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The Daily Tar Heel

Vegan students navigate dining halls and stick to a strict diet on campus

Rams Vegan

“Living on campus was really hard with the dietary restriction I have,” said Henry, who has been on a largely vegan diet for the past five years.

For college students, maintaining specialty diets like veganism might seem more challenging.  However, many students live on a vegan diet on campus and are able to maintain their diet that excludes animal products like eggs, meat, fish, dairy and honey— all common staples to the average person’s diet. 

On Dec. 5, 2018, Carolina Dining Services was given an A+ vegan rating on peta2's Vegan Report Card. As an subset of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), peta2 focuses on getting youth involved in animal rights. The report card included criteria on ingredient labeling, Meatless Monday participation, offering egg replacements and offering an all-vegan station.  

Ally Henry, a junior at UNC, said she had options at the dining halls, but said it was difficult to use plus swipes and eat out because of the limited vegan and vegetarian options in Chapel Hill. 

“Living on campus was really hard with the dietary restriction I have,” said Henry, who has been on a largely vegan diet for five years. 

With a diet that restricts many of the dishes served in restaurants and the dining halls, vegan students rely heavily on cooking at home and the vegan-friendly options at the salad bar or vegetable station in the dining halls on campus. 

“I was vegan for about half of the year last year, I lived on campus and the dining halls really, it was great having that option, but a lot of the times it was the same things recycled over and over again,” junior Alice Nafekh said. “I can definitely tell that they are making an effort to accommodate people being vegan and having those restrictions, but it gets repetitive.” 

Eli Parker, a junior who has kept to the vegan diet for five months, said a further challenge for students on a vegan or vegetarian diet can be discovering how many foods have ingredients derived from animals. 

“A lot of foods that would seem to not have meat are made with meat or animal byproducts,” Parker said. “As for some advice I’d give to someone trying to cut out animal products of any kind, read the label and ingredients.” 

Parker said there are misconceptions about veganism, including stereotypes that vegans do not get enough nutrients or that a vegan and vegetarian diet is expensive. 

Despite some of the hurdles of being vegan as a college student, Nafekh, Parker and Henry all said they think being vegan is rewarding because they feel they are making a difference and having a positive environmental and humanitarian impact.

They also all agreed going vegan is not as difficult as many think, and that the vegan lifestyle is viable for anyone seriously considering making the switch. 

“My advice is find a good, solid motivator for doing it and just do your homework,” said Parker. “It feels good to do something to help, even if it is so passive.”

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