Vegetarianism On Campus

by Carlee Campuzano

photography courtesy of Pexels

Sustaining a vegetarian or vegan diet on a college campus is not exactly easy. If you are a vegetarian, whether you decided to begin in college or beforehand, I’m sure you understand the struggle of wandering through the dining hall in search of some tasty options.

Even if you only go meatless once in a while, I’m sure you can also relate to this struggle. Vegetarianism, in all of its forms­—pescatarian, vegan, etc.—is not an unusual diet to have while enrolled at Boston University.

A 2010 study found that 12% of college students are vegetarian, and that was almost ten years ago. Since then, the number of vegetarians in colleges increased by nearly 50%. The amount of vegan students has also more than doubled. More and more universities and colleges across the U.S. are incorporating vegan-friendly foods into their dining services every year. Vegetarianism is happening now, and it’s more common on campuses than ever before.

BU does a fantastic job of including vegetarian needs in their dining services. The everyday salad bar in each dining hall is a huge plus, and Loose Leafs in the George Sherman Union serves build-your-own salads whenever you want. The vegan station in the dining halls also provides a variety of dishes to enjoy.

These options are a great jumping off point, but as a vegetarian, there are so many measures that you have to consider on your own to make the most of your BU dining experience. Follow along with the ideas below as a guide to expand your vegetarian diet as a BU student.

In the Dining Hall

When you swipe into the dining hall, look for foods high in protein, iron and calcium. Protein can be found in black beans, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu, etc. Most of these foods are available at the daily salad bar. Iron can be found in spinach, but also keep Vitamin C in mind; it increases the body’s absorption of iron. Calcium can be found in cheese and yogurt, but also in any leafy green and nut milk, if you prefer the vegan route. Aside from those three key nutrients, always try to have at least one veggie on your plate. The dining halls’ veggie pizzas are a great choice for when you’re in the mood for pizza. (Who isn’t?)

In Your Dorm Room

Choose wisely when it comes to snacks to keep on-hand for late night study sessions. Snacks such as nuts, seeds or any trail mix can give you some added dietary protein. If you aren’t vegan, those hard-boiled egg packs sold in City Co and Buick Street Market are great to have on hand for a snack or a grab-and-go breakfast. Hummus also makes a delicious snack. I recommend always having milk and yogurt—either dairy or plant-based—stashed in your Microfridge as well for added calcium and other important nutrients.

Exploring Other Options

Life Alive, right on BU’s campus, is a wonderful resource for vegetarian and vegan nutrition. They have nutritious menu options that can give you inspiration, and they also offer workshops every once in a while, which can help you further your veggie experience and learn something new.

Boston has a great vegan food scene, so if you are just getting started on your veg journey, you chose a great city to begin. We have delicious options such as By Chloe and Sweetgreen right in our neighborhood over in Fenway. We also have a Trade Joe’s and a Whole Foods near campus to help with choosing groceries. Every fall, our city has its own Veg Food Fest over in Roxbury (even walking distance from campus) for all Bostonians to sample delicious vegan foods from restaurants around the city. Definitely check it out next fall!

Maintaining Your Health

Dietary supplements and exercise can do wonders for your vegetarian body and mind. When eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, your body lacks Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient only found in animal products. The vitamin aids in regular cell function and helps prevent anemia, which could also develop from a lack of iron. Taking a Vitamin B12 supplement (or a daily multivitamin) would help with energy levels—super important for those long days of classes and club meetings.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important that lack in vegetarian diets; pescatarians don’t have to worry, though. You can take a supplement for a sufficient serving of omega-3s, or you can eat more seeds, such as chia, flax and hemp seeds, or oils, such as canola and olive oil.

Connecting with Other Veg-Eaters

BU has some awesome resources when it comes to your vegetarian diet. The Sargent Choice Nutrition Center has all kinds of information in the nutrition realm. They offer seminars, recipes, blog posts and additional resources that pertain to vegetarian diets. The BU Veg(an/Vegetarian) Club, a club on campus that not many students know about, brings students together to connect over the foods that they love.

Additionally, the TasteBUds online foodie magazine offers fun recipes and reviews to engage you in the Boston food scene. It’s also completely student-run, so you can join the team as a writer or photographer!

As a college student, food will always be an important part of your day-to-day routine, so make it count! One simple, easy choice each day in the dining hall or in your residence can give you the foundation that you need to thrive as a BU student.

At the end of the day, give yourself credit and be proud that you’ve chosen the nutrition path that you did. Vegetarianism and veganism are not easy, and you are not alone in this choice on campus as it continues to grow and grow. Keep calm and veggie on!