With never-ending exams, essays, and extracurriculars complicating your schedule, eating healthy can become an afterthought in any busy college student's life. It’s so much easier to shovel burgers and junk food into your mouth when you're always on the go. But as someone whose mood has always been heavily affected by nutrition, busy weeks with bad nutrition usually turn into crabby ones for me. I decided to become a plant-based vegetarian for a week, just to see if I might feel happier and healthier.

Back in high school, I went plant-based vegetarian for a few weeks from time to time, and it was always a mood booster. Being plant-based vegetarian is more than just forgoing meat; it means actively seeking out ways to base your entire diet around plants. I figured it might be harder to eat plant-based on a college campus, so I decided to give it a shot for a week to see how it might make me feel.


vegetable, tomato, carrot, pepper
Christin Urso

Whether its effect was a placebo or not, going plant-based in the past had always made me feel healthier and happier. But as a social eater with a busy schedule, I knew it would be a bit more challenging in college when I couldn’t make all my own meals. And as an avid snacker, I was worried that being plant-based would limit my options to the same old pre-cut fruits from Paws day after day. Because I don't love most forms of tofu, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get enough protein. I had some doubts about being plant based on a college campus, but I figured, what's one week?

Being Plant-Based

salad, spinach
Danielle Cahoon

Going plant-based on campus turned out to not be as difficult as I thought it would be, though maybe I wasn't as strict as I should have been at being centered around plants. Breakfast tended to be avocado toast with an egg or some sort of fruit salad with a bit of yogurt. On two particularly busy mornings, I settled for a banana and coffee as I ran out the door. 

Lunch was usually some form of salad from Whispers or the DUC, and whether prepackaged or specially made—I always included chickpeas or lentils to be sure I was getting some protein. I tried to vary my toppings, from peppers to mushrooms to cucumbers, in an attempt to diversify the nutrients in these meals.

My dinners varied the most, as the vegetarian option at BD stations is different day-to-day. I got black bean burgers with lettuce and tomato, vegetable paella, and anything else that I could justify as plant-based. When all else failed, I ordered a lettuce-based taco salad with chickpeas.

Snacks were the hardest for me to alter, not because of a lack of options, but more because of my affinity for chips. But I persevered in substituting Sour Cream and Onion Lays for strawberries and yogurt, and felt way better for it.


apple, juice, sweet, pasture
Santina Renzi

Being plant-based vegetarian for a week made a substantial difference in my energy levels and mood. Whether it was a placebo effect or the real deal, I nonetheless felt a lot healthier for having plant-based foods as the center of my diet. I probably could have been a little stricter about having even more plants in my diet, but as a busy student, I was extremely satisfied with what I ate.

Overall, going plant based definitely boosted my mood. Though I won't be totally giving up meat from now on, I will make more of an effort to center my meals around plants. I'm definitely more conscious of the nutrients each plant provides, ran plan to have meat be an add-on rather than the center of every meal. Going plant-based vegetarian on a college campus was surprisingly easy and made some major differences, so anyone who is even considering doing it should definitely give it a trial run.