EAST LANSING, Mich. — People associate veganism with these three things: It’s expensive, it’s not maintainable and it’s not enjoyable.
These preconceived notions have deterred people from trying out this diet. College students who are typically on a tight budget and schedule are subject to hesitation with these things in mind. But in the recent years, veganism has been on the rise and those notions have been challenged. According to a study in the Report Buyer, the percentage of the U.S. population that identify as vegans has gone up from 1 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2017.
The amount of plant-based instagrams, blogs, websites and now restaurants solely dedicated to this type of lifestyle and diet with recipes and tips is growing. The Happy Cow includes 19,728 listing in the United States for vegan and vegetarian restaurants and stores.
“The versatility and accessibility of vegan food is incredible, whether it’s a simple bowl of rice and beans or a vegan cupcake, you can really have it all,” says senior community and nonprofit leadership major at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ashley Hampton.
Hampton was a vegetarian for a few years before going vegan and she found it very easy to accommodate what many people view as restrictions in college.
GreenSpace Cafe, in Ferndale, Michigan is among the top rated in the state of Michigan where they feature an entirely plant-based menu. Owner of GreenSpace, Joel Kahn, M.D., says the food is anything but boring.
Kahn graduated from the University of Michigan in the school of medicine and is also the founder for the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity where he advocates for plant-based nutrition as “the most powerful source of preventable medicine on the planet.”
There is also an ongoing debate that has ensued due to doubts that vegans can truly get the proper nutrients with a lack of any animal proteins.
“Veganism has positively impacted every aspect of my life,” says Hampton. “When you eat a variety of whole, unprocessed fresh foods from the Earth, your body gets everything it needs to thrive.”
According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber.”
“It has the highest amounts of fiber, magnesium, and phytonutrients of any diet. This diet has been associated with lower rates of obesity and chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, heart disease, and cancer,” says Kahn.
Getting the Right Stuff
But then, what does a healthy vegan meal with the proper essential nutrients really entail?
Kahn explained, “You basically need oats, brown rice, different kinds of canned beans preferably in a BPA free can, spices, bulk nuts, marinara sauce, salsa, potatoes and a twice weekly run to the produce department to fill up one on fresh choices.”
Chelsea Diehm, a young Instagram blogger from Sydney, Australia who goes by ‘@feedingmindbodysoul’ has acquired 144,000 followers for her popular vegan based posts.
“I would recommend a vegan diet to everyone,” says Diehm.
She explained that it’s not the same for everyone because everyone requires different things, that people may have different food restrictions and needs but there is something for everyone within veganism.
Lastly, there is the common misconception that veganism breaks the bank. The average budget conscious individual may see this diet as out of their reach. But is it really true that a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables could be so unattainable?
“In addition to maintaining my vegan diet as a college student, I found it to be extremely low budget in comparison to the way that my friends and peers eat on a standard american diet,” says Hampton.
As compared to prices of typical proteins in a carnivorous diet, vegans are the ones saving the money.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, boneless chicken breast averages $3.14 per pound and ground beef, $3.69 per pound as of October 2017. Majority of the averages for fruits and vegetables are under $2.00 per pound and beans…only $1.36.
“The key for vegans is to experiment, be curious, visit farmer’s markets and produce departments and try new items.” says Kahn. “Eat the rainbow, a variety of colorful and health items and your palate will expand.”
Hampton says her best advice for making the transition to veganism is educating yourself. “There is nothing more powerful than knowledge. You will not only learn an endless amount of eye-opening information, but you will also feel more confident in your new lifestyle choices.”