With the climate crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds, more and more people are choosing to adopt a meat-free lifestyle. One of the most impactful changes we can make to fight climate change is to cut down on animal products, so whether you’ve ditched the meat, gone ‘flexitarian’ or are just ‘veg-curious’ keep reading!
As well as climate change, health and ethics are also reasons why people decide to go veggie or vegan. Whatever your reasons, here’s our guide to be meat-free at university.
The most popular initiative to help people discover the world of plant-based eating is Veganuary, which inspires people to try going vegan throughout January and beyond. Over 2.5 million people have signed up to Veganuary since 2014 and throughout the year a wealth of free resources are available to keep participants motivated.
Whilst you’re at uni, there will undoubtedly be some times when you need to order food in. So naturally when it comes to securing student accommodation in Belfast, sure cooking facilities are great but a great location means you’ll fully be able to take advantage of these food apps we’ve listed.
Too Good to Go
We all know that eating out can get expensive, so a great way to tackle food waste and save money at the same time is using the Too Good to Go app, sounds too good to be true right? The app allows food companies to sell their surplus food at a discounted price and there’s the option to filter veggie or vegan offers so no one is left out!
HappyCow is a free app that helps you discover all the vegan and vegetarian food on offer to you by listing restaurants in your current location. Each listing can be rated and reviewed by members and the platform has a community where people can learn and share their experiences.
Zero waste shops
All cities should have a zero-waste shop where you can access a range of foods you might not normally find. They’re also a great way of saving on single use plastic by refilling your household items.
It’s also generally cheaper to buy most pantry staples in bulk (such as chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds) so zero waste shops can help you save money as well as the environment, win-win!
When you’re new to something, being prepared always gives you the best chance of success, and meal prep can be a great tool to keep you on track. A busy schedule at uni can sometimes lead to a less healthy and more expensive diet, but taking the time to prepare your meals in bulk can be a game changer for sticking to your ideal meals while saving money.
Adapt your favourite foods
If you’re new to cooking without meat, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to adapt your favourite comfort foods to a vegetarian/vegan diet. All you need to do is swap the meat for another protein source such as mock meat, tofu and pulses, or just get creative with veg! Dairy can be easily swapped for vegan alternatives which are readily available in most UK supermarkets.
There’s an endless list of meat-free cookbooks out there. All with different takes on the diet, including ‘junk food’, budget-friendly meals, and some with a more whole foods approach – it’s all about balance!
Some online cookbooks are even free, so you don’t have to spend money and find space for physical books.
Social media is also a great place to find recipes, especially Instagram and TikTok, which are full of veggie and vegan content creators with their own unique style of cooking.
A great way to meet like-minded people is by joining a society at your university, this will give you the chance to learn more about a topic/lifestyle in a social setting as well as meet new people.
Keep nutrition in mind
A common misconception when it comes to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is that it’s hard to get enough protein. To make sure your body is satisfied when cutting out meat, make sure you’re fueling your body with enough protein along with other food groups.
Another tip to remember is that the more varied a diet is, the more diverse the ‘good bacteria’ is in the gut which supports overall health.
If you’re new to the world of vegetarianism and veganism and you’d like to switch your diet, remember that it’s important to be realistic rather than striving for perfection. Changing your diet is a big commitment and is something that you can gradually introduce rather than having an ‘all or nothing approach’.
To make it as fun as possible, experiment with new recipes, try new places to eat, and be open to trying new things because no diet should feel like a chore.