Plant-based diaries: Taking the veg life to work

All it takes is good prep work to make a plant-based school or office lunch, says plant-based foodie Dané Vermeulen. Photo: Dané Vermeulen/ Food For Mzansi

The start of 2021 was like no other year any of us has experienced before. Luckily, we see our world slowly returning to some form of normality, with people going back to work and learners back in school. Foodie Dané Vermeulen has some plant-based lunchbox ideas to take the veggie life to work.

Working and studying from home has its benefits, especially when it comes to your daily lunch choice. But how do you ensure that you continue your plant-based lifestyle at work, on the road or at school?

The key is to invest in long-lasting containers that you can continue using for years to come. Also make sure that they seal well to avoid any spilling.

Make this open veggie sandwich with a balsamic reduction and a side of veggie sticks with hummus. Photo: Dane Vermeulen

Sometimes you would need the option to keep your food cool, and luckily some workplaces provide a fridge to their employees. If you do not have access to a fridge or are at school or on the road, you can also use a small cooler box with a reusable ice pack to keep your lunch cooler for longer.

Also read: Vegan curry recipe

Make sure that you can do most of your preparation the previous evening. This will ensure that you keep to your plant-based lifestyle. Often, I have found myself not preparing my lunch because I am late for work. Then I would have to buy something expensive, and I would probably have to opt for something that is not plant-based. We all know that’s a slippery slope toward an unhealthy lifestyle. So, remember, it’s all in the prep!

For lunch I like to use cut up vegetables like carrots, cucumber, or bell peppers because it’s easy to eat at your desk, on the go or just as a snack throughout the day. Sometimes it can be bland, though, so incorporating hummus or a pesto can really elevate your meal and add a lot of flavour.

Make Dane’s simple plant-based starter lunch:


1 carrot

¼ cucumber

2 tablespoons hummus

10 olives

1 slice seed loaf (or bread of choice)

½ tomato, sliced

2 teaspoons basil pesto

Rocket leaves

Balsamic reduction

Fruit slices

Salt and pepper


  1. Peel the carrot and cut in half. Slice the carrot and cucumber in lengthy strips.
  2. Place in a compartmentalised container with the hummus and olives. 

For the open sandwich:

  1. Spread the basil pesto on the slice of seed load (I like to toast mine).
  2. Place a handful of rocket on your sandwich and top it off with 2 slices of tomato.
  3. Lastly, drizzle some balsamic vinegar reduction over your tomato slices and season with salt and pepper.
  4. End off your meal with something sweet like a fruit slice of your choice.

Also read: Plant-based diaries: So your sweet tooth is aching…