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6 May 2014

The Bento Box Challenge

I must admit I prevaricated and procrastinated over what to make the topic of my good food diary... My lifestyle doesn't lend itself very well to planning things in advance, which includes getting to the shops to buy food and cooking proper meals, and my initial optimism about being able to fit in some 'proper' food shopping on Thursday soon evaporated in a pile of work that had me chained to my desk. I've been vegan for more than 20 years so I don't really have much left to give up, and I don't generate much at all in the way of food waste (mainly because I don't get time to buy the food in the first place...) When I do get round to doing a decent food shop I try to shop local; I put £50 a month into my Bristol Pound account, and most of that will go on food shopping. I toyed with doing a "seven a day" fruit and veg challenge, which you might think would be easy for a vegan. It is when you're based in one place for more than a few days at a time, and you actually get to spend enough time there to cook, but to take a constituency Friday as an example... I leave home without breakfast, heading out on visits or to the office. I try to keep a supply of oatcakes in my desk drawer, and if I'm lucky there might be still be some vegan cheese or veg pate in the office fridge. (Usually there isn't). On a good day I might even make it down to Southville deli (the St George branch) and buy one of their vegan rolls, or pop into Wild Oats if I've had to do something at the BBC in Whiteladies Road, but more often than not it's back-to-back visits and meetings, and just those oatcakes to keep me going. And then by the time I get in at night - 9 or 10pm is fairly usual - I might have something like tofu scrambled eggs or lentils on toast. So the veg count isn't good. From Monday to Thursday when Parliament is sitting I am trapped on the parliamentary estate for most of the day, and often till quite late at night. They are better than they used to be at providing vegetarian meal options, but it's still not great for vegans. They always end up drizzling cheese or cream on things that I'd otherwise be able to eat. The salad bars are very limited (they always put sausage in the pasta salad, presumably left over from the breakfast fry-ups. Tuna and feta cheese also make frequent appearances). They are good at soups - there's nearly always a vegan option - and they sell Nak'd bars and dark chocolate rice cakes, but it doesn't add up to a very balanced diet. So... for today and the next four days, I've decided to set myself the bento box challenge, bringing my own food into work each day, and trying to get towards the seven a day at the same time. Today's bento box was: organic spelt pasta with butter beans and some chunks of vegan polony for protein; avocado; and a small salad comprised of chopped plum tomatoes, salad onions, orange peppers and a sprinkling of seeds. It looks slightly anaemic in the photo, but I can assure you it tasted just fine. I almost never eat breakfast - I just can't bring myself to do it - but I had a couple of handful of nuts and raisins, and a few blueberries before coming into work, and a Nak'd bar to keep me going in the afternoon. I'm still in the office, so I don't think I'll be cooking anything when I get in tonight. I had the advantage today of not having to be in work till relatively late, so managed to put together quite a varied selection; let's see how I manage tomorrow with a much earlier start.

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