Despite popular belief, being a vegetarian IS 100% possible. It has its challenges and setbacks for sure, but for me, the benefits outweigh the consequences.
With that being said, it is significantly harder being meat-free in college than it is while living at home. Being a vegetarian is a choice, and it is not for everybody. For my fellow herbivores, or for those possibly considering this dietary lifestyle, here are a few tips for going veg in college:
Keep food/snacks in your room. While The Caf does a fine job providing meat-free options at meals, you will most likely get hungry between meals and at night due to a lack of protein. One of my go-to options is a healthy granola bar. These are quick and can be eaten on the way to class or before practice. Try to look for ones with at least 4 grams of protein to fill you up. Peanut butter is also a great protein-packed snack.
“HOW DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN???” This is the question that vegetarians get asked on a daily basis. There are lots of good answers to this question. When someone asks me this, I like to politely and informatively let them know that there are several wonderful protein options other than meat. Peanut butter (one of my faves), walnuts, almonds, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, beans and tofu are all fantastic protein sources — and that’s only to list a few.
Protein supplements. These are especially important for athletes who are not eating meat. I know I am usually ravenously hungry after practice, so if dinner didn’t quite fill me up, I’ll make a quick protein shake to ensure my muscles are getting the adequate nutrients for proper recovery. After all, protein is essential for building muscle as well as giving you enough energy to power through your workouts. Try to pick out a protein powder that meets your protein needs as well as other specialized dietary needs (carbs, vitamins, calories, etc.). I’m currently using Cellucor Whey Cookies n’ Cream protein powder.
Eat wholesome, nutritious foods. It is so very tempting to just eat French fries and cheese pizza in lieu of meat, especially in The Caf or when going out to eat with friends. While these foods are all right to eat in moderation, be sure to get some good stuff in your belly, too. Throw in a salad a few days a week to your lunch, or go for a PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread instead of that bag of Doritos.
I am also a huge advocate of organic and local foods. Yes, it’s more expensive to eat naturally and support local farmers but it pays off in so many ways.
Stay healthy, Threshers!
And don’t litter.