There's nothing more dispiriting than getting ready to take that precious one hour in the middle of your working day, and then finding the best vegan lunch option you can have is soggy, forlorn hummus sandwich on the most pappy of white breads.
So, yeah, normally I take in some leftovers from last night's dinner which are more often than not pretty good warmed over the next day. I also use them as a display item for when anyone asks, "isn't vegan food a bit boring? Isn't it all, like, lentils and shit?" No, my friend, it isn't (though anyone that doesn't like lentils is a bit freaky. And not in a good way.
That said, sometimes through being disorganised or leaving my lunch in the fridge (alright, you got me, I mean when I'm too hungover to care), I have to head out of the office to acquire some victuals.
During one such event recently, I headed over to Pret a Manger, a sandwich chain which seems to have grown like Japanese knotweed over all the high streets in the UK.
Still, they've recently introduced better labelling of their products including showing which items are vegan. Nice one, Pret!
There are two - count 'em, two! - vegan sandwiches to choose from, the Naked Avocado bloomer and the Super Greens sandwich.
That's the Super Greens up there. Having tried both sarnies, I don't think either are going to rock your world, but they're not half bad. The Super Greens kicks the bloomer's arse, to be honest, mainly due to the rather lovely kale dressing, a mixture of everyone's favourite leaf with wild mushrooms, lemon juice and tofu.
And along with a few drinks and snacks, there's also a definitely vegan pretzel. Behold:
The next in this series of vegan lunch stuff you can find at a chain restaurant in London (snappy title, I think you'll agree) is the Leon Gobi which, you won't be much surprised to find, is on sale at Leon.
Leon's another one that's recently decided to tell the world which of their dishes are vegan and they'll the better for it.
There's actually quite a few things there and, though they're mainly sides, I suspect a few of them together would make a pretty good meal.
The Gobi is a proper all in one lunch meal, though - it's a sweet potato and cauliflower curry with lots of brown rice and slaw in a tahini dressing. It's really lovely, though I found the portion size a bit too small (the two could be related, I guess!) The curry is comforting and rich with coconut milk, and the nutty brown rice is a handy sauce-mop. The slaw is also much nicer that you'd think - all crisp and zingy crunch, not wilting under a mayonnaise slick.
My last find (and the worst pic - hey, it was on my phone at my desk!) was at Tortilla, a small chain of burrito places you find mainly in London. The flour tortillas are vegan, and there's a tonne of fun vegan stuff they'll chuck in for you to make a burrito that's the size of your head - pinto or black beans, cilantro or tomato rice, peppers, guacamole, lettuce, salsas and sauces. All good stuff, and for a fairly bargainous £5.
I assume they must put something weirdly addictive in the beans, because whenever I've just finished one of their huge burritos, I find myself thinking 'man, that was so good, I just want to eat a whole nother one' when I couldn't fit as much as a wafer thin mint into my stomach. If you're hungry and have a fiver burning a whole in your pocket in London, you could do way worse than head to Tortilla.
There are two reasons that I tend not to buy lunch when I'm at work: I like cooking, and I hate spending money on sub-standard grub. ...