8 Meat-Free Meals To Power You Through A Day At The Office Or Gym


At 4 pm, there's an odd, discontented feeling you can't place.

It starts somewhere deep in your stomach, growing to an embarrassingly loud growl, causing your coworkers three cubicles over to look up.

It means only one thing: You didn't pack enough lunch.

Now, you'll spend the rest of the afternoon hangry, hunting through your coworkers' bags in search of a granola bar they (hopefully) won't miss.

And should there be an office birthday cake present, you'll dive at it like a sorority girl grabbing the last dress at a Theory sample sale.

Although it's tempting to pack the remnants of your Chinese food instead of a substantial lunch, laziness always comes back to haunt you in the end.

Do you really want to go down as the woman who stuffed chocolate cake in her face like the ill-fated Bruce Bogtrotter in "Matilda"?

It's certainly no fuel for that post-work run you had planned.

To keep both your health and your fitness on track, pack a plant-based lunch with plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates.

They'll power you through any class or sweat session.

Healthy Happy Rice Bowl

Preparation level of difficulty: Picking out an outfit for the gym. (Read: Just toss whatever you can find together and somehow, it works.)

The power boost: Avocado, edamame.

Why it'll keep you going: High-calorie avocado packs healthy fats while working with edamame to bring the protein, making this a truly winning combo for a tough day at the gym.

Korean-Style Burrito

Preparation level of difficulty: Committing to a two-week ab challenge (ugh).

The power boost: Eggs, lentils, tofu, black rice.

Why it'll keep you going: This burrito, intended for breakfast but appropriate for any meal, contains so much protein your fellow gymgoers might feel intimidated by your strength.

As an added bonus, black rice's antioxidants have been linked to lowering risk for cancer and heart disease.

Honey, Fruit And Yogurt Bowl

Preparation level of difficulty: About as hard as remembering your gym locker combination.

The power boost: Dried dates, figs, apples, low-fat yogurt.

Why it'll keep you going: If your sweet tooth usually strikes late in the day, pack this bowl as your afternoon meal.

Low-fat yogurt contains protein, while dried and fresh fruit provides a balance of carbohydrates and fiber.

Crustless Spinach And Ricotta Quiche

Preparation level of difficulty: Like rationalizing the money for a month-long SoulCycle pass: You hate to do it, but you're so glad you did.

The power boost: Egg, spinach, ricotta cheese.

Why it'll keep you going: A quiche might seem next-level, but this one hardly requires much more work than Easy Mac, with much more protein.

Tofu And Tomato Salad

Preparation level of difficulty: Like running speed intervals on the treadmill: It sucks in the moment, but you can eat whatever you want later.

The power boost: Tofu, chickpeas, tomatoes.

Why it'll keep you going: In this unconventional lunch salad, no ingredient goes to waste.

Chickpeas and tofu provide a one-two protein punch, while the fiber in tomatoes ensures you won't be hungry five minutes after finishing your meal.

Bonus points if you brown your tofu in a skillet the night before.

Black Bean And Quinoa Tacos

Preparation level of difficulty: You know the 20-minute walking warmup before you decide you've had enough exercise?This is the food version of that. It's just enough to prep to remind you how much you hate cooking.

The power boost: Quinoa, avocado, black beans.

Why it'll keep you going: This recipe is customizable, depending how you feel about eating your food with a fork versus your own hands.

Made with protein- and fiber-heavy quinoa and balanced out by simple additions like seasonings and lime juice, this simple Mexican dish is a surefire way to avoid a growling stomach.

Banana Mango Smoothie

Level of difficulty: Remembering to wash your athletic shorts every week (aka: easy).

The power boost: Banana, mango, blueberry, nut butter, chia seeds.

Why it'll keep you going: Savory lunches aren't for everyone, and this granola-topped smoothie is proof you can eat breakfast for any meal.

Top with chia seeds and nut butter for protein, and you won't stress the burn of a calorie scorching run later on.

Scrambled Egg Caprese Avocado Toast

Preparation level of difficulty: About as easy as Instagramming your new Nikes.

The power boost: Avocado, mozzarella cheese, egg, tomatoes.

Why it'll keep you going: Packing all the flavor of your favorite appetizer with a healthy twist, the combination of egg, cheese and avocado means you'll be full far into barre class.

The only problem? You'll probably have to ward off jealous coworkers.