Vegans have all sorts of terrific vegan lunch options, and sandwiches might be the best place to start. They take endless varieties, and you can make one in minutes. If you’ve got no time at all, consider making the quickest sandwich in history: nut butter on a toasted bagel.
You have all sorts of delicious possibilities for sandwich fillings: baked tofu, hummus, vegan deli meats, and sliced vegetables. And that’s just the beginning. My sandwiches page will take you through all the best bread, spreads, and filling options. And you can always change things up by turning your favorite sandwich into a wrap.
If you want to earn a Ph.D. in vegan sandwichology, the book to get is Tamasin Noyes’ Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!
If you don’t have time to cook, any good natural food store will have a deli section, plus a refrigerated section, full of vegan foods that are perfect for lunch. Vegetarian chili is usually vegan, and most supermarkets carry at least one brand. Canned vegetarian baked beans is another cheap, delicious, and protein-rich lunch choice.
To explore this topic in depth, pick up a cookbook devoted to vegan lunches. Jillian Glenn’s Healthy Vegan Breakfasts and Lunches is an excellent choice. Also take a look at Maya Sozer’s Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches.
Vegan Lunch Ideas for Work & School
Jennifer McCann has written two wonderful books on making extra-special school lunches: Vegan Lunch Box and Vegan Lunch Box Around the World. She’s probably the most ambitious mom on the planet, and every one of her meals involves four courses. To reduce your meal preparation time, you can certainly substitute a wholesome quick option featured in the next section in place of her side dish recipes.
Visit our vegan school lunches page for even more ideas.
Super-Quick School or Work Lunch Accompaniments
When packing a lunch, here are some excellent vegan accompaniments to toss in:
- Trail mix
- Quinoa or brown rice
- Grapes or sliced fruit (lemon juice prevents browning)
- Unsweetened apple sauce with cinnamon
- Clif Kid: ZBar
- Wholegrain crackers
- Salad, with the dressing kept in a different container,
- Sliced carrots
- Umeboshi (Sold at many Asian groceries)
Lunch Boxes, Thermoses, Reusable Bags, and Ice Packs
For kids and adults alike, there are all sorts of cute and nicely designed lunch containers, many inspired by Japanese-style compartmentalized bento boxes. These containers are more compact, lighter, and less prone to leakage than the old metal lunchboxes of yesterday.
You may also want to invest in a Thermos-style food jar, which is perfect for bringing hot soup, chili, or vegan cocoa to school or work. Since brown paper bags are fragile and wasteful, consider buying an insulated lunch bag with separate compartments for hot and cold items. That will enable you to pack in some hummus, which ought to stay cold in the hours before it’s eaten, even if you or your child lacks access to a refrigerator during morning hours. Consider inserting an ice pack into your lunch container. You can reuse it for years, putting it back in the freezer every night.
Adults have many more options for lunches than do children. This is especially true if your break-room has a refrigerator, microwave, and a sink to wash dishes.
Microwavable Vegan Lunch Foods
There are numerous vegan soup cups and canned soups that you can bring to work. The entire line of Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods soup cups are vegan. Many of Amy’s canned soups are vegan (check the label.) If you’ve got a refrigerator and a microwave at work, consider bringing frozen burritos.
Amy’s makes a delicious frozen vegan organic bean and rice burrito, which Trader Joe’s apparently sells under its own brand name in two packs at a much lower price. The Trader Joe’s version is called, “Trader Jose’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos.”
Also consider Indian-style lunch pouches, which can be microwaved in minutes. Tasty Bite’s Chana Masala is especially worth trying. It’s cheap, ultra-convenient, and indistinguishable from what you’d get at most inexpensive Indian restaurants.