How To Be Vegan on a College Meal Plan

Whether you’re a new or long-time vegan, finding tasty vegan meals at campus dining halls can be tricky. Healthy and delicious food should be easily accessible to everyone on campus, but for now, we vegans have to be a little experimental and innovative when it comes to creating full meals in cafeterias. So, if you’re struggling to find yummy food or stay satiated throughout the day, here are some tips and meal ideas to help you survive eating on a college meal plan.

  1. 1. Go to the salad bar

    So, first of all, the salad bar is your best friend and your source of food past (probably), present, and future. Obviously, you can make salads for a meal at the salad bar, but also, don’t forget to utilize your school’s to-go boxes! Take fruits and veggies back to your dorm for snacks to eat throughout the day, so you don’t have to buy extra food to feel full and satisfied in between meals.

  2. 2. Put together side dishes

    Most colleges (unfortunately) don’t have a vegan dining hall or even a vegan section in their cafeteria. So, to make a full vegan meal, you have to get a bit creative. Go around to all of the food stations and look for side dishes that could make a complete and nutritious meal. I usually start with a base of either rice, potatoes, or pasta. Then, I try to find plant-based protein I can add to my meal. Most colleges will have beans or tofu as options at one of the stations or at the salad bar. So go ahead and load up on the beans and tofu before you move on. Next, like with all delicious and nutritious meals, I add some veggies. You can add them from the salad bar or if your school steams or cooks vegetables with oil, you can use those too. Finally, since it is still just school food, I like to add some sort of seasoning to it to make it tastier. Usually, I go for hot sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, or whatever else I can find that goes with my meal.

  3. 3. Buy a microwave for your dorm

    Trust me, this will be a lifesaver. Look for a second-hand microwave off of Facebook Marketplace and split the cost with your roommates so it’ll be super cheap. Once you have your microwave, there are SO many things that you can use it to make. My go-to is oatmeal pretty much every morning. Just put it in the microwave with twice as much water as oats. When it’s at the consistency you like, take it out and add the banana or apple you brought back from your dining hall. For extra flavor, add in cinnamon and brown sugar. Both of these are super cheap, last long, and effortlessly make your breakfast so much better (cereal and plant-based milk is always an easy option for breakfasts too). Some of my other favorite microwavable vegan meals are pretty much any one of Amy’s soups, 90 second rice (with added beans and veggies from the salad bar), chickpea-stuffed sweet potatoes (with hot sauce on top of course), Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheeze (I swear this isn’t sponsored I just love this brand), and minute bombay potatoes or chana masala. Also, if you have a mini fridge or freezer, there’s so many more refrigerated or freezer vegan meals you can buy if you want to branch out of just eating from the dining hall a couple times a week. If you want to be extra ~fancy~ buy a rice cooker! I love mine so much. You can use it to make rice (duh!), oatmeal, pasta, and steamed veggies. Rice cookers make it so much easier to create full, balanced meals (and it takes no skill to make delicious food with it).


Inevitably, some days in your school’s cafeteria will be much better than others. But with the increased popularity of veganism, and therefore plant-based options, many schools are changing their dining halls to have more vegan options! Some schools even have entire vegan sections within their cafeterias, and other schools have dining halls dedicated to solely vegan food! So keep up the good vegan eating. Soon enough, you’ll be off the meal plan and in your own apartment!