Long-time vegans can easily fall into the rut of monotonous meals, but no matter what diet you ascribe to, there are many versions of foundational, plant-based meals you can learn to make to keep lunch interesting. Here are five vegan lunches that every student should know how to make. 

1. Hearty Sandwiches 

If you start to crave dishes that usually have animal products in them, just remember that you can make nearly anything plant-based. When putting together sandwiches, some try subbing tempeh for bacon in you BLTs and making mock egg salad with tofu instead. 

Of course, you can also go the whole food route and fill your sandwich with veggies. Lettuce, shredded carrot, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, and pickles are all awesome choices, and you can sub the mayo with hummus for a boost in protein. 

Most breads are already vegan, but double-check the ingredients list to make sure there isn't milk or any other animal product. 

2. Refreshing Salads 

The base of any amazing salad is fresh, crispy greens. Rotate different types for a variety of nutrients from your lunch. Classic options include romaine, kale, and spinach, but you can also branch out into other greens like Bibb lettuce, dandelion leaves, and red leaf lettuce. 

Toppings will separate interesting from boring salads. NYT Cooking suggests choosing a few ingredients from two of the three main categories: fruit and vegetables, proteins, and starches. Too often, people only add one or two extra ingredients, but aiming for four to six total means there will be enough variety to keep you happy and satisfied.  

3. Soul-Warming Soups 

There is nothing quite like a warm soup on a cold day at campus. Try new Fall recipes like curried butternut squash soup, spiced lentil soup, and roasted purple potato soup

I recommend preparing a big batch of soup on the weekend to portion out for the rest of the week. Make soup ahead of time with enough time to simmer—at least half and hour for most recipes. The longer you can cook it, the more flavorful your soup will be.

This is also a great way to reduce food waste if you toss in any veggies that you didn't get to earlier in the week. 

4. Two-in-One Leftover Pastas

Have some for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. Put a twist on basic spaghetti with meatballs made from lentils and mushrooms.

Any other pasta dish can be veganized as well. You don't need cow's milk to make creamy dishes like mac and cheese, fettuccini Alfredo, or pesto pasta. The key is to know which plant-based substitutions to use, whether it's vegan food products or techniques to manipulate plants to taste like your favorite dishes. 

5. Complete Protein Rice Bowls 

Forget any myths you've heard about vegans not able to consume enough nutrients. One way to get your daily recommended amount is through high-protein dishes like rice and beans.

When you think of rice and beans, you might just think Latino cuisine, but it is a staple dish in many other cultures around the world. A few examples are Korean Patbap, Caribbean Red Beans and Rice, Ghanaian Waakye, and Indian Curry.  

Just like pasta and soup, this is another dish you can make ahead of time and reheat when lunchtime comes around. There are different ways you can microwave rice without it drying out.

You hold a lot of power through the foods choices you make. Making your voice heard through your purchases, you have the ability to contribute to change in the food industry. Whether for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, most college students could use some more plant-based meals in their diets, but it can be difficult to know where to start if you're new to this. You can start by trying a new vegan lunch each day this week.