I work in London, arguably one of the busiest cities in the world. I am not short of lunch options on the doorstep of my office, or even my home, should I spend a day working from there. Yet, when I mentioned that I was going to embark on a 30 day plant based challenge I was surrounded by mutterings that it would be very difficult to find things to eat when not at home.
At any other time that would necessitate having to bring meals from home. However, we weren’t particularly clever when we timed this challenge. Our home is in the middle of a massive renovation and we have no cooking facilities. The option of taking food from home is very limited. Not to be defeated, I set out this week to prove that it is possible to eat plant based and buy lunches every day – don’t worry, I’ve not gone hungry, in fact the opposite is true!
The City Lunch Hustle and Bustle
All the major convenience food chains have a least a couple of vegetarian options, and most even have vegan options.
At Pret I found an avocado and peppers sandwich, a rainbow superfood salad and even a super greens veggie pot. All the Pret soups are also dairy-free, but not necessarily vegan.
EAT was a little more difficult as they don’t mark their food items as clearly as others. They only clearly mark the allergens, which is now required by law in the UK, but not whether something is vegan or veggie. I found quite a few promising vegetarian items on their menu, but alas the majority of them had a small amount of dairy. Nothing in their hot selection was clearly vegan either. I finally succeeded with their humous protein pot and humous and falafel salad.
Very close to my office I found a make-your-own salad bar that offerers quinoa, buckwheat, spinach or other mixed greens as a salad base. There was a wide range of plant based proteins and vegetables to choose from as salad toppings.
On Friday I made the mistake of wandering into a street food market that had my stomach rumbling and instant salivations at the roasted chicken and BBQ meat. Surprisingly I found two vendors that suited my needs: a bean-based burrito or a falafel wrap. I opted for the vegetarian burrito without cheese. Delicious!
One day I even managed to find breakfast in the form of a five grain porridge at Pret. This is made with oats, quinoa and coconut water and whilst is a little lacking in flavour compared to the standard porridge with milk, it’s very filling.
The Growing Vegan Trend
As I said, I’m very lucky; I work in a large city that has food options available for most palettes and lifestyle choices. I suspect that it would have been a lot more difficult to achieve similar results in rural areas of the country and perhaps even some of the smaller towns and cities.
Having said that, there is a growing awareness that people are making more informed food choices and many of the larger brands are providing a wider range of lunch options.
The opening of a Veggie Pret store in London on 1st June 2016 is evidence that companies are looking at options to accommodate the changing demands of their customers. The pop-up store has been so successful that on 6th September they announced the store would be staying and better still, they plan to open more in the future.
It’s not just London where more attention is being placed on vegetarian and vegan foods. The plant based movement is slowly growing momentum across the globe where more eateries are changing their menus to cater for the increase in plant based eaters.
If you want to read more about this plant based challenge, check out how it started and the fun time I had experimenting with plant based milks. If you fancy it, join the challenge and tweet us @ecoandbeyond using the hashtag #PlantBasedChallenge to let us know how you’re getting on.