September 25, 2020, by Agnes
Being Vegan at Uni
It’s no secret that I’m vegan – you can see that very clearly when looking through my past blog posts. In fact, my veganism affects most parts of my life. I’m an environmental vegan, which means that my diet is a part of a sustainable lifestyle that I’m working towards. But, no matter what your reasons are for switching to a plant-based diet, there are some common concerns around being vegan at university.
Isn’t it expensive?
Short answer: no. Long answer: it all depends on how you shop and where you shop. You can find cheap fresh fruit and veggies at discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl with no problem. Market stalls around Beeston and Nottingham city centre bulk sell fruits and veggies for cheap too, so they’re great for freezing, especially if you’re cooking for one. Frozen fruits and veggies are your best friend at uni! But of course, you can’t live off (fresh or frozen) fruit and veggies alone. Tinned beans or chickpeas are very cheap and great sources of protein. Aldi and Lidl have great soya yoghurts and cheap plant milk if you’re looking for some non-dairy. Iceland is really good for meat-replacements like burgers or sausages. Keep an eye out for discounts and the reduced section at stores such as Holland & Barrett where the refrigerated products are usually expensive but can be discounted all the way down to just a few pence. Lastly, vegan cheese can be quite expensive, but if you find a good one and use it sparingly, it’s worth those few pounds.
Being vegan in catered halls?
Personally, I was in self-catered, but catered halls can provide vegan meals for you, of course. I have heard mixed opinions on the quality and the variety of vegan meals, but we’re working hard on making our uni more veg-friendly. Thankfully, the University Park campus is full of vegan-friendly restaurants and bars where you can grab some lunch between lectures.
Sharing a kitchen with non-veggie people?
I was the only person in my flat who didn’t eat meat, which didn’t bother me for the most part, and shouldn’t give you many problems. Sometimes, when trying out new recipes I would get weird looks or mean comments about my food, or specifically about my vegan cheese. Sometimes, I would get the vegan jokes. Sometimes, I would wake up to the smell of frying bacon. But ultimately, my flatmates had to admit that my food looked good and often stuck around in the kitchen to taste-test my creations. When we decided to celebrate a flat-Christmas, (I know, so cute,) everyone was very inclusive of my plant-based diet and made sure there were plenty of veggie goodies on the table.
Lastly, this is something that I didn’t consider much when going vegan. It’s inevitable that after a night out, your friends will drag you to McDonald’s for some nourishment after hours of dancing and drinking. There won’t be many places open that late for you to pop in for a vegan bite. Thankfully, McDonald’s fries are officially vegan as are many things on their vegetarian menu as long as you ask for it with no mayo. If you find yourself on the Angel Row Road, you’ve also got the choice of Taco Bell, (if you’re vegetarian since they don’t have vegan options, really) or Greggs, which is open until the early hours where you can enjoy a vegan sausage roll or steak bake, of course.
The plant-based community at the Uni of Nottingham is really supportive and welcoming. Make sure to join VegSoc to become a part of our Vegetarian and Vegan Society, where we organise food-oriented events and provide opportunities for you to meet like-minded people! (I might be a bit biased since I’m on the committee this year, but it really is great.) Moreover, Nottingham as a city has a very active vegan scene with countless vegan restaurants and cafes that will welcome you with open arms. Hope to see you soon!