APPetite for Cruelty-Free


The salad bar located in Roess Dining Hall. This salad bar is one of two in the dining hall. Photo by Claire Brown.

Claire Brown

Veganism is a form of vegetarianism in which one does not eat any animal byproducts, which include, but are not limited to, milk, eggs, butter, whey, gelatin or any meat, according to Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, two registered dietitians and authors of “Becoming Vegan.” Pretty quickly, that dismisses a lot of the college food staples like pizza, chicken strips and breakfast-for-dinner on Thursday’s at Traditions. But there are ways to stay true to veganism while living on a college campus, and not only that, there are ways to be vegan while living off of a meal plan.

Being a nutritionally sound vegan can be difficult because cutting meat out of the diet increases a person’s chances of being protein deficient. Davis and Melina state that vegans may be short of protein if they stick mostly to fruits, do not consume sufficient calories, eat too many processed food items or if they do not eat an adequate amount of legumes, which are foods such as nuts, seeds and beans. Not only is protein a major problem area in most vegan diets, but a lot of dairy products are vital calcium sources, and without the protein from meat or the calcium from dairy, it can be difficult to search for these things elsewhere.

A healthy vegan should stray from easy to reach for fatty foods like french fries and Oreos, which lack nutritional value, even though they are fine every once in awhile.

The trick is to enjoy plant based foods that are both delicious and nutritious. Getting in the proper daily amount of fruits, vegetables, protein and water is essential to the health of a vegan. It can be hard to balance a healthy diet with the stress and workload of college, but it is possible, especially with the provisions available on campus.

It may sound overwhelming to attempt veganism on a college campus, but Appalachian State University has plenty of meal options for vegan students.

One classic college food staple is Top Ramen noodles, which are quick and easy, but laden with sodium. However, these noodles are a great canvas for lots of delicious vegetables, making them a great way to combat the broke, unhealthy college student stereotype.

Both chili and oriental flavored Top Ramen noodle packages are available in both markets on campus. Try “un-beefing” up this dish by grabbing a vegetable packed take-away tray from the dining hall. Things like lettuce, carrots and mushrooms make for a hearty meal, and vegans can add some sriracha and soy sauce, or for a little bit of sweetness to cut the heat, add in some brown sugar.

Right after the ramen has been drained of most of the cooking liquid, add in less than half of the flavoring packet and dump in the veggies. This easy-to-do dish with a punch of heat is surprisingly satisfying and totally cruelty-free.

For more recipes that can be cooked up in a dorm kitchen or tips on how to add the necessary nutrients into the diet, vegans can find recipes on PETA’s website or grab a copy of “PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook.”

If class starts soon and there is not time to cook up any ramen, Roess and Trivette Dining Hall have everything under control. Salads can be a quick and easy solution if time is short.

“I like salad because it always fills me up even though it’s super healthy,” Kaley Groover, sophomore psychology major, said. “Also, they have a great variety of beans and fresh veggies.”

While it is nutritious to eat fresh vegetables as often as possible, there are other ways to stay vegan. For instance, both dining halls offer vegetable sushi packs, which include two servings for $6. These contain nutrient rich seaweed and other vegetables that are sure to curb the hunger.

For something that is hot, go to Habanero’s in Roess for burritos. Ask only for beans, rice, salsa and lettuce to keep the animal byproducts at bay. If some extra texture is desired, ask an employee to crush up some tortilla chips into the burrito filling before they wrap it up.

“We do a lot of stuff with tofu [in Sanford Commons],” John Wolcott, manager of Sanford Commons, said of vegan options in Roess Dining Hall. “You can get vegan stuff at the sub shop, you can get vegan stuff at Habenero’s, we have vegan options at Traditions and then, of course, there’s the salad bar.”

Also located up the stairs in Roess is Healthy Select. This aesthetic in the dining hall offers only vegetarian and vegan options.

Trivette’s vegan specialties can be found in their Asian bar. They have both entrees and side items which are marked on the menu as vegan. Look for the indicator (V+) beside the item name in order to get a worry-free vegan meal.

“Because items are priced a la carte and because many of our venues offer customizable options, diners are able to create a meal that meets their needs,” the university’s food service specialist Heather Brandon said. “For example, many items can be made vegan by requesting no cheese.”

Sometimes it can be a hassle to walk all the way to the dining hall for one meal, especially when it’s 30 degrees outside. However, the markets on campus offer some things that are able to be taken back to the dorm and kept for long periods of time, so that seemingly thousand mile trek, uphill both ways in the snow and wind, can be long forgotten.

Many breakfast cereals that are offered in the markets are vegan, including favorites like cinnamon-flavored Life and Froot Loops. Instead of dairy milk, grab some almond or soy milk, available in the refrigerator sections. It lasts longer than dairy and tastes just as good over dry cereal.

Another option for breakfast is oatmeal, which can be made with water or non-dairy milk. A banana alongside a piping hot bowl fills the stomach to the top.

Other vegan foods, like tomato and vegetable soups, are good things to keep on hand as well. These products keep for a long time, and having them on hand may prove fortuitous in the event of unexpected weather conditions.

Both markets are great places for on-campus vegans to go to stock up the pantry. They carry a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples and green bell peppers.

“I like to buy strawberries because they are sweet, and the market sells good strawberries,” freshman English major Caleb Perdue said. “They’re juicy and ripe.”

They also offer non-dairy yogurts and vegan vegetable patties. All of these items can be found in the refrigerated sections along the walls of the stores.

There are numerous vegan items offered in the marketplaces and cafeterias. Vegans can simply check the packaging or ask an employee if the item or dish contains animal byproducts.

Learning what veganism means is the easy part, but the rest is a commitment. Cutting out all animal byproducts sounds difficult, but App State’s cafeterias and marketplaces are incredibly accommodating to this lifestyle. Believe it or not, it is possible to stay both vegan and healthy on a college meal plan. Perhaps it takes a bit more planning, but it is worth it to know that both the body and the environment will be benefitting from every bite that lacks animal byproducts.

Story by: Claire Brown, A&E Reporter