Ah... Another semester on Grounds and you're drinking cheap beer and facing exam-induced meltdowns. But, here at TJ's playground, you deal with a life-decision you're not sure how to sustain: you've sold your carnivore soul to the vegan cult.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie to the plant-based lifestyle, here are a few tips on how to keep up the lettuce munching in a meat-and-cheese laden college town—we're looking at you Christian's

1. Don't be afraid to make the most of your meal plan

You—or mom and dad—are paying a pretty penny for a virtually unlimited meal plan, so make the most of it.

Stock up your room's pantry on grabable foods in dining halls, such as individual fruits and bagels. Or, load up to-go boxes on prepared veggies like carrot sticks and hummus that can easily be stored in your mini fridge. If you're an upperclassman sans meal plan, now's the time to woo younger Hoos into lifting some produce for you. 

2. Head to the Farmer’s Market 

If you have some extra spending money and a free Saturday morning, make your way down to the Charlottesville Farmer's Market at the Downtown Mall. Pick up some fresh and local produce and store it in your room for vegan-friendly late-night munchies or in-season treats.

The Farmer's Market lends a welcoming atmosphere for vegan-friendly businesses, so keep an eye out for crunchy vendors selling vegan baked goods.

And if you can't get enough, here are other reasons to explore the ~crunchier~ side of CVille.  

3. Try a produce delivery service

If you want to get extra fancy, sign up for Greens to Grounds. Greens to Grounds is a local Charlottesville service that delivers fresh, local produce to the UVA and Charlottesville community.

Boxes vary, with contents ranging from basic staples like potatoes and kale to baguettes, granola, and even apple cider doughnuts. Boxes start at $10 with produce, dessert, and add-on options available

4. Don’t be afraid to ask...

As a code of conduct, dining halls have tons of accessible information on the ingredients in their food. These are mostly for food-allergy purposes, but many campuses have evolved to include making known what foods are a-okay for vegans and vegetarians alike.

If you don't feel like asking an actual person—people can be scary tbh—scan online for a list of vegan-friendly food options.

5. Start that secret stash

Amazon Fresh

simone.brunozzi on Flickr

Life as a vegan can be hard living in a carnivore’s world. If options in the dining halls aren’t cutting it for you, or you just need some supplies to fall back on, start building your vegan dorm pantry.

Keep some of your fav veg snacks or go-to microwavable meals on hand in case you need food in a pinch. Amazon offers free Amazon Prime to students, and pair that with their new delivery service for food goods, and you’re on your way to becoming the ultimate food hoarder.

Another option is to stock up at the local Charlottesville Kroger, or have your parents ship you products from cheaper stores at home.  

6. Know your shiz 

A very basic rule of veganism: if you’re going to a new restaurant, make sure to do some research ahead of time. No one wants to show up to dinner hungry af and not be able to eat anything on the menu.

Also, no one wants to be the person holding up the line to order. Look up local restaurants and their menus to map a plan for your meal, and once you arrive you’ll be ready to go, no guessing necessary. Besides, it’s good practice for that internship you’ll probably end up doing that's just 100% research.  

7. Form a united front

Just because you're living the plant-based life doesn't mean you have to go at it alone. Seek out fellow vegs or vegetarians in your area to bond over your animal-free lifestyles. Trade tips and tricks to keeping up the lifestyle and go to them when you're tempted with late-night non-veg foods.  

Being vegan can get a little challenging, but practice makes perfect. Whether you're doing it for health or environmental reasons, don’t be too hard on yourself and make the most of it.