is a frugal way to have access to fresh food as well.
Lean on family
Parents, this one's for you: do send care packages of items that can make food and meal prep easier for your veggie-eating college kid. Visa gift cards from relatives are great too as they are helpful when students’ wallets are sparse for grocery funds.
Step 2: get all the essentials
These essential items help to make your vegan-centered snacks, meals and beverages possible.
Here's what you gonna need to have in your kitchen cabinet:
- A single-serve blender
- A mini-fridge and microwave
- Jars with lids
- Tumbler or thermos
- Plant-based milk (soy, cashew, almond, oat, or rice)
- Plant-derived butters (almond, peanut butter)
- Cooking oils (olive, sunflower, coconut)
- Dried and fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Vegan-friendly snack bars
- Hummus, the king of vegan diet
Step 3: Learn to cook vegan recipes
Alright, now that you've learnt the basics, let's dive into practice! These three recipes are super easy, quick, and most importantly, highly customizable. Mix and match the ingredients, swap with your favorite fruits, veggies, and nuts, and enjoy.
Salad in a jar
- quart size mason jar
- 2 cups leafy greens
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup chickpeas or lentils
- 1/2 cup of tofu cubes
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 lemon
- olive oil
In this order, put some of your favorite salad dressing, leafy greens, shredded carrot, spoonfuls of avocado, a squeeze of lemon, chickpeas, and sunflower seeds in the jar. Throw in some tofu too and add olive oil. When you’re ready to eat your salad shake, mix, and eat!
- 1 banana
- ½ cup raspberries
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ⅓ cup apple juice
- ½ cup of plain almond or cashew milk yogurt
Blend all ingredients in your single serve blender and sip!
Sweet potato and avocado tacos
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 avocado
- 1 can black beans
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- diced tomato, canned or fresh
- 1 tablespoon corn
- almond flour tortillas
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
Microwave sweet potato, let cool then mash. Drain beans and warm them in the microwave, then season with cumin, chili powder and paprika. Mash after seasoning. Scoop or chop avocado.
Warm tortillas in microwave. Into a tortilla, put mashed sweet potato, avocado, beans, onion, corn, and tomatoes. Enjoy!
All is well for vegan college students, thanks to a little consideration and basic food staples. After reading this article, would you agree? What tips and personal rules do you follow on your plant-based journey? Feel free to share in the comments!
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