I say 'at work', but I also found these strategies useful when attending university as a student, and in many other circumstances where I had to be away from my own kitchen for long periods of time. Now, maybe you're chronically lucky and your canteen makes a conscious effort to have a clearly-labelled vegan option each day. Or maybe you're a little bit lucky and can put a meal together from side orders and get something proper one or two days out of five to vary the monotony. That's great - one day we will all be there,* but until that point here are a few tips for those who aren't so lucky. This includes me.
Tip 1: Packed lunch. If you have access to a microwave you're motoring - just stick a portion of leftovers in a microwavable tub to take in with you. Otherwise, you may end up brown-bagging it with sandwiches. Vary the fillings and types of bread you use, otherwise you'll get bored. Dress sandwich lunches up with carrot and celery sticks, soy desserts and fruit juice. Another cold lunch option is salad - by which I don't mean limp iceberg lettuce, I mean actual food. Tabbouleh, couscous and quinoa are great for this. Add chopped cucumber and tomato, maybe some grated carrot, plus beans for a protein shot. I've also been known to take in protein bars, flapjacks, sosmix rolls and bits of homemade apple pie. Oh, and there was the sushi-sans-seaweed episode, which may not have been my finest lunch hour** but did the trick of varying things a bit and using up leftovers. (See the packed lunch entries here for ideas, if you need any)
Tip 2: Snack. I don't mean gorge on crisps, that won't keep you full for long. Keep fruit, raw veg or nuts to hand to nibble on through the day. (Unless you work in a cleanroom or other environment where it's inappropriate to eat) These should keep you in energy even if your lunch is just sandwiches.
Tip 3: Establish what you can get. Even if the only vegan things in your canteen are plain crisps and overpriced apples, you may find these useful someday. The flapjack tends to be a standard - many of these are vegan, but not all, so you'll need to check the ingredients.
Tip 4: Lobby. Politely request that the canteen stock more vegan items. Ask any other vegans, vegetarians, people with dairy allergies, etc to do the same. Frame it as a good business move on their part. Play the meat-free Monday card if you think that'll be helpful. Raise the health issue. It's not the best tactic for convincing people to go vegan***, but in this instance it could be useful.
What are your favourite packups? Any successes in veganising your canteen? Answers on a postcard, or alterntively in the comments.
*In fact, one day all the canteens will be totally vegan :-D
**Not as bad as the cold latkes. Or the cold soy mince and cabbage, eaten that way because the staff microwave got too filthy to use safely. Trial and error folks...
***Or rather it doesn't do a good job of convincing people to stay vegan once they realise that we have the same potential to consume fat and empty carbs as anyone else.