How to Be a Healthy College Vegetarian
BY LORRAINE McKINNEY
If you are a vegetarian, you may find that college life can really test you. There are always temptations, and there are not always a lot of vegetarian food options in school cafeterias. But, there are plenty of ways that you can make sure that you are following a meat-free diet, without feeling like you are missing out on anything and still getting all of the nutrients you need.
- Eat Lots of Snacks
You may think that snacking is not a good thing, and that may be true, for some people. But, if you are a vegetarian, you are not going to get as filled up on the foods you eat, so you need to munch on some high-protein snacks throughout the day. Keep a few protein bars on hands, as well as nuts and other vegetarian foods that are high in protein and portable.
- Get Creative in the Dining Hall
Just because not all stations have the foods you want to eat, it doesn’t mean that each of them doesn’t have something you can have on a vegetarian diet. Try mixing and matching foods from various stations to get a complete vegetarian meal that is both healthy and delicious.
- Cook Your Own Food
If you have kitchen facilities, try getting into the habit of cooking your own foods. That way, you will always know exactly what is in your meals, and you won’t be at risk of eating anything that is not vegetarian. You can get really creative in the kitchen, and make some pretty tasty meals that don’t have a trace of meat or meat by-products.
- Stay Active
“No matter what type of diet/lifestyle you follow, it is important to stay active. This can be difficult when you are in school, because you have so many other things going on. But, there are ways that you can add more activity to your daily schedule. Walk to classes instead of driving or taking the bus. Use the stairs instead of elevators,” says Dr. Shawn Khodadadian. You don’t have to get all of your exercise at once, as long as you are getting a combined one half hour of exercise daily.
- Get a Mini Fridge
Not all dorms have kitchen facilities, but you can put a mini fridge in your dorm room. Make sure that you keep it well-stocked with healthy fruits and vegetables. Whenever possible, get your produce at local farmers’ markets. You will find a great variety, and you will not only be helping local growers, but also saving money by not having to pay those high grocery store prices.
- Supplement with Vitamins
You can’t always get all of the nutrients you need when you follow a vegetarian diet, so you will need to supplement your diet with vitamins. Get more calcium from dark, leafy greens. Beans, eggs, tofu, lentils, nuts, and seeds are high in protein, but you might still need to take a protein supplement if your diet is lacking.
- Drink Lots of Water
Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater, it is important to stay hydrated at all times. Get yourself a reusable water bottle that you can carry around with you so you always have water to drink. Instead of buying water, get a Brita water pitcher for your dorm room.
- Use Meat and Dairy Substitutes
Just because you don’t eat meat, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat food that tastes like meat, and that has a similar texture. For instance, you can enjoy meat substitutes such as soy and tofu. If you are a vegan and don’t consume dairy products, there are milks made from almonds and soy that are ideal for your diet.
Lorraine McKinney is an academic tutor and e learning specialist.