Being a vegetarian on certain college campuses can be very difficult, if not impossible. I’ve been a pescatarian since my sophomore year of high school, and didn’t even bat an eye at the transition from home cooked foods to dining hall all access plans. Oh boy, let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more naive. Within the first month of school I broke down and had to eat red meat because I started having dizzy spells. My typical day-to-day diet at the beginning of this semester consisted of eggs for two meals a day almost every day, and pasta, pizza, zucchini, or bagels for the other meals. I don’t have a car so I rely on going to the store with friends, if they ever do go to the store (all of us are on the all access meal plan). The fish on campus is mostly undercooked, and I didn’t want to run the risk of contracting an illness due to that. And the vegetarian fare consisted of overcooked zucchini, stuffed peppers, veggie burgers, pasta, and the occasional carrot or broccoli dish, but these rotate daily and often run out quickly with little hope of being refilled on a timely schedule. I could spend half an hour waiting on the vegetarian dish of the day to be refilled and not get a single bite of food.
I became very, very sick after eating meat for two weeks. So sick that I haven’t touched any kind of meat since. I’ve managed to eat more fruit, but honestly finding the right foods to suit my lifestyle is all about going to the right dining hall at the right time of day and supplementing my meals with small snacks high in protein, such as nuts, cheese, or granola bars. Peanut butter is a lifesaver! You can put it on almost anything (check the frozen yogurt or ice cream bar for this diet staple). And keeping a dorm room mini fridge stacked with cheese sticks is my go-to plan for when I’m hungry between classes. I still eat eggs every day (they’re a perfect protein, so essential!) but tend to branch out more for lunch – pimiento cheese and carrot sticks from the salad bar, apple slices with peanut butter on a toasted bagel, salads with nuts from the ice cream bar and cheese from the pasta bar. You really have to think outside of the box! If there’s a recipe from home that you like try and scope out all the different dining hall options to see if you can combine different stations to make what you want. Dining hall hacks are the best!
If you’re not on meal plan and are looking for cheap options for vegetarian meals beans and rice, cheese quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, burrito bowls, and soups are great options. If you’re really interested about cooking vegetarian recipes then check out this blog! She has great advice on food choices, pairings, and nutrition!