Why university is the perfect time to go vegan

Talia Berriman, president of the Vegan and Vegetarian Society shares her thoughts on being vegan at uni and why You should give it a try, too. 

“But Bacon though”

This is the most common response I get fellow students try to be comical.

However, little do they realise that your time at university actually happens to be the perfect time to give veganism a try.

Firstly, despite what a Deliciously Ella cookbook may imply, veganism is surprisingly cheap. Very few vegans I know survive solely off of quinoa, chia seeds and tofu. Common kitchen staples include rice, potatoes, pasta, and vegetables. You can spruce up these inexpensive supermarket ingredients with spices, sauces and seasonings.

Veganism is unexpectedly easy; think about what you may normally consume on a daily basis, just take out the animal products and eat more of everything else. You don’t have to buy anything strange, nor do you have to look further afield. When you do your foodshop, just skip the meat and dairy aisles. You save time and you save money. Carbohydrates and vegetables are both inexpensive and filling, and you can get all the nutrients you need (even protein, shock horror) without even thinking about it. (Though if you’re worried about any nutrition, this website is a great resource, will all the information backed up by multiple large-scale scientific studies: http://nutritionfacts.org/)

We all know that our undergraduate days are a great time to re-invent ourselves and to develop for the better. You have the opportunity (and in some ways, necessity) to take control of your life and to do whatever you like. Gone are the restraints of having to tell your parents what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’re seeing. You no longer need to adhere to the expectations of those around you, those whose points of view you might have stopped questioning. University is the perfect time to experiment, especially when you are the one that ultimately decides what you buy and what you eat.

Not all of us can fork out a few thousand pounds to travel to the other side of the world, in order to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary for months on end. Going vegan is an easy and almost effortless way to directly make a difference in the world. On average, a vegan saves 198 animals a year, which is enough to fill a lecture theatre. You can save so many lives, by not really doing anything at all.

Veganism is not only a good option if you are interested in animal ethics, but also if you are concerned with human rights. How do you help humans by eating vegan, you ask? Well, consider this: we use large amounts of land, and water to grow plants to feed animals, which humans then eat. These plants could be used more efficiently to feed humans directly. The world’s cattle alone consume enough food that would feed the equivalent of 8.7 billion people – more than the current population. Cut out the middle man, consider our fellow human beings, and eat some plants!

Animal agriculture accounts to more greenhouse gas emissions than all world transport systems combined. The amount of water it takes to produce 1 burger is the equivalent of 3 months of showers. The non-confrontational or graphic documentary Cowspiracy (executively produced by Leonardo DiCaprio) explores the direction in which our planet is going and ways to combat this. We’re all told to take shorter showers, but isn’t it a lot easier and more effective for the planet to just switch up your burger patty to a seitan, soy or vegetable burger (which still taste great!) ?

Oreos are vegan. Chilli Heatwave Doritos are vegan. Vodka is vegan.

You don’t need to give up on the typical British ‘‘uni’’ lifestyle or your favourite junk foods if you don’t want to; just cut the cruelty and do your part in making the world a better place for all its inhabitants.

For meal ideas, and how to live a vegan lifestyle easily and sustainably, you can check out my Instagram: @VEGANTIDOTE where I post what I’m eating daily.

Here is a quick and simple crowd-pleasing recipe to get you started:

Sunshine Greens Stew

Cut the cruelty!
Cut the cruelty!

Serves 4-5

Chop 1 white onion, 1 courgette, 1 broccoli stalk, 3 spring onions. Sautée in a deep pan in about 1-2cm of water. Add 2 vegetable stock cubes, 1-2 tsp of turmeric (optional, but gives a lovely yellow colour) and a large handful of frozen peas. Once the vegetables are starting to soften, add 2 cans of chickpeas and 1 can of coconut milk, 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (or the equivalent in frozen) and 2 handfuls of kale. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes and stir until cooked though. Serve with rice or potatoes, or have on its own as a thick stew!

The stew will keep in the fridge for about 3 days, or freeze leftovers for a later occasion!

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