According to recent reports, 3.5% of Americans are living a vegan lifestyle. That’s about 7 million people, 1 million of which are college students. With numbers like that, more and more colleges are looking to increase and better their vegetarian and vegan options, and many are making real strides towards that goal.
However, is it too little too late for those who were ahead of the trend? Vegetarian and vegan college students have always had a notoriously hard time finding things to eat and knowing the ingredients in dining hall dishes.
To learn more about what it’s like to go vegan or veggie in college, I talked to my friend Amanda, a long time vegetarian who went vegan this past year.
Q: When did you go vegetarian? What made you want to go meat-free?
A: Well, I went vegetarian the summer going into my sophomore year. For me, it started out as a health thing and the rest, the values and the animal liberation, followed.
Q: What have been the struggles of going vegetarian and vegan?
A: Honestly, it comes down a lot of times to being forgotten. People would mistake me for being vegan when I was vegetarian and order me something separate, like Avalanche Pizza without cheese. Even going to cultural events, people would forget to think about if I could eat the food there.
I’ve also caught a lot of sass from people, like in my sorority and even my sophomore roommate. I know one time I chose to try a bite of chicken n’ waffle from Union Street Grille when I was walking some friends home from the bars. My roommate heard about it and never let me live it down. When I go to brunch at the sorority house, people will go out of their way to ask me if what I’m eating is vegan. To me, if I’m choosing to eat it that’s my prerogative, vegan or not, but I’m good at keeping myself accountable.
I’m totally open to having a real conversation about veganism, but I don’t like being called out by people who don’t have a full grasp of the vegan lifestyle.
Q: What tips and resources do you have for others who want to go veggie?
Ohio University has been making strides to be more veggie friendly. There are labels on the menus in most dining places on campus marking the vegan options. But otherwise, there just aren’t that many all-vegan communities.
In Athens, there is a really great group mentality from places like The Farmacy, which carries plenty of vegan products and has people who are knowledgeable about the lifestyle. There are lots of hurdles involved, but going vegan is worth all of them.