Short answer: not really!
The Climate Crisis is reaching breaking point and vegetarian and vegan movements are snowballing in the UK. With Oxford experts arguing that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth” (sources below), it’s becoming an unavoidable reality that our meat and dairy consumption will need to be reduced.
Student communities are probably home to the fastest growing vegan population, but isn’t eating plant-based super expensive and difficult for people on a budget? Not really.
The main concern of students trying out a plant-based diet is the perception that finding easy AND nutritious recipes is really difficult; it’s true that you’d need to consume more plant-based ingredients to gain the same nourishment as a piece of steak. However, some types of pulses and lentils actually contain more protein and iron than meat. For example, one cup of black beans contains the same amount of protein as two chicken drumsticks and is also much cheaper.
Creative cooking is the key to going plant-based at uni; no more can you rely on tomato chicken pasta!
Creative cooking is the key to going plant-based at uni; no more can you rely on tomato chicken pasta! Cooking without meat definitely takes some adapting and can definitely seem harder. Therefore, replacing the meat with something else rich in protein and vitamins is integral.
Pulses, lentil and nuts are very effective alternatives, and you could also try experimenting with different types of vegetables. Once you get the hang of it, vegan food is actually much more interesting and often tastier than meaty meals.
The myth that going veggie is expensive is exactly that: a myth. My weekly shop is considerably cheaper than my carnivore housemates, just because meat is so pricey. I tend to avoid brands like Quorn too, as I find alternatives like lentils much tastier, which also cuts down the price. In fact, a packet of mince at Tesco is £6/kg, Quorn is £6.67/kg and red lentils (which I use in lasagne, shepherd’s pie and spag bol) are £1.80/kg.
My weekly shop is considerably cheaper than my carnivore housemates, just because meat is so pricey.
If a flatmate is using chicken breast in a pasta bake (£7.62/kg), I use sweet potatoes instead (£1.10/kg). By cooking creatively, my savings are huge! I also happen to think that sweet potatoes are much more flavoursome than chicken and are reported to be one of the most sustainable foods in the world. Double eco points!
So, I keep mentioning cooking creatively. If you already enjoy cooking, making some more plant-based meals might be a nice challenge. However, if you are one to rely on frozen chips and beans on toast (which I guess are both technically veggie anyway…) it might be a bit harder to make the change.
Luckily, it’s 2020! There are so many resources online for plant-based recipes and student cookbooks than keep the ingredient list short without skimping on taste. Once you start experimenting and batch cooking, it won’t take long to establish a few recipes that are really tasty and nutritious.
What about eating at uni? As supposedly the greenest University in the UK, it’s unsurprising that there are loads of on campus options of us herbivores! Hendersans in the Portland building is completely veggie and vegan and serves really great lunches for £3-5. I can assure you, the food is much better and even cheaper than the food court upstairs, and always less busy that Portland Coffee Co! That being said, Portland Coffee Co also serve a wide range of veggie options if you’re willing to spend that little but more.
Hendersans in the Portland building is completely veggie and vegan and serves really great lunches for £3-5.
The theory that going plant-based as a student is really difficult is, ultimately, only true if you want it to be. It’s certainly cheaper, and if you’re willing to put the effort into cooking then it can be really rewarding. The thing to remember is that it’s not about ditching meat completely, it’s about cutting down as much as you can to do your bit for the environment.
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