Grace spills the beans (pun intended) about how to survive first year at University as a plant-based student.
I’ve been vegetarian for about two years, and I’ve decided to use the new journey at university to transition to a plant-based lifestyle, with minimal waste, in order to observe how it impacts my mental, and physical being, as well as allowing me to further educate myself on the environmental impacts of livestock and seafood farming.
Let’s just clarify that moving to university, for most of us, is TOUGH. Very tough. Moving across the country, having to shop, cook, and god forbid CLEAN for yourself can feel impossible at times, especially with the added pressure of feeling like you need to know where your life is heading! As a plant-based student, I used to have the idea that perhaps surviving at university would be expensive, and difficult to stick to, you know, being surrounded by non-plant-based takeaways, maybe feeling judged by others for having a different diet, we’ve all been there. You’ll be glad to hear that it’s not all doom, gloom, and pricey supermarket shops, and it’s actually (dare I say it?) pretty easy.
So here’s my three top tips for surviving as a plant-based student at university:
1. Your motivation
Our motivation is what keeps us sticking to those 9am lectures, that 10pm gym session, and the plant-based diet. Whether it’s for your health, the animals, or the environment, you’ve chosen this lifestyle for a reason. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve wanted to just eat like my friends but then- hey wait- what about my environmental impact? What about the impact on my body? What about the impact on the chickens, the pigs, the cows, the fish, the oceans, deforestation, carbon emissions, and global warming? You need to be motivated for a cause that you care about.
Being surrounded by takeaways after nights out, and the inconvenience of having to shop on a budget can mean that perhaps we’re likely to abandon a plant-based lifestyle for more ‘convenient’ alternatives, but this doesn’t have to be the case! Stock up on Linda McCartney, Quorn, and Fry’s meat alternatives, buy that Violife and Nutritional Yeast, and you’ve got the convenience of quick meat and dairy substitutes at your fingertips. Not only this, but shopping at local farmers’ markets, with your own reusable bags, means that you can get cheaper groceries without the added plastic and will save you SO much money and waste!
Maybe not one focused on a plant-based lifestyle, but one for a happy lifestyle. It’s so easy to stay in the comfort zone of your flat when you’re surrounded by strangers everywhere else, but sometimes you need to push yourself to be social and make new friends! Join a new society? (if your uni has a vegetarian / vegan society, even better!) It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and share ideas to make life easier. On a more general note – You don’t need to party every night – some of my best nights have been staying in, making tea with my friends and having film nights. Giving yourself plans and distractions when you’re away from the comfort of your home, friends, and family can be super helpful in ensuring that you settle in your new city.
Overall, university life can be difficult, and sometimes sticking to your chosen diet can be a task (and everything seems plain weird) but hopefully these little tips might help you to feel at home without compromising your lifestyle during your time at university!
About the Author: Grace Quinn is a first year English student at the University of Nottingham. You can follow her plant-based diet and lifestyle on her Instagram @food.with.g!