The most common misconception surrounding plant based and vegan diets is that a person is restricted. This is not at all the case. Over the past few years, many have opened their eyes to the health and environmental benefits both lifestyles have to offer. As someone who has spent a full year on campus vegan, and another plant-based, I feel well equipped to guide you on how to do the same.
If you are reading this, chances are you are looking to gain some more information about both lifestyles, or you are already 1 of the 2. Before getting into specifics, I want to tell you the difference between plant-based and vegan diets. A vegan is someone who eats/uses no animal product (ie., milk, eggs dairy, meat). Someone who is plant-based has a little more flexibility. Most of their food consists of veggies/ fruits. Many plant-based people still incorporate minimal animal products into their diets. I won’t lie and say it is not difficult at times to stay on track while on campus, but it is worth it, and simple if you put your mind to it.
The most important thing to do when it comes to being plant-based on campus is to have a basic idea of what you’re going to eat every day. This brings us to the question, “What do I eat?” The following are 3 examples of meals I’d eat when beginning my day in the dining hall/dorm.
- A bagel with vegan cream cheese
- An omelette with a side of fruit- spinach, onions, tomatoes, feta (turkey is optional)
- Oatmeal with stevia, a tbsp. of peanut butter, and half a banana
Each of these are really filling, simple, and have worked for me.
Before becoming plant-based, I would love tacos, stir fry, and sandwiches for lunch/dinner. When I go to the dining hall for lunch, I think of how I can transform those meals by incorporating veggies, instead of animal products. Some of my favorite things to have for lunch/dinner in the dining hall are:
- Veggie tacos- whole grain tortilla filled with beans, seasoned veggies, brown rice, and minimal sour cream
- Tofu fried rice- brown rice, seasoned tofu, sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms
- Vegetarian lasagna, with a side of vegetables
There are also many fast food plant-based options on campus. Next time you go to Starbucks, swap regular milk with oat, almond, or coconut milk. Marillac at St. John’s in Queens has a Freshens. There you can buy smoothies (“Goin Green” is a favorite of mine), bowls, wraps, and flatbreads. Additionally, Falafel bowls are sold at Pom & Honey and are delicious. The most important thing to remember when changing/following a diet is that you are learning as you go. Start gradually and incorporate more plants into what you eat.