From the Editor: Hot tips for surviving on a plant-based diet at KPU Surrey

(Nicola Kwit)

When I first stopped eating meat I was living on Commercial Drive and had all the options a vegetarian could dream of right on my doorstep. Within a couple blocks of my house, I could find delicious plant-based fare from burritos to curries without once having to check Yelp.

That all changed when I came to class. Too deep into my degree, and finally committed to going vegan, I was forced to be aware of the glaring lack of food options available to me and other plant-eaters on campus.

As it stands, you can go to Tim Hortons and get a bagel (note: not all bagels) or oatmeal (only maple and mixed berry), or maybe even a garden salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. You could also ask for the off-menu “veggie sandwich” which is genuinely just vegetables and mustard between two slices of bread.

If you don’t mind having your hash browns or potato wedges potentially sharing a frier with animal products, you can get those too, but you’ll have to stand in the dreaded line. Unless you’re desperate to save money on your food bill, Tim’s is seldom worth the wait.

You can skip the line and go to the Grassroots, where there are decent choices for vegetarians and very few choices for vegans. Most of the wraps can be made vegetarian pretty easily, but they’re notoriously subpar, and the well-loved mac n’ cheese is a no-go for vegans.

The veggie panini was my personal favourite before mayonnaise and cheese left my diet, but I miss it every day. The vegetarian stir-fry with rice is my new love now, and it’ll be even better when you need something warm to satisfy you. The vegan brownies are great for those with a sweet tooth, but just make sure you ask before buying them to be sure that they don’t contain animal products.

Next, and last, is Sodexo. This company runs the Tim’s, but they only control the menu in the on-campus cafeterias. Over the years, they seem to have been trying harder to be accommodating and, to be fair, they do offer two vegetarian burgers. The garden burger and spicy black bean burger are each less than $7.00, and they’re certainly edible, though whether either of them are vegan is not indicated on their menu.

There are lots of paninis that look delicious, a few of which I’ve had and can recommend but can not promise are vegan. Two guaranteed vegan options are the falafel wrap and rustic grilled veg wrap, which I have never had and can not vouch for, and you can pick up side salads, vegetables, and fruits from the coolers they have by the tills.

And that’s it. Out of all of the items mentioned above, only the Grassroots veggie panini really gets my heart pumping, and there’s no way to make it vegan without ruining it. Surely there are plenty of secrets, “veganizing” methods, and undiscovered orders that I’ve yet to find—on top of specials that rotate day by day—but overall, vegetarian and vegan food at KPU is pretty abysmal.

You can always go across the street to find food. If you’re a vegetarian, get a veggie slice from Kwantlen Pizza and slather it with hot sauce and peppercorns. The pizza is good and usually fresh, plus it’s only $1.00 per slice, which has enticed me to eat breakfast there more often than I would like to admit.

There are also two restaurants on either side of Kwantlen Pizza: a Pakistani place called Gulberg and an Indian bar and grill called Urban Masala. Both offer items like vegetarian curry, flavourful salads, naan and hummus, samosas, and so on. If you have some time on your hands, I recommend sitting down and getting your money’s worth at one of these spots.

However, the best way to stay nourished and happy as a vegan or vegetarian on campus is pretty simple: Bring your own meals.

It’s not what most students want to hear, but it’s the truth. Only you know which products and recipes you like and don’t like, and you have a better bet of saving money and staying healthy if you come prepared with snacks or a readymade lunch.

Before you go to bed or leave the house, do some prep work. Cut your veggies and, if you’d like to, cook them. Make some rice and throw that in a tupperware container. Add tofu, vegan sauce, nuts, or whatever else your heart desires. Bring trail mix, fruit, granola bars, and other quick energy fixes.

You’ll be thanking yourself when your stomach is grumbling on your tiny rest from a three hour class. Your bank account, and taste buds, will thank you too.

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