As many of you know, I’m now going into my 3rd year of university. University is a place for many people from different parts of the world and country, with so many different backgrounds and beliefs, to come together and meet each other. Some days it’ll be really difficult being vegan at university because there will always be people who want to argue about your beliefs with you whilst you’re just trying to enjoy yourself on a night out. Some days you’ll walk into your kitchen see someone defrosting some animal parts on the table and you’ll want to vomit. Some days you’ll feel left out when people are getting food delivered or planning to eat out at places where there aren’t any vegan options. It may be difficult at times but here are my tips for making your life as easy as you can.
- Find some vegans – I never actually had any close vegan friends in my first year and I wish I did. It can get very lonely at times when you’re surrounded by gross food and being criticised for only being able to order wedges from Dominos, but having a group of vegan friends to order a ton of food with and being able to eat everything will be a dream. Join a vegan or vegetarian society, go to all of the events aimed at vegans or vegetarians, and if there aren’t any, start a society and plan the events yourself! I’m secretary of the vegan society at my university, here’s the team (minus one) at Fresher’s Fair!
- Join group chats – Before you even start university join some group chats for your accommodation, your course, any societies you’re thinking of joining. Get to know the people, talk to them like they’re your best friends, plan night outs and first day celebrations so you have plans when you get there. Make sure you don’t start with “by the way, I’m vegan”, but if it slips into conversation then cool. See who starts talking about how they can’t be vegan and starts making fun of you, then stay away from them. You don’t need that negativity.
- Don’t be THAT vegan – Try to stay away from the stereotypical vegan label, I know it is a huge part of yourself and your identity but university is about finding yourself and being independent. Make sure you have friends outside of vegan people and get involved in all the university events. Try not to be angry by trying to convert people into veganism because it usually does more harm than good. I knew a girl who used to print off slaughterhouse images and stick them on her flatmates’ animal products – it doesn’t work and it just makes you look crazy. Be subtle, approachable when talking about it and let people ask you questions so you can educate rather than alienate.
Locate all of the local vegan options – If you haven’t already, download Happy Cow (click here). It will be your best pal when moving to a new city. Find all your local restaurants that serve vegan food, look up the menus and see what they have and then make a list so you remember and you don’t have to look up the menu every time you and your friends want to go out to eat. Also go on any food delivery app (Just Eat, Deliveroo) and find all the places with vegan options on there because you will want to order food a lot and it’ll be more fun and less stressful for you and everyone else when you know where you can order from. It helps if you have the confidence to call up places and ask for what’s vegan and then write it down so you know for next time.
- Find local vegans – Most towns and cities have vegan groups for locals as well as students, it’s worth looking that up. I found out prior to moving to university that the town had a huge vegan community and it’s been such a help. Any questions you have you have about vegan food in the area or events, you can post on the group and I’m sure everyone would want to help you.
- Have FUN – It can be difficult and lonely at times, just try to find respectful people who don’t make fun of you, criticise your beliefs or try to feed you chicken nuggets when you’re drunk. Make good friends, get involved in activities, find likeminded people as well as people you can have discussions with, work hard and enjoy your university experience.
It will be the best few years of your life but it is up to you to make it so!