Let’s face it: most college dining hall food is gross. Trading homemade meals and groceries for less than fresh dining hall options is less than ideal, and don’t even get me started on ramen. The choices for a conscious and hungry student can be limited, and being vegan only seems to magnify these limitations. However, by reading a few quick tips and ways I’ve personally been able to create healthy and hearty meals in my own college dining hall, you’ll be on your way to delicious and nutritious vegan college cuisine. Check out some of our vegan dining hall hacks you’ll love!
Hit the salad bar
Salads are an easy and fairly obvious way to survive on campus as a vegan. Though salads may not seem very exciting or enticing at first, loading up on veggies and beans can make a tasty and healthy meal. Bonus tip: pile grains, such as a quinoa or couscous on top of your salad for a hearty and satisfying plate. This is one of the number one vegan dining hall hacks.
Bring a reusable to-go container
Bringing reusable containers so you can take more food back to your dorm for later is a money and time saving tip. Having an extra meal in your mini fridge will save you dining hall meal swipes and make certain you always have enough food on hand. Especially on nights when you’re up late studying and no other vegan options are still open, having a container filled with food you know you can eat is a godsend.
See what vegan options your college offers
Though not all colleges have marked vegan options, many schools are being more conscious about the dietary preferences of their student body and do provide vegan meals. For example, at Emerson College, tofu scramble, fruit, toast, bagels, granola, and breakfast potatoes are available every morning, and there is a vegan lunch and dinner station. By being aware of what is available for vegan students, it’ll make finding plant based foods much easier. Even if your college doesn’t offer full vegan meals, knowing individual plant-based foods will make putting together a nourishing meal yourself more approachable.
Keep meals simple
Finding plant-based foods can be difficult, especially when you may not have access to all the ingredients you’d like to. The best way to bypass this suspicion is by eating simple foods you know are vegan. Some of my favorite meals at school combines beans, rice, quinoa, vegetables, baked potatoes, and toppings from the salad bar to create healthy vegan bowls chocked full of nutrition and taste. Drizzling sriracha, ketchup, soy sauce, or hummus over these bowls will kick up the flavor even more and make for a savory dish. Another easy option is pasta with tomato sauce or olive oil on top. As long as you make sure the noodles have no eggs, pasta can be customized with different sauces and toppings limitlessly. Combining simple, whole foods together will help create a colorful and nutritious plate sure to fill your tummy and nourish your growing college mind.
Look for alternatives
Keeping a keen eye out for vegan alternatives can make dining hall eating much simpler. Though vegan alternatives aren’t always the healthiest option, some alternatives, such as soy and almond milk, are healthy and help make a plethora of more meals available, like cereal and coffee beverages. A not-so healthy but very college-esque vegan alternative is Top Ramen soy sauce flavored ramen. If your dining hall offers any packaged meals such as ramen, they can make for a quick meal that’s surprisingly vegan. Check out Peta’s Top Accidentally Vegan list for more options that your dining hall may offer that are coincidentally vegan.