Vegan Dining Hall Hacks: What I Eat In a Day

vegan dining hall

Becoming a vegan in college isn’t anything new, especially today. But, if you don’t know your way around veganism yet, the dining hall may prove a bit tricky to hack. Here’s what I eat in a normal day on campus and a few tips to guide you on your plant-based journey.

What I Eat in A Day

Obviously this varies day-by-day but the basis of what I eat stays pretty consistent. I’m also in no way saying you have to eat like this to be healthy or this is the only way to eat vegan. I’m simply trying to provide some inspiration to maintain or begin a plant-based diet in college!

vegan Dining Hall

Breakfast

My go-to dining hall breakfast lately has been a bowl of what I’ve dubbed as “fruit cereal.” I add all the fruits my heart desires and then pour over Ripple pea milk, sprinkle with chia and flax, and top off with a bit of gluten-free Chex and cinnamon. And, of course, a banana to take for later.

I like to bring my own tea when I remember, and today I chose Yogi’s delicious rose hibiscus Skin Detox.

vegan Dining Hall

Lunch

For lunch I usually do a huge salad with all the veggies. Today, they also had a blend with barley, quinoa, peas, and kidney beans that was perfect for my protein source.

Aiming to hit all the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) is crucial to staying full. Here I’ve got the quinoa and barley as carbs, beans for protein, and olives for fat.

vegan dining hall

Dinner

For dinner I scale back on the starchy carbs since I know I won’t be moving as much for the rest of the day and it helps with my digestion. I had a mix of veggies, a tomato cucumber salad, and a white bean portobello ragout.

One of my favorite tricks is to start off with a base of spinach and top it off with whatever warm entrees I want so the spinach wilts into the dish, adding extra nutrients and protein!

Snacks

I didn’t have time to take photos of my snacks but I had blackberries with soy butter in the morning and an apple and carrots with a shake (made from my absolute all-time favorite protein powder: Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend) in the afternoon.

Top Tips for Vegan Dining

Dining Hall

Image via Train With Lyzabeth

Know the Basics
  • Ensure you consume all nine essential amino acids. Aim to eat complete proteins whenever available such as: quinoa, any soy-based products, buckwheat, and seitan.
Pair Wisely
  • If foods containing all nine essential amino acids aren’t available on their own, you can always pair foods to construct complete proteins. Legumes with either whole grains, nuts, or seeds can be combined to accomplish this.
Sneaky Proteins
  • When your options are somewhat limited, you’ll find protein in surprising places. Any kind of seed, nut butters, whole grains, quinoa, peas, broccoli, and spinach all contain protein.
Alternatives All the Way
  • Thankfully, my dining hall provides animal product alternatives like pea and rice milk and vegan pastries. Find out if there’s a section of your dining hall that does as well and use these products as often as possible.

Dining Hall

Image via Brit + Co

Snack Away
  • You will encounter times where you’re going on the fifth lunch of chickpeas and raw vegetables and you’re sick of it. Understood. Invest in a quality plant-based protein powder and other vegan snacks like nuts or fruit. Oatmeal is always a go-to for me.
Accessorize
  • Creativity separates a boring meal from a delicious one. Top your salads with sunflower seeds or finish off your bowl of oatmeal with chia or flax, add marinara or hummus to your meals and follow a certain “theme” for that meal like Greek or Italian.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
  • The staff at your dining hall are there for you! Don’t hesitate to ask them to clarify if something is vegan or not, or even ask them to prepare a dish without animal products. Most of the time, they’ll be happy to do so.

vegan Dining Hall

Image via ISO Republic

Take What You Can
  • If your dining hall has loose fruit or packages of nut butter, take some for the road! You’ll save yourself from buying snacks later. I don’t endorse this as it’s “against the rules” of most dining halls, but bringing a container and sneaking food out for later is an option as well.
Appliances Can’t Hurt
  • Investing in a microwave and even fridge can never hurt. Somedays the dining hall just isn’t going to have a lot of options or you’ll want to eat in the comfort of your cozy bed.

As you can see, staying vegan or becoming vegan in college is easy as long as you know the right way about it. Give it a go for a week, or even a couple days, and embrace the energy your mind and body feels and the freedom of your conscience.

Cover image via Study Breaks Magazine