Deborah Chu

Plant-based lunch ideas for the eco-employee

4 min Read
Glass jars filled with rice, fruit and vegetables.

Lunch – the no man’s land between breakfast and dinner. Arguably the trickiest of the meal trinity, lunch can be a hard one to get right, particularly if you’re back on the commute and reluctant to splash out millions on a daily Pret. 

There’s also the environmental impact of our diet to consider. Food, and what you pack it in, is an area where small changes can make a massive difference to your carbon footprint. 

So, true Pawprint style, we’ve done some heavy lifting to transform that midday madness into a moment for mindfulness. Here are a few of our favourite plant-based lunch options that’ll carry you through the workday in fine form. 

The Circus Gardener

The Circus Gardener is run by Worcester-based food blogger Steve, who develops seasonal vegan and vegetarian recipes – usually from his own home-grown produce, no less – and serves it up with a side of food politics.

When we reached out to Steve, he was kind enough to recommend a dish for this blog. ‘This is a great lunchtime meal because it is quick – less than 15 minutes from start to finish – and, more importantly, delicious. I used “yellow zucchini” courgettes, a variety I grow in my garden, helping to cut out air miles too.’ We heart Steve. 

The Circus Gardener's Courgette Linguine


Courgette Linguine

Ingredients

750 g organic courgettes, cut into batons the size of your thumb

400 g organic linguini (use egg-free pasta for vegan version)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp herbs de Provence

pinch chilli flakes

½ tsp sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

to serve (optional)

extra virgin olive oil

a few torn basil leaves

vegetarian or vegan Parmesan style cheese, grated

Method

1. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente.

2. While the linguini is cooking, pour the olive oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the courgette batons and the garlic. Cook together, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Lower the heat and add the herbs de Provence and the chilli flakes. Continue to cook for about ten minutes or until the courgette is soft and beginning to colour.

3. Drain the pasta and tip into the courgette pan. Stir everything together and drizzle with a little olive oil, scatter with basil leaves and add a little grated cheese, if using.

4. Portion into Tupperwares, ready to take with you to work. 

This and many other seasonal vegetarian and vegan recipes can be found on Steve's blog, The Circus Gardener's Kitchen – seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food

The Flexitarian

So you want to change your diet to help the environment, but you’ve still got visions of cheeseburgers dancing before your eyes? Never fear: Annabelle of The Flexitarian has got you covered. Her recipes are designed to sway even the most devoted carnivore into eating just a little less meat, one meal at a time.

Her pear, stilton and rocket sandwich makes for an easy and indulgent lunch, and her silky smooth lemon and ginger red lentil soup can be frozen into perfect lunch-sized portions for those evenings you just can’t be bothered to meal prep. If you’re feeling snacky (as we always are), she’s got plenty of suggestions for easy on-the-go treats as well, like these vegan banana and date muffins.

Sandhya’s Kitchen

India boasts the world’s largest number of vegetarians, so it makes sense that their veggie options should be some of the best out there. IT engineer-turned-food blogger Sandhya Hariharan gives us a taste of that through her website Sandhya’s Kitchen, which focuses on plant-based recipes inspired by her upbringing in Mumbai and South India. She also loves her Instant Pot and has designed plenty of recipes specifically for it, so if you’ve got one too, then you’re in luck. 

Guaranteed to bring some much-needed colour to your packed lunch game, Sandhya’s Mexican mason jar salad is easy to prep days ahead of time, as is her mango coconut overnight oats, if you’re ever needing to swap breakfast for an extra hour of shut-eye. She also has plenty of quick recipes that’ll take minutes to whip up and pop into your lunchbox, like her 15-minute cauliflower fried rice and a rich butternut squash red lentil dal.

The Veg Space

Normally you can prise cheese and butter out of my cold, dead hands, but The Veg Space may have finally converted me from my dairy-addicted ways. As someone who leans heavily into their comfort food during the colder months, Kate’s recipes are decadent, delicious and cosy as a Christmas card. From pies and hotpots to desserts and canapés, The Veg Space shows us that going plant-based doesn’t have to be a chore or a sacrifice, but an actual joy.

As someone who also struggles with salads, Kate’s recipes have helped me realise that a salad lunch doesn’t have to entail just a sad heap of leaves. Her fresh and zingy spicy thai salad with a creamy peanut dressing, and her tenderstem and cucumber soba noodle salad are simple, packable lunchtime pick-me-ups. Her frills-free and freezable vegan soda bread is also a perfect accompaniment to the many hearty soups she’s crafted, like this roasted pumpkin number that would make for an ideal mid-day meal. 

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Got an appetite for change? Pawprint is here to help businesses harness their people-power in the fight against the climate crisis. Pitch Pawprint to your C-suite today. 


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