Today I have a special treat for you! My friend Alyssa who blogs at The Wise Willow is providing an inside look at being a vegan in college and her tips for living a healthy and inspiring vegan lifestyle! While I am not a vegan myself, I love learning about new perspectives on eating and living a healthy life. Alyssa is a wonderful person, friend and blogger and I am so excited to share with you all my interview with her!
Now that you have been vegan for a few months, what do you think the best parts of being vegan are? The hardest parts?
One of the best parts about being vegan is how energized I feel and how much healthier I am eating in general. A lot of the junk foods that I used to love aren’t vegan, so I find myself reaching for other foods instead (such as dried fruit and dark chocolate). The hardest part has definitely been making sure to eat enough, and to pack snacks everywhere I go. There have definitely been times where I haven’t been able to find something to eat at restaurants, so having back-up snacks is essential.
I read on your Q&A that a big reason you went vegan was because you realized you had a sensitivity to meat & dairy. Do you have tips on discovering sensitivities for someone who is going through that process?
Definitely! If you start to notice patterns in your health, or have always struggled with certain health problems (for me it is migraine headaches), consider eliminating common food allergens from your diet (dairy, meat, gluten, etc.). One of the best ways to see if you have a food sensitivity is to completely remove the food from your diet, see how you feel, and then slowly reintroduce it. If you experience symptoms when you reintroduce the food, you may have a sensitivity. You can also visit a doctor or nutritionist for further recommendations or if you think you may have a food allergy (which is more severe than a sensitivity).
What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing a vegan lifestyle in college but worried about eating in the dining halls?
If you are still in the process of looking at colleges, you can look at the dining services website to find information about the accommodations they make for dietary preferences and food allergies. If you can’t find this information on the college website, I highly recommend calling or emailing the dining hall to get more information about their accommodations.
If you’re already in college and have a sense of what your dining hall offers, I recommend reaching out to the staff to ask about what accommodations can be made. Many schools will expand their vegan choices if there is enough interest. If you find that there is a lack of vegan options at your school, you can ask your dining hall about implementing more options.
There is also always the option of cooking your own meals, and opting out of the college dining hall plan. I have a lot of snacks in my room at all times (I love to snack while I study!), and my dorm has a kitchen that I use for preparing larger meals. Explore what grocery options are available to you, and what meals you could prepare. You might end up saving time and money in the long run!
I know a lot of people worry about the expense of eating vegan. Is this a myth or have you had to be more careful about your food budgeting as you are a college student?
Eating with a vegan lifestyle is actually quite cheap! I tend to buy foods I eat often in bulk (peanut butter, nuts, seeds, oats), which saves a lot of money in the long run. My breakfasts typically consist of rice cakes with peanut butter and bananas, oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg (which is perfect for Fall/Winter!), or dairy-free yogurt and granola. These all have a very inexpensive serving price, and help fuel me for my day! I also keep a supply of dried fruit and granola bars on hand for rushed mornings and snacks on-the-go.
One of the best ways to eat vegan on a college budget is to take advantage of local sales. My local grocery store has a Wellness Wednesday program where all wellness groceries are 10% off, and they also offer a college student discount! Pinterest also has tons of vegan budget shopping worksheets, which have been very helpful when I’m too busy to fully plan a shopping trip.
How has becoming a vegan changed your outlook on how you fuel your body?
Ever since becoming vegan my food preferences and cravings have changed. I used to avoid celery and avocados, for example, and since becoming vegan they have become a staple of my diet! My body craves different types of food now, and I can no longer eat highly processed foods. I’ve also found myself drinking more water (and eating foods that have a high water content), so hydration has become a lot easier! While becoming vegan has changed what I put in my body, it has also changed what I put on it. I’ve switched all of my skin care, hair care, and makeup to vegan brands, and try to avoid products with lots of chemicals or artificial ingredients.
Are you vegan or interested in becoming vegan? Let us know in the comments!
Alyssa is a second-year college student and part-time blogger who finds her inspiration in living simply and simply living. She’s passionate about her studies in religion and government, living a plant-based lifestyle, radiating positivity, and learning from the world.