The Veggie Conundrum: Veganism as a College Student

By Peyton Joyce

As a college student, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is difficult. For vegan college students, the task is even more difficult. A vegan, by definition, does not eat or drink anything containing animal products. While it is easier to maintain a balanced vegan diet when one is able to prepare their own food, many students living in college dorms do not have that option.

At Greensboro College, one is required to purchase a meal plan when living on campus. In addition, many students who receive certain scholarships are required to live on campus for the duration of their enrollment at Greensboro College. So what is one to do if they are both required to live on campus and also trying to maintain a vegan diet?

This is where the Greensboro College cafeteria, which is run by a large facilities management company called Sodexo, can create some problems. As a vegan, you get very few options in the cafeteria. Most of these options are not enough to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. Most days, a student’s options have come down to the same marinara pasta or salad bar every day.

While on occasion the cafeteria does produce some amazing vegan options, such as the vegan quesadillas they recently served, more often than not, vegan students are stuck eating green beans and french fries for dinner and lunch. The Greensboro College cafeteria only has vegan side items, very rarely entrees. The lack of a full, main course meal creates a deficit in the diet of those who are stuck eating in the cafeteria on a vegan diet.

Considering that the majority of Greensboro College students are student-athletes, the lack of variety in vegan options in the cafeteria is an even bigger issue. Students cannot properly function at a base level, let alone perform at 100 percent, if they do not have the proper amount of proteins and fats in their diet. These sort of dietary deficiencies are difficult to avoid when vegan students get stuck eating green beans and fries for dinner after they have just spent hours at practice. Jahleen LeBeau, a current frequenter of the gym, vegan and sophomore living on campus at Greensboro College, said about the situation that “Sometimes it feels useless … I go work out for a couple of hours, only to go to the caf to find that there is nothing there for me to eat.”

Greensboro College needs to find better ways to incorporate more vegan options into their everyday menu in the cafeteria in order to allow vegan students the opportunity to maintain a balanced diet. If a school can require students to live and eat on campus, then they should also have the power to require the companies they contract with, like Sodexo, to provide wholesome dietary options for their students.

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