A generation ago, vegan options were quite limited in college dorm rooms and dining halls. Dining halls offered meager vegan options. First and second-year undergrads, forced to sign up for the school’s meal plan, were often stuck eating the same few foods day after day until they qualified to move off-campus.
Happily, things today are so much better. Thanks to the growing popularity of plant-based eating, particularly among younger people, university dining halls work hard to accommodate vegans. Consequently, eating well in college has become a hundred times easier for vegans than it was previously.
Eating Vegan in College
The tens of thousands of vegan college students who’ve come before you have fundamentally transformed campus dining offerings. These days, few colleges or universities are inhospitable to vegans. The vast majority of colleges and universities offer a wide assortment of delicious vegan meals.
You can reliably assess the vegan-friendliness of a given college by doing these things:
- Visit the website for each college you’re considering, and check out the pages related to campus dining. You can usually look up the menus at various dining halls. In just a few minutes you’ll get a clear sense of which schools have the best vegan options.
- While you’re on the campus websites, also search for vegan and animal rights student groups. The mere presence of a well-run group on campus often signifies abundant vegan dining options. Consider emailing the group to introduce yourself and to ask questions about on-campus dining.
- When you’re doing campus tours and interviews, don’t forget to visit the dining halls. You might decide to purchase a meal so you can judge the quality of the food.
- If your campus is located in a town or city, check out the nearby vegan restaurant options. Most college towns have at least one vegan-friendly restaurant that caters primarily to students.
Obviously, there’s way more to college than food. But it certainly makes sense to factor in the vegan-friendliness of any campus you might attend.
Suppose, however, that you end up at a school with limited vegan options. All is not lost. It’s often remarkably easy to seek improvements. Our vegan college guide offers lays out how to encourage your campus dining hall to get with the times.
Convenient Vegan Foods for Your Dorm Room
Many four year colleges require students to live on campus during their first two years, often also enrolling them onto the meal plan. Being forced onto the meal plan is a drag if the vegan dining hall options are mediocre. Worse, most on-campus dormitories lack any sort of kitchen access, which limits the variety of food you can prepare.
Consider buying or renting a compact refrigerator for your dorm room. This can enable you to supplement your diet with soy milk, vegan yogurts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, because they pose a fire hazard, many dormitories forbid the use of hot plates. But you will probably be permitted to own a small microwave and an electric kettle—both of which can markedly improve your food preparation options. Also get a few plates, bowls, and utensils, plus some sealed plastic containers for storing food in your refrigerator.
We’ve got a couple must-read pages for vegans living in college dormitories. Many of the items featured on our vegan snacks page are perfect for dorm life. You’ll also want to check out our online grocery, which features the best vegan foods from Amazon.com.
Developing Your Vegan Cooking Skills
Some colleges offer on-campus shared apartments with kitchens. When applying, you maybe able to indicate that you prefer to live with other vegans. That way you won’t have encounter chicken in your refrigerator or come home to someone frying bacon.
Alternately, most colleges that require students to live in dorms allow them to move off campus starting their junior year. Get an apartment with a kitchen and you’ll enjoy unlimited vegan cooking options. Our vegan cooking guide will give you the skills and confidence needed to prepare all sorts of easy and delicious vegan meals.