Busting Myths About Eating Vegan In College

College students tend to shy away from a vegan diet because of conventional assumptions about the lifestyle. As a student paying loans, shifting to a vegan lifestyle may seem like an unnecessarily expensive and restricting lifestyle change. Plus, it’s hard to part from that tasty 2 a.m. pizza and ice cream.

While I hadn’t been eating dairy and red meat prior to the New Year, I made the decision to eat completely vegan in 2018. I had personally wanted to eat vegan for quite some time, and the New Year seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the plunge. At first, I was very nervous to experience a major lifestyle change. However, against all vegan myths, the shift to eating vegan hasn’t been as difficult as I expected.

Let's be clear that I am no dietitian or nutritionist, and to be honest, I’m writing this article with a half-eaten container of Oreo cookies next to me. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to share my experience in the hopes of shattering a few myths about eating vegan in college. 

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Myth: “Eating out is so difficult as a vegan.”

Fact: Over the past several months, I have tried multiple Washington, D.C. vegan restaurants in an effort to find the best and most affordable vegan options. A few of my favorites include HipCityVeg, &Pizza, and Cava Mezze Grill.

Many restaurants, especially those in the city, are becoming more vegan-friendly by labeling vegan options on the menu and/or providing additional menus for dietary restrictions. Also, if there is a specific meal you are craving, just asks the chef to substitute an ingredient for a vegan-alternative.

Myth: “Eating vegan breaks the bank.”

Fact: The majority of my diet consists of fresh produce, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Many college students hear the words 'fresh produce' and assume it’s expensive. However, since I have been eating vegan, I have spent the same amount of money on groceries than I had while I was not eating vegan.  

Of course, some products are more expensive than others, but with a little research you can find online and local shops that reasonably sell what you’re looking for! I always shop at Trader Joe's for my produce and grocery items because the products are extremely inexpensive.

Here are a few basic vegan items that remain on my grocery list week to week: almond milk, strawberries, blueberries, green apples, green grapes, lemons, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, HUMMUS, falafel, pretzels, Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Cereal, and assorted nuts.

Myth: “I can’t cook and therefore I can’t eat vegan.”

Fact: If you asked me one year ago to make Easy Mac, I probably would have ruined the microwave. However, since being vegan, my cooking skills have developed and I feel more confident in the kitchen than ever. I mean, I won’t be signing up for Master Chef anytime soon, but I can make a decent vegetable roast.

As a college student, meal prepping has been an essential skill and there are so many vegan meal prep recipes out there! My favorite vegan cookbook is “Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F*ck” by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis. One of my favorite YouTubers, “Liv B,” features dorm room-friendly vegan recipes.

Myth: “Eating vegan won’t give me enough energy.”

Fact: While eating vegan, consuming foods high in protein, including nuts, seeds, and beans, will provide even more long-lasting energy that non-vegan treats could ever give you. Of course, if you are craving late night coffee, you can always substitute the dairy milk for almond or soy milk.

If you are eating vegan or thinking of eating vegan, be sure to consume all necessary vitamin supplements, specifically B12. I use “My Kind Organics” vegan vitamin spray supplement by Garden of Life.

Myth: “Eating vegan will make me ‘healthier.’”

Fact: Transitioning to a vegan diet is generally ‘healthier’ because you are ridding your body of any meat and dairy. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of processed vegan junk food options to purchase. Just because Oreo cookies are vegan, doesn’t mean eating an entire pack for dinner is ‘healthier.’ Eating a pack of cookies is still eating a pack of cookies. 

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