Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Behind and Within Vegan Laptop Lunchbox

My final instalment of posts about interesting people I met at the Cornwall Vegan Festival back in December involves Neil and his lunchbox; specifically his Vegan Laptop Lunchbox.

I had often seen this informative tumblr appearing  on The Vegfest Express Global Vegan News Network.  The now hallmark photo of the same colourful lunchbox filled to the brim with equally colourful lunch offerings is instantly recognisable among the many other vegan blogs and links.  Until the Cornwall Vegan Festival, and following an introduction from his wife Catherine, I had no idea that the creator and writer was from within our very own Cornish shores.  The festival was wonderfully busy and energetic so I really didn’t have much of a chance to interrogate Neil about his tumblr but, with Xmess (as he puts it) out of the way we finally got a chance to get together at ‘Driftwood Vegan Headquarters’ and have a natter over tea and treats.

The whole idea and exploration into the world of lunch exhibitionism started with a tiffin; not the chocolate type (although I imagine that type may have featured along the way!), but the Indian lunch box type.  It was Winter and Neil discovered the virtues of a homemade ‘pot noodle’ in a tiffin for warm lunchtime comfort.  He even explored using one of the tiffin compartments as a depository for a hot rock to keep other lunch options warm.  With Spring on the way though and the idea of pouring boiling water over dry noodles wearing a bit thin he decided to up his lunchbox game.  Along came the multi compartment colourful bento box and with it the inspiration to fill it with delicious, vegan lunches.  Neil tweeted or used pinterest every now and then to share and store his creations but after encouragement from his work colleagues, among others, to ‘just do it’, Vegan Laptop Lunchbox was finally born in April 2015.

For the four days of the week that Neil works we are treated to an intimate inspection of the contents of his lunchbox.  His focus is mostly on cheap healthy food including the use of leftovers (so his dinners must be equally as good!).  His only formula is that of normally including two savoury items, one raw and one dessert.  When he told me this I had to laugh as my mum’s mantra on preparing mine and my sister’s school packed lunch used to be ‘savoury, sweet, fruit and drink’.  I also like the way Neil sneaks in everyday products that non vegans and even some vegans, wouldn’t necessarily know were vegan.  It’s kind of like opening ‘The Accidental Vegan’ page from Veganlife magazine.

Vegan Laptop Lunchbox is such a simple idea but it is an inspired one too.  First off how many of us vegans have sat at lunchtimes with non-vegan colleagues with their sad little sandwiches whilst being forced between mouthfuls to explain the contents of your lunch.  People are genuinely interested and with lunches like Neil’s who can blame them?  

The rectangular form and compartments of his lunchbox remind me of picture frames enclosing paintings of food.  Okay so it is more Turnip than Turner and more Pistachio than Picasso (okay I’ll spare you anymore food art references) but the truth is I find the simple eye catching lunch visuals an inspiration. 

I admit I sometimes struggle with packed lunch ideas.  The night before I am often busy not thinking about work the next day.  Then morning hits me over the head and in a whirlwind of last minuteness the lunch often loses the excitement battle.  It’s exactly half way through the working day that a spot of vegan culinary excitement is just what is needed to get you through the rest.  Leftovers can sometimes save the day and they are often the lunches that get colleagues curious, but Vegan Laptop Lunchbox really puts me to shame at the same time as ‘stoking the lunch idea fire’.  I truly have lunchbox envy.

I’d love to be able to find a ready made Vegan Laptop Lunchbox in the fridge waiting for me to just grab and go in the morning.  Now there’s an idea Neil; the birth of the VLTLB delivery service?!  That would be just perfect, although you'd have to cover the whole of Cornwall of course!

Beyond the lunch ideas though, and more importantly, what Vegan Laptop Lunchbox does is show very simply how delicious, easy, varied, exciting, healthy, colourful, cheap and available vegan food can be…………..and all in one little lunchbox!

Neil is planning an expansion into a blog soon Quickandvegan.info so we can look forward to full recipes and more vegan wisdom from him. In the meantime, for great lunch inspiration follow Vegan Laptop Lunchbox and keep up to date with all the latest Twitter news from Neil @veganneil


  1. Awwww thanks so much my friends. Lovely to meet up and have a proper natter with you both.
    You did make me LOL at that point . "..exploration into the world of lunch exhibitionism.."

  2. :) Great to meet up with you too. Hope I've done VLTLB justice! Actually I sniggered after when I realised I'd also written 'intimate inspection of the contents of his lunchbox'! Maybe it's just my mind!