How You Too Can be a Vegan While at SCAD

            Illustration by Ellissa Schatz

                    Whether you’ve been plant-based for years or are just getting on the vegan train, you know that it can be easy to slack, especially in an environment like college, where it’s expected that everyone eats the cheapest foods they can find, which usually consist heavily of engineered, unrecognizable, and animal laden ingredients. Being vegan, specifically plant-based vegan, has a reputation of being an extremely expensive lifestyle, which turns a lot of young budgeted people off. As a new vegan and an old SCAD student, I’ve found that, as long as you are just a little bit more conscientious and have a plan, being an animal-product-less college student is hugely attainable and affordable, whether you live in traditional dorms and rely on meal plan, or you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen and can prepare your own meals. Savannah also boasts an impressive variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants with options more than just iceberg lettuce and pasta, so treating yourself with your friends on the weekend doesn’t have to be a drag.

             Mini-fridge and microwave life at O-House can seem pretty bleak if you don’t know exactly what the possibilities can be. So can watching all those pizza filled to-go boxes coming out of The Hive. Luckily, SCAD’s dining service prides itself on being way more inclusive to dietary restrictions and different lifestyle choices than a lot of university cafeterias. The salad bars have a ton of different produce and protein toppings to form a well-rounded meal that doesn’t limit you to cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and the hot food stations always have at least one vegan option that has just as much attention paid to the preparation as the main, non-vegan dishes. The labels are always super helpful in letting you know what’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or contains nuts, so you can so easily go the whole year without touching a slice of pizza or a burger.

             My favorite dining hall hack was always to take a coffee cup filled with grapes or cubed fruit back to my dorm to stick in the fridge. This makes a super quick, easy, and healthy breakfast for the next morning, or a snack for your midnight color theory homework. And instead of keeping hot pockets and chicken nuggets to microwave, look for steamable bags of brown rice and pasta. These usually only have a few ingredients, and are super easy to find without added butter. Sweet potatoes are also the cheapest, most filling, and delicious thing to keep in your room. They stay fresh for weeks, can be microwaved for cooking, and often can be a whole meal right on their own. Bananas, peanut butter, and rice cakes are inexpensive staples for a vegan dorm room snack, and don’t require any prep at all.

 

             Illustration by Ellissa Schatz

                   For those of us living in an apartment or an apartment-style residence hall, the options are a little more open- we have full use of an oven, stove, full fridge, and whatever other appliances the fire codes deem appropriate. The grocery store is our wonderland. It can be so easy to walk into Whole Foods or Kroger, raid the natural foods section, and come out spending way more than you wanted to. This absolutely does not have to be the case. The reason being vegan has an expensive reputation is because of all of the processed and packaged food with the well-designed labels and $15 price tag. The trick to staying vegan on a small budget is to stay away from all those weird meat and cheese substitutes, and expensive fancy frozen pizzas. That’s where the dollars start flying away. Rice, beans, bananas, and potatoes are some of the least expensive foods in the store, and are calorie and nutrient dense, as well as being pantry staples. Fresh veggies are always the way to go, so pay a little bit more attention to what’s in season, as those are always the cheapest at that time. And if fresh veg is a little to spendy to stock up on all the time, canned and frozen fruits and beans are very affordable ways to fill in the blanks.

 

          Illustration by Ellissa Schatz

              Once you have your fridge and pantry filled with affordable plant-based ingredients, hop on YouTube for the most creative and easy vegan recipes. One of my favorite food channels is The EdgyVeg; she has a ton of snack and meal ideas that are all 100% vegan and very cheaply made for the most part. There is also no shortage of channels that are specifically vegan college girls showing what they eat in a day, and how they keep up their non-animal-product lifestyles without spending a lot of money or time. YouTube is an amazing resource for all sorts of food inspiration, and it’s also a great educational procrastination tool if you find yourself needing a break from a project.

 

            As mentioned earlier, Savannah has a wonderful array of restaurants that all have multiple vegan options, and also have their menus online, so you can see exactly what your options and their prices will be before you decide to head out. I’ve been in Savannah for 3 years so I’ve explored a lot of these options, and can make some killer recommendations if I say so myself:

 B&D Burgers. It’s a Savannah staple. Everyone loves it. They have their signature burgers, but in addition, they are all extremely customizable. Every dish has the option of swapping out meat for their amazing veggie burger, and you can always take off the cheese and add any other veggies that you might want. And as a bonus, college students get buy one get one free entrees on Thursdays, so you can split the bill with your friends and pay half price for a solid vegan meal.

Kayak Kafe is attached to the front of Fitness on Broughton, so if that’s any indication. Kayak is famous for being super healthy, and all their ingredients are the freshest of the fresh. In every single category of dishes, they have at least one vegan option that sounds just as delicious as all the others, and all the other dishes are also chop-and-change-able.

Maybe most pleasantly surprising, Mellow Mushroom on Liberty St. has an entire vegan menu. That’s right. VEGAN. PIZZA. They use Daiya non-dairy cheese, and you can request that on any pizza on their menu. All the crust and dough that Mellow Mushroom makes is automatically vegan, so you don’t have to worry about that, though if you’re also gluten-free, you can ask for gluten-free crust as well. Such a good Saturday night spot with a bunch of friends. Or just you and an entire pizza. You deserve it.