View Full Version : ASAP: Things I can make in the dining halls?

Oct 30th, 2011, 09:33 PM
I have been a vegan for about a month now, after previous failed attempts. I really want to remain vegan, but I am struggling so much.

I am generally a person in poor health. I understand that this is not because I am vegan; in fact, I have been this way since I was a small child, years before I became vegetarian. I have always been very susceptible to illness, and once ill, I stay ill for a long time.

Right now is unfortunately one of those times. I have been sick for a few weeks, with something presumably serious, as my blood work shows a low white blood cell count.

Currently, I am a college student with a dining plan. A broke college student at that. I'm only allowed to work ten hours a week on campus, and I pay my own cell bill, and receive no help from anyone else.

I'm giving all of this background information because it's relevant to my dilemma. As a student who eats only in the dining halls, and has little money to supplement her diet with store-bought foods, I'm struggling a lot. Because I am so sick that I can barely move or stay awake (it's a lot like mono, which I was in fact tested for, but it came back negative), it's hard to concentrate and make appropriate decisions.

I also feel that I may not getting proper nutrition, as things stand right now. I have tried to contact my dining hall managers to have them include new foods, but they always serve cold, brown rice and some miscellaneous, really bad dish. And then, of course, there's the salad bar.

I guess, what I'm saying is, I find my options really lacking, and am concerned about my intake. I am not saying by any means that veganism is making me sick. But I also recognize the importance of getting nutrition to recover from whatever I have.

Can anyone help me with ideas of things I can make in the dining halls? I make pizza muffins sometimes with the English muffins they have, marinara sauce, and tomatoes. There's a microwave, miscellaneous breads and vegetables, the aforementioned salad bar, and just a few fruits.

I apologize if this came off scattered; it's very difficult to think in this state. I just need any advice I can get to help me stay vegan, because it's getting harder every day, under the circumstances, when it should be getting EASIER.


Oct 31st, 2011, 01:55 AM
Do you have access to a kitchen or atleast a hob? (even a friend's will do, if you happen to have access to a freezer and they'll let you use their kitchen for 40minutes once a week :p) If you do then you can easily eat healthily from $2 a day without even this dining plan, but you can certainly take advantage of the veggies/fruit available there!

Oct 31st, 2011, 08:11 AM
Dining floor food isn't the most nutritious for anyone, vegan or not, but I think you should be able to make it work. If you load up on fruits and salad for your nutrients and then add a bunch of brown rice and some kind of protein (maybe there's cold beans in the salad bar or if not then nuts?) you should be doing alright. Just make sure you are eating plenty.

Oct 31st, 2011, 09:45 AM
Hi Rachel,
since you write that you generally are a person in poor health, have been this way since you were a small child, and that you always have always been very susceptible to illness, so it seems to me that you shouldn't live off food from dining halls (vegan or not). Maybe the health problems you always have had only are partially related to what you eat. You say that your problems are result of what you eat, but it sees that the best suggestion is to get professional help with your problems and. At the same time it makes sense to eat healthier than the average population, and spend some time on learning about healthy, cheap alternatives to what you eat now.

This thread may be interesting for you: Poor vegan, cheap living (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?361-Poor-vegan-cheap-living)

Good luck. :)

Oct 31st, 2011, 11:09 AM
Hello Rachel,

I have been vegan now for about two years (vegetarian for 20 before), and I am still raiding our company cafeterias salad bar every day, augmenting it (if available) with some cooked/steamed vegetables and some fresh fruit that I buy at the supermarket. Actually the most healthy diet I have ever been on ín my life.

Best regards,

Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:15 PM
I do have access to a kitchen, but very few tools to cook with in there; it's a building kitchen, and it does not come with things like pots and pans.

I regrettably caved for about two or three days, because I was just so desperate to stop feeling like crap all the freaking time, and I was ready to do anything. I immediately felt terrible (and, by the way, my stomach did NOT take it well), and it taught me an important lesson - dining hall food is dining hall food. What did reverting to vegetarian add to my dining plan? Cheese pizza and cheesy wraps. Very nutritious, I'm sure. -___-

Basically, what the salad bar has is wilted lettuce, cherry tomatoes, celery, broccoli, sometimes cold beans and corn, and that's really about it. I often make English muffins with marinara sauce and tomato slices (like mini vegan pizzas), and the fruit is consistently apples, oranges, bananas, and occasionally pears or kiwis. There's also oatmeal.

I appreciate everyone's suggestions. If you have any more, please, keep them coming. I'm committed more than ever to being a vegan, because like all of you, this is something that really matters to me. And now I know too much to justify being a vegetarian.

Nov 2nd, 2011, 04:54 PM

I empathize with your situation. The most difficult time with my eating was during undergraduate coursework. No money, new city, no car, mandatory living arrangement in the halls , etc. My first semester consisted wilted lettuce and mushroom lunches and wilted lettuce with chick peas for dinner. On occasion black beans and sun flower seeds were available! Needless to say, I got sick all the time, exhausted all the time and developed an addiction to caffeine. Anywho, I used my money to buy instant brown rice, frozen veggies, apples, bananas, quick oats, canned beans and eventually supplements. If your cafeteria has nuts available, get some & stock up! Nuts are a good source of fiber, protein and healthy fats. A few nuts can go a LONG way. If you have a vehicle or a grocery store close to you, take a stroll on a Saturday morning when you don't have class and check out if they have cheap veg options that you can microwave in your hall. I didn't get my own microwave till after the first year. I was so excited to be able to make my own food that year (ahh the memories).

If you are finishing undergrad, trust me grad school should be better, esp if you are working :)

Nov 2nd, 2011, 05:55 PM
That sounds a bit grim, Rachel.

To add to, or possibly duplicate, what the others have said, there are things you can easily carry around to supplement the limp salad etc, such as bags of nuts and seeds, small jars of nut butters, and maybe small containers of hummus though that won't keep too well if it gets warm.

If you haven't already it might be worth asking if you can get a partial refund on your bills for eating in the hall as it doesn't sound as if you can really get your money's worth on what they provide. And/or see if you can get them to provide a bit better for you. Vegan food is (by and large) healthy food and other people would benefit from eating it too. There are some booklets around on catering for vegans (the UK Vegan Society has one on its website I think though a US one would probably be easier for them to follow) - maybe you could try giving them one of those.

Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:04 PM
Oh, in addition that what has been mentioned, you could also try to be a pioneer and start your own vegan society on campus (if you can make the time). During my undergrad we managed to re-establish a vegan society that had been inactive for too long. We presented booklets, websites and articles. A proposal would help lots too. The cafeteria at the university now has hummus, vegan crackers, junk food on the "accidentally vegan" list on Peta.org, soy yogurt, a varied salad bar, black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, brown rice readily available, miso soup, stir fry station and a bunch of cool things I wish had been there while I was a student.

But please try your best and be creative with what you have. No vegan should feel inadequate and suffer hunger and malnutrition like that :(