Vegan diet affordable, plausible for college students

Opinions Columnists | Journalism senior

Veganism is a healthy and economical lifestyle that is easy for college students to adapt to.

It is incredibly easy for some people to laugh at vegans. Some enjoy waving fried chicken at a vegan and proudly proclaiming their ability to eat anything with a face. Many people seem to think all vegans fit the stereotype of only eating salad and quinoa, being skinny and sickly and experiencing no joy in food.

True, there are probably some out there who only consume leaves and crackers, but the truth to veganism is much more complex than the viewpoint many people seem to hold. The fact is, veganism can be incredibly cheap, healthy and environmentally responsible. It is totally possible to conform to a vegan diet without coming off as a pretentious creep.

The sad truth about college life is that, more often than not, college kids are broke. Many people hold the mistaken belief that in order to be vegan, one must be a yuppie snob with enough money to buy weird things like spirulina and chia seeds. This is not true.

According to a May 16, 2012 USA Today article, proteins such as red meat, chicken and fish are the most expensive food by portion size. Conversely, grains, vegetables, fruit and other types of protein like beans and legumes are the least expensive. Cutting out meat and dairy actually eliminates two of the more expensive food groups. Common vegan staples are not difficult to find and are often available in bulk, making them even cheaper.

The belief that eating healthy is more expensive is a myth. With a little forethought and planning, going vegan is perfect for poor, ramen-guzzling college students. Vegan food does not have to be boring, either. For those who crave variety, endless combinations can be made with vegetables, grains, fruits and meat substitutes—the latter of which are unnecessary nutritionally, but can help spice things up.

Another misconception is that vegans cut out too many food groups for it to be considered a healthy lifestyle. Everyone seems to think that without two pounds of meat per day, a person will just shrivel up and blow away. According to information on WebMD, many people tend to eat far more protein than they actually need. Increased consumption of the macronutrient actually does not build more muscle or increase strength significantly. Soy foods, legumes and whole grains can all add up to more than an adequate amount of protein for any diet.

Of course, the ethical reasons behind veganism tend to play a part in choosing such a diet.

However, morals are a sticky and ambiguous area and can lead to a lot of resentment when the preaching begins. Regardless of how students may feel about eating creatures that were adorable when they were alive, veganism is an intelligent, economical diet choice for everyone—not just yuppies and hippies.