Leaving home to study can be full of daunting moments and uncertainty about the future, but being vegan at university doesn’t have to be one of them…
Many students feel anxious about their first time at university. If you’re vegan, you may be more nervous about moving in with a flat full of potentially judgemental meat eaters than you are about budgeting, the endless workload or even the concept of making new friends!
Being vegan at uni is more commonplace now than ever before and universities are expanding their plant-based offerings on their campuses.
According to research by Magnet, students are six times more likely to be vegans than their parents, and statistically speaking, students and young people make up the most rapidly expanding sector of the global vegan demographic.
And whilst you may encounter some challenging moments during your time at uni, there’s no need to be concerned about your lifestyle choices impacting upon the incredible experience that lies ahead of you!
Keep reading for our top survival tips for university students.
First of all, let’s talk budget-friendly vegan meals. There are only so many times beans on toast will hit the spot.
No matter how hard you try, sustaining yourself on a diet of pot noodles and toast will not leave you feeling satisfied, or healthy, for a prolonged period of time.
Bulk meals that can be made with ease, such as curries, chillies, hotpots and casseroles, also work well as dishes which can be frozen or refrigerated in reusable containers. Check out these cheap vegan recipes for more inspiration.
Take 10 minutes to plan your meals and snacks for the upcoming week. This might seem like a time-consuming exercise, but your future self will thank you for preparing that hearty lunch the day before when you’re stuck running from lecture to lab at 10am.
Make a plan for your week, including lunch and dinner ideas suited to your daily schedules. Make faster meals on busy days and prepare lunches ahead of time when you have back-to-back lectures.
Planning ahead will also allow you to shop weekly for your dishes, preventing expensive mid-week dashes to supermarkets and convenience stores at uni (which are most likely overpriced and unhealthy).
Don’t Throw Food Out
Place food that’s going out of date, or turning the slightly wrong shade of brown, in the freezer to preserve for later use. Bananas are ideal for freezing (skin on or skin off), but you can freeze almost anything.
Chillies, garlic, spices and herbs, fruits (not citrus), vegetables (skin off and prepared), bread, sauces, bulk-cooked dishes, cakes and sweet treats can be kept fresh and well-preserved for a few months.
Check out our guide on storing food correctly and reducing food waste.
Buying groceries on a budget is one of the most challenging aspects of living independently for the first time. But with some smart hacks, you can keep your food spend to a minimum.
Shopping locally and browsing grocers or food markets will go a long way. You can usually fill a bag for life with plenty of fresh produce for just a tenner!
To ensure you get the best price possible at supermarkets, shop around at a few supermarkets and websites. If you have the storage, buying vegan essentials such as legumes, grains and nuts in bulk will help keep costs at bay.
Buying wonky or imperfect vegetables can also help reduce the cost of your staple food items, leaving more in the budget for luxury vegan items or a well-deserved takeaway.
Shopping later in the day is also a great way to find discounted items and shopping at the reduced aisle. Check out your local supermarket’s closing hours and head down with an hour to spare.
You’ll discover some of your favourite staples are significantly reduced due to sell-by-date restrictions. These items are perfectly fine for later consumption, and will most likely last in the fridge or freezer for a few more days.
If you have decided to move into halls of residence, the best way to tackle the vegan-shaped elephant in the room is simply to talk about it.
From day one, be sure to make your flatmates aware of what you are, and are not, comfortable with.
Be open to compromise, and be willingly flexible when it comes to accommodating your fellow flatmates’ needs regardless of dietary requirements:
- Suggest taking the top shelf in the fridge. This will prevent any animal products from contaminating your food accidentally.
- Reserve yourself a few freezer shelves for your bulk-made meals and prepped foods.
- Ask to use a specific chopping board for your food preparation, so as to not contaminate your cooking with animal products.
Cook for your Flatmates
If you really want to show off your vegan cooking skills, why not bake your new flatmates a tray of vegan brownies? There’s no better way to get people intrigued than showing them how amazing vegan food can be.
Offering to host a vegan taco or pizza night can help break the ice with your flatmates and show that there’s nothing weird about being vegan.
If you eat out with your flatmates or uni friends, this is another opportunity to showcase the yummy plant-based options out there. Most restaurants and cafés have decent vegan options, so you should never be left out of these situations.
Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of going to university is the diverse range of exciting people you’ll meet along the way. Why not join your university’s vegan and vegetarian society?
You’ll meet like-minded individuals who might just become friends for life. By getting in with a vegan and vegetarian society, you’ll also discover your university city’s hidden vegan menus, great café spots and become acquainted with the local vegan community.
There are so many exciting opportunities awaiting you, so go forth with confidence and begin your adventure into independence with confidence.
Don’t forget to check out our recipe section for some cheap, cheerful and delicious meal ideas!