College Meal Plans Should Include Meal Replacements

Jennifer Kim, Contributing Writer

It’s no secret that college students today lead hyperactive lives, helping themselves to a full load of coursework while gorging on one extracurricular activity after the next. With so much going on, it’s no surprise that many do not have the time nor inclination to sit down and eat three meals a day. As dining halls already provide to-go boxes for students on the run, meal replacements like protein shakes and Soylent, designed to provide maximum nutrition with minimal fuss, should be an integral part of college dining to fit in with this lifestyle.

Although many current meal replacement substances are advertised as an aid to lose weight, one brand claims that its drink provides all the nutritional requirements for an average adult. Soylent comes in either a powder or a ready-to-drink liquid form, transforming the time needed for a meal from 30 minutes to five. For students with an 8 a.m. class, this quick and easy alternative to cereal breakfast may solve their dilemma of having to choose between getting to class on time and having a healthy breakfast.

Even with the availability of time, many students do not put in the effort to create a healthy meal. For colleges that want to promote healthier eating, these meal replacement substances would provide a fast and easy way to reach their goal. Soylent, for example, contains 37 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of lipids and 20 grams of protein. It’s specifically designed to provide all the essential nutrients without an excess of sugars, saturated fats or cholesterol. Fitting in with NYU’s standard of providing for a variety of diets, Soylent is vegan, lactose-free and nut-free. Instead of providing a greater variety of frozen fruits and vegetables, schools should offer a station of grab-and-go nutritious meal replacements.

In addition, healthy eating does not typically come cheap. New York groceries cost 28 to 39 percent more than the national average, and eating out is, conservatively, around $15 per meal which is 50-67 percent higher than national averages. In comparison, Soylent is $2.42 per 400 kcal, or less than $4.84 for the recommended amount of 700-800 calories a meal. Even compared to the average meal plan price of $7-11 a meal, this is a very reasonable price.  

If colleges want to promote healthy eating that fits into the fast-paced lifestyle so common in campus life, they should provide these meal replacement services like they would provide any other type of food. However, students should still make the effort to sit down and have meals with real food. It’s this time, after all, that strengthens the bonds between family and friends.


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Email Jennifer Kim at [email protected].