Transitioning to a plant-based diet in college can be an incredibly taxing process. Between
being a full-time student and juggling jobs, internships, and social and personal responsibilities,
making changes to your diet is another stressor to worry about. In response to this inquiry that I
often think about myself, I decided to write a simple guide of tips to consider when thinking
about switching to eating plant-based in Berkeley (special thanks to Nina Gheihman for helping
me think of ideas during the 2021 Plant Futures Symposium!):
1. Find People who are Also Trying to Follow a Plant-Based Diet
Trying out things with other people who are also trying to do the same makes the
process of transitioning to plant-based a collaborative experience. Simply
reaching out in a Facebook post, group chat, study group, etc. to see if anyone is
interested in being your plant-based buddy is a great way to have an additional
source of support. If you’re able to find people who are relatively seasoned in
eating plant-based at Cal, this transition has the potential to be even smoother!
2. Learn a Few Basic Tips and Tricks
There are a few ways that you can make eating plant-based more sustainable
alongside a busy schedule. My favorite tip is to engage in batch cooking. Batch
cooking is essentially cooking enough food to last you for more than one day.
For example, I like preparing mediterranean tofu at the beginning of the week along
with beans, sweet corn, and rice. Throughout the week, I simply reheat the tofu,
rice, and beans (slightly) and toss everything together in a veggie grain bowl
(unrelated, but I also love throwing in some avocado, cilantro, and coconut
sriracha). This meal is super filling and easy to put together when I’ve already
prepared the essential components of tofu, beans, rice, and corn. I’ll typically
prepare portion sizes that will last me for at least three to four days. This trick is
great for students who are in a time crunch but still want to eat meals that are
healthy and filling! Additionally, mapping out plant-based restaurants at Cal is a
great way to find take-out meals when you want to eat. You can easily bookmark
restaurants you love or are interested in trying out on Yelp in order to make this
process a lot easier. Cha-Ya is a great start in case you were wondering.
3. Buy an Instapot
Instapots are a great investment for college students alike.
Instapots are essentially your one-stop shop for all your cooking desires and dreams.
As they are extremely efficient, compact, and easy to clean,
they are perfectly-suited for college students looking to make delicious
homemade meals in a one-size-fits-all appliance. There are a plethora of
delectable dishes you can serve with an Instapot.
4. Become Friendly with the People at Your Dining Hall
Having to follow a particular diet while also depending on university dining halls
can be a stressful feat; therefore, finding ways to become friendly with the people
working in your dining hall becomes an imperative task. This can be done by
simply striking up a conversation and discussing the requirements of your diet.
By continually finding ways to interact and remind dining hall staff of your
situation, dining becomes a lot easier in terms of curating meals that align with
your dietary needs.
Though there are definitely more tips available online, and likely by other college students,
these are a few that I am currently keeping in mind when we return to campus. Though the
process will most certainly be challenging at times, just remember that there’s a community of
students also in the same boat as you.