Keeping up with a vegan diet in college can seem nearly impossible. It’s the first time in your life that you are fending for yourself and let’s be real, what is really keeping you from hitting up Chick-fil-A twice a day? It’s easy to give up on your vegan lifestyle when Jimmy John’s will deliver to your dorm in fifteen minutes flat, and vegetables from the grocery store are ten miles away.

Don’t let yourself get discouraged by the idea of being a college vegan; in fact, it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you want to plan ahead, here’s how to make a week’s worth of vegan meals.

Accept that it’s going to be difficult at times

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I’m not going to sugar coat it, watching your friends drunkenly devour slice after slice of inordinately cheesy pizza and an extra-large order of tantalizing pokey sticks can be pretty vexing. There is a reason why a typical college campus is full of carnivores – it’s hard to be vegan.

Get creative in the dining hall

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When you walk into the typical college dining hall, there isn’t exactly a myriad of vegan options. As a collegiate vegan, you’ve gotta get creative. You must be able to find solace in the salad bar, but also, break away and take chances with new culinary creations. Don’t assume that the meat and cheese plagued sandwich station is off limits, or that the parmesan and cream permeated pasta post is a no-go; dismember these stations and assemble a vegan masterpiece. Explore your dining hall to figure out what masterful meals you can make with a little ingenuity.

Find your staples

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Every vegan has several go-to options that they always have on them. For me, I’m never found without a peppermint stick Luna Bar or a banana. Being stuck in a situation with no edible options can be rough. Always have some vegan-friendly snacks on you so that you never go hungry or become the problem friend who won’t come along on the gang’s fro-yo outings.

Educate yourself

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Adopting a vegan diet can easily turn into a health catastrophe. Just because a large basket of veggies has become the symbol of veganism, does not mean that it is all we eat. Some people go vegan and live off of Oreos and unfrosted Pop-Tarts, aka the “accidentally vegan” food group.

With that being said, going vegan doesn’t automatically make you healthy. It’s important to make sure you know where your protein is coming from and taking B12 supplements to make up for the lack of these nutrients in your diet. With the stressful and busy lives that the ordinary college student leads, it is crucial to remain in good health. If done right, going vegan will be the best decision you’ve ever made for your body.  

Realize that carbs are your friend

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When I first started my vegan diet, I was blown away by the number of carbs I was consuming on a daily basis without any weight gain. One of my favorite parts about being a vegan is that this is perfectly normal and even encouraged. Due to the lack of animal products in our diets, vegans, on average, weigh 16% less than our carnivorous counterparts.

Ignore the misconceptions

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People love to hate on vegans. You’ll be badgered with questions about why you chose to have such a difficult diet and approached by friends who try to pull you back to the other side. People assume that not eating animal products is the worst thing imaginable and that you are a protein-deficient mess.

This could not be any further from the truth, in fact, some foods even taste better when made vegan; like these 6 foodsMy best advice here is to ignore the haters and remind yourself of why you made this life choice in the first place. 

Remember that it’s worth it

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Sure, being a vegan can be hard and it can really suck at times when Ben and Jerry are calling your name, but it is worth it. Not only are you defending the lives of countless defenseless animals, but the health benefits that result from a vegan diet are nearly innumerable. Just because you are a college student doesn’t mean you have to give up your vegan lifestyle, so keep calm and vegan on. If you’re still not convinced, here are 11 more reasons you should go vegan.