Tips For Eating Vegetarian in College

A new semester has begun and with it, meeting up and socializing with your friends in the cafeteria. But if you’re a vegetarian like me, you might be having a hard time finding food to eat in the dining halls. Sure, during the tours they probably promised that you would have lots of options to choose from, but now you’re stuck with a meal plan and nothing to use it on. College is stressful enough without worrying about what you’re going to eat. But never fear, you don’t have to spend your college career explaining to your friends that you didn’t gain the Freshman 15 because you literally had nothing to eat. Here are some of my tips for managing your meatless lifestyle while at school.


1.Talk to the head of food services

Whether it’s through an email or a face-to-face conversation, let the head of the department know about your vegetarian lifestyle and what can be done to improve your dining hall experience. You’re paying a lot of money to your college (and probably also for that meal plan) and it’s his/her job to provide you with the best experience possible.


2.Make friends with other vegetarians/vegans

It’s always better to suffer together rather than alone, and your meat-eating friends just can’t relate the same way. Some colleges have vegetarian/vegan clubs where you can meet other people following that lifestyle, so if yours does there’s no harm in joining. If not, I’ve found that vegetarians tend to gravitate towards one another so if you spend enough time in the dining hall you’ll inevitably end up meeting someone who looks just as miserable as you.



3.Buy a microwave or hot plate for your dorm room

Most underclassmen college dorms don’t have kitchens easily accessible so your ability to cook will be limited. If your college allows it, a microwave or hot plate can save your life when you need to eat a quick, hot meal like ramen or oatmeal. Sites like Buzzfeed have collections of microwave recipes for college students so you don’t have to rely on the school’s food. 


4.See if your school has a menu so you can plan your meals 

My school has an online menu where you can check out what meals they’ll be serving everyday, so I can plan out when I should use my meal swipe. I’ll make plans with my friends based on which days have the most vegetarian options, so I’m not stuck watching my friends eat three plates of food while I eat my salad. 


5.Live off of side dishes

At the University of Scranton, the dining hall is buffet-style and has multiple stations that each serve a different meal. There’s a pasta station, a grill, a gluten free station, etc. Even when the main meal is a meat dish, often the sides are vegetarian friendly, so I can go from station to station and just ask for the side dishes. 


6.Eat out/order takeout

Let’s be honest, college food isn’t great, even for the people who can eat it. If you have the funds, going out once a week or so gives you something to look forward to after a week filled with essays and assigned readings, and an excuse to look cute after wearing the same pair of leggings for a week. Too tired or not in the mood? Invite some friends over and eat takeout while you watch the Bachelor together. 

(Extra tip! Thai restaurants are typically very vegetarian/vegan friendly, pretty cheap, and healthier than pizza) 


7.Depend on the trusty salad bar

I know you don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that vegetarians only eat salad, but when push comes to shove and you’re starving, those veggies start looking pretty good. Luckily for us vegetarians, the salad bar is always there to have your back.