Each week, our writer Katie Doyle will be blogging about all things vegetarian. In order to get to know her a little better, Katie reflects on her meat-free lifestyle:

Whenever I’m asked how long I’ve been a vegetarian, one quick answer jumps to my head: “Since sixth grade.” Most people react positively, with something along the lines of, “Wow! That’s a long time,” but I always shrugged it off, until I stopped to think about it.

When I did the math, I realized it had been eight years since I’d last eaten meat. I almost couldn’t believe it. Because my vegetarianism had always been on the sidelines—I grew up eating meat only on occasion, and when I cut it out of my diet, I didn’t crave it at all—I had never noticed how many years had gone by since I became a vegetarian.

That changed, however, when I got to college. Suddenly, it wasn’t so easy being a vegetarian. Although there’s no denying that the health benefits of vegetarianism abound—lower risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer, according to the American Dietic Association— these perks hold true only when you maintain a well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. And it can be hard, really hard, to keep up a healthy diet when you’re in college.

Although Boston University touts one of the best dining halls in the country for vegetarians, as a freshman, I found myself eating the exact same thing each day in the Warren Towers Dining Hall. Tofu with balsamic dressing, salads and hummus sandwiches get boring after awhile. Last year, as a sophomore living in Myles Standish Hall, it didn’t get much better. The vegetarian entrées in the Myles Dining Hall weren’t exactly appetizing, and the other meat-free options remained decent, at best.

Now, I’m a junior living off-campus. After a summer of cooking in an apartment in Allston, I’ve had to figure out how to craft vegetarian meals that were inexpensive and easy to make. Fortunately, as a journalism student, some of the things I do best are read and research. The hours I spent looking up recipes, reading up on vegetarian nutrition, following food blogs, perusing through cookbooks, and even whipping up some recipe ideas of my own have paid off.

Throughout the semester, I’m going to share what I’ve learned in this blog, focusing on healthy vegetarian eating. I’ll share my favorite recipes; discuss how to eat healthy as a vegetarian; reveal some of the best cost-cutting tips I’ve encountered; and review restaurants that cater to vegetarians.

For those vegetarians on a dining plan—don’t worry! After two years on a meal plan, I’ve finally figured out just how to eat well as vegetarian on-campus, and I plan to keep you updated on all of Boston University’s vegetarian offerings, including how to craft some great meals of your own in the dining halls.

I know it can be hard being a vegetarian in a college setting, or any setting for that matter. But it’s certainly not impossible, and with a little effort, you’ll come to find out that you can save money and eat healthy as a vegetarian. Plus, you might even find yourself pleasantly surprised by just how delicious vegetarian food can actually be.