Being a college student, I know all too well how hard it is to eat healthy. Even harder when you live on campus and have no choice but to eat at dining halls. On the campus I attend, there is one vegan station at one dining hall, and it is only open Monday-Friday. During the weekend your options are salad or salad, sometimes if you’re lucky they’ll have plan noodles out on the line. It sucks, I know. I learned to live off of fruit, salad, and yogurt while I lived on campus.
This year, I made the decision to live off campus as it was much cheaper than living on campus. Plus it is my last year of undergraduate studies and what college senior wants to live on campus? Probably a lot, but I didn’t want to. Plus, this gave me the opportunity to cook my own meals and learn how to eat healthy.
This started off as a terrible idea. I became a vegetarian in May 2016, right after the end of spring semester. By January, I had to start eating chicken and turkey again. Now, what I’m about to say may sound very confusing. We don’t need meat to survive or to be healthy. However, with working 2 jobs and taking 18 credit hours, I did not have time to cook healthy meals so I lived off of buttered noodles and pizza delivery for fall semester. I started to get sick all the time, I had no energy, and my legs were riddled with bruises for no good reason. I didn’t know how to get the nutrients I needed, so my body rejected a meatless diet. The only reason I started eating chicken and turkey again was to build my system back up while I researched the types of foods I needed to incorporate into my diet. “But if we don’t need meat to survive and be healthy, why did you start eating meat to be healthy again?” Honestly, I don’t know. I probably could have been fine without the meat, but I was following my mom’s orders. She has been supportive since I gave up meat, but she was never really for it. As soon as she discovered how sick I was getting, she demanded I started eating meat again.
Joke’s on her, though (still love her!). After a month, I cut meat out of my diet again. I started eating more chickpeas, quinoa, chia seeds, and kale. I load up on eggs, bananas, mushrooms, and blueberries every time I go to the store. These are all staples in my meals now and interestingly enough have become some of my favorite foods. I try to stay away from tofu and tempeh because I have heard they’re not that great for you and I’m trying to eat healthy. Also, coconut milk is my current favorite thing in the world. I still eat dairy-based products, but I stopped drinking straight milk because it has always upset my stomach to the point where I’m on the toilet within the hour after drinking a glass of milk. Since I re-cut out meat and started eating healthier, I feel so much more amazing than I ever have. I’m able to do cardio and lift weights. I have so much more energy than I used to and I feel all-around more healthy.
If you’re paying for your own food, you know that meat is expensive af. Lucky for me and other vegetarians/vegans on a budget, vegetables, fruits, and gains are cheap, cheap, cheap. Organic is more expensive, but there really isn’t that much difference between the two.
Anyways, I apologize for the little tangent I went on. The point of this post wasn’t to convince anyone to be vegetarian. Like I’ve said before, you do you and I’ll do me. I just wanted to talk about how amazed I am with the types of foods I have been finding. Amy’s Organic brand has it’s own cooler in the freezer section. I was able to pop a full, healthy meal in the microwave and be ready to eat a complete dinner in minutes. Literally guys, my mind is blown. Also, Costco has A LOT of vegan and vegetarian friendly foods that are decent priced and last a long time. For example I got a big bag of quinoa, a big bag of chia seeds, a box of my favorite 180 quinoa and rice snacks, and some whole wheat pasta last time I was there and it is lasting me quite a long time since I only cook for myself. The pasta, quinoa, and chia seeds can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a few days, so part of your meals are already made when you’re on a time crunch. So if you’re thinking about being a vegetarian or vegan but you’re afraid you can’t afford it money or time-wise, I promise you can! There are so many resources online, and I for one am always willing to answer any questions anyone may have.
Side note: if you haven’t noticed, I LOVE quotes. I incorporate them into all of my class presentations and obviously into all of my posts so far. Hope anyone who reads my posts enjoys!
“I choose not to make a graveyard of my body for the rotting corpses of dead animals.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Sorry, that quote is a little dark but I really think it captures how I feel about being vegetarian. I don’t do it for my health. I do it for the animals and the planet.