We students all know that a nutritious, balanced diet is the last thing we’ll blow our loan on. However, would you be more inclined to eat healthy if there was an inexpensive way? Now, we all know the appeal of living off pasta when there’s rent to be paid, clothes to be bought and alcohol to be drunk but there is an alternative diet that’s just as cheap but healthy too – vegetarianism.
We are all familiar with the infamous ‘student diet’ which consists of only eating when you have to and when you do it’s usually junk. Even in cheap supermarkets, the food (especially meat) seems just too expensive for our little budgets so we end up opting for the unhealthy, frozen, more-for-your-money options. Even though our love for chicken dippers, meat-feast pizzas and drunken kebabs are everlasting, the benefits of having one or two ‘meat-free’ days a week is amazing.
Firstly, a vegetarian diet is healthy as it is low in saturated fats and high in fibre, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables. Current university students risk obesity with their poor dietary habits. Yet, if you became a part-time vegetarian, you could get (more of) the nutrients you need to have a wholesome diet and lower your chances of being overweight. In the long run, being a veggie can also increase your lifespan whilst lowering your risk of cancer, diabetes, artery disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Additionally, cutting out meat doesn’t mean you have to nibble on rabbit food. There are a wide range of vegetarian options that still have a meaty consistency, such as the popular meat alternative Quorn. You may have seen it advertised as ‘your favourite meals… made healthier’ as it is cholesterol free (unlike even the leanest of meats) and has 80% less saturated fats and a low calorie intake. Quorn’s main constituent is mycoprotein and unlike other meat substitutes, it has the ability to replicate the taste and texture of meat exceptionally well whilst being cheaper in price.
Peter Taylor, the head of universities for Sodexo – one of the largest food services and facilities management companies in the world – expresses that “learning that students perceive healthy food as more expensive is a real concern to us”. Nevertheless, by being a vegetarian for a few days a week we can overcome this problem. Meat-free meals are not only healthy, they are cheap too. Did you know that by being vegetarian we can lower our food bills by almost 25%? We could all benefit from those extra pennies, even if it does just get spent on jagerbombs in Ocean…
For those of you that still need persuading, being a vegetarian is also environmentally friendly. Did you know that being a veggie for one day a week has more of a positive effect on our environment than not driving a car for a day? Studies show that the farming of animals causes more carbon emissions than the whole world’s transport system. By swapping meat and fish for a plant-based diet you can reduce your carbon footprint, save water, save land and protect the oceans. As students, recycling isn’t something we’re best at so by having a few ‘meat-free’ days we can do our part for the environment whilst improving our health, cooking yummy food and saving money.
Remember, it’s not a case of cutting out all our favourite meaty meals (as that would be ridiculous!) but instead cooking a couple of veggie meals a week that would benefit our bank balance, keep us looking trim and save a cute dolphin!
Here are 5 top tips for students when shopping and cooking:
- Try and make meals from scratch. Buying processed foods and ready meals is always more expensive.
- Make extra! You can freeze the rest and eat it at a later date.
- Be sure to check out the reduced aisle at the end of the day. We all secretly love a bargain!
- Check the sell-by date so you can buy products that last longer.
- Plan your meals for the week and write a shopping list. This will prevent you over-spending on unnecessary items.
There are hundreds of scrumptious vegetarian recipes out there to be enjoyed by everyone. To get you started, here is my personal fav homemade vegetable lasagne (serves 4). It is perfect comfort food but will leave you wanting more…
- 2 courgettes, sliced ? 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 3 leeks, sliced and halved ? Lasagne sheets
- 2 peppers, diced ? White sauce
- 1 butternut squash, cubed ? 200g grated cheese
- 1 aubergine, cubed ? Seasoning
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Put all the vegetables into a large saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft.
3. Next add the chopped tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a large lasagne dish.
4. Arrange a layer of the vegetables on the bottom of the dish and then top with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover the top layer of lasagne sheets with white sauce then put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and golden.
5. Lastly, evenly spread the grated cheese and whack it under the grill (high temp) for 5 minutes, or until crispy. Serve with black pepper and a salad. Bon Appetite!
By Georgie Alexandre Curtis- Iddiols
Tags: cooking, diet, eating, healthy, healthy eating, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, homemade, meat free, quorn, recipies, student cooking, student lifestyle, student recipies, vegetable lasagne, vegetarian