Surviving as a vegan in college


A vegan salad available in Sutter Dining hall. Photo credit: Sophia Robledo-Borowy

As I drive down Esplanade, nibbling my carrot for breakfast, I wondered why being vegan feels like such a struggle at times when I know it doesn’t have to be. Despite the various options available, I still got stuck with a carrot for breakfast.

It isn’t always fun or easy being a vegan, especially as a vegan college student struggling to afford any edible source of food in general. But since I am alive and breathing, I can testify that it is possible.

In reality, being vegan has always been the cheapest way to survive. I can’t count the times I’ve made rice or quinoa and thrown in some bell pepper, onion, garlic, squash and tofu and called it a day. A stir fry like that feeds me for five days in a row and only sets me back around $5.

Fruits, vegetables and bulk grains are the cheapest food sources a starving student can afford while also maintaining a balanced diet, and it beats going an entire day convincing ourselves beer can pass for a version of lunch.

I can’t say that it’s always the easiest thing to have or make. There’s plenty of restaurants that only offer one or two vegan options, and occasionally there just isn’t enough time in the mornings to make a salad.

It’s in those times that we end up stuck with a carrot for breakfast or an apple for lunch. Although it might present the occasional difficulty, the general health benefits seem to outweigh the lack of variety.

Cutting out dairy essentially wipes cholesterol from your diet, but being vegan doesn’t have to be all about “health.” There’s plenty of options available for vegans, including ice cream.

Ben & Jerry’s sells dairy-free, pint-sized wonders that keep my spirit alive and well during dim, study sessions. When I don’t have time to cook, Amy’s brand of microwavable meals is also a godsend. Baked ziti, tamales, burritos and enchiladas are only an organic, five-minute meal away. Along with the Daiya brand of “cheeze” pizza.

Shopping in the frozen food aisle is better than ever for vegans these days. We can eat just like all the regular people in the world.

The quick meals between classes can be more than just a few small vegetables or fruits from home. Chico State has extended their menu at Sutter Dining Hall to include vegetarian and vegan options.

It doesn’t have to come down to eating just a carrot for breakfast. Prepping food in advance is key to being and staying a dairy-free college student.

But when the funds are low and mornings are stressful, no judgment can be made about the food choices a college student makes.

Whether it be a carrot for breakfast or beans and rice for a week straight, we do what we have to do to survive throughout drought-stricken bank accounts.

Susan Whaley can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.