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As I’ve mentioned before so many times, eating vegan (or even just vegetarian) on a college campus can be extremely difficult. Cross contamination tends to be a huge issue, and because it’s usually unavoidable, I tend to be pretty lax and forgiving with myself if I eat something that may have a bit of dairy in it. Last week, I challenged one of my friends to eat completely vegan for as long as she could, and I have to say, she really took this seriously! Thank you, Allison, for helping me put together this social experiment. Allison was pretty open about the fact that this was super hard for her, and there were a couple instances in which she did eat a few dairy items (mostly due to going to The Cheesecake Factory with her friends on the second night). Here’s how Allison’s week as a vegan went down:

October 7

Location: Dining hall

[Dinner] Butternut squash soup, white rice, crackers, fries, and Kix cereal

October 8

Location: Dining hall, The Cheesecake Factory

[Breakfast] Cantaloupe, bagel w/ jelly, potatoes & onions

[Lunch] Potatoes w/ peppers and onions, vegetarian lo mein, green beans, roasted corn, tortilla

[Dinner] (Cheesecake Factory): Caesar salad, bread & butter, peanut butter cheesecake

October 9

Location: Dining hall

[Breakfast] Leftover cheesecake

[Lunch] Sweet potato

[Dinner] Cheez-its and raisins 

October 10

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Brown rice and potatoes, Cape Cod chips, one uncrustable sandwich

[Dinner] Egg roll, dinner roll, sweet potato tots, potatoes

October 11

Location: Dining hall

[Lunch] Pizza

Lastly, I asked Allison what the entire experience was like, and if she found trying to eat vegan 100% of the time difficult. “It was very hard,” she said. “It was all potatoes and pasta. It also made me sad to go to the dining hall because there wasn’t a lot of food that was satisfying and vegan.”

I think Allison did a really great job expressing the lack of protein available for vegans and vegetarians. As you can see, potatoes and rice primarily took up a large part of her diet, because they’re high in starches and generally very filling. Unfortunately, slipping into a routine that lacks protein and iron can be seriously damaging to your health, as I have experienced myself at college. This is exactly why I wanted to do this experiment- to show how difficult it can be to eat an adequate, healthy diet, and still feel full.

When I came back home from college in May after eating vegan for a full year, I was exhausted, sick, and dangerously close to being anemic. I napped at every chance I got, because I was so tired all the time, and my immune system was compromised from not getting the nutrients I needed. I’ve now started expanding my diet to include animal-derived products, such as eggs, but I know that I will never stop being a vegetarian. That being said, veganism simply just doesn’t work for me while I live on campus. It’s important to not feel guilty for making these decisions- I myself was struggling with a lot of guilt for eating eggs again. However, at the end of the day, YOUR HEALTH is the most important. Maybe someday in the future I will safely be able to eat vegan again, but for now, I’m not being too hard on myself.

Once again, thank you Allison for helping me with this data and for being a lovely recipient!

Coming up next: How I Save Money in College

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As someone who was a vegan for almost a year, I’m the first to admit it can be tricky to find vegan junk food. Although I have reintroduced eggs into my diet, the types of “junk food” I continue to consume are still basically the same. I’m not even really a junk food person anymore, actually. I do like an occasional sugary/salty snack, but on most days, I usually try to stick to eating whole fruits and vegetables. Since starting a bi-daily workout routine, my appetite has definitely changed for the better. I don’t get cravings as often, and I feel more full from the food I prepare. 

Like I said, however, I still do like to have an occasional processed snack. You may think it would be difficult to find “accidentally vegan” snacks, but they’re actually more common than you’d think. Oreo’s, Nutter Butters, and even some types of Pop Tarts are actually technically vegan because they don’t contain dairy, eggs, or gelatin. However- wheat, soy, and a whole lot of sugar? Yes, those are typically the ingredients you’ll find on this packages in the allergy statement. So I’m sorry to say, if you have a wheat or soy allergy, those kinds of treats are sadly still out of the question. 

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I ate a lot of Pop Tarts at school because they’re cheap, somewhat filling, and come in a variety of flavors. I don’t eat them as much anymore, but they do make a great frozen dessert. Seriously. Buy a package of the Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts (yes, they’re vegan), put them in your freezer for a few hours, and enjoy. 

This isn’t really a snack as much as it is a full-out dessert, but both the Marie Callender and Mrs. Freshley’s apple pies are vegan. Why? I honestly don’t know. My guess is because soy and maybe shortening are used in place of “real” butter- probably because it’s cheaper and preserves better. Either way, they’re delicious, and they’re safe to eat if you’re vegan. Generally, I would say the more processed something is, the less likely it is to contain ingredients like milk or eggs. I probably don’t have to remind you that these are not healthy vegan snacks by any means, but like anyone else, vegans deserve a sweet treat now and then?

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But what about salty vegan junk food? There are the obvious choices, of course, like potato chips and Fritos. Obviously, something like Goldfish or classic Doritos are not vegan because they contain cheese, BUT, the Spicy Sweet Chili-flavored variety of Doritos are vegan. A lot of varieties of Skinny Pop and Cracker Jacks are also vegan, but you should always check the allergy statement just to be safe. Surprisingly, Ritz crackers are also vegan, despite their seemingly buttery taste. I LOVE Ritz crackers, and they make a great breadcrumb topping for baked dishes (like Amy’s dairy-free mac and cheese).

I’m not really a big candy person in general, but there are a few types that I like. It may surprise you that most candy is not vegan, but think about it- a lot of chewy candy contains gelatin (which comes from crushed-up horse hooves). I’m happy to report that Sour Patch Kids, Airheads, Dots, Fun Dip, Jolly Ranchers, Skittles, and Twizzlers are also delightful vegan junk food options. You may not be able to enjoy the buttery popcorn at the movies with your friends, but take solace in the fact that Sour Patch Kids are always on your side.

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Those certainly aren’t the only vegan junk food snacks out there, but they are my favorites.  Like I said, I don’t eat too much junk food anymore, but sometimes it’s nice to have a treat or a cheat day. I love a bag of potato chips as much as the next person. Or a frozen Pop Tart, for that matter. 

I’d love to hear some of your favorite vegan snacks as well. Did any of these foods surprise me? Let me know in the comments below!


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