How To

No Cash, Just Swipes: Dining Hall Veganism Made Easy

I'm going to be honest with you - it's hard being vegan. Unless you have most of the control over what you eat, it's going to be hard. I'm a vegan in college. And I'm hungry. All I've had to eat this semester is salad.

Don't get me wrong, salad is good. You have almost total control of what goes into yours if you're working with a salad bar like most universities have. You can pack in hella protein and flavor into one bowl.

It's also boring. 

This past week I only ate at the dining hall at my school. No money, just meal swipes. I was nervous that I was going to be absolutely starving by the end of the week, however, I was so happy to find out that, with a little creativity, the dining hall is totally killing it. 

Breakfast 

An oldie but a goodie: oatmeal. Personally, I like to add a little spice to my bowl. At home I would add peanut butter or granola to switch up the texture a little bit. Our dining hall is nut free so peanut butter was not going to fly. Instead I added in some cranberries from the salad bar, some brown sugar, and a cut up banana. I'm a pretty big texture person so I'm very hesitant about oatmeal; this was pretty good though. The cranberries cut up the texture of the oats and the banana cut the sweet of the sugar really well and made it more of a fruity breakfast.

Tragically, avocados are not a thing in college, or at least my college. If they are a thing at yours, I envy you. As an avo-addict, the hardest part of being vegan in college has been going without my avocado toast. Though avocado could never be replaced, I have found a new love: hummus.

Hummus is everywhere on campus, from the dining hall to the library. So I've turned around and made a new toast for my life. I toasted a bagel and added the hummus that is set out by the salad bar (a gold mine, I'm telling you). On top I added all the vegetables from the omelet station. I got a couple weird looks when I asked for toppings without eggs but it was totally worth it. I'm definitely going to keep making this through the year

Lunch and Dinner 

My family is a major participant of the Taco Tuesday movement. For as long as I can remember Tuesday nights meant salsa and crumbling taco shells. It was super easy to make my own Taco Tuesday here on campus. I was planning on making a taco salad with lettuce, beans and the like but it turned out to be actual taco night! I decided to do a little bit of fusion with my tacos. I had a veggie taco with some stir-fry vegetables, and seriously considered also forging ahead with my salad. Next time, I would want to add some Sriracha or other sauce just to add a little more flavor.

I. Love. Carbs. Carbs, however, do not love me. I don't eat too much bread or pasta unless I feel like whatever else I've eaten through the day leaves some wiggle room. For dinner this week I made a pasta salad with rice noodles from the pasta section, and added in beans and other veggies. I decided not to add dressing because I was worried that the noodles would absorb the dressing and make the flavor too strong, but it was really good without it. It's complicated between carbs and me, but I have a feeling we might start seeing a little more of each other.

When In Doubt 

The biggest tip that I have to remind myself of is that being a vegan in college is a thing! More likely than not, there is already food being prepared that is suited just for us. At my dining hall there are little cards with each dish that note any dietary notes about the food. I had some great sweet-and-sour tofu and tried out some Spanish rice. They were both pretty good, and they were also both red. To add a little more color to my plate I also had a pear. General rule: taste the rainbow (thank you for that one @Skittles).

Dessert

When it comes to the dining hall, I don't really know what to think about the cookies and baked goods that my friends love. They are the only thing without the trusty labels. I know that cookies and brownies are filed under my personal "vegan no-nos", but what about the other stuff at the table? Usually if I need something sweet I have a bowl of cereal. My favorites from the cafeteria are Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix and Apple Jacks. I generally go dry if I'm having cereal for my dessert but my school offers either soy or almond milk if dry cereal is not your game.

This was my cash free week. I was really nervous to come into college being vegan. I was worried that I either would never eat or only be eating bread. After this week I will not be worried any more. I found lots of easy ways to satisfy my diet and to satisfy my health anxieties. I hope that none of you will be hungry anymore either.

Happy snacking!