Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy Lunch Ideas for Working Vegans

This is the second part of my meal plans based on the awesome development of my mom and stepdad adopting a primarily plant-based diet.  See my breakfast post here: Vegan Breakfasts

I love lunch.  I am one of those people that needs to have a real lunch every day.  That doesn't mean I want to down a calorie-bomb sandwich necessarily, and it doesn't exclude things like soup or salad.  But when I see someone eating a bag of Fritos or sadly trying to make eating a yogurt last thirty minutes, I just feel depressed.  That being said, I am always running late in the morning, and like many working people, I only have half an hour to prepare and eat my lunch, and that is on a slow day.  I am fortunate to work in a place where I have a microwave, toaster, and refrigerator at my disposal, and I definitely take advantage of that.  For those people who aren't as fortunate, I expect lunch can be a much more difficult meal to deal with.  My mom, who I'm providing ideas for, is in basically the same situation as me, except she gets a full lunch hour.  She is busy, so speed of preparation is of the essence, and also like me, she wants a meal she can look forward to all morning that will keep her going through the afternoon when five o'clock seems way too far away.  Up front I will say, these ideas aren't going to blow the doors off of how you think about lunch.  I am going to talk a lot about salad, soup, and sandwiches.  But since I went through it for my mom, I wanted to share it on the blog as well, in the hope that it might be interesting for other folks as well. 

Tofu "Egg" Salad Sandwich

1.  Salads
  • Start with a whole lot of greens and then go crazy with vegetables.  Add whatever you like best, or whatever seasonal items looked great at the grocery store.  My favorite salad ingredients include carrots, onions, radishes, snowpeas, bell peppers, avocado and tomatoes.  (Other people would probably add cucumbers and celery to that list as well, but I hate them and I refuse to support cucumbers unless they have done the right thing and become pickles.)  Add nuts or seeds for crunchy texture and healthy whole-food fat.  Add beans (chickpeas are great!) or baked tofu/crumbled tempeh/soy chick'n for a protein boost.  When it comes to dressing, homemade beats storebought every time.  Maple syrup and mustard with pepper and garlic powder is a simple, quick and tasty honey mustard sub with no oil.  Flavored vinegars make a good dressing on their own, and silken tofu is a good base to make creamy dressings.
2.  Soups
  • Non-dairy milks and pureed vegetables make great bases for creamy soups.  Real milk and cream are easy to replace, so you aren't missing anything.
  • Vegetable broth-based soups with veggies and noodles
  • Bean or lentil soups
3.  Sandwiches:  I am a sandwich girl through and through.  I usually start my lunch plan with a sandwich and build around it.  These are very minimalist suggestions, easily elevated or simplified by choice of bread, condiments, etc.
  • Tempeh BLT = awesome. 
  • Hummus and veggie sandwich
  • Baked tofu sandwich with veggies
  • Vegan "tuna" salad (recipe here: click for deliciousness )
  • Vegan "egg" salad
  • Grilled cheeze or simple quesadillas
  • Veggie "lunchmeat" (if you're into that sort of thing, and sometimes I am)
  • PB&J or a variation
4.  Dinner Leftovers:  I don't usually have leftovers, because I live with a guy who doesn't really eat all day, so usually what I cook for dinner gets eaten.  But I will sometimes cook a simple second dinner just to create leftovers for lunch, if I have the time and stovetop space.
  • Pasta with sauce (could run the gamut from marinara to mac & cheeze)
  • Rice and beans
  • Chili
  • Stew
  • Stir fry vegetables with rice
  • Burritos
  • Baked potatoes (cook a few extra the night before and eat with your favorite toppings.  Ideas would include:  broccoli & cheeze sauce, vegan sour cream and veggie bacon, chili, salsa.)
5.  Snack Plates:  This is not something I do much on weekdays; I tend to go for it more as a light lunch on weekends when I have eaten a bigger breakfast, but it could definitely be a work lunch too. 
  • Dips:  Black bean salsa dip (simply a can of beans and a jar of salsa mixed up in the food processor); Hummus; Mexican layered dip (refried beans, vegan sour cream, guac and salsa)
  • Things to dip:  Crudites, pita, tortilla chips


  1. Love me some hummus at lunch!

  2. Oh yeah, I'm basically all about hummus anytime! I'm a big tahini fan so that is probably why.

  3. Hi
    I used Pure Vegan B12 spray.There is also a cheaper version that does not advertise vegan but says so on the label called Pure Advantage B12. The ingredients are identical.

    Vitamin B12