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CSU students explain how to be vegan in college

Usually the subject of memes and mean-spirited jokes, veganism is often under attack.

However, for two Colorado State University students, college presented the perfect setting to learn about veganism and adopt the lifestyle change.

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Kelsey Withrow is a senior journalism and political science major. Her roommate, Taylor Datzko, is a senior psychology major. They both became vegan in college. Now, Withrow has been vegan for two years and Datzko for nine months.

Vegan food tends to be healthier and brings positive changes for the body. Withrow feels better and has more energy since eating a plant-based diet, she said.

She does not have to take the medication she previously had to take. She also does not have to have as many doctor checkups, Withrow said.

“It’s a lot easier for me,” Withrow said.

Despite some concern surrounding vegans not receiving enough protein or other nutrients, Datzko said she is not at all concerned about getting enough protein. She knows that the foods she eats provide her with the same amount of protein as non-vegans.

“You can absolutely get all the nutrition you need,” Datzko said. “I do CrossFit and people would think you can’t get enough protein—no, you absolutely can.”

While protein is a major concern of non-vegans, Datzko said people should not disregard veganism simply because they are unsure about how to get their nutrients. Several locations around CSU provide food options for those with dietary restrictions, including vegans.

Vegan alternatives can be found in the Lory Student Center at Subway, Garbanzo, Spoons and Taco Bell, among others. Coffee shops around campus have alternative milks and often offer vegan snacks.

At Garbanzo, an option for protein is falafel, which is one of the most popular options at the restaurant, said Savannah Ritchie, a sophomore accounting and computer information systems major who works at Garbanzo in the LSC.

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Off campus, Withrow and Datzko find plenty of vegan options as well. In a blog post Withrow wrote about vegan restaurants in Old Town Fort Collins, she mentions restaurants like The Gold Leaf, Tasty Harmony and Rainbow. In addition to vegan restaurants, Withrow enjoys making her own food.

“There’s so many farmers markets,” Withrow said. “Take advantage of them. They’re really good, they’re really cheap, and it really makes it more fun to cook if you have something fresh that comes from the community.”

After the farmers market season passes, shopping the perimeter of grocery stores is the cheapest and healthiest way to shop, Datzko said.

“A lot of people think vegans are privileged because it’s really expensive,” Datzko said. “It’s actually not.”

Despite the resistance veganism sometimes receives, Withrow does not plan on reverting back to non-vegan foods. She said she feels better living a plant-based life and has saved money on doctor visits and medication.

“I definitely did it for health reasons, but I do enjoy and try to do anything that’s environmentally friendly or eco-friendly outside of being vegan,” Withrow said.

Regardless of the reason for choosing a vegan diet, Withrow believes it is important to stay strong in the decision. People have quick to question her decision after learning that she does not eat meat or animal byproducts. She was shy about her vegan lifestyle at first. Since her decision to go vegan two years ago, she has grown more confident in her choice.

“You should stick up for what you believe in,” Withrow said. “Essentially, that’s what Colorado State promotes is just everyone being themselves and finding who they are.”

Vegan tips: 

  • Don’t worry about getting enough protein.
  • Order vegan at Taco Bell by asking for your order “fresco”
  • Visit a vegan blog at medium.com/@kbrianne/latest

Collegian Reporter Gracie Ludens can be reached online at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @gracieludens.

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