The founding team of Vegan Lunch Date
Photo: Vegan Lunch Date

Vegan Lunch Date: “We Deliver Food That Makes You Happy”

What might a healthy lunch look like without having to stand in the kitchen for too long? Vegan Lunch Date, who say they are Germany’s first delivery service for vegan lunches, is certain they have the answer to that. Food is delivered right on time for lunch and a reusable lunchbox system avoids packaging waste. In our interview, they tell us more about who’s behind Vegan Lunch Date, how Munich residents have responded to the new delivery service and the challenges the founders have faced so far.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!

Vegan Lunch Date: Vegan Lunch Date is Munich’s – and, as far as we know, Germany’s – first delivery service for vegan lunch in a lunchbox. We deliver food that makes you happy because it’s healthy, climate-friendly and tasty.

From our own experience, we know that good nutrition is often neglected due to the stress of daily working life (and that includes working from home). We want to change that. Since 1 March, hungry people have been able to have a freshly prepared, healthy lunch delivered to their office or home. Our lunch combo is offered from Monday to Friday with a different meal each day in a reusable box that is delivered on an eco-friendly bike. The ingredients that are use are 100 percent plant based and predominantly regional and seasonal, and most of them are even organic.

Expansion to further cities planned

After our first three successful pop-up weeks, we’ve been blown away by the amount of positive feedback. That’s really motivated us to keep going and to become established over the long term. We currently deliver to downtown Munich and further expansion to other cities is not only conceivable, but also part of our long-term plan.

Marion Obermaier (45) is the inspiration, initiator and founder behind Vegan Lunch Date. She worked as a brand strategist and communications consultant for more than 20 years for both established brands and young startups. She is now building her own brand with Vegan Lunch Date. She discovered a vegan diet a few years ago and would now like to get as many people as possible excited about it as well. At the moment, she is the owner, CEO, kitchen assistant, bike courier, webmaster and spokeswoman all in one.

Her comrade-in-arms, fashion designer and economist Martina Brunner (40), has already lived without meat since her childhood and found her way to a plant-based diet through several other subjects about health. Having others benefit from knowledge about nutrients and their positive effects is a matter dear to her heart, which is why she was immediately excited about the idea of healthy vegan lunches. As an eCommerce specialist, she keeps track of all things digital for the startup and takes care of Vegan Lunch Date’s Instagram presence. Martina and Marion have known each other for a long time.

Looking for professional support in the kitchen, the two literally met Tereza Pavoukova (33) through a friend of a friend and were able to get her on board as their master chef and co-founder. She leads a predominantly vegan lifestyle and acquired her professional skills exclusively in vegetarian/vegan cooking (which is about as rare as a winged unicorn in the world of chefs). She worked, for example, at Munich’s only meatless star-rated restaurant Tian and ran the patisserie in the vegetarian/vegan “Strandhotel am Weißensee” in Austria.

Just recently, Isabel Süß (44, not in the team photo yet, unfortunately) joined the founding team, a former colleague from Marion’s agency days. With her experience in commercial management, she has figures, HR and tax issues under control as well as order and payment processes. She currently serves as a personalized booking and CRM system, at least until a viable digital solution is found (we’re going all out to find one and would appreciate any helpful tips!).

The four founders’ goal is to prepare lunches that are both tasty and healthy for as many people as possible. With a clear conscience included.

Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?

Vegan Lunch Date: When it comes to lunch in German offices, there’s often a large gap between what people want (healthy, balanced, tasty, simple) and what they get (too much, too sweet, too salty, too fatty, low in nutrients, mediocre taste and too time consuming to pick up). From our own experience, we know how often you end up scarfing down a boring sandwich from the bakery in front of your computer instead of treating yourself to a genuinely invigorating and healthy meal for lunch. And cafeteria food that’s offered – if at all – usually doesn’t manage to deliver what is wanted in terms of light fare with plenty of vitamins. And even when working from home, you rarely have the time (or the motivation) to mindfully prepare tasty meals. This is where we come in to help!

Non-vegans can also order food

Vegan Lunch Date offers a different lunch combo every day and delivers it exactly where it is needed: to an office, a home office, a construction site or a yoga studio. We carefully select the best ingredients that the season and region have to offer and put all of our love and care into preparing them. For our good mood food, we use exclusively plant-based ingredients for lunch, which are healthier and generate less CO2 than a conventional diet. But you obviously don’t have to be a vegan.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Vegan Lunch Date: There are indeed lots of delivery services, but the number of them that are healthy, fresh and diverse is low or zero, even in a big city like Munich. If you want to have a healthy lunch, you can choose between a salad (boring) or – which is better than nothing – a lunch bowl (but that’s also boring after the third time). Or you make something yourself and bring it with you. But who manages to do that every day?

The load of feedback has proven us right: There was definitely a need for a delivery service that offers a diverse range of healthy and, most importantly, incredibly tasty lunches!

Not enough time

Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?

Vegan Lunch Date: The three biggest challenges are not enough time, not enough time, not enough time.

Beyond that: The first major challenge was looking for a pro to head the kitchen – chefs with considerable vegan experience hardly exist and, on top of that, he or she needed to share our philosophy of healthy cooking. We were fortunate enough to find the perfect person with Tereza! Anyone who has tried our lunch combos can confirm that.

Moreover: We’ve yet to find a satisfactory technical solution for our order management and are still on the lookout. We would really appreciate any helpful hints (and, no, Shopify doesn’t give us what we need).

Munich Startup: How is business going?

Vegan Lunch Date: We don’t want to mention any figures yet, but we can say that we were literally flooded with requests. For the pop-up phase, we had planned with a set amount of lunchboxes per day and were already selling 40-50 percent more in the second week. That was also a challenge in terms of capacity, but it was one we were happy to take on. Now it’s a matter of maintaining and expanding that level and of catching up in terms of resources.

Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?

Vegan Lunch Date: Because our company isn’t active in one of the current flagship industries, we haven’t picked up on too much of the general startup atmosphere and the conditions for it in Munich.

Room for improvement

For our offer in particular (plant-based food), there is certainly a lot of room for improvement in Munich. For a city with millions of residents, the options available for vegan meals and innovative food concepts are surprisingly sparse. But fortunately, that’s changing, even though a lot of new concepts (still) haven’t been able to get going because of corona.

Munich Startup: Home cooking or takeout?

Vegan Lunch Date: Always home cooking in a team. At least until we founded a delivery service for vegan lunches. Now after a long week in the kitchen, we often run out of steam to also make things at home. That’s when we order a vegan pizza, which we now also have in Munich and tastes really good.