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Where to eat vegan and zero waste at Westfield Stratford - yep, it's possible!

I came across a new term that I really like, so I thought I'd share it with you: nearo waste. It's when something's not zero waste, but it's moving in that direction.

I wouldn't classify myself as nearo waste, but it's definitely my direction of travel. When I went vegan nearly 10 years ago (reckon I shoudl have a veganiversary party? There would be a lot of cake and fizzy pop), it was pretty much an overnight thing - I didn't work towards it slowly, just one day I was vegetarian, the next I was vegan. Going zero waste is definitely more of a journey, where I'm having to feel my way towards being free of waste.

Every so often, I try to find something that's not zero waste and find a waste-free alternative. Bit by bit, I'm try to reduce the rubbish that I create. One of the situations where finding a zero waste option can be tricky is lunch on the go. The last time I didn't bring my lunch with me to work, I had to buy a takeaway sandwich. It was wet, and wilted, and came in a cardboard and plastic box. I can't remember what it cost, but it definitely wasn't worth it. Everything about it was glum. It was the antithesis of a good lunch: tasteless, sad, and with a plastic legacy that will live on this earth longer than I will.

So, where can you find a waste-free (and vegan) way to grab lunch on the go? It is possible. For this rigorous investigation, I cruised the options at Westfield Stratford. It's the most shopping mally of shopping malls in London, and there are no shortage of places willing to flog you a sarnie or wrap in a plastic sleeve. But if you want to get yourself a nearo waste meal?

My first recommendation is Rosa's Thai Cafe. The menu by the counter isn't massively useful at showing what's vegan (you can get more clues online), but there is a little note at the bottom of the in-store menu that says something along the lines of 'just ask for vegan options'. So I did. I asked if they'd make me a vegan tom kha. No problem, I was told. 

Handy hint if you've never been to Rosa's before - once you've paid, you're given a buzzer that vibrates when the food is ready. (If you've ever ordered food in an Aussie pub, you may well have come across these before!)

My tom kha arrived a few minutes later, in a bowl that must have been the same size as my head. Which was handy, as after a few good spoonfuls, I wanted to put my face down in the soup and chug the whole lot. For a dish that came out of a shopping mall kitchen, it was surprisingly really good - full of the heat and lemongrass you'd hope for from a bowl of Thai noodle soup. The colours were gorgeous, and there was the perfect noodle to veggie to soup ratio. Sure, I'd not say no to more tofu, but I don't think there's ever been a time where I'd say no to more tofu.

My other nearo waste option is an old favourite, Tortilla. There's no specific vegan option on the Tortilla menu, but there is a list of allergens with vegan options clearly marked, so with a bit of savvy ordering, you can make yourself a grand dinner.

If you order a burrito, you'll get a paper/plastic wrapper and some tin foil, but if you pick a Naked Burrito and eat in, you'll get a waste free meal.

I'll let you into my preferred combo: tomato rice, black and pinto beans, peppers and onions, guac, pico de gallo, red onions, and a healthy heap of hot sauce. I red somewhere that chilli releases endorphins, which is why people can't get enough of hot sauce. I don't know if that's why, but every time I have a vegan Naked Burrito from Tortilla, I always walk out with a big smile.

That's my two nearo waste options. They're not strictly zero waste, as you tend to get given a receipt and some napkins, but you can refuse one and recycle the other, so I reckon they're both not bad choices for people looking to cut down on their rubbish. And what's better than vegan, zero waste lunches on the go? Fantastically tasty vegan lunches on the go. Dig in.

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  1. These look delicious - I can't stand those premade sandwiches in the UK but I would go for both these meals. We like sushi a lot when i am out (ie kid friendly) and it is so full of plastic it always annoys me so maybe I need to look for some alternatives

  2. I came across the buzzer that vibrates when the food is ready in Galway, Ireland and it was interesting.

  3. Both meals look fabulous, much nicer than a sad sandwich. In a world of plastic, it is indeed a challenge to have zero waste. I've gotten better but still so much to do...


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