The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
My whole life I’ve toyed with the idea of going vegetarian. It’s not like I’m some huge animal rights activist (though I’m 100% in support!) or that I have any health issues, I just thought it would be interesting to go without meat. I’ve never been too crazy about it. Of course, I liked it and continue to like it to this day, but it was nothing special to me. I knew from a young age that I really wouldn’t miss meat if I decided to quit cold turkey (get it?).
That’s why, when I finally moved from my parent’s home to my college dorm, I decided that now was the time to fully commit to vegetarianism. I’ve since been strictly vegetarian for an entire month. I’m sure you’re wondering: How hard is it? How do you enjoy a diet of veggies and (in my case) so little dairy? What are the barriers to a vegetarian diet as a college student? Fear not, I’m here to answer all your burning questions.
Making the switch
A huge misconception about vegetarians is that all we eat is salad and beans. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. (Also, I hate beans.)
Like I said before, I’ve been eating meat my entire life. The switch from a mostly meat diet to a diet with only vegetables must be challenging, right? For me, this wasn’t the case. I found it very easy to quit meat entirely. The vegetable options at OU’s dining halls are plentiful and flavorful. There are tofu options on certain days at the dining hall closest to my dorm, Nelson. Tofu has been the closest thing to meat I’ve eaten in the past month, and I recommend it to anyone who’s making the switch and is having trouble transitioning. From orange “chicken” to tofu stir-fry, there are many possibilities with this magical soybean concoction. Besides broccoli and carrots, I’ve been eating lots of seeds, nuts, rice, and bread to fill my fiber and protein needs. The vegetarian options vary across different universities, but at Ohio, there’s a variety of choices I can make that fit my diet and aren’t boring. Also… pizza is vegetarian. Just saying. ;)
barriers to a vegetarian diet
Now, I know that I said that there has been a lot of variety on my campus, and that’s true, but on occasion, there is simply nothing for me in the dining halls. I have severe acid reflux, meaning that I can’t handle spicy/acidic foods, and sometimes the veggies in the dining halls contain ingredients that hurt my stomach. Sometimes there are no veggies or tofu available at all. Sometimes the veggies they do have are simply ingredients in a meat dish. On some days, I’ll walk into a dining hall on campus absolutely RAVENOUS, only to find that there’s nothing for me except pizza and rice. You can imagine how easily that gets old.
To remedy this situation, I make sure to check the menus for the dining halls before I make the walk. If there’s something that seems good, great! If not, I’m prepared to get food delivered or grab something on Court Street. Unfortunately, I live in a dorm that doesn’t have a kitchen, so that’s not an option at the moment, but if you have a kitchen, GREAT! Swing by your local Kroger or Walmart and grab some veggie options so you are in complete control over what you eat. No surprises when you’re the captain of your metaphorical veggie ship. If you don’t have a kitchen, look into some local restaurants. You’d be surprised by how vegetarian-friendly the places around you are. If you’re in the OU area, I recommend Casa Nueva and Union Street Diner, but there are plenty of other options for you in Uptown Athens.
is a meatless diet worth it?
I always say that before changing any aspect of your life, big or small, evaluate why you want to do it. A vegetarian diet helps me because of my food sensitivities, but it might not help another person. Maybe think about limiting your dairy intake, or drinking more water throughout your day. Make sure you are sure that you will be getting the right amount of protein and fiber in your diet. If you can’t, make sure to take a supplement. A dietary switch always requires extensive research and an evaluation of your personal needs. If you find that a vegetarian diet is right for you, GREAT! A vegetarian diet can have an extremely positive effect on your health.
A vegetarian diet is way more than just salads and beans, it’s a diet filled with delicious vegetables and adventurous options!