Since finally taking the plunge from vegetarianism to veganism a few weeks ago, I have gotten lots of questions about my choice. The question that I get most often is: “What do you even eat?”
For most people, the idea of vegan food is exotic chemical and organic foods in the back of the supermarket, hidden away from prying eyes and boasting price tags only affordable by real estate tycoons. But that is far from reality. What people tend to forget is that eating vegan just means avoiding animal products, which means that many things we eat are already vegan like fruits and vegetables.
All it takes is a small adjustment of your eating habits. Adjusting is fun. Instead of eating terrible boxed dinners, going vegan forced me to find recipes I liked and expanded my college eating pallet. Instead of drinking cow milk, you just drink almond milk, which is just as good (if not better.)
Here are some of the things I like to eat now. I feel weird writing about food like I’m some sort of mommy blog. But my point is that even on a poor college budget, eating vegan is possible. My favorite meals are as follows (which recipes):
- Just spaghetti and sauce. An obvious choice. But just chose a vegan sauce and you are good to go. For some more flavor go with the Barilla vegetable spaghetti. I bought this the first week of school because all the other pasta was gone, and I never looked back. It’s delicious and healthier.
- Fried rice. I do this all the time. On Sunday I make a bunch of rice and just keep it in my fridge. Usually I get two or three meals out of it. Chop up some onions, carrots, green onions, peas and whatever other vegetables you want. Fry them up with a little vegetable oil. Then throw in two cups of rice, fry it as well. For a sauce I usually combine soy sauce with Sriracha and then add a bit of lemon juice. Works really good and tastes excellent. Fast and easy.
- You can do the same thing above but with miso noodles.
- Oriental flavor Ramen is vegan. But I’ve tried to not eat as much. If you don’t use the spice packet the noodles are good on their own with a little soy sauce.
- Cauliflower soup. I love this simple recipe from Elephantastic Vegan. It is so easy and cheap. Who knew cauliflower tasted good with Sriracha? I didn’t. But this recipe makes enough for multiple servings, so I have some lunches for later in the week. A little dinner roll goes good on the side too.
- Brocolli Soup. Another great recipe from Elephantastic Vegan. Even more simple than the cauliflower soup, but you get a heaping helping of brocolli which is a super food.
- Tofu is a good meal to. Fry some up and add whatever sauces you want. My fiancee uses BBQ sauce for hers. I like using dill and lemon. Tofu is super versatile.
- Since bread can be really unhealthy, I make my own flatbread all the time. This recipe is vegan and yeast free. It makes eight flatbreads which are great for snacks and lunches. I usually put vegetables on them or eat them with hummus. They are a healthier alternative to normal bread.
- When I’m feeling really fancy I make falafel. This recipe makes a ton, so it’s good for multiple meals. Since it is not fried it’s good for you too.
- Giving up fish was the hardest part of going vegetarian. So now I treat myself to the Gardein fishless filet. These things are magical. They taste just like fish! They are a little pricey, so it’s a food I only eat sometimes. But I like it a lot.
Those are the normal foods that I eat. Of course I try new recipes all the time, but these are the ones that I consistently eat. They are all well affordable on a college budget. And I am continuing to add more meals to my rotation.
As you can see, eating vegan on a college budget is not impossible. In fact you will feel healthier and happier. Also you will make your roommates jealous.