Let’s be honest: College is a rushed, sloppy time in a lot of students’ lives. Whether it’s because you’re taking a full course load and working a full-time job or because you’re having a lot of parties and need to update Twitter constantly—you’re busy.

As much as we’d like to recommend that you eat a nutritious meal of quinoa and berries alongside steamed vegetables and tangerine marinated tempeh, the odds of that happening in your dorm room are very slim. Instead, here’s a practical list of a dozen must-have foods that can be found pretty much everywhere nowadays and consumed at all hours of the night:


1. Ramen: A time-honored tradition, no college food list would be complete without it, and Top Ramen’s oriental and chili flavors are deliciously vegan! (Make sure it’s Top Ramen, because similar brands in these flavors are not vegan.) If you’re looking to get fancy, you can make “Poor Man’s Pad Thai” by stirring in some peanut butter and sriracha (a favorite dish among our Warped Tour Crew). Who doesn’t love quick noodles?

2. Nutritional yeast: Packed with B vitamins and a cheesy flavor, “nooch” can (and should) be put on everything. Sprinkle it on your pizza, pasta dishes, veggies, and tacos. Or serve it on popcorn at your next screening of Forks Over Knives. All your friends will be curious to know what that baggie full of powder hanging around your room is—and you can tell them, “It’s nutritional yeast, and it’s delicious.”

3. Bread: It’s definitely not the most exotic form of sustenance, but bread happens to be an essential ingredient in one of college’s most popular meals: sandwiches. Shopping for vegan bread in a name-brand grocery store may seem overwhelming for some (because what the hell is L-cysteine, anyway?), but there are many vegan options available. Our commonly found favorite is Oroweat Potato Bread. That brand even specifies on its website that its mono and diglyercides are vegetable-derived. Pretty cool!

4. Fruit: The thought of spending money on fruits and vegetables that run the risk of going bad reasonably soon is a scary concept for some students, but there’s no need to be spooked by foods that go ripe in the night! Avocados and bananas are potassium-rich and full of fiber and B vitamins. Buy a variety and eat them as they ripen. Ripening too fast? Throw them in the fridge.

5. Boca Spicy Chik’n Patties: High protein, low preparation, these Chik’n Patties can be found in frozen food sections all over the country and make for a hearty snack after just a few minutes on a paper towel in the microwave. If you’re fortunate enough to have a tiny freezer section in your mini-fridge, I recommend shoving a box of these in there.

 6. Peanut butter: This is great between bread slices or on an apple, but all you really need is a spoon (or a disregard for personal cleanliness). Peanut butter is high in protein and antioxidants, and with nut butters on the market like Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams, you can have your cake and peanut, too!

7. Coconut oil: The food product for the multitasker, coconut oil lasts practically forever and can be used not just in foods that call for oil or butter but on your skin and hair, too! This is a little pricier than other oils, but it’s worth it. Put it on your shopping list for after your Pell Grant comes in.

8. Tofurky Deli Slices: These convenient slices are not only cruelty-free but also flavorful!  With varieties including oven roasted, peppered, and hickory smoked, you’ll be lucky if they get between two pieces of bread before they end up in your mouth. For all you stress snackers out there, these make a great late-night exam study session snack. There are only 300 calories in the whole pack!

9. Nondairy creamers: For a lot of people, “off to college” means breaking up with sleep and beginning your love affair with coffee. Keep the love affair alive by having a cruelty-free relationship with your cup of joe. Soy and coconut creamers and other nondairy creamers offer a rich addition without any cholesterol or suffering.

10. Vegenaise: Vegenaise is another one of those long-lasting items, and you’ll realize it was a good investment after adding it to your sandwiches and slathering it on that last lonely end piece of bread. Having a favorite vegan condiment around also takes the buyer’s remorse out of buying a dry sub after class – dress it up with Vegenaise!

11. Protein Bars: Pocket-sized and found for around a buck in your local convenience store, protein bars pack a nutritional punch in a small pack. Pick up a Clif Chocolate Peanut Crunch to have between classes if you’re in a crunch—or a Probar to replace that meal you’ll miss while tabling on the quad.

12. Leftovers: Busy, right? Eating out is bound to happen sooner or later. Many campuses have been overrun with fast-food joints in recent years, but luckily, many of them offer affordable vegan options on the go. You can veganize multiple items at Taco Bell, for instance. For those at more progressive schools, your leftovers may even be a stacked enchilada from your all-vegan dining hall!  

We’ll stop there because you probably have to get to class, but the list goes on and on! For more dorm-room food suggestions, e-mail us at [email protected] or check out PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook!

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