What Vegan Food Should YOUR College Have?

Photo from JHU

By Julia
Stanitski VRG Intern

In
this day and age, college food services need to provide food options for people
of all dietary restrictions, including a vegan diet. We decided to ask high-schoolers
(or recent high school graduates) what vegan foods they want to see at their
future colleges. We also asked current college students’ opinions on what their
favorite vegan foods at their school are. All of these students we questioned
are interns here at the Vegetarian Resource Group. The information below can be
very useful to colleges looking to expand their offerings of on- and off-campus
vegan options, and also to college activists working on adding vegan offerings.

We asked the younger students, What vegan foods
do you want to see at your future college?

  • “I would like to see some protein options
    like beans, peas, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, etc. – I think a lot of places that
    offer vegan options mainly offer produce, and even though that’s a huge part of
    a plant-based diet, it would definitely be nice to be able to have a
    well-rounded plant-based diet on campus. Also, dairy alternatives like soy,
    oat, or almond milk, because coffee in college is a must!”

    • Aiman, John Hopkins
      University (has not been
      on-campus yet)
  • I feel like colleges really
    limit their vegan foods to pasta and salads and such, but there is so much more
    they could offer, especially as more and more people are going vegan. As a high
    school senior, I often think about what vegan options will be readily
    available on campus. I think it would be great for colleges to diversify
    their vegan options, adding some international options. I’m a huge fan of
    bowls, any type of bowl – a vegan fried rice bowl with some tofu or a vegan
    soba noodle bowl would be awesome to see. Recently, I’ve been enjoying wraps as
    well – so wraps with veggies and tofu could make a great lunch. It would
    also be nice if colleges extended the options of vegan proteins. As important
    as tofu is to my diet, I would still love to see some other protein sources – this
    could be roasted chickpeas, curry lentils, tempeh, etc. In addition to
    vegan meals, I would love to see colleges offering a vegan dessert – could be
    vegan brownies, cookies, or even a pastry would be great!

    • Clarissa, High School Senior
  • “I would love to see vegan baked goods on
    college campuses. Things such as vegan muffins, pastries and desserts…”

    • Audrey, University of Alaska
      Anchorage (has not been on campus yet)
  • “Here are some of my general thoughts about
    what kinds of vegan food I would like to have in college!


healthy vegan options (so not just potatoes, pasta, rice)


I love fruit and vegetables in almost any form


faux meat or meat substitutes would be a nice form of protein to have
available. I know some schools may offer veggie burgers or tofu too.


legumes are my main protein source usually so that would be awesome to have
available in college! (Examples are pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas,
etc.)


vegan breakfast foods hopefully include cereals or vegan breads 


lastly, I know a lot of schools have salad bars available so that would also be
a great go-to.

In general, I just hope that schools
are accommodating and considerate. 🙂 I know several of the schools I’m
applying to have veggie houses or co-operatives where everyone in that dorm
works together to cook vegan foods. I love that idea!

  • Lucia, High School Senior

Then, we asked the college students, What are
your favorite foods at your college currently? What do you wish your college
had regarding vegan food?

  • “My favorite vegan food on campus would be the Impossible Burger. It tastes great, and has a good amount of protein, which is often harder to find in vegan food. In terms of what I wish my college had, I would say more meat alternatives. As a vegetarian, I have not eaten meat my entire life, and often, I am curious as to what it tastes like. With more “Beyond Meat” options available, bringing more of those options to campus would be preferable.”
    • Rithvik, age 20, John Hopkins University
  • “My favorite vegan food at Loyola is the sweet potato sushi at Cold Spring Sushi on campus and regarding vegan food I wish there were more vegan options at Iggy’s Market, which is a place on campus that is similar to a convenience store where you can buy all sorts of snacks, frozen foods, ice cream, drinks, and more.”
    • Katelynn, age 20, Loyola University Maryland
  • “I think with college dining the overriding concerns should be cost and ease, so I would for the most part not go for fake meat/fake cheese and instead would emphasize things like chickpeas and lentils with vegetables (soups, curries, pasta sauces, stews) and bean chili with baked potatoes… Also, college is a time when many people are most open to trying new ideas, new lifestyles etc., so another reason to not try to ape a traditional American diet but with fake meat dairy, and instead focus on Indian and Thai style curries (without ghee, meat or paneer), vegan Pho, Ethiopian, etc.”
    • Simon, Postdoc at Johns Hopkins University
  • “My favorite vegan food at my college is kung pao tofu. I wish they had a bigger grocery store and more affordable prices for basic vegan items like rice and beans.”
    • Gabriella, age 22, University of Minnesota
  • “When I bought vegan foods, my preferred options were vegan baguettes made with a combination of vegetables and hummus. What do you wish your college had? Vegan desserts and more options for regular foods in the menu. We have a free-meat Monday (so there is already some promotion of vegetarian diets), but more inviting vegan dishes could be prepared. Just this year the  Vegan Association was funded.”
    • Odette, age 30, Wageningen University (The Netherlands)

As you can see, adding more options of vegan food at universities
and college campuses is important to these students. The high-schoolers
mentioned the importance of having a lot of protein options available – like
beans, tempeh, and tofu. They also mentioned the need for a well-rounded diet,
not JUST produce. People who follow vegan diets do not just eat fruits and
vegetables 24/7, so vegan snacks, non-dairy milks, vegan desserts, and more of
the processed items would be nice to have. Clarissa, a high school senior,
mentioned that having more international dishes would be great, like a soba
noodle bowl.

     From the college
students, we received an array of answers. The protein options were brought up
again – meat alternatives can be very helpful for vegans and vegetarians alike.
Rithvik, who attends John
Hopkins University,
mentioned his love of the Impossible Burger on-campus, but still wish more
vegan meats were an option! It was also stated that there should be more vegan
items at the smaller convenience stores at colleges, which would include small
snacks, frozen meals, and ice cream.

     All in all, colleges
should make a wide variety of vegan food and meals available to their students.
This not only accommodates to the vegan students (and will attract them to
certain colleges over others) but will also allow non-vegans to try these
healthy choices.

For information on other college food, see:

https://www.vrg.org/teen/#college

https://www.vrg.org/fsupdate/index.htm#College

For info on VRG internships, go to: https://www.vrg.org/student/index.php

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